Warlord Shyaithan of Impiety speaks to HMA
Google the blackened thrash masters of the east and try not to find a review that doesn’t, at least once, use ‘artillery’ as an adjective in their descriptions of them. Listening to Impiety for any war veteran may result in murderous flashbacks as the sporadic machine-gun blasts of sound hit you from every direction. As is the sad loss of many good men that war inevitably brings, the (not so) ‘Shy’aithan has experienced this only too well with his monumental amount of line-up changes throughout the many years Impiety has been operational. But as one of the first and most successful extreme metal bands to emerge from Singapore, Impiety has enjoyed a more international outreach than many other bands of the same nationality, with numerous releases on some respectable western record labels. 30 past band members, 23 years and 11 LPs later, Impiety shows no signs of running out of ammo, so Heavy Music Artwork finds out more…
HMA: Although Impiety hails from Singapore, the band has achieved an international outreach in terms of line-up and labels. How has this influenced your music throughout the years?
Impiety: It has but only a just a small percentage amount of influence. Well see, geographically the band has moved from a Singapore home base, to me ending up in Mexico (2004-2006), back to Singapore (2007-2008) then Japan (2009), then Italy (2010-2011) and the past 2 years firmly back to Singapore by with a drummer from Perth, Australia – but more or less I write/have written almost everything myself. It’s true I would ask for ideas and some ideas implemented but still only a fraction of what I choose to write/compose always. With the present line up with Nizam and Dizazter, which has been going strong for 2 years now, It has been a blast and since I’m more open to sharing opinions into my work. Definitely better for progression I would say.
HMA: Could this be a result of so many line-up changes throughout the years?
Impiety: Line up changes are inevitable and only because in tiny Singapore and with a smaller metal scene compared to other nations and continents It’s hard to find committed band mates, and plus the schedule of IMPIETY is a hectic and chaotic one where we could hit the road at any point. And so it’s hard even if I did find really good musicians, it would be a burden for them to go through and probably have them lose their other main jobs. Band’s schedule has always been a top priority above all. I’ve done other jobs myself but you know IMPIETY is not just my main job, it’s already life.
HMA: What kinds of Singaporean influences are retained in your music today?
Impiety: Hard to say, Singapore has is renowned for being a vibrant, cosmopolitan city island state. Music of the land has had influences from Malay, Chinese, Indian, Arab and other cultures including the Western world. I am not directly influenced by traditional music and write what I feel like writing even though I must say traditional music from all these cultures have some what always been a big interest. Influence from the band started back in 86-87-88 era when I began listening plenty to early Death Metal and early Black/Speed Metal, you know like Bathory, Sodom, Possessed, Death, Sarcofago, Hellhammer, Morbid Angel demos, etc. And I just took off from there. Sure we tried playing like these bands but over time we finally found our style, path and sound.
HMA: What sets Impiety apart from European/US Black Metal?
Impiety: I think IMPIETY has its own identity and signature mark. We are infact the Barbarian Black Horde and so you can expect non-conformity to a certain style or genre of metal. Fast and Extreme Black Death is what we forge and deliver best and shall continue to do so.
HMA: War is a big theme in your music. Is there any particular historical war you have an interest in and does this have an effect on your lyrics?
Impiety: I have been in the Army for so many years and just finished my reserves at 40yrs old now. Inspired by all the wars, battles and crusades that humanity has bore witness to. There is no one particular war that would not interest me. Well only when the ‘enemy’ wins. ‘Enemy’ is the word given by those who write your history books. Mixing religion and politics have always resulted in one big giant bloody mess and still continues to do so, and millions of innocents are made to pay the price. ‘Paramount Evil’ touched on sensitive topics of the 2nd World War; ‘Dominator’ spoke about the command and conquest of the great Chinggis Khan. The last 2 albums have been based on world upheaval, heresy and chaos, not so much directly associated to any 1 particular historical ‘war’ on the battleground. War upon the heavens – yes, seems never-ending (It never bores me 1 bit!). But needless to say, all strategies pertaining to blood, death and chaos always continues to inspire one way or another.
HMA: A satanic, warlord, goat figure is featured throughout much of your album artwork, how did this emerge?
Impiety: The Beast Upon the Throne in his best armour just as simple as that says a lot. The title ‘Ravage & Conquer’ is in my opinion only fitting to this unholy icon that portrays power and domination. Simple and very significant to everything composed.
Lord Sickness a.k.a. Thiti Somboonanek is the artist I work with and he usually represents my sketches and ideas really well. Most times I would draw out my ideas and have him create exactly what I envision. It gives me greater satisfaction this way and having my ideas all related to the music as close as possible. Very personal indeed.
HMA: How much of the artwork do you see as a graphic representation of your lyrics and musical style?
Impiety: Artwork is really important. It goes hand in hand with the music and entire album concept. Most often I feel bands pay very little attention to this, they are a few but still countless of album material with artwork that doesn’t relate well with the concept. I spend equal amount of time putting lyrics together and also the artwork. All that really important, I stress this again. I would say if you picked up any other record from IMPIETY, you’ll see some amazing work. Most are my ideas, some not my ideas but which worked really well. IMPIETY and I have worked with Desmond Sia, JP Fournier, Chris Moyen, Antonio Nolasco, Alex Brown, Lord Sickness – Thiti Somboonanek from Thailand, also newcomer Adie Satanas from East Malaysia. The past 5-6 releases have been by Thiti and just because he delivers swift and close to the initial draft/sketches and ideas I hand over to him. Amazing and mostly hand drawn and also painted. I was so intrigued and fascinated by his creations that the cover artwork for ‘Dominator’ and album ‘Terroreign’ I also got him to paint on canvas those covers which I framed and now have on my walls here at home. One is a ‘Dominator’ 100 x 40cm and another ‘Terroreign’ 80x60cm painted Oil on Canvas.
HMA: “The Impious Crusade” is your latest release. Tell us about the recording and production process?
Impiety: 5 songs grace this new offering, 4 originals including an introductory piece plus a cover from Sorcery (swe)’s demo from 1988. The new IMPIETY songs are brilliant – just glad it turned out the way I wanted it to. Song writing has taken a slightly more technical edge and everything from writing, rehearsing to recording and mastering went smooth. Nothing was rushed and we took decent time of 5 weeks in all from rehearsing phase to completing everything in the studio. Recording took place March 2013 in Singapore at Studio 47 which is owned by Nizam Aziz our guitar player. He also produced the entire album this time and did a darn good job.
HMA: …and the conception of the artwork?
Impiety: Interestingly enough, I wanted something very different this time – not the usual draw and paint type of artwork but Thiti Somboonanek was summoned and I asked him to craft, mould and sculpt for me this crusade type of scene ancient relic piece, something similar to the crusades from 13-14 century but with a demonic twist – which I first drew out for him. He was excited to try it out. Thiti’s day job is a lecturer at the Naresuan University in Thailand, under the Faculty of Architecture. And he is amazing not just with a pen or pencil or brush but also with both hands at work. He sculpted this amazing cover piece for me – I think the actual piece is just over a metre long. All done in 1 week he took time off from his University day job just to finish this on time for us. A first time for him sculpting for a band cover, and yes, if one sees his entire art portfolio, one will notice he is very passionate and professional about his art. A truly talented demon he is.
HMA: Would you say that is aimed more to a Western audience?
Impiety: Well no, and why just a western audience when metal is universal. So definitely it targets everyone regardless of continent, hell – even Eskimos, if they could appreciate such unmerciful sounds of chaos.
HMA: Any graphic artist from your region that deserve our attention?
Impiety: I think Thiti once again deserves attention. He’s still prefers lurking the shadows and keeping a low profile, although he’s pure talent. Sure there are a few more notable artists from Asia but I guess he’s the best (that’s prime reason I come back to him time and again) and as I’ve elaborated in great detail via this interview. You can reach the illusive Thiti via: www.facebook.com/thiti.somboonanek and another amazing talent from Oceania (New Zealand to be precise) is Alexander Brown who has done some killer art for our tour shirts, check: www.facebook.com/BNB888
HMA: You have toured Europe a few times. How would you describe our crowd in comparison to your Southern Eastern countries?
Impiety: Central American crowds are champions so I take it South America will be interesting this year. We have done 3 Mexican tours thus far, all pretty much violent and great fun, Poland is another violent place I honestly would prefer coming back to, and perhaps other parts of Europe have also been vibrantly violent enough. Most concerts be it across Asia, Europe (west or east) or USA have been really great, I guess it all depends. Just a few quiet type of crowds we have played too, mostly loud and rowdy the way it’s meant to be. Have really enjoyed touring so far, meeting plenty diehards all round.
HMA: Plans on a tour back in Europe?
Impiety: Yes definitely, looking forward to a European tour this year.
Still working details out at present. Always a pleasure to hit the UK as we have done so pretty frequently the past few years.
HMAW: Thanks for joining Heavy Music Artwork any final words?
Impiety: Thanks Chris, for the talk time. Catch this new masterpiece ‘The Impious Crusade’ on Digi CD format out soon via Hells Headbangers Records, definitely a precise sharp shooter, absolute neck breaker – Praise CHAOS!
Copyright 2013 © Interview by Chris Hind, Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.