NMK – Nothing Less than RavenousFriday, 9th March 2018
In today’s global metal marketplace, there’s always a level of intrigue to see where the next big band could come from. On the melodic death metal front, we have a promising new act from Peru with NMK. The band has recently released their debut album, Ravenous Spectre, and it is a visceral slab of material that understands how to bring in melodies without sacrificing a certain level of heaviness. Citing bands like At the Gates and Carcass, it’s an attack that’s bound to draw excitement from genre fans. Centered in all of the chaos is vocalist Nathalie Markoch’s versatile vocals, ranging from bellowing growls to powerful clean vocals.
With a strong release under their belts, we reached out from DR to see what information we could gather about the fresh act. Markoch herself gave us the briefing on everything from what NMK stands for and the band’s history to her vocal technique and the Peruvian scene. Get up to speed on what is bound to be a bigger player in the genre as time unfolds.
Dead Rhetoric: To start, does the name NMK stand for anything?
Nathalie Markoch: NMK stands for Now Mankind Knows. The concepts of our music, art and lyrics are about realizing we’ve been manipulated, mind-controlled, programmed and deceived all along. That the only way to obtain our full potential as human species is to go back to basics and unlearn everything. That truth reveals itself by changing our perspective to a more inclusive one, de-programing our subconscious and evolving through awareness. There are tools available to mankind to help achieve this.
Dead Rhetoric: You had your own solo release before NMK, is this band a continuation of what you had done on “The Fraud?”
Markoch: NMK is not a continuation of my solo career, but in a way it is. NMK was the short name of the live band when I recorded my 1st album entitled Influences & Connections Vol. 1 in 2012 and the shows we did between 2011 – 2015. That album contained covers from bands like Opeth, Dark Tranquillity, Anathema, Kamelot, Epica, Symphony X, etc. and 1 original song: “The Fraud.” I did it, because those songs/bands were what I used to teach myself how to sing with various vocal techniques and to find my own vocal style and inspired me in my own compositions.
I love death/thrash/heavy/progressive metal, but I was unable to do growls or sing aggressively with my natural voice at the time. That’s the reason I decided to record the album in the first place. So when I recorded “The Fraud” I was more in-tune with myself and knew how I wanted my music and the concepts behind it to be like. I included a re-recorded version of this song on NMK’s album, because I managed to improve my vocal technique so it could fit much more to a melodic death metal instrumentation. Apart from NMK, as a musician I work as a lyricist, composer, recording & performing singer for other metal/rock bands and I’m currently working on new material for my Youtube Channel.
Dead Rhetoric: How did NMK end up coming together as a band?
Markoch: In 2015 I started to compose the songs for my 2nd album as a solo artist. I invited Elias Checco, guitar player of my live band at the time, to join me. While composing the 3rd track, we thought that the songs were more obscure, fast and intense than what I originally imagined. The concept was showing itself more clearly and I thought it would work better if this kind of material was released as a new project. That’s when we founded NMK as a band per se. We invited Lucho Medina, since he was the bass player of my live band as well. Elias called Charlie Rocca, an old friend of his with whom he used to play in a Cacophony/Jason Becker live tribute band and Rafael Nunez (our manager) called Fabian Pinto, a drummer we knew from the local scene.
Dead Rhetoric: Ravenous Spectre was three years in the making. What sort of groundwork did you need to accomplish in that time?
Markoch: In 2015 we started composing the songs and within 9 months (2 months actual work, 7 months goofing around haha) we had the complete tracks of the whole album. Elias and I used only his guitar, my phone as a recording aid, Guitar Pro and that’s it. After the instrumentation was almost finished, I worked on the lyrics and vocal melodies. Between 2015 – 2016, we recorded the album at Shredded Sound with Adolfo Gazzo, who mixed it as well and then we managed to hire Tony Lindgren from the famous Fascination Street Studios (Sweden) to do the mastering.
But just after finishing recording the album, I suffered some very serious health issues that continued until 2017 (I’m still in recovery, but so much better). So we had to stop everything for almost 2 years. Kind of frustrating, you know, but the guys were beyond supportive and we always had a great time either at home or at rehearsals. As soon as I started regaining my strength, we immersed ourselves in creating the 1st video clip of the single entitled “Lack of Judgment” and begun preparing ourselves for what was to come with the release of Ravenous Spectre.
Dead Rhetoric: What are you most proud of in regards to Ravenous Spectre itself?
Markoch: Well, aside from the fact that I absolutely love the music we’ve created, I’m really proud of the message we share in the lyrics, the music and the art of the album. It’s about the realization by humans that, as a species, we’s been mind-controlled our entire life (and past lives as well). The fact that our DNA has been manipulated, that we’ve been socially conditioned to believe in a specific reality. That we’ve been programmed to behave in certain ways and that everything outside the norm is simply disregarded as crazy conspiracies.
For a human to realize this is very shocking to say the least, be it done cold turkey or gradually. We have tools like alquimia, metaphysics, natural self-healing and other various methods to help de-program our subconscious mind and evolve our awareness to achieve a broader and more inclusive perspective of our own self and our environment seen as part of the self. We want to expose the “Shadow Government,” be them Draconians, Reptilians, Greys, The Illuminati, The 13 Bloodline Families, I don’t fucking care who they are, the fact is that the they exist and have infiltrated into every single aspect of society, making us humans their assets to do whatever they please with us, keeping us clueless, powerless in illusion and in a state of fear and confusion.
Dead Rhetoric: With the digital release already out and a cd coming soon, have you gotten the amount of feedback you were hoping for with the album?
Markoch: We’re an independent Peruvian metal band, we know it’s really difficult for a new band to be heard or even noticed at any level, because the music and the topics we cover are not and will never be mainstream and that’s perfectly fine. We like what we do and we are very happy and thrilled that so many people are reaching out to us to send awesome encouraging messages and support. Not only listeners, but also the press has released various reviews about Ravenous Spectre and also youtubers have reacted to our videoclips! We’re stoked haha! We welcome each and every one of those, be them constructive criticism or positive ones. Personally, I’d say it surpassed my expectations for a first impression of a debut album of a new band like ours!
Dead Rhetoric: In addition to the album, you also released a cover of At the Gates’ “Blinded by Fear.” Has that cover worked to draw more people to the band?
Markoch: We are big fans of At the Gates and The Slaughter of the Soul album was the first one of them I listened to back in the day. I always wanted to do growls and as I actually begun to do it, we decided it would be awesome to record “Blinded by Fear” at the home studio of our friend Daniel Roman Sairafi, who mixed and mastered the song as well. He’s the leader of Mindwalker, a gothic rock metal project in which I collaborate as the lyricist. So we recorded everything there and then we called Illari Arbe, a friend of ours that filmed and edited the video clip. Since Ravenous Spectre was composed taking into consideration that I couldn’t do growls at the time, I wanted to have a song that clearly showed what we could do with that extra tool on my part.
Dead Rhetoric: Where would you like to see the band go from here, musically-speaking?
Markoch: Well, we’ll definitely start composing new songs for our 2nd album later this year. I’m thinking about incorporating more full-time growling songs since now I feel more comfortable growling now than when I recorded the songs in 2016. The melodic voice will also be there in balance as well. In terms of instrumentation, we’ll be sure to bring more technical stuff and catchy elements into the mix. Aside from that, we’ll start promoting Ravenous Spectre locally and do some tours abroad in 2018-2019. It’s kind of difficult to know what will happen in the future, so we’ll take things one at the time.
Dead Rhetoric: Have you done any vocal lessons for your extreme singing or are you self-taught?
Markoch: Well, I didn’t attend any vocal lessons for any vocal technique. I tried to do growling by myself for several years, but nothing worked so instead, I was focused on finding my own style with my natural melodic voice by practicing with a small cassette recorder every single day after school/institute. In late 2016, I suddenly understood how to bypass my vocal chords to have that death/black kinda like growls and somehow everything just clicked. That’s when the real fun begun haha!
Dead Rhetoric: Given your vocal variety on the album, what are your thoughts on ‘female-fronted’ being used as a genre?
Markoch: The “female fronted” label is something I personally don’t understand. In duality, there’s always two sides/poles. Male/female, black/white, right/wrong, in/out. People don’t understand the importance of letting go of all labels, personal history, and identities. It doesn’t matter if a female or a male is in a band, besides their contribution to the music they make and the resonance of it with the listener. Being that said, I don’t really care what other people use to describe the music we do.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the metal scene like in Peru?
Markoch: The Peruvian Metal Scene has really great bands! However, like all scenes, not all of them take it seriously and record their work professionally. Also, most of the bands are grounded in the underground metal scene, so that’s maybe why it’s not so common for metal fans worldwide to know them, unless they are into that scene.
Nevertheless, I feel that the local metal scene here has grown a lot, especially since technology allowed us to create “home studios,” making it possible for lots of new bands to record demos, EPs and albums. I’m pretty sure that if things continue developing this way, soon enough we will have bands signing deals with big metal labels, allowing them to gain more fans by touring and with exposure in general. NMK is a band that is very proud of being Peruvian, but we know that the type of metal we do is way bigger in Europe or USA, hence the reason why we compose everything in English and not in our native tongue.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you particularly enjoy about heavy metal?
Markoch: The passion it brings forth, the trust and exhilaration I feel within while listening to not only to heavy metal, but almost all metal sub-genres. I absolutely fell in love with metal as soon as I first listened to Iron Maiden’s “The Wickerman” (my first real experience ever aside from randomly listening to Dream Theater’s “Train of Thought” at school). I just couldn’t believe my ears! Hahah I somehow no longer felt as a damned slave of the system, it was a breakthrough for me.
I started to crave albums and I listened to everything I could put my hands on. I used to do poetry since elementary school and lyrics in high school, but while listening to bands like Opeth or Dark Tranquillity, my perspective changed and I started writing lyrics in a totally different way. What I enjoy most are the technical but melodic riffs of a song that just makes you move unconsciously move your head.
Dead Rhetoric: What plans does NMK have for 2018?
Markoch: We’ll play live along with Anna Fiori from Mexico here at the Hard Rock Cafe in Lima (PE) on March 22nd and present “Ravenous Spectre” for the first time. We’ll record a 2nd videoclip, now for “Outrage” and we’ll be sharing a series of “storytellers” about the origins, concept, etc about the band and also a “Making of Ravenous Spectre” section on our Youtube Channel. There are more upcoming shows to be confirmed this week, we’ll be sharing those soon on our website and social media sites!