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Interview

Celestial Sanctuary – “And my prediction was correct”

In our first encounter with Thomas of Celestial Sanctuary, about 1,5 years ago, he stated; “I honestly think there is going to be a new wave of British Death Metal and it’s going to fuck you all up!“. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen the phrase “New Wave of British Death Metal” more than often on all kind of communication channels since then. It is like buying a new car with an uncommon colour…suddenly you see them everywhere. With “Soul Diminished” not only has Thomas a new album to talk about, there is also a new line-up…enough to talk about… (Ricardo)

Just a short lookback: Are you still happy with “Mass Extinction”? Are there elements of the demo of which you prefer do have done differently with the knowledge you know now?
There’s kinda 2 answers to this – we re-recorded the songs from the demo on the album and there were a few tweaks, but nothing major at all – but would I go back In time and make those changes for the demo? No way – I think every release or recording is a time capsule of that moment. It’s art at the end of the day and you can’t fuck with stuff too much or it’s missing the point

You’ve recently released your debut full-length “Soul Diminished” (CD, cassette & 12″ Vinyl released by Redefining Darkness Records, Church Road Records & Sewer Rot Records)…
It’s kinda boring haha, we were all remote during the recording of the album so there’s really not much to tell apart from there was a lot of loneliness and pissing my neighbours off with all the noise. Well, the album was actually finished when we got the artwork back – but once I saw it, it actually inspired me to write another song, which was Suffer Your Sentience, and it just so happens to be my favourite song on the record and favourite to play live. Again – I think we’ve been really lucky with the release process too. Everything went really, really smoothly! Apart from there being some typos on the LP insert.

Were there things you have changed in the song writing and recording process? What were you guys looking for on the new record?
As it was recorded/produced by myself, really it was just a case of me getting better at mixing and recording. Studios were closed here in the U.K. at the time of recording due to the pandemic, and I didn’t really wana hang around and wait for things to get to ‘normal’ – so it was just a case of doing what we could to get it done. Adapt and survive so to speak.

You described the demo songs as “simple, straight to the point, knuckle dragging songs”. While your single “Koalemos” was different as well as to a lot of doom and sludge when you wrote that. For you as a member of Celestial Sanctuary, what is the difference of “Mass Extinction” as well as “Koaelemos” and your debut “Soul Diminished”?
Well all of them songs made it onto the album in the end (“Koalemos” turned into “Yearn for the Rot”) – and I think they all sit nicely together and sound consistent. But really – all the songs were written with the same mindset and within a short space of time of each other, so no different to if we had originally set out to write the album straight away. What I will say though, is that the deeper I got into the album the more I could feel my songwriting improving and how much easier it got towards the end. The song ‘Soul Diminished’ was written and finished in approx 3-4 hours.

On your previous releases the lyrical theme was taken “from the perspective of a being that’s suddenly become sentient, and essentially realising they’ve been bred for some horrible thing”. What was you lyrical inspiration on “Soul Diminished”?
Yeah the album is a concept album centered around this very narrative. You can put whatever spin you want on it though – is it from the perspective of a human battery? A victim of human trafficking? An animal born into the industrial farming business?

Since the demo the line-up has changed with the addition of Jay Rutterford (bass), James Burke (drums) and Matt Adnett (guitar). How did you guys connect and did it affect the song writing or something else within the band?
I’ve known all of the guys for a long time and always wanted to be in a band with them all, and I’m gona say I got lucky with recruiting them because had I asked when shit was ‘normal’ I think they would have said they were too busy hahah. I was the sole songwriter on the album so it affected those songs in no way….however playing the songs live the guys have really brought their own energy to the songs and we’ve just written our first song as a collective…and let me tell you, it’s so fucking good!!!

You worked with an individual called WYRMWALK for the artwork. How does the process work with him? Do you give him concrete ideas or just brief descriptions and let him do the thing?
So I’ve been a fan of Jerry’s work ever since I saw his piece for Iron Age’s ‘Sleeping Eye’ reissue – and I gotta say the whole process was so easy. I did give him the narrative of the album and a hideous sketch to work from and he delivered!

Within your discography you have both cassette and vinyl as formats as well. Is that important to you? What do both formats mean to you, as a recording artist but also as a collector?
I think every musician has come from being a fan and a collector themselves to begin with ….if not, then fuck knows how they got into writing music lol but yeah I love Vinyl and I love CDs. Tapes I don’t really give a shit about but a lot of people love them and I think it’s important we get the recording on any format people will get joy and value out of. We’d do a fucking mini disc if someone asked us lol but yeah – physical media is so important to many people!

What are your plans for the near future? Recording new songs, planning to release a split or EP? Gigs?
Yeah so we got a 4 way split coming out SOON! Gigs….sensitive subject haha. A few weeks back we had a huge full Europe tour cancelled on us unfortunately! Hopefully that gets rescheduled, but who knows? But yeah we’ll probably get to writing album no. 2

Last time we spoke bands like Cryptic Shift, Soul Devourment, Frozen Soul, Torn in Half, Sanguisugabogg, Maul, Phobophilic, Gutvoid, Cryptworm, Clairvoyance among others were on your playlist. What are you spinning frequently at the moment?
Ooooof Gosudar, Worm, Mortuary Spawn, Vacuous, Vaticinal Rites, Dream Unending, The War on Drugs, Emma Ruth Rundle, Apparition, Mortiferum, Neurosis and Mastodon

In our previous conversation you mentioned “I honestly think there is going to be a new wave of British Death Metal and it’s going to fuck you all up”. Any other bands of United Kingdom that are worth mentioning and to check out for our readers?
HELLLLLL YEAH! And my prediction was correct. This year there’s been loads of great bands surfacing from the U.K. finally!!!! Mortuary Spawn, Vacuous, Slime Lord, Vaticinal Rites, Sewer Fiend, Coffin Mulch, ATVM and there’s a couple more I’ve seen have got stuff coming, but I won’t Mention them until I’ve heard it cos it could be pure shit.

Also do you have favourite labels you always keep an eye on when they announce a new release? Or a favourite illustrator / cover artist? Any favourite printed / online zines?
Labels – Me Saco Un Ojo, Dry Cough Records, Blood Harvest, Rotted Life, Everlasting Spew, Chaos Records and of course gotta check out everything 20 Buck Spin put out. Yeah I think Noxious Ruin is probably the biggest and best zine out there. Brian puts SO much effort into those things it’s kinda unbelievable. The artists he curates for the artwork and the bands he puts together for the comp. Unreal.
Illustrators….Claw Eight, Brad Moore, Corvidae

Thanks for your time, Thomas. I bet we will speak each other again when album no. 2 will arrive…