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July 2012 (e-mail)
Germany's Black Shape Of Nexus is a 6 member two guitar sludge onslaught formed in 2005. The released a demo in 2006, followed by two split vinyl with Kodiack & Crowskin, a live album on both cassette & CD & two studio albums released on CD & vinyl. Their newest release, on CD & vinyl, is 2012's Negative Black. The new release has been credited as going into deeper levels of despair than previously & redefining extreme doom metal, with comparisons to early Mastadon.
I had their new album sent to me to review & I was immediately enthralled with it. It was long, but didn't feel like it. It was sludge metal, but showed quite an array of diversity that I typically didn't hear within the field, let alone on a single release. It was odd like the genre is, but not alienating. I thought it interesting enough to take advantage of the opportunity & ask some questions to the band. I was happy to have three members respond to my modest questions.
Thanks to Dave Brenner & Earsplit PR for the constant stream of new bands to my inbox & giving me the opportunity to interact.
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AJ: You advertise yourself as a sludge band, which you undoubtedly are, but what is your definition of sludge rock? Is there anyone in the sludge genre that particularly inspires you guys in the band? Do you even listen to other bands in the genre? I ask because I hear the unmistakable sludge rhythm, but yet bubbling up in it are experimental guitars & metal-esque growling vocals, pushing you guys beyond the typical sludge sound ... if there is a typical sound.
JAN: I don´t think we are a typical sludge band. For me, sludge is just a fucked up version of the rhythm & blues thing. First, we aren´t that fucked up compared to bands like BUZZOVEN, second, our musical approach is a little bit wider, combining various influences that aren´t that sludgy ... Of course, I like to listen to other sludge bands, my current favorite at the moment still is ACCEPT DEATH & our bass players other band GHOST OF WEM.
STEF: I don't think either that we're particularly a sludge band. It just evolves, perhaps as a matter of fact that we certainly care about what we do, but not if it fits into certain boundaries of a genre. That would be a nightmare.
MALTE: I fully agree with Jan & Stef. We're definitely not a typical sludge band. But every one of us is heavily influenced by that genre & is feeling strongly connected to the ideas & feelings behind the music. What I think we have in common is the raw sound & some bluesy undertones.
AJ: How do you see the band's musical changes since 2005, re: in terms of where you were & want you wanted to achieve starting out versus where you are now with the new album?
JAN: I think the development of our sound came quite naturally without any kind of master plan how to sound. As the line-up grew, the possibilities of sound grew. Today´s sound is maybe something like a melting pot for our each members musical preferences & approaches.
STEF: For me personally, it evolved really into more than just playing music I like. As for the idea we had - achieving the live sound on a recording - I think we worked good on this, but it's hard to match & I don't know if it's really possible to achieve this 100%.
MALTE: Our aimed achievements are do have a very personal/individual character. So we're talking about expression, improvement of musical abilities, sound & meeting people. That & a couple of beers.
AJ: The album is 80 minutes long with '10000 qF' being an awesome 20 minutes! I listened to it a couple times without interruption. Never did it ever feel like an overly long listen or that its too long. It is common for music critics to say 'too many songs.' As a listener I stayed engaged. Did you aim for such a long album or did it just naturally happen that way? Do you even worry about the time in this era of short itunes attention spans?
JAN: Ha ha, the album definitely is a nightmare for every short attention span. Maybe something like an antagonist to nowadays hectic times with a unwritten more in less time attitude. Some critics already argued about the album being too long, but for us it felt right. We had the songs written & we didn´t want to sort one out, just to shorten the playing time. In addition, the album would have been long nonetheless even with one or two songs less. So long, that we had to do a second LP for the vinyl version anyway. With some songs less we would have been trapped in the situation of being left with one blank side of the second LP. Surely we could have done some fancy screen printing or etching on side D, but in our opinion some more music is much more worth, than a blank side. It´s music, what it´s all about, not some fancy gimmicks, which nowadays seem to be more important, with bands having various limited colored editions, pre-order editions with some crappy gimmicks, screen printing & hand signed piles of shit.
STEF: It's like Jan said, even when we recorded we didn't really know. Some stuff, "RMS" & "Illinois" in particular, evolved from ideas we had while still recording some of the material. We never had in mind that the recordings shouldn't be too long. It just happened, & we used all we had since this documents the recording process.
MALTE: Meanwhile I'm very sad that the last song "Negative Black" does not get the attention it deserves just because many listeners are obviously exhausted at that point.
AJ: One of the things that stands out for me making you sound different from other bands is how it sounds like a single instrument. It's not just a guitar with a rhythm section but all the instruments in unison creating this wall of sound. I picture it as this big monster with a rolling belly & a body that can't stay in one shape! Also, every song sounds different. What is your compositional process?
JAN: Usually there are two ways how a song evolves. First, one member already has a riff in mind & the songs evolves in the rehearsal space over the time. The other way is a song evolving out of something like a jam session at the rehearsal space.
MALTE: The compositional process bases on chaos. That's it.
AJ: Can you give my readers a bit of the history of the band?
JAN: The band started 2005, when Geb & I joined to create some slow stuff. Ralf also quickly joined, being around at the local spot at every show we also were. His musical taste fit, so we had a deal. I got in contact with our drummer Marco, through an obscure message board dealing with even more obscure horror DVDs. He had the same musical taste & by chance even lives in the same town. After Michael on bass, Malte later joined on vocals. Lately Stef replaced Michael on bass.
MALTE: To me the past years with BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS do not feel like history. We released a few records - played a few shows & festivals - had good times - had bad times. Pretty
normal I think.
AJ: Black Shape of Nexus! Where does this come from or what does it mean?
JAN: It´s taken from a song title of UK Hardcore punk band CANVAS. Great band, as lot´s of UK bands of the era. By the way, UK band STALINGRAD totally blew my away when I saw them live ages ago in a little town somewhere in South Germany. Wondering what they are doing nowadays?
AJ: I'm sure everybody asks ... but where do you get the names of your songs?
STEF: On the earlier recordings, the son gtitles just had numbers, which was easy to remember. The song titles from NEGATIVE BLACK mostly came from an blown capacitor of Malte's amplification or other stuff which have to do with amplifiers.
ALL: Aaron, thanks for your interest!