19 February 2016


A young band burst onto the scene with full force. EKPYROSIS from Italy have shown a fast and mature evolution in their short existence. Their latest release "Witness His Death" portrays a fierce Death Metal band to be reckoned. With the release of their debut full-length  on the horizon, we talked with vocalist/guitarist Nicko about the path they have walked so far, and about what is yet to come...

Please Introduce the line up and tell us something about those days when the band was brought to life, can you share the full story?
We were actually very young when we started [I was 16 at the time]: Mark and I were attending the same high school and we decided to put on a band to play something like a mix of old school black metal, thrash metal and death metal, while our drummer Ilaria was engaged with Mark and got involved in the band. The bassist, who was a schoolmate of joined a few time later, and in late 2012 we started rehearsing some covers of Bathory, Kreator, Slayer, Venom, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Death… I took a few more time until we started writing original material, and we also played a few small dates in 2013 to get used to the live experience. We could say Ekpyrosis officially began in January 2013.
How did you come up with the name and what is its actual meaning?
I found this word in the novel The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, who used this word as a metaphor for the attitude of old thing to get afire. In Greek philosophy, it was believed that history was cyclic, with the world ending up in a spontaneous conflagration to be reborn again from its ashes. This event was called Ekpyrosis. We thought it was kind of fascinating, even it’s not that simple to get stucked in people’s mind, but it’s fairly more particular than any “old school” band name involving the words “death”, “necro”, “grave” [which are still cool, don’t get me wrong]… And we still think it fixes good with the music.
Your first release was the EP “In Pulverem Reverteris” released in 2013 all by yourself. How was the process of putting these songs together and recording them? How was the response from the fans and zines? 
Those ones were pretty much the first songs we put together in the first few months of rehearsing. You can still hear the different influences coming up in each song, which are actually pretty dissimilar one to each other. We actually did have no experience in songwriting, yet still we managed to write and record a decent demo, that we called In Pulverem Reverteris since we were quite stucked with the Latin thing in the beginning. The recording process was an exciting experience for us, but looking back we didn’t take wise choices on studio, sounds and stuff like that.  This was pretty much due to a lack of experience, but we were 17-18 y.o. and it was ok, I guess. Nothing to do with the band style nowadays, by the way. Still, response was good, since the songs were catchy, decently played and clearly recorded. It worked good to spread our name and get us some first live dates with some others band of our local scene.
What bands inspired the sound and style of the band in general and specially on this first release? Tell some words about the cover artwork and the title of the EP.
As I told, we were not really certain about the style to develop at first, so the songs were quite dissimilar, yet fairly representing our main influences. We have a more Swedish death influenced song like Sepulchral, or a more classic US death metal one like Paradise Lost, while Pulvis et Umbra was more a black/death song. Also, the more “melodic” component has now quite totally disappeared.
Last year you released the demo rehearsal, were the people surprised by this release? How did you come up with this idea? How was the response to the demo in general?
We felt our sound matured a lot during 2014, taking us from that undefined style to something more coherent, and also more aggressive. I personally wrote much riffs in that period, which actually ended up in our latest EP Witness His Death, and that definitely redefined band sound, leaving most of the black metal influences behind and fully focusing on death metal. This new songs were heavily inspired by bands like Incantation, Morbid Angel, Necrophobic, Nihilist… Also Ilaria did the main step forward developing her drumming and increasing her speed; we worked on the vocals trying to get more guttural, and also paid more attention to the guitar tones in order to get that old school death metal sound you can hear, and we hopefully succeeded.
So we booked the studio for February 2015 to record Witness His Death, but meanwhile we recorded a rehearsal to better listen to our songs and check them out properly before the professional takes. But that raw rehearsal sound worked great with the songs, so we released it on taped just like the old tradition, and we sold them out in just a couple of weeks, since more people were getting interested in our latest musical form, we could say.
The sound of your demo is very good, despite the fact that it’s a rehearsal. So how did you manage to get such a good sound? Was it recorded in your rehearsal room?
We recorded it in a cool rehearsing space not far from where we usually rehearse. They had an open panoramic microphone and a PC to record songs, and after that I edited EQ and stuff like that to make it sound better and clearer, and the result was surprisingly decent, as you said, so we were convinced to put it on tape.
I asked Darak of Extirpation [black/thrash punks you should definitely check out!] to do the cover art, and he got inspired by the lyrics of Eternal Recurrence. That songs is about Nietzsche’s eternal return, and the drawing represents the black serpent (probably the ouroboros) coming out from the mouth of the man, who is metaphorically enslaved by the cyclic shape of time. This came out pretty gruesome, and so we also had a cool title for that tape.
Evil distro handled a cool release of the demo, how many copies where distributed? How did you get in touch with them?
Actually the guy from Evil Distro contacted me since he wanted to put out something like a rehearsal or a live demo for Ekpyrosis, strictly on tape. This was one of the main reasons we recorded this “demo”. He managed to do everything in the old manner: photocopying and printing the inlay card, hand-numbering each copy, cutting and pasting pictures and tracklist etc. and also making some flyers to promote it… It was limited to 66-copies.
Tell about the choice of Death´s “Zombie Ritual” and Necrophobic´s “The Nocturnal Silence” covers recorded on the rehearsal.
Well, I am a Necrophobic maniac, and I love their The Nocturnal Silence album [so do I - Chris], so I proposed this cover which was pretty much uncommon and absolutely killer, even if tuned down to C, and we liked it a lot, so we included it in this rehearsal, cult! A few weeks later we had the beautiful possibility to open up for Necrophobic here in Italy, it was exciting…
Zombie Ritual by Death, on the other hand, it’s a total classic, and Scream Bloody Gore was my very first death metal record when I was 14, and some of the first riffs I played on guitars as soon as I took a few lessons… Me and Mark used to rehearse it in his basement way before Ekpyrosis were born, so it was a matter of feels to get it into this tape.
A few months later you released, which is in my opinion your best release so far, Witness his death, tell me about the songwriting process and the recording, and how do you see the ep compared to your previous releases.
As I told, that was the peak of a period when we matured a lot, figured out exactly what we were looking for as a band, and putting down some conditions to our sound, while old school death metal influences were definitely taking over. We wrote those songs during 2014, and they kinda grew up with us, becoming more aggressive as much as we did as a band. Some of the songs started up in a way and ended up more fast and brutal, until the day we recorded them. Working in Toxic Basement Studio was fantastic, since Carlo has got the right know-out and helped creating a good working atmosphere, since he is both professional and irreverently fun! He immediately understood how this new songs were supposed to sound, and went straight to the point, and so did we.
This EP totally represents our stile now, since it has the crushing energy of American old school death metal [Sadistic Intent, Morbid Angel], some rawness of the Swedish death metal era [Grave, Grotesque] and also some doom/death riffage à la Incantation that everybody noticed at first. And also, we think this is way more solid than anything else we’ve ever wrote. Also response is going great, we almost sold our copies out and the one under the label are being traded all over Europe.
The Cover artwork looks awesome, totally old school, Tell me about the author, Ivory Crux, did the band had anything to do with the design of this blaspheme piece?
Yes, we were stoked about it when it was finished. Ivory Crux is a brilliant and young artist from Italy, she’s been doing some great and gruesome china pieces and also some surrealistic paintings on oil [I guess], mixing occultism, gore and erotica. I suggested her to do something like a monk preaching under a rotten cross, who could get along with the album title “Witness His Death” [“His” refers to God]. She came out with this incredibly detailed artwork with much esoteric symbols and a kind of surrealistic vibe. We thought the red version was killer on the CD cover, while we used the original black and white one for the tape.
If I´m not wrong the first press was for 300 copies, and then distributed by  F.O.A.D. records, how did they interested in the band and in the distribution of the EP?
You are right. Actually Slaughterhouse Records [who published the CD] is run also by the guy who recorded the EP, who cooperate with FOAD records doing remasters of old death/thrash/grind/HC classics they put out. So they also managed to get our EP distributed via FOAD itself, who helped a lot in terms of trading and distribution, which is totally cool.
There is also a tape version, which was released this January…
It has been released by Unholy Domain, an Italian label who’s been publishing lots of tapes and 7” lately, digging in Italian and international underground and producing mainly old school death metal acts, and some doom metal ones too. Each one of this bands is totally killer in my opinion, so we were pleased that Unholy Domain offered us this possibility, and the guy behind this label is a friend. Also, tape version is absolutely amazing, trust me!
Lyrically where do you draw the inspiration from for the lyrics? Are you into religious - blasphemous movies, books…?
Mostly we take inspiration from books we have read, or from philosophy, and always maintained a studied approach to lyrics, even if we talk about usual themes like death or religion. I drew inspiration from Nietzsche for some of the lyrics on Witness His Death, like Morticians of God which is based on his aphorisms on the death of God.
Or it could also be from a book, something we have studied, or some personal feelings about those kind of subjects. Most of them are openly anti-religious, yet not really bluntly blasphemous, but there are some exceptions like Unholy Fornication, who turned out to be something Nunslaughter could have wrote ahah!
The band has been very busy playing live lately, Tell how are your gigs, and with which bands you shared stage so far. Is there any good or funny story to share?
We are having a good live response lately and much gigs proposal around Northern Italy, with much people showing support and sincere appreciation. Since our style it’s quite direct, it’s easy to get a bit physical on stage, with much headbanging stuff going on and some “foot on the monitor” attitude, ahah! At least we look energic, and I hope we sound, too. By the way, we are improving also this aspect of our playing, since live shows are crucial for any band. We’ve been also in some not-really-comfortable situation, especially in the beginning, now we are learning how to keep our cool and play tight.  
We had fun sharing stage with much underground band from Italy and from abroad too, and also had the possibility to open the show of some of our favorite bands like Necrophobic, Drowned or Funerus. Receiving the likes of John McEntee of Incantation, checking out our live set, has been an experience we won’t really forget! We hope for great things to come for the future, actually we’re playing some really cool shows in this 2016!
Do you include any cover songs in your live sets?
Yes, we usually do. We often start rehearsing a new cover and put it in the live sets for a few time, then change again. Lately we have been playing Deicide’s Lunatic of God Creation almost at every show, it’s killer, you know!
I´m into Mortuary Drape and younger bands like Into Darkness and Profanal, what are your fave bands from your country and what is your opinion about the current Italian scene?
Mortuary Drape is an absolutely milestone in extreme metal history, not only in Italy, where they still maintain a cult status, and they are an important inspiration for all of us, literally. I guess it’s now a tradition for Mark to play on stage wearing his All The Witches Dance shirt, we say it brings bad luck ahaha! Other classic acts from our country like Necrodeath, Schizo or Bulldozer have hugely influenced me in my thrash period.  Yet we have a killer old school death metal scene, most of which are my friends and have been sharing stage with us: Funest, Necro, Terrorsaw, Into Darkness and Profanal as you said, Sepulcral, Valgrind, Gravesite and Undead Creep, Blood of Seklusion, Voids of Vomit, Bastard Saints… All these bands are worth a few listens to say at least! Lately I’ve got involved in a new Swedish death metal styled project, Daemoniac, with ex-bassist of Horrid and drummer of Funest, and we will record a full length this year at Sunlight Studios in Sweden, and it will be out via Xtreem Music.  So, apart the difficulties of the underground world in Italy [booking shows, finding venues, go around…], I think we have a solid scene with real maniacs and music aficionados, with some of them making their way through the underground and crafting some excellent records. Also heavy, thrash, hardcore, brutal, doom and black scenes have their great representatives, and the list goes on and on and on…
When the band is not playing or on tour, what do you do? Do you have day jobs? What other interest besides music do the band members have?
We are all studying at university. I’m studying Physics [yes, I’m a kind of science nerd ahah], both the Marcos are studying Psychology and Ilaria will become an obstetrician. Our non-musical interest includes books, cinema, travelling… And I’m trying to talk also from their point of view, if I may…
You announced recently a deal with Memento Mori for the release of your debut full length.  How was it you ended up signing with them? 
After we got the master of Witness His Death, we contacted almost any death metal label that I knew, and Raul of Memento Mori got interested in our music and proposed us to sign for them for a debut album. Needless to say, we were absolutely pleased to have received the likes of a cool label like it and finally have the possibility to deliver our debut album though a solid partnership like this one.  They’ve been putting out some amazing death and doom/death albums in these years and Memento Mori is growing strong, so it will be the perfect home for our debut. This was actually way beyond the expectations we had when we started, yet now we feel prepared for this step, which looks natural at this point, since we matured our style and started playing more constantly and in more interesting musical situations.
Do you have new songs completed? Will you follow the same path or do you anticipate any changes to the EKPYROSIS sound and style? Can you reveal some details about the new material?
We are working on new music right now, some of the songs are already being regularly rehearsed and others are being composed by me and Mark. We are working hard in the rehearsals every week, yet we have a busy schedule for the next months, but we have clear ideas and solid material to work on. Recordings are booked for August 2015, at the Toxic Basement studio again, since it’s a referring point for metal and hardcore band here in Milan.  We are following the path that we took with Witness His Death, possibly enforcing the features that we consider the strongest. We feel we are growing up constantly, as long as we try to do our best, whatever this could sound like… You should expect an aggressive death metal, with little melody but much riffing variety, who goes really fast on d-beat or much slower on some frequent doomy sections. Double bass and blast beats are getting stronger, and double vocal assault will be hopefully more gruesome.
Old school death metal acts like those I already mentioned still remain our referring point, and we are trying to deliver you about 8 tracks with some stylistic variety yet personality, and much attitude to the genre. Still we are realist and we know there is some hard work to get done. We are also planning to do a very special and unique cover song for this album…
What is the strangest place and the most shocking one that you´ve been?
Not really shocking situations, some not-so-good experience, some better ones, of course… But we saw a guy throwing his own shit in a plastic dish to another guy ones, in a venue we played once. That much says all, ahaha!
Do you have any final comments to make in order to close out this interview?
Thank you very much for this amazingly written questions, it’s clear you inquired about Ekpyrosis first, and it’s great to see such interest and support for a young band like us. I hope our answers were exhaustive, and stay tuned for further news about our debut full-length and future plans in general. Keep on supporting death metal music, only death is real! 666


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