Asphyxiate is a technical death metal act formed in 2012, but which caught attention of most Kathmandu metalheads through their newly released video, "Deceased Species," in which they displayed some of the finest technical death metal produced in the country. I had the privilege to interview them in late 2013 for some local lifestyle magazine, and I remember they were some super humble people. As the band is in the middle of recording their debut album, I catch up with them again for a brief conversation.
How do you define your music to those who have not heard you?
If death metal and deathcore had a baby who was then adopted by technical death metal family, we would be that baby!
How did the band come into existence?
In late 2012, a guy summoned us separately to form a band. We jammed a few rounds. Prashant and I (Anubodh) got to know each other and we had quite similar taste in music back then, unlike the guy who summoned us. So, we (Niken, Prashant, Ujwal the former drummer, and I) then planned to form a band together. But since Ujwal could not manage much time for the band, he was later replaced by Jeson.
You released your new song “Deceased Species” last week. It shows change in the band’s earlier sound that revolved around deathcore. For one, it also displays how much you guys have grown as musicians. How did this change in the musical style happen?
We do not want all of our songs to sound alike or having the same pattern. We cannot really say we have changed. Each song has varying levels of elements, and “Deceased Species” just has less of the deathcore touch. We do not think incorporating deathcore in slightly higher proportion would mean inferiority. Actually we made most of our technical songs in the starting phase of the band, but we just have not played all of them live. Few are roughly on YouTube. Like, this was made during the band’s initial days: "Radiation Sickness"
Tell us something about the new album?
The recording process is slow paced but it is going well. The earthquake and our exams quite interfered it, but we expect to finish the album by the end of this year. The album will consist of approximately nine songs. We are not in talks with any label, but I guess we are going to think about it later on when we will reach near the end of the recording session.
How is the band’s songwriting process like? What comes first: the riffs, concept or the structure?
We do not follow any rule for songwriting. Sometimes there is a planned pattern or structure to the song and at other times we come up with the riffs and then conceptualize the song. Basically, for the songwriting, Prashant and I (Anubodh) construct and share riffs with each other and then talk to the band about how we would want to take it further. Other ideas pop up in the way, or the path we chose happens to be satisfying. After that we together as a band process the song, express our views, suggest each other, improve what can be improved, and then we design the song.
Your lyrical themes tend to relate with death, among others. How do you relate the band’s lyrical themes with your real life experiences?
The idea behind the band’s name, ‘Asphyxiate,’ which means ‘to suffocate,’ is because we get suffocated by various factors such as political, societal, environmental, and the like, all created by our kinds, the humankind. We cannot truly be ourselves because of that, and we end up suffocating other beings in this planet because of the way we are cultivated. May be this is what we call the human nature, and such existence is really not necessary; hence, our band’s name, because we are asphyxiated and also asphyxiating. So basically, for most of our songs, the lyrical themes revolve around these subject matters which are not meant to be taken too seriously.
Do you think that death metal in Nepal is just a trend for now that will die away with time?
I agree there are lots of pseudo-metalheads here are following the trend than those who truly actually listen and enjoy death metal. Nonetheless, there are good death metal bands these days; so, no, we do not think it will die away with time, but also one band would not be for a long run. In our opinion, bands here in Nepal do not exist for a long period because of them completely running in losses. Their passion drives them for a few years, then playing for free barely getting a bottle of water on stage or anything at all is quite demotivating, and an average band reaches the state of bankruptcy and they slowly start to fade away.
Please name your favorite album of all time, and why is that so special to you?
Anubodh: Spawn of Possession – “Noctambulant,” because it is tricky, rapid, precise, full of surprises, with dazzling guitar work and amazing drum fills. I admire the unpredictability. Also SOP inspired me heavily for my vocals pace. So this album is very precious to me.
Niken: Blotted Science – “The machinations of dementia.”
Jeson: Archspire – “The Lucid collective,” because of getting to learn a lot from the drumming.
Prashant: Black Crown Initiate – “The Wreckage of Stars,” because of its amazing compositions. It has got all the elements of metal in it. In my opinion, it is one of the most progressive death metal albums. Everything on it is top notch: the guitars, the bass and the drums, everything. And it is like every time you listen to the album you come across something new, and something interesting. This album never disappoints.
Any upcoming shows/tours?
With Funerus (US) on September 11! Here is the event page.