Hell-o Luka! Before Prezir came into being, you guys were involved in projects such as Subjugation, Domain Malevolence, Bled Awake, Dead to Earth, Bury the Pariah, Carnal Befoulment, Divisive Skin, Never Ending Circle, but for some reason nothing ever really came out of that,so what was the problem with those bands? Are they still around?
Greetings. We've all been in many bands over the years. None of the bands mentioned above are still active, for a variety of reasons. I'll only speak in reference to Carnal Befoulment, the only aforementioned band that I was in. The band was a fun time, and I truly enjoyed playing with those guys, but it ran its course. We released a 2011 EP, and ended on amicable terms. I personally grew out of that style of death metal over the years, but look fondly upon my time spent with Carnal Befoulment.
How did you come along with all the bands you already played with? Are there any bands you think that are completely arrogant dicks or do you all support each other in the US and Overseas???
I tend not to get into the local metal scene politics, and have had overall pleasurable experiences playing with the bands Prezir has shared the stage with. Some of them being close personal friends usually helps in that regard.
Who actually had the idea to establish a Black Metal band like Prezir? Luka,did you form the band or were you asked to join?
I was already friends with the guys in the band. I've played exclusively in death metal bands over the years, and wanted to do a black metal band for some time considering my love for the genre. Rory (guitar) and I talked about the idea of potentially doing such a project. We went to a Destroyer 666 show in Chicago, a show that Brian (drums) also attended. After the stellar performance that D666 delivered, we were further still inspired to pursue such a course. I saw Brian make a post expressing his interest in starting a band with a similar approach to writing, and instantly put Rory and him in contact. Shortly thereafter, we started writing the material that you heard on our 2017 EP “Contempt”. So to answer your question, all three of us were there from the beginning.
When and how did you all got together then? Were there any problems considering the fact that Brian Serzynski (drums) is busy with Pig's Blood and Rory Heikkila (guitars) also still seems to have a full schedule, apart from Shroud of Despondency where Jerry Hauppa (bass) and Tyler Okrzesik (guitars) are also busy with other musical projects like Ara, Northless, Steel Iron and Cholernik, Sillage...
Contempt was self recorded and released as a three piece. Shortly there after, Tyler(guitar) and then Jerry(bass) were recruited for live shows. Eventually, this was the lineup for our full length “As Rats Devour Lions”. Shroud of Despondency has basically been a recording project for some years now, and there were little to no conflicts in scheduling conflicts on Rory's part. Both Brian and I are in full time active live bands. Pigs Blood and Khazaddum respectively. We simply worked around those projects. Tyler's Cholernik is also a exclusively a recording project. Jerry made time in between his many ventures for live shows, and to record the our album.
If I would have to nail you musically, I would probably say that you combine the fury of Black Metal with the Death Metal brutality of Angelcorpse and the insane soloing. How do you see things yourself? Where do you draw your main influences from?
That's essentially spot on. Add a little thrash into the mix, and you've got it. Our major influences are as follows. From the black metal side, (Destroyer 666, Dawn, Emperor, GBK, Absu), thrash (Megadeth, Slayer) and death metal (Morbid Angel, Immolation, Deicide, Angelcorpse).
Who came up with the original song ideas in "Contempt"... the stuff that ended up being independently released as your first official EP in 2017?
Rory wrote the songs, Brian set the drums, and I wrote the lyrics and set the themes.
Were those six songs the first Prezir songs you four wrote together or has there been material that you already did before, yet didn't consider good enough to release?
No “Contempt” was written in a relatively short time. Those were the original songs written and they all made it onto the EP. The next song written for Prezir was the title track off of the full length. Rory, Brian and I were were the only ones on the EP. Tyler didn't join, and start writing until “Contempt” was already completed.
Tell us a bit about this EP... Where did you record that, was it meant to be a promotional tool for possible labels only or also intended to be sold to fans etc.? What kind of reactions did you get on "Contempt" from fans in general and your own loyal Milwaukee fan-base in particular?
All of “Contempt” was self recorded except for the drums. We went to Iron Hand Audio in Chicago and Brian recorded the drums with Dan Klein. Rory got the tracks back and mixed the EP himself. We recorded it to establish a sound and really feel out what exactly we wanted to do with this project. We were happy with the results for essentially a self made first recording and sold it independently both physically and digitally through Bandcamp. It received a fairly good response from the underground.
At which point did you enter the Howl Street Recordings to record your debut album "As Rats Devour Lions" with Shane Hochstetler? Were you prepared to record the material and how did the recording sessions go?Were all of you satisfied with the end result? Did Shane Hochstetler do a good work, in terms of arrangement, mixing, recording etc.?
We entered the studio in late spring of 2018. We were all very prepared to record this album and got everything tracked and mixed in about three days. Shane Hochstetler was a pleasure to work with, and I would highly recommend Howl Street Recordings. Every musician hears small things they wish they would have done differently or better during repeated listens after the fact, but overall, we're all pleased with the final result. I can personally say that I am very proud of this album.
The listener is immediately hit right from the opening seconds of first track of the album with a raging Black Metal assault! "As Rats Devour Lions" is fast, heavy and variable, a lot of different riffs are in the songs and there is a pretty impressive drum-work, do you agree with it?
I do. The title track was the first song written for the album and I really believe it set the tone for what the album would become as a whole.
How do you view, that speed is a unifying theme, though Prezir slow the pace here and there and that actually helps the flow of the album and the songs are all very different, so it doesn’t get boring?
Prezir shreds, plain and simple. Rory is quite skilled at playing fast and his writing utilizes this attribute accordingly. Tyler is also a shredder and he followed suit in his writing contributions. Brian is a monster. It's like playing with a human metronome and I believe that this band challenged him to take his playing speeds to new levels. I've always enjoyed doing fast vocals, so it was a natural fit. As for whether it's boring, well, that's for the listener to decide, but as far as we're concerned, this is exactly the approach we wanted to take.
What do you think about, that the riffs, although sounding recycled, are very catchy, memorable and entertaining, the sound is raw, unpolished to perfectly fit this music the rhythm section is fast and raging all the time?
Prezir wasn't conceived as some avant garde, let's reinvent the wheel, sort of artsy black metal project. We wanted to create acrimonious heavy metal in the vein of our influences, with a mutual disgust for the safety of modern metal. This, I believe we did in spades. In my personal opinion, the riffs are the driving force of this band. Rory did the lion's share of riff writing on this record. That being said, Tyler also made significant contributions in this department. I will also say that the drumming, solos, vocals, lyrics and art are all significant in making it work as a whole.
Please tell us about the cover artwork as well, which became excellent too! Basically how important are the artworks for you?
I personally drew the cover art for “As Rats Devour Lions”, created the logo, and designed the CD layout. I think that art is critical in establishing a thematic direction and symbolizing the lyrical meaning of the album.
Did you develop a lot compared to your previous material?What are the differences and similarities between the new album and "Contempt”? Do you agree that on the new record are even a few more modern ideas that impact the sound and keep things exciting?
I believe that overall, “As Rats Devour Lions” is a much more mature and focused effort than “Contempt”. The playing is much tighter, the song writing more intricate and concise, and the overall production is considerably improved and sonically balanced.
When and how did Godz ov War Productions get into the picture then and what made you sign with them instead of any other company that might have shown interest in the band...?
Godz ov War was already working with Brian and his band Pigs Blood. Considering their track record, and their roster of quality bands, they were offered the record before we even considered other record labels, and Greg chose to release it. This conversation took place in the summer of 2018.
Did you have any shows or tours in support of the album? How can / would you describe us the Prezir shows?
We played several show into the lead up to the album release, and had a very good album release show. No tours are currently planned. Live, we try to deliver the songs as well and accurately as they are written and recorded. It's intense playing this whole album live.
Luka, when you grew up, how difficult was it to get metal albums in Serbia, that time The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, because I can imagine that wasn't easy,same like in my country (Poland) either!Did you do a lot of tape-trading?What were your fave bands when you grew up?
I left Yugoslavia and immigrated to the U.S.A. In 1991. I was seven years old at the time, and didn't really start listening to metal, especially extreme metal until my early teens. So, I never went through those struggles that some of the folks I know back home who are metal heads had to endure in Serbia. That's exactly how they did it though, through tape trading, cassette recorders, etc. Early on I listened to the classics that most people got into metal with like Black Sabbath and Metallica. Then, I moved through the standard progression of heavier stuff starting off with bands like Slayer and Sepultura. What really blew my mind, and got me into extreme metal was when I purchased Deicide's “Serpents of the Light” and Morbid Angel's “Covenant” on the same day from a local Milwaukee used CD store. Since, I have never looked back. Even though I developed my passion for underground extreme metal in America, I think that my heritage and place of origin clearly have an influence on what I write.
I think the US Black Metal scene is quite strong at the moment with many great bands like The Black Moriah,Hod,Uada and old stagers like Absu,Summon,Black Witchery,Morbosidad or Angelcorpse. Also the latest efforts of Monstrosity,Hate Eternal and Immolation prove best that the US underground kicks ass right now. Would you agree? What developments and trends do you recognize or even despise in your national scene?
I would agree, and think that the U.S. black metal scene is likely stronger now than ever. Bands like FIN from Chicago, and Maquahuitl from California, among others have raised the torch high for the new guard of USBM. That being said, the U.S. market is heavily over-saturated with mediocre BM bands as well. There are many who seem to pay lip service to the imagery and overall tone of black metal for all the wrong reasons. Hipster black metal is a cancer to the art form from my perspective. This has lead to the popularization of safe space oriented material that is the antithesis to what black metal is by nature. As far as the old guard, bands like Absu, GBK, and Judas Iscariot, they have immortalized USBM on an international stage.
As far as death metal is concerned, the United States still reigns supreme from my perspective. This is in large part due to the old guard still running strong. This very year, Hate Eternal, Monstrosity, Deicide, Drawn and Quartered, and Terrorizer all released brand new, excellent records. The old school isn't exclusively holding down the fort either. I would highly encourage readers to pick up the new House of Atreus record, titled “From the Madness of Ixion”. They are a fantastic band and can be considered relatively new comers from Minneapolis.
What were the latest CDs you bought? Any underground talents you can recommend from your local Milwaukee area? If you like tell me something about your all-time faves as well!
All the aforementioned death metal CDs were recent purchases. I've also recently bought the new Krisiun, Nechochwen, Necrophobic, Ungfell, Unleashed, Bonehunter, Deathhammer, Wintermoon, Délétère, and Forteresse.
As far as locals, I would recommend you check out my death metal band Khazaddum, Brian's Pigs Blood, Rory's Shroud of Despondency, and Tyler's Cholernik first and foremost. As far as other locals, there are some older Milwaukee death metal classics still going strong like Viogression and Morta Skuld. Towering Abomination is quality technically driven death and Emblazoned is worthwhile blackened death. As far as Milwaukee USBM I'd recommend Haduk Ura and Apocalyptic Session.
I'll extend the term “local” to Chicago as well. These bands are all ranging from excellent to very enjoyable. FIN, Cardiac Arrest, Blood of the Wolf, Imperial Savagery, and Oblivion Worship are some of my favorites.
Interview by Mariano (published also in Absit Omen Webzine - http://absit-omen.com/)
Answers by Luka Đorđević (Prezir)