Panoptic Horror by Andreas Fosse Salbu
It was but a mere three years ago when SEPULCHER burst upon the scene with their debut album for Edged Circle, Mausoleum Tapestry. The young Norwegian band’s very first public recording, Mausoleum Tapestry soon exploded the name of Sepulcher onto many a metalhead’s tongues, raking in worldwide critical acclaim, and for good reason: here was a sound both familiar and foreign, firmly rooted in old, obscure death metal and yet brimming with an idiosyncratic energy all their own. With the stage thus set, Sepulcher amazingly eclipse that first feat with the even-better follow-up, Panoptic Horror. Once again ever aptly titled, ‘Panoptic Horror’ throws obscene and malformed shapes at the listener – sometimes at a more rapid pace than the debut, other times more patiently parcelled out – whipping everything into a delirium-inducing sort of hysteria that’s both unsettling and strangely alluring.
Thank you! We released our second album ‘Panoptic Horror’ last year in September on Edged Circle Productions. After our first release with ‘Mausoleum Tapestry’ we wanted to take it one more step further with everything. I feel the songs and the album in its entirety stands much stronger! And
The songwriting goes like this: Daniel Tveit (our drummer) makes most of the riffs. And at rehearsals, he shows us what he has been cooking and we tell him if we think it is cool it or that we hate it. He is a pretty good riff maker so we don’t yell at him too much. That’s how it goes most of the times. Other we just sit in the rehearsal place and try and make shit up. It usually ends with a bunch of riffs that sound exactly like Morbid Angel or Kreator. You can probably hear on the album the times we used this method. For the recording ‘Panoptic Horror’ was recorded live in our rehearsal space in Fusa, at least the drums and guitars. We would like to record the bass also live but there isn’t any more space on the mixer. So bass, solos and vocals we added after. We like to record life cause you to get the edge as if we were playing live. No “click-track” and no bullshit. It is what it is. We don’t care if not all the riffs are played perfect all the time or our drummer missed a cymbal. We are not trying to make Beyonce records!
The art has this massive, surreal and yet simplistic feel to it, which definitely reflects some of the intentions behind the music. We’re really pleased with the combo, and listening to the album on vinyl while staring at the cover art adds a lot to the experience. Some album covers can be downright detrimental to the listening experience, as they can perpetually colour one’s perception of the music to the point where the music suddenly feels green, blue, plastic, robotic or whatever. That was certainly something we had in mind for the artwork, and something we wanted to utilize to our advantage while leaving the ambiguity and room for interpretation there. I really think we’ve succeeded in that regard.
The art is not made on commission, rather it’s an earlier oil on canvas piece called ‘The Time of White Flags’ by Mariusz from 2017 that we got licensed for the album. Initially, our intent was to hear if he was interested in creating original artwork for the album, but as he already had created the perfect piece to accompany our music, we went with an existing work instead. He kindly let us use it, and we’re really happy with how everything turned out. However, there is a white flag on the original painting, swaying with the flying rocks and remains of that building in the background (which explains the title). As a stand-alone work of art, the flag creates another, deeper meaning, but we decided to remove it as it just felt more right in the context of our album.
Regarding the meaning of “story” behind the painting, I guess you’d have to ask Mariusz. One can read a lot into it, with the monumental, desolate, other-worldly landscapes, the vast explosion in the background and the dark silhouettes migrating towards the front. It’s the kind of painting where you’d love to be able to see what lies beneath and beyond the edges. In the original with the white flag, I feel like there is some kind of force that the people have given in to, but the destruction occurs nonetheless. We weren’t exactly planning ahead to go for the monochrome and simple look, but it makes the artwork less «intruding» and in-your-face, and allows the art and music to remain somewhat mysterious while complimenting each other in subjective ways that wouldn’t be possible if the painting was overfilled and flashy.
To us, this album feels like a natural next step from our first album ‘Mausoleum Tapestry’. We took the stuff we liked and the stuff we found interesting from that one and tried to expand on that. Dwell deeper into weird parts and atmospheres, and see if we could incorporate it into our music. Then spice it up with a few new (or old?) inspirational sources, like Morbid Angel and YOB. We have been listening to some of these bands for a long time by now, but it is not until recently that we have tried to melt them with our own music. It brings in a new element, and keeps it interesting, I think.
Lyrically, we try to find concepts and themes that fit our music and the harsh voice of our singer. Inspirational sources wary quite a bit, but a common denominator for this album has been H.P. Lovecraft and his many twisted stories. The way he describes crazed minds and existential dread are beautifully haunting, and a good stepping stone for new lyrical ideas and concepts.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2019 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.