Nihil Eyes and their debut album “Black Path” are Ultraje’s latest bet as a label. Digitally released in the second half of 2017, the debut album of this British guys is now renewed with a physical edition released and distributed by Ultraje. Casey Jones (vocals/guitar) talks about “Black Path”, lyrically and sound wise, like no one else could do it and still leave in the air what the band will bring in the not too distant future (“Black Path” can be purchased HERE)
«“Black Path” is really our vision of how we would have liked death metal to have evolved had the record companies not fucked everything up in the 90s.»
It is known that “Black Path” is a series of psychological thought experiments exploring the human condition. What kind of thoughts and postures you are dealing with?
All the songs are looking at a different aspect of the human psyche mostly in regard to aspects you’d associate with some form of mental illness. With each of the songs there’s a short story behind it and in that story would be contained a thought experiment. Within this I’d try to really put myself in various view points and really think through the motivations and thought process of the characters. I think it’s something that I found to be a useful tool for self-exploration.
For example, in the song “Nihil Eyes” I tried to really get into the headspace of somebody viewing the world from a nihilistic stand point and the dangers that can lead to – it’s one thing to say that nothing means anything but most people don’t actually believe that. So when you start to really take it on board, think of all the consequences that it can bring and just how self-destructive you can become when you do that and what you might be capable of under such circumstances. Well, it becomes a much more terrifying concept entirely and you can find yourself begging to un-see or un-think these things which obviously can’t be done, and so in the song the protagonist then turns back to god if you will to remove those thoughts from his head which doesn’t help either, so the situation becomes hopeless beyond repair.
All the songs adopt a similar thought experiment, story, lyric style, but each looking at different aspects. There are a few songs looking at grief, some looking at egotism and narcissism one at abandonment. I try and take different view points in each song to make them more interesting. At the same time I don’t think everybody wants to think about things that deeply; sometimes you just want to listen to a song and for it to kick ass, so we were pretty careful that the album still functions as a set of metal songs too.
“Black Path” sounds very old-school and it’s suitable for fans of Carcass and Bolt Thrower, but there’s a twist of modernity in it. Was it one of the main goals?
The honest answer is that when we started writing we didn’t have any goal in regard to how it was going to sound. We talked about our main influences and, from the demos we sent each other, where we thought that might go sound wise. But it didn’t end up sounding like any of us had planned. Lots of people talk about things happening organically and I’m not sure how much that is the case a lot of time. But really, I think we agree enough in our musical tastes that we also agree where things should be going. It almost just seems to happen and we can feel when things need to change.
“Black Path” is really our vision of how we would have liked death metal to have evolved had the record companies not fucked everything up in the 90s. Obviously since that period different techniques and styles of playing have come in or become more popular, so some of those modern aspects slip into your playing and in a way there are more options now. For instance, blast-beats are much more popular and sweep picking is a big thing. I think we were conscious that what we wanted to do was to write songs which were primarily the kind of songs we loved growing up and for the reasons we loved them, which was the feel and the heaviness and the hooks, and everything else should be just to enhance those aspects. It’s really easy to get carried away and just end up showing off for five minutes and completely ruin all things that made a song great, so we try and keep an eye on that.
Obviously records aren’t made the way they used to be, so some modern aspects appear in the sound in the production and mixing stages. We can record a lot more tracks now than we would have been able to in an analogue studio, and the sound quality is clearer but has a different feel. We tried to keep studio trickery to a minimum and were shooting for something that had the best aspects of old and new school. Dan Swanö [producer] had a massive impact with that too. We asked him for something that was akin to “Heartwork” [Carcass] sound wise and he came back with something that really exceeded our expectations and had all the aspects of modern and retro production we love with none of the crap. And although we’re biased, we’re also harsh critics of ourselves and we think it sounds fucking great.
It was revealed that you’re already working in the next album. How is it sounding at this stage?
We’ve only completed a few songs at this stage, but we have the structure of a full album worth of songs in place. It’s always hard to tell as things can change quite drastically in a short space of time, but I think there’s definitely a bit more thrash in the riffing this time around and there’s something a bit more sinister about the feel. At the moment, to me, it’s sounding like a cross between “The IVth Crusade” [Bolt Thrower] and “Divine Intervention” [Slayer], but there’s time for it to develop yet, so we’ll see.
At this point we’re choosing whether to record an EP towards the end of the year or to hold off for an album at the start of next year. We’ve been quite busy in that. We’ve acquired a great new second guitarist in Tomek, from Polish legends Tuff Enuff and Szymon. He has an EP with his other band Asterian coming out, which I’m mixing and doing guest vocals on, so it’s been slower going than the last year on the Nihil Eyes front, but that may be a blessing. Also, I’m pleasantly surprised at how much we’ve all improved and I think that confidence, particularly in my vocals, will allow us to be a bit more ambitious the next time around.