Interview: Simon Dower – Abramelin

Abramelin (1)

Our mate Megadeaf recently had a bit of a yak with Simon Dower, Vocalist from Aussie legends Abramelin the lucky bastard! What about you ask? Well, all things Abramelin of course what bloody else! Ha-ha, what more could you possibly want! Read on!

Hi Simon, thanks for taking the time out for a chat, let’s start with how and when was Abramelin formed?

Back in mid-1988, a group of metal friends (mostly from the same suburb) got together and started jamming out some cover songs that we were into at the time. In October 1988 we had our first show we’re we smashed out said covers and an original under the name Achereon.

How has the reception to the album been, I know a lot of the cd’s and merch sold out like there was no tomorrow, did this surprise you at all that the hunger for you to release new material was so strong?

The response has been incredible! We thought that fans would be pleased from the reaction that we’d seen to the new songs at live shows, but nothing like what has actually transpired. Messages from fans & reviews from the media have all been outstanding and needless to say, very encouraging for us to get out and play live as soon as we can… whenever the hell that will be!

And is there a story at all behind the name Abramelin you care to share with the readers?

There is. We changed the name of the band from Acheron to Abramelin back in the 90’s as there was another band in the US with the same name. Even though we both argue that “we had it first”, we opted for the change to save any confusion in the what was then a rather small scene. Back in the late 80’s and through the 90’s I was quite interested in ritual magick and came across The Book of The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage. Without going too much into that, that’s where the name came from.

You guys made the decision to reunite in 2016 after a fairly lengthy (14 odd year!) break much to the joy of fans worldwide! Was there a sense of urgency to have a comeback when you jammed for the first time?

We had a show booked in January 2017 so we had 3 or 4 month to get our shit together. Dave had never played with us before, Matt and Tim hadn’t played together for 14 years, Rob had played in the band as a guitarist in the past but never on bass and I hadn’t sung for 14 years! That all being said, the first rehearsal was actually very good, even though I had to tap out after about 5 songs as my throat was shredded!

So, to continue the above question, can you elaborate a little more on what made you all want to reform when you did. Did you all just miss playing together or was it specifically for the show you had booked. Was it only going to be a one off or the plans where to continue on from there and see what happened?

Abramelin’s reformation was all about the “Metal for Melbourne” benefit gig at the start of 2017; that was most certainly the catalyst for us getting back together. Full credit to our bass player, Rob Wog, for not only pulling the whole show together but also for bringing Abramelin back together.

As soon as we started rehearsing with the new line-up (i.e. Rob switching to bass and Dave coming in on drums) we knew that we were onto something; the break certainly helped with everyone coming back refreshed but there was something else there that was absent in the past. Call it a certain synergy. The way everything flowed and this newfound ferocity that we were now evoking… we couldn’t just leave it at that one show and disappear back into metal oblivion.

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Seeing as how well the reception has been to “Never Enough Snuff”, can you share with us any future plans? Any new music being written that you can speak of?

The primary focus is to get out and start doing live shows as soon as we can. Tim says he has fresh ideas for new songs, and I am sure that Matt does too. That being said, it’s such a weird time at that moment, I don’t even know when we’ll be able to jam together at this stage. Not a straight answer, I know, but that’s all I’ve got at this time.

How would you describe the sound of Abramelin to the unaware, fools that they may be!

Old-school brutal death metal. We are actually that old that when we started doing what we were doing its was new school. Ha!

Abramelin seem to combine many different styles throughout “Never Enough Snuff”. Was that an intention of yours or did it just seem to flow out that way?

Do we? It’s hard to say as for me it’s just us doing what we do. Probably a question better-off posed to Tim or Matt but for me it’s just us playing death metal. I can say that as a vocalist, I try and sing as heavy as I can but in a way that you can still understand what I am saying. I spend a lot of time writing my lyrics and put lots of energy into making them as nasty as they can be. I don’t want all that effort to fall on deaf ears.

Any artists in particular come to mind that may or may have influenced Abramelin’s music in any way over the years?

I think that we’re a little too far down the path for that one. We pretty much just create our own sound these days.

What would you say if anything inspires you to write such dark brutal lyrics, is it just life in general, do you read a lot, are you possibly utterly evil and just walk around day by day with a mask of near normality on?

Ha! Far from the last one. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am very silly, a master of cheesy “dad jokes” and am generally a very happy person.

I watch, and especially read, a shitload of horror. Not your standard run of the mill stuff; the X-rated over the top type that most people would feel most uncomfortable reading and not even understand why anyone would write such things. This genre, known as “splatter punk”, has a host or brilliant authors including (but not limited to): Edward Lee, Matt Shaw, Brian Keene, Wrath James White, Monica O’Rourke, J.F. Gonzalez and so on. If you write the type of lyrics that I do, this is the perfect place to look for inspiration and fun-filled ways to mess people up.

Can you tell us a little about the process (or processes) for writing songs within the band?

Guitarists Tim (mostly) and Matt write the songs then present it with a click track to Dave (drummer) to work out the beats. Once the beats are finalised, Rob (bass) will learn the riffs then add his own flavour to the song. Once the lads have that part of the process done, I’ll try and work lyric arrangements / vocals over the top and we may slightly edit the track from there. Usually it stays as is, but I may need changes to make it all work. We’ll jam it, finesse it until we are happy with it and… voila! New Abramelin track outta the oven.

That cover art, truly majestic, who did the artwork and who came up with the idea, was it a band effort or just one person?

The (real) cover art was inspired by the lyrics for “Never Enough Snuff”; the first lyrics I wrote when coming out of death metal retirement. As soon as we got a whiff of the idea that we were going to do an album, I knew that I wanted to do a gritty photo shoot re-enacting a snuff film. I had recently read “Survivor” by J.F. Gonzalez and had lots of juicy ideas for lyrical content around the subject of snuff films. I must say though, we toyed with the idea for some time and whether we thought if we could get away with it or not. In the end, the compromise was that we would do a second cover that would be the face of the album for digital and retail sales. The real cover and the “guts” of the package is for the fans who buy the physical CD or forthcoming LP.

As far as WHO was responsible for it: Tim and his partner Michelle are the models, my friend Lee Norris did the special effects make-up (genius), another friend Martin Reddy did the photography (such a good eye) and I directed. Once that was all done, the raw files went off to the ever-talented Sallyann Moore (aka Hedrush) who pulled the entire thing together in all it’s gory glory, as well as creating the second cover. Sal also did the artwork for the self-titled and “Deadspeak” albums, so it only felt right to get her involved once again with an Abramelin release.

Having been around for so long, what do you think that Abramelin offers to the current Metal scene?

For us it gives us a chance to give our fans a good dose of ye olde school death metal that still brings the power and energy that today’s younger bands possess. Even though we’re old enough to be the parents of a lot of the bands that we perform with, I think that we play an important part in the Australian metal scene as testament of being really good at what we do by sticking to our roots and not holding back. “Never Enough Snuff” is an uncompromising slab of horrific visceral carnage that for me is the album I always wanted to produce. It’s a nasty piece of dark art that is up front and right in your face from the opening track through to the “Pleasures” re-recording.

On the subject of “Pleasures”, why did you guys decided to re-record that specific song?

When we toured Tassie a couple of years ago and were about to start the recording process for Never Enough Snuff, we talked about re-recording “Deadspeak” as that was done with just Tim and I. We thought it would be awesome to let fans hear it the way it was meant to be (as a full band) but when we got to laying down “Snuff” we didn’t have the time or the funds to do “Deadspeak” in its entirety so the compromise was that we’d only include the one song, so we chose the first one: “Pleasures”.

What was your favourite song off of the new Abramelin album? What’s your reasoning for choosing the song?

That’s a tough one. I like different songs on the album for different reasons, the riffs on many of the tracks are so damn good and Dave’s drumming is just ridiculous! Ummmm, errrr, if I had to pick one, and not because I think it stands out any better than the rest, I’m going to go with “Knife Play” (today’s answer, ask me next week and it will be something else). The reason I pick that one is because it sounds a little different to what we have done in the past. “Knife Play” has a great journey; from blistering riffs and grind into super heavy, sludgy, death grooves and then pops out again on the other side all up-tempo heavy metal again.

The Covid crisis has affected bands and artists worldwide, how much of an effect has it had on you guys. Obviously, touring is out of the question, and may be for some time.

I’ve eluded to this in earlier questions but to answer directly: YES, it has definitely changed things. We had literally just placed the order for the production of CDs and were about to order the vinyl. Not only that, we were literally about to record the music video for “Full Gore Whore” when the first wave of COVID struck. Our first music video ever in 32 years and we missed it by 2 days! WTF!? As well as screwing up the LP production and video recording, it also completely derailed the national tour that were about to lock in. I know that it’s the same for a lot of bands out there but considering that “Snuff” is our first release in 20 years we were pretty disappointed to say the least. Still, looking at it glass half full, we’ve had a lot of eyes on screens while this bullshit pandemic continues to roll on and feel that the media and fan attention has been amplified. Abramelin has always been about the live experience more so than recording (which is why we’ve had bugger-all releases over the last 30 years) so not being able to tour and be face to face with our fans has been crushing. We’ll be back people, sit tight.

Finally, do you guys have any crazy Abramelin tour stories you’d like to share.

Here’s one: We did a show up in Canberra one time many moons ago and then after the show we decided to drive home to Melbourne (something that we wouldn’t normally do). I’m not 100% sure who was in the van but I think it was me, Tim, Rob, Euan and Justin. We were in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere in the dead of the night and we saw a chick hitchhiking on the side of the road. We stopped to pick her up and when she got in the van we all went silent and everything got really weird and dark (as in creepy as fuck). We tried making small talk to ease the tension, but she wasn’t having any of it which just weirded us out even more. After what felt like eternity, she asked us to stop (also in the middle of nowhere). She got out, ran behind a small wall in a field and disappeared from sight. We drove off and sat in silence for a while, all freaked out by the whole ideal. When we started talking again, we had pretty well convinced ourselves that it was some sort of supernatural encounter. True story.

So, there you have it. Great bloke right there, and a band that have managed to not only maintain their legendary status down under, they have just upped the ante tenfold! Amazing stuff. If you haven’t heard of them yet check them out, or may Satan take a dump on your doorstep!

https://abramelin1.bandcamp.com/album/never-enough-snuff

https://www.facebook.com/Abramelin-550713968275457/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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