Interview With Redemptor Vocalist: Michał 'Xaay' Loranc
Redemptor releases the new album 'Agonia' on December 3, 2021
I recently interviewed Michał 'Xaay' Loranc, a digital artist, professional designer, and vocalist for the technical death metal band Redemptor.
After releasing the acclaimed "Arthaneum" (2017), the band from Krakow, Poland, is back with "Agonia," their new full-length studio album. "Agonia" was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Zed Studios by Tomasz Zalewski.
"Agonia" succeeds to the well-received "Arthaneum." What are the most significant similarities/differences between these albums?
Xaay: Hello Rui, I'm glad to be your guest on Rock n'Heavy! Well, The first difference is that we wanted to make it more consistent and flowing, like a wave that takes the listener on a musical journey. It's somewhat easier to digest. This wasn't an easy task for the tech death metal band we've been for all these years. So far, we used to complicate everything, as we love to compose surprising, multilayered music. This time Daniel took the most of the songwriting duties, and we decided to move along the Occam's razor principle to make technical music as essential as it can be. Actually, it took us 20 years to get to this point of musical consciousness…
Redemptor plays technical death metal, but the new single "Potion of The Skies" is rather eclectic, setting up bridges toward other genres, am I right? Care to comment on this statement?
Xaay: Yes, we wanted to start with the most universal and approachable track. Our bonds with Selfmadegod label are stronger with every release, and the promotion goes further, exceeding the "Arthaneum" ranges. So we would like to reach also the people who aren't familiar with Redemptor yet. Although we still have a lot to explore for the fans of the technical death genre and our previous albums. No worries, devastating beats and brutal riffs are still there.
Lyric-wise, life and existential topics are recurrent leitmotivs in your music. What are the main themes found in "Agonia?"
Xaay: True, it's just our way of expression. Various aspects of humanity and its endless struggle across the ages and some hypothetical scenarios. Moreover, "Arthaneum" and "Agonia" are quite connected to each other. While "Arthaneum" was focused briefly on the will to power and things that hide behind the mundane dreams and human desires, "Agonia" ("agony" in Polish) pictures the last stages of such attempts. We tried to look behind, from the perspective of a man who is conscious about the whole burden of his experience, memories, and reality around.
That's the overall direction, but when it comes to the themes… Daniel prefers to write more abstract, philosophical lyrics. His lines have many meanings and leave space for interpretation, while mine are more focused on specific subjects. The first song relates to the hidden sides of social engineering. Another one embraces a vicious circle of hurt, a repeating pattern passed on various levels. We also have the anti-war protest song, which talks directly about the refugees, living victims of war and regimes, that had a chance to survive and tell their stories. And finally, you'll notice instantly that the last song conveys the tragedy of Pompei, while as a matter of fact is inspired by the story of Pliny the Elder.
Do you think Agonia could be your better album to date? I've interviewed several bands with new releases out in 2021. And there's some common ground about how lockdowns helped musicians focus on delivering top-notch albums.
Xaay: We have been working on this piece for the last three years, so the album's core was ready long before the "co-madness." Hard to say if it helped or not, because we're still totally busy with our daily duties, but for sure, the whole situation gave more meaning and strength to our concept lyric-wise. There are so many ways to perceive and interpret the actual situation, but the outcome is still similar. Humanity is on a big shift right now, which has a terminal or at least very dark context hanging above us all. I guess there was nothing bigger than that since the cold war times…
"Arthaneum" is a mammoth album hailing from a country that has given so many death metal black pearls in recent years. How does a musician find inspiration to go out there and pull something even greater?
Xaay: I'm sure it started with dreams of the generation which had nothing but passion. 80's, 90's here have brought a big blossom of metal. Tough days, no money, no equipment, but tons of passion… People have been incredibly hungry for music, rebellious messages, breaking down the dull reality, which was a pure scream for freedom. We couldn't compete with the western world when it comes to production and possibilities, so the acts like Vader have been pioneers to thread the path.
The late '90s brought a big change. We entered the golden years of extreme metal with great potential, and nowadays, we can see the final fruit of that momentum and spirit. Maybe that's our Polish blood and constant nagging, haha, but that's how I see it. We are never happy enough with our achievements, we look for the weak sides and… lack of truth, so maybe that's why we excel at darker music genres, which have that poisonous, toxic vibe. You may call it a destructive force that brings some kind of catharsis at the same time.
You did a terrific job on the artwork; please could you let us know more about the ideas behind the album's visual concept? Is there an overarching conceptual background for "Agonia," as from what I've heard, this was thoughtfully planned and meticulously weaved opus?
Xaay: Thanks for your kind words! I have been searching for the right idea for months. The direction was simple; we wanted to bring the vibe of boiling tar, slowly flowing and consuming everything. The goal was to paint our tunes as the oceans of lava, and to reflect barren volcanic landscapes. So I was really close to doing something dark and simple like Metallica did for the Black Album… But then I stumbled upon the gruesome pics from an archaeological site at Pompei. At that time, I've been writing the ending threnody about Pliny the Elder, the slowest and gloomiest song I've ever written. Searching for the deeper background of the story, I found real pictures of the excavated people, mummified with ashes. It totally blew my mind. So all I did then was to paint a figure screaming above with its dying breath. The whole body position reflects the real person, cast in ashes and mud in 79AD.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a recurrent theme nowadays, and we would like to learn more about how it impacted REDEMPTOR, your local music scene, and, more specifically, this new release.
Xaay: Well, what can I say? It's more than less devastating for the life and overall "entertainment" we knew, and it's just the beginning of the shift. If someone believes that it's only a new dangerous disease, then I have nothing more to say than "good luck, I hope all will get back to normality in the next two years"… I'm sure it won't. All things that bands do right now - except having a more intensive recording period - are rather temporary solutions and adjusting to the new reality, which translates to increased online activity. Redemptor does the same; we have no other choice.
What's next for REDEMPTOR?
Xaay: Another album rising the bar. The other plans are just fulfillment of our dreams, so it's useless to talk about it, better to work hard and make it happen.
I usually wrap my interviews by changing sides and letting you ask yourself a question about something your fans would like to see answered. Are you up for the challenge? If so, fire away a question, and then please could you answer it.
Xaay: That's a good one! Maybe let's shoot that way… What hides behind that grim and tragic facade of your music and visual creations? It's not a very surprising thing that the metalheads are mostly bright and good-hearted people. I was impressed once by the brilliant answer of George Fisher, being asked about a single wish he would have. What would it be? His response was, "To end all the poverty in the world." And that's such a beautiful statement…
Yeah, we would love to see an increasing awareness, mutual understanding, and respect that go beyond the empty words of the brainwashed and programmed society. That's why we come up with such dark subjects, as the real human strength, greatness, and simple truth manifest most vividly in critical circumstances. When we face something far stronger. When we really have to re-evaluate our being, leaving all the mundane calculations behind.
Any concluding remarks for your fans?
Xaay: Thanks for your interest in Redemptor and the things we want to express through our music. Please keep an eye on us; we have some more stuff to reveal soon.
Yeah, let the metal flow…
Many thanks to Cátia Cunha, Music Publicist at Against PR for arranging this interview with Redemptor.
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