Elite death worship and the dissonance of human nature… A conversation with RAPTURE (2021)INTERVIEW

This interview was originally conducted with vocalist/guitarist Apostolos Papadimitriou between April/May 2021 for MYSTIFICATION ZINE Issue #1 “Primitive Futurity“, a limited run (print) death metal magazine published twice per year which released this past July 23rd, and is still available through my own label/publishing imprint Spirit Coffin Publishing. | Considering their second full-length ‘Paroxysm of Hatred‘ ranked as my #13 Album of the Year for 2018 and soon edged its way higher in mind over time, I approached ‘Malevolent Demise Incarnation‘ with very high expectations and these Athens, Greece-based fellowes confidently set themselves among my favorites of the last decade or two with the results. I am an unabashed fan and supporter, having collected all formats of each release along with whatever merch etc. I can manage to get, so, in this sense I approached the band the way a fanzine -should- as a fanatic hungered for context and driven by pure enthusiasm. This is a band whom appear obsessed with the riff and the long-standing traditions of death metal and extreme thrash metal and this first impression is largely true, they’ve got fantastic taste, but these are hard-working musicians first and foremost presenting -meaning- just as profound as the riffs as they continue grinding away at the limits of these forms. Pure respect for the passion they’ve put into this record, and a huge thanks to Apostolos and the band for working with me on this interview.

In this extreme blend of symbolism and grim realism that defines us, Death is consolidated as thy only divine power of this world. Without faith at fake prophets and impoverished gods, Death is the single one power which stands beyond human understanding and reach, and cannot be defeated. For he always stands one step ahead, as the orgasm of the notion of life, which he dethrones. The woeful human dynasty, during its entire futile and ignorant-driven course, was searching for one and only thing. Perfection. However, where perfection thrives, humanity declines and vanishes. Thus, the human breed constitutes as a perverted dissonance of nature and creation, which eventually, will be eliminated and ravaged by the notion of creation itself. Therefore, if thy only divine power is Death, the perfection and deification that humans always pursued, is none other than their own total annihilation. We few, will reach deification, as we consist the total, undisputed, indecent, grim and triumphant, MALEVOLENT DEMISE INCARNATION.

You’ve done a fine job with the prose describing the theme of ‘Malevolent Demise Incarnation’, revealing this sense that mankind’s false idol of perfection and afterlife as a diseased symptom of religion and that the drive for unlimited success has been our downfall. For me this is an apex statement of elite death worship. If I can butcher the larger cause of Xenophanes a bit for my own needs, he’d insisted mankind can never know the nature of divinity, that all religious belief and thought is a projection of flawed humanity and inherently foolish to even consider. Are there any particular philosophical influences that factored into the lyrics for this album? Did the chaos and ongoing horror of 2020’s pandemia fuel the purpose or drive for this album at all? I get the impression that most of the band members are skeptical by nature, or naturally concerned with quality of statement, making sure that some profound meaning should come from Rapture’s music if possible.

First of all, a huge thanks to you for this interview and the amazing review you did on our album. Judging from what you wrote you completely understand what this record is all about, both in terms of music and of lyrics. Thank you so much. About the question now. In general, we believe that everything that a person reads and listens is an inspiration. If you do not limit your spiritual horizons yourself, you can filter this inspiration and then express it under your personal artistic (in this case musical) identity. Philosophy, ancient and modern, has always been a HUGE inspiration for us. If I could choose two philosophers to mention here as the most important for us I would definitely credit Aristotle and Nietzsche. Besides that, a great inspiration for the lyrics comes from horror literature, by giants of that genre such as Lovecraft and Clive Barker. At the same time, it would be an understatement to say that the daily reality and its subconscious horrors (or terrors, for fans of Benediction’s BEST album) are something that inspires us to write extreme music. The perverted and sick turn that the human breed has taken over the last years is the main driving force behind it. However, the album concept expresses the idea that this is the ACTUAL nature of humanity since its day 1, not something that occurred over the centuries. The phrase that you used, “elite death worship” is 100% spot on. This record stands as a strange blend of nihilism, misanthropy and idealism/existentialism and expresses that the very existence of humans itself is a dissonance of nature.

Part of being engaged with classic extreme metal involves some appreciation for big personalities, strong opinions and a certain era of pushing the limits with themes and lyrics. Today I think you might agree we find an increasing number of artists who appear to self-censor for the sake of accessibility, applying their own “Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics” stickers to their resumes, endlessly apologizing for past mistakes, and easing up on boundary pushing for the fear of awkward internet culture blacklisting or misinterpretation. This calculated way of life, fearing reactions to honest art should be offensive to most people. Well, my own chance to rant aside, I am curious if you’d felt like you had to pull back on anything that might have come across as political when putting together lyrics for this album? Are there lyrical subjects and themes explored that have hit the editing floor for this one? Any ideas or themes you want to explore more in the future?

No, not at all. I know that some of the lyrics of the album might be offensive because they express misanthropic ideas, but that has never discouraged us to change something in our musical expression. We have 100% control and understanding of our statements and ideas. Moreover, I think this is the most suitable point to express that, according to my opinion, one cannot simply be a misanthrope without actively trying to change the sick nature of humanity. All members of Rapture have proven this in practice, mostly by helping people in need, like refugees who come in swarms in Greece and are in desperate need for help. We have even played in concerts that had fundraiser character for people who were in need. Regarding politics now, I am more than sure that you will never see political lyrics by us. In the future, we want to further explore and expand the misanthropic/idealistic concept that we analyzed in the previous question.

At face value a song like “Birthrape Leftovers, Praising The Maggots” might not seem as elegant as its actual meaning is a harsh reality and the scenario for “Inanimate Frigidity” is kind of incredible, horrifying but brilliant. It is inspiring to see nihilism, mayhem and misanthropy in death metal today. I say this because from what I’ve read the freedom of the press (and dissent) in Greece is portrayed as eroded, nearly destroyed this last decade and I have seen some efforts to silence controversial/political artists in the last few years. Have you experienced or witnessed any of this over the last decade? Do you think this would ever extend to artists and musicians in Greece the way it has for, say, Poland where anti-Christian (or anti-government) statements are leading to lawsuits for musicians?

I think it is fair to say, that in many cases, for the sake of “political correctness” great works of art face censorship. To me this is utter disgust. It’s like we are moving back to the dark ages. Art is meant to be extreme, provocative and awakening for the people. And this extremity has to come like an offspring from within the creator of art himself, and not be extreme just for the sake of being extreme. Some months ago our shitty conservative government once again took advantage of the pandemic situation to enforce new art censorship laws that were truly anti-constitutional and violated the freedom of speech. Luckily the artistic community united and immediately commenced on protesting violently against it. Some days later these laws were recalled.

If we look at what death/thrash metal bands have done in the last thirty years, some becoming quite famous and others a flash in the pan, it seems like the ceiling for achievement and aspirations is potentially high. ‘Malevolent Demise Incarnation’ reads to me as high ambition still charged and going, something vital and brutal in your work that is rare yet readable to anyone who loves true death and thrash metal. Of course it is funny to think about “mainstream” extreme metal to some degree, but years ago I never thought Skeletal Remains would be putting out records on Century Media, right? They’re still heavy as Hell, maybe heavier now. Is it silly to aspire to be on big labels, making a full living making music today? Would you be motivated to keep the faith and stay forever underground?

I cannot stress enough the no-limits mentality that Rapture is all about. That has to do with our general ideals about life, self-improvement and thriving against the sick joke that is called every-day life. We want to see our music reach each and every person that could feel moved, motivated or in general expressed by it. And if bigger labels are the vessel to achieve this, then why not? To make a full living out of music would be great, but we all understand the difficulties that lure in trying such a thing. However, difficulties have never discouraged us from trying anything, and I think that the perfect answer to this question lies in the previous sentence.

Rapture, 2021

Would you consider Rapture as a band defined by sub-genre or is the band’s sound more defined by the collective taste of the group? I ask because I see this gradual movement towards pure death metal elements as both very different with each step but, still containing a strong Rapture signature if we consider the previous two records. Can you describe the essence that you look for when writing Rapture material? How do you know you have landed on the perfect Rapture riff or drum part? It sounds like composition-wise you guys all bring in parts and collectively decide how the puzzle fits best.

Well, in general we like to think that our music has no limits at all. And this goes both for the playing and the way we compose our music. For us, everything is an influence. Each piece of extreme music has a great impact on our compositions. Of course, the main ingredients are Death and Thrash Metal, but that does not mean that our influences are “Metal only”. Regarding Metal music, we love stuff ranging from classic bands such as JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN up to brutal Death Metal acts such as SUFFOCATION and DEEDS OF FLESH. Its obvious though, that some influences might be more apparent than others. Of course, I am speaking about bands such as MORBID ANGEL, MALEVOLENT CREATION, DEMOLITION HAMMER, and in general Death and Thrash acts of the late 80s early 90s.

Besides all that, all of us are fans of classical composers such as Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt among others, and we think that the works of these amazing artists has shaped us, especially in terms of song structure. Moreover, all of us are huge Hardcore Punk and Crust enthusiasts. Also, I have to address that each and every one of us has his own personal influences. For example I personally really like Post-Punk / New Wave and our drummer loves Jazz and Fusion. I think that if you scratch beneath the surface, you will find traces of such influences here and there. Not only in terms of riffing, but in terms of structure and general aura. Besides that, I (Apostolos) am the main composer, writing about 70% of the material, but the other guys come up with killer riffs, structures and entire songs as well. I have to say that our composition process can be summed up by the phrase “strength in unity”. All the other members help me greatly on the composition and everything compose is filtered by all of us. Each of the members has his unique musical personality which is ultimately expressed in the final song-writing process.

I know you, Apostolos in particular have spoken to some classical music influences, taking cues from types of movement and compositional techniques for connecting various meters and modes, how much does this tend to factor into the riff writing process? Are there composers that you find consistently inspiring in this way? Or do these elements generally come in while all of the pieces are coming together? Are you envisioning entire songs to start? Working around certain inspired moments? I suppose I’m most interested in how the details and shapes of songs evolve between first inspiration and then the later editing phases.

Of course, just like in Metal music, we have some classical artists that we like more than others. To name a few, we are really into Franz Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Paganini, Schubert, Beethoven and Wagner. Besides musical patterns, and melodies that can be inspiring to produce killer extreme metal riffs, I think that the greatest influence of classical music lies in the overall “aura” of the music. Classical works inspire us to compose structures that have an over-the-top feeling. Its really extreme music, from another age, that still sounds fresh today, and that overall aura is apparent in our music because of the great respect we have to such composers.

When I write reviews I’ll tend to reference classic bands and albums for comparison, speaking the language more or less. It is intended as a compliment when comparing ‘Malevolent Demise Incarnation’ to the best from Massacra, Protector, Demolition Hammer etc., which is highest praise in my mind, though it sounds like your actual influences from death metal see the ideal in the undisputed classics and primary gods like Morbid Angel and Suffocation. Are there any artists or “deep cut” records that the whole band can agree upon as inspirational classics? Like, you can put them on in the tour van and have zero complaints.

Yes of course. If we are speaking about Thrash and Death Metal I would definitely need to mention the following: Darkness Descends, Hell Awaits, Pleasure to Kill, Persecution Mania, Epidemic of Violence, Altars of Madness, The Ten Commandments, Deicide’s debut, Human Waste, Severed Survival, Morbid Tales, Enjoy The Violence. Damn, I could go on for ages and make a list that takes over this entire fanzine haha.

From my point of view your music belongs on the road, not just in headphones and living rooms. So, of course this will be a major challenge in the future and there is little value in guessing when a tour could happen. Instead I want to ask if you have bands you would want to tour with, who are the ones that would be a dream tour for you guys? Of course there are a lot of local bands to name but, what are some death and thrash metal bands out of Athens we should be watching for today that are great live?

Indeed, that is 100% correct. Extreme Music belongs in the road, and we are impatient to return back to it. It’s the place we truly belong. Some great modern bands that we would love to tour with are Skeletal Remains, Dreadful Fate, Ripper, Oxygen Destroyer, Unholy Lust, Sonic Assault, Vektor, and Undergang. This list could go on forever as well.

What is next for the band? Any new material in the works already? Do you guys have any side projects coming out in between Rapture records? What is the best way that fans can support Rapture right now?

The experimentation and composition process never ends. New material is already in the works. Besides that, most of us are evolved into other projects/bands that you will soon have news from. However, our main priority now, is to commence touring as soon as the situation allows it. Europe will be first, and then we aim for other places that we have never visited, with the US included. The best way to support us is by our bandcamp page and blast our records at FULL VOLUME.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!

The pleasure was all ours my friend. Thank you as well. ONWARDS TO TOTAL DEATH!!!

Buy ‘Paroxysm of Hatred‘ and ‘Malevolent Demise Incarnation‘ from F.D.A. Records!

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