Interview was prepared by Graveworm (for Atmosfear #19)
Hi! You starts in 1995, but after recording one demo you going to nowhere for more than ten years. Where you been all this time?
Hi! Bartek and Darek, the founders of the band, decided on a break. They started families and needed a more stable life. It lasted for quite a long time but fortunately, their dreams about playing in the band never vanished, just stayed dormant for a while.
How long you played Black Metal and when you understand that it’s time to change the style?
Divine Weep had been a black metal band until the reactivation. In the meantime, Bartek Kosacki was working on heavy metal material, so it was probably finalized after 2005. We haven’t totally said goodbye to those black metal roots, though. They’re visible on our new album ‘Tears of the Ages’ and the new single ‘Austere Obscurity’ which will premiere at the beginning of March 2017.
Your first album, “Age Of The Immortal” (2013), was not officially released?
‘Age of the Immortal’, our first heavy metal material, has not been published by any label. We distributed a small number of CDs on our own and now it is available in mp3 format for chicken feed.
How you find Ukrainian label and make deal with them?
It started with the opportunity to include our single on a compilation published by Metal Scrap Records. The deal went through and, as we were in the middle of recording our new material, we thought: ‘Why don’t we try to publish a full album there’? We sent our offer to a few labels, but Metal Scrap Records offered us the best deal on publishing ‘Tears of the Ages’, it provided promotion and media support. In spite of the fact that our manager had already known the owner of the label, we did it all the traditional way, sending our album for evaluation.
The album was released also by Stormspell Records in USA. How you think, where your music more popular, in Europe or in America?
‘Tears of the Ages’ was originally published by the US label for a short period of publishing cycle. Currently, the only distributor is Metal Scrap Records. I believe that both in Europe as well as in many countries in North and South America, metal music has been on the roll again. We have a lot of feedback from listeners from Western Europe, but also from the US, Chile, Mexico or Brazil, who listen to and enjoy our music. They often leave positive comments on our Facebook and YouTube accounts.
Tell me more about new album, “Tears Of The Ages”, please. As I understand, it’s like a compilation of all your tracks, because here also presents tracks from the demo and first album?
‘Tears of the Ages’ includes some pieces previously available on ‘Age of the Immortal’ as well as the bonus single ‘Age of the Immortal’, recorded later for promotional and video purposes. It also contains some new pieces like: ‘Fading Glow’, ‘Never Ending Path’, ‘Last Breath’, or the theme song ‘Tears of the Ages’. So we could say it’s a compilation of the ideas which we had after the reactivation, but which were ready in their final versions only around 2015. It was dictated by various factors, like the problems with finding a vocalist after reactivation or playing our first concerts that seriously limited our composing time.
You has covered Iron Maiden songs for a lot times. What their album you think is the best? What cover you has played you think is best? For me it’s “Fear Of The Dark”.
Our earlier work was often compared with Iron Maiden style. In my opinion, it was not entirely right. On the other hand, we probably added to the situation ourselves by recording those bonus covers. We’ve been trying to cut ourselves off those comparisons and we finally feel we’ve manged it only now. Our current heavy metal is inspired by many genres, from black and death metal to German and British heavy metal. We also draw from film music and everyday music that surrounds us. Quite often, some interesting melodies can be inspired by something not connected with metal at all. Many renowned metal musicians were inspired by classical and jazz music and it’s only natural. It’s most important to have many inspirations and arrange the ideas your way. When it comes to Iron Maiden, who we listen to as well, it’s hard for me to choose their best album, but I like eg. ‘Fear of the Dark’ that you’ve mentioned, or ‘Powerslave’.
I saw you has tour around Poland. You live close to Belarus and Ukraine. How about come to us with the few shows?
We’re developing each and every day. Each year we’re in a completely different place so it’s hard to predict what it’s going to be like in the future. For now we’ve prepared the second part of our Polish tour and we’re going to play in 12 big cities. At the moment we’re also slowly working on our plans for some gigs abroad. Our initial plans for this year assume visiting Germany and Slovakia. What’s going to happen later? We’ll see. Maybe this interview will be read by some organisers or bands who would enjoy our music and would like to help us to appear abroad? We’re open to any offers.
What is your favorit Polish band? I remember Kat, Turbo and Dragon. Marek Wojcieski, was one of my favorites, R.I.P.
I really like the older material of Kat. Currently, they’re probably not in their best shape, but as a legendary Polish band they’re outstanding.
One of the last good news is the reanimation of old cult festival Metalmania. How much times you was there and planned to be in the future?
Unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to appear at Metalmania. I’m really interested in that festival, its future and potential further editions. Unfortunately, Polish metal festivals are generally in a difficult situation. We had discussed our appearance at Metalmania with its organizers. We’d been really close to playing there, but finally, Metal Mind management decided on heavier sounding bands and classic heavy metal didn’t go through. We hope for a better outcome in the future.
I never heard about bands from Białystok. Do you have Metal scene there?
I’m really surprised by that opinion! Białystok is well-known in Poland for its metal tastes and bands. Some of those bands are currently inactive, but this is the place were eg. Hermh, Cinis or Via Mistica were created. Białystok is the place were top Polish metal bands like Vader, Behemoth, Decapited or Hate record their albums. When it comes to concerts, the best known one is Brutal East Festival, which is one of the biggest metal club festivals in Poland. We played a gig there during its latest edition.
Thanks for the interview! Few words to the end?
Thank you for the interview. I’d like to invite everyone to our Facebook fanpage www.facebook.com/divineweep, so we could stay in touch! I hope we’ll continue our dynamic progress, so we could meet in person soon! Take care!
DIVINE WEEP is another band from the ever so fertile Polish metal soil. Check them out after you’ve read this interview Answers by Jano – Janusz Grabowski – bassist Matt – Mateusz Drzewicz – vocalist.
Interview was prepared by ANDERS EKDAHL (for Battle Helm)
What pressure is there in releasing an album compared to a demo? Do you feel that there is a sort of pressure to succeed when you release and album, that it sorta is for real now?
Jano: When we recorded our demo album we had far less experience in the studio – I might even say that our knowledge in that topic was equal to zero. Luckily we came across skilled engineers who helped us shape our debut album – Piotr Polak from Dobra 12 Studio and Wiesławscy Brothers from renowned Hertz Studio (both in our home city – Białystok). Their work and contribution to our project cannot be overrated – we attribute the professional sound of „Tears of the Ages” to them. We also learned a lot from them about the overall recording process – our experience is much bigger right now, therefore I feel our next album may only be better.
When you release a record of any sort what kind of expectations do you have on it? Do you set up goals for it?
Jano: To me a record is a pathway to gaining new fans all over the world, my expectations would then be to reach to as many people as possible. It is crucial to promote it properly so that people get to know our music and eventually see us in concert.
Matt: I agree, though my personal focus is mainly on music itself – every coming year marks my constant improvement and progress, both creatively (writing music and lyrics) and for my perception, since I get to know more and more new music and experiences. You might then say that my purpose is to sort of immortalize the moment or the state of mind which I’m currently in while I’m involved in the album creating process.
When you release an album and you go out and play live and people know your songs, how weird is that? That people know what you have written on your own?
Jano: People know our songs and they sing it often, usually in places that we visited at least once before. It feels great – gives us satisfaction, that we reach people on a larger scale than we thought.
Matt: Attending concerts of the biggest bands I’ve came to believe, that when people sing your songs it has to be exciting, but also intimidating at the same time. What happens in reality is that you and your audience create a bond of some sort, the one that give you this energetic boost onstage that can make you go on for the next few hours. Oh, and it helps when I happen to forget the lyrics – all I have to do is to present the microphone to the loudest ones in the audience. (laugh)
Do you feel that you have to follow in the footsteps of the last album for a new when it comes to lyrics and art work for everything so that those that bought the previous record will recognize your sound?
Jano: To me the continuity of music is crucial, especially that our previous album was pretty well received and still sounds good. We will certainly try to build on the musical foundation, that made our first album sound like „us”, so that the listener won’t be surprised while hearing the new record, though we obviously have no intention to fall into stagnation. Our new vocalist – Matt – brings a lot of new possibilities to our music and we want to present them to our fans.
Matt: I’m a great fan of those guys’ previous album (well, the whole band is), though I’ve always considered that the vocalist is the one, who defines the sound of the band – and you can hear clearly, that I am completely different vocalist than Igor (previous vocalist of DW). That single factor is enough for the new album to sound different from its predecessor, yet I hope there will be mostly positive changes – from my first rehearsals with the band emerged a lot of great ideas and I can’t wait to forge them into proper songs. There’s no need to predict the revolution though – musicwise it will still be a Divine Weep album.
Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community because you play in a band?
Jano: Definitely. We spend so much time together – hours on rehearsals, many days on tour, we also text each other on a daily basis. In the same time our fanbase is getting bigger and bigger and it’s so great to see that there’s so much people, for whom Divine Weep starts to mean a lot.
Matt: I agree. It is noticeable especially while on tour – not only you gain new fans for the band, but also get to know the other bands. It is then, that you see clearly how much all the musicians who play „unpopular” music have in common and it helps to build a stable „scene”. Of course there are exceptions to this rule… though I think it is a topic for another interview.
How hard/easy is it to come up with new songs that that still are you but doesn’t sound like anything you’ve already written?
Matt: I’ve never wondered about it – which I guess proves that it ain’t that hard!
Jano: We have tons of old ideas – what we have to do is to get them together and fix some wicked songs out of them, it will all be easy right after. Cause, you know, making a good song from scratch… now that would require hell of an inspiration! (laugh)
What influences/inspires you today? Where do you draw inspiration from? Is it important to have some sort of message?
Jano: While writing music we don’t set ourselves borders – we try to draw inspirations from all the music genres. Our latest single, „Austere Obscurity”, may be a heavy metal song, but it features parts that wouldn’t be out of place on a black metal album or a movie score. Additionally, the bass part I wrote for „Petrified Souls” was partly inspired by the bass solo from the song „Smooth Operator” by Sade. Just keep your eyes and mind open and you will find inspiration everywhere.
Matt: I devour tons of art – mainly in the form of music, films and books. Naturally it all finds it way through my lyrics, though pointing out specific examples might fill half of your magazine’s space (laugh). Oh, and the message – I think it’s present in most of my lyrics, though I don’t find it necessary at all, as opposed to imagination arousing factor. I therefore try for my lyrics to be able to be interpreted in many ways, while not crossing the incomprehensibility line at the same time. You might also want to know that I am under constant influence of my inner nerd, who always looks for not unconventional methods of expression and keeps me from signing my name under anything I make, that I wouldn’t be fully happy with.
We hear about what state the record industry is in. Then we hear that cd sales are increasing. As a band that releases records do you notice the state the industry is in?
Jano: Well, in my opinion it’s good when there also is a digital version of a CD album – it gives you the possibility to listen to it on Spotify and Youtube (for example). I don’t think it lowers the proper CD sales, I’d say quite contrary – those of us who are interested in music just want to make sure they won’t buy a pig in a poke, you know? It’s good to know the single at least, and since not all the songs appear on TV or the radio, releasing singles on the internet seems crucial.
Matt: I would even risk an opinion, that digital music introduced music to the new times. You say, that we hear about poor state of record industry – it is because the main losers in this race are biggest record companies. As a matter of fact, they just hoisted with their own petard – they created a mass consumption market of people who would listen to something just because it’s popular or aired on the radio. Good for them, but the same people won’t buy Rihanna’s CD, just because nowadays it’s so easy to get it from torrents for free and then erase it from iPod after a week of listening. The paradox is, that it also made independent labels prosper better than ever – real music fans spend certain amount of money on physical copies of music CDs on a regular basis and digitally available music helps them to monitor the increasing choice of new albums. They can thus get a clue whether one band’s music is worth investing money in or not – eventually the winner is overall musical quality, not some twisted popularity race supported by mainstream media.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
Jano: I listen to a lot of digital music and I must say, that getting to know new bands and albums is much faster. Nevertheless, the physical copy of the CD provides with you with far better (uncompressed) sound and enables you to fully interact with art. You know, it’s like watching a painting in the TV and have it on a wall in your room – the difference is tremendous.
What lies in the future?
Jano: In my opinion – even stronger turn towards oldschood CDs and Vinyls. Even now you can observe an increasing growth of Vinyls’ sales. More and more people interested in music want to have it physically, which I consider a good thing.
Matt: Well, we might think of issueing our material on a black plate then… Anyways, to me the future is always unknown – and this is what I found the most awesome thing about it!
DIVINE WEEP son una formación que nos llega desde tierras polacas y que nos trae un sonido en el que podemos apreciar influencias de bandas como HELLOWEEN, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST… El año pasado editaron “Tears of the ages” y ahora los tenemos en Necromance para que nos hablen de dicho trabajo.
Interview was prepared by David Déniz (for Necromance Digital Magazine)
Hello and welcome to Necromance Digital Magazine pages; Could you present the band to the readers?
Divine Weep is a Polish heavy metal band formed in 1995 and created originally as a black metal band. We have been playing heavy metal since 2005. In 2015 we relased a new album “Tears of the Ages”.
The signature of DIVINE WEEP is a mixture of Heavy metal and power metal in the vein of IRON MAIDEN, HELLOWEEN, JUDAS PRIEST…. Tell us a little bit about how the band has developed this identity.
The only members of the original Divine Weep line up are the leading guitarist and the drummer. Due to the shift in their music interests and greater maturity, when reactivating the band, they decided to follow the heavy metal genre in their new creations. They were also influenced by their interest in the fantasy genre, especially RPG games and films. These days there are also TV series.
Your last album has been “Tears of the ages”, how has it worked and what have been the response of the fans and the specialized press?
We knew we were working on a good album but the media ratings were above our expectations. For now, we have only had positive feedback and the average ratings are around 8/10. The fans’ response was also very positive. We are very proud of that. It encourages us to work more and set our standards even higher. At the moment we are beginning to prepare for a new album. In spring 2017 we are going to present our new single.
What can fans expect that they have not checked it yet?
„Tears of the Ages” contains music that had grown on us for several years. It comprises a lot of traditional heavy metal pieces and some subtle power metal tunes. All metal fans can expect some high quality heavy metal, both on our album as well as during our live performances.
Is there any concept behind “Tears of the ages”?
The music and lyrics on ‘”Tears of the Ages” are connected with our interest in fantasy. That is where the power metal tunes come from as well. The album is not fully a concept one but it composes one coherent unity.
How would you describe the cover regarding the content of the album?
The cover has been created by a famous Polish designer ,Piotr Szafraniec. He managed to achieve exactly what we wanted and dreamed of in one go, basing on our descriptions. The project is really detailed and colourful. It’s made a great impression on us and the fans seem to like it as well.
What is the song you like most on “Tears of the ages”? What was the most complicated to record in the studio?
Each of us probably has his favorites, but there are a few leading songs, especially The Mentor. Personally, I really like Imperious Blade because it is the first piece I learnt when I joined the band. A lot of people seem to like Never ending path and Day of revenge. One of the frequently mentioned pieces in also Fading Glow. Our recording work ran really smoothly with no complications so it is hard to say which parts were most complicated. We worked with the people who knew us well and realized what we expected. There are probably some single elements that could have been done a bit better but generally, I think we did really well.
How was the composition process of the album? Who is mainly responsible for composing the songs?
Half of the pieces come from demo 2010 and EP “Age of the Immortal”. Those songs had been ready before our current line up was formed. Then there were some minor changes as the songs grew on us. The other pieces were composed during rehearsals in the most traditional way – basing on motifs. The main composer in our band is Bartek Kosacki, which we are really happy about as we think he has a great gift for that. We usually add some ideas to his base structures during the rehearsals and this way we compose the whole piece.
If you could choose 3 bands to go on tour, what would they be?
We really wanted to play with Hammerfall this year. Unfortunately, in Poland there is rarely place for domestic supports. We don’t have our favorites but it is always extremely nice to play with great names. We hope you are going to see us playing with many more.
How do you see the current metal scene and where do you think it is headed?
The metal scene is, in my opinion, in great condition. There are plenty of bands – young ones as well – presenting really good standards. Probably, there won’t be many cult names like Metallica or Iron Maiden anymore, but we will probably see a comeback of many genres. I think heavy metal or trash metal are a good example here. The market return of vinyls is also something I feel positive about. Music is not only listened to in digital formats and downloaded from the Net, but more and more people decide to experience greater quality by means of CDs and vinyls.
Any bands or releases that caught your attention lately?
In our band we recently observe the return to traditional thrash metal, we tend to listen to old classics, like Death, Sepultura or Testament. Personally, I’m deeply impressed with Testament’s music and Bartek Kosacki with Death’s. I’m generally really happy that all of us listen a lot to music because not only metal music influences composion. Many renowned metal musicians were inspired by classical music, so I also recommend getting to know some Bach’s or Beethoven’s pieces.
Anything you would like to add to end the interview?
You are very welcome to get to know and to listen to our music. Fans of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or Helloween should enjoy our album “Tears of the Ages”. Do like our fb page (facebook.com/divineweep) and get ready for our new single and video which are going to appear in the Net in spring. In March we begin our concert tour and we intend to play in 12 big cities in Poland. All Polish – and not only – fans are invited! In summer we hope to play at some foreign festivals so keep following our news! Thank you for the interview.
First of all congrats men! The new album is AMAZING!
Barto: Thanks man, it means a lot to us. We get positive reviews and opinions from all over the world and we’re obviously very happy about it. Thanks to that we know that it was worth all the work spent to put it together and record it. Too bad that we can’t go on a tour to promote the album though.
How did you form the band back in 1995? What were your goals at that time?
Barto: Well, me and Daro (our drummer) were kind of young rebels listening to lots of death and black metal and we just wanted to be just like our idols. Before Divine Weep I played in the band Hermh, led by the current leader (or rather “chief investor”) of Batushka. I recorded the demo with this band and composed the material for what turned into the debut album, “Taran”. I was kicked out after I cut my hair and my songs and ideas were claimed by the band. Tough shit, right? Anyway, after that happened I wanted to form a band of my own, based on my rules. This is how Divine Weep came to life – we just wanted to play metal, record a few songs, play some gigs. No plans to rule the world whatsoever, we were just a bunch of teenagers wanting to do stuff.
What are your best memories about your first demo sessions?
Barto: I’d say that the best thing about it was just creating the music and the joy it generated. You know, joy that we were able to do songs that we liked and we thought that maybe somebody else will appreciate them as well. It was cool to hear these songs on the local radio, sending them to underground zines. We even heard that some radio in Tokyo aired it. Great memories from that period!
Why did you need all these years to release your first EP?
Barto: When we started the band we were just teenage kids. After few years we started to enter the “grown-up world”, you know – work, family, kids and stuff. The band dissolved naturally and it remained dormant for like 10 years. With our private matters settled we returned to playing together (only me and Daro from the first line-up), meanwhile I started singing and some young maniacs joined us on other instrumenets and we put out the first official Divine Weep release, being EP “Age of the Immortal”.
You also changed from an early black metal influence to a heavy/power sound. How was this transition?
Barto: I was always an Iron Maiden fan, back in the day most of metal maniacs started from this band or Metallica. However I became interested in black metal pretty soon and I wanted to play this type of music as a kid. After years of stagnation I started leaning towards my musical roots, bands like Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Def Leppard etc. I grabbed the guitar again and the music I made sounded more like Iron Maiden stuff than black metal. It was a natural process.
How is the metal scene in Poland right now? Favourite acts? Some new underground band that deserve our attention?
Matt: Polish metal scene is getting stronger with more and more band getting worldwide acclaim, especially for black metal. Some say that Polish black metal is fresh and groundbreaking like the second wave in the early 90s and can only be compared to Scandinavian black metal in terms of quality. Some big words, but I’m happy that people from abroad have such opinions. As for other genres we are obviously linked to the heavy metal scene right now and it’s great to see new great bands coming into picture. Hordes like Shadow Warrior, Roadhog, Aquilla, Okrutnik or Axe Crazy are currently the leading forces of Polish heavy metal, but there’s obviously many more.
Do you think Behemoth’s success has been more an advantage or a disadvantage for the polish scene?
Matt: I think that Behemoth (along with Vader) can be credited for promoting Polish metal outside our country’s borders. Obviously touring with them helped other Polish bands to be noticed – good examples are Mgła and Batushka, who are big names on their own now. Currently Nergal is the big star in the worldwide metal business, but perhaps I will surprise you that he’s not that revered in our country – it’s mainly due to his extramusical activity, which is widely criticized in Poland. People are disappointed with his “celebrity” attitude, with all the “glam” photos, stupid rants on internet about fucking his opponents’ mothers and talking/writing about sex related stuff 95% of the time. I personally don’t care, but there’s a lot of people having problem with it. But all in all Behemoth’s influence on Polish metal and it’s worldwide breakthrough is really impossible to overlook.
What did you want to change or improve after ‘Tears Of The Ages’?
Barto: First of all we didn’t want to be forever labelled as a “power metal” band. We still wanted to build our music around the heavy metal core, but with adding more unpredictable and not so obvious elements. On “Tears of the Ages” we had this vision of pure heavy/power metal record, but for “The Omega Man” we became more open to other ideas, I’ve reconnected with my black metal roots, more thrashy elements appeared an so on. We wanted our melodic heavy metal to become heavier, darker, more brutal in a way. We just wanted to make the “masculine” heavy metal record and get rid of all the flounces and sequins standing in the way.
What’s the key track in ‘The Omega Man’?
Matt: I would say that there’s no key track here, as in my opinion every song is very strong. I might highlight the title track though, as we intended it as an album coda long before the completion of the album, it sort of summarizes it all and gives a solid punch at the very end, as opposed to the way of many other bands, who tend to end the album with the least interesting songs (probably thinking not much people would make it to the end so it can be justified – well, it’s not).
How did you find Mateusz Drzewicz as frontman?
Janusz: A few years ago we stumbled upon the band Hellhaim – their vocalist drew our attention and after our singer Igor (with whom we have recorded “Tears…”) we even thought to contact the guy. His voice was great, but much more harsher and extreme than Igor’s, so since we were still in our “power metal” era and mindset we found somebody else. This choice turned out to be a complete mistake and we were left without a singer again. This is when Hellhaim’s vocalist, Mateusz, came to our minds again. We wondered how his harsh, thrashy voice would fit with our melodic music and high pitched vocal lines. Our manager immediately sent him a proposition to join us. I think Mateusz was going through some hard time then, as he wasn’t very enthusiastic about it and even thought that we are making fun of him. He initially looked for excuses, but eventually gave it a try and here we are – with him behind the microphone for almost four years now! As for today we can’t think of Divine Weep without his vocals, commitment and dilligence.
What’s the track that mostly shows his vocals skills in your opinion?
Barto: I would pick “The Screaming Skull of Silence” as Mateusz shows most of his skills there – there’s some classic clean singing, some high pitched Halfordesque screams, some oldschool Ozzy thing, some growls etc. The abundance of vocal ideas, check that track out!
What are your biggest influences except for Iron Maiden, Dio and Judas Priest?
Barto: Each of us listens to different stuff, though some bands and artists are common for most. Some dig in the traditional heavy metal, some (like our drummer Daro) are stuck in the 90s espacially for black and death metal. Same for me, though in the recent years I listen much less metal music in favor of 80s pop and movie soundtracks – there’s a totally different world of melodies and harmonies there, might come in handy during composing new songs in the future. Our second guitarist Darek Moroz is rather a fan of contemporary metal bands like Baroness or Kvelertak, and Mateusz has the probably the widest taste spectrum, as apart from metal and jazz you’d find many jazz albums and some really weird stuff in his record collection. Being open to such variety of genres allows us to create interesting music that might be hard to label.
Ever been in Italy?
Janusz: No, we’ve never been there, at least not as Divine Weep – perhaps guys travelled there privately. I know some great Italian bands, plus I love your cuisine! But then again – who doesn’t? 😉
Matt: I’ve been to Italy a few times for various reasons and have only great memories from these trips. I would totally visit Italy again this time for a Divine Weep concert – if you have someone who might help us organize it let us know! After this pandemic shit is over of course, as right now there’s no chance to play anywhere in the world anytime soon. We know that Italians are the true maniacs, Italy is also one of the top countries buying our records online so there’s a chance we won’t play to the empty club haha!
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