Phone Interview by Sabrina Selkis
Merciless Savagery, the new release of Antropomorphia, is out and ready to bleed your ears. The Dutch band has produced a dark, more personal follow up of their acclaimed Sermon Ov Wrath. Ferry Damen tells us all about it, how Antropomorphia solidify their sound and why they are parting ways with necrophiliac lyrics.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, how are you doing?
I’m good, thanks, had some interviews, been talking all day for band stuff!
I’m glad I got to talk to you as I realised I saw Antropomorphia live at Roadburn two years ago…
Yay, correct, we played in the Het Patronaat venue.
It was such a great gig! That church venue suited you so well and the sound was perfect too!
Thanks very much. I’ve been going for nearly ten years as a fan. You always see the dedication of the bands playing too.
Did you record your gig?
I believe they recorded our gig but what happened with that I don’t know, I just go and play!
You’re from Tilburg right?
Yes, yes. Originally not, but I’ve lived here for the last twenty years.
You’re releasing your new album, Merciless Savagery, with Metal Blade, and you have been with them for numerous releases now.
This is the fourth full length and we did the re-release of our first EP Necromantic Love Songs in 2015 I believe.
So this has been a great relationship I take it?
Yay for sure, from the get go. At the time, a friend of ours was helping with management type of stuff and he emailed the head of Metal Blade Europe. He was enthusiastic and that never changed. They deliver for every album, they know what we want, so it’s natural for us to stay with them.
Regarding your new album, Merciless Savagery, is it a follow up of Sermon Ov Wrath? Or something different?
I think it’s an accumulation of all its predecessors, and I jokingly often say Sermon Ov Wrath is our debut album! That to me defines who we were at that point in time and how we should sound. We ventured outside the confined boundaries of the death metal genre, we played around with other genres, I embrace the freedom as a song writer. That album became the main catalyst to expand upon. So Merciless Savagery is the progression of all the albums before that.
What do you mean by “more freedom as a songwriter”?
I never stop to think about what I am doing when I write, it’s an organic process, the inspiration guides you. When I write a riff, it doesn’t matter the kind of inspiration or where it comes from, it always sounds like Antropomorphia. Not to sound arrogant, but you can play one of our song and people will know it’s us. There are not many bands out there that do what we do. A lot of bands go back to the Swedish sound, and copy paste all that shit, but not many stick their neck out and try to do something different.
And unique as well.
I believe we capture that sound on Sermon and developed that.
Talking about inspiration and lyrics, they are murder, necrophilia, necromancy…and please don’t laugh but can you define necrolesbian lust to me!
Ah! That was two and a half albums ago, that’s what we did when we started and I wanted to keep that in the band when we wrote our first album for Metal Blade. When we went through the second album, Rites Ov Perversion, I kinda took a step back and wanted to get more personal with lyrics. On Sermon, most of them are and those topics hardly come out. I can use them as a metaphor. At one point, to me, it became juvenile to keep on going with the necrophilia stuff and all that because I couldn’t relate to it anymore. I’m almost 40 and I have other things to say, I’ve been through lots of shit in my life. Also, my religion came more into play so I wanted to intertwine those things and put in more of myself personally.
So what would you say is the message of Merciless Savagery?
It’s mostly a ride that I went through myself, I won‘t explain my lyrics because I like the interpretation of the listener, it has to be free. They can make up their own minds about that and connect to the lyrics their own way.
So kinda like a painting, you leave it to the people to draw their own interpretation?
Yes exactly, I know what I mean with it, I know what it stands for, with metaphors or not. With art, everybody should make up their own mind, be it music, visual…that freedom has to be with the listener.
I’d like to rewind to your comment about “my religion” earlier. Do you mind expanding on that please?
Like five, six years ago, I was always interested in Satanism but I wasn’t going deeper with it. Now it’s a bigger part of my life. But I don’t go around yelling it! Most of us are atheists, so there is no real issue or discussion within the bands, they let me do my thing and they’re okay with that. It’s also the reason that I…for instance during live performance or video shoot, I am the only one covered in blood. You do something cos you believe in it, not to look cool.
Now regarding artwork, what is it you are responsible for?
I am responsible for the layouts and cover, not the artwork itself. I talk to the artist about my vision. Although I created the artwork of our debut album. I am a vinyl collector, so the visual is important. The proportion of the art work, not needing a magnifying glass to read the lyrics, everything appeals more! It’s harder with a CD. As a kid, lying on my bed listening to Iron Maiden, I always found something new to notice. There’s something about turning the record, the feel of it, the experience, I like it much more.
In term of tours, gigs, do you have anything lined up that you can talk about?
The only thing confirmed is In Flammen open air in Germany in July. A tour is something that we are in talks over and considering but not planned at this moment.
Any places, countries, fan base you feel really suits Antropomorphia?
We like to play all over the world but last year we played a couple of times in Germany and the response was wild. We played at midnight and people were still there demolishing the place! It’s awesome to experience and we are looking forward to going back there.
If could make up your tour, who will that be with? What would be the best bill for you, your fans to attend?
Oh…living or dead [laugh]?
If I could choose, I would do a tour with Death, at the time they were supporting the Scream Bloody Gore album, or Leprosy. A good bill would be to tour with Dissection…and I think it would be great for us to be a support of Behemoth.
Good one too! Thank you Ferry. Oh, when are you planning a London gig by the way?
We have connections, so we’re talking about it but nothing planned yet.
Thanks again and have a great evening!