We contacted the Israeli band to learn more about their music, their lyrics and their view on the world. Dethster4life got Prey For Nothing’s vocalist Yotam ‘Defiler’ Avni to speak about the aforementioned aspects and much more.
You recorded your latest album in my native Poland. It is awfully far away from Israel. The result is killer, but what made you think of Herz studio and how did that come about?
“We had some good few reasons to fly all the way to Poland in order to record our new album there. First and foremost – the recording experience is very important to us as a band. Here in Israel – even the best producer are inexperienced with metal recordings, and the higher you climb on the scales of professional studios, the less you get what you paid for. It's quite sad, really, that the best metal studios in Israel are actually the home-made ones. So combining the fact that Israel can't really offer us anything when it comes to professional recording, and that we like to disconnect ourselves from our surrounding for the recording process, we decided to, yet again, fly to Europe and record our album with professional metal studio.
In 2007 – when in we recorded our debut album – we had the chance to work with Jacob Hansen in Denmark, and in 2010 we got to work with another couple of metal producers who know what they're doing. Their experience helped us a lot in the recording process. Other than that – we really liked the sound they made for some of their latest recording back then – mostly Decapitated and Vader, but also Virgin Snatch and Lost Soul. So we had our mind set to record a heavier album – and Hertz Studios produced the heaviest albums while still keeping it clean and destructive at the same time.”
Did you get a chance to see Poland?
“We didn't get much chance to see Poland. The studio is based in Bialystok, far away from Warsaw or other places non-Polish people got to hear about, and we only had one day off in this entire trip. So we took some sight-seeing, saw some old churches and walked through the city park. It's amazing how high the rate of beautiful women in this city is, we actually had a difficult time to find one croon! Hehehe… but seriously, this city is classy for Middle-Eastern fellas like ourselves.”
Since you are from Israel, obviously you are somehow affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Do you think it will ever be resolved, do you see 2 state options as a possibility and if not, what would you see as an alternative if at all?
“Good question; and I'm afraid I don't have a good answer for that. Surely it affect us, it affects all of us on both sides of course. Personally I think that even if the 2-state option will NOT resolve the situation, it is still the only reasonable option we had left. Israel can stock excuses till the day I die, breathing life to centuries-old manifests about why this is not the right solution, and probably, when it comes to politics, our government will have some serious strong points. But that's not enough for me. I don't enjoy the suffering of innocent children, even if they teach them in school to hate me. I'm not one of those fanatics who's glad the other side got a serious loss or that some people died there in an accident or bombing. This is not a war, not in its regular context. There are no 'goals', there is no prime directive. We cannot win a war by just keeping other people miserable as a status-quo. Sure – many of those people will do a lot so my ethnicity will suffer, at least for a bit, if not in casualties, but that's not good enough reason for me for war.
And I think the 2-state solution is the best way to get out of this complex situation. I mean, if Palestine, as a country, will still try to mass with Israel – that will be a true declaration of war, and then the gloves are off and all of that. They won't want it, so why don't we just give them what they want already? What are we benefiting from anyway from denying them their state? I really don't know.”
How much are you influenced by Death and would you call yourself the bearers of the legacy of this legendary band? Or is it just one of the influences and not necessarily the main one?
“I would say 70-80% influenced by Death, but that's mostly me, Yaniv and Amir. Though Iftah and Tal are as huge Death fans like us – they do share more influences into our music, from Spastic Ink to Nevermore. If someone will tell me that Prey For Nothing is the torchbearers of Death's legacy I'll take that as the biggest compliment possible. I think Death, and Chuck Schuldiner in his musical work in general, are the pinpoint of how to make extreme metal sophisticated and intelligent on one hand and melodic and beautiful on the other. An album like “Symbolic” means the world to me, and to be considered as the next-in-line for their efforts is pretty much like saying to bands like Trivium – "you are the new Metallica" – meaning a dream come true for them.
But we try to involve different influences too. We all love classic American Thrash Metal, you know – the old Metallica and Megadeth, I'm a HUGE fan of Testament and add Slayer and Annihilator to the mix – and you get what we had in mind. A good friend of mine once told me before “Violence Divine” came out that we are like Megadeth-meets-Death, and this is exactly what we're aiming for. I see that as Metal music for Metal fans from Metal fans.”
"Violence Divine" had all songs with traditional verse-chorus structure while the new CD has only some of that nature, others being either not as catchy or melodic or with no choruses nor verses. Did you consciously try to write unusually not traditionally structured songs or was it a more natural outcome of the songwriting process?
“Yes we did. We decided to push the boundaries of our music further away, to leave the cosy template of Melodic Death Metal and search for more challenging aspects in our music. I personally think that “Violence Divine” wasn't a cheesy 4X4 verse-chorus-verse-chorus album at all, though we did tried to keep our music more flexible and musical for new listeners – so we decided not to go haywire completely, but even then we had shares like “The Deadliest Rain” or “The Maw” who aren't exactly fitting the formula. But yes, we tried to write more complex music on purpose, because that's what feels more natural for us. Actually – excluding Arch Enemy and At The Gates, I'm the only Melodic Death Metal fan in the band, the others don't really pay attention to bands like Dark Tranquility or In Flames, though both are big influence on me personally. Most of the guys like Progressive Metal music and some really technical stuff – like Gorod, Obscura or Canadian Martyr. So that explains the natural progress in our music.”
What is exactly the concept behind "Against All Good And Evil"? Would I be correct to assume you're talking about rejection of cosmic duality, especially dominant in Western philosophical thoughts?
“That is a bingo! But Nihilism aside, when you dwell into the writings of Fredrich Nietzsche, especially the reference I'm talking about entitled “Beyond Good And Evil” – you'll see that the concept of this duality now resides in western society at large. Timeless conflicts like Individualism vs. Social codes could represent the Individual as 'Good' while re-repressing conducts as 'Evil' – but in the same breath, Ethics and morals vs. Anti-social behaviour and Anarchy represent the same struggle through completely different lenses. Our conclusion is that both sides are right and both sides are wrong simultaneously. Been Metal and all – we of course focus on the wrong (though both sides gets their sharing) and both sides have been rejected, much like what Nietzsche offered as an alternative moral code.”
Some say metal is beginning to eat its own tale. All the riffs melodies and riffs have been written and played and all you can do is mix them to get a semblance of own style. How do you see Prey For Nothing compared to what’s considered originality?
“It's kind of hard to say. We never wanted to play the most original material. We don't believe in playing experimental music if it doesn't come from the heart. Eventually – we are just a bunch of metal fans, who love to play metal music for other metal fans. Sure – you might have heard that riff here and that riff there, and you can always pick that album off the internet if you didn't find on the CD store, if there is a CD store in your town... Bottom line is that as long as we know we don't steal riffs and melodies on purpose, it’s OK by me. I don't believe things should be just summed up as 'All the (good) riffs has already been written' because music is not just about originality. All the words has already been written too – is that a good reason to stop writing books? This is how I see it. As long as it's fun – and as long as people enjoy it – there's no reason to stop playing metal music, even if it's cheesy and has been done to death. That's been said – we try really hard not to fall to the genre clichés. I don't consider our albums as one of the same as Arch Enemy's “Wages Of Sin” or In Flames' “Colony” or even Death's “Symbolic”. We try to blend the styles we love to make something of our own, even though those styles have already been widely spread out.”
Do you think metal should move more toward complexity and resemble more of a classical structure or toward accessibility with more melody, hooks etc.?
“To each his own I guess. I like both Theory In Practice and Black Label Society – and they are from different galaxies in the metal universe. And as long as they do it good, it doesn't matter if it’s complex or catchy. I'll probably admit that I rather listen to more challenging new music than accessible when it comes to new bands, but not if this complexity is the only thing that band have. I watched a video of band called Design The Skyline a few months ago. It was complex, sort of, but it was the most horrible thing I ever heard or saw which relate to metal music. As a fan of classical music I would love to hear more of those compositions in metal music, but I don't mean cheesy Symphonic Metal for Goths who like to think they’re metal. Not every Symphonic Metal band is awful – but 90% are not for me.
When it comes to brutality, I always enjoyed a good brutal Death Metal album, from Nile to Aborted – but when it comes to Brutal Death Metal as a genre and all the other music is forgotten for the sake of brutality, those bands usually loose me as a listener. So yes to brutality – but not by all cause.”
What advice would you give to a young up and coming metal band?
“I still consider myself as a young, and hopefully still up and coming, musician – so I really can't say I'm looking down from my ivory tower to shed some light on mythical objectives. All I can say is that I think that music is still the most important thing for a metal fan. You can pad it with gimmicks and artworks and merchs and crazy ass live shows – but in the end, if the music sucks, this ship will sink. Problem is that EVERY band think their music is awesome. My advice is to consult with someone you are not very familiar with, something like a bigger local band or something – and ask them to give some words about your demos / live shows. Criticism is still the very best way to improve yourself. Not the trolling on one of the net-nests, but real sincere criticism.
And nothing is never perfect. When all of your feedbacks are 'That's just awesome and perfect man' – the criticism is flawed. It's better to learn from several 7/10 than to think your single 10/10 determines who you are and what you do. If all the people you ask are saying there's nothing wrong with you and they don't understand why you aren't signed yet – get more critics.”
Composed by Dethster4life