Oktor have been around for more than a decade, spreading their slow doom-laden tunes across Poland. But it was only at the end of 2014 did the band finally release their debut full length album ‘Another Dimension in Pain’. The album, released on the mighty Solitude Productions, took their music to a complete new audience, as they gained considerable fan following worldwide. We had a chance to sit down with the band, and discuss some of their ideas, the album and other aspects of their sound.
Transcending Obscurity (Vidur): Welcome! Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions from our end. How are things in the Oktor camp?
Oktor: Hello! Everything is fine, we are taking some time to promote the ‘Another Dimension of Pain’ album and starting to think a little bit and slowly about new stuff.
TO: How would the band describe their own music to those unaware? Could you also shed some light on the band members and how it all began?
Oktor: Definitely doom metal. Our first releases (‘EP’, ‘All Gone In Moments’) were more funeral doom oriented, the latest album ‘Another Dimension of Pain’ is more straight-forward doom.
Me (Jan) and Jerzy lived in one neighbourhood at the time we started off, and had been friends with Piotr. We had our own band, Piotr had his own and sometimes we shared the stage during our gigs. At one point we began talking that it’ll be cool to make some music together and as we developed our interest in funeral doom the idea to form Oktor was born.
The main theme is related to certain emotions taking over the human body and spirit. Those emotions are infecting the thoughts, bringing doubts and provoking the fight to surpass those doubts.
TO: Poland is usually associated with extreme black and death metal, so it’s quite a surprise to see a slow doom band originating from the country.
Oktor: That’s quite true. There are really few straight doom bands. The Polish scene has gained a lot of doom-fusion bands – death/doom acts, but we have really few straight doom bands. Too bad.
TO: ‘Another Dimension in Pain’ is the first full length by the band, could you shed some light on the theme and story behind the album?
Oktor: The main theme is related to certain emotions taking over the human body and spirit. Those emotions are infecting the thoughts, bringing doubts and provoking the fight to surpass those doubts. That’s why all main song titles have a common part – each song title refers to a different kind of paralysis.
TO: The album has a very intriguing artwork, what do those thorns in a person’s mind signify? And what is the overall idea behind this art?
Oktor: The artwork was made by a really talented artist Przemysław Galert which has made few artwork for Polish bands in the past. We saw some of those productions and begun chatting with him. An idea for collaboration was born and the best part of it is that he received from us demo recordings of the songs and the lyrics without in detail explanations and he made the artwork perfectly reflecting the topics and the mood of the album. Personally I can’t imagine a better cover for this album.
TO: To see the album release on one of the finest underground doom metal label – Solitude Productions must have been a joy. How did that happen and how has the experience with the label been so far?
Oktor: Yes, we are really happy to be a part of the Solitude family. The cooperation is really good so far. When we finished the mixes and mastering we began to do some mailing and we’ve sent few promo copies worldwide. We’ve had a really good feedback and few offers were made but Solitude had the best one. So it sounds a little cliché but that’s how we ended being a part of their label.
TO: The album also features some great guest musicians including Matti from Skepticism! How did the collaboration with the 3 guest vocalists come about? And what did they add to the overall album recording process?
Oktor: We knew Kuba Grobelny from Piotr’s previous band Eternal Tear and we kept in touch when they disbanded. When the recording session was booked and ideas for guests appeared we immediately thought of him. We always liked his clean vocals and thought that it would be a very good balance to Piotr’s clean vocals.
Matti from Skepticism came into the picture spontaneously. We had the growling vocals already recorded and one evening Jerzy begin to chat with Matti about music, doom and the Finnish scene. They begin to talk about Oktor, we contributed to a tribute album to Skepticism in the past and are fans of their music and the idea popped up just like that. Matti agreed without any second thoughts. We’ve sent him the lyrics, music and few guidelines, he booked a studio and sent us back his parts. I never imagined that we’ll be able to collaborate with such legend. Another dream came true.
The last guest is Kacper Gugała with whom we play with Jerzy in another band called Thesis. We had a preproduction session with Thesis before the beginning of the recordings of ‘Another Dimension of Pain’ during which, after few bottles of wine, we started to listen together to demo recordings of Oktor songs and Kacper started to improvise on the final song which in the beginning was meant to be instrumental. It sounded so good that I wrote few lines more and he stopped by the studio when the recordings had begun.
The songs are long and heavy and we thought that piano interludes will keep the integrity of the mood on the album.
TO: Let’s talk about those beautiful keyboard interludes in between the tracks, what was the idea and ethos behind those interludes?
Oktor: Something like a calm before the storm. The songs are long and heavy and we thought that piano interludes will keep the integrity of the mood on the album and will enable the listener to catch his breath.
TO: Those interludes, also reminded me of some classical European music of the likes of Clementi, Beethoven, etc. Does the band draw active inspiration from the classical Romantic era? Also do any of the members have other projects, where they dabble with more of the classical style?
Oktor: We listen to classical music from time to time but I don’t think that we can say that it inspires us directly. The interludes were played by my and Jerzy’s father which has played piano for almost all his life. He is more into classical music than we are. When the idea of interludes came to our mind we immediately thought of piano interludes and to our father. He came, played and then we chose the ones which would fit perfectly to the album. The recording was totally improvised.
We have few other projects but none of them is linked to classical music.
TO: Going back to your material, lyrically, you seem to deal with concepts of pain, suffering and loss. Is this specifically done, due to the music being of the “doom” genre or does it have any personal significance to it?
Oktor: Each lyrical concept on Oktor albums is a reflection of a specific personal moment in my life. I’m trying to keep is as much personal as it’s possible so I try to not disclose more details and leave the interpretation to the listener. It didn’t begun as a direct link to the doom genre but came naturally. When we started to write first tunes I started to write lyrics and the idea for the first topics came naturally. Writing and singing brought some closure and cleansing and it works that way till today.
TO: Thanks for taking the time out for this and all the best for the future! We look forward with anticipation with what is to come from Oktor!
Oktor: Thank you very much for the possibility to present Oktor to your readers and for this pleasant chat! Take care and stay doom!