The first EP titled ‘Voices’ from Belgian based band Schizophrenia was released begin 2020, and VM-Underground was blessed to review this release. Twenty minutes of full-force Thrash metal with the old school Thrash bands looking over their shoulder, nodding the head with much appreciation for this creation! The music is right in the alley of extreme metal for any fans of Death and Thrash metal, stated drummer Lorenzo Vissol. Wanna know more??!! Then read on…cause Lorenzo had lot more to tell. (Fredde)
Hello Lorenzo, ‘Schizophrenia’ – people will automatically link your band name to the album from Sepultura. Is that the correct link to the band name, or did you named the band so for another reason? But watching the band logo, I guess this is a dumb question haha…or perhaps you guys like to mindfuck people.
We’re of course happy if people link us to Sepultura. ‘Schizophrenia’ was chosen partly as an homage to one of the best metal records but not only. The idea was indeed in general to evoke a part of metal history that we feel more connected with. At that time frontiers weren’t that distinct; it was all just about “extreme metal”. We want to connect more to what this represented, raw energy and aggressiveness in whatever shape or form it comes natural to the musicians. In that sense we don’t want to be a simple reminiscence of the past. Though we’re named partly after that album, we’re very well looking forward and not backwards. Regardless of the album, the name ‘Schizophrenia’ was also chosen for the subject of the disease itself. Not that we necessarily want to base our lyrics on this theme, but the image it induces is that of an aggressive disease, omnipresent in its tension(s). The image fits overall what we try to achieve musically.
The logo however is not linked at all to this. We made it up assembling all our favorite logos and trying to reach for a shape and form that we thought would be eye catchy while still, above all, fitting our taste.
Could you tell us something about how the band came together? How have you joined forces? Perhaps you worked together in other bands or … can you give us some more info about the band members?
The band was initially formed by Ricky (bass/vocals) and Romeo (guitar) in 2016. They were playing together at the time in a Thrash metal band from Antwerp (fyi Hämmerhead). However, they were hungry for more extreme music and decided to create Schizophrenia looking to reach more towards the Death metal shores. Soon after they asked Marty (guitar), a long-time friend, to join in on second guitar and me (Lorenzo) to join in on the drums. Ricky and I had crossed path a couple years prior through a death metal project in Brussels that eventually never happened.
After releasing the single titled ‘Perpetual Perdition’, you guys worked on the EP titled ‘Voices’, that’s been released begin 2020. What can listeners expect when they listen to this release?
Schizophrenia is all about energy: pounding drum and raw vocals! But still with melodious guitar solos and catchy riffs. The music is right in the alley of extreme metal for any fans of death and thrash metal.
I hear lot of the old school Thrash style, where several bands come by in your sound. How were you triggered to create music in this style? On the internet I see some references where the band is labeled as a Death/Thrash metal band. Which facets of Death metal can be discovered on this EP?
We didn’t give ourselves any limits of genre when composing, we just wanted to create music that we’d appreciate. All of us share common backgrounds, from Teutonic Thrash to a broad variety of Death metal passing by Heavy metal etc. In the end, the music just ended up naturally like this. We don’t necessarily like to subcategorize, it’s all just about the energy. I think you can hear whatever energy comes naturally to you, when you listen to death metal, be it slow and growly, fast and technical, or Swedish.
I noticed the bass is clearly in the mix and on the front line…that’s not very common nowadays (mostly the bass is somewhat on the background). What’s the reason you guys placed the bass in the spotlights on this EP?
Since the start we wanted a strong attack in the mix, a pounding sound that hits you right in the face. Again, we wanted the mix to represent clearly the energy we want to transmit. We should thank Project Zero Studio and Y-Productions who recorded and mixed the EP. They understood what we wanted and took some initiatives sound wise, even if not common.
Promoting an album is top-priority, especially for beginning bands or debut releases. In these times with the bloody corona-virus I guess that’s not so simple…how did you guys promote the EP? Were you able to do some live gigs before the virus tormented the world?
Indeed, promoting a release in this period is very difficult, even more so for a new band like us that still must prove itself. We were prepared and ready to defend our release on stage! We felt and still feel a growing interest for our EP, we had an increasing list of shows planned but of course it has all been cancelled, and now it’s difficult to plan anything ahead. None the less, we are still part of the lucky ones. Fortunately enough, we were still able to almost complete the first leg of our European tour with Evil Invaders and Angelus Apatrida and play some other shows before global lockdown. Hopefully we can envision shows after the summer 2021!
Seems you were picked up by several labels, one label that released the cassette version, the other the vinyl version, CD version…what’s the reason for this?
You also worked together with a label to release a Japanese version…could you tell us something more how this came about and what is special about this version?
Actually, we decided to keep this release DIY, self-released and to sign no label deal. We released the CD’s ourselves as well as the European press black vinyl and several color editions. Since pretty much the beginning we received quite some demands from bigger and smaller labels. In order to reach new shores with our music, when we felt the time was right and the deals interesting, we joined forces with several of them for exclusive distribution deals only. It worked out pretty well and we’re happy to have been able to cooperate with pretty cool labels and people such as Dying Victims Productions (GER), Redefining Darkness (USA), Spiritual beast (JPN) and Napalm Records (GER). Some new collaborations are still on their way. We are not necessarily planning to self-release our first album though.
Regarding the Japanese Press it was pretty natural. Spiritual Beast contacted us around April (if I remember correctly) and we started organizing this. It has of course the mandatory exclusive bonus track, a demo version of our song “Schizophrenia” that we used as a tool to prepare for the actual recording.
The art work is splendid, the only thing that’s not clear is the link between the EP-title and the art work itself. Is there a link between both? Why have you chosen ‘Voices’ for this EP? Who created the art work?
The artwork was drawn by Italian artist Roberto Toderico based on a concept of ours. The original idea for the drawing was based on an University course I did on the painter Caravaggio, pioneer of the baroque esthetic movement and pretty much master if not inventor of a technique called “chiaroscuro” (strong contrast between light and dark). Throughout this artwork we wanted to represent the tensions and lifelong struggles schizophrenic persons may endure with severe occurrences of their disease. The two demon-like figures on the cover are the internal voices of the schizophrenic person. One of them is stuttering in his ear to harm himself while the other one is slowly convincing him to kill himself with the dagger.
We used the “Chiaroscuro” to subtly divide between what’s real and not. If you pay close attention to the cover, only the man is at the center of the light while the demon-voices are in the dark, emerging from nothingness. The man is real, but the voices are not, they are in his head. This explains why he is the one holding the knife while the demon-voice is only guiding it from the shadows. I personally also wanted to represent instantaneity of death through the knife, which is a theme strongly used by Caravaggio. In his painting such as “Judith and Holofernes” there is a strong tension within the painting itself. It is hard to say whether the man is already dead or dying in the instant. He is both at the time. That is what I wanted to represent as, to some aspect, Schizophrenia disease is a lifelong tension between life and death. However, I think it is safe to say that this part of the artwork didn’t work out haha.
The cover itself and the choice of “Voices” as a title was to contrast with the quite erroneous idea that schizophrenia disease is a split of personality. Of course, the disease is way more complex than what we made of it, but we wanted to focus here on the self-inducing suffering part of the disease.
As stated above, the EP is almost 1 year old…how do you now look back on the release? Things you would do differently? Have you worked on new material yet? Perhaps a debut full-length?
Right from the start we approached the release as a needed experience before the album. For that reason, we have absolutely no regrets, the aim of it was for us to learn the most possible from trial by error while already getting our name out there. We also took this release very seriously and largely planned ahead leaving only little space for surprises. Everything (except Covid of course) went really well, even better than expected. We did have our fair share of setbacks during the process though. Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything from this release, everything that we appreciate less now are just lessons for how to do it differently for the upcoming album. On another hand we also evolved musically as a band and individual musicians since. That’s the beauty of it and what makes upcoming releases interesting in general.
On that matter we are working on new material and already intensely planning for future releases. The uncertainty of these upcoming months makes it hard for me to say anything more than that for now.
Festivals were cancelled all around the globe…but I like to know if you were invited to play at one or more festivals normally? Which festival would you really like to check off to perform and off course why?
Surprisingly, we had a fair share of shows planned during all 2020 and already 2021 with some tours as well as some festivals. However, having released our debut the 30th of January way past the period summer festival book their bands, and with only a month and half before total shutdown of the cultural sector, we were pretty unfortunate in that matter. We still managed to play a corona proof festival this summer in Belgium, but that’s all.
My personal dream would be playing oversee festivals such as the Maryland death fest, Mexico Metal fest, SetembroNegro in Brasil and The True Thrash Fest or Asakusa Death Fest in Japan.
The connection between other old school Thrash bands can’t be denied…which bands do you guys dig? Any other music styles you listen to often?
All of us in the band are huge fans of classics as Sepultura, King Diamond, Kreator, Demolition Hammer, Morbid Angel and so on. The classics really! Personally, I also listen to a lot of South American Music and 80/90s Hip Hop. Romeo also listens to 80/90s hip hop. Ricky is a huge fan of classic rock, and Marty likes some neoclassical metal like Uli Jon Roth.
How do you see the future of Schizophrenia? Any achievements you like to reach with the band?
Well, hopefully as good as it can get! We’ll continue to do what we do, with the same passion and I trust the rest will come naturally. If we ever manage to get booked as a direct support on a tour for an 80s/90s band I listened to a lot when I was younger, that would be a pretty wild accomplishment.
If you could bring back one artist to life, who would you choose and why?
It’s a tough question! I think I’d go for Chuck Schuldiner because with ‘human’ first, then ‘Symbolic’ and finally ‘The Sound of Perseverance’, he was progressively constantly uplifting the band’s musicianship and developing his personality. What’s interesting about him is that he seemed to bring the best out of the musicians he played with. I’m curious as to what he would have created and what new world of metal he could have opened.
If you could choose any band to open for, which band would that be?
So many legendary bands we’d like to open for but frankly, I think there’s just one correct answer to this question and that will have to be Slayer.
So, for now I’m out of questions…any last word for our readers?
Thanks for your time and interest for the band. We’ll be waiting for you on stage when everything comes back to normal!
Thanks for the interview Lorenzo!