Hi Aantar. I hope you, your family and your bandmates are well in these troubled times. It’s a true honor for me to interview you for the release of the new Diabolic album. Diabolic is one of my all-time favorite death metal bands. I also like your work in Exmortis, Horror of Horrors, Necrosis, even Impiety with Gene Palubicki, and of course also Diabolic twins Blastmasters and Unholy Ghost. It’s been 10 years since « Excisions of Exorcisms ». 10 fucking years! What happened ? Why did it take so long ? Sure you lost a brother with guitarist Jeff Parish but there might have been a lot of other shit going on? Line-up issues as usual?
Aantar - Matt Barnes and Matt Roberts came thru for Diabolic to get this album done. Paul and I just kept our infamous legacy going. We recorded the demo back in 2014. Then my daughter was born…thats what happen. I became a single parent overnight is the most amazing and crazy fucked up situation one could ever go thru. Lawyers, court, classes. I did the right thing and took responsibility for my daughter and not be a deadbeat dad. I had to get a real job and keep it. Not just get a job and go on tour. As for line up changes, it happens it was time to move on. I’ve worked work with some incredible guitar players but disrespect within the band, selfish ego’s drama have no place in Diabolic. It’s really about the music and the fans. Anyway beyond that Diabolic had support from Lee Harrison back on Supreme Evil and he helped us connecting us to Matt Barnes (Monstrosity) on this new Diabolic album. Paul and I met Matt Roberts at the Yngwie_Malmsteen concert that Punchy got us free tickets to. He is fresh to Death Metal as his skills complement our style of Death Metal.
You have signed with newly created Tentacles Industries for the new album. Can you explain your choice? I’m happy you guys are working with a French label but also quite surprised you didn’t end up on a bigger US label.
Aantar - Witchhunter Records USA is our platform to release our music thru CDBABY = our music on all digital platforms and monitor our digital sales. It’s really cool we just have a great team this year .Virgil really stepped up and didn’t waste anytime. We had labels saying to remix the record and don’t release the record till after the Pandemic. After 10 years that wasn’t an option. Tentacles Industries are motivated and dedicated to doing whatever it takes to get Diabolic back to Europe and beyond. We have a world merchandise deal with them so fans be sure to check out https://www.facebook.com/tentaclesindustries
for new Diabolic merchandise.
You worked with talented Polish artist Zbigniew Bielak for the cover art of the new album. Pretty good choice I must say but why didn’t you perpetuate the tradition with Joe Petagno?
Aantar - Zbigniew Bielak contacted me with a sketch of the new album back in 2014. Zbigniew Bielak is a serious Diabolic fan. He understands our music, the history of the band, and how the new album fit the title back in 2014. He is really cool to work with. Great ideas and he only works with the top bands so it is an honor to have him representing us today.
The new album is called « Mausoleum of the Unholy Ghost ». Of course it reminds me of your former band Unholy Ghost. Is it some kind of an ode to the past ? What’s the meaning of this title?
Aantar - Paul came up with the title because his time, writing with Diabolic, Unholy Ghost over the years …makes the perfect title for the album Mausoleum of the Unholy Ghost.
The demo versions of the songs on « Mausoleum » appeared last year on a split with Comatose released by an obscure label from the Philippines. Can you tell us more about that release?
Aantar - I contacted Bellz Rothschild who got me in contact with LordAngel Grinder and Comatose to do the split. The demo split was released as an underground limited edition .
Who wrote the new album?
Aantar- Paul wrote all the lyrics. I wrote the songs. Matt Barnes made them better, you can hear the differences from the demo to the full length CD,Digital,LP. He came in with fresh ideas as an experienced Death metal guitarist .
Matt Roberts played his leads so perfect. Gave him a deadline and he nailed his leads the day before the deadline we gave him.
How would you introduce « Mausoleum » to make people want to listen to it, being Diabolic fans or people who are not familiar with the band?
Aantar- The new Diabolic album Mausoleum of the Unholy Ghost is a trip thru the dark side of damnation like a roller coaster from hell AND tts fun to headbang and drive fast to at Blasphemous Speeds.
Personnally I’m very happy to finally hear some new material from you guys and even if it’s not your best release in my opinion I think it’s pure Diabolic sound. Death metal at blasphemous speed! I’m a bit frustrated by the length of the album though. Not even half an hour. Quite short after a ten year hiatus. Didn’t you have more material or was it on purpose?
Aantar- All of our albums are right at 30 mins…JUST LIKE SLAYER REIGN IN BLOOD!!! And when we play live on tour we get 25mins to play unless we headline. So we have to make a big impression in a short time. We learn from bands we like…like Slayer !!!
The drums on « Mausoleum of the Unholy Ghost » are quite high in the mix and sound like they were programed. I know it’s been the trend in death metal for many years but it’s not something I’m really fond of. Don’t you think a more natural, less edited sound could have been more brutal?
Aantar- My drums were not programed. I play to the metronome click on every song… The drums are mixed by a professional studio engineer Juan Punchy. Drums are the back bone of the band. No other drummer gets singled out like I do. It’s a pattern trend in the media. As far as being “Natural” we are not playing Folk music in the woods . We are playing Sonic Death Metal at Blasphemous Speeds. Catch up and get with the times… we play Electric guitars …..not natural guitars acoustic . The reason I started Witchhunter Records label was so we don’t have to debate with people who can’t play drums and guitars bass and vocals. …how they think our record should sound…it’s our record and it’s the way we like it …all that matters to our fans is a crystal clear production. Enjoy the record, hang on for the ride. You can hear the vocals, guitars, the bass perfect. The reason we are working with Virgil at Tentacles Industries is because he agreed the production is great. He contacted me and and released within 90 days on CD and LP. The music is already on every digital channel. I don’t want to be hard to work with so I started my own label. Dealing with people who want to change my art to fit what they think is better makes no sense…If you want to change a band then you should start a band.. After all Punchy has experience running the live sound and recording for Morbid Angel, Nile, Terrorizer act…for over a decade. I trust his judgment and listens to the album over and over on my rocket 8 KRK monitor speakers not on a phone. So I’m happy the way it sounds. Haters are always gonna bitch about my drums no matter what.
Hi Matt. Thanks for joining us for this interview. You took part in the recording of the album. You already play with Florida legends Monstrosity but I guess it was an honor for you to work with another big name of the Floridian death metal scene?
Matt Barnes - Yes. I have been listening to Monstrosity and Diabolic from the beginning. Lee Harrison has been involved with Diabolic from the beginning. Lee hooked me up with Aantar when he found out they needed a guitar player to get the album done. He thought it was a good fit so he ‘loaned’ me out.
How did you end up playing on « Mausoleum »?
Matt Barnes - Aantar sent me the songs and I worked on them, tweaked them a little, and then did my leads. It took about 2 months of me waking up daily at about 2 a.m. and sending Aantar demos weekly before we finalized it. It was a lot of work.
How did the recording go with the Diabolic guys? Was it only a one shot or could you be involved with Diabolic on other occasions?
Matt Barnes- I could do more with Diabolic if time permits. I have many commitments.
Matt, there's a lot of people eagerly waiting for a new Chaos Inception album. Is it finally coming out this year or do we have to wait a bit longer?
Chaos Inception is in the same boat as any true death metal band: there’s no money in it (actually, you will lose money at it), and it’s a thankless task altogether. It makes you question why in the hell you do it, because there is no utility or practicality to playing like this. It doesn’t even translate to playing other styles of music. You just have to do it. There is no reason. And yes, we have a drive to do it, but in our case we have lost members, gone through divorces and other traumas, and through all that we have still been going towards the goal. It’s sad to think when it’s done, many will just give it a thumbs up or down and move on to their next mindless critique. It takes everything for us to do this and, I don’t know, maybe I’m just pessimistic or something, but we don’t do this as an Iron Maiden or Metallica or touring band under contract having agents and such pushing them to do albums every year. Having said that, we appreciate anyone who really gets it, but there are very few. If someone is waiting for the next album to take them through a battle against an enemy worse than all the demons in hell, in that case I would rush it. That’s what it is for. Music is not for reviews. For me, it’s to get you through hell, or life. Not that life is bad, but you need 30 minutes or an hour of pure power, overcoming, hate, destruction, and a rebirth, right? Or maybe that’s just if someone listens to metal.
Back with Aantar. « Infinity Through Purification » is the only Diabolic release you don’t play on. And to be honest it’s the only Diabolic album I dislike. It doesn’t sound like Diabolic to me. What are your thoughts on it?
Aantar - I never really took the time and sit down with my friends to listen to that Diabolic record so it’s not fair of me to judge that record. It would have been cool to work with Neil Kernon. They had a lot of good press and I was surprised they stoped playing. Back then we were busy with Unholy Ghost/ got signed to Century Media so I really had a lot to do with Unholy Ghost.
I always thought Diabolic never got the recognition you deserved. When you talk about Floridian death metal with someone Diabolic is never the first band to pop up. Maybe because your formed later than the most popular ones? What’s your opinion on that?
Aantar -Thanks but we started back in 1996 and the fanzines really picked up on us quick because I made sure we went back to the Exmortis mailing list and sent thousands of demos out before the internet to radio stations, record labels, magazines and fanzines around the world to catch up. I knew we had to catch up fast. Thanks to Lee Harrison I met Paul and NOW thanks to Lee I’ve met Matt Barnes…First show with Vader and Monstrosity. We’ve toured with Cannabal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide all Florida bands we ‘ve had great support from them .
What are you listening to these days? Any new death metal bands that blew you away recently? I’d suggest you to check out Ad Vitam Infernal from France. They just released their first album and Diabolic is one of their influences along with Morbid Angel, Deicide, Hate Eternal, Centurian, Chaos Inception ...
Aantar- I like the new Vltimas album. Its really heavy and brutal sounding!!!
Are there drummers in death metal or other styles who impress you today ?
Aantar- Yeah I’ve seen some fast drummers but I’m more focused on guitar riffs and leads.
What are you plans for the near future? Any chance to see Diabolic live in Europe, maybe next year when all that shit is over? Working with a French label could be helpful!
Aantar- at this point we are watching and waiting for the world to re-open.
Well we’re heading towards the end of the interview. Thanks a lot for your time guys and I hope we’ll meet on stage some day. Cheers!
Thanks for your support see you on tour 2021!!!