Band leader and guitarist Martin Hofbauer and bass player Sebastian Moser – Empyreal Sorrow
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks Michael at Black-Roos Entertainment for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Black-Roos Entertainment for the promo pictures of the band.
Promo pictures taken by: Martin Hofbauer
From Munich, Germany comes a new melodic death metal/black metal act by the name of Empyreal Sorrow. The band will release their debut album, PRÆY, at the end of November 2020 and I had the opportunity to talk to band leader/guitarist Martin Hofbauer and bass player Sebastian Moser about the band, the album, and what’s next for the band. The album’s being released independently so check out their Bandcamp site or Spotify for the album.
Hi, nice to talk to you, I hope everyone’s doing fine. Are you ready to kick off the interview?
Martin: Thanks for the chance to do this interview! We are ready for all your questions.
Is it guitarist Martin Hofbauer that first formed the band? When was that? Was it easy to find members?
Martin: The formation of the band was more or less a natural process as at first it was just me wanting to record ideas I had collected and written over the years that did not fit into my other bands. Our vocalist and bassist Sebastian helped me out in his studio and when it came to the point where we needed a drummer, he suggested Julian (Osterried), who had already done a lot of recording sessions at Sebastian’s studio. He instantly agreed as he liked the material. This was around the end of 2018, beginning of 2019.
Sebastian: Yes, natural is the right term, I think. Because every member has a more or less long connection to one of the others. And as we met for the first time all together, it was as if a bunch of longtime friends were meeting. I would say that the most important part with this band is that we don’t have any stress or ego problem – we do what everyone is comfortable with and this leads to a very easy going time and feeling within the band.
In the biography it says that the members all have a long and solid background as a studio and live metal musicians. What were the members been up to before they joined Empyreal Sorrow?
Martin: I was longtime guitar player in a Bavarian Death Metal band called Dead Alone with whom I released a handful of albums and did a lot of concerts as well. Our drummer Julian also plays for a band called Meister Ehder and for the Post-Black Metal project V/Haze Miasma. He also played together with our second guitarist Markus in a band called Trepidation (also Death Metal).
Sebastian: I began my career as a musician at the age of 16 with the bass guitar and since then was in a number of different bands, be it stoner rock, thrash metal, heavy rock or death metal. For around seven years I played with the heavy rockers from Gloomball and had a bunch of tours with bands like Motorjesus or Hämatom. With one if my bands I also had the chance to play at the Summer Breeze Open Air.
Who came up with the band name and does it have any special meaning?
Martin: The name was my idea. Most people believe in love as the strongest emotion and bond between one another but I think that sorrow and pain unite us even more and can push you to grow beyond your own limits. I believe in this out of my own personal experiences. Sorrow is more honest than treacherous love, stronger than fragile valor and more divine than hypocritical forgiveness. With the acceptance of pain as one of the most important parts of life, you can really reflect on your own self and see through other people’s actions. Sorrow is our leader through life and our band is deeply inspired by this emotion.
When was the decision made to have two lead vocalist, one on growls and one on more clean black metal vocals?
Sebastian: We wanted a refreshing approach to our material and not just the obvious growling from beginning to end. We integrated more than just one vocalist to give everything more dynamics and to serve the diversity of the songs. That’s where our second singer Martin Szeike came on board. While I am serving more of the black metal-like singing style, Martin is bombarding you with his utterly deep death metal grunts.
New album PRAEY
When did you begin the work on material for the album?
Sebastian: The roots of Empyreal Sorrow go back to 2014 when our guitarist Martin recorded the first song ideas with me. As both of us were involved in other projects at that time there was never a real plan to do more than just playing around with some cool riffs. After Martin’s project came to an end and he still had a massive pile of really cool ideas, the two of us sat together again in 2018 in my own Grotesque Studios, just planning on recording guitars and getting the arrangements in shape.
Who wrote the music and lyrics and what are the lyrics about?
Martin: The music was more or less written completely by me, with a lot of input from the other guys while we were recording and finishing up everything. With the lyrics it was 50-50 between Sebastian and I.
Sebastian: The lyrics deal mainly with devastation and destruction, the downfall of mankind. There is nothing that gives you so much inspiration as to look at today’s declining humanity. There is a constant frustration swelling inside of us because of how irrational and egotistical mankind is, feeding on its own essence. It is not the most optimistic view or topic but our music is our personal outlet for the anger and incomprehension we feel when thinking about this planet and the swarm of human idiots flooding it.
Did you use all of the songs you wrote for the album or were there any songs that didn’t made it on to the final cut?
Martin: There are still a bunch of songs left that we completely recorded but decided to not put on the album. That was mainly because we wanted the album to have a strong impression on the listener and we realized that after about 40 minutes you start to lose attention.
Sebastian: That’s right, and it was not easy to decide which songs to NOT put on the record – for us they are all hits. But we already have a plan for the rest of songs; in the context of an EP we will experiment with some new influences and give the songs a refreshing new character.
Quiet Depression (OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO)
Why did you call the album PRAEY? What’s the story behind that name?
Martin: The album name – like the cover artwork – is a symbol for the black and white thinking of a lot of mankind. A symbol for the pain, fears and division of humanity. The artwork of PRÆY is also a perverted adaption of the Vitruvian Man drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci – the destruction of the ideal of the perfect human being. It is the logical visual interpretation of our lyrical topics on this record and of our view on today’s society acting like a human swarm, blindly following and consuming the feces of the over-present (social) media. The cover was created by Björn Lensig (www.lensig.com), a very talented and amazing artist who has also worked for artists like Amon Amarth and is doing lots of illustration for games. His style was perfectly fitting our artistic vision for this album.
How would you to describe the style of your music?
Sebastian: That’s easy – it’s melodic death metal with stirring groove, energetic riffing, and catchy lyrics that instantly will make you bang your head.
I’ve read that you’re inspired by Swedish death metal and bands like Edge of Sanity, At The Gates, Dark Tranquility and In Flames. Is that correct and in what way have they inspired you?
Martin: That’s correct, those bands from the Swedish death metal scene are one if my main influences, be it obvious or more subliminal. The main factor that these bands achieved is this great combination of aggression and melody. It’s always “songs” they have written. Songs that you can remember and relate to, with memorable lyrics and melody lines.
Besides those acts which ones are closest to Empyreal Sorrow musically?
Sebastian: I would add a band like Paradise Lost in terms of the approach to the lyrical part. They inspired me a lot when it comes to arranging the lyrics. And musically, I would say Heaven Shall Burn.
Do you think that the band will continue to play this style on the next album or do you think there may be an evolution in your sound?
Sebastian: We’ll definitely never stick to one certain set of rules. Yes, we love death metal and we certainly will be part of this genre in the future, but why not experiment with new influences? Let’s see what the future brings. As mentioned above, we are planning an EP with which we will explore certain new grounds.
Source Of (In)Humanity (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
I think that PRAEY is a really strong debut with a lot of memorable songs and well executed music and lead vocals. Are you happy with the outcome of the album?
Martin: We are more than happy with this album, both in the production as well as on the musical side. It all came really natural and with lots of fun.
The band has a website but there isn’t much info there; why is that?
Sebastian: The website is just a “landing-page” for us. We have realized over years of music making that most fans are strolling through social media and not band websites. So we try to be active on those platforms more and keep the website as informative as needed.
The band is also active on Facebook, do you get a lot of question from fans there? What are some of the most common ones?
Sebastian: It’s more comments than questions that we receive. My impression of Facebook and such is that most people just consume – it’s not that much of a “real” communication tool or platform, but we acknowledge that without an active presence on social media you don’t get the attention you need as a band that will allow you to attract new listeners. So we work with it and try to be as active as possible.
You’re holding a listening event on Nov. 20th to celebrate the release of PRAEY. What can you tell us about that, are you going to stream a live show or anything like that?
Martin: At the moment we are still planning what we exactly want to do. With the current situation it is really not that easy to do something really live and we’re not big fans of these recent “live-streams” as we find them more or less boring, sitting at home and watching a band perform alone in a room or on a stage. This is not the “live” feeling we love.
What’s the status regarding Covid-19 in Munich and Germany at the moment?
Sebastian: As in most parts of Europe at the moment the numbers of infections are rising and the rules and regulations are getting more strict again.
The pandemic pretty much stopped all kinds of live performances and tours. What are the plans for the band when/if the situation calms down?
Martin: There are certain chances to do live shows, but we have to see if it is worth the risk at the moment. So right now we are mainly looking into how we can reach our potential fans on other ways, via social media in particular. We are also planning our future stage set up at the moment. The most important part in playing live shows is to give the audience an entertaining experience. With that in mind, we try to avoid the stereotypical stage presence of so many bands – just standing around, moshing and boring the crowd. All of us have a lot of onstage experience as live musicians and we know that activating the crowd counts way more in the end than playing every note right.
Do you think the German government have acted responsible regarding the pandemic?
Sebastian: Let’s be honest – we as a band do not want to get political. Although the situation right now fits into what we are covering in our lyrics from an overall view, we don’t want to measure any actions of our people in charge officially. All of us in the band are lucky to still have jobs and are not affected by the virus in any harmful way. We just try to stay in our small environments and to follow the rules of common sense and hygiene when being with other people.
In Sweden we are allowed to gather maximum 50 people at the same time, how is it in Germany now (in October)?
Sebastian: It depends on the situation – if we have a certain number of cases in an area. There are no limitations but when there are too many cases it’s limited to 10 people.
Could you give the ones who haven’t heard about Empyreal Sorrow three reasons why they should buy PRAEY?
Martin: If you like your Death Metal on point with a catchy chorus just like ABBA – then you have to give EMPYREAL SORROW a chance.
What are the plans for the band during the rest of the year?
Sebastian: We will concentrate on bringing the music of our debut album to the potential fans. Besides that we are already writing and gathering new material, and planning the mentioned EP.
Before I leave you, do you have any words of wisdom to share with the readers and fans?
Martin: Get naked and drink beer while listening to metal. Best you can do in times like these.
Thanks for taking the time making the interview, congratulations on a great debut album and I wish you and the rest of the band members all the best. Stay healthy and safe!
Martin: Thanks for having us.