ZEMIAL has released a new opus called Nykta through Hells Headbangers Records. Personally I think is one of the best releases of 2013. I contacted Vorskaath, the mind behind ZEMIAL to talk about this new musical journey called Nykta and also about the past and future of this old and cult name of the underground scene...ZEMIAL.
Hi VORSKAATH, thanks for answering the
following questions, how are you doing today?
Doing well thanks.
Enjoying a quiet day and following this interview with some studio work.
Nykta, your last opus was released a few
days ago, how do you feel now that the album is released?, how long you´ve been
recording the album?
am relieved. I begun recording in summer
2010 I have had to stop the process and change studio locations 5 times in the
process of recording NYKTA. It became very tiring. At times, I had trouble
seeing the light at the end of the tunnel
as the saying goes, but it is out now and the reception is very rewarding.
After listening to Nykta, If I would have
to highlight a quality of the album in one word I would say diversity. How do
you describe, or who do you define the style and the change or progression
from your earlier material?
I agree with your description. Offering something new
and diverse was one of my aims and clearly NYKTA has been received that way
When I look back at my discography it is quite evident
that there has been progress at different rates, from Necrolatry onwards. It is now very safe to say that NYKTA has pushed
Zemial into Avant-Garde territory.
Like I said before, there is a wide
range of musical sound in this album, from beautiful melodic, atmospheric
and progressive passages, to direct, dark and aggressive black/thrashing
riffs. What does inspired you, and I mean musically and emotionally, when you
wrote the album?
The answer is: a whole lot of things. Books I read, films I watched, music, sounds
of nature, wandering in nature and much more.
A lot of music was written or at least orchestrated and
arranged whilst I lived in a remote forest area in Germany, totally secluded. That
period offered incredible inspiration and just walking around the forest or
looking outside from the studio would be enough to inspire me. Creating “The
Small” was the direct result of 4 very emotional days during that period. My
only way to express those feelings was through music and so The Small was
Monty Pythons also played a big role in inspiring and
influencing NYKTA actually.
Musically, a lot of 70’s music. Progressive Rock and Jazz Fusion were the
main inspirations, particularly in terms of drumming. As you can hear, I am slowly but surely
abandoning blast beats and double bass drumming which I find very limited in
scope and I now prefer to use them as fills rather than beats.
What's the concept behind Nykta in terms of
music and lyrics?
Space, existence, and dreaming.
I think that the cover artwork is as dark as beautiful and certainly expresses the content of the album, and it is something totally new comparing to your previous releases. What´s in your mind when it comes to choose the cover and the artwork for each of your works?
Since NYKTA is very much a departure from previous albums, I wanted the cover art to do so as well. Above all, however, the cover is full of symbolism. The eclipse, the constellations and nebulae, are all part of the greater symbolism of NYKTA.
The vastness of space, the insignificance of humans in the greater order of the universe, the supremacy and self-centricity of humans within a microcosmic view, the overthrow of power by the small and moving from light into darkness into light, are all themes connected to NYKTA and represented by its cover.
I generally try to find something that represents both the feel and atmosphere of each release as well act as a symbol that represents the release thematically. All artwork yields to those parameters and so does the logotype, to which I am not bound (to the dismay of some).
Being a one man band and playing all
instruments means of course total control but also a lot of dedication and hard
work. Why did you decided to go on your own? What would you say that was most
difficult or the most painful time while recording?
It is definitely a lot of work and since this album is
much more technically complex than any of my previous work, it was also very
demanding to execute.
I do this on my own out of necessity. But aside from that I also write the music
for all instruments obviously and it is hard to find people and show them
exactly what to play. I might as well play it myself right?
The hardest part to record was probably the guitars,
because I never practice guitar.
As it is, I never rehearse any of the music, as there
is no band to rehearse with. A very, very large part of the recording is based
around improvising. In fact, the recording process itself is an integral part
of my compositions.
First I will record a rough outline of the song, normally with guitar. Then I
add harmonies and various effects which will help me establish the mood of the
piece. Then I add drums to compliment the various melodic lines. I will usually
follow with bass and finally vocals will be added when the piece is more or
less complete. That is one way I utilize.
Another way is to put down just a basic melody and begin exploring ideas with
the drums. On top of those patterns I
add various guitar and bass parts to complete the picture. Most often, a mixture of these ways of
composing makes its way to the end result.
Which is your main instrument and
what is your knowledge of the instrument? Have you had studied it formally?
actually started with guitar and on the way picked up bass guitar, drums,
percussion and keyboards. However my greatest strength and flexibility lies
with drums and percussion. I am largely an autodidact/self taught, however I
did study classical guitar for a short time and then followed that with
classical/orchestral percussion studies and drumset studies.
The instrumental “The Small” is one of my faves of the album, what
is the concept of this song?
The Small (previously titled Little Soul) is the direct
result of an intensely emotional period that involved the feeling of loss. It
is somewhat private. The brief dedication on the CD describes all that one
There is a very rich and varied vocal work
on every song of the album, adding some kind of theatricality and dramatic
performance. On "Under Scythan Command" your voice reminds me
to Tom Warrior on Hellhammer, do you have one or many vocalist that
influences you and/or inspires you?
Having my own studio and working alone gave me the
opportunity to feel comfortable and really “get into the role” of the various
characters featured in the songs. I wanted the added theatricality because on
songs like Pharos for example, there is a story being told, with various
characters and a monotone voice would not express that.
On Under Scythian Command Tom Warrior did not even
cross my mind. This was a one-take recording for the vocals and what I had in my mind was German Thrash. Sodom and Destruction. Angel Ripper and Schmier. If there is any Tom
Warrior in there it was not intentional.
As for being inspired by vocalists, I can’t really say
that I have someone in mind because I rarely listen to metal. I try to find the
feel of each song and sing according to that feel. So my voice changes
depending on the atmosphere I try to create. I don’t try to copy anybody and If
an influence comes out (like with the ones mentioned above) it is an mostly an unconscious
Why did you decide to record a new version
of “Eclipse” and “Breath of the Pestilence”?
they were always meant to be in NYKTA. What
some people have not clearly understood with Necrolatry, is that it was – from
the beginning – a rehearsal of NYKTA material.
Because of the unexpected popularity of Necrolatry, I did not want to
re-record all of the songs again, so I chose those two only.
Zemial is almost 25 years now, what do you
remember from your early days as a musician? Do you miss anything from those
days? Do you consider Zemial as an underground band?
very, very young with no musical knowledge.
I just played by feel. Lots of
was hard finding people to share my musical views and practices and before
long, it was clear that this would be a project in which I worked alone.
wanted to stay outside of trends and common practices from an early point. Hence my refusal to sign to any big
labels. I guess that has remained the
same until today.
music is certainly not mainstream per-se
but it is also far from the confines of black metal. I like to think of
it as music that belongs to the heavy metal/rock genre with a lot of
Are you into checking new stuff in the
scene or do you prefer to listen to classic stuff? What are you listening to
have stopped following what is going on in black metal since the late
90’s. I have no idea and I like it that
way, as this genre is long dead in my view.
The mind-set that fueled this music has disappeared since the 90’s and
all one hears is echoes of that time. I
am not interested in the un-original image-centered music scene called black
metal in 2013. I am not part of it.
In those rare occasion when I do listen to metal it is
anything from the 70’s until the mid 90’s.
Since the early to mid 90’s I have been mainly
listening to prog rock and various connected music styles. These days I listen to a lot of experimental
music, electronic music, prog rock, avant-garde classical music, jazz, blues
and the occasional bluegrass for good measure.
I read that you are a vinyl collector, what
is the most appreciated record on your collection, and the one that you still
don´t own and that you would kill for?
I am no longer a vinyl collector as I have no more
space! I have some great rarities but
nothing that I sti and look at for hours like Golem and the Ring!
I wouldn’t kill for any record. I appreciate the sound and big print of vinyl
– I am not a nut!!!
What can you tell me about the Greek scene
nowadays. Does it have the same spirit as when bands such as Rottig
Christ, Necromantia and Varathron used to be really united and worked together?
You had a strong link with Varathron...
Since I don’t follow it I have no idea.
I was the main composer, guitarist bass player and
drummer for Varathron’s His Majesty at the Swamp. I was credited (by error) as
Speaking about working together, you
collaborated with Equimanthorn. Are you still in touch with Proscriptor
from Absu? Is there any chance for a new collaboration in the future?
collaboration with Equimanthorn arose from the brotherhood I shared with Absu
in those days. I am still in touch with
Proscriptor and with Equitant and still consider them very close friends. We still share a lot of common interests and
as Proscriptor said to me in his first communication all those years ago: we are of the same wavelength. That remains so.
am hoping to collaborate with them in the future. I approached Equitant to do the bass for a
tour but he was not able to. A
collaboration with Proscriptor is a matter of time. We will do it in the near future.
You have been living in different
locations, Greece, Australia and recently in Germany If I´m not wrong. Would
you say you are some kind of nomad or there are simply a matter of being in the
right place at the right time?
am currently back in Greece after 6 years in Germany. I like being at the right
place at the right time, however that is highly subjective. It all depends on what I want to do in my
life at the time, what opportunities I see and above all else: what I want to
am still open to new places and cultures and the truth be told, I would very
much like to try the English countryside for a while and see what I can do
You have released material on at least 5
or 6 different labels, including yours NYX. What´s your view about it? Do you
think that working with the same record company for too long can make
that you lose control over your work?
I have never thought about it
in that way.
My interest when selecting a
label is that they honour their financial commitments and our transactions and
that they do not attempt to direct things in terms of the artistic output in
any way. If that works, I am pleased and
stay. Hells Heabangers have been a very good partner so far and we are both
enjoying this collaboration immensely.
Are there live shows scheduled to support
the release of Nykta? Do you have musicians in mind for a possible tour?
No shows planned yet.
I do have a couple of players ready but I am still looking for a synth
player from any country, willing to tour.
When presenting NYKTA I want to do so with analogue synthesizers as part
of the show.
At present I want to work on the follow up of NYKTA and
concentrate on studio work.
What is the strangest and the most shocking
place you have been?
Hard to say really.
Romania had some candidates for shocking places unfortunately, as did Las Vegas
outside of the strip. I have seen fucked
up places all over the globe really.
Behind each beautiful place there is one of great ugliness to balance
Anything you would like to add to end this