It’s been something of a whirlwind for Dublin ghouls SACRILEGIA since their relatively recent formation. The initial duo of Jay (Guitar/Vocals) and Diego (Drums) have recently been joined for live appearances by Coscradh man Ciaran on bass. Their precision assault takes influences from the proto-death and bestial thrash of the mid to late 80s but funnels it through a far more recent filter resulting in a timeless form of brutality. With debut album “The Triclavian Advent” on the horizon, we caught up with the pair to discuss their origins and intentions.
(Interview: Jamie Grimes // Photos: Piotr)
A predictable but necessary question I know, but can you tell us a little bit about the formation of the band?
DIEGO: I remember talking to Jason about how some bands invest more on a heavier soundscape, with amorphous riffs behind a wall-of-sound these days, and they actually miss that element of leaving the listener with the riffs running through their heads hours after they finished listening to the songs. I do like some of these bands but they don’t necessarily make my blood boil. Funny enough, that sparked the need to put something together and we gathered other people before going on about it, but it simply didn’t work for a year or so. We tried vastly different arrangements for some of the same riffs in the album before coming up with the final product but that just wasn’t what we wanted to listen to ourselves, so why bothering presenting it to others? We weren’t trying to do anything different from the music we like to listento, but then again, we all had broad ideas and different perception of what this actually sounds like. It was only when the others realised we were not in the same page musically that Jason found a new rehearsal space and its price drew the line to who was going to take this seriously and who wasn’t. Once we put half of “Relics of Oncoming Doom” together, things started to run their course, so we just made the decision to remain a duo, at least for what concerns writing.
Given the name and Diego’s nationality would it be fair to say that South American death/thrash was the main influence? Were you specifically trying to aim for something with a more 80s flavour or was the sound forged more naturally?
JK: I wouldn’t say that it was the main influence but it does shine through as a heavy influence on us as we listen to a lot of this style.
The 80s style we ended up with was forged quite naturally due to our playing styles which is what helps us gel and stay on the same page for writing and playing. Personally I was always more into 80s thrash metal which basically warped my playing along with the bits and pieces I picked up from black and death metal over the years.
D: As far as I like to analyse it, we’re “reading the book backwards”, aiming at that period when extreme metal genres weren’t really defined and adding influences of the tons of bands that came after that, especially Black Metal bands who weren’t a thing back in those days. I often call riffs a ”Beherit riff” or “Archgoat riff”, even if those are the last bands you’ll think about when listening to Sacrilegia. I wouldn’t hide the fact that Sarcofago’s “INRI” is, as it should be to anyone, my favourite Brazilian album, but we’re not particularly trying to emulate that period except in tone, something that even the South American bands of these days seem to have forgotten. Somehow we play these influences in a more vicious than dark way, so I think that’s what gives the 80’s flavour to it. We still want to find that little detail that makes any band have something of their own though. Plus, to a certain extent, we want it to sound more demo-ish as we actually like demos far better than albums in a lot of cases.
Once you started gigging you were initially a two piece and I know there’d been a few attempts at having a line up with more members initially, and you’ve since found a full time member. When you started gigging as a duo was it daunting in any way? And was finding additional members always the plan before Ciaran came along?
JK: The first show we played opening for Possession back in July was definitely daunting for me considering I had never been a front man and had to play guitar and not fuck it up. It was the ultimate trial by fire because I was the only one responsible for guitars and vocals. Any mess up, and it was my fault entirely. It definitely made me become a better player and by the second show we had already become a different force to be reckoned with as we were in the midst of intense rehearsals to get our first release as tight as possible before recording.
When we had discovered that we worked so efficiently as a duo there was never a rush to get anyone else involved and we had no plans other than to plough on through with our own path.
Jason, you’ve mentioned to me before that Diego writes a lot of the riffs, which is unusual given he’s the drummer. How is the writing process? Was there ever a point where it was considered having him move to guitar?
JK: Diego has a great mind for conceptualising what it is he wants to hear so he’ll play his best version on guitar and I just add a bit more of the chaotic element. With him being a drummer, writing some guitar riffs is actually an advantage as he has a great understanding of timing and puts note changes in places guitar players would at times overlook.
Not a chance he’d move to guitar. He’s one of the only sources of fire power I would ever trust to have at the backline, not to mention he would only get bored.
D: If I’m honest, I simply can’t play the guitar for a long time. That is probably due to playing it wrong and getting myself injured after a long time trying new riffs, so I usually come up with riffs that I’d been humming in my head within an hour of playing or I just quit it. I recorded all my riffs on a mobile while playing a guitar with no amplification whatsoever, so if it sounded good to me that way, whatever Jason played with his skills would sound better with proper equipment. I think he is more prone to improvisation and rearranging details as it goes, so at rehearsals we “loop” a lot of the riffs till we find the right beat or mood to it or vice versa, as in looping a beat to find a certain riff, the same as Lombardo once claimed to do with Slayer in their early days. My favourite riff in the album came about this way…
You had initially planned to record a demo but you’ve instead ended up recording an entire album! How did this come about so soon?
JK: It was all down to us just never stopping the writing process right up until 2 weeks until we were set to record. We had intended to record 4 tracks and an extra one if possible and we would just keep the rest for a separate release or for a recording session down the line. As it happened we just went and recorded absolutely everything we had and thought that it would be a shame to separate tracks that were all recorded in the same place, time and atmosphere. The reason an album is being made of this is that the recording quality and performance is far too good, so there is no way we would have been able to get away with calling it a demo. Cheers Marco!
You recorded in Italy with Marko from Demonomancy. How did this come about and how was the process?
JK: We had a bit of a hard time thinking of where we would record and who would be suitable for the job in Ireland for a decent price. His name was suggested to us as it would cost about the same as taking a gamble with someone who wouldn’t know what we were after sonically. Having met him earlier in the year, he had a great attitude and enthusiasm for his business and is into the same styles of music as us so he would know exactly what we want and what we have as reference points for sound which was an incredible advantage at various stages of recording.
The recording process was as straight forward as possible and suited us right down to the ground.
D: We nailed guitar/drums for all of our own songs fairly quickly on the first day, some of them in the second or third take as we’d been practicing almost 4 times a week strictly for precision. The Armoured Angel cover, vocals and overdubs took a little more time as additional ideas would emerge on the go, but Marco offered a lot of input to some of the vocal placement changes and minor details in order to make the songs sound better.
I know the actual recording was fairly quick, so how did you spend the rest of your time when you were there? Do you feel going abroad to record lent itself to the recording being more focussed than say if you’d done it in Dublin?
D: It was really crucial to get it done fast, we were on the clock, so we either got it done or we`d have to go back and finish it, and that was definitely not going to happen. It was good to be immersed in it, as we rarely find ourselves that immersed in something these days. The content wasn’t necessarily ready while we were there, so being away allowed us to focus on it even when we weren’t at the studio.
The album is called “The Triclavian Advent” which relates as far as I can tell to the three nails of the crucifixion. Can you expand a little on the lyrical themes on the album? I’m guessing there’s an anti-christian element to it going on the title and artwork, but is this purely based around history/mythology or applied to Christianity in the current climate?
JK: That would be the right way to be looking at it. Plenty of bands have the anti-christian thing going and have done for years but there is a way of doing it tastefully which is what I believe we do. It’s not satanic or all out anti-christian but more of a commentary and mockery.
D: Despite being from two different countries with major Catholic influence, I believe we look at religion in slight different ways due to the atrocities taken place in each of our backgrounds. We decided that the title should comprise not only the songs in this album, but also part of what we set to write about, which revolves around the values carried by religious and non-religious people that we strongly disagree. Sacrilegia is the Latin equivalent to the plural form of the English word “sacrilege”, possible to be made quantitative in Latin, and meaning the ill use of the holy words or objects. Call it cultural appropriation nowadays, but some lyrics do have biblical reference in a twisted way. As for the title itself, it’s just a reference to a historical event: the nails used on Christ’s crucifixion sparked some debate on whether there was 3 rather than 4, eventually leading the Catholic church to pick a side and deem the other end as heretics. This was a minor event brought up by religious people questioning their own faith, and somehow all that curiosity created a certain divide that, unlike what we see in the world today, wasn’t interesting to the Church. That divide included artists depicting the crucifixion scene, so there you have us choosing the heretic side as a symbol.
We also thought that by emphasizing the brutality of the crucifixion itself, Christianity developed a mindset of debt and guilt towards their object of devotion that is noxious even to some who turned their backs on Christianity these days. So a lot of the lyrics are connected to the idea of the broken men this religion has produced.
I know you’ve also covered Australia’s Armoured Angel too, perhaps you might explain what made you choose to cover them?
JK: Honestly just being a big fan of them and being heavily influenced by the Australian metal bands of the 80s and 90s. Cheers for the lyrics, Lucy!
D: Apart from just being a ripping band, they also had a quite exquisite evolution that experimented on emerging genres of their time and remained exciting. I think they are the perfect example of an underground band that had no shame to change its course along their career, but they always delivered. We weren’t so sure about what cover to record until we got there though, but looking back, our songs are also different from one another right on the first release, so I think “Armoured Angel” comprises the core of what makes us play this particular music rather than just sound closer to the music we make itself. What I feel when I listen to their music though, is what I want other people to feel with ours…
As mentioned you’ve expanded to a three piece since the recording to add a bit of heft. How is the new lineup working out thus far and are there any plans to write/record with Ciaran yet?
JK: The new line up is going quite well. Getting new band members just as Christmas approaches would never prove to be an easy task but fair play to him for his dedication and hard work. We made sure to keep the same pressure on him that was kept on us in our early days by an onslaught of gigs within weeks of him joining. It’s the only way.
As far as plans for writing and recording will go, there are no immediate plans as of yet but we will return to our original formula of writing and arranging as a duo when it comes to recording and the situation and sound suits us. He is for sure the only guy for the job especially with the addition of his vocals and work ethic.
Given all three of you are in other bands how do you prioritise Sacrilegia? You’ve already been quite active on the live front and I imagine that’s something you’ll want to focus on going forward? Do you think overall the kind of metal you play is at its core “live” music so to speak?
JK: I give Sacrilegia much more priority over all. Being in a band is one thing but being a co-creator and founding member of something you have invested so much in through a great deal of adversity with a good friend is a different ball game altogether.
We do intend to stay active on the live front as usual as this is how this music is intended to be seen and heard: raw, bloody and fresh from the bone.
D: I don’t dedicate 10% of the time I dedicate to Sacrilegia to other bands, so I could safely say this is my main musical project since it was incepted. 6 months ago we barely had 3 songs to go on stage and now we’re waiting on an album release. Everything happened really fast.
We’re still perfecting things while trying to create more so that we’re not just three guys making noise in front of people. We want to play something that makes people go wild and take part in, rather than just stand there watching it. I’d like to see people losing themselves in it. This is violent music, there’s nothing contemplative in what we are doing…
Any final words?
JK: Just a thanks to everyone who has shown us great support turning up to the shows, giving their thoughts and those who have helped us out over the past few months to get where we are now.