Interview: Matt Wilcock of The Antichrist Imperium

When the album Volume II Every Tongue Shall Praise Satan by UK/AUS based band The Antichrist Imperium came up on our review list, I shouted at my screen, screaming that this review was mine. The musicianship of all four seasoned veterans is stunning, it takes death metal and gives it every possible twist but still maintains the influences of all the experience from previous and existing bands. Yet experimenting with their sound would have been rejected by those said bands. All these musicians have been given artistic freedom to come up with what they wish and painstakingly put together, we have arrived at the masterpiece that is Volume II. I caught up with riff master Matt Wilcock who was all too kind in answering these questions and I hope that this interview intrigues you all to give Volume II a listen as this will be on many album of the year lists and that is something I can guarantee.

First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers at Moshville Times.  You must be extremely proud of Volume II as you are not only making us older fans, like me, relive the glory days but establishing a fan base with new, younger fans. How have the press and the metal world accepted Volume II?

The response to Volume II has been really positive, both in the press and also from people that have taken the time on social media to get in touch with us. We’re really happy with the album and it’s great that there are people out there that are into it.

It’s fair to say that you have artistic freedom when it comes to The Antichrist Imperium. In listening to the album, I heard influences from old school black and death metal to even country music in your songs. Would it be fair to say that there is a lot of negotiating between band members when constructing the songs?

I wouldn’t call it negotiating; collectively we have a huge expanse in our taste of music, which just comes out in the songs. We all love a bit of old school death metal but we’re all equally happy to go off on a “proggy” tangent and see where things end up.

I have to ask how the songs are constructed with the band being split in half on either side of the world.

We bounce ideas around to each other via email, make suggestions/changes and just try and make the songs flow. Sam B and I are both in Australia but we’re an hour flight from each other so for Volume II, we caught up a few times over the year and exchanged riffs and ideas. Dave and I have been playing/writing music together since ’05, be it in the same room or on opposite ends of the world. I think after that amount of time we’ve got a bit of a vibe happening where we sort of know how the other thinks musically. This last album came together a little easier that I actually thought it would have given none of it was played together in a rehearsal room.

You are signed to UK label Apocalyptic Witchcraft and released your second album through them. How did this come to fruition and how has the relationship with the label been so far?

The label’s great, we’re happy that they’re into our stuff enough to put it out there. There’s been a connection with some of the people involved through mine and Sam B’s time playing in The Berzerker, as well as with Dave and Sam L’s Voices releases. We couldn’t be happier with Apocalyptic Witchcraft and hope the relationship continues.

Obviously the logistics will make it hard for there ever to be a live show with The Antichrist Imperium. Is there a part of you that wishes that you can play your back catalogue live?

I would very much like to play live to be honest, logistically it would take some work and unfortunately with life/jobs/mortgages etc… It comes down to money, but fingers crossed in the future we can align the planets and make it happen.

It’s clear that The Antichrist Imperium is no side project. Are all members of the band actively coming up with new ideas for the next release?

Definitely, at the moment Sam B and I are working on ideas and sending material to Dave as it develops. Sam L’s involvement starts as songs take a bit more shape.

Listening to Volume II and your debut, its easy to hear that you are all seasoned musicians and that you use this experience when composing your songs. Does it still amaze you though what other members of the band are coming up with?

It’s really rewarding to hear songs take shape as we each come back with ideas that we’ve been working on independently. The fact that we haven’t developed the songs together in a room means that each step of the way is a bit of a surprise. Both Sams and Dave write the lyrics and all work on blending things together. The arrangements and vocal delivery is rarely what I would imagine it to be when a song is at its beginnings. Dave also has a knack of playing things a bit off kilt, blasting through a mellow section of music or doing his break-beat thing where I wouldn’t expect it. But again, after all these years, I’m starting to understand a little how his mind works!

There seems to be resurgence of old school aesthetics and releasing cassette versions of EP/albums. As Apocalyptic Witchcraft is releasing a special limited edition version of the album, was this something that you always wanted to do when releasing Volume II?

The label released the first album on cassette, CD and vinyl which at the time amazed me. I was fairly oblivious to the fact that cassette was making a bit of a comeback, and that was also my first release on vinyl. It’s great that in a world of streaming and downloads some people are opting for the old school approach. It takes me back to being a kid to have cassettes particularly. We’re proper happy that they opted for the same formats again for Volume II.

Will the Antichrist Imperium only ever be releasing albums or will there be a chance of an EP before the next full length or a lyric video to promote the next album?

With the time, effort and money involved in recording, I couldn’t see us doing an EP, we’d be better off writing a few extra songs and just doing the next album. We’d be interested in doing a video of some sort; it’s just another thing to add to the workload whilst working on recording though so it hasn’t really come up yet.

Can you tell our readers where the album was recorded and mixed? Did it take some time before you got the sound you wanted?

Dave recorded his drums at Hunter Club studio in the UK, guitars and bass were done in Australia at Holes and Corners studio and along with Sam B’s vocals at Beveridge Rd studio, and Sam L was able to track his vocals alone. Dan Abela who mixed the first album did Volume II as well. As far as sound, thankfully, the engineers that we work with are all quite talented and are able to pull the tones we’re after. Dan in particular really knows his stuff and can work with us to achieve what we’re looking for.

How was the lyrical content of the album created? Was this artistic freedom given to your vocalists, were the lyrics written by yourself or was it a mixture of both?

I’m the only one who didn’t contribute lyrics to the album. Dave always has a backlog of harrowing lyrics on offer.  Sam B contributed greatly to this album with his own lyrics, quite often combined with what Dave has presented. Sam L added his own finishing touches to the album, although he had maybe a lesser contribution all round, his performances are an integral part of the sound.

There is obviously a progression in the sound from the self titled debut. Where do you see the Antichrist Imperium going from here?

It’s early days yet, but the material we’ve worked on so far is in a bit of a different direction to Volume II, we’ll have to wait and see.

Thankfully in the last few years you have had a solid line up within the band. What would you say is the reason behind the stable line up and how do you keep it that way? Are there times of disagreements but they are more constructive now than before?

We’ve all played in different bands with each other, done recordings and tours with each other and get along well; I’ve known Sam B for nearly half my life now.  I guess that we probably operate quite well, also maybe it’s because we’re not crammed in a rehearsal room together all the time! 

We all know that you are in bigger more established acts but how far do you see The Antichrist Imperium going?

As long as we all still enjoy creating heavy metal, I’m confident that we’ll get a lot more music out there.

With a name such as The Antichrist Imperium and the fragile state of society consistently on a knife edge, have you had any problems with your name, distribution of your music or criticism on a personal level?

As an underground band, we haven’t had any issues with that sort of thing.  I’m sure if Metallica’s next album referenced the antichrist there might be an uproar, but as far as us, there’s been no problems.  I’m sure there are more important issues with the world than four guys making heavy metal albums!

I thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. A fun question to end this interview.  If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?

All four of us are so different in our tastes, but here’s my top 5 to clear out a party:

  • Marduk – Panzer Division Marduk
  • Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
  • Vital Remains – Dechristianize
  • King Diamond – Abigail
  • Cannibal Corpse – Tomb of the Mutilated

Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?

Thanks for reading, check out our album and keep listening to metal!

Volume II – Every Tongue Shall Praise Satan is out now

The Antichrist Imperium: facebook

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