Hi guys, how are you doing up there in Ireland? I'd like to start this interview knowing a bit more about the band, as I'm a big fan of Epic Doom Metal and I was totally surprised to discover Mael Mórdha, which I didn't knew before. Can you tell us a bit about the name of the band, why did you choose this style and what happened since your beginnings?
The band was originally called Uaigneas (the Irish word for “Loneliness”) but as the number of members grew it really didn’t seem appropriate so I shelved the Uaigneas idea and came up with Mael Mórdha (pronounced Male Moor-ah) or I should say he came to me as I didn’t choose him to call the band after. I was trying to find a name that would be more suitable than Uaigneas when one day the words Mael Mórdha just came to me. It wasn't for another six months after that when I discovered that Mael Mórdha was a person's name and that he was the King of Laighin at Cluain Tarbh (Clontarf). Once the connection was made between the man and the band a whole load of songs started to base themselves around him which is rather strange. For me I suppose he expresses humanity. If you want to see why, read the lyrics of the songs “Cluain Tarbh” and “Gealtacht Mael Mórdha“. It'll give you a good feel for the tragedy that is man.
As far as recordings go we have The Path to Insanity Ep (1999) , The Inferno Spreads Ep (2000), Caoineadh na nGael Ep (2003), Cluain Tarbh Ep (2003), Cluain Tarbh Split 7” (with Primordial) (2005), Cluain Tarbh Cd (2005) and Gealtacht Mael Mórdha Cd (2007)
If there's one thing I liked since the very first moment I listened to your album, this was the gaelic/celtic influence and the way it reminded me to what Solstice used to do, as they are one of my favourite Doom Metal bands. So, what can you tell us about those influences? Do you agree about the similitudes with the english band?
I think most of us in Mael Mórdha really like Solstice. For me the Halcyon EP is their best work (musically but maybe the class way the Vinyl was put together by Black Tears all those years ago helped too). Solstice have some great melody, which is something that many bands don't have any of, along with a fine heavy guitar sound (which is something we also have in common) so I suppose it's fair to say that the feel of both bands at time may make one remind you a little of the other.
The title of the album, “Gealtacht Mael Mórdha”, is in gaelic too, so I'd like to know about its meaning. Your lyrics seem to be inspired by your culture too, but, for example, “Godless comune of Sodom” seems to make reference to a biblical subject, so are there perhaps other influences?
The album title means the Madness of Mael Mórdha and is related to have we imagined this doomed king of the Laighin may have been feeling as his kingdom was ulimately taken from him. But with regards to the lyrics, yes they are (as with all Mael Mórdha songs) inspired by our culture and whether the Irish "pagans" like it or not our culture was quite strongly influenced by Christianity as and from the fouth century. I know that the trend is for this subject to be immediately spat at and blamed for the woes of mankind but facts are facts. Christainity has heavily influenced every country in Europe from Russia to Iceland. What people choose to do now is one thing but pretending that their country is more pagan than another or that they rejected Christianity etc. is just childish. Christianity at the turn of the first millenium was power and every king wants power (for further insights into this the history of King/Saint Olaf of Norway is a good place to start)
The cover of “Gealtacht Mael Mórdha” reminded me, in some way, to the kind of covers used by Absu on their last albums, but because of the celtic symbols on it(as for it's beauty). Can you explain us a bit the meaning of it and its relation with the lyrics too?
The artwork was done by a fella by the name of Vasilis Zicos (you can find more of his work at http://www.elfwood.com/art/v/a/vasilis/vasilis.html). We have worked with him for the last two albums.The whole cover concept for "Gealtacht" started off by me sending him a passage that I wrote for the inside of the first album and asked him to draw what he felt it described. While he was doing that he did some other sketches, one of which was a Minatour but done in a more Irish theme. The work he did for the first album was just ink. We then took some of those ideas and brought them a stage further for Gealtacht Mael Mórdha which he insisted on doing in colour.
The scene is describing Mannanán Mac Lír (the Irish God of the Sea) distroying the Norse longships in the middle of the Battle of Cluain Tarbh which is a far more fitting discription than claiming the tide swept their ships away. This modern world of science likes to explain everything with fact and laugh at the idea that other forces are at play in our world.
I use to make a question about the national Metal scene of the bands I interview, and in your case I think we can't speak of a large one, but it has some bands with a high quality, like Primordial, Geasa, Abaddon Incarnate or Mourning Beloveth. What can you tell us about it? Why do you think many of them use the celtic/irish folk in their music/lyrics? Is it so important for you?
Well for starters there are loads of bands here it's just the fanbase that is small. The reason that our scene is not as well known as, say, the Norwegian Scene is because record companies have an allergy to signing Irish metal bands. Out of all the bands in Ireland most of them do not bother with the use of Gaelic/Irish influences in thier music and as a case in point two of the four bands you mentioned in your question (Abaddon Incarnate and Mourning Beloveth) fit into that catagory of Irish band. I can't speak about other bands' motives but for us the influence of our culture is very important to us as it has made us (for better or worse I don't know) what we are.
So, what can we expect from you in the upcoming future? Is there any new release preparated, perhaps any other EP or split? Have you thought about making some concerts or any tour outside your country?
We're in the middle of writing some new tunes at the moment. It's not easy when you have five lads in a room trying to organise themselves in such a way that they are all playing from the same hymnsheet (so to speak) but we are not doing too badly. There's about three tunes that are nearly there but we've a bit of a way to go yet before there's anything ready for recording. In the meantime we have played a few foreign festivals and have a few more in the pipline between now and the end of the year (Dutch Doom Days has now been confirmed).
Are quietly discussing a few little tours with some other like-minded bands with a view to giving them a crack early next year.
You seem to like vynil as, apart of your two albums, you have five EP's, including a split with Primordial, but your albums have not been released on that format, only on CD until now. Didn't you like to do it?
I don't think that we have a preference one over the other. Shit, I grew up with tapes. Got my first cd when I didn't even have a cd player. We might re-release something in Vinyl later on but there's no plans to do so at the moment
Still about the irish scene, are there any new outfits that surprised you lately? Going to the past, and being a big fan of Thin Lizzy, don't you think they deserved a lot more recognition because of their big influence on the NWOBHM? Have you visited the statue of Phil Lynott?
For Ruin would be one that are really doing well at the moment also Mass Extinction, who have created a new scene which they have dubbed "Dublin Bay Area Thrash Metal"
There are very strong rumours that Thy Sinister Bloom (probably the first Doom Band in Ireland) have reformed. They have created some of the most unique and miserable music ever (not just in Ireland but everywhere).
As far as Thin Lizzy goes, the older rockers and bikers in the 70's and 80's still have the height of respect for Thin Lizzy as do most middle aged people here. Phil Lynott would be mentioned in the same breath as Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore. It's the younger generations though who have no respect and that's terrible. I go quite frequently to Greece. Every bar I go into will play music from any of the aforementioned gentlemen at least five or six times a night yet in Ireland we all want to be American. Sad but such is life.
Some short choosing ones:
- Candlemass or Saint Vitus: Candlemass - Important for me when having a discussion with someone about how Traditional Doom morphed into Doom Death. For me Candlemass was the missing link
- Politics or religion: Both. They're both interesting in how people had the ability to become fanatical about them, and manipulate/be manipulated by them
- Earth or fire: Earth - I like gardening. It keeps me calm(er)
- Peace or war: War is exciting but peace is safer - Peace.
- Past or future: Past - The Future angers and depresses me more. I don't want to die but people are fools and we don't deserve the world we live in.
Ok guys, we arrived to the end of the questions, and it has been a pleasure to make them to you. I will try to find your first album, as I liked so much this one. Go on and add anything you want, good luck!
Thanks for the questions and sorry about the delay in getting back to you with the answers. Busy summer and all.
Rob - Mael Mórdha
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.