Damnatio Memoriae is the second album from the black/death metal band Kaoteon. Originally from Lebanon, they have recently relocated to the Netherlands. Vocalist Walid WolfLust and guitarist/bassist Anthony Kaoteon tell us about the new record, moving to a new country, touring, the metal scene in Lebanon and more.
Chad Bowar: What led to the 7 year gap between albums?
Anthony Kaoteon: I was in my coffin resting and now I am back to mess with those earthlings and scar their minds with the best riffs I have crafted to date.
Walid WolfLust: Anthony and I were in the process of moving outside of Lebanon, starting our personal and professional lives, and reshaping the sound of Kaoteon. That took a heavy toll but it pushed it forward to exactly where we would like to be today in Kaoteon. I moved to Qatar before eventually moving to The Netherlands. Qatar was a place of no inspiration for me, where only one song came out of that process and that is “Barren Lands.”
The Netherlands, on the other hand, offered me the opportunity for a myriad of inspiration and the space to think clearly, reflect at my 29 years in Lebanon, and finish the lyrics of the album. We already feel positive that this will not be the case again as we have started the writing process of the next album and Anthony’s riffs are as demented as ever.
Describe the songwriting process for Damnatio Memoriae.
Anthony: I worked on all the music and recorded the guitars in Dubai. WolfLust was writing the lyrics in Amsterdam while I contacted the talented bassist Linus from Obscura to be our guest on the album and Marduk’s Fredrik to record the drums in Sweden as a session musician. WolfLust then flew to Dugout Productions where the album was mixed and mastered in the same studio where the likes of Behemoth and Abbath produced their records.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Anthony: Working and finding talent is no easy task these days. We started with other drummers and bassists before we landed with the amazing talents out of which I have a good friend now, Linus Klausenitzer.
Walid: Personally I think that it was the chance to try different things together with the session talent we recruited. Every change pushed the album further to exactly where we wanted it to be. It was an exciting and rewarding process that sharpened our weapons and I personally felt that I needed to push myself further to match their experience in order to give Damnatio Memoriae the sound it deserves .
What are the pros and cons of producing it yourself?
Anthony: Labels are a great support system to bands, but they have the full right to put their efforts with bands that get them the best return. We believe that producing our album definitely cost us a lot of money, and I mean a freaking LOT of money, but owning the rights to it will allow us to push it further and support it fully.
How did Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura) and Fredrik Widigs’ (Marduk) guests appearances come about, and what impact did they have on the album?
Anthony: I wanted top notch musicians on the album as we always suffered finding someone who plays great and sounds the same on record. I saw both Fredrik and Linus live multiple times and loved their playing and that’s how we got in touch. They liked the music and I already recorded another album with Linus with my second band Death Drive, which will be released later this year, too.
How has the band’s sound evolved from your debut?
Anthony: We could barely afford a sandwich, let alone instruments and studio time. Today, Kaoteon sounds like it should have years ago and that is part of the reason behind the gap in the albums. Musically, our sound has matured and stands out more than before but the mindset is still the same: 100 percent mental – 100 percent metal with no compromise.
Walid: The debut was composed in our early 20s, and some parts date back to even earlier days. We couldn’t record it earlier due to the difficulties we faced with finding local consistent musicians. Recruiting Ziad on drums definitely pushed the aggressive Kaoteon sound further as the man is a relentless blasting beast. However, because it was mainly composed at such an age, our main message and approach was anger. As we matured, our sound and message also matured. Our approach to life, the way we asked question, the way we projected inward and outward for answers changed. That’s how I see the progression.
Is there a lyrical thread or theme?
Walid: Definitely! The album applies the ancient practice of Damnatio Memoriae to what the band thinks is destroying mankind and that is the political and religious agenda. We think that the best salvation is by the complete eradication of such a venom.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Anthony: Mark the world with riffs to be remembered, play live and share that experience with metal fans around the world, prepare for the follow up album as soon as possible.
What has been your most memorable Kaoteon live show?
Walid: Personally I think it has to be our last show (2017) with Legion of the Damned in Beirut. We had been away from our home scene for a while, we missed everyone, and we were blown away by the reaction and the support of our fans and friends back home.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Anthony: Nothing is set in stone yet, but we will hopefully play Europe in February and Asia around April.
Talk about some of the censorship you experienced in Lebanon.
Anthony: What does not kill you makes you stronger. We are who we are. No one can change that and that is what matters.
How difficult is it to be a metal fan in Lebanon?
Walid: In a country where metal could be illegal again at any time, being a metalhead has its positive and negative aspects. You could get arrested or beaten up whenever it’s decided that metal is illegal again. But at the same time, it means that the fans are constantly thirsty for the music and the performances.
We constantly researched new bands and new releases. We did our best to find amazing music from across the globe, and we tried to smuggle CDs inside our luggage’s dirty laundry whenever we came back to Lebanon and it tasted sweet because we felt like pirates.
What was the breaking point that led you to relocate to the Netherlands?
Walid: The search for a better life where living is safe, in a country which offers you more things than the materialistic side. I needed space to think and you cannot think clearly when your head is cluttered by worries of daily basic human needs. I’ve decided that I owe it to myself to get one step closer to where I would like to be.
How have you been accepted in the Netherlands?
Walid: I never searched to be accepted, to be honest. I am who I am, I’m at peace with everything that revolves around that and I think that’s all that matters. It wasn’t an easy process for me to understand why I’ve always felt and thought differently about the world and at some point you wonder if there’s something wrong with you to want to simply be different. It took me a few years to come to terms with this. I think this is quite a common thing when you have interest in topics such as metal music.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Anthony: Beside my beloved Kaoteon, I created a new band called Death Drive with Linus on bass from Obscura and Matthias Landes on drums from Dark Fortress. It’s a mix of death, thrash, black and heavy metal tracks in one album. Stay tuned for more news.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Anthony: I would like to remind metalheads that most of us listen to this music as we are upset with the world as it is today. Metal is about bringing justice and peace to the world, it is an outlet to make the oppressed heard and it was not, or should never be the other way around.
(interview published February 23, 2018)
Listen To Kaoteon – “Barren Lands”