Liquid Anatomy By Morean
Alkaloid is a band that is defined through the field of tension created between musical opposites, merging death metal and other more diverse genres of music into unique alchemy of extremes. Founded in Germany in 2012 by five seasoned metal warriors from (ex-)bands like Obscura, Aborted, Dark Fortress, Noneuclid, Spawn of Possession, Necrophagist and others. The band is a vehicle to its protagonists to explore new musical territory that their other or previous bands didn’t allow them, fueled by an unhealthy obsession with music and a need to express themselves with the greatest possible artistic freedom within the vast realm of metal.
HMA: Welcome to Heavy Music Artwork. What can you tell us about your latest release ‘Liquid Anatomy’?
Morean: It’s our second album, called ‘Liquid Anatomy’, and comes out May 18th via Season of Mist Records. As always, we went to our limits. I think we found some unusual bridges worth building between our influences, which couldn’t be more different. It’s never right to compare your stuff to others, but if you imagine the ugly cousins of Voivod, Yes, Morbid Angel and Pink Floyd having an alien love child, you might get a rough idea where we went this time.
HMA: What was the songwriting and recording process? Any impediments or highlights worth mentioning?
Morean: Much of both. The songwriting process felt fairly easy; Hannes alone could fill several albums every year and chose some unusual material to offer for this one, like a ballad, a 6-part-20-minute prog monster, and what’s almost a pop song with a death metal chorus. For my part, I knew already after the first album was finished what I wanted to write, and did precisely that – a new Lovecraft song, and the next two Dyson chapters. Chris and Linus didn’t manage to contribute songs for this album, unfortunately, but we’re pleased to get to show some of Danny’s writing this time for the first time. We all know he’s a ridiculously talented instrumentalist, so it wasn’t much of a shock that his songs became a great addition to our catalogue on this album as well.
The recording and mixing process was a great deal more difficult. First of all, the songs are so layered and complex that the tracking period felt endless… So many details, a lot of doubling in guitars and vocals, and since we challenge our abilities always in our new songs, there were very few things you could just lay down, and that’s it. You reinvent yourself with a new album to a certain degree, and that was a humongous load to bear also for Hannes, who did the whole production himself. So tracking and mixing took pretty much twice as long as expected – the mix alone took two full months until it sounded like it should. Add to that a bunch of unforeseen equipment troubles we’d never had before, and it became a drawn-out battle of attrition until it was all done. But every step of the way, we knew it was the only option to keep working until we’re happy with the result. Else, why bother to make a half-baked album or a mere rehash of what worked before? Taking risks has an uncertain outcome is an essential part of why we wanted to have this band, and hopefully, it all makes sense together in the end! It does to us at least, even if some parts secretly still make me giggle every time I hear them.
HMA: Do you feel the artwork is a good representation of your music?
Morean: I’d say it’s the closest we could achieve with our possibilities. The problem is that the subjects and imagery in our lyrics are a real challenge to represent visually; in a perfect world, we could hand our songs to someone like Cyriak, Weta Workshop or ILM, and they’d create the worlds from scratch in images that were relatively easily put down in words to the songs. How many times I wish I were a movie producer… but then again, I have to be honest in that kind of responsibility and productional complexity would be too much for me to handle, even if I had the talent and nerve for it. The reality for us as a band, however, is that you need to produce the right visual atmosphere with very limited time and means, and occasionally the question arises how much sense it makes to try and do that at all for the more complex stories. But we are pleased with what Christian made for us; we think he managed to capture a certain essence of the music, and we are very happy he managed to do it again with photos rather than CGI, like so many bands do. I draw most of my lyrical inspiration from the fringes of science, even if I go off on my tangent always; the fact that the visuals are based on photographic reality corresponds well to that principle.
HMA: What can you tell us about the album cover?
Morean: As mentioned above, the artwork was once more in the capable hands of Christian Martin Weiss, who also did the first album artwork. He’s a fantastic photographer and visual artist. We explained to him the concept of “Liquid Anatomy” – basically the question, what if you could manipulate matter on a molecular or even subatomic level, enough to change the shape of material reality however you feel like? This idea is approached from different angles in the songs, and the resulting imagery is a combination of for example the title track, which is about shaping your body according to your will, with the opulent cephalopod story from the last track, and insane tapestries belonging more to cosmic horror or advanced science fiction, than reality. Octopuses and their relatives are pretty much shapeshifters in reality, so they appear relatively prominently on the cover and in the booklet as well.
HMA: Inspirations that have made it to record?
Morean: Musical inspirations are plentiful, but the main ones I would say are prog bands like Yes in certain songs, but also (always!) Morbid Angel, and space metal bands like Voivod, and even the odd classic metal chorus and solo work here and there. Lyrical inspiration for me came from writers like Stephen Baxter, whose worlds are the largest, most far-reaching out there, even though no concrete book of his played a role here. But there’s also the obligatory Lovecraftian song (Azagthoth), linking this entity from outside our universe to the collapse of what we know as “spacetime” in for example black holes. Further inspiration is the geology of Antarctica over millions of years, speculating on the future evolution of life on this planet; in the last song, Rise of the Cephalopods, octopuses become the next dominant species on the planet. Like with the music and sound production, the challenge in the subjects hasn’t been so much to make every element work, but how they relate to each other. In that, I think we bridged even further distances than on the first album.
HMA: What are your thoughts when it comes to beliefs?
Morean: Officially, I think it’s safe to say we are all atheists in the band, so “belief” in the traditional sense of the word doesn’t come into it at all. In my case, I do have to say I’m still a spiritual man. This is no paradox at all to me, but I’m having a hard time putting my spirituality into words, since I refuse to become a part of anyone else’s cult, and the words used to express or define belief have gone through so many idiotic mouths that I get nauseous just using them for myself, to be honest. I have a straightforward approach to life and the universe. I live by my intuition, and the brain is just an instrument to rationalise the choices and views my intuition offers me. So also regarding metaphysics, I feel I have a straightforward connection to the universe, always, wherever I am and whatever I do. I feel if I’m “on course” with my life or not, even though at first, I usually wouldn’t be able to tell you why necessarily. The thinking is always several steps behind intuition in my experience. So in terms of a spiritual frame of reference, I’m more with people like Krishnamurti, whose paradigm doesn’t require anything that’s not already there, and certainly no fiction “books of truth” or verbal hair-splitting about random words assigned to spiritual principles by different cultures. “Belief” is defined as an assumption accepted without proof. But in life, I don’t need that, because I can handle my fear of death, which I think is the main reason for religion, and inventing a god based on absolutely nothing but the lack of perfection in us humans seems totally and utterly unnecessary to me. I see life and the universe as a mind-boggling miracle, and that’s all I need. Mind you, my work is bringing music, ideas and words from the realm of what’s possible into reality, and my imagination is pretty much the most important factor in what I do at all times. So the question what’s real and what’s not is always a malleable medium for people like us since what’s not real yet is also part of our reality. If it affects you, even if it’s a fictional idea, it becomes a reality, at least to you, and then to the ones around you affected by your inner reality. For myself, I don’t see how the principle of “belief” would be relevant in my worldview… but maybe others feel the same way and choose to express this feeling towards the universe in religious terms.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2018 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.