December 8th will see the release of ‘Devoured by Damnation’, the newest full length from black metal/grind band Kratornas. Originally formed in the Phillipines by multi-instrumentalist Zachariah, what began as a full band for a short period quickly became a solo effort. In the years that have followed Zachariah has relocated to Canada, and recruited drummer GB Guzzarin after utilizing programmed drums on his previous full lengths. With a real drummer and some of the strongest production values the project has boasted yet, ‘Devoured by Damnation’ is a heavy hitter worth paying attention to.
Today we’re premiering an album trailer that showcases short clips of each song, alongside an interview with Zachariah. Though black metal and grind are the elements that stand out the most, you could classify what Kratornas has put together as extreme metal as it really incorporates a little bit of everything from the harsher, more abrasive variants. Each song is an all-out attack that hardly lets up for a second, and the drums deliver warlike blasting as the guitars squeal over top of them with blistering solos and fiery riffing. ‘Devoured by Damnation’ puts an emphasis on speed, and even when it does pause for a slight second the riffs are razor sharp. It’s clear that after years of programming drums Zachariah has found a drummer that can keep up with his type of writing, as the performance delivered by GB Guzzarin is precise and intense. The vocals skew towards the raspier side of the spectrum and thanks to the rock solid production values they don’t get buried under the wall of sound, instead adding some extra bite to each track.
‘Devoured by Damnation’ may be relentless, but there’s solid writing behind it that makes the songs not all blur together. Kratornas has taken a major step forward with this release and this is the perfect soundtrack for these uncertain times where more and more conflicts seem to be leading us towards doomsday. ‘Devoured by Damnation’ releases December 8th, and you can read our full interview with Zachariah below.
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. ‘Devoured by Damnation’ is Kratornas’ third full length album, and is set to come out December 8th. How long did it take for the final album to come together, and when did you start writing some of these songs?
Kratornas (Zachariah): Thank you for having me here. The album was finished in like 5 days (I think) and if I remember it right, we’d finished recording drum and bass for only 12 hours, more or less. The songs were written like a month before we started long hours of rehearsal, then we proceeded on recording when everything was ready.
TO: ‘Devoured by Damnation’ features GB Guzzarin on drums, which is the first time you’ve had a human drummer. You’ve mentioned any Kratornas material moving forward will have an actual drummer instead of a drum machine. Has this changed how you write songs compared to previous releases, and what was the experience like for this recording/writing process?
Kratornas: Song writing hasn’t changed but the recording timeframe was quite sped up. It only took like a week and it’s all done. The experience was great since I didn’t have to “do” the drums – all I did was tell him what the song needs and he’s on his own. So even if I wrote all the songs, there is this new idea being ‘injected’ from time to time that only a real drummer can do. I don’t think this album would sound like what it is now if I was still using a drum machine.
TO: You handled most of the aspects of the material yourself, from mixing and production to releasing the album through your own label, Grathila Records. What advantages are there to doing everything yourself, and do you have any interest in trying to find another label to work with further down the road?
Kratornas: Technically, I don’t solely own it because there’s another person involved. It may look like a label but it’s not. I don’t have the time to do any of that. I’m just here to write and record songs – that’s all what I want to do. Grathila comes fourth or fifth in the priorities because I’ve done distro work before (ie: 2001 – 2010) and it’s not easy work. Music is available in any of those streaming platforms anyway; the only thing that matters is to get them heard. If someone wants a physical copy (for archival purposes), then there’s also a small ‘distribution’ going on.
The advantage here is that I can release an album anytime I want. We could release a vinyl but the requirements needed in releasing one is complicated and if ever we did that, the process of sending it out is a real headache so we left the idea and proceed only with the CD. I don’t want to be misinterpreted here but I don’t care about the money. I know firsthand that “sales” will be non-existent but hey, this is better spent than paying accumulated fines for running a light!
TO: Speaking of the production and mixing, ‘Devoured by Damnation’ hits incredibly hard but also feels well balanced. There are moments where the bass and drums pop out and really caught my attention. How did you approach these elements this time around, and how does this compare to your previous records?
Kratornas: The first two albums were all done using a guitar and a dinosaur computer. There’s bass guitar on those early releases but I can’t turn it up, it’s funny. It was kept quiet on that level otherwise I’d keep on crashing the PC. Also at that time, I had no knowledge on how to use a DAW – I just did it. In this one, I got all the equipment I needed and there’s a drummer involved. Those were drastic changes, enough to separate this album from ALL of the shit that I’ve released in the past.
TO: The album artwork is a perfect fit for your music, as it feels like the onslaught of guitars, bass, and drums are going to leave nothing but destruction in their wake. Who created the artwork and how does it fit with the ideas you had for the album cover?
Kratornas: It was created by this young artist named Dixon Jong. The idea is just a ‘continuity’ of the previous cover (ie: ‘The Corroding Age of Wounds’ CD), where the gathered legions are getting ready in turning the world to dust. In this album, that said legion was deployed and we’re in the middle of this ongoing mass destruction. It’s like a story without an ending…
TO: You’ve lived in many different countries, with the project originating in the Philippines in 1995. You’re now based out of Saskatchewan, Canada. What made this location right after traveling all over the world over the years, and now that you’re settled in can we expect more Kratornas material on a regular basis in the years to come?
Kratornas: Yes, Kratornas is all set until doomsday. There will be releases in whatever format it will be called in the future but as long as it contains music and the message is in there, it will be released. I settled in here simply because it is very quiet and (almost) isolated. I have lived one year in Vancouver and never liked the rat race mentality in there so it’s all a matter of preference. However, you don’t want to go so far that music stores (interstate) charge you extra when delivering to your cave. That is the real reason why all these relocations are happening in the first place.
TO: Music distribution has changed significantly over the years, with digital formats now becoming fairly common. You released the single Dead Burning Christ on a wide variety of digital platforms, and the album will be coming out on CD. Have you embraced digital distribution and are you interested in other formats like vinyl?
Kratornas: My past releases were on vinyl. Be it black, colored or picture disc – I’ve already been thru that. The only regret I have on those releases is that they all sounded horrible! They’re so bad that I’m not even interested recalling any of them. Another thing about vinyl is that they are only good for the one buying it. As a seller, they’re just very hard to send. When I got that CD offer last in 2006, I was ecstatic. But then again, the sound ruined it for me. I believe vinyl is only suited for a touring band. Putting it on a “merch table” and that’s it. If you don’t gig and you’re only shipping it to the other part of the world, then I guess it would be better if you start killing black flies than spend an hour packing a record. I buy vinyls religiously, every other week, and I’m sure I’ve contributed a lot to the stress level of that person packing it. I always got bent corners (and sometimes a ring) in my order but I’m not filing a dispute since I know what it’s like to individually pack a vinyl. No “LP Mailers” can save this disaster!
TO: Kratornas has been your solo work, but now with a drummer backing you, could you ever see yourself playing live? Or would you prefer to keep this a studio project for its entire lifespan?
Kratornas: That’s ah… wrong? I mean, he will not play live – that’s not part of the deal. He might. Ok, if you ask him of course he will because that’s easy money right there. To me, that’s a cost that I’m not interested with. I don’t want to see myself going up there – that’s not right and that’s not what I want. Kratornas will just remain as a studio project. Too bad, but there are no big plans for this as long as the music (and the message) was spread, then it’s all good.
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Devoured by Damnation’ or Kratornas?
Kratornas: ‘Devoured by Damnation’ is a sign of things to come. The ‘studio’ wasn’t finished when all things were recorded/mixed in here – but it’s already functional so why not. However, I’m still starving in that brutality that I’m really after but I believe this is a good start. Next stuff coming out will even be deadlier. Thanks for this interview.