Interview with Dave Muntean of Nucleus

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.

 

fragmented self

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!

band promo John Mourlas
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.

-REH-

Stream the full split here

Nucleus bandcamp

Macabra merch

Interview with Dave Muntean of Nucleus

Abusement Park: Top 15 of 2016

This is one of my most favorite times of the year. It allows us to take a look at all the great releases that have come out this year, and this year there have certainly been a ton of them. What I look at the most in my end of the year list is albums that demanded repeat listens. The order is not the most important thing but I suppose they are ranked. I also think the best part about this list is, literally none of these bands created this music to make this list, or any list for that matter. However, these 15 albums made my list so lets see them.

starspawn15. Blood Incantation – Starspawn (Dark Descent Records)

Who doesn’t love some really weird sci-fi Death metal? From the buzz that this album created when it dropped, it would certainly seem like very few people do not. I think this is an excellent death metal album and garnered many repeat listens. It’s drenched in atmosphere and it will certainly leave you feeling like the stargate. Favorite Track: Virtrification of Blood (Part I)

sewercide14. Sewercide – Immortalized In Suffering (Unspeakable Axe Records)

It should be no surprise that early into this  list there is a release from Unspeakable Axe, they without a doubt were the best label this year. Sewercide are a disgusting Australian death metal band. I’m pretty sure the band members recorded this in the dankest of places. It’s filled to the brim with sweet riffage and the vocal delivery is just superb. Favorite Track: Megalithic Tomb

mizmor-yodh

13. Mizmor – Yodh (Gilead Media)

Yodh by Mizmor is like one part black metal and one part doom metal. It seeps emotion and bad feelings. It also literally screams feelings of catharsis. The one man behind Mizmor makes you feel with this one. There is so much to take in with this album.  It is so good instrumentally, but the vocals really steal the show. They bring so much to this album and it becomes apparent from that first scream in the first track. That scream quite literally put a smile on my face when I heard it. I just knew I was in for a treat with Yodh. Favorite Track: i – Woe Regains My Substance

ustalost12. Ustalost – The Spoor of Vipers (Sibir Records/Gilead Media)

Ustalost is a solo project for W. Skarstad of Yellow Eyes. I could probably leave it there and not have to explain how good of a black metal album this is, but I’ll elaborate a little bit. This is progressive black metal that goes all over the place. It has incredibly dark moments as well as some bright spots. It features the use of synths pretty heavily. The bass work on this also takes it to another level. Gilead Media will be releasing the vinyl next year as well so scoop that up when the time comes. Favorite Track: IV

21002 [Converted]11. CTHE’ILIST – Le Dernier Crepuscule (Profound Lore Records)

This is another one of those albums that made a buzz this year, and with good reason. It quite literally sounds like the source of all your fears got ahold of some instruments and created death metal that is not of this world. This album is incredibly unique and technically crafted. The vocals do not sound human at times. I’m still not certain that playing this album at the wrong time will not summon a Lovecraftian horror into your home that will drag you into the depths of the unknown to never see what you once loved ever again. You just have to hear it for yourself. Also the slap bass, I gotta mention that. Favorite Track: Voidspawn

chasms_150010. Lycus – Chasms (Relapse Records)

Alright! We’re in the top 10 and to start it off we have the most astounding funeral doom album of the year. Lycus really impressed me with their last album Tempest, and they have impressed me further with Chasms. This is slow dreadful doom at it’s finest. Chasms is surrounded in thick heavy atmosphere. If you aren’t careful this album could crush you under it’s weight. Favorite Track: Obsidian Eyes

khemmis9. Khemmis – Hunted (20 Buck Spin)

Hunted by Khemmis is what Decibel Magazine deemed to be their album of the year, and while it may not be our #1 it’s certainly one of our favorites. It has been a wonderful year for doom metal and this album is a big reason why. Khemmis released their debut Absolution last year and I personally think Hunted is an improvement. The vocals are more triumphant and the guitar melodies hit harder. Khemmis also added elements from funeral doom that I just love. They are present in tracks such as Candlelight. It’s hard not to feel victorious after listening to this one. Favorite Track: Hunted

gatecreeper-sonoran8. Gatecreeper – Sonoran Depravation (Relapse Records)

I have been following Gatecreeper since they dropped their four song demo tape back in 2014. After a handful of some great splits, the wait is finally over and we have the full length. I got exactly what I expected and exactly what I wanted out of this Gatecreeper full length. It’s filled to the brim with GED Riffs that get you hyped up. Honestly when I listen to this I want to punch holes in things. Gatecreeper play music that shouldn’t be trifled with. They wear their Swedish death metal influence on their sleeve proudly and they should. Favorite Track: Rotting As One

north light the way7. North – Light The Way (Prosthetic Records)

The first thing I want to say about this album is that it is beautiful. It has incredible atmosphere and it is just powerful. This album is completely immersive, and is a pleasant listening experience. It would be hard to find a more recent Post-metal album better than this one. I will also say this is one of my biggest surprises of the year. I had not even heard of North until I cam across Light the Way, but I’m glad I found it. This album has gotten many plays this year and I imagine I will keep returning to it. Favorite Track: Earthmind

nucleaus sentient6. Nucleus – Sentient (Unspeakable Axe Records)

If you have been reading everything I have written so far you may remember that I said everybody loves  really weird sci-fi death metal. Nucleus have made some really good, really weird sci-fi death metal with Sentient. The science fiction theme really works for the album since it sounds like it was brought here from the future, but also brought from the past. Nucleus have a brand of death metal that is very much old school and technical, but still very modern. I love the sideways riffs and the sporadic soloing. The subject matter of the songs are great too with subjects like the film Cube and Dan Simmons Hyperion. Favorite Track: Swarm

take over self title5. Take Over And Destroy – Take Over And Destroy (Prosthetic Records)

Take Over And Destroy have always had a sound that is hard to pin down. This album makes it even harder to pin down. They have influences from all over the place and it shows in the music. The one thing I know for certain is this is the catchiest metal album released this year. Every single one of these songs has the ability to stay with you. Each song is pretty unique from one another as well, but the whole package works as an incredible listen. The heavy riffing John Carpenter soundtrack band have delivered once again. Favorite Track: changes day to day but lets go with Bring Me the Rope

scorched-echoes4. Scorched – Echoes of Dismemberment (Unspeakable Axe Records)

Oh yes Echoes of Dismemberment, the album that has as many riffs as a Hallmark store has greeting cards. I love this album, it’s my favorite death metal album of the year without a doubt. I just keep going back to it. Much like Gatecreeper I’ve been following Scorched from demo to splits and have been anxiously awaiting a proper full length. When the full length arrived I got what I wanted. This album features flawless drumming, and groovy riffs. Steve Fuchs and Nick Carucci assault the whammy bar like it wronged their families and I love it.  The horror movie theme is done so well with the album cover, the synth music, and lyrical content. Listen to Scorched. Favorite Track: Dealings of A Gruesome Kind

spirit adrift chained to ob3. Spirit Adrift – Chained to Oblivion (Prosthetic Records/War Crime Recordings)

Nate Garrett appears to have been the bringer of Riffs and Doom this year, having released an incredible EP as well as full length this year. Spirit Adrift bring top tier emotional doom that feels and sounds like a cathartic release. There are guitar melodies that sing, heavy riffs, and vocals that work with the music to perferction. The improvement from the EP Behind – Beyond  to Chained to Oblivion, make this album worthy of spot alone. The entire album creates a cohesive experience. There is not a single track that should go unheard, in fact its best to listen to it all in one go. The resurgence of doom metal lately has been incredible and Spirit Adrift have added to that with this one. I hope the bringer of doom and riffs brings more of both soon. Favorite Track: Chained to Oblivion

haunter2. Haunter – Thrinodia (Unsigned)

This is what I personally believe is the best black metal album released this year and if you have a label you need to listen to this album and sign Haunter. This album has incredible atmosphere. The production is polished at times but still incredibly raw. It’s hard to ask more out of black metal. Most U.S. Black metal is rooted somewhere in New York, but Haunter reside in San Antonio, Texas. They put a unique spin on their brand of black metal. There are plenty of riffs to go around, and very impressive bass lines that can be heard. It’s exceptional black metal and you just need to give it a listen. Favorite Track: Apnoeic (Polarized in Retrospective Contempt)

inter arma paradise1. Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows (Relapse Records)

Here it is the Abusement Park album of the year. Paradise Gallows was my most anticipated release of 2016 and it delivered. It not only delivered, it exceeded my expectations. Inter Arma have a spotless history of releases, and just when you think they couldn’t possibly get better they do just that. This album is about as heavy as holding onto a boulder while sinking into the ocean at times. Then at other it manages to be as beautiful as a cloudless night, sometimes both at the same time. There are amazing riffs at every turn. Inter Arma manage to bring a plethora of styles from doom, sludge, and post-metal. They then put their own progressive spin on it and have composed a modern day masterpiece and I really mean that. They try a lot of new things on this and they all worked. It’s almost unfair, but I’m thankful for this album. Favorite Track: An Archer in the Emptiness

I’ve had a great year running this blog for the first time, and have had some incredible guests on here as well as support. So as a bonus here are some #1 picks by people I interviewed, celebrities, Abusement Park season pass holders… whatever you want to call them!

Andy Leemont (Take Over And Destroy): Grave Pleasures – Funeral Party 7″

Stoney Bass (Anvil Eater Records): Vermin Womb- Decline, and Blood Incantation –  Starspawn

Young Cubs/Night Rambler Records: Downfall of Gaia – Atrophy

Steve Fuchs & Matt Kapa (Scorched): Blood Incantation – Starspawn

Dave Muntean (Nucleus): CTHE’ILIST – Le Dernier Crepuscule

Slade Williams (Pavel Chekov/Celestial Corrosion): Death Fetishist – Clandestine Sacrament

Brandon Kellum (American Standards): The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation, and Oathbreaker – Rheia

A.L.W. (our editor): Brujeria – Pocho Aztlan

Jeff Owens (Goya/Spirit Adrift): Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker (as Jeff put it “heaviest album of the year, in one way, if not another”)

Nate Garrett (Spirit Adrift/Gatecreeper): Vektor – Terminal Redux, and Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows. (It also just occurred to me that Nate had something to do with 3 albums on our list. If we gave out awards he’d be our dude of the year or something what a year for that guy am I right?)

Now time to look forward to 2017

-REH

Abusement Park: Top 15 of 2016

Awaken in a hexahedron

nucleaus sentient                                                            Nucleus- Sentient (2016)

I’ll just come out and say it early on, Sentient by Nucleus is one of my favorite releases of the year so far. I would not be surprised in the slightest to see this end up on my year end list, and I’m not afraid to say that early on. If you are a fan of  literature, science fiction,  old school death metal, and riffs you need to hear this album.

Sentient starts out with an intro also entitled “Sentient” this intro could be thought of as a launch sequence. It builds up until the listener is thrown into the track “Dosadi” which shows all the funky riffage that nucleus are capable of right of the bat. These are not your run of the mill death metal riffs, they are out worldly and many have been comparing them to Demilich.  I personally would agree with that comparison. The next track is the Dan Simmons inspired “Cantos” which has more funky riffs as well as bass work. One thing I cannot rave about enough on this release is how raw it sounds without losing any of the musicianship. The riffs are at the forefront, while intricate bass is heard throughout the album, so one can hear the work of Ryan Reynolds (no not THAT Ryan Reynolds). Then the drums on this album are there adding punctuation marks with each riff. While I feel that Pat O’Hara has some serious chops (as well as some really awesome chops on his face) he manages to sit back be impressive and tie this whole thing together. Nucleus as a band are really tight and just make this album incredibly solid. So three tracks in and this album has already blown me away. Have no fear this album has its Billy Mays moments because you better believe there is more. “Cube” is a ripper of a track with a really rad funky solo as well as being a personal favorite along with “Dosadi.” Sentient also has some relatively slower tracks like “Insurgent” and “Ancient” one of which would certainly please the titan of the deep.  If in space nobody can hear you scream, hopefully you can hear Nucleus, because I know I will be hearing them for awhile.

Nucleus are from Chicago, Illinois have two other EP’s The Colony and Hegemony. It should come to no surprise that Sentient was put out on Unspeakable Axe records, one would be hard-pressed to find a label having a better year than them. Nucleus also join the ranks of being a bad ass band with their own album cover done by Dan Seagrave, which looks incredible as always. Also be on the look out for more Nucleus sooner than later because their thank you list hints at a future release. The same thank you list also mentions several science fiction writers you should check out if you aren’t familiar withthem already so you can see what inspired a lot of these songs.

-REH

Check it out here: https://unspeakableaxerecords.bandcamp.com/album/sentient

Nucleus are here: https://www.facebook.com/nucleusmetal/timeline

Awaken in a hexahedron