TTI: Testimony Of The Ancients is my favorite death metal album of all time. That being said, if I was to recommend Karmenian Crypt to a fellow metalhead, I believe I would just repeat that opening confession, as my soft spot for early Pestilence and that album in particular explains and illustrates better than anything else why I also love and appreciate your music so much. Would you agree that there is nothing wrong or inappropriate about introducing the band by making a Pestilence comparison?
Mick Carey: Wow, thank you, I’m glad you like it that much. Yes, Pestilence are one of our influences alright, I used to play Testimony Of The Ancients to death when I was a teenager so it’s burned into my psyche. We’ve been listening to all those bands for the last 20 plus years, especially when we first picked up instruments when we were all teenagers. Pestilence, Death, Obituary, Deicide and Morbid Angel were all making insane music back in the day and it was very exciting hearing those bands for the first time. That style of death metal would be our influence but we don’t intentionally set out to write music that sounds like those bands, it just happens naturally to us.
TTI: According to Oxford dictionary, zealots are people who are fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political or other ideals. That being said, I guess that coming up with such a name was sort of a tribute to certain traits of your own personalities. If that is correct, please say something about the issues you find so relevant that you just can’t help but go zealotic whenever they are on the agenda. What things in life you feel are worthy being fanatical about?
Mick Carey: When we first started this band, one of our first songs was called Knives Of The Zealots, based around religious fanatics out to assassinate Jesus back in biblical times, standard death metal stuff (laughs). The band name originated from there and given the current climate around the world, it kinda fits our material. Our lyrical concepts deal with everyday stuff such as war, genocide, religion, mental illness, etc. albeit there’s some fantasy stuff too, kinda dark stuff. As for being fanatical about things, we just do our own thing. We’re working really hard on material for our debut that’ll be released on Blood Harvest Records, we’ve some shows in the works so you could say we’re fanatical about that.
TTI: What kind of crypt is Karmenian crypt?
Mick Carey: Karmenian, according to our vocalist that wrote the lyrics, means eternal darkness or blackness. So I suppose it means crypt of eternal darkness.
TTI: Unlike many death metal bands these days that rely solely on crushing, slow riffs and have the atmosphere over songwriting mentality, you pay a lot of attention to details and take good care that every riff, lead or solo find their right place within the context of a song.
Mick Carey: Thanks. Well, it all depends on what the songs call for. The lead guitar parts would have as much importance as the vocals, sometimes they can be melodic or memorable and other times they can be chaotic. On the other hand, slow, crushing doomy passages can be just as effective in a song. Again, it’s all down to context within the songs and dynamics play a big part in that.
TTI: Are you one of those bands that find labeling their music utterly repulsive or even offensive to a degree, or do you proudly acknowledge who you are musically, refusing to be anything else but a death metal band?
Mick Carey: We’re a death metal band, there is absolutely no denying that and we’re comfortable with that tag being applied to our music. I can understand how some bands don’t like their sound being categorized into a specific genre because there are so many subgenres within metal music, so one band goes in this box here, another one goes there, etc. I can understand how some bands would detest that. There might be bands out there with death metal vocals but their music could be progressive so they get slapped with the death metal tag because of the vocals even though that might not be the style of music they play. But we’re quite happy being labeled as a death metal band.
TTI: Can you please make an effort and describe your sound by combining at least five metal albums, preferably released prior to 1994?
Mick Carey: It’s hard to pick just five releases. Some personal favorites amongst all of us would be Altars Of Madness by Morbid Angel, Human by Death, Cause Of Death by Obituary, Dawn Of Possession by Immolation and probably either Deicide or Legion by Deicide. Again, it’s very hard to pick five, if you asked me the same question again down the line, you’d probably get five different answers.
TTI: If I was to allow myself the smallest criticism towards Zealot Cult, I would definitely direct it at the design of your logo. What bothers me about it is that it looks rather inept, almost like something drawn by a child, and I feel that as such it fails to keep up with the logic, symmetry and structure of your music, which, if you think about them, are the qualities that can be applied to both visual and sonic side of Zealot Cult experience. Don’t you think that there is something deeply disproportional between the two?
Mick Carey: The logo doesn’t really bother us, it’s the music that’s important to us, always was, always will. The logo is something that can always evolve over time and, to be honest, nobody ever paid much attention to it. At least it’s legible and we like it, otherwise it would have been discarded a long time ago.
TTI: As a native of an ancient Irish town whose history reaches way back to the ninth century, would you say that at least some of that ancient spirit still exists in contemporary Limerick? What are the best and the worst thing about living in it and operating a death metal band from it, and also, if destiny ever takes me there, should I spend more time at King John’s Castle or at Limerick Cathedral?
Mick Carey: Limerick is a pretty old town alright, a lot of the ancient walls are still standing around the city, you have the castle and the cathedrals too. The people of this town are very supportive of each other, a lot of closely knit communities, so that aspect of life is probably deeply rooted in the city’s old heritage. As far as operating a death metal band from here, it’s very easy to take off around the country playing shows, Dublin is about a two hour drive away. As far as gigs go in Limerick, it’s pretty good. There is a promotion company called Bad Reputation that organize shows on a monthly basis and twice a year they run the Siege Of Limerick fest which is getting stronger each year. Some great bands have played it such as Primordial, Grave Miasma, Cruciamentum, Mourning Beloveth, etc. The next installment is being headlined by Dead Congregation and it has always been free admission in to the fest. So if you ever decide to come over, do so when the Siege is on. You can go look at castles and cathedrals the next day with a hangover (laughs).
TTI: Your countryman and Invictus Productions owner Darragh O’Laoghaire said in an interview we did recently that Ireland definitely isn’t the best place to run a business from. Does that relate in any way to how you feel as a band, in terms of your potential growth and opportunities that may arise as a consequence of it?
Mick Carey: Darragh is absolutely right in that regard. Irish media don’t give a fuck about metal, period. The wider music scene in Ireland would be more indie music, trendy hipster music, whatever garbage the general public are sold as music. For example, Primordial are a hugely popular band on the continent and in the US, play tons of festivals and have a huge following. Ask a regular Joe on the street if they’ve heard of them and you’ll be greeted with a who? response. In fairness to get known, for your music to get out there beyond Ireland, playing shows abroad is mandatory.
TTI: Which Irish underground metal bands you believe are talented and promising enough to become relevant names in coming years? Is Zealot Cult one of those bands?
Mick Carey: In the underground scene here, the bands that immediately stick out are Zom, Malthusian, Vircolac, Coscradh, Apostate Viaticum… All the bands have releases on Invictus, are out there playing shows , playing abroad and have followers both in Ireland and abroad. They create and play their music and don’t give a fuck about what anybody thinks. That no compromise attitude is vital in underground music and is very much an important aesthetic of the scene. It is one of our attributes too and it is good to be part of that scene. Also, each band has something totally different going on musically so there is something different on offer for death metal fans, no two bands are alike.
TTI: Can you name a couple of Irish metal albums that played essential role in stirring international attention towards Ireland? Which of them had the biggest impact on you personally?
Mick Carey: Albums I think that sparked international attention towards Irish bands would be The Gathering Wilderness or To The Nameless Dead by Primordial, massive albums for them that got them loads of recognition from abroad. Altar Of Plagues are another band that made waves as well as Zom. Zom were being plugged by Fenriz from Darkthrone a while back and gathered attention. Also, Abaddon Incarnate gathered international attention, a ferocious grind band and are relentless live. As for local bands that made an impression on me, the local scene is quite small and we’re all friends and we support each other by going to each others’ shows, buying merch, hanging out with each other at gigs. Shardborne and Brigantia are two bands that stick out, the former are an instrumental, progressive band and the latter are a doom band. It’s good to see local bands go out there and do their thing and it spurs you on to do likewise.
TTI: In my opinion, Dimensions Obscure by Cadaveric Fumes is by far the best Blood Harvest release of 2016. How do you feel about that EP, do you like it?
Mick Carey: I’m liking what I’ve heard of the Cadaveric Fumes EP, but I’ve also enjoyed the new Polyptych, In Obscurity Revealed, Totten Korps and Master Of Cruelty.
TTI: Can you name a few musicians who would make you extremely proud to see them wearing a piece of clothing with a Zealot Cult logo on it?
Mick Carey: Slash (laughs)! It will never ever happen but would be cool. Or maybe Trey from Morbid Angel or Ross Dolan from Immolation.
TTI: Have you ever walked away from a metal show because the band was so terrible you just couldn’t stand it any longer?
Mick Carey: Only once and that was Hate Eternal on the Fury And Flames tour. It was inaudible.
TTI: Presuming that you are a record collector, what is that one record you would run to save if your house was on fire?
Mick Carey: There’s too many to mention, probably Cause Of Death by Obituary or Dawn Of Possession by Immolation. I’d probably die in the house fire with my records as luck would have it.
TTI: How do you feel about Conor McGregor and his success? Is he really an epitome of a typical Irishman, as he tends to present himself? Do you appreciate more the verbal side of his personality or his fighting credentials?
Mick Carey: I think his success is well deserved, what he does isn’t easy and I imagine it can be very psychological at times as it is physical. He is a typical Irish man I think, outspoken, stubborn but charismatic too. The verbal component of his personality is as important as his fighting capabilities, it’s what draws a lot of attention to him and sells tickets for the UFC, he is a very clever businessman in that respect in regards to how he can talk up a fight and I love it when he talks shit about opponents and especially since he started calling out WWE stars (laughs)! It’s all about entertainment.
TTI: Can you promise that your debut album will impress ten times more than this already impressive EP? Also, can you promise that it will come out soon?
Mick Carey: The material for the album is better than Karmenian Crypt I think. A lot better. I know you won’t be disappointed. We are still writing and rehearsing for it and hope to start recording late 2016 or early 2017, so it’ll be released in 2017. In the meantime, Karmenian Crpyt is coming out on vinyl on October 24th on Blood Harvest and is available to pre order on the Blood Harvest bandcamp and webstore.
Originally published on 9th December 2016.
Copyright © 2016 by Towards The Inevitable. All rights reserved.