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Summon: How did the band get started?
Haniel: Hi Summon. Thanks for setting up this interview. We got started as an official full-time band in 2011. Before that, both the idea of Markradonn and the concept Ceremonial Abnegation were just a solo project that I was going to record by myself. Then I found Matt Farriginton (Horn, Fretless Bass), Jon Katz (Timpani) and Tim Carter (drums) and over the course of about 8 months it just evolved into a full time band.
Summon: What kind of music do you play?
Haniel: Well, this is the most difficult question anyone can ask me, because I simply have no idea how to “label” it. Markradonn is death metal, for sure. But we experiment with concert and ensemble instruments, like Brass, Horns, Timpani, Tam Tam, etc… I also use a guitar synthesizer in some parts, and we have some added dimensions that don’t necessarily fit into the “metal” classification.
Summon: How has the fan response been?
Haniel: The fan response has been outstanding. We went “public” in March and it is now June, and we have over 2,500 fans on reverbnation and we have gotten some excellent reviews of our demo songs, Final Dying Breath and Frenzied Winter Sorrow. At first we had no idea how people were going to accept the live horns and Timpani, but so far we could not be happier with the response. I suppose people are cool with hearing “Live” instruments instead of digital samples or MIDI. People also seem to really dig the vocals, which are not exactly the guttural, low-end growling that is standard for death metal but are closer to the style of Tomas Lindberg circa early At The Gates.
Summon: Where did the band name come from?
Haniel: The band name is a very personal and secret name to me, and I think as we release parts 2 and 3 of Ceremonial Abnegation, I may reveal what it actually means.
Summon: Introduce the band members and what they do in the band.
Haniel: Guitars, Vocals, Synth Guitar, 5-string bass
Matt Farrington: French Horn, Brass, Fretless bass
Tim Carter: Drums
Shay Bradford: Bass
John Gabriel Katz: Timpani and Concert Percussion
Allen Raia: Rhythm Guitar
Chris King: Trumpet and Brass
Alex: (Session) Trombone
Summon: Who writes the music? Lyrics?
Haniel: I write all of the lyrics and music. The lyrics to Ceremonial Abnegation: part 1 go as far back as 1997, and much of the music for this first album has been written since 2007. So the songs begin with me writing and structuring the guitar parts, while writing the basic ideas for the horns/concert instruments, drums, second guitars/harmonies, and the vocal patterns; then I take them to Tim and we finalize the rhythms and tempo; then to Matt for the concert arrangements. After that, I finalize everything before starting production.
Summon: And where do the lyric ideas come from?
Haniel: The lyric ideas are based on much of my own personal experiences, “beliefs”, and emotions I have felt when I was going through some very intense times in my life. I created Ceremonial Abnegation to express these things though a nameless, faceless character who becomes so consumed by his own contempt that he ends his life in an occult ritual, while cursing everyone and everything on his way out. Here is a summary of some of the themes in some of the songs on the album:
“Frenzied Winter Sorrow” is about how his isolation leads to a “spinning madness” where his head feels like a blizzard in the dead of winter, which he finally embraces and accepts once everything is numb.
“Internal Hate Unbounded” is a very personal song about how there are times that I’d rather gut myself with a dull knife than deal with one more second of someone else’s Bullshit. Have you ever felt that way? The song deals with a sense of powerlessness that is felt when someone has manipulated you and leached off of you so much that the only way to escape them…is through your own death.
“Ceremonial Abnegation” is the “Ceremony” where our nameless character focuses his hatred and ‘escapes’ from his life by renouncing everything that he is.
“Final Dying Breath” and “Twilight Has Come” are the last two songs with lyrics on the album and are concerned with the last 10 seconds of his life; his final thoughts, his last words, and some revelations he was not expecting to experience…
So you can see that one of the major lyrical themes I tackle is the still taboo subject of “suicide”, and the feelings and thoughts one may have when not just contemplating the act, but actually going through with it and why. The human psyche is very fragile, and sometimes when someone goes off the deep edge, it is hard to bring them back. Ceremonial Abnegation: part 1 is a “snap shot” of the character’s last few hours and final moments alive, and Ceremonial Abnegation: Part 2 deals with what happens after he dies…
So death, in this case, is only the beginning…
Summon: What is your view of Satanism and Occultism?
Haniel: Summon, this is a very interesting question. I would never begrudge someone their right to believe whatever religion or god or non-belief they choose, and I feel that all people have this basic right, whether they are atheists or Christians or Muslim. My issue stems from people not leaving each other alone about what one believes. I have seen that right now there are a lot of so-called “atheistic satanists” who are proselytizing as much and as fervently as any Born Again Christian sect. This really applies to the organized atheist movement. It’s really funny because I could be driving down the same road and I will see a Christian “praise Jesus!” billboard and then a few miles down I will see an atheist “there is no Jesus!!!” billboard. I think they are both equally insane and equally as oppressive. I respect satanists (small ‘s’) who develop their craft from personal introspection, self-discovery, and self initiation. With that said, there is a very big difference between ‘satanism’ and ‘the occult’. The Occult really means “the hidden knowledge”. Stuff like Kabbalah, Alchemy, the Golden Dawn, Freemasonry, and The Lesser Key Of Solomon are all “occult” in nature, yet you will be very hard pressed to find any real similarities between these and satanism. I think Occultism is more of a general term that denotes the “study of hidden knowledge” while satanism is an established dogma of personal liberty and willful choice. Satanism can be under the umbrella of “occultism” for sure, but not all of The Occult is synonymous with satanism. In fact, the whole comparison between “occult” and “Satanic/evil” is really a misnomer. Isaac Newton, the great scientist, practiced alchemy and was a firm believer in ancient aliens, UFOs, and the realms of magick and sorcery. He is hardly considered an “evil/Satanic” person. Newton was an Occultist, in that he studied and researched “hidden” knowledge and also practiced “secret” techniques. Based on that definition, I would probably consider myself an Occultist. It’s funny, because just yesterday I was chatting with one person who was a confirmed non-believer satanist, and a second person who was a practitioner of black magick, and both were so different in their beliefs yet I could understand where both were coming from. The satanist said “I don’t believe what I don’t see” and the black magician said “satanist-atheists are exactly the same as Christian atheists!! They believe the same things!”. So it was very interesting to hear the satanist perspective as well as the occultist perspective back-to-back. Both very valid in their premise and relevant.
Summon: How many albums/CD’s have you released?
Haniel: Right now, we have only released the two demo songs on http://www.reverbnation.com/markradonn.
In a month or so we will be releasing the first Ceremonial Abnegation album digitally and then on limited edition digipack shortly after that.
Summon: Tell me about some the songs on the latest CD?
Haniel: Well, in the previous question I covered the lyrics a little bit, so I will talk for a moment about the music. The songs really do range from rather short and intense (Frenzied Winter Sorrow) to almost black metal in nature (Ceremonial Abnegation) to long, epic, and orchestrated (Like the nearly 15 minute Twilight Has Come). We also have three instrumentals, each are totally different and unique in their own way. The music is really written to express the mood and tone of the lyrical concepts, yet the music is the driving force behind the songs. We use a variety of different instruments like a Full Brass and Horn ensemble (which I call the “Horns of War”), 4 Timpani (which are those big thunderous drums you hear in symphony orchestras) and other sorts of percussion. A big part of the album are guitar and guitar synth solos. I won’t give it all away now, so you are going to have to listen to the album when it comes out!
Summon: Do you have any side projects?
Haniel: Yes, each of us are involved in different projects: Tim is in a band called American Party Machine: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanPartyMachine
Jon Katz is the percussionist for the brass Band of Central Florida:
I play synth guitar in a black metal band called Archaic Winter:
Allen is working on his solo project Return From Within (which I am doing the vocals and solos)
Chris is a practicing session trumpet performer. He actually recorded the trumpet parts for the current Monday Night Football theme song.
Summon: Who are some of your musical influences?
Haniel: Another tough question, Summon! It’s really hard to pin-point the exact musical influences because they are so varied. I mean, Tim, myself, and Allen are the only guys in the band who listen to metal (and we all have widely varying tastes) while Matt, Chris, Shay, Jon, and Alex are into stuff like Miles Davis, Rush, Acoustic Rock, Prog Rock, and composers like John Williams and Wagner. So the music itself really reflects a lot of what each person likes to listen to. But the bulk of the music and arrangements are based on my own influences, which include Gustav Holst, Basil Poledourus (he did the sound track for Conan The Barbarian in the 80’s), as well as guitarists like Jason Becker; and of course black metal and death metal.
Summon: Which current bands?
Haniel: Although I don’t actively try to ‘sound’ like other bands, I do owe homage to some great bands that set the standard that I try to attain. Nocturnus, (early) At The Gates, Immortal, Emperor, and especially Arcturus and Therion are all metal bands that have played a major part in helping me develop musically. I also really like Sacrilege, Skyfire and Eucharist from Sweden, and also Sadist from Italy. I could go on and on about my list of influences, but if it’s really cool metal then I am going to dig it.
Summon: What is the band like when you play live?
Haniel: Right now, we’re scheduled to play some live gigs starting late summer/early fall.
Summon: Have you guys ever played in another country?
Haniel: I myself haven’t, and as a band, we’d love to play abroad if the opportunity is there.
Summon: How big of crowd shows up at shows usually?
Haniel: we hope that it will be a packed house for our first show!
Summon: How is the crowd response when you play?
Haniel: We are expecting nothing but the most insane metal heads to show up!!
Summon: What do you think of the US Black Metal/Death Metal scene?
Haniel: This is an interesting question, and I am going to try and be honest here. The US has a LOT of excellent bands, and recently I have had the pleasure of meeting a few unsigned bands that I really like:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/TYRANTS-BLOOD/7517840781 (Canadian but still cool!)
And of course, my brother in law’s band: http://www.facebook.com/metalmaelstrom
With that said, I think that the metal scene in the States over all has become very monotonous and commercial, and the best bands in my opinion are really in the underground. There are some amazing bands with a very unique sound that are just not getting the publicity or the recognition from the “metal elite” media, the “corporate” metal labels, and a big bulk of the “life ended after 1988” metal heads who think that anything that doesn’t sound like Megadeth is just crap. On top of that, you have a flood of “core”-type bands that couldn’t care less about supporting other bands that are JUST as brutal and metal as they are, simply because they don’t sound exactly like Unearth or Shadow’s Fall. It makes me sick that there is SO MUCH good metal out there in the extreme black metal scene, folk metal, and brutal death metal scene in America that no one knows about because the scene oppresses itself. I have over 125 GB of metal on my hard drive, several thousand CDs; my friend Allen has twice as much as I do. We support ALL forms of metal, all the sub classes and sub genres. I love Suffocation just as much as I do Therion, and Tiamat as much as I love As I Lay Dying. It seems that people in the states who are into metal, tend to be into a “scene” of metal and ignore everything else, like black metal people only listen to black metal, thrash metalheads only thrash, death metal only death metal…etc. This, in my opinion, is the biggest issue with the US metal scene, and it has been for a while. When I went to see Pantera years ago (RIP Darrell), I almost had a stroke when I saw a kid there wearing an Emperor T-shirt. We need more of THAT! With regards to the overseas scene: I personally have never been there, but I feel that the overseas and South American scenes tend to cross sub-genres more. In South America, there is only ONE “Metal”, from what I can gather. Also, European metal bands tend to have more classical and symphonic/traditional influences, which I prefer. So I think they both have their strong points, but I give the nod to Europe because metal and death metal are a bigger part of their culture.
Summon: What are some of new favorite black metal/death metal bands?
Haniel: Apart from the bands I mentioned above, here are some on my playlist now:
http://www.reverbnation.com/darkmeasure – these guys are releasing their first album with Dirk from Soilwork on drums.
http://www.reverbnation.com/imtholiel – a lot of potential here; great voice
http://www.reverbnation.com/necroslayer – the drummer from Arcaena’s instrumental side project
http://www.reverbnation.com/prosodymetal – these guys used to be Ossuary, a violent and brutal death metal band I was into as a kid.
Summon: When do you guys plan on writing any new material?
Haniel: Right now, we are in the process of recording the first album. I already have the other 2 albums written, and I plan on at least one EP before the second album comes out because I want to stay in the groove with writing songs. So when we start working on the other albums we’ll arrange the songs with the various instruments.
Summon: What does the future hold for the band??
Haniel: First, release the album and the promo EP. Then we are planning some live gigs with the regular instruments (Guitars, Bass, Drums, Vox) and 1 or 2 with the full Brass/Timpani ensemble, which we will video tape so people can see what we can do with those other instruments live. After that we will begin working on Ceremonial Abnegation: Part 2 and 3, while continuing to expand and grow the band and get as many people to hear us as possible. But really, all we want to do is to create music that means something to us. If that is all we accomplish, then we will have achieved what we ultimately want.
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