For all its gore, brutality and extremity, perhaps even Death Metal cannot succeed in conveying the real horror of everyday life and the mindless depravity of human behaviour. Perpetually craving power, status, money and Facebook likes without once considering the consequences of our self-serving actions, mankind is inherently ignorant, abhorrent and ugly. The stench of decay is all-consuming. But, as Necrot point out on their thought-provoking sophomore full-length, ‘Mortal’, the shadow of death hangs ominously over each and every one of us. Nobody will be spared. I spoke to drummer Chad Gailey about the race to the bottom, the narcissistic pursuit of instant gratification, unravelling the truth, censorship and – needless to say – the inexorably advance of death.
In that fleeting moment between cradle and grave, lives fly by. Ultimately, the earthly struggles, petty squabbles and fantastical delusions that constitute our lives count for nothing as our bodies rot and we are consigned to history, forever forgotten. It’s estimated that more than 100 billion people have died over the last 50,000 years. The same fate awaits every one of us. Our desperate bid to survive will inevitably fail, so is it all for nothing?
“Maybe it is. I think we (you, me and everyone alive in this moment) are meant to be here right now. We could’ve all been born thousands of years ago, thousands of years from now, or not at all. But we exist now! I think it would be a disservice to deny your privilege of having life and shit on thousands of years of humanity’s struggle to bring you into existence by doing nothing with it.”
The title track on the sophomore Necrot full-length, ‘Mortal’, is particularly bleak and harrowing. Lyrically, this eight-and-a-half-minute parting shot is extremely thought-provoking and sobering. All mortal things must die and will fade away. Young and old alike, rich and poor, strong and weak, we are all death-bound, powerless vessels moving towards our ominous demise, each breath spiriting us closer to the void, life effectively an illusion and a waste of time. Perhaps the most depressing thing about these sentiments is that they are undeniably true?
“The sentiments are true. People don’t like to think about death. They distract themselves everyday with technology and material possessions that keep them completely occupied. They don’t think that they could die tomorrow or sometime in the near future. Necrot’s lyrics focus on humanity and the struggle we all endure throughout our short time here. I think it’s important to realize that everything we have now can be gone instantly. People spend so much time consumed with things that don’t matter and then are surprised when their time has run out. The lyrics for ‘Mortal’ definitely drive this point to the listener.”
Time is the great enemy, but conversely it is also our biggest ally – arguably the only real asset we have. Although most of us have no idea when we will draw our last breath (it could be decades away, or mere minutes…), we have inherited by chance through random selection this limited window of opportunity during which we can potentially achieve something, irrespective of how meaningless those accomplishments will prove when all is said and done. I suppose the best we can do is make the most of the time we are given here? Surely a cursed existence is better than none at all? Or is everything we do, make, say and think meaningless?
“Like I said in the first answer, I think it’s important to make the most of the time we have here. You can always choose to live your life in a meaningless way if that’s how you really feel life is like for you, but ultimately if you have the means and privilege to live life, you should. People in first world countries don’t realize how good they have it sometimes. Obviously no life is lived and experienced the same, but you gotta remember it can always be worse and it can all go south instantly.”
I can relate to Luca’s comments concerning ‘Stench Of Decay’, the third song on the new Necrot album. The lyrics allude to “the stench you smell in the morning when you realize that outside your door is nothing but ugly humans ready to deceive, steal or even kill for a little more power or money”. We breathe this stench all our lives, surrounded by despicable, ignorant, proud, greedy, corrupt, violent, deceitful beings concerned only with self-promotion, -preservation and -elevation. Isn’t it both demoralising and fascinating to observe some of these self-absorbed leeches in action, either unaware of – or oblivious to – how horrible they are?
“Many people on this earth love to just be on top of the pack in many areas of life. There’s a lot of selfishness based in their actions and they usually only do things that benefit them short term. They want that instant gratification and won’t bother doing something if they can’t get it immediately. I think that a lot of people know they’re doing it and then there are a lot of people who have been conditioned to think that this way of life is acceptable and don’t really second-guess it. They think it’s more important to stay relevant instead of being forgotten.”
Is this sort of pathetic, immoral, self-serving behaviour an inherent part of the human condition or is society structured in such a way (by humans!) that the law of the jungle applies and it’s a race to the bottom (survival of the shittiest), where the most contemptible participants will prevail? People will stop at nothing in the pursuit of power, status, money and Facebook likes … is this the fault of each individual or a symptom of being born into a fucked-up, dysfunctional, dystopian, divisive society? Who’s to blame?
“I think it is both the fault of the individual and society for conforming to this way of life. I think most people always look out for themselves first and then will look out for everyone else when it’s convenient to do so. Social media is definitely a big part to blame for this. Social media gives people the feeling of being number one online when in reality they might not be anywhere near that offline. Facebook is one of the biggest corporations on the planet and is now a part of millions of people’s lives whether they like to think it is or not. Any time you log onto a Social media app, you are being fed what to like and what to consume. Whatever you don’t want to see, you can unfollow and block in a second. I think it’s important for people to understand the role they play when they contribute to their electronic identity. I’m not saying all acts done on Social media are wrong, but most of the time it’s based in self-promotion.”
Who are the ‘enemies of mankind’ you refer to in ‘Malevolent Intentions’? It’s hard to escape the feeling that there are sinister, unseen forces pulling the strings and running the world, individuals with no consideration for ordinary, common people. Are you referring to the puppet masters in the shadows? The power brokers behind the scenes? Governments, bureaucrats, corporations, the media, the deep state, the elite 1%? All of the above? Or something else altogether?
Luca: “All that you refer to can definitely be associated to the lyrics of ‘Malevolent Intentions’. In my opinion, the beauty of interpreting lyrics is that the meaning the listener gives to it is as valid as the one initially intended by the person writing them. So don’t overthink it and let it mean whatever it means to you.”
It seems obvious that there are dark forces at work in the world. The manipulation of information is such that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction. The truth is hidden behind twisted mazes of lies, hype, PR, propaganda and shameless censorship of information. How can we form a balanced, informed decision on anything when others are deciding what we should or shouldn’t hear, see or read?
“I think you ultimately have to seek out the truth for yourself. There’s always going to be outside forces trying to tell you what to think and feel but it’s important to try and find things out for yourself. I like to try and see most things from each side before making a judgment but sometimes things do not always conveniently unfold like that.”
Speaking of censorship, during the seminal days of Death Metal, the then fledgling subgenre caught the attention of censors worldwide and a number of bands were banned due to either their allegedly indecent and obscene lyrical content or artwork – or both. Do you remember these days? In hindsight, even though the publicity proved invaluable, it’s hard to believe such a fate befell pioneering and relatively harmless acts such as Carcass and Dismember. I guess the world just wasn’t ready for extreme music! Obviously, no music should be banned no matter how gory or disturbing the content. Art is merely imitating life and nothing on a Death Metal album could come close to conveying the sheer sickness and depravity of the human mind…
“Censorship has been and still is a big part of society. I think Death Metal bands in the ‘eighties and ‘nineties got grouped into the first censorship trials because of the “Satanic Panic” as well as being some of the first bands to really incorporate gore into their works. Thankfully a lot of underground bands can get away with disturbing art and lyrics nowadays because there isn’t a lot of focus on them from mainstream audiences. The only real censorship comes from posting stuff on the internet. The worst that can happen is that your post on Social Media will be taken down because it’s been deemed inappropriate. You can still easily find it again just by searching for it through Google. I think the majority of censorship happens to mainstream artists now. I see a lot of Rap / Hip-Hop artists having to almost change their entire song or make a new version just to get radio play. Society wants to really hold onto a false reality that everything needs to be squeaky clean in order to be acceptable. It’s just not like that anymore.”
In the best tradition of old school Death Metal, ‘Dying Life’, the second song on ‘Mortal’, is suitably visceral and blood-spattered. But the gore clearly isn’t there for shock value – there’s a subtlety and nuance to it. The body in question isn’t being eviscerated and slashed for pleasure … it seems more like a metaphoric or symbolic procedure, cutting through the body to reveal the nothingness inside, just an empty shell, life and death practically the same thing. The body merely ‘holding together a dying life’. As artists, how important is it to you to transcend standard, slasher Death Metal lyrics and incorporate some thoughtful, philosophical elements into your music?
“With our lyrics, Necrot has always talked about society and the fucked-up world we live in. We talk about stuff that directly affects humans in their day-to-day lives. Talking about standard, slasher fantasies works for some bands but we have always kept it closer to reality. I can relate more to songs that talk about shit I deal with on a daily basis than shit that might never happen to me. Maybe just by saying that, I’ll die in some horribly gruesome accident to teach me a lesson that it can actually happen to anyone.”
Finally, Necrot should be on top of the world right now. You have just completed a stunning Death Metal album that is nigh on perfect in every department – song-writing, execution, production, artwork … everything. You must be extremely satisfied with how ‘Mortal’ has worked out? However, with the world upside-down because of the pandemic, is the unfortunate timing of the release – through no fault of anybody – potentially going to put a spanner in the works? Gigs have been cancelled indefinitely due to social distancing issues, thus you may not be able to take to the road to promote the album and some precious momentum could be lost. Is this a big concern? How much are you looking forward to showcasing these new songs in a live setting?
“We are trying to be as positive as we can during this pandemic. We want to get back on the road as soon as possible but that depends entirely on whether people in the United States are willing to stop being so selfish and think about each other for once. It’s crazy to think that most of the world is getting closer to stopping the spread of this new virus and cases are continuing to increase here instead because people feel like it’s an opinion if the virus actually exists or not. When shows are allowed to happen again, we will play these songs live. We don’t plan on doing a live-stream until it becomes absolutely necessary to do one. We want to give the fans the full experience of Necrot in a live setting.”
All photos by Chris Johnston