Interview with vocalist and guitarist Roberto Lizarraga
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: February 9, 2014
Mexico's dark Death Metal horde Infinitum Obscure has slowly but surely been making a name for themselves as one of the most powerful and respected forces in underground circles over the past few years. Infinitum Obscure's first two albums, Internal Dark Force (2006) and Sub Atris Caelis (2009), chiseled the band's name into the stone of the extreme Metal scene for good, with both albums getting rave reviews from fans. The band has been working hard on their third full-length album, Ascension Through the Luminous Black, for the past couple of months, and now all the recordings, done at Skull Seven Studios in Los Angeles, have been finished.
Infinitum Obscure vocalist and guitarist Roberto Lizarraga wanted to fill us in on the band's new album, new record company and his personal thoughts about Jon Nödtveidt's (Dissection, R.I.P.) influence on him and so on. The Metal Crypt curiously asked and Roberto kindly answered...
Luxi: You have been some weeks at Skull Seven Studios in Los Angeles, CA with the legendary producer/engineer Bill Metoyer, to record Infinitum Obscure's new full-length album Ascension Through the Luminous Black. The recording process for this is over but some mixing and mastering is yet to be done. Could you shed some light on the songs on this release, as well as the recording process? Did everything turn out the way you hoped and did you get the exact vibe that will let people know this is Infinitum Obscure and nothing else?
Rob: Hello Luxi, and first off, thank you for your patience. Things got really quiet for a while but now we're ready to move on.
The new album is very, very different. It is not like the first two albums, the EPs or the demos, thought these previous releases have paved the road leading to where we are today. If anything, the new album reeks of segregation from previous comparisons and what say you, however it still sounds like the band itself, in a very personal way.
What did we want? We wanted it to sound darker, and it does. The only word I can use to describe it is DARKNESS, and this band will continue to get darker and darker and darker as time goes by...
This album is completely introspective; it is about US and not about anyone or anything else. What you will find in this almost one hour long album is very, very different from what you can get out there today...
Luxi: While you were at the studio, did any of the songs change significantly and if so, what were the reasons why those songs went through a modification?
Rob: No, nothing changed structure wise. Everything was done exactly the way we had structured it on day one. We did try different sounds and intros in the studio but nothing changed structurally. What you will hear is what we have been working on for the past four years.
Luxi: How much did each band member contribute to the songwriting process on this record? Would you even say Ascension Through the Luminous Black is a collective work by the band?
Rob: Well, as usual, all the music was written by me, however, we did work on it together while arranging the songs, mostly Gerardo (drummer) and me. One song was completely written by Ivan Paredes (second lead guitar), which is his personal acoustic piece and I accompanied him with a fill-in guitar part.
Luxi: What can you tell us about the album's lyrical content? How personal are the lyrics on Ascension Through the Luminous Black and how difficult was it to write them?
Rob: The lyrical content on this album is a very personal, introspective view of what I think within myself, so if you grasp the idea of it, you might see thru my own eyes and mind for the duration of the album.
It wasn't that hard to write. The hardest part, I guess, was penning down the first song and, once that one was done, the rest started flowing but each at their own moment. The songs were written at different times over the last four years.
Luxi: How was it working with Bill Metoyer? He's a legendary name when it comes to producers of Metal albums. How much guidance did he provide while the recording process was going on? What were some of the most useful tips he gave you?
Rob: It was great! This is the second time that we have worked with Bill so he is familiar with us and with our sound. This time he was able to get more "juice" out of the recording sessions, which is great because last time it was mostly him experimenting with us for the first time.
Bill is a producer and he has a lot of experience so, considering all the legendary bands and albums that he has produced over the last 30 years, we tend to do what he says. He has a very clear mind when he knows his opinion can make something better and it usually does. His input on this album was very important, especially once we started laying down drum tracks and he was blown away by the progression from Sub Atris Caelis to this one and that translated to a more enthusiastic process.
Some tips he gave? Well, vocal phrasing and patterns, a lot of expressive stuff to highlight good parts, some harmonies, etc., all to make it better and more professional.
Luxi: Obviously you clearly feel that Ascension Through the Luminous Black is your best album to date, both content and production wise, but can you tell us, in your own words, what makes it such a great album?
Rob: The fact that we wrote it thinking of separating ourselves from everything and everyone and venturing into our own dark path without caring about anyone else or what surrounds us.
Luxi: Obscure Infinitum's prior albums, Internal Dark Force and Sub Atris Caelis, made a name for the band in underground Metal scene. What were the band's goals back when you first got together and how have those goals changed over the years as you've become more popular with the Metal community?
Rob: Of course I remember the original goal, and it is still our goal, in a way, and that was/is to be as a dagger of revenge towards some people. Today, the number of people that this dagger points toward is even greater than it was back then. The past 13 years have molded who we are today, and without that original goal in mind, we would not have been able to pave the path with the blood of those people.
Luxi: Do you believe that this is the album on which Infinitum Obscure captures the essence of true darkness and evil atmosphere to the point where one can feel it when spinning the record?
Luxi: Do you have any favorite tracks off Ascension Through the Luminous Black? How personal are the songs on this new record?
Rob: I love the entire thing from start to finish. When I listen to the rough/pre-mix tracks, I listen to them all, from start to finish.
Luxi: Ascension Through the Luminous Black will be released as a CD by Deathgasm in the States and, as thing stand now, on vinyl by the Czech Republic's Doomentia Records in Europe. Blood Harvest, originally slated to handle the release, backed out from their original agreement with you. When will these goodies be released?
Rob: Yes. Originally Blood Harvest was set release it, but during the recording and mixing processes, they came to realize that they would not be able to handle the release in the way it was agreed from the beginning. So we had to shop the record around to find a new label in Europe, which I will say was NOT EASY AT ALL. Luckily, Doomentia Records in the Czech Republic said "YES, WE WANT IT!", and we were able to finalize a record deal with them during the first week of January. Now everyone involved in the production of the record is working on it again and all systems are GO.
Release time? Probably towards the middle of the year. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I believe that things happen for a reason, and good things take a lot of time to plan and execute...
Luxi: Has there been any talk about a video for any of the songs, to give the record some extra promotion?
Rob: We've had ideas for video clips since before the last record, we just haven't really gotten around to doing it because we want something done in a special way. However, time is running and we MUST do a video for this album. We have not decided which song and, hopefully, we will settle on one soon. We do have ideas for whom we will work with on the video.
Luxi: Both Deathgasm and your previous label, Blood Harvest, have proved many times that they are the right labels for Infinitum Obscure, providing immense support. However, if you had a chance to ask for something more from your label, what would you ask them to do for Infinitum Obscure?
Rob: Yes Luxi, you are correct. The kind of support and push that we got from both Deathgasm and Blood Harvest has been splendid and we are very thankful for this even now that we won't be working with Blood Harvest anymore, I, personally, appreciate Rodrigo Alfaro (Blood Harvest) in a very special way, the same way I do with Evan March from Deathgasm, because they really helped us achieve a lot in the last few years and put in a lot of hard work and effort to place Infinitum Obscure where it stands today. Without them, it would have been impossible.
Now a new chapter opens with Doomentia Records and we look forward to a great friendship with them. They believe in the band also and that makes a huge difference for us.
What would we ask for? Just to keep pushing the albums and to reach as many people with them as possible.
Luxi: Do you prefer staying with smaller underground labels versus signing to a more mainstream label (Nuclear Blast, Century Media, etc.)?
Rob: I will not complain about the position we are in at the moment, but if an opportunity came along to grow and to reach further then of course we would take it. Of course, it would all depend on the reality of our situations. We are not teenagers anymore; we have full-time jobs, houses with expenses to pay for, etc., so it all depends. The future is not written...
Luxi: Do you think labels like Nuclear Blast have become such big, mainstream entities with dozens of bands on their roster, would be suicide for a smaller band? It's always the bigger and more established names that get the most attention from the label, no matter what's been written on a recording contract.
Rob: I can't say anything about any label that we have not worked with before. We've never been in that position before, but I certainly hope that if we ever got an opportunity like that, there would be a joint effort between label and the band to push things.
Luxi: What's your opinion on labels going after trendy bands when they see a chance to make a few million dollars and not really caring about anything else or giving a damn about the music?
Rob: I wish it wasn't like that because crappy music/bands get all the exposure and artists that have a higher quality get pushed down and kept down. One thing that I really hate, and I will never do, is suck up to anyone, and that is exactly what mediocre bands do to try and get somewhere.
Luxi: Moving on from the subject of labels to touring and gigging, how important is playing live these days?
Rob: VERY IMPORTANT if you have true belief in what you do. I grew up wanting to see the bands that I liked playing live and the feeling of live music will never be replaced by any kind of internet thing.
Luxi: Do you enjoy performing live and how important is the interaction between Infinitum Obscure and the crowd?
Rob: I like playing live very much, however we don't really play in our area that much as it's not the right area/city/town for what we do. We enjoy playing out of town a lot and this is where we find more of what we look for in a live gig. Interacting with people when you play live is essential, I think. It's the only way that the spectator will understand what you do and who you are.
Luxi: What is in store for Infinitum Obscure fans as far as your gigging plans are concerned? Do you have any tour plans you can reveal, to give an extra boost for Ascension Through the Luminous Black?
Rob: As of today, Tuesday January 21st of 2014, we have no touring or live gig plans of any kind whatsoever. We had planned to tour Japan in April, and that was our goal for 2014, but it fell through so we are open to seeing what comes our way!
One thing's for sure, we MUST push the album...
Luxi: It's no secret that you have always been a huge fan of the works of Jon Nödtveidt from Dissection (R.I.P.). What has Jon given you over the years as a musician, songwriter and the creator of Infinitum Obscure? Would it be an exaggeration to say that without Jon's influence on you, there might have been no Infinitum Obscure?
Rob: First and foremost, aside from music, he gave me his true friendship and that transcended his influence on me as a musician. Maybe five years ago I would've said that YES without the work that he did with Dissection there would be no I.O. but today I say that without understanding that his real influence was individuality and always pushing forward without caring what others think, there would not be an Ascension Through The Luminous Black.
Luxi: Do you have any personal hopes and/or goals that you would like to achieve in 2014 with Infinitum Obscure?
Rob: I can't really say for sure; my first, and right now only goal is to release the new record.
Luxi: Well, I think that's all I had in mind Robert, so thank you for taking some time with my questions. All the best with your future endeavors with the band and keep your flag high for true underground Death Metal. Want to spit out some last words, perhaps?
Rob: Hail Lucifer! And fuck everything; fuck society, be yourself at all times, fuck what anyone says or thinks about you, WHOEVER IT MAY BE!!!!
|Other information about Infinitum Obscure on this site|
|Review: Sub Atris Caelis|
|Review: Sub Atris Caelis|
|Review: Sub Atris Caelis|
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