UK based death metal / vicious metallized hardcore fusionists VENOM PRISON set high standard with their breakout 2016 album “Animus” (Prosthetic Records), yet with their new upcoming offering, “Samsara”, they’ve surpassed themselves on multiple fronts. By incorporating unconventional dynamics, vicious sounds, nuanced songcraft and multi-style structuring, have pushed their sound to new and interesting places. Spiced up by engaging, conscious lyrical themes, “Samsara” is mature and well-composed, yet lethal enough to be worth a place on your watch list. Stay tuned for the official release on March 15th via Prosthetic Records and check out our fresh interview with guitarist Ash Gray, who gave us lots of insights on “Samsara”, the band’s bond with hardcore, and more!
Ok, so after taking my then pregnant wife to see Aronofsky’s “Mother!” now I am positive I won’t ask her to check out your newest video “Uterine Industrialisation” haha. Please tell us about the concept behind this track and video and how it corresponds with the themes that define the whole record.
Weird that you say that… That film was incredible and inspired us a lot whilst doing the music video. The concept of this song was a podcast we listened to on tour, I can’t exactly remember what pocast it was however it was about forced surrogate mothers and using the word “forced” I’m sure you can gather the rest of the details from the music video for Uterine Industrialisation. If not, I would suggest rewatching it!
Art that takes on tough topics, especially one so infused with difficult, personal struggles with political baggage, can bring out ugly reactions in people. Have you had to deal with any backlash because of your extreme forms of expression?
I mean someone will always disagree with something you say, that’s simply life. I can’t push my beliefs on anyone and nor would I, however music being an art we have the chance to express our concerns and beliefs. Venom Prison has always been personal and outspoken it’s just the way we are and some of our biggest influences were the same so why would we have to treat it any differently? We have a voice and so does everyone else, it’s if you choose to accept it or not.
Will there be more videos in support of the album? How do you enjoy more storied music videos compared to keeping things simple, yet more energetic, highlighting the band in performance mode only?
I would say 50/50, I like the chance to express the artist’s approach in a visual format and not just audio, I think that is important. However, you can’t fuck with the classic live aggression videos. Samsara will be having more music videos to support the release and I can say one will be coming very soon.
Ok, so back to the stories behind your new opus, lyrics wise, can you expound a bit more on that and take us through your favorite, most powerful and meaningful moments of “Samsara”?
I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint a favourite moment as overall I think each song has its own personality and meaning. The songs revolve around the meaning Samsara just like Animus did. I can safely say Samsara is a lot more personal and hateful than Animus. Self-Inflicted Violence always takes a moment to settle in. As much as it isn’t my own words it’s Larissa’s but talking to each other through this album process we knew this wasn’t just aimed at one of us but multiple people who can relate to this. Being in a band isn’t just about the music, it’s about how close you are to each other and how much horrible shit you can see happening in each others lives, which is why when I listen to this song it takes a moment for me to process and know at the time this was written it wasn’t exactly an easy time which we still deal with day to day even now.
How about this amazing cover art from Eliran Kantor? How was this idea born and what was the origin of this thought-provoking painting?
We worked with Eliran previously for Animus, instantly from the get go we clicked, so asking Eliran to do Samsara was a no brainer. We always do pre productions whenever writing a record including the vocals so as soon as the pre productions are done we then send Eliran the lyrics and music and compiled ideas together of what we can envision. Of course Eliran always mentions his ideas and visions but we are normally on the same page hence why we went back to him. Samsara was taken from Buddhist beliefs of the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound. Like Animus, Samsara was also based on a song, which in this case is “Matriphagy” – “Matriphagy” is the consumption of the mother by her offspring which is what is seen in Samsara. I don’t want to say too much about it as it takes away from the art and moment you read through the lyrics and everything starts to make sense.
Ok, so here’s something some of our readers might be really interested in. Having played in hardcore bands before, you must have the DIY and punk ethos embedded into your mindset and musical taste for good. Tell us about your relationship with independent, local hardcore punk scenes, how are you involved, etc.
It will never leave me, it’s played and will always play a massive part in my life. It is always something we bring to Venom Prison, whether it’s intentional or subconsciously, it’s always a mindset we bring to the band. I record bands so I get alot of Hardcore/Punk bands in Cardiff coming to me at the moment which is always refreshing to keep seeing new local bands building more and more of a scene.
Comparing metal and hardcore scenes, which one serves as a better, more prolific ground for serious dialogically and political engaged art to successfully emerge?
They both share a lot more ground that people think, the hardcore scene and metal scene share a lot of political bands such as Napalm Death and so on… The crowds maybe different but the general interest and passion are the same. I wouldn’t ever be able to choose one or the other and that’s why I appreciate that Venom Prison is able to cross over into both worlds.
OK, so lastly, apart from “Samsara”, what else can we expect from VENOM PRISON and perhaps some of your other projects?
We are focusing on pushing Samsara a lot so that’s what we will be doing primarily, we will touring the record so expect to see us soon.
Great, thanks so much! Feel free to drop your final words and take care! Cheers from Warsaw!
Samsara 15th March 2019 keep your eyes peeled.