Alan Nemtheanga Reveals All About His Doom Project, Dread Sovereign

Posted: March 19, 2014 in Metalhammer
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Dread Sovereign

Dread Sovereign: no quarter given

Dublin’s doom-laden and arcanely atmospheric three-pice Dread Sovereign – featuring Primordial frontman Alan Nemtheanga and drummer Sol Dubh alongside guitarist Bones – are due to release their the debut album, All Hell’s Martyrs, on March 21 via Ván Records. Not content with streaming it in its full, epic glory earlier this week, we have an exclusive interview with Alan Nemtheanga himself as he discusses Venom, Cathars, the diabolical nature of doom and the beauty of flaying a man alive. Check below these fine, fighting words for the stream once more!

What was the initial inspiration for Dread Sovereign? Were you trying to build a personal dialogue with doom bands that had affected you, or were there things you needed to say for which this was the sound that had to carry them?

“I suppose it’s pretty simple, I’ve always tinkered with the guitar and had a few riffs in my head that needed exorcising. Primordial live quite far away from each other now and don’t rehearse often anymore and myself and [drummer] Sol Dubh found ourselves with a lot of downtime. So after trying to make this work with a few different people we just started to rehearse as a two-piece. Riffs started to come together and then I moved to bass and vocals when we found Bones to take over on guitar. So in reality the band has really only been playing together about 16 months perhaps. I just knew it would be doom and that is all really. I wanted it to be dark, grim and faithful to that early 80s blueprint. More Venom then anything from the 70s. It’s just something I needed to get out of my system after all these years.”

True doom tends to get rigorously policed, but this is still very much your own take on it. Were you trying to be respectful of its boundaries or did you feel you had liberty to experiment with it?

“I don’t really care either way. I’m not bothered if it sounded original or not or what context it’s viewed in. I’ve been around far too long to care about those things but in the end I think it strikes pretty hard at the foundations of whatever ‘true’ doom is supposed to be. Yet there are also some surprises, not least with some of the vocals and the background organs and sounds. Some of the riffs may be somewhat rudimentary but I knew once the meat was on the bones and my vision of the sound and layers was added it would create something different.”

All Hell’s Martyrs seems to have a wide historical scope, particularly in regard to religion and retribution. Was that a theme running throughout the album, and if so, what’s your personal fascination with it?

“Well, don’t forget that I’ve written lyrics for many albums by now and needed to find another voice. So for the first time I was able to write lyrics in the traditional diabolical or ‘evil’ framework of the old school but also imbue them with some historical purchase. So some of the lyrics for example deal with the Cathar rebellion. So the lyrics can be seen as blasphemous or even religious in some context but through the prism of history. Again, I don’t do fantasy or easy listening.

Doom lives or dies by its atmosphere. How did you approach the recording to channel that arcane atmosphere that’s in the album?

“I wanted it done more or less live, with as few takes as possible. Let the sounds bleed into each other, no isolation of tracks. And then to push the filth and bass end as much as I possibly could – if something distorts then it distorts. There was no cleaning up and modernising. I think we achieved that and Ola Esjford did a great job on the album, but the sound is mine. This is what I had in my head. something malevolent and grim, no quarter given.”

Costin Cheorianu’s cover is really striking. I’m assuming the inspiration goes beyond the Boltons’s coats of arms in Game Of Thrones, so could you give a bit of background to it?

“No not at all. I’ve never even watched that programme. It depicts the flaying and crucifying of Saint Bartholemew, whose statue stands outside the cathedral in Milan hollding his own skin. The statue haunted my dreams for a while so it seemed apt to somehow place him on the cover. It fits the tone!”

Gaze ye upon Dread Sovereign’s Facebook page here

Absolve thy sins by pre-ordering All Hell’s Martyrs here!

from Metal Hammer
via Amit Sharma


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