What does it mean to be heavy?
One good example I can think of is drone metal colossus act Sunn O))) who seem to be doing a fine job of re-defining the term, with their infamous stage shows packed with stacks upon stacks of amplifiers deafening and delighting punters around the world.
But being heavy in an emotional sense can be much harder to pull off, because it is something that has to come from within the very soul of the artist, not their amplifier settings.
His first demos were Doom and Black Metal exercises of despair, but his most recent release ‘Empty’ was where Iran’s Saeed Nasiry dropped the harsh vocals and distortion soaked guitar, thus turning his solo project ‘Necromimesis’ in a more progressive direction.
You can read more of my thoughts on the EP at the bottom of this interview.
DMD: Your last EP came out 3 years ago, is there going to be a new album/EP coming out soon?
Saeed Nasiry: Well, right now I’m not “producing” any music. I’m spending my free time studying music theory in order to become able to compose better music in the future. But I’ll start producing the next album as soon as I can trust my abilities.
DMD: In Empty there are 3 parts: Black, Dark and Grey. Is there a special meaning behind these?
SN: Yes, it does have a meaning. I divided that album into three parts or movements and labeled each of them according to its mood and theme, in order to demonstrate the change that is happening in the mood and style of my music.
DMD: Growing up, what artists & bands influenced and inspired you the most?
SN: The first artists to impress me were great Metal bands. I enjoyed almost all of the subgenres of Metal music. I can name early Anathema, early Katatonia, My Dying Bride, and Saturnus as the bands that influenced my first demo albums which were categorized as Funeral Doom Metal.
As my taste in music expanded, so did the range of artists and musicians that inspired me here’s a short list of musicians currently inspiring me: Radiohead, Björk, Ben Frost, Archive, Nine Inch Nails, Clint Mansell, A Perfect Circle, Depeche Mode, Marilyn Manson, Opeth, Unkle, Massive Attack.
DMD: Are you a self taught musician and producer?
SN: Kind of. I learned the basics of playing electric guitar from a bad teacher. Apart from that, I learned everything else from books/ebooks and online tutorials/courses. I don’t know if you could call that self-taught as I’ve had many teachers, I just haven’t met them in person.
DMD: What equipment and instruments do you use to play music and record?
SN: I bought a used electric guitar 8 years ago, that was my only physical instrument until recently when I started playing Setar (a traditional Iranian instrument) too.
Everything else you hear in my music is software. I’ve done the composing, recording, mixing and mastering in my laptop. And I’ve also used my MP3 Player to record my voice when singing.
DMD: What is your day job?
SN: I’m a university student, studying Psychology.
DMD: Has studying Psychology inspired you to write your music/lyrics?
SN: Well, it has surely affected the way I look at things a lot. But it hasn’t had a direct influence on my music as far as I can tell.
DMD: How is the music scene in Iran? Are there any artists/bands you want to mention?
SN: Iran has a lot of great talents in music, but due to some religious/political issues and censorship, most of the musicians here are working without the support of a recording company, without the opportunity for performing live shows and making money using their music. So most of the talents aren’t becoming actualized, and the ones that do aren’t being heard.
Some great Iranian musicians are:
Ahoora (Indie/Experimental Rock)
Emerna (Atmospheric Black Metal)
Ekove Efrits (Ambient/Depressive Black Metal)
Explode (Progressive Metal with Thrash elements)
Mordab (Progressive Death Metal)
DMD: What does ‘Necromimesis’ mean?
SN: Necromimesis is a very rare psychological disorder in which a person believes he or she is dead and cannot move.
DMD: Does your environment have an affect on your music/lyrics?
SN: Of course, it does. Songs like “Sodomarium” or “In Praise of People”, or “They Will Kill Us” from the earlier demo album are some kind of reaction to my environment and social situation. Other songs are related to specific persons, thoughts or situations.
DMD: Name 10 albums you would take to a desert island.
SN: It’s really hard to choose only 10.
1. A Natural Disaster (Anathema)
2. In Rainbows (Radiohead)
3. Thirteenth Step (A Perfect Circle)
4. Playing the Angel (Depeche Mode)
5. Night is the New Day (Katatonia)
6. The Fragile (Nine Inch Nails)
7. Symbolic (Death)
8. Homogenic (Björk)
9. Lights (Archive)
10. Empty (Necromimesis) (In case I meet someone in the island and need to show off)
DMD: Is the bleak, moody atmosphere you create within your music intentional?
SN: Yes, I really enjoy dark, cold, depressive distressing moody atmosphere in music.
Not as much as I used to, but still, it’s the easiest atmosphere for me to create in music.
DMD: For the next record, do you plan on going back to the harsher vocals like on Ashk?
SN: I’m not sure. I just know that I’m going to work with a wide range of styles for the future albums. And surely if I feel that a song needs harsh sounds and vocals, I’ll use them. I know that shifting to very different styles all the time, probably wouldn’t get you a lasting fan base, but I can’t help it.
DMD: As well as your musical influences, what movies/books/art inspired you?
SN: Film soundtracks have always inspired me, and becoming a composer for films is one of the goals I want to reach in the future. There’s a melody at the end of the track “Resurrection of Doom” that I wrote based on a melody I heard in the film “Eyes Wide Shut”. I was under the influence of that film at that time. David Lynch’s films (and their soundtracks) also have influenced me a lot. There’s a track called “Irréversible” on my latest album which I named after a film with the same name.
DMD: If you could re-write the soundtrack to a film, what film would it be?
SN: The Silence of the Lambs. Not because its original soundtrack isn’t good enough. It’s a masterpiece. I praise Howard Shore’s works. But I like that film’s atmosphere so much that I’d choose it as the first film to write a personal soundtrack for.
DMD: What software on your laptop do you use to produce your music and what do you use to get your drum sound?
SN: I’ve used Steinberg Cubase DAW for the production, and Toontrack’s products for some of the drum sounds.
DMD: If you could collaborate with any artist or producer, who would it be and why?
SN: Björk. Because she’s a genius.
DMD: In the future, would you want to make Necromimesis into a band with more members? or would you prefer to keep it as a solo project with occasional guest musician appearances?
SN: No, I’m not planning to form a band, at least not for the time being. Because I don’t think I’m very good at team work, and well, there are no live shows to need a band for performing them.
My thoughts on Empty: track by track
The fact that the EP has 3 movements named after the dark end of the colour spectrum should be your very first clue that you are not about to hear a release full of ‘Don’t worry, let’s be happy and enjoy life’ songs. Instead you are in for more of a melancholy experience.
Opening track ‘Sodomarium’ [Part I - Black] sets the stage on a sinister note. A giant vapour of dark energy drifts in, engulfing the area like someone letting slip bad news. Not far behind, weaving lines of keyboard sit atop mesmeric drums while Saeed’s murmers “There’s a lot of sick around us, there’s a lot of people” in his best Trent Reznor impression. On ‘In Praise of People’ [Part I - Black ] the drums switch to more of a marching beat, and the previously mentioned ivory lines attain more of a rounded quality. The chorus features a vocal melody that is reminiscent of Roger Waters’ voice from ‘The Wall’ album which also includes some well placed harmonies. Out of nowhere the track then takes an unexpected turn where it suddenly flies off into the void!
Irreversible [Part II - Dark ] begins with chords lurking like dark shadows, and it is here where Hedieh Mehman-navazan’s guest vocals make their appearance, offering a softer texture to the dimly lit ambience. But it is on my favourite track ‘Wasted’ where the sorrow-filled atmosphere hits fever pitch. The lead Piano switches to a melodic line made seemingly from tears. If this was a movie soundtrack, it would certainly be the scene where the leading actor discovers the death of their most beloved friend/family member. Amongst the turmoil, Saeed gravely proclaims “it’s not fair.” Like a match being blown out, the track fades away.
The short intermission of ‘without you its so empty’ as the name suggests, makes a good intro to ‘What the Hell is Going On’ [Part III - Grey] which is one of SN’s many nods to his Funeral Doom roots, a swinging drum pattern loops like a manic depressive stuck in a vicious cycle, while organ sounds weep in the background. Just when you think it’s all over, the chords dripping with effects that appear courtesy of Delaram Sadeghzadeh fall like spring rain on ‘Nothing’ [Part III - Grey].
A reflective end to a soul wrenching and highly emotional piece of work.
It is remarkable that Saeed has only used voice, piano/keyboard and drums to produce an EP of such good audio quality. At times I admit the drums can feel robotic, but they are programmed well enough to lead the song rather than weigh it down.
The EP’s first few tracks have a healthy amount of Alternative/Industrial leanings, while fans of DSBM/Funeral Doom will find something to appreciate here despite the lack of overdriven guitar. The small amount of instrumentation certainly produces enough gloom to put an entire nation into mourning.
To conclude, ‘Empty’ is some very well executed baby steps into a gradual genre cross over, laying some mighty strong foundations for a full length album.
Well worth a listen for fans of: Agalloch, Esoteric, Nocturnal Depression, Steven Wilson and Ulver.