Interview by Arto Lehtinen
Live Pics by Brat
Dawn Of Azazel hailing from New Zealand got catapulted to the worldwide stage when the local tabloids and CNN became interested in the band’s lyrics. Despite these media interests this Kiwi trio has gained a reputation as an extreme and brutal death metal squad with two killer outputs called THE LAW OF THE STRONG and SEDITION. The combo recently returned from a US tour with Incantation and Vital Remains, and the band’s frontman Rigel Walshe tells a litte bit about the the SEDITION album and the hassles with the media..
Good day to New Zealand, what’s up in the Dawn Of Azazel camp and in general how is it going down there in New Zealand ?!
Things are good, we have just returned from our US tour with Vital Remains and Incantation and we are concentrating on some new material before we hit the road again.
Let’s kick the interview off with the recent tour that Dawn Of Azazel did thru Australia and doing a few gigs in Far East Countries like Thailand and Indonesia together with Disgorge during three weeks. Hmm how was the tour in general, did you have setbacks or any other unexpected things that came up on the tour ?!
No, it was all pretty killer over all!. In Thailand and Indonesia there were some of the obvious language and backline problems to deal with, but otherwise there were no major issues. The crowds there are absolutely insane, total metal fanatics, we cant wait to get back and play for them again.
Presumably arranging gigs in Australia was quite an easy process as you definitely have a lot of contacts at various clubs and bands and above all you visited there earlier, but as for those far east countries are concerned, but how did you manage to set up the gigs in both Thailand and Indonesia, did it take a lot of time and effort from you to get every thing sorted out ?!
Yeah for sure playing these places is pretty difficult to arrange and very few bands get the chance. We were lucky in that we were in contact with the Disgorge guys about the tour sometime ago, so when these shows came up we were able to get in at an early stage and get ourselves on the bill. It was expensive to do the shows, but we all wanted to grab the opportunity while it was there. In the end I think it was well worth it, the shows were the best we have ever played, the crowds and the fans were totally insane and now we are talking about coming back to both places with promoters in the near future.
Hmm I guess the audience has to be quite different in Thailand and Indonesia for example the European or Aussie metal crowd, what did of reception did you get from the audience in those countries ?!
The crowds and fans there are the most crazy and appreciative you have ever seen, we were signing autographs for 30 mins straight untill we had to set up in Thailand. Indonesia is even more fanatical. Seriously its like you are Michael Jackson or something overthere, its quite difficult to get them to stop hounding you. This same attitude carries on when you get on stage, in both countries they go fucking nuts, they were definitetly the best crowds we ever played to.
I was looking at some pics taken in Thailand some time ago and paid attention to the club’s, where you played, stage was damn large. As far as I know Sodom played in the same club ?!?
Yeah it was a pretty massive venue, Sodom and Mayhem played there. The turnout for the show was very good also, again killer shows.
DOA have also crisscrossed around Europe, could you tell where you have been to and with whom and what kind of places you used to play and how was the Euro tour in general ?!?
We played Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and Austria. The tour was with our label mates at that time, Thunderbolt and Urgehal. It was cool to get over there and defintely a big accomplishment in a sense for us, the shows were great, and we are looking forward to return there in 2007.
Let’s talk a little bit about Dawn Of Azazel before starting dealing with the new album. Dawn Of Azazel was formed back in 1997 to spread the extreme hateful metal in the vein of Order Of Chaos, Immolation, Sarcofago etc, hmm where did this kind of hateful metal approach come from in the first place? Were (and still are) you more eager to play the most sadistic/Nihilistic metal ever to show the world there is some aggression left in the extreme metal ?
Yeah, I think alot of the more aggressive bands were defintely a big influence for us, and still are. I have been into the style of the South American and Australian Scene for a long time. I have always liked the more primitive and agressive sound of these bands and I wanted to incorporate this into Dawn of Azazel.
When listening to the stuff of Dawn Of Azazel I can’t help thinking about some obvious Order From Chaos influences in your style, apparently the OFC trio has had a huge influential impact on how the sounds of Dawn Of Azazel got developed in the early days till now, and are you kind of fed up with these mandatory Order From Chaos references in several reviews and interviews ?!
No, we havent had that for a little while actually. I think in the new material it is not as apparent, but they will always be one of my favourite bands, They are so unique, brutal and aggressive one of the only bands I have heard achieve this with out blast beats.
This question may continue and repeat the same theme. Dawn Of Azazel’s stuff is usually described “chaotic” in different reviews and articles, how much do you actually agree with all these descriptions of reviewers regarding the approach what DOA stands for ?!
We have had alot of different and conflicting comparisons in interviews, from Warmetal to Metalcore. It is good because we defintely dont want to be seen as just a straight death metal or whatever metal band, however it is kind of frustrating when people obviously dont really get what the band is about. As far as Chaotic goes, yeah we definetly get that often. I personally dont think it is too chaotic, except maybe in a frantic and agressive way. However I have always liked the more chaotic approach in metal, there is alot of metal, death metal in particular which just sounds too clinical these days, and to me alot of these bands are missing the element which gives their sound character and makes their music sound individual and interesting rather than generic and samey.
But although DOA is quite often compared to OFC, Blasphemy more or less, but however in my opinion DOA have managed to created a sound of its own where DOA and its sound can be recogzined. Aapparently it was a hard and long way for you to find the recognizable DOA sounds, wasn’t it ??!
Thank you. We definitely strive to have our own sound, and yeah it is something we have developed over several years and something that we are constantly developing.
I have come across a term used for DOA called “Militant Death Metal” a couple of time, do you view it fits well to DOA ?! Or how do you actually describe the sounds or style of DOA ?
I dont really care for labels, I think people should just listen to the music and make their own decision.
As far as I know the line-up had some changes before you entered the studio to work on the follow up to THE LAW OF THE STRONG, as Tony Corry and Tom James used to be involved in DOA, but were replaced by Phil Osborne and Tony Angelov, but according to the last line-up info Phil Osborne has been removed from the band and replaced by Martin Cavanagh. Weren’t these guys fully motivated to sacrifice themselves for DOA, or was there some sort of bad blood between each other causing their departure from the band ?!
Basically lack of motivation is the reason all these guys are not in the band now. They have all either left or been kicked out because they did not want to invest the time and money into doing this band to the best of their ability. We are very fortunate now to have a line up where everyone is totally and completely dedicated.
What do you as a matter of fact expect and demand from the musicians or guys in DOA ?! Fully 100 % dedication to DOA ?! Pure extreme metal background ?!
Yeah we are all very dedicated and put alot of time and energy into the band. We practice 4 times a week at least and I spend most of my spare time on the buisness and organisational side of things. Without this attitude I dont really see your music getting out of this country.
Apparently the local metal scene in New Zealand is quite small therefore, seen from my point of view, it is kinda easy to draw the conclusion that finding new members to any band is more or less difficult, or is it and do you usually discover new blood for DOA ?!?
Yeah it is very difficult to find members, other bands here have had that alot worse than us. The most difficult here is people that are dedicated to touring, to take on the world from this country is very difficult and expensive we are very lucky to have a lineup now where everyone is in 110%
But Dawn Of Azazel is basically surrounded by your vision and world. Do/did other current members and former members have problems to deal with your opinions about certain issues like lyrics what you pen etc or do you have a mutual harmony in the band ?!
The bands music is definitely a group creation, even though myself and joe write all the music. The other guys have pretty simmilar opinions on most stuff to mine, but the lyrics arnt really an issue for us. Although I am quite serious sincere and genuiune about the lyrics I write they are also just lyrics for a song if you do not put them into practice in your day to day existance.
Which kind of things inspire you to write the lyrics about ?!
Personal experience and my beliefs which I would consider of an Elitist and Satanic nature. I have been lucky enough to have done and seen some things that the adverage person does not get to experience and I try to pass on some of that insight through my lyrics.
As to record labels you had faced a lot of so to say unsolved problems with the Polish label AGONIA Rec as the deal with them was terminated. Was it a mutual decision to quit the deal between them and Dawn Of Azazel, did you just decide enough is enough I am out ?
They offered us 3 more albums but we turned them down.
But John McEntee from Incantation offered his helping hand by giving you an opportunity of releasing the latest album “SEDITION” on his Ibex Moon Records ?!
Yeah we are pretty happy with his efforts so far. We have just finished a decent US tour and will be pressing the second edition in November with Full US and Canadian Distro through RED.
I guess the co-operation with him and his wife works perfectly, how much have they done the promotion and distribution job for “SEDITION” all in all ?! And do you handle all the distribution issues of New Zealand and Australia by yourself ?!
Its really only just been released but already we have had some pretty good promo in Metal Maniacs and Pit amongst others. We have the rights to New Zealand and Australia, we have released it through our own label here and we will be releasing in Australia through Prime Cuts in September.
Did any other record labels show their interest toward DOA ?!
Yes we had a few other labels interested but for various reasons business and otherwise they didnt workout.
SEDITION is definitely a piece of brutal delivery from the beginning to the end showing any mercy. However you gotta be extreme pleased with how the album turned out ?!
Yeah I think so, you are always going to be supercritical of your own work but I think we are the most happy with this release out of all our work so far.
Did you process the album in every aspect from the beginning to the end in New Zealand ?!
Yes, everything was recorded, mixed and mastered here.
How long did it take from you to complete the whole recording session of SEDITION ?
SEDITION was recorded in 8 days, and was mastered in several sessions over the following weeks.
Each band always has a hard task to top their previous output, do you think it is going to be challenging task for you to top the material of SEDITION for the next release ?!
I dont worry about that too much. I feel as long as you keep working on your instrument and concentrate on pushing the envelope while still creating songs that are well written and catchy the rest just flows naturally.
How much do you have new songs already written for the next output ?! And will you continue the same paved way or are you gonna bring more brutality to these new songs !?
We have three at present and we will be working on some new stuff for the next few months untill we tour Australia around November
Speaking of the media attention toward Dawn Of Azazel, I know you are more or less sick of repeating the same answers and obviously you just can’t reply to some of questions. But anyway The local press got interested in Dawn Of Azazel due to your background, but were you surprised at how things started rolling all of a sudden, as DOA were on the local media and even on CNN as far as I know ?!
Yes it was pretty big, the top story on the 6 oclock news here when it broke. I was definetly surprised by the extent of the reaction to the story, however I dont belive that there is such thing as bad publicity and I think I only really helped the bands profile.
How much did this let’s say now unwanted publicity bring problems to your everyday life and routines, I mean if you had to hide at home for a while until the biggest fuss was over ?
It didnt really bring me any problems. Although it did create a strong outcry from certain conservative elements of society, I am who I am, I believe what I believe and I refuse to let their opinions dictate how I live or choose to express myself.
Despite all the negative issues that came up, but however on the other hand you got a lot of free press and the name of Dawn Of Azazel got thrown to the large awareness of the metal scene, or how do you view this ?!
Yes, as I mentioned above that sort of publicity is only of a beneficial nature when you have a guitar in your hands.
As far as the metal scene is concerned down there in New Zealand, I still remember a band called Demoniac which ventured from the blackish style more to the traditional metal direction, what are bands which you would like to recommend people to get a hold ?!
There are quite a few good bands here such as Ulcerate, Skuldom, Relentless Attrition, Odiusembowel, Vassafor, Diocletian, Exordium Mors, Meatyard, Backyard Burial, Sinate, Demiurge and Aphelon.
All right I name here a couple of bands sharing the extreme brutal death metal approach and you could say what you think.
3 Axis Of Advance
1. Great band that deserves more recognition
2. Killer, A band I have followed and respected for years, their latest album is a masterpiece
3. One of the most innovative and underrated bands that exist at present.
4. Excellent group that carries on the tradition of the mighty Canadian’s “Conqueror”
All right Rigel, I for one thank you for the interview and your time, but you can say the last words ….