Tons of different death metal bands have popped up in Finland bowing at the altars of old death metal gods; some awesome, some not so much… Luckily for Helsinki’s Decaying, they happen to be one of the awesome ones – having a unique sound that combines harsh, furious death metal with more epic doomy stuff. I also feel obligated to mention the “Van Drunen” vocals that will send chills down your spine… Having already released three full-lengths, I wanted to ask some questions from the guitarist/vocalist/composer/lyricist/mastermind Matias Nastolin.
1. Hello Matias! First off, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you come up with starting the band Decaying? Were you in bands before Decaying?
Hello! Decaying is my first band actually. We formed it with Olli “Otu” Suurmunne back in summer 2010. Prior to that we just jammed some Sleep and various death/doom stuff together. Initially Decaying was meant to have a doomier approach, but it quickly turned out to be this mid-tempo stuff – and maybe it was for the best. Otu left the band in early 2011 due to a lack of motivation of performing this type of metal. We formed another band called Altar of Betelgeuze with him after, along with two other guys. Basically Decaying had full four members in the ranks late 2012. So I’ve been in this band for two years without a full lineup. At times it has been more or less my solo band. But of course these things take some time to develop.
2. What got you into playing death metal? Any specific bands that influenced Decaying’s sound?
The same old story, I guess. Starting with heavy metal, then at one point thrash metal was the big thing, but it quickly changed to death metal. From melodeath to old school death. One of the biggest influences early on was definitely Carcass. But bands like Judas Priest, Candlemass, Black Sabbath, Death, Asphyx and Bolt Thrower play a major part. It’s hard to name just a few.
3. You have recorded pretty much everything yourself at your home studio, except for the drums. How come? You never wanted any outside help and wanted to keep everything in your own control?
With Devastate there were only two of us making some demos – New Order and The Annihilator. Out of the blue, Hellthrasher contacted us in early 2011 and well, it’s what it is. Basically zero euros in production costs on that one. Good songs, just a raw-ass production. Although, some people still say it’s our best effort!
With Encirclement and The Last Days of War I wanted to have this freedom of doing everything except the drums at our own pace. I’m not this sort of guy who enters studio and makes everything perfect in one day. It takes time and consideration. One of the key factors is money. We save a lot this way. I know a thing or two about mixing so I’ve mixed everything Decaying has released so far. It’s not perfect but old school to the bone. Mastering and artwork are for other personnel though, because those are areas we need some professional help. Outside help is always valuable.
4. How did you get into the recording/mixing/mastering business? Would you want to record/mix/master for other bands than your own?
I’ve mixed stuff for many years. It started way before Decaying was founded. I’m a full amateur, but nowadays the internet offers vast amounts of information. In this kind of business one learns from mistakes. So I’ve made lots of them and tried to improve my skills with every production. I don’t say that I enjoy producing or mixing music, because it creates great amounts of pressure. I don’t ever want to put out anything half-assed. And sure, I would consider helping out some friends in those matters… I like talking about this mixing gibberish with other people. Even though I won’t ever consider doing this for a living!
5. Has there been any evolution between your albums in your opinion? As in, if you compare the first demos to the newest one?
Well, some of the songs on Devastate are still my top favorites – like “The Aftermath” and “New Order”. Also there’s couple of killer tracks on Encirclement… Anyway, I think our song writing has improved and the newest album is way more consistent than the earlier ones. In terms of production there’s a massive difference, of course, when comparing the releases.
6. You got signed pretty fast to Hellthrasher Productions. How did this deal come to fruition and how has it been with this current label?
Yeah. I have absolutely no idea how they found us in the first place. Our first demo New Order had been out for two months, and we hadn’t even released the second one when they contacted us. Our debut release is Hellthrasher’s first official release too. Nobody turns that kind of deal away. It has been a very solid co-operation so far. I guess our releases have been some sort of success for them too, because we have already three releases out through them in little more than two years.
7. What is your opinion about the Finnish death metal scene and the whole heavy metal scene overall today? Any new and interesting bands you are into?
The Finnish old school death metal scene has grown a lot lately. Old bands are making comebacks and there’s many signed new bands around. In Helsinki area the situation is good. Maybe at some day this will be called the new wave of Finnish OSDM or something like that, haha! Dark Descent records have signed LOTS of bands around here. They have some sort of monopoly I think. But it’s all good. New great releases keep popping out at a steady rate. To name a few – Krypts, Lantern, Gorephilia and Solothus are promising newer bands – and then there’s stuff like Convulse and Torture Killer…
8. You just released The Last Days of War, and this is already your third full-length. How does it feel to have it out there? What can you tell us about said album?
It feels nice to have finally an album out which is consistent from start to finish and has a proper production value. The earlier albums had some minor flaws in terms of production and amount of material, and I think TLDOW has overcome pretty much all of them. The new album took tons of effort to be made, but the result is great! Even the artwork is the best so far. Of course, I don’t want to say that our previous albums are weak, but I think they do pale in comparison to this one. We’ll keep it the same way!
9. You haven’t played live much. How come?
We just haven’t had a chance to play live yet. First it was only two of us, and then there was the Encirclement sessions and the Finnish compulsory military service. After that it was time for The Last Days of War recordings. But now we are aiming at getting our shit together and doing some live shows. This isn’t the usual way, and it sure is kind of annoying not to be able to perform live. Not too long and we’ll conquer the stages, it’s certain…
10. Members in Decaying have other bands too: You yourself have Altar of Betelgeuze that just got signed to Memento Mori. Are there any other musical projects in the making? Are they side projects compared to Decaying or equal bands?
There sure are some projects around, but none of them are worth mentioning quite yet. Altar of Betelgeuze is a proper band though. It’s like the new version of Decaying, with me and Otu – like it should’ve been in the first place. I’m very proud of AOB’s upcoming debut full-length. You better watch out when it’s released late 2013. It will crush. An hour worth of pure stoner/death/doom.
11. Outside the band, what are you all up to? Studying, work?
Right know I’m working, but soon school starts again. I’m studying to be an HVAC engineer. There’s little time for rest along with all these band activities and school or job.
12. What does the future hold for Decaying? Any big plans for gigs or can we expect the fourth album next year?
We are right now negotiating for a little UG festival appearance in Germany… Nothing too spectacular yet, but let’s see what will happen in the near future. I can promise you that we won’t have a new record out very soon. If we wanted to release it in the first half of 2014, we would’ve had to start composing on full throttle already. So maybe late 2014 or early 2015 is a fitting release date for the next CD or EP…
13. I can’t help but notice that almost all your songs are about war and history in one way or another. Is this just a fact that interests you or where does the obsession with war come from?
A simple answer – yes, war themes do interest me very much. On Devastate the lyrics are very universal, but on the latest two albums I have even picked some specific conflicts as a theme, for instance “The Hell of Verdun” on Encirclement and “The Ardennes Offensive” on The Last Days of War. I have been interested in history since I was young, and war history especially is the biggest thing for me. It makes one wonder how in the hell stuff like The Battle of Verdun or Stalingrad were even possible to happen while being that brutal and mindless. Of course there are other aspects in war history than just death and destruction. All in all this fits to this sort of metal, and I find war themes to be easily written along the riffs. The focus is certainly on post-WW1 wars, partly because of better documentation. Also partly because I’m not that much into swords and bows…
14. Name five things in life that make you happy at the moment.
Alright, hmm… Perhaps these: Old school metal music in general, having a job & getting money, getting new contacts all the time, prosperity in band activities and of course beer. So you’ve got nothing too deep in there.
15. Thank you for the interview! The arena is yours, if you have anything to share with people!
Thanks. Well, it’s time for the obvious – check out our new album The Last Days of War and keep an eye out for Altar of Betelgeuze! Listen and support the underground.
Cheers & hails,
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