The Band: Mausoleum Gate
Answers by: Count LaFey (guitar), Oscar Razanez (drums)
Here in Metalbrothers.es we review hundreds of albums every year, but few bands get the inspiration and high artistic level that MAUSOLEUM GATE achieve in their new album “Into a Dark Divinity” (out on September 8th). I was lucky enough to talk to these great musicians and enjoy their passion and commitment with their project. Moreover, they disclose some of the secrets for composing such great songs, you just need to follow the steps, if you can…
Your debut with the self-titled album “Mausoleum Gate” set the pillars of your own style and was big acclaimed. How do you feel about it 3 years later?
Count L.F: There are some things that needed to be improved but that’s only natural progression. I am very pleased with the album and its response. It shows the band at that time and is a very important part of our journey.
Oscar Razanez: I haven’t listened that album recently, to get some distance with it… But last time I heard it, it sounded really good and I was surprised! It is really important piece of Mausoleum Gate and our own musical history. Successful album overall!
I listened to it some days ago again and I was flying high with it. Last year you released a single with 2 good songs. Something you had in the drawer or new material to make the fans quite in the wait for the new album?
Count L.F: Well Demon Soul was actually “in the drawer” as it was arranged from an old song of ours. Metal and the might was result from the same sessions as part of the Into a dark divinity material so that was new material. Of course it was part of a journey towards the full-length and those songs made a good couple for 7’’. It would have been hard to make them match to that full-length dynamics that we had in mind.
Oscar Razanez: Those two songs did not fit the concept we had with the upcoming album, and we thought they form a cool single. So it did.
Now you are releasing your second album "Into A Dark Divinity", the confirmation that MG is one of the most inspired bands of the heavy metal and rock scene
Count L.F: Well I’m pleased to hear that! I mean we basically make music to please ourselves but obviously it’s great to see that so many people share and like our vision. I think this is a very strong album and it shows clearly how the band has developed.
Oscar Razanez: Thanks!! I think we are at least one of the most unique new bands in the current scene.
I suscribe it word by word, Oscar. With "Into A Dark Divinity" we get 6 songs, the same as in your debut album, but this time it seems you have unleashed all your imagination and compositions skills as we find more long tracks than before?
Count L.F: Yeah well it’s all about the album dynamics. At the early stage of the process it was clear that second album should be different than the debut. No fast opener, no two epic songs at the end of both album sides etc. Actually the longer songs just came out – they were not planned and that’s the way it should be. All should come out very naturally.
Oscar Razanez: I have always thought that slower and more epic songs is the right thing for us. Other guys say that there has to be some faster rock songs, of course I understand their opinion. But I don’t find them musically so interesting. So this album is a democratic mix on this and that, wrapped together in the best way we could do! And we are happy with it.
How do you start composing a song of 10 minutes that keeps the listener on every second?
Count L.F: I don’t. Everything comes out from good melodies in vocal lines or in riffs. If the song comes out to be long then it will be. If it doesn’t – then it won’t. This time I also used a bit different angle in the title song “Into a dark divinity”: The acoustic part was kinda song itself and more strictly arranged but the solo part I had only melody line which you can here in the start. It developed from that. My method in this was something like modal jazz although instead of mode there’s a melody to where solos are played. And in my opinion we managed very nice on this one. The basis is kinda sketch where the solos add colours and lines.
Oscar Razanez: Usually Count has his idea for a song, and we start to play it. How it turns from there, is just trying different things and playing. Long songs are not usually intended to be long, it is just a natural way of things.
I friend told me, if theses guys were born in the 70s or early 80s they would have the status of a big band such as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden. What do you think?
Count L.F: Wow! That’s truly a compliment! We can’t see that anymore can we? But it would have been a nice to see what would have happened!
Oscar Razanez: Haha, thanks a lot to your friend! These days I think it is nearly impossible to be a “big rock band”, you must go to day work etc, and don’t have time to rehearse that much which would be needed to fully be a great as a band.
Yes, probably that concept of big band is a thing from the past. Who is more responsible in the composition tasks inside the band? Count?
Count L.F: I compose most of the material and write lyrics. On this album –Into a dark divinity- there is more group effort. Oscar Razanez and Kasperi Puranen wrote Burn the witches at dawn and Kasperi and I wrote Horns. Also we must remember that Wicked Ischanius makes his own keyboard parts and V.P Varpula is also arranging his vocals and harmonies.
Oscar Razanez: Besides what Count said, Wicked Ischanius and I take the most part in producing and recording the band.
I love the freshness in you music, both the atmospheres and the psychedelic elemtens make your music so especial
Count L.F: I think our music is very atmospheric both sound-wise and melody-wise. I think more dominant keyboards bring a lot of psychedelic element to the songs.
Oscar Razanez: That is what we are trying to do; I think the atmosphere is one of the most important things in music. Psychedelic elements come naturally, we dig a lot of 70’s prog, and myself as a drummer I have more progressive touch than metal haha!
A great team. I recognize that Varpula has a tremendous stream of voice, but he also leaves space to the rest of the members to jam on, what it’s very important in the design of your music. Usually he claims more time under the spotlights of he accepts his role with good spirit?
Count L.F: Yes I think he does. I mean the way he nailed vocals to this album was amazing. All that harmonies and stuff – great! Also when we play live his role is significant. We all have roles in this band and it works fine that way. Also the roles are not cages so everyone can take part to any other part of the process. I don’t take a role in recording, mixing etc. because Oscar Razanez and Wicked Ischanius have a very precise vision about that and our visions are alike.
Oscar Razanez: Most of the time we rehearse without a singer, and naturally that leads a lots of jamming! It is always a great moment to hear the song with vocals, and Varpula does magnificent work all the way.
Awesome! To end the circle, you always have that wink to the NWOBHM sound that was so important for this music
Count L.F: NWOBHM ignited this band. it was a starting point where we began to widen the spectrum and still remains important influence.
Oscar Razanez: NWOBHM is undeniably really important thing; in that time there was really no boundaries or rules in making heavy metal music! We like to think that way too.
Cruz Del Sur Music has an awesome roster of bands in his label, but with you I suppose they must feel as they found the gold ring of Tolkien. Any special treatment from them? Christmas baskets? Tickets for any event or whatever J?
Count L.F: Heh..i haven’t seen any but I am very pleased the way Cruz has treated us. Enrico has done great job for the band and that is what counts the most.
Oscar Razanez: Like Count said!
The artwork of "Into A Dark Divinity" follows, fortunately, the same trend as previous recordings, with that psycho and fantastic air to it
Count L.F: Well Timo Raita –our artist- is amazing. His role is very important to make Mausoleum Gate universe visible. I’ve said this before but he is like Derek Riggs to this band. Very important part. And once again he made amazing job.
Oscar Razanez: Indeed like that! I take care of our layouts and designs, and we work really tight with Timo to get the best possible result for the records. The new albums cover art was in fact the first one which is painted AFTER the songs were composed, so Timo could listen to the demo version of the album while painting the art. I believe this gave the artwork ever more power and it expresses the music just perfectly.
What are the lyrics about?
Count L.F: Mostly they deal with magic, occult and demonic themes. Also some apocalyptic things can be found. Lyrics and music got play together. I can’t imagine Mausoleum Gate song with “I miss and love you”-type of lyrics. It would be like meatballs covered with sugar or something.. hah!
Oscar Razanez: Count handles the most of the lyrics, I am bad with texts. I just want them to sound good haha!
Love and missing… not the way, yeah! Do you like playing live or you are more “indoor” musicians?
Count L.F: Both are very pleasing to me. When you hear finished song the feeling is amazing. Also when you see the crowd sing along your songs in gig that is also amazing.
Oscar Razanez: Performing to the audience is the best thing to do! But I find the recordings and albums more important, they will live forever in the history. So fifty-sixty!
So, any tour programmed?
Count L.F: No. We must see how the album goes out and what will the response be like. After that we know more.
Oscar Razanez: Nothing to announce yet. We will see what happens after the album is released.
Has anything changed in your lives since the beginning of your adventure or you are or do the same things as ever before?
Count L.F: A lot have changed in my life and all is not for good but this band is a sort of beacon that keeps me around. it gives me strength and keeps me carry on as music does in general. I just visited at our rehearsal place for a long time and get some ideas together. that felt absolutely great!
Oscar Razanez: I have pretty much been the same all the time: going to work and listening heavy metal… But I want to always have some projects going on, and nothing beats that when you get new music done, or released.
How do you imagine Mausoleum Gate after 15 or 20 years?
Count L.F: I hope there’s many new bands that sound their own and perhaps they have got the idea for that from listening to Mausoleum Gate. To make music that has influence is my biggest dream.
Oscar Razanez: Can’t really imagine! Hopefully with many more albums, and each one even better!
Thank you very much guys and congratulations for another outstanding album!
Count L.F: Thank you. Get the album, put out the lights and drift Into a dark divinity!