Mastabah
Chaotic Evil Death Metal
 
Poland. That country strongly punished durint the II World Ward, has had to stand up one and one more time in front of historical facts that happened in its own lands. Thanks to its society, it got back on its feet.

That musical scene so underrated in Europe. Scratching in the Polish underground, during the last years we've been following all the steps of Mastabah, a Polish band who remained loyal to the Polish sound forged by the bands of that country. Darkness, brutality, frenzy.

Good afternoon Goro! If I'm not wrong, you come from Gdansk, in the northern part of Poland. To break the ice and start with an atypical question for a Death Metal interview: What can you tell me about the region where you live? How's everyday's life in your city? I saw Gdansk in German is pronounced as (Glenn) Danzig!

Hi Jonathan. Thank you for inviting me to do this interview. Yes, I come from Gdańsk, which is located just by The Baltic Sea. It has a very rich history. After all, here is where all the mess with World War II has started. However, I am not a historian. For me, Gdańsk is a calm, historic, beautiful and clean city. It's good to live here. :)

By the way Goro, before going deeper into the interview, I'd like to know where does your pseudonym come from. Maybe I'm wrong but, does it have any relationship with the Mortal Kombat saga?

Obviously this game is the first thing that comes to mind. :) At the beginning my pseudonym was 'Gore', and late it evolved to 'Goro'. It was kind of because of our fan, who was incarcerated in a penitentiary, with whom I corresponded. Those where times without the Internet, and our correspondence was held through our beloved Polish Post. :) The guy said I play drums like I have four hands, and so the nickname 'Goro' adopted with time. :)

Let's speak about “I Hate You”, your second album. It's usually said that the second album of a band marks its evolution, as it can be more complicated in comparison to a first album on which surprise is still a factor. What do you think about this statement? Do you think that, in comparison to “Quintessence of Evil”, it was more complicated to write, record, release, etc … this second album?

It is natural that every next album is a bigger challenge if you want to improve. Although sometimes new albums are worse than previous ones. :) Anyway, I think 'I Hate You' kicks ass more than QoE. It has a richer arrangement, and despite it's imperfect sound, I think it maintains just the right atmosphere and clarity. Technically, 'I Hate You' is definitely more difficult to perform than QoE, and it considers all the instruments. When it comes to 'writing songs', it's just pure fun. :)

Each time I listen to “I Hate You” I think it improves your previous record. Under a heavier and better worked production (I love prominence of the bass!) you keep getting a perfect balance between brutality and really dark passages, something already characteristic for the Polish Death Metal bands. Under your perspective, ¿what big differences are there between both albums?

Thank you for these kind words. You got it right, that's exactly what it was about with this album, to make it dark and brutal. Our previous album was already a step in that direction, however it was more about fast tempos. 'I Hate You' is different. It's the arrangement that's really important, the music as a whole. Each instrument has it's own part to play, but they are all important and none of them dominates over the others. For me that's what it's all about, because then the music is more interesting for both the listener and the musician. It irritates me when I'm listening to an album and it's difficult for me to tell the tracks apart. The only thing left for me then is to change the album.

On ‘Quintessence of Evil’ you played it safe with one of the best known producers within your borders when it comes to extreme Metal, Szymon Czech (RIP), while on this new one you took control over the whole production of the album. How was the experience? Less pressure and more calm to mold the sound of Mastabah according to your taste?

That's right, our previous album was mixed and mastered by the late Szymon Czech. If he stayed around longer, I would've definitely ask him to cooperate, but unfortunately that was not the case. On the other hand, 'I Hate You' was created in stages, and it was recorded in our so called 'spare time'. If we were to record it in a studio we would probably all be broke now. Why did we decide for this type of production? It was a difficult time, Mastabah whole line-up was gone. I asked our ex-guitar player (for that time) for help in recording guitars. He agreed, and the process of developing the album began, because all we had were just sketches. Riffs and drum tracks were changed and bass lines were basically created from the beginning. The same goes for vocals. In the meantime Vnuk joined the band. I asked him to record guitar leads, and I think he did a great job filling the album with them. Our collaboration went very smooth. Together we finalized the production and began to re-build our line-up, but that's a whole another story. To sum up, it was a long process, there was no option to sit in the studio for about six months, so we tried to do it the way we could.

Speaking about Szymon, you worked with him on your two previous recordings. What memories do you have of your work with him? Was his loss a big impact for you?

Szymon was a great man and a friend. People like him don't have enemies. I remember him as a happy man enjoying life. He never refused help. He was a professional and it was a pleasure to work with him. It's a shame people like him pass away too soon.

‘I Hate You’ was presented in a sober but effective digipack, although there is no booklet included with the CD. For that reason, it's not possible to check what your lyrics are about this time. I could figure it with the explicit album title, but I'd like you to ellaborate on the lyrical concept behind the album…

When it comes to the booklet, the choice was dictated strictly by our finances. The lyrics, however, are available on our official website www.mastabah.pl. First we had plans to release a digibook (we even have a complete project for it), but it is how it is. 'I Hate You' is, in fact, a concept album, and knowledge of lyrics is necessary to understand it, therefore we invite you to check them on or website for now. :) Who knows, maybe we'll release a digibook in future. Lyrics are complementary to the music, but they don't dominate (the same case as with instruments). Their purpose will never be to show our ideology or antyhing like that. Mastabah is a band that stands aside and describes things rather than identifies with them. We're a versatile band and like to touch different subjects, while obviously maintaining our own style.

Speaking about the image of the band, your promo pictures caught my attention in a powerful way. They have been done with a lot of good taste and all king of details: the scenarios, your clothes, etc... I'm sure this pretends to communicate something along with your music. What can you tell us about it?

You're on the right track. :) Yes, we pay attention do details, sometimes probably even too much. We'd constantly like to improve or modify something, but at some point you just have to say 'stop'. Mastabah is a band that's passionate about extreme, fast, but also heavy and atmospheric music. Our image is strictly connected with the music we make, and which we treat very seriously. Atmosphere of 'I Hate You' was to be brutal, but also raw, soaked with evil, possession. I think we succeeded in making it this way and I wouldn't change anything about this album.

Goro, with all your previous experience (with Dark Legion), how come all your releases have been self-released? Did you choose to work that way or is there any other reason to take that decision?

The truth is, we didn't really care about promotion in the past and we didn't look for a label. Another thing is, in the band it is necessary for everyone to be involved and working hard. Unfortunately, it was not the case back then, because of everyone's lack of time. However, I believe that our present line-up will be able to work harder. :)

I imagine that makes all the distribution, promotion, etc... of “I Hate You” a hard task, work that probably fell on you. How is it to handle all that? Sending and distributing copies, contacting the press, sending copies to the factory, etc... Did you think about hiring the distribution services of some label from your country at some moment?

You can image how difficult it is, giving that, unfortunately, this band is not everything I do. Just like I said before, whole band needs to work hard. Of course, no one is a professional in everything, and therefore it's important to complement one another. Positive energy and pursuing mutual goals are also very important. There must be passion in it, there is no way to be forced to be involved in a band. Mastabah is a conglomerate of people, not one-person army of salvation. Well, at one point I became a drummer, bass player and a vocalist, but it's too much for a band that wants to play live shows.

How have the reactions been on both a European and Polish level? What do they stand out above everything from Mastabah? Have all the promotional doors you knocked been open?

To be honest I didn't expect any deals with labels, because I knew the band doesn't play enough shows. I won't start about all the problems we've had; everyone has some. One thing that makes me happy – and that's probably the only thing that keeps me going – is that our album made a positive impression on people who listened to it.

Interestingly enough, in a moment we least expected it, we were offered a cooperation with an uprising label from the US – Power bacK Records. They are great people, they support us at every step. With them behind our back we have nothing else to do but to face the challenge and bring this band back to life with full strength.

Let's speak about your line-up. In 2013 there were some big changes in the band, with you remaining as the only original member of the band. I imagino it's logical to think that could affect the musical future of the band. What can you tell us about the new members? Have you already started writing new songs? In positive case, please, let us know the direction the new material will take.

Forgive me for not going into details, but there were many changes so far (and there are still some ahead of us) that it's unnecessary to talk about all of them right now. You'll definitely hear from us when the situation is stable. For now all I can tell is that the band is alive, we just need a little more time to charge our batteries after such a long break.

Poland always was a really good source of Death Metal bands, which are really known for their characterictic sound. In this XXIth century, which bands do you think we should be aware of from your never ending underground?

It's a shame to admit, but because of my constant lack of free time I don't really follow any bands. Sometimes I hear something new, but I usually listen to it once and forget about it. Everything interesting lands on my shelf for later. :) I know that the level some bands represent is very high, but that only motivates us more, and we like challenges very much in Mastabah. :)

Goro, going off on a tangent now, I have two friends who are half Spanish and half Polish, and curiously I always end up speaking about Nergal, his polemics and the effect they have in your country with them. They usually make similarities with Spanish public characters and the significance of their deeds (his illness, his relationship with the singer Doda, his confrontation to the church, his participation in “The Voice” from Poland...), Here we are surprised to see a Metal personality can have such relevance on a popular level. Is the significance of Adam Darski as big as these persons tell me?

I really respect Nergal for both his artistic activity and his personality. He knows what he wants and constantly moves forward. It seems to me he wants to step outside the 'borders' of the metal world – although I never really saw any regulations as to were these borders are. I don't really care. Everyone has his own opinion and it should be respected. For me things like religion, sexual orientation or skin color don't really matter. What's important is what you have inside your head and if you can understand another person. Pathological examples are a different thing, but that's not my thing. :)

This is all Goro. It's been a pleasure to have been able to follow your progression along these years, since your debut “Purity”. Receive a warm greeting from Spain!

Once again – thank you Jonathan for these kind words and an opportunity to present Mastabah on the pages of Pitchilne Zine. I hope we'll meet soon to talk a little more and drink a cold one. :)
 
. Interview done by Fekalot, The King of the Underworld .
. Publishing date ... 29-08-2015 .