Danish metallers Corpus Mortale has been creating aggressive and formidable death metal for the best part of two decades and through impressive albums and live performances earned strong and deep acclaim for their uncompromising yet inventive sound. The release of their new album FleshCraft though finds the band at its most creative and powerful yet. It is a colossal beast of intensity, sound, and quality which can be described as setting a new defining signpost for certainly Danish death metal if not extreme metal as a whole. We the pleasure of asking vocalist and bassist Martin Rosendahl to tell us more about the album and the world of Corpus Mortale over the past twenty years.
Hello and thank you for sparing time to talk with The RingMaster Review.
We have to start by being honest and saying our first introduction to you has come with your outstanding new album FleshCraft. It is a frustration to us it has taken so long but how do you view what seems a constant fight to be noticed, even for band like yourselves which has been around for two successful decades?
Well, first of all we’re sorry to hear that it took so long for our music to reach you. It is hard to be noticed in a scene with 10000 bands struggling to get attention. We do what we can by playing as much live shows as possible and we’ve also mailed promos to more or less every magazine, webzine and radio station. But of course there’s always new ones popping up. Also since the internet got it major breakthrough around 2000 everything has changed for good and for worse. The good part is that information is easier to reach the bad part is that it is impossible to get through to everybody. On top of that people’s web habits change constantly. A good example of this is Myspace – one year it is the shit, the year after it is completely dead. We’ve also had a crap label to release our first two albums. They did minimal promotion and actually cheated us for cash, copies and so on. Luckily they’re dead now and we’ve found the perfect partners in DeepSend Records which has a totally different and dedicated attitude.
In any case we’ve been here for so long that it seems pointless to give up. We’ve spent our lives on the music and it’s all we’re good at haha…and the struggle for recognition is only a part of it. 20 years is a long time but to us it seems like it’s been 5 and we’ve got much more to offer in the future.
Tell us about the beginnings of Corpus Mortale, your initial intention as and for the band.
In the beginning we were more like a hobby band. The first 5-6 years was just us fooling around trying to copy off our favorite bands. We really had no ambitions besides having fun. The band was split in two in 1999 and since then we have been increasingly focused on getting our music out to the masses. We tried to record an album in 1998 but we failed big time so when the band was split in half we who remained aimed for a more focused style and sound. I think we succeeded and after getting the line-up complete around 2000-2001 it took only a few years to get our first album contract.
Musically the intention has always been to play pure death metal without compromise. Never to follow any trends. It’s been kinda cool to have experienced the trends come and go. It proves our philosophy that bands who follow trends are usually very short lived and forgotten in no time. Only those who stay true to themselves and those who start the trends survive.
It’s always been important for us to advance and improve but you’ll never hear us using black metal, female vocals, or keyboards in the traditional way, pig squeals or any other crap. We have a set of boundaries within which we operate. Within those limits anything goes.
Has that original intent and idea for the band changed or evolved over the years significantly?
Not really. Only the level of dedication and the level of ambitions has changed. Musically I think we evolved a lot but as I’ve already pointed out it has been done without taking any compromises and without following trends. So I guess we can answer both yes and no to the question.
As we mentioned you have just released FleshCraft which follows your previous albums Lewd Demeanor and A New Species of Deviant which were both acclaimed successes (even if we managed to miss them ha-ha). Does the excitement and emotion behind each one change from release to release with obviously their different journeys into the public eye?
The albums have been very different but still they’re all pure death metal. The vocals and the guitar sound has not been changed significantly. Also Brian and I has been writing 90% of the material on the albums so to us it’s more like one long journey or what you’ll call it. We just write music whenever the inspiration and ideas are there. When we have around 40 minutes of music it’s time to record. There has been a few years between each album. 4 years in between Lewd and Species, and 5 since Species. The reason for the rather long periods of silence is both that we need time to make songs that satisfy ourselves 100% but also because of line-up changes. It seems that every time something big is about to happen some people leaves. It’s hard to find musicians in Denmark that have both skill and ambitions to match the level of the band.
Was there any specific intent or drive behind FleshCraft and its collection of bruises other than to make the best record you could?
The idea with FleshCraft was to cut to the bone. Get rid of all the bullshit. Waste no time on long intermissions in the songs. Not throwing 6-7 themes into each song. Simply make it more focused and straight to the point. And I think we’ve succeeded in that task. I mean there’s still a lot of details in the music but the basics are actually very very simple… as intended. What’s the point of making 40 minutes of riff-o-rama if you can’t remember any of them when the record is over?
The album is the first release with the new line-up. How did the recording and writing process differ to your previous experiences?
Well each album has been recorded with a new line-up. But as mentioned Brian and I has been here through the whole process. I’ve been in the band from the start and Brian joined in 1999 after the famous break-up. So for 14 years he and I has been the core of the band. The writing process was more or less as it usually is. We write some riffs or parts and then we test it in the rehearsal. If it works we’ll work on it until it feels complete. The FleshCraft songs were written between 2008 and 2010…most of them not taking their final form until shortly before we went into the studio.
Can you give us some insight into the recording of the release, how did ideas and songs going into the studio change, if at all, by the final mastered release?
Each album has been done completely different from each other. The debut was recorded 100% in the studio. Species was recorded 100% in a home studio which we build ourselves in our old rehearsal. FleshCraft has been a mixed process with drums & mix done at one studio, the vocals at another studio and finally we recorded strings at Rasmus’ home studio.
As mentioned the songs was written over a period of 2 years. Due to reasons I won’t get into here, Rasmus and I was more or less forced to collect all the pieces in the end shortly before we went into the studio. I actually think that by doing that we got an even more focused overall result just as intended. Most of the songs were more or less complete when I brought them to the rehearsal space but Rasmus definitely played a major role in the arranging of the song. He’s a very talented musician and every time I was stuck somewhere he was fast to contribute with good ideas.
When we recorded the strings it was the same deal. We had a basic guitar that was complete then we all threw in ideas for the second rhythm guitar and the leads as well.
As you said the album was recorded in stages in different studios. Did this offer up any unexpected problems as well as the positives you were looking for when deciding to go down this avenue?
After recording Species 100% by ourselves – a process that was harder and more painful than we had ever imagined we really wanted to get some of the work laid onto others shoulders so to speak.
Also we wanted to get a specific production this time as we were not really satisfied with the sound on Species. The natural choice was to use the best studio in Denmark – the Antfarm studio where lots of famous bands has recorded or mixed. Since the basic drum sounds are essential to a recording we recorded them there. The strings were gonna be re-amped anyway so we chose to record those ourselves, both to save money but also to have limitless time to record it properly. That was a bit painful and it took a long time but it paid out in the end. The vocals were recorded at Starstruck studios which are located on the top floor in the building where we have our rehearsal space. So that choice was mostly a matter of convenience but also because they have some kick-ass gear and we are good friends with the guy running it. Also it offered me to do the sessions whenever I felt in good shape. You know recording 10 songs in 2 days is not a cool thing. It’s really tough and you can’t go back a week later and redo parts that you fucked up or wanting to change. This time I recorded one or two songs per session. And with a few days in between sessions there was time and opportunity to change stuff here and there. I’m definitely gonna do it the same way on the next album that’s for sure.
When everything was laid down on the disc we went back to Antfarm and mixed it. The guy at Antfarm Jakob Olsen had made us some suggestions before we came so we were more or less settled on a sound when we went there.
Only problems we actually had was equipment making trouble. The usual stuff like we mixed the album and suddenly the bass guitar was missing from several tracks…and similar stuff. So in the end it took around 10 months from the recording of the drums until we had the final master cd, but definitely worth all the work.
How have you changed songwriting wise over the years and albums?
It has been the same process ever since the 1999 split. In the early days we weren’t focused and as long as it had a few good riffs we were happy. Haha…these days the songs need to be perfect…and diverse as well. We aim to make ’em sound like they’re all a part of a whole but still being individually strong and different from each other.
You touched on it at the beginning but it has been around five years between the last to this album, was this seemingly long time down to the personal changes or just due to writing and evolving the songs for the new release?
There’s several reasons for the long period. First of all we changed drummers just when Species was released. That took us 8 months to find a proper replacement and spirits was quite low in that period so we really didn’t get into writing new stuff until we found the replacement. As soon as he was into the material another dude left… same shit once again. That meant that most of 2008 was wasted finding new people. Then we spent 2009 touring and playing a shitload of gigs everywhere…more than 60 shows was thrown during 2009 and first half of 2010. So we didn’t really get into the songwriting until the summer of 2010. But when we finally got into it we actually worked faster than we ever did before.
You revisited and re-recorded the track Seize the Moment of Murder on Fleshcraft. Was this due to external demand from people who wanted missed out on its original limited release or something you wanted to do to maybe evolve or ‘improve’ the song anyway?
You’re mentioning all the reasons why we rerecorded Seize…first of all there was a demand from fans since not all has record players and the 7” where it originally was features was only pressed in 500 copies and of course it’s sold out a long time ago. Second reason was that the EP recording actually was a test recording to test if our home studio was good enough to do the Species album. Actually Species was the last song we wrote for Species but we voted about which song should be on the EP and we ended up with Species. In my opinion the song should have been saved for FleshCraft from the start. But I guess I got my will when we rerecorded it.
Since it was a test recording it has quite a few flaws, the original version, so I insisted that we rerecorded it for the FleshCraft album. Also it is a kick ass live song that will most likely be a part of our live set forever so I thought a proper recording was in its place.
Your sound is obviously cored in death metal but the album certainly has loud whispers of other essences and inspirations. It suggests you listen to and maybe get inspired from a wealth of varied genres and bands. Is this the case?
First off all I have to say that I consider this question as a huge compliment. We’ve all had pasts in all kinds of different genres. Corpus is Rasmus first experience with death metal. I have been playing genres ranging from rock/ pop to grindcore, black metal, thrash, heavy metal…hell, I’ve even been in a punk band… so we’re not going for the typical sound. We like a dry guitar like many thrash bands use. We like that you can actually feel the bass guitar…We like drums that sound like drums and not just trigger-clicks. The drums on FleshCraft are 95% real…only in a few parts we needed to use a sound replacer. But that was only because of the sound level needed a boost. It is replaced with the sound of the kick drums themselves. No cheating here…
In private we all listen to all kinds of music. Not only metal. Actually I like something from most genres besides reggae which I really hate…haha…and I know the other guys have similar diverse tastes. Life would be fucking boring if you only stick to one genre. It’s like eating the same dish for supper every day.
Like with your previous releases FleshCraft is themed with songs inspired by serial killers, their deeds, and the whole premise atmosphere around them. Do you automatically go and seed your lyrics from this premise or also look at other unrelated inspirations for possibilities?
The method of writing lyrics since the debut album has been unchanged. From early childhood my mother told me stories about people like Ed Gein and Bundy…she’s a huge horror/ murder freak and has a large collection of movies of books on the subject. So when I got older I got more and more into it myself, especially the serial killer stuff. Maybe because it is real…it’s not the fantasy of some author. This shit has really happened and is still happening.
In the early days of the band we explored several subject like the usual gore stuff, Satanism and even a few socially oriented lyrics has been used as well as personal stuff. But in 1999 and forth I thought that since we got more focused in the musical style we also needed a more focused direction lyrically. So I started buying a lot of books on serial killers and wrote lyrics based on those books. Actually I get one sometimes to songs out of a book depending on how much substance it has got. So all the lyrics are not fantasy they’re all true. And risking to be accused of stealing I must admit that sometimes I take a line directly from the books. To be honest both the titles of the first two albums are taken directly from books I’ve read. In my opinion it is ok since it makes it more real. I really not into the Cannibal Corpse style of lyrics where it’s all chopped up bodies and so on. It’s boring and you know it’s just words those guys are writing down on paper. It never happened. It’s just words you know…
But with 3 albums with only killer lyrics we actually talked about trying to explore new subjects…but that is only an idea so far. We’ll see what happens when I get down to actually writing them.
The album has been released as you said through Deepsend Records. What was it about the label which convinced you they were the best vehicle for the album?
When we were about to start shopping the album we simply made an A and a B list of labels with which we’d like to sign; the A list being kind of unrealistic. All the major labels that you know could pull of a good job and make some fuss about the band. Of course we got no offers from any from the A list…Haha. The B list was labels which we knew were honest and hardworking and DeepSend was on top of that list. We got 5 offers from other B list labels before DeepSend wrote us and without negotiations they simply surpassed the other offers with no exceptions. This is actually the best record deal I personally has been involved in at so far I have nothing but good things to say about DSR. The manager is a very dedicated guy and you can really feel that he believes in us and wants to help us push the band as far as we can get. He earned our trust in no time and we consider him the 5th member in the band. And I can assure that FleshCraft will not be the only collaboration between CM & DSR.
As we said Corpus Mortale has seen metal and the music world across two decades and the challenges and struggles for a band have grown to massive proportions over that time. How have you found things yourselves, what have you had to change to contend with things, and how to do keep your enthusiasm and strength in what is really a full time fight for bands now?
Well, things have changed over the years but we find our strength and the encouragement to keep on struggling in the joy of playing music. As long as we feel good doing it nothing is gonna stop us. Most bands don’t even last half the time that we’ve been around. It’s like if they don’t “break through” with the first album they just give up…even more give up because they can’t find labels to release their stuff. Also seeing all those bands giving up all the time is giving us strength to go on. Stopping when you finally have gotten somewhere would be stupid…besides, personally I made up my mind 15 years ago that I would dedicate my life to playing music no matter the level of success.
What does Corpus Mortale have planned for 2013?
First of all we’re playing a load of shows in Denmark to warm up. The plan is then to go on the road in Europe in the second half of 2013 and hopefully we can also get some tours in North and South America this time around.
Will we in the UK have the pleasure of feeling your devastating live performances soon?
We just played our first UK show in London in December. And we’re definitely planning to return in 2013. We have a few contacts and the plan is to set up 5-7 shows covering the biggest cities in England, Scotland and maybe even Northern Ireland.
Once more thank you for sharing your time.
You’re welcome, any time… and we thank YOU for giving us exposure and for giving us some space to talk about our shit.
Any last words or thoughts to end with?
Hmmm… I just hope that people are gonna check us out. We don’t expect everyone to love us or anything but we might be a band playing the style of death metal many people are looking for in this world of 280 bpm style of DM with pig squeals and inhale vocals all over the place. We do it the old school way without being old school in the real sense of the word… death metal forever!
And finally, your top five of serial killers?
My fave has to be Ted Bundy he was the first of “A New Species of Deviant” and still one of the nastiest there has been killer, rapist, necrophile, paedophile, voyeur – you name it…
Henry Lee Lucas and his partner Ottis Tool for being some of the most elusive ever and maybe at the top considering body counts.
Albert Fish for just being so utterly psychotic…just reading the stuff he did to himself is pretty disgusting…
Richard Ramirez mainly because he was a heavy metal dude – satanic and everything… and his story is quite interesting as well, a series of unfortunate events and excessive drug abuse eventually led him to terrorize a small part of LA. I actually have a friend whose neighbour has lost a family member to the Nightstalker.
There are so many interesting ones so I can’t limit it to five… other top faves worth mentioning are people like Gary Ridgway (Green River Killer), Dahmer, Gein, Sutcliffe (Yorkshire Ripper), Gacy, Dennis Nilsen and so on..
Read the review of Fleshcraft @
The RingMaster Review 13/02/2013
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