Nucleus have teamed up with Macabra to bring us brand new music fresh off of their 2016 Full lengths Sentient (which came in at #6 on our Top 15 last year) and …to the Bone. Both bands bring their own brand of twisted death metal on this split entitled Fragmented Self. These new tracks are almost definitely the best either band has put out to date. We dug them so much we hooked up with Nucleus guitarist/vocalist, Dave Muntean and conducted this interview in space while orbiting Ceres.
album art by Dan Seagrave
First and foremost, how are you doing? Now that Sentient has been out for over a year how do you feel about the success and feedback received on it?
Dave: Doing great! The response to Sentient was better than we ever expected. At that point we were still used to just selling copies to people in Chicago and maybe mailing a handful out of town, so it’s very cool to flip that and have out of town sales grow bigger than local.
Your full length was released through Unspeakable Axe Records, how did you get hooked up with them and do you plan to continue to work with them?
Dave: I believe it was Bill Hansen, who does a radio show (KFAI Roar of the Underground) up in Minnesota, who heard or EP Hegemony and sent it along to Unspeakable Axe. Eric from Unspeakable Axe contacted us interested in doing a release. We are already working on the next full length for UAR. Really happy to be on the label, really solid set of bands on there.
How did you end up working with Macabra? Do you have any previous connection with that band?
Dave: Mark Riddick(Who does all the instrumentation for Macabra) sent us an email. He really dug Sentient and was interested in working with us. It was originally going to be something like 1 song each, maybe a cover too, and then sort of just expanded into a 3 song each thing. In that process I had the idea of the story that bridges the 3 songs together and made our side a little concept, which then turned into being a prequel that sets up our next album. That’s why the songs flow into each other, they’re meant to be one continuing story. So the next album is now going to be a concept album too.
On Sentient I know that some of the songs were influenced by books and movies, for example Cantos is based off of the book Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Are any of the songs on the split based off of anything or are the songs related in anyway? I was sorta getting that vibe from the lyrics.
Dave: The songs are one continuous story, but unlike a lot of the songs on Sentient its not based on any one book. I kind of scrapped together some ideas from multiple books and other media I like, which kind of expanded as it went. I already have the outline for the album that follows it done. I actually ended up writing all the working song titles and track order before I even started writing it. So when I go into writing each song I have an idea of what its about and a framework of how it sound based on the theme and its place in the track listing.
What is the current progress on the next full length and/or anymore new Nucleus music?
Dave: The album is mostly done writing. One full song left to write, and two half songs, the rest is all finished at least in a rough draft state. We always make small changes here and there once we actually learn it together at practice. We’ve finished learning the first track on the album together already, minus the lyrics. After hearing that I’m super excited to finish the rest of it and get to recording, but that’ll take a bit of time.
In the track “Fragment,” there are some almost black metal sounding vocals, as well as doom metal like chanting in there as well. Then in “assimilation” there is once again a doom metal vibe going on. This is more prominent than what was heard on Sentient, is this something you think we will be hearing more out of Nucleus?
Dave: If you are talking about the high wails in Fragment, I actually did the same vocals for 2 lines in the song Starflyer on Sentient. That mostly came from me joking around at practice trying to do Burzum screams. I definitely plan on having the chanting type vocals continue to pop up occasionally. I think we’ve always had a bit of doom stuck in once in a while, with small sections on multiple songs on Sentient. Assimilation ended up how it was mostly because it felt right for the section of the story that progresses through the 3 songs. The layout of the lyrics was set out and going really slow for just felt right for what that was about. We might not have a full out song like that often, but definitely sections within songs could hit a similar style.
Once again there is another excellent album cover for you guys done Dan Seagrave, how involved in the creative process were you on this? Tell me anything interesting about it.
Dave: Macabra’s album art for To The Bone… was the artwork done immediately after ours by Seagrave. The split art was just a combination of the two ideas merged into one. Dan Seagrave actually posted a photo of all 3 side by side, with the split art in the center, which is a pretty cool image to look at. When we did Sentient, we gave him free reign, mostly just gave him the album name and the general theme. I tend to like to let artists do whatever feels right with as little input from me as possible, I feel like we’ve gotten some cool things that way.
What is your favorite Seagrave album cover?
Dave: Trying to not put one over another based on how much I like the music, haha, but one of my favorites are Malevolent Creation – The Ten Commandments. Just the whole world just ripping itself apart in front of the figure at the center. Although I have to say Sentient came out so good, its definitely one of my favorite pieces from him, which I’m super proud of.
What are you currently digging as far as music goes (current favorite album of the year?) are there any books, shows, or movies you’ve been enjoying lately?
Dave: I’ve been really bad at keeping up with new stuff this year, but I have been jamming the new Undergang which just came out, the new Ascended Dead, and the killer demo from Mortiferum.
I have a never ending list of books I want to read, a whole bookcase of just Sci-fi. I’m trying to push my way through the Culture series Ian M. Banks, while jumping off between books to try and read some random other ones, like The Library at Mount Char which I just finished recently.
Any more big plans for Nucleus this year?
Dave: We have a few shows lined up yet to be announced, as well as playing the Full Terror Assault open air fest in Illinois in September. Other than that we are trying to lay low and work on the next album so we can record it as soon as possible. It’s very close to finished writing, and we’ve already started learning the songs at practice. Really excited about whats done so far!
Photograph by John Mourlas
Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the wise?
Dave: Hey, he tried to preserve himself from the inevitable death due to the Rule of 2 and the apprentices lust for power, tried to be all buddy buddy, go at it as two masters. Shoulda slept with one eye open.
Stream the full split here