De Profundis – Tightening the Death Metal Reins

Friday, 9th October 2015

In today’s race to become the most progressive and exploratory, there are a number of bands that equate ‘progressive’ as a term that means long, winding songs that seem to continue on well past the 10 minute mark. There’s something to be said for a band that can come up with brevity and coherence in a more progressive structure. De Profundis is one of those bands.

Kingdom of the Blind, the band’s forth and most recent full-length, sees De Profundis at their best. Crushing and well-written death metal that keeps the progressive vibes apparent but in check. We checked in with guitarist Shoi Sengupta to fill us in about the band’s Frequencies EP (distributed by Terrorizer last year), what it means to be progressive, and of course, Kingdom of the Blind and beyond.

Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about the early days of De Profundis?

Shoi Sengupta: well i joined the band in 2006 a year after Craig and our original guitarist Roman got a first line up together which disintegrated after a few rehearsals. The band made a conscious decision not to gig before actually having an album done. So from the moment I joined in October 2006 we worked on writing the first album, for which actually a lot of the material was written, I just managed to the add a few ideas here and there. So once we had enough material we decided to record and effectively self release the album. We had some changes of line up with our drummers around that time but managed to get Sterghios (Ex-Pantheist) before our first show in October 2007. I remember that end of 2007 very fondly we developed quickly into a good live act following a first disastrous show. We even ended up on the Top 10 new bands of that year’s Terrorizer’s readers poll.

Dead Rhetoric: Being a death metal band, does the name De Profundis come from a Vader influence or is it something else entirely?

Sengupta: Not really, Craig (Vocals) came up with the name as a hommage to Abruptum’s song “De Profundis Mors Vas Cousumet” which is one of his favourite songs.

Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe De Profundis’ growth and evolution over the course of your four albums?

Sengupta: I am sometimes in awe of how much we have grown over the years. I know there has been personnel changes over the time, but one thing for sure it has always been to improve the band. We are right now musically somewhere where we all want to be. De Profundis has become a heavier, faster band without losing the special touch that defines us since day one. The musicianship in this band is of a high standard but to be honest its the songwriting that is getting stronger which is the main priority.

Dead Rhetoric: Is there something to be said for ‘tightening the reins’ musically and keeping the progressive elements worked into a 5-6 minute song as opposed to stretching things to 10 minutes and beyond?

Sengupta: Absolutely, look at Moving Pictures by Rush, it’s a rich progressive album but with shorter songs. Another one is Dark Side of the Moon is where Pink Floyd really confirmed their songwriting credentials without losing their progressive mindset. See to us progressive music is a state of mind rather than a generic term to define long songs with lots of sections. I think when writing a song its important to remember that its a song not a collection of ideas – we pay a lot of attention to how our songs flow and make sure that even within a shorter time frame we take the listener through a journey.

Dead Rhetoric: Could you explain the art direction for the cover of Kingdom of the Blind?

Sengupta: The cover is an illustration of how we feel the world is at the moment. It seems everyone is blind to what is happening around, be it with politics or even in our metal scene are just blind to how bad some of the music out there is.

Dead Rhetoric: How did you arrive at Wickerman Recordings for album number four?

Sengupta: Our last two albums were released through Kolony Records, but we knew it was the end of the road with them. Our management wanted to find a label that really would push the band forward. Wickerman offered us a really good deal so we went with it. It early days so far but we are hoping Wickerman Recordings will support De Profundis and the new album the way it deserves.

Dead Rhetoric: Terrorizer Magazine distributed your Frequencies EP last year. Do you think it was an effective strategy at introducing people to the band?

Sengupta: Well it should have been a good promotion but it didn’t really go according to plan for various reasons. However we know that those who heard it really enjoyed it. It will probably become a collectors items as it is the only physical version of Frequencies. I know people that have been searching for it on the ‘Net.

Dead Rhetoric: Plenty of bands ignore the bass or use it to follow guitar. What enticed you to give it such a strong presence?

Sengupta: Right from the first album we exploited the bass as a third guitar rather than a way of filling up the lower frequencies. Our first bass player Alesej used to bring a lot of nice slap bass ideas. Now Arran over the last 3 albums has really taken the bass to another dimension and people are finally noticing how great he is. It was really an incredible moment for us to see he was voted in the top 10 bass players by Zero Tolerance readers’. He really deserves the accolade because I think he is really innovating bass playing in the metal context. We didn’t make it easy for him this time as Paul (Guitar) and I really wanted the guitar to go to another level on this album so Arran had to find his space. Anyway I better stop he already has a big head.

Dead Rhetoric: Being that “progressive” is one of the most over-used terms in metal, what does it mean to you personally?

Sengupta: Progressive is more a mind set than a band playing long songs with lots of different section. I think a band like De Profundis which has evolved the way we have over the span of 4 albums shows a progressive mindset. We don’t want to be doing the same album over and over again but find new ways of expressing our music. Up to the Black album I think Metallica showed a really progressive mindset, and in general a lot of Death Metal bands from the 90s had that mentality, especially Death and Morbid Angel. Challenging your fans after every release is the essence of a progressive mindset. But it is true that the term just gets used everywhere for bands that don’t really show a progressive mindset.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that death metal has started to make a sea change back towards writing songs instead of just trying to out-tech each other?

Sengupta: I hope so, I honestly can’t stand these technical bands where there is not a hint of melody just non stop technical riffs. It bores me stiff. I think even in the context of death metal the melody should have an important place, because that is why people will come back and listen to your album over and over again, and effectively become a classic. I hope when people listen to bands like De Profundis they will realise that you can be technical without sacrificing the actual song writing.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve toured a number of countries with a quality selection of bands. Do you take anything in particular from touring with more established acts?

Sengupta: It’s always good to see how established acts go about their business. You can also why some bands made it really big and others didn’t cut it. Some established acts focus completely their day towards the show in the evening, you won’t see them totally drunk after the show because they know they have another show the next day. De Profundis follows that principle, everything about being on the road should be about the performance in the evening, when you are playing 20 shows in 20 days you have to make sure that that first, tenth show and 20th shows are all consistently great.

Dead Rhetoric: Name three bands that you’d love to go out on tour with.

Sengupta: Unleashed would be one them because I am huge fan, Gojira because I think we could tap into that audience, Death to All because it would be awesome to hang out with Steve Di Giorgio and Gene Hoglan.

Dead Rhetoric: What do you already know or hope will happen to De Profundis as we move into 2016?

Sengupta: Well we actually had a big tour set for November with 2 big acts but unfortunately that got postponed to the new year, so expect us on the road a lot then. We are also halfway through writing the follow up to Kingdom of the Blind so I would imagine we would hit the studio at some in 2016.

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