“Condemned by Primal Contact,” Sijjin Continues a Legacy of Horrific Death Metal (Early Track Stream)
One of the strongest carriers of the torch after the original wave of death metal was the mighty Necros Christos, who dominated the world for 20 years across three albums, several EPs, and a variety of splits with cult bands like Teitanblood, Goat Molestör (who would later change their name to something more recognizable, Grave Miasma), and Loss. The band’s announcement after the masterpiece that was Domedon Doxomedon that they were done was a dark day, but soon after Necros Christos mastermind Malte Gericke announced that a new band was rising in its ashes: Sijjin.
Rather than the more personally focused music that Necros Christos spent years perfecting, Sijjin is an altar to the madness that was ‘80s thrash and death metal: ripping forever fast evil riffs with lyrics about horror and darkness instead of self-reflection and religion. The band’s first demo Angel of the Eastern Gate saw them signed to Sepulchral Voice Records and made international waves in the underground for its strength of vision, and now the band is here just three years after Domedon Doxomedon to deliver what is surely one of the goddamn coolest albums to come out in recent years.
Though the stated purpose of the band is to worship at a long-gone period of thrashing hell Gericke’s voice as a musician is too strong to be constrained, and Sumerian Promises is a perfect intersection of the same approach that made Necros Christos so great with the dark, morbid flair of primitive death/thrash metal. Unfortunately for readers, it won’t be out for another month, but to tide yourself over you can listen to today’s special premiere of the brutal and Azagthothian album closer "Condemned by Primal Contact" while reading an interview with Gericke below.
Most of the Angel of the Eastern Gate demo was left to the demo itself, but you’ve re-recorded the title track for Sumerian Promises. Why did you decide to retain that specific song and not any others, and why re-record anything at all?
Originally, we had intended by re-recording at least two songs from the demo, but since we managed to compose more new material than initially expected, we just went for Angel of the Eastern Gate. Despite it is one of the most demanding and trickiest songs of our young career, it is also a breathtaking composition, at least in my opinion. Let's face the facts, a lot of people will recognize Sijjin for the first time with Sumerian Promises and Angel Of The Eastern Gate was just too good to leave it rot in demo(n) tombs.
Is there any room to re-record the other songs over time with other records like Morbid Angel did back in the day?
Eventually, this might be the case indeed. But as far as I can weigh on it by now, it will most
likely just concern "Remnants Of Cambrian Evil."
What makes "Remants" special and more deserving of a re-recording than "Vorago" or "Trine?
One reason might be that it is still one of Iván's favorite tracks and he's still getting on my nerves about it. "Vorago Of Adullam" and "Trine Immersion" are great songs indeed, but "Angel" and "Remnants" are the highlights of the demo, if you ask me. I think Iván adores the Slayerish moments in "Remnants," so we better go for this one before he's annoying me to death, haha.
Circling back, you mention "Angel" being more demanding and tricky than most of the Sijjin material thus far. Is there any interest within the band in expanding on that mood as the band grows as a cohesive unit, or will Sijjin continue to be more fluid and offer a bit more of a variety?
It might be a bit too early to speculate about since we haven't written any new track after the
recordings of Sumerian Promises. I have some few new riffs circling in my mind, but I cannot tell in which way inspiration will take us as soon as we will go for new material. Let me say I am not a big fan of inventing a new band, nor do I want to experiment too much with our abilities. Sumerian Promises was harsh stuff, fast yet dark and brutal and I don't see any reason why to change the path we already took.
When you sit down to write are you exclusively waiting for inspiration to strike, or is there anything deliberate that you can approach in a focused way?
I wish I could, but it is an odd game to play. Most of the time when picking up the guitar, nothing serious happens, but in some few moments, there's a combination of only two notes or power chords which then give birth to a whole composition. In these moments I play a riff and I hear where it goes, and then again and again. I am without time during these sessions and when I close, I often get strong headaches. It feels like my mind opens to another level of consciousness and inspiration runs through me. I still know this feeling from times when I studied practical magic, as if my body became a vessel for something else. I wish I could handle it more on command, but I cannot unfortunately.
Sijjin so far has been a three piece, and as far as I can tell it’s your first time in years playing bass on a release. What are some advantages to having a condensed lineup, and why did you decide to remain on bass this time while fronting the band instead of playing guitar as you have in the past?
Several reasons were responsible for this. First, I always preferred to play bass and shout, it
feels way more natural for me. I always considered myself a far better bass player, so leaving
the guitar behind was no spontaneous decision. I have played bass extensively through all my life, not playing the lower register in NC was only due to the fact that I had started the band as a
guitar player delivering most of the solos in its primal phase. But the most obvious reason should be that Ekaitz Garmendia is hell of a guitarist, one of the best I have ever seen actually. I simply cannot meet the challenge by being his sidekick. I needed my own battlefield to conquer, he is already a master on his own.
Does it alter your songwriting flow knowing you’re going to be playing bass on recordings and live?
Nope, certainly not. I write all the stuff on guitar first and I always will. The main difference is
that Ekaitz is playing much better than me, so I am always positively shocked and astonished
every time he`s adapting my riffs and putting the final touches to it. Most time, I go like "what the
hell, that's how it should sound!"
Does Ekaitz change riffs significantly? What sort of twists does he put on them, and does it make any difference to you writing a riff knowing he’s going to change it? Have you ever had that sort of interplay with a previous guitarist?
It's not that he's changing a riff to an unrecognizable condition, but he's putting accents and turns to it which I would not be able to do. It always remains the main body, but his accurate and brutal playing makes it always far greater. I had this kind of interplay in Necros Christos before, maybe a bit different, but the Reverend was also an adorable riff master who always had a far greater tone than me. Just listen to his solos on Domedon Doxomedon, man, it seems I was blessed by having the chance to perform with such incredible musicians. Not to forget that Iván is the legitimate successor to Mister Lombardo.
If you can find another guitarist that can match Ekaitz, will Sijjin expand to a four piece?
That's an interesting point. Honestly, I had the same thought here and there, but we never spoke about expanding Sijjin to a four piece. Time and shows will tell if we stay a power trio or if we will see the need of integrating a second guitarist. Let me say it must indeed be someone really skilled and special and foremost, it depends on Ekaitz himself if he really could imagine having a sidekick.
It took years in between each new Necros Christos release but Sijjin’s pace so far has moved much quicker. Did any of the material pre-date Domedon Doxomedon? What makes Sijjin move faster than Necros Christos did?
No Sijjin material pre-dates the Domedon Doxomedon era, it was all written after. It just felt so completely mesmerizing to start something fresh and unknown that it lent wings to my creativity. 1980s death/thrash metal was also one thing which I couldn't explore much in Necros Christos, so as soon as we began working with Sijjin, the songs were nearly shaped by themselves. Anyway, I honestly have to admit that the successor to Sumerian Promises will take a much longer time than the album took to get written after the release of Angel Of The Eastern Gate.
Are there any names outside of the obvious that went into influencing Sijjin’s music?
I think no, not really. But I am always glad to mention Slayer, Sadistic Intent, Mortem (Peru), Sepultura (Schizophrenia!), Dark Angel, Incubus (FL), Possessed, Nasty Savage, Nocturnus, Insanity, Hobbs' Angel Of Death, and Infernäl Mäjesty as direct sources of inspiration. Not to forget the great German thrash tradition with the early works of Sodom, Kreator, Destruction, Angel Dust, Exumer, Protector and Assassin which all went into my heart and soul, as well.
Would you ever want to pay direct tribute to any of these influences by covering one with Sijjin?
We always thought about it, but we never came to any conclusion. I remember that last time when Ekaitz was at my place, we took one afternoon and learned "Chapel Of Ghouls." We had a serious blast with it, but during the later rehearsal with Iván, we strangely didn`t push it further. Let's see if we will go for a cover in the end, as for me, I would love to do something from Show No Mercy.
Your lyrics in Necros Christos were well-documented as relating to your own personal beliefs and you’ve talked at length about the topic. Is it strange at all to switch gears to Sijjin’s approach?
In no fucking way, I enjoy it muchly. You know, Sijjin’s lyrics deal with classical horror themes in the vein of Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, or Lovecraft, so it is an utmost pleasure of being able to write a more common type of song lyrics instead of overthinking every second word.
Do you foresee yourself ever tackling more complicated and personal topics again with a band?
Never say never, but not with Sijjin.
Sumerian Promises releases November 12th on Sepulchral Voice Records.