Ingurgitating Oblivion are a death metal act from Germany who play some of the finest melancholic and haunting death metal I have ever heard. The band released a fantastic album in ‘Continuum of Absence’ in 2014 and are working on a follow up for 2016. We sat down with the founding member Florian Engelke for an in-depth talk about the band, their musical voyage and some talk about their new album!
Transcending Obscurity (Vidur): Hi Florian, how are things moving? How are things shaping up in the Ingurgitating Oblivion camp?
Ingurgitating Oblivion (Florian): Brother, things are good at our end, really. This might sound a bit trite, but IO has never been in better shape. I have actually subjected the band to quite substantial changes due to personal as well as competency-related issues I had with my former bandmates. The line-up that was involved in the making of ‘Continuum of Absence’ has been overhauled almost completely. That is, my four former bandmates are pursuing other efforts than IO now. I am the one who remains from the original line-up and who has reclaimed the reins as it were. Since the guys and I have parted ways, I have been working on new material which has been recorded more or less instantly once I finished composing the respective tracks. All in all, I guess, IO can be considered a one-man-show at the moment and time will tell whether or not I will continue working with session musicians for future albums or do it the traditional way with a real line-up. Things are up in the air in that respect, which feels liberating. When it comes to live performances, I suppose, I will work with a steady line-up again … whether or not this line-up will be involved in the compositional process remains to be seen.
TO: Firstly, how would you describe the band and its music to those unaware of Ingurgitating Oblivion and its works?
IO: Geee, that’s a good one. I have wrecked my mind over the last couple of years, trying to define what kind of musical tradition we actually pursue. I may take a bit of a shortcut here, but I’d label our style as fusion. The foundation clearly is Death Metal in the vein of truly evil and obscure late 80s / early 90s Death / Thrash Metal bands such as Sepultura, Possessed, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Immolation, Gorguts and such. Admittedly, these influences may not fully become obvious when listening to the new (as in 2016) IO material, but still this is what I consider the original inspiration of IO’s vision. In addition I have always drawn inspiration from sources which may be seen as atypical of Death Metal. In my case that’s acts/artists such as Rachmaninov, Ligeti, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Reich, Bartók, Pink Floyd, Colosseum, Yes, Schubert, Débussy, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Can, Prokofiev and so forth. If you listen closely this may be traceable in our music. Lyrically I am inspired by classic literature such as Melville, Poe, Chaucer, John Milton, Dante, Hermann Hesse, Sun Tzu, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Patrick Süßkind etc. If this sounds pretentious, it’s not meant to be. So all in all – and this may sound cheesy – I pursue emotions, lyrical, stylistic and compositional expressiveness. A bit of a l’art pour l’art approach, I reckon. It goes without saying it’s not imperative to take these elements into consideration and relate to it when listening to IO, but this is the inspirational substrate so to speak if you are asking me.
TO: After a decade long break the band released the stellar “Continuum of Absence” in 2014? How has the reaction been from fans both old and new?
Personally I think it’s been awesome. IO received loads of praise and the hard work “Continuum …” demanded from our former sound engineer (Ulf Scheel) and I in particular got rewarded by constructive criticism. Willowtip Records did a great job promoting the previous album and it’s a fantastic starting point for where we are right now. It goes without saying the new material and personnel by far exceed the level we were capable of back in 2014. So beware …
TO: Also it seems the band has seen a bit of an over-haul. Is everything stable in the camp now? What caused these changes?
IO: In a nutshell, my former bandmates and I did not get on anymore due to personal issues, geographical distance, performance-related difficulties which turned the release of “Continuum …” into a bit of a drag to put it mildly. The new album has been captured with the help of some of my best friends. This line-up has been a bit volatile as well owing to a variety of reasons. Norbert, the guitarist I was working with following the personnel changes in 2014 quit after about 6 months or so as he had to focus more on his studies which are time-consuming. However, in a way he’s remained a part of IO as he is the guy producing / recording our material now – and therefore Norbert is significant and indispensable for our sound and way of working. Adrian, the bassist I used for the 2016 album is a close friend of mine and has enhanced the band’s profile quite a bit, too. He’s an accurate and creative mind and that’s beneficial for our music, of course. I perceive IO to sound more versatile and subtle now and this is also the case thanks to Adrian’s nuanced and well thought-through approach on bass. Adrian has contributed all the bass tracks for the 2016 album, but he will leave once the album has been completed in late 2016. This is due to professional reasons (as in combining IO and his regular job). Vocals-wise Adrian and I have done all the recordings for the 2016 release more or less in equal shares. The vocals, I should imagine, are more to the point and more elaborate compositionally speaking. I have been in charge of 100% of the guitars, overdubs, solos and will be in the future etc. The drum works have been executed in parts by Paul Wielan of Chaser, a temporary fellow musician as well as Lille Gruber of Defeated Sanity, which is another substantial improvement to IO’s style! Here and there we used solo guitarists to add some zest. That is, Norbert (our sound engineer) has contributed some solos and Jan, a good friend of mine who also appeared on “Continuum (…)” has been part of the equation again lending our sound some intricate tapping patterns and flageolet nuances. Apart from these guys, I used a bunch of musicians contributing vibraphone, piano, female vocals and something quite extraordinary – the musical saw (a real saw which can be played a bit like a violin which is a bit of a novelty in Death Metal, haha). Naturally, I will be the one who will be leading IO in the future as a productive entity.
TO: So the band seems to be going for a complete makeover, with a new logo, new website, etc. Is this a fresh start? A whole new chapter for Ingurgitating Oblivion?
Absolutely, all this totally feels like a clean slate. You are absolutely right. Against the backdrop of what I said above it felt like a perfectly natural thing to change the logotype, subject the website to a general overhaul as well and change our online presence (as in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and such) to make these platforms come across as more contemporary and more fitting to the style. I love working on videos and if you check out the general aesthetics of the band right now it’s all more in line with what IO stands for as an idea. It’s most definitely in line with what I have in mind: epic, elaborate, profound and progressive. So indeed, this is a whole new chapter for IO – aesthetically, artistically, contents-wise and performance-wise.
TO: So, coming to the new release with new members. What can the fans and the listeners expect from the new record? Are we going to see more in the lines of ‘Continuum of Absence’, or has the band with its new members re-shuffled the overall dynamics?
IO: I consider all of this an evolution. On “Continuum …” there were loads of elements foreshadowing what could be put into action on the new album. Especially if you listen to tracks such as Stupendous, Featureless, Still or Avatar of radiating Absence you will realize that many of the progressive and elaborate elements hint at what is to come. That is, once you listen to the brand-new material we are currently recording in order to compare both releases. What I mean by this is the circular canon I compose for the guitar tracks. All this basically sounds like three to four tracks being played simultaneously, but it’s actually just two guitar tracks intertwined. This is what I have been capitalizing and building on over the past two years, really. So there is going to be a lot of rhythmically complex stuff on the new record. Also, I was able to accentuate and highlight my passion for fusion, Jazz, obscure melody and postmodern composition. There is going to be loads of instrumental stuff on the new album combined with the most brutal and relentless Death Metal we have come up with to date.
TO: Could you shed some light on the new record? Are the tracklist/album title finalized or still in the works? Any news on the artwork? Any label deal?
Label-wise we stick with our brothers at Willowtip Records. They are just the right label for us at the moment – dedicated, reliable and supportive. The tracklist of the new album is cast in stone as it were, haha. The titles will be
- Amid the offal, abide with me
- A mote constitutes what to me is not all and eternally all is nothing
- Vision wallows in symphonies of light
- A devourer of flitting shades who dwells in rays of light
The album title is in the works still. I envisage releasing the new album in late summer / autumn of 2016. The album cover will be done by a good friend of mine, Tim Klöcker of 103Prozent. He did the “Voyage towards Abhorrence” cover artwork as well. Naturally, the artwork will have a different as well as evolved feel to it as well. At the moment we focus on busts, sculptures, stucco etc. Where this is going to lead us we cannot say exactly. It’s a relief to work with a pro like Tim – I know what I am talking about!
TO: So is there some sort of theme or idea behind the album and its lyrics? What was the idea and philosophy behind the same?
IO: Personally, I am deeply moved by language and its secrets to put it Wittgenstein-like. I have always been fascinated by linguistic philosophy and I guess this is one of the key drivers behind IO’s lyrics. I don’t care that much about some particular statement I intend to share with or convey to others. My main motivation and fantasy is that those interested in elaborate language and poetry find relief when reading our lyrics. That’d be a gift to me. If certain phrases, allegories, similes or single words evoke something reverberating within our listeners my mission has been accomplished. It goes without saying that I have a certain idea in the back of my mind when entitling one track A devourer of flitting shades who dwells in rays of light.
TO: Moving on to some general death metal talk, with the scene becoming further overcrowded with bands from all across the world, what in your opinion a band has to do to stand out and make a place for themselves?
IO: Well, this remains a question of personal taste still, I assume. Naturally, a band such as Defeated Sanity stands out owing to their superb musicality and incredible live performances. The ultimate test to the quality of a band is whether or not they convince the audience live on stage. Of course, modern recording techniques allow mediocre musicians to sound acceptable. Personally, I still enjoy going to real shows and I am always curious how an outfit translates their vision as real musicians. In my view there are also elements such as lyrics and the overall appearance of a band (as in artwork, website (if they still have one), video flicks, band pictures and such) which are important means of expression. I appreciate hard work and dedication as well as a certain level of daring and eagerness to experiment in music. Reading good lyrics I still love. The subject is a question of personal preferences, but does not really matter to me as long as I can grasp the motivation behind it.
TO: What are your views on the German/European death metal scene these days? Any particular alliances of Ingurgitating Oblivion?
I think there is a lot of great stuff going on still. One alliance might be IO’s comradery with Defeated Sanity. The guys and I are just good friends and I have a lot of respect for them as people and musicians. I admire Lille’s and Jakob’s dedication, creativity, non-pretentious attitude and love for music.World-wide there are Metal bands such as Ulcerate, Gorguts, Deathspell Omega, Dordedu or Ehnahre who I love and appreciate. In Germany there are two acts which come to my mind when thinking of great artists. These are Secrets of the Moon and Senescence. They create such an uncanny and otherworldly feel with such simple means.
TO: That is all from my end. Thank you for taking the time and effort to answer the questions. Is there anything else you’d like to add as we end this interview?
IO: Thanks for this exciting interview, brother. I want to come to India one day and meet all you crazy so-and-sos! Check out our website at www.ingurgitating-oblivion.com or go to https://www.facebook.com/IngurgitatingOblivionOfficial/ to check out the latest Ingurgitating Oblivion news. The new album will be liberating, deep, incredibly creative, evil and progressive. Check it out and support these supporters of truly forward-thinking Metal: www.willowtip.com Cheers!