“We wouldn’t even want to earn our living making black metal because that would lead us to situation where our lives depend on our music, and eventually that would affect the style of the art.”
– Domnul Cadavru, Mormant de Snagov
Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi Domnul. Thanks for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Derisive Philosophy (Ed: Jason’s review is here). To begin, can you tell us what was it that you set out to achieve with the album? Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted for this record?
Domnul Cadavru: Hi, and thanks. The writing process of Derisive Philosophy started immediately after our debut album was recorded, and not even released yet. It was nothing but a natural thing for us to do after getting the first album out of our hands for mixing. Most of the songs were written during a very short period.
After the songs were finished we started the recording sessions very soon. The recordings progressed very quickly for a while, until I encountered some positive, yet major, changes in my personal life. The recording process was almost completely frozen for few months. It felt rather difficult to get back to recordings and we started writing new material, playing gigs and so on. We even released some of the songs that were already completed as demo CDR. Eventually all the recordings were finalized, and Derisive Philosophy was ready for releasing. In that sense it was not an easy album to do.
Jason: How did you come to work with Pest Records? And why did you choose to work with them for the release of Derisive Philosophy?
Domnul: After the album was ready, our bassist left the band and we had to find a new one. Lucky enough our long-time friend Warcolac joined the band as a bassist. We had few live shows coming up and we had to practice hard to get the new line-up solid. Again we had no time to worry about Derisive Philosophy, and again we decided to print some new demo cd-r to sell in live shows, containing songs from Derisive Philosophy. All this happened in 2011.
Days went by and we spent time playing live shows, rehearsing setlists for live shows and writing new material. When getting close to the end of 2012 I had almost forgotten we even had an album ready for releasing. One day I just decided to contact some labels to get it released “out of our way” if you know what I mean. One of the first labels we contacted was Pest Records. From the very beginning Pest Records felt a good label for us. They seemed to have similar thoughts about how underground should run than we did. After sending few emails back and forth, it was clear Pest Records was definitely our label.
Jason: How did the tracks on the album evolve since you began writing for it? Were there any that were re-written or saw a significant overhaul since you first began working on the album?
Domnul: Actually not much changed since the songs were first written. We just completed the songs one by one. Most of the songs went through some arranging of course, but the only track that was completely torn to pieces and even transposed is ‘The End Of My Thoughts’. It ended up being pretty good eventually.
Jason: Can you tell us about the meaning or significance behind the album title?
Domnul: The main idea behind the title Derisive Philosophy is death, accepting death and denial of afterlife. Religions keep people in a tight leash using several different tricks. People stay loyal to religions when they get something back from the religions. One such thing is the promise of avoiding death. Paradise, afterlife, heaven… All those are lies that people are happy to accept and religion offers these false promises. Most people aren’t mentally strong enough to face the truth about death and that death really is the end. When you die, you really stop existing. This kind of thinking is a threat to religions. This kind of thinking is our derisive philosophy.
Jason: Can you tell us about the artwork and how it relates to the music?
Domnul: The cover artwork is a part of a larger picture. The picture can be seen inside the booklet. It’s a hooded figure reading a book, kind of referring to philosophy in general. The connection between the album ideology, and the cover art is loose, but it still exists. When you open the CD cover you find the tracklist written on a tombstone. This reference is of course more obvious.
Jason: Who is responsible for the artwork? And how much freedom did you give him/her in its design?
Domnul: The cover artwork is drawn by my close friend Morbid. I messaged him one Saturday morning last winter, and told him what the idea of the album was, and what kind of idea I had in my mind. He designed that book reading figure, and the very first version was perfect. Morbid is also responsible for Divine Dismemberment demo cover.
The tombstone photo on the other side of the booklet is taken by another friend of mine, Lou Fox. She has taken the photo in the cover of split CD with Die Schwarze Sonne as well.
Jason: How did the band approach composition of the album? Do you collaborate or is there a main writer that brings ideas or perhaps complete tracks to the band?
Domnul: All our music is written the same way. I compose the riffs, we put it together and arrange the song. Sometimes I just have one or two riffs that we start jamming, and in some cases I bring a completely ready song to the rehearsal place. There are few riffs from other band members as well, but I am mostly responsible of the composing.
Jason: When writing, do you have an idea of how you want the songs and your albums to sound or do they take shape as they are being developed?
Domnul: I have a rough idea what I would like the songs to sound, but nothing very specific. It’s kind of a distant vision about where we should be heading to. The overall sound and direction of the music is developed in the rehearsal place and the input comes from all of us.
Jason: How do your songs begin their life? Is it with a melody, a riff, a lyric, or a theme? And how do they develop?
Domnul: I always write the music first. In most cases I’m somewhere far away from my guitar when I get the idea. Then I need to keep the idea in my mind until I get the guitar in my hands. Many riffs have been forgotten this way. Sometimes I just go to the rehearsal place alone, pick a guitar, start playing and see where it takes me.
The lyrics come afterwards. I either think about the song and the riffs and try to think what kind of story they speak, or I just write lyrics about a subject that I want to spit out and arrange the lyrics to the music afterwards.
Jason: Who are Mormant de Snagov’s main influences? Are there any bands that have had a significant impact on the band’s sound?
Domnul: Of course the Norwegian second wave masters are our influences. Mayhem, Emperor, Burzum, Immortal… But there are influences from underground as well. German bands like Secrets Of The Moon and Dark Fortress have a big part in my writing process. You can hear obvious death metal influences in our music too. Our guitarist is a death metal maniac, and he tries to push the arrangements to that direction. Bands like Nile, Obituary, Suffocation, Death and Immolation are my kind of death metal, and some of my riffs come from there. Also bands like Megadeth, Slayer and Iron Maiden are present in our music.
Jason: How have the band developed in the time between your first release, 2010’s Rise From The Void, and Derisive Philosophy?
Domnul: We have been close friends with each other for a very long time. We have played together in different bands for half of our lives. We have of course developed as players and the overall sound is getting tighter and tighter. In the past I used to be a bass player, and when I founded Mormânt De Snagov I started as a guitarist and vocalist.
At first it was a challenge to deal with guitar and vocals at the same time. Year by year it has been easier for me so I guess it has an impact on our overall sound as well. The sound is more polished in Derisive Philosophy which supports the song material of the album better. The sound on Rise From The Void is more raw, and primitive.
Jason: According to the band bio, legends from the southeast of Europe serve as inspiration (Snagov being a city in Romania, quite the distance from your hometown of Turku in Finland). What is it about these legends that you find so appealing and inspiring?
Domnul: I’m a huge fan of horror books and movies; Bram Stoker’s Dracula in one of my favorite stories. I like the atmosphere in horror books and films, both brutal and more “sophisticated”. The feeling when you read a good horror book and suddenly realize that your entire body is tense because of the excitement is fantastic. In the beginning I wanted to bring that atmosphere to our music. Currently we have drifted away from that kind of style towards more subtle expression, but I will still keep on writing horror stories spiced with our dark ideology.
Jason: Your lyrics deal with issues that mankind faces, such as religion and the taboos around death. These are common topics for black metal and the works of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer amongst others are regularly cited as influences. Who are the main influences for your lyrics? And how have their works influenced your writing?
Domnul: I write about the things I see and experience. It might be the news of the day, a book, a movie or just a frustration. There is no specific influence in my lyrics and our ideology. My lyrics are very personal and reflect my personal opinions. The other guys in the band read them and accept them. Thus we can call my lyrics our ideology.
Jason: Is there an ideology that underpins Mormant de Snagov’s music? And if so, how does it influence your music?
Domnul: I try to avoid using any specific ideology when describing our art. It seems that some people spend their time finding mistakes in bands ideologies, and I don’t want to find myself arguing about commas and dots with some geek in an internet forum. In some forums the “discussion” is gone far beyond ridiculous this way. People can find all the information they need in our lyrics, and they are free to interpret the lyrics just the way the like.
In general our ideology has a huge impact on our music. There is no Mormânt De Snagov without ideology. Even if I write the lyrics afterwards, the overall sound and arrangement takes new shapes when the lyrics are added to the song.
If I sum our ideology somehow, it’s about criticizing religions and offering an alternative solution. We try to wake people up from their comatose with our art.
Jason: We live in what some consider a secular age, an era where religion no longer has the same impact that it once had, and yet religion still maintains its power and its effects can be seen in various countries around the world. With numerous other religions that have been in existence for much longer (as well as much younger religions) that have as much of a hold over their followers, it’s seems to be uncommon for any other religions to come under attack. Why do you think that Christianity remains a primary focus for black metal? And why are other religions disregarded?
Domnul: I think that Christianity is the main target because the first and the second wave of black metal very strongly concentrated on regions where Christianity is the biggest religion. The globalization has accelerated during the few last years, very fast, and religions from around the globe are mixing more and more. We have seen black metal attacks against Islam lately. There are even anti-Islamic bands from Iraq, or at least bands that claim to be from that area. I believe it’s a growing trend to see bands rising against Islam, because no one wants to have any more religions in one’s homeland than they already have.
I have been thinking about for example Buddhism and why it’s not a target of resistance in such a large scale. I think for example Buddhism is such a distant thing for western people that it’s not worth a target for criticism. Maybe in the future we will see more and more resistance of different religions in black metal.
Jason: What does the future hold for Mormantv de Snagov? Is there more music in the works? Any plans for live performances?
Domnul: We have three new songs composed and we are planning to record them soon. Some of the new songs are very long and progressive and some are more straightforward. We don’t know yet how to release new material. It might be not released at all, it might be and EP or even a full length album when we make more songs. Time will tell. We are always ready to play live shows. We have none in plans at the moment but usually something comes up every now and then.
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Domnul: Keep on supporting underground metal. The bands and the fans need the labels, and labels need to sell stuff to stay alive. Buy albums, buy t-shirts and come to live shows. In a level where for example we operate, we do not earn any money from the music. We don’t even want to. We just want to make more music and print more t-shirts and play gigs. It all costs money and getting at least some money back is a positive thing. We all have to work in day jobs and that’s a fact that won’t change when making extreme metal. We wouldn’t even want to earn our living making black metal because that would lead us to situation where our lives depend on our music, and eventually that would affect the style of the art.