The following review/interview appeared on the website Axes Leftovers March 14 and is courtesy of Chris Axe.
Hailing from Zagreb, Croatia, this Doom metal band not only battles with finding themselves but finding their place in the underground metal scene. I’m going to keep the review short for I believe this interview will give you a better idea for the band.
The album, Atum, is a strong 3 song EP that is filled with great songwriting that takes you on a dark and gloomy journey that will either scare the hell out of you or take you places only they could take you. I had the chance to ask Bassist/Vocalist a few questions about the album and the local music scene and here is what he had to say…
For those who don’t know, tell us how Duskburn came together to become Duskburn.
Me and Edin know each other from when we were kids and were playing in some bands after high school, we just got fed up playing with people who didn’t want a committed band and were searching for people wanting to play metal, mostly we needed a good drummer and a vocal. Through a friend we met with Neven and Mario who were living in nearby quarter and also were in few bands but at the time didn’t play with anybody. They also knew Goran who was our first vocal when we first started rehearsals, at that time we didn’t really know what to play and had a different name. It was more up-tempo death metal/grind core stuff.
After Goran left we started getting some idea about what to do and so changed the name to Duskburn and gradually played slower stuff.
Being in Croatia, what is the local metal scene like?
Hm, this is a question with no simple answer and difficult to answer in few sentences without sounding like hate spam because you have to understand the circumstances that led to the state it is in. Living in Croatia as an “alternative” music enthusiast or performer is like living in Europe during the cold war era behind a curtain which separates us from the rest of world, but honestly people here are to blame for that. First there is the demographic problem. We are a small country but even so we consciously and constantly divide between ourselves time and time again. People form the northern, southern and to a degree eastern parts all have their own small scenes and there is a lot of resentment and ego’s between them. It’s mostly the problem with our nation, things have never really settled after the war in the 90’s. Secondly there is the economic problem. The country is in a crisis on par with Greece. Of course nobody has money, time and will to push bands let alone invest into music, the record shops are all dead as hardly anybody buys music anymore. Local administration has no money for smaller cultural projects, art and investing into young people. We have a DIY underground art and music scene in a sense, but nowhere near as good or connected as the ones in nearby countries.
Even so it puzzles me that venues, clubs and anybody that organizes events has the nerve to make a gig and not pay the band (I’m not talking about large sums, just a symbolic gesture). When you play in Croatia you get money for transport (when not in your hometown) and some beer, and you should probably be happy you got even that. Ok, there are some bands that demand money upfront but they are mostly the ones that attract a lot of crowd, everyone else can shove it.
But it’s like this global feeling you should be thankful that you even get the chance to play. This is disheartening to bands because it downright causes you expenses and nothing to gain from playing live.
Think about it, you are an entertainer; you entertain customers of said venues. Without you there would be no program, just booze on the counter. Every shitty comedian gets some cash for his performance, everybody gets at least some kind of compensation. Everybody but not bands. This is absurd, if I’d ever organize a gig I would pay the band first, then everybody else. If I couldn’t pay why organize anything?
That’s why we don’t play often. It’s not about the money at all, it’s about principles. Some may criticize me for being too harsh ‘cause, for most people it’s about having fun and good time, but I have seen so much people come and go, good bands that didn’t do anything with themselves and nobody cares, it’s really not fun anymore. If I wanted to make money from gigs I would make a rock/stoner/hardcore (not the NYxHC but the whiney emo/screamo stuff that is labeled as hardcore now days) mash-up which right now spreads as the plague. It’s the low skill-high reward ticket at the moment in Croatia. Younger generations bred on low quality music are munching on this like its acid on Woodstock. And as should they, we don’t need that sheep but in my hometown pop. of 1 mil. I see only some 50-100 people with intelligence regularly at shows.
But there is hope, I have noticed in these few years a rise in quality of metal bands and they are good, damn good. If the future will be brighter I think they will puncture the obscurity of Croatia and get more worldwide attention. Anybody who tracks newer releases and webzines probably already heard about some of them.
You will surely hear about if you haven’t already of “Pogavranjen”. These guys are very advanced in the terms of progression and the sheer technicality of playing. They are recording a new record that I managed to hear clips from and its mind blowing. “Hesperian Death Horse” is already gaining attention with their last record and split, they got a lot of talent and the most energy to play gigs and tour from all of us currently. One new band that will surely be an eye catcher is “Muka”, a bewildering project of some of the finest people I know. They are experimenting with stuff I haven’t heard anywhere else right now. Very dark and strange, calm and frantic at the same time. There’s also “Gods of Chaos” which are just that, fucking chaos from gods. Their energy live is on par with no one. ”Lack of Soul” is another interesting crossover band I’d like to hear more of. There’s also lot of bands that are not very active at the moment or are in hiatus, and right now there are more punk/rock bands than metal or doom. Audiences are a little bored of solid and serious music, everything now days is diluted or on a verge of parody.
I am a bit complacent at the moment because there is a stream of similarly oriented people that may change the tides with the scene, we need more people at these kinds of gigs to push away all the trendy and easy listening poison. We also need to look into organizing into a local booking which might help in better organized tours and connections outside of Croatia.
Your previous EP’s have all seemed to, one by one, mold the sound of Duskburn. With each release, how do you feel the band has progressed through the years?
I have never until now felt I had a clear grasp on what we really wanted to do. Maybe it was as we all had other interests and playing in a band was a hobby, and we were influenced with too diverse stuff that we needed to stop at the every bend in the road. It was a journey, it molded us and stretched our inspiration but now I think we are ready to make a record that stands on its own. Some bands get together and know what they want from the get go, we just needed a lot of and that drained us a lot. We had a hiatus of over a year in 2012. and we rushed every recording because we were always too anxious. But we learned a lot from it every time. I can finally relax because now I know what gear to use, how to come into recording, we’ve worked on the drumming, guitars and vocals for such a long time to find the right balance.
What is the songwriting process like for you guys?
We don’t make songs quickly as we would want. We often pick the songs apart many times, exchange parts, build up on some layers etc. but sometimes overdoing it kills the mood, we have scrapped ten times more songs than we recorded haha. We’ve tried to make songs with the classic verse/chorus structures and they are finished rather quick but in the end it doesn’t sound as good as structures that are not paced. That are some reasons it’s so time consuming, another reason is that we all input something and voice opinions. If someone doesn’t like a certain part we make something else.Now if only one person would make all the decisions everything would be a lot quicker but that wouldn’t be Duskburn then. I really like to hear other opinions and ideas, combining experience from few individuals’ makes you connected as a band in the long run.
Your new album ‘Atum’ is a great album, what makes this album stand out from the rest for you?
Thanks. Well for me it’s very important because it’s a circle complete. The last stop on a drive we took in 2009. The difference is probably inaudible to anybody else but for us it’s a huge leap in the terms of style, arrangements, guitars, drumming and recording. I wanted the sound to be really gloom and nihilistic but not to be tied to the strict genre of metal or doom, sludge metal is the term which is coined every time the two connect but there are so many bands that don’t fall into any category. I think the last EP Left for the Wolves tied more into the classic doom vibe and that’s what I wanted to avoid with Atum.
Is the release of the 3 EP’s you now have leading up to something even bigger and better?
Yes! That’s the thing I can’t really stress out enough. If you’d heard something you liked on any of the three EP’s we will blow it out of the water with new stuff. We have been working on new songs since Atum was recorded last year and they are coming nicely, I think it will be a 7 or 8 songs LP but it’s hard to tell just yet.
No rushing will be done this time, I’ll triple check every click until it goes into recording. Also now that we found a label that is really supportive it makes a lot of things easier.
What are your plans for 2014 as a band?
Exhaust ourselves with working on new stuff and possibly make a trip outside Croatia. Maybe we’ll make a split with somebody before we go into new recording.