Interview with Dom R. Crey from Nothgard about the dramatic album “Malady X”
Hi Dom. I'm glad to have this interview with you about your latest album "Malady X" finally. Well, you already had a couple of tours for the album "Malady X" and played many shows, right? How did you have good times at each of the shows?
Dom: Hey Kumi, yes this is right. Yes we had fantastic times. We started the "Malady X "era last autumn with our release shows where our friends from Parasite Inc. supported us. Right after we toured Europe with Omnium Gatherum & Wolfheart.
One of your tour buddies Kai from Parasite Inc told me you are a great guitar player even at live shows, Dom. Is it a hard thing to keep doing perfect for both of lead guitarist and singer at the same time?
Dom: That is great to hear and I can return the compliment to Kai. So honestly it isn’t so hard to play accurate and sing at the same time. At least not anymore. Like everything it is a matter of practice and after years of doing that, I am capable to do it properly. The only thing is that I am stuck at the microphone.
Haha, that's great. Well, this is the first interview with Nothgard on kumo666.com. So, could you tell us about the history of the band?
Dom: Nothgard was found in late 2008/2009 by our former drummer Toni and me. Since then we had some line-up changes. I mean… we were about 17 when we officially started Nothgard and people leave cities for their studies, get other interests and so on. By the way: Some of the songs for the debut “Warhorns of Midgard” were composed even earlier. "Warhorns -" was released in 2011 and we were very proud youngsters as you can imagine. Later, in 2014 we unleashed “Age of Pandora” which was already way more into Melodic Death Metal than the debut. We continued that path with “The Sinner’s Sake” in 2016 and defined it in 2018 with “Malady X”.
So, let’s focus on your latest fabulous release, "Malady X". How do you satisfy about its outcome?
Dom: Personally I am satisfied. We got great reviews, hundred thousands of views on the 3 videos and great shows. But what matters most for us – even if this was the most intense album process I enjoyed it the most. We did everything from composing to intense meetings about marketing activities with our management & label, to creating the content of the boxes, videos and on. I was really involved in everything and this makes me very proud.
I feel there is some demon-based consistent story through the album. Is it a conceptional album actually?
Dom: Well the album is not really about demons but about our human behavior. About the Malady we humans spread. So yeah… somehow it’s about demons. More or less all our albums follow one special basic idea. The different songs on this album relate to this idea but are not depending on each other. Some bands do conceptional albums where you have to read the lyrics from track#1 otherwise you don’t get track#2. This is different here.
Nothgard’s music always has some distinctive universe like a creepy and evil theater in a huge scale. It seems "Malady X" is an expanded version of that. What did you get inspired for the theme of "Malady X"?
Dom: The intention behind "Malady X" is diverse. On the one hand there is our all surrounding. We live in a time of different kinds of wars. Economically, politically and religious. I already mentioned that Malady stands for a sickness. But Malady is more. It comes from the term “Disease X”. A hypothetical disease what scientists mention and do research about but nobody will be able to heal that disease because nobody really knows where it comes from and who spreads it. So we interpreted it ourselves. Beside the mentioned wars there is also the topic of the mankind, which is responsible for all this. On the other hand "Malady X" is a personal album. All lyrics are based on either real stories I was told from people or experienced myself. And I am simply not the kind of person to sing about happy things because fantastic things are simply fantastic and don’t need to be shown to everybody, meaning: be happy if everything is fine but try to change bad things and arouse the peoples minds to think about it.
That's very thoughtful! Contrary to your brutal death metal elements, melodies are so vivid and catchy. And orchestrations are fabulous as well. It’s bringing out the cinematic perspective of the album. Is that an important point for you to place great melodies and orchestrations in your songs?
Dom: Yes absolutely. It is how Nothgard sounds and some kind of a trademark. Don’t get me wrong… many bands have orchestral elements but what really matters are all of the elements you combine to create THE SOUND of the band.
And I think the super tight and intensive performance is one of trademarks of Nothgard as well, but it’s standing out with the new album! What is your high emphasis for your individualistic play-style?
Dom: I guess it is the ambition to create something own. And especially for me it has always mattered a lot to have every single guitar riff perfect, every vocal phrase the way I want to have it and there is simply no place for compromises. In my opinion it is easy. Only found a band and produce albums if you have something to tell and show and this requires perfection. If you don’t want to give 110% on every single note then simply leave it. Of course this attitude cause a lot of sacrifices in personal life and time but this is just how we want Nothgard to sound.
As expected, you are a perfectionist, Dom. Awesome. There are three official music videos: "Malady X", "Epitaph" and "Fall Of An Empire" from the album already, right? Basically, you always have too gross scene in your music videos to watch over again, so, "Epitaph" became my fave video without any obvious shocking scene but some epic live atmosphere! How did you manage all those music videos?
Dom: Two of those videos were done with Chris Lim, a producer who has already done the videos for “The Sinner’s Sake”. The video for “Fall of an Empire” was shot in Italy, close to Rome for the sake of this great location. Martina McLean from Sanda Movies produced it and she did a fantastic job. All in all those videos meant many days of work, of course also high expenses but it was worth it.
Who is responsible for the impressive album art? It’s totally appropriate to call “art”, isn’t it?
Dom: Thank you! In general I try to explain my visions to the artwork artist. For three albums we have worked with Peter Sallai from Hungary. So he is responsible for the final and fantastic painted outcome. Peter has worked with many great bands such as Sabaton, Satyricon, and hundreds more.
For more getting into the album, I’d like you to make some tack-by-tack interpretation from musical, technical and lyrical aspects for listeners. So, here we go.
Voyage To Decay (intro)
Dom: "Voyage To Decay" is a typical Nothard intro. It has tons of energetic orchestral arrangements and this time a really choir. The intro, as the name already tells, leads into the first song. We are specially proud on the choir. It was hard work and it was recorded 2 days before the final mixing. It was kind of a puzzle but turned out great.
Dom: "Malady X" is the title track. We have chosen this song as title track because it has the ability to describe the main intention of the whole album as best. You have already heard something about the intention of the album so I will concentrate on the music of this song. It is a fast mid-tempo song, very catchy on the one hand, technical and evil on the other hand with lot of double lead guitars.
Shades Of War
Dom: "Shades Of War" was lyrically inspired by a story I was told from a refugee. About all the shades of war, the evil and the real pain this person felt, when closing the eyes. It was a really meaningful story. I had the feeling to write a song about it. And due to the lyrics this song is pretty heavy and dark. Heavy guitars meet fast drums and harsh vocals.
Guardians Of Sanity
Dom: Probably the catchiest song we have ever done. And the first song where the keyboard was composed before the guitars. It has a modern attempt with some industrial elements also. But no worries… there are still the typical Nothgard elements. The song has also a very groovy rhythm and a Neo-classical solo.
Dom: Definitely one of our favorites. Cathy chorus and big melodic death metal guitars inspired by the good old Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal. "Epitaph" is a song about the own place in this world. Questions of the sense of everything and the question what will really last at the end if we act like we act.
Dom: This song is inspired by the Borgia family and is therefore historically flavored. It has some really cool Hard Rock elements in it. I am especially proud and on old-school solo in this song and the orchestral arrangements which give the whole song an evil touch.
Dom: It is fast, way more modern than "Deamonium I" but of course still in the Nothgard style. A very brutal song with an intense and damn fast, more than one minute lasting guitar solo. When I composed the song I had a bad experience. This experience has to do with betrayal. A betrayal coming from an inner circle of people, what finally led into the idea of a cave full of snakes which just aim to poison you when you don’t expect it.
Devil Will Know
Dom: This one is pretty progressive in it’s arrangement. It combines many different influences like heavy and groovy guitars, modern synthesizer, Neo-classical leads and an acoustic orchestral bridge.
Fall Of An Empire
Dom: "Fall of an Empire" is a song what fits in probably every millennium, century or decade. Politically inspired you will find yourself surrounded by shredding guitars flavored with enough aggressivity. But still catchy what you will figure out during the chorus.
Herald of Death
Dom: "Herald Of Death" is a personal song. It is about a dear person who has almost lost everything in his live. With every loss this person tended to loose his shine. Like a diamond what was sparkling once but turned into a raw and dreary peace of compressed coal. We combined this idea with the Celtic/Irish myth of the Banshee. A female kind of ghost what is weeping in front of your door. When you see her you know that a beloved person will die. This is also the reason why this song is way more dark and has a psychedelic flavor at some parts. Before the end of the song you will hear a cool guitar solo which has some Irish tones in it.
Black Horizon (instrumental)
Dom: A song what we have always wanted to put on an album. So don’t get me wrong. It is a brand new song but we have never had a 100% instrumental track. We also have the mentioned choir in this song. Basically you can say that "Black Horizon" is some kind of an outro before the bonus tracks kick off.
Perfect! Thank you. Could you talk about the gorgeous guests as well? How could you bring them into the album?
Dom: Yeah of course. There were a plenty of great guests. First of all there is Jen Majura. She plays in Evanescence nowadays. She is a very dear friend since we played together in Equilibrium. She did a lot of backing vocals and choirs on the album. But as we are kind of melodic death metal band the female vocals are not in the focus of course, except in "Deamonium I". And this is where I can mention the next great guest. Noora Louhimo from Battle Beast. She also did a fantastic job. I simply asked her. This is the whole story 😊
Of course we were really happy when she agreed to do the guest vocals. All other musicians on the album are friends who helped us out on some parts and I would not like to miss one on the album.
My most favorite song in the album is "Serpent Hollow". It’s fast, aggressive and have killer guitar solos, plus it has some Arch Enemy atmosphere. Which song is your favorite?
Dom: I guess "Serpent Hollow" is also one of my favorite songs but there is also "Malady X" and "Guardians of Sanity". Especially live the latter is great to perform.
You added 2 bonus tracks to the album: "Eye For An Eye" and "Ninja"(Europe cover), and I found some interesting common-point in these songs: Japan! "Eye For An Eye" is the song about Revenge of Ako Warriors, right? I was so excited when I found it from its lyrics! That’s a part of our history and programs based on the story are still shown on Japanese TV every year-end. How did you know the story about Ako warriors?
Dom: Yes you are absolutely right. I have to admit that I was fascinated by Japan and it’s people when I have visited the country the first time. Sometimes I really dislike the attitude many people have nowadays. I can only speak for the western society as I grew up here and live here. Many people lost simple but honest virtues what are absolutely essential in my opinion. And what I have experienced in Japan was simply what I am missing at home sometimes. So I started to read more about the Japanese History and read about the Ako warriors and finally decided to write a song about it.
Wow, that's exciting to hear! Well, why did you choose "Ninja" for a cover? Did you enjoy yourself to record the song?
Dom: I have chosen Ninja for a simple reason. I like Europe but I love their early works and in my opinion especially this song from the “The Final Countdown” album is absolutely underrated. By the way: Also their self-titled debut is fantastic. There are many neoclassical influences and John Norum is simply a fantastic guitarist. What also matters why we have chosen “Ninja” is the fact, that it fits really good to Nothgard. We could rearrange the Synth sounds to orchestral stuff and could work with the Neo-classical stuff in the song what we also use in our own composing stuff.
By the way, you already played a couple of shows in Japan in 2017 but it was with Equilibrium. Do you have any interest to do Japan Tour with Nothgard in the future?
Dom: We hope so damn much to come to Japan with Nothgard. It is one of our big goals! Recently we have had a meeting with our booking agent and we try to come over asap.
Do you have any message to leave for your old and new fans in the world? Thank you so much for your time for this interview anyway!
Dom: First of all thank you for this really good questions! What I wanna say is just one thing. Thanks for all the support we have received over the years and especially for our latest album “Malady X”. We are still happy as little children if we receive nice feedback and this is the best thing in the world. We hope to tour your country as soon as possible. Stay heavy \m/
Dom R. Crey
Dom R. Crey on Vocals, Lead Guitar, Studio Keyboard
Felix Indra on Drums
Skaahl on Rhythm Guitar
Nico Kolja on Bass, Backing Vocals