Answered by: Andreas
COMPOS MENTIS were formed back in 1996 and they used to be a Metallica jam band before focusing on their original material/sound. Today the sound of the group can be described as atmospheric black/death metal. What made you follow this direction? What happened to your initial heavy/thrash influences?
There are more reasons for this change of style, I guess. Most importantly, we all had to re-evaluate our musical interests after the release of Metallica's Load album in 1996, which couldn't match any of their previous albums. After having flirted with various possible replacements (e.g. Pantera, Sepultura, Machine Head etc.), we became acquainted with bands like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Moonspell etc. and our own music slowly took a direction towards a melodic kind of death metal – especially after Bo (keyboards) joined the band in the spring of 1999. Since then we have incorporated even more keyboard into the music, while also adding more and more hard guitar riffing in the melodic death metal vein. A second reason why we changed the musical style is the technical development that we have all experienced within the years that have passed. It is simply more fun (and natural, I guess) to play music which is challenging as to the technical level.
By the way, what do you think of Metallica now after the release of St. Anger?
First of all let me point out that we don't agree within the band on this matter. We actually don't even agree completely on the Load period. Personally I think that there were a lot of good music on those Load records - for me it just hadn't got anything to do with the Metallica sound or even metal for that matter. As far as their newest effort, I think that it is certainly an improvement considering the fact that the material is a lot heavier than it has been for some time now. And somehow I think it's cool enough that those old guys can still renew their music and even learn from new bands around today (I am here referring to the nu-metal scene). Some of the tracks on St. Anger are also great metal songs in my opinion but with all these things said, I still don't think that it can't be compared to the pre-Black Album era. And what is a Metallica album without any guitar solos anyway???
In 1996 the members were 14-16 year old kids. Is this the reason why it took you so long to release a full length album?
It is one reason for sure. But there are also different aspects within that answer as it can be explained with the fact that our technical abilities and our capacity for composing well-written music wasn't good enough. Furthermore we had to find a style before we could begin to think about releasing any demo-cds. Another thing worth mentioning is that we actually signed the contract with Lost Disciple Records already a couple of years ago, that is in the spring of 2001. But as we hadn't enough material at that time it took a while before we could record the album. And after this we experienced some difficulties as far as the cover artwork etc. so it all got a little delayed.
Another thing to notice about COMPOS MENTIS is that they managed to keep a stable line up. Has this fact affected your course in any way? How important is to cooperate with partners you know well, not only as musicians but as people as well?
I know many people work better with some degree of professionalism within their bands but in our case, we are just as much friends as we are fellow musicians and it is important for us to keep it that way. This might be connected to the fact that we have been playing with each other for such a long time and when we started out, it was all just for fun. I can't tell exactly how it has affected the course so far but I'm convinced that we wouldn't have been where we are now if we had changed members in the meantime.
Do you play in other groups? If yes give us some details.
For the time being, none of the members play in other bands. Well, except for the fact that Ryan (guitar) attends a musical academy where he plays with other musicians as well of course but it's not bands as such. The other members, including myself, have all been involved in other projects (both rock and metal) but it has not been on the same level as COMPOS MENTIS.
Judging from the very positive reviews "Fragments of a Withered Dream" seems to be the ideal debut. How do you feel about this release now? What can you tell us about peoples' response?
Well, I can begin by saying that the long period of waiting after the recording of the album was quite unpleasant. You know, you kept telling yourself that you should have done this or that instead but when the album was finally released, we concluded that we couldn't have made a better debut! We are very satisfied with the outcome and it seems that other people appreciate the album as well - so far we have received very good reviews (you can find all of them on our website) and people have also written to us and praised the album so we couldn't possibly have hoped for more.
Are you satisfied with your cooperation with Lost Disciple Records?
So far we have been very pleased to work with Rich and Lost Disciple Records. Of course, they don't have the same economical possibilities to promote us as Nuclear Blast or something like that but as Rich himself once told us: "I can take you to the next level!" and that's all we can ask for now.
Do you enjoy being in the studio? Do you pay attention to the details?
The recording session of "Fragments of a Withered Dream" was quite different from what we had tried with our previous release, the demo-cd "Quadrology of Sorrow". First of all, we knew that this album would be exposed to a lot more people all over the world than the demo-cd so we had to really concentrate on making the best product possible. Secondly we had more time, locked up with each other in a very small studio (in the meanwhile, Jacob Hansen has moved to another location, by the way) - causing us to develop a REALLY lousy sense of humour. But it was fun, and even though it can be very demanding and exhausting, we all enjoy being in the studio. We try to focus as much on the details within the music as possible and we spent quite some time to experiment with different effects etc. (don't expect an "industrial" album!!) but of course the time limit causes us to mainly focus on the general outcome.
You have signed a record deal for two full length albums and the first album was released last January. I guess you have already started preparing your new material, am I right? If yes please give us some details (have you completed/recorded anything? Song titles, dates etc.?)
It is hard for us to reveal anything as we don't even know much ourselves yet. The last year has been a little slow as we have not been living as close to each other as previously because of our education and so on but from now on it should be better and thereby easier for us to find time to meet up and practice. So far, we have finished six tracks for the next record and a few more are more or less finished. We have recorded three of those tracks with a friend of our and it sounded quite promising to us. The new material continues in the same vein as "Fragments of a Withered Dream" but the overall impression is that the music is both faster and contains more grandiose black metal parts as well as there is more catchy guitar riffing. We hope to be able to go into the studio next summer as that would be most appropriate with regards to our education. This time, however, the wait won't be as long as last time - and that's a promise!
According to your website you are going to be busy in September as far as live appearances are concerned. How is the preparation going? What about your playlist?
We are looking very much forward to be able to go on a tour as it will be the first time for us so we have made sure that we are "in shape" for the concerts. And with a playlist mainly consisting of material from "Fragments." with a few new hard songs among them, we are sure that we can get people banging those heads, haha!
Give us some details about the tour and tell us what other bands are going to be with you.
We will be supporting the Danish metallers of Illdisposed on the tour that has been labelled the "Danish Dynamite Tour" and we will play the following places:12. September - Glauchau / Alte Spinnerei - Germany
13. September - Zittau / Emil - Germany
14. September - Torgau (Neiden) / Fuckhall - Germany
15. September - Day off
16. September - Berlin / K17 - Germany
17. September - Gosslar / Juz - Germany
18. September - Copenhagen / Loppen - Denmark
19. September - Aarhus / Voxhall - Denmark
20. September - T.B.A.
Have you ever played outside Denmark?
No, this is our very first time and naturally we are looking very much forward to it. However, it is also very important for us to be able to show people outside little Denmark who we are and we are especially glad that Germany is the first country for us to visit as it is a very important market - not least for our kind of music.
By the way, how is the metal scene over there?
Well, some years ago I would say that we only had a few bands with an international standard but nowadays I think that there a many great Danish bands covering almost all genres from nu-metal to grim black metal. Besides from the more established bands, I can mention bands like Mnemic, Illnath, Urkraft, Corpus Mortale, Mugshot, Ad Noctum etc.
Next, tell us how difficult you think it is for an extreme metal group to survive in the modern music industry (pop, rap, nu metal etc).
Admitting that I haven't been in the business that long, I would say that it's not much harder today than it was ten years ago. Metal in its extreme form will always more or less be an underground phenomenon and you just have to accept that if you decide to go into the industry. As far as the nu-metal genre, which you mention, I personally think that it is a great opportunity for the rest of the metal scene as it might be some kind of first step towards more extreme music for young people today. I mean, we have all begun from another point than where we are now and whereas it was Black Sabbath, Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden etc. who got our generation into extreme music back then, today the names have changed into Korn, Linkin Park, Slipknot and so on. So whether you like the music or not, nu-metal has come to stay and we might as well take advantage of it instead of just hating it.
In the end, I would like you to tell me what do you think of the internet as a promotion tool. Who's your web-master?
Actually, Ryan (guitar) is the webmaster of our website and I consider this to be a great advantage to us as we don't have to go through another guy to have our site updated etc. We are also sure that he takes care of the band's interests instead of merely trying to promote his own artwork and programming abilities as you can imagine some webmasters probably do. I believe that the internet is the best and easiest promotional tool that we have today - and one of the advantages we have nowadays when almost everybody is connected to the internet compared to ten or fifteen years ago. It is so much easier to get in touch with people if you don't have to send regular letters around the world and the fact that metalheads from all over the world can communicate and share experiences in few seconds makes the metal underground much stronger I think. So all in all it is a very important tool in today's marketing and promotion.
Would you like to add anything?
Well, first of all thanks for the interview. After that I would like to encourage all those of you readers who found this interesting to visit our website http://www.composmentis.dk where you can download some of our music, check the latest news etc. Besides from that I sure hope to see some of you metalheads for some serious headbanging when we invade Germany in a week's time from now (September 5th)