Since the release of your next-to-last album
“Anima Mundi“ there have been alot of news in the Forsaken camp… for
example have you parted ways with keyboarder Mario Ellul and decided to
go on without keys from now on. How has it come to the split with Mario
and why don’t you wanna use keys as a regular instrument anymore in
Leo: Mario’s main problem was that he could not cope with
our rehearsal schedules. Apart from playing keyboards with Forsaken, he
was and still is the founder member and guitarist of another band called
Weeping Silence. He was either very late or absent for the only one
rehearsal we do every week. Due to the fact that we started and had to
finish the song writing for the new album that same year, he either had
to choose between the two bands or straighten up his situation. After
months of waiting for a change in Mario’s attitude, the situation
remained the same so we took the decision ourselves on very friendly
terms and eventually decided and told Mario that he had to leave the
band. We still meet Mario in gigs locally and are planning to play with
Weeping Silence in the future. Mario has fully understood our decision
and accepted it. After the split with Mario we re-started to write the
Dominaeon album because we already had some rough ideas and riffs for
tracks like Obsidian Dreams and Daylight Dies. We talked energetically
about getting another keyboardist and sometimes also of getting another
guitarist alongside Sean. But the thing is that it was already very hard
for us to rehearse once a week and getting another member would increase
the pressure on the band plus that he has to take time to learn our
backlog of material from previous releases. Furthermore the ideas which
we were coming up with for Dominaeon were showing a more riff based
sound which would come out better and heavier without the use of
keyboards. Basically without keyboards we sound heavier, that’s how we
wanted it and that’s how you got it on the album.
I personally like
the (slightly) new direction of Forsaken alot!! The band sounds much
heavier now... you can easily hear this on your new, fantastic CD “Dominaeon”,
which got released just recently by the Scottish label Golden Lake
Productions!! In retrospective, how hard work was it to make this album
reality and – if you listen to it now – what’s your overall impression
Leo: Writing Dominaeon can be described by a variety of
adjectives like frenetic, dangerous, sublime, and crazy. There were a
couple of fights in our garage while writing the album especially
between me and Sean which could have ended up really scary at times. But
after a few minutes all is settled down as we are really good friends in
the end. At the same time there were a lot of brilliant ideas from all
the band members and this adds to the musical versatility of the album.
There are tracks like Kenosis which were turned up side down days before
entering the studio giving the song a more mystical touch. The choirs
were rehearsed in only a few days and took longer than expected to be
recorded. Celestial Alchemist was planned to be a one minute song with
clean guitar and vocals and ended up to be a four minute epic track
which is influenced from the Black Sabbath track Supertzar. (At least
that’s were we got the idea from). I think the track which we composed
in the shortest time was Wretched of the Earth. Dominaeon definitely
means a lot of hard work and we are very self criticizing people and
want to be 200% sure of what we are doing. The whole album was composed
in about a year and a half and we concentrated on more doom laden
riffing and a heavier direct band sound.
In the studio we had to plan a time table on how long the recording must
take due to our financial budget. Well, we still exceeded the budget
days but I feel that the results show that it was worth the sacrifice.We
used to spend until 3 in the morning in the studio. I look very
positively at the album although there might be some things which every
band member might criticize and change in the next release. Dominaeon is
a milestone in our history and I believe it’s our best and heaviest
album to date on all fronts and a more than worthy successor to Anima
Apart from the heavier sound, “Dominaeon” also contains the best and
most diverse songwriting of Forsaken so far!! For me this album offers
some almost godlike Epic Doom, that can really hold pace with the very
best of the genre, like for example Candlemass, While Heaven Wept or
Solitude Aeturnus!! Where do you see the biggest differences between
“Dominaeon” and it’s antecessors and how the hell do you manage to get
better and better from album to album!?
Leo: Thanks for the compliment Tobi although I think we
still have to row a bit more to reach the level of bands like Candlemass
but I really believe we are on the right track and the most important
thing is that we keep our feet on the ground and believe in what we do.
Dominaeon was composed as a whole concept. What I mean is that it was
lyrically and musically written as a whole thing. There is no old stuff
on it. Maybe this could have helped for better composition and wholeness
of the songs. I believe Dominaeon is better structured than our previous
releases and is more centred on the lyrical concept and the direct heavy
riffs composed for the album. In my opinion Albert’s lyrics are the best
he’s done so far, he has also done an amount of research to write the
album without leaving out a much improved bass sound on the album. I
also think that Sean has produced the most interesting solos. Simon had
also improved on the drum sound and has also introduced some new ideas.
I also see the vocals as being different from our other releases. On
Anima Mundi the vocals have a lot of layering and effects whilst I
wanted a more direct “in your face” vocal attitude on Dominaeon. For
example, the introduction of Priest-like screams (Wretched of the Earth)
was something new for me and was really great doing in studio. Basically
Dominaeon is a mix between our experience in song writing, the
experimentation of new ideas and a more musical “in your face” attitude.
I think this is what makes it better and different from our previous
On two of the new songs (“Obsidian Dreams” and “The Celestial
Alchemist” – if I’m not mistaken) Forsaken have introduced a brandnew
stylistic device to their sound, namely the participation of a choir,
that adds some mighty depth and power to it... how was it like to record
an album with a real choir and will you resort to this in the future as
Leo: This was an idea which was originally given to us by
David Vella (Temple Studio’s main man and producer) after recording
Anima Mundi. The first song we wrote for Dominaeon was Obsidian Dreams
with Albert coming out with some really heavy interesting riffs. He also
had the lyrics ready with the DEUS ASCONDITUS, DEUS REVELATUS chants. We
rehearsed it and thought it would be ideal for a male choir to do it and
me doing the phrases on the choir.
Sean always wanted to write a track ala Sabbath’s Supertzar (from the
Sabotage album). At first Celestial Alchemist was going to be a short
clean guitar/vocals track to join Obsidian Dreams to Daylight Dies. I
was a bit critical to a certain transposition in the song but finally
the band decides as a majority. Sean included these new ideas with me
and himself giving out epic chants which
Sean wrote down and later on gave them to the choir guys to sing.
We contacted David Vella to give the St.Monica choir guys a call. We met
the guys in the St. Monica Sisters Convent and explained to them the
lyrical theme of the album and how we intend to use the choir. They were
interested in doing the things we wanted and eventually we agreed on
having 4 tenors and 4 basses, payment and schedule date for the
recording. Sean wrote all the compositions on paper and days before
their recording session they rehearsed it for the first time. It was
really hard work and it took longer than planned to record and finally
to edit and mix all the ideas. We thought they would do it in four hours
or so but it took a whole morning and afternoon excluding mixing and
editing. I wasn’t present for their recording session as I was working
that day but Albert told me it was really tiring doing this choir thing
because there was so much layering and ideas to do. There are also some
hints of Sean and myself doing some extra voices with the choir which
were recorded on a later stage. David said that it was also very tiring
to mix and edit all the choir parts.
To sum it all up, we are happy with the final choir result because as
you said it adds depth and power to the songs and that was our aim when
coming up with the choir idea. I don’t know what we will come up with
for the future tracks. We have nothing in mind yet. But it could be that
we use something similar.
As always in Forsaken, not only the music but also the lyrics have
got alot to offer... while on “Anima Mundi” you’ve also taken part in
the writing of some of them, on “Dominaeon” they’ve all been written by
Albert Bell (Forsaken’s bass player). Could you probably introduce some
of your favourite lyrics of the new album to our readers? And is there
any difference for you as a singer between singing someone else’s lyrics
or your own?
Leo: To answer this question the first thing I had to do
was consult Albert our bassist and the main brain behind the lyrical
concept of Dominaeon and this is how he describes the concept.
Dominaeon is our most spiritual/religious album to date...in part it
is inspired by tradtional Christian doctrine but there are also
influences from other world religions (monotheistic) and existential
psychology/psychocosmology particuarly in the album's first four tracks.
The lyrics focus on a central concept running throughout the whole album
based on a philosphical/theological theme that centres on the "hidden" [or
abscondant] nature of God who brings together both the elements of
darkness and light and for God to be revealed to man, we must "travel"
(in a metaphorical and not literal sense) through these different
dimensions. The album starts off with a voyage of the lyrical persona
through darkness where it is here that he encounters the grandeur of God
(the Paradigm of Chaos) and is gradually pulled to the light. In order
for this to be achieved God the Creator, or the Celestial Alchemist
incarnates himself in the form of man ("Kenosis") even though He (in his
human form) is betrayed by humankind. In the lyrics this betrayal is
depicted in "Wretched of the Earth". However, the path to the light (meaning
foregiveness and salvation) remains open and as revealed in "Resurgam"
God's gift to humanity (His Son - the true path to the light or the "Dominaeon"
) is timeless and unbound."
As regards for me singing Albert’s lyrics, it has never been a problem
except in the first attempts of pronounciating certain words which I
would have never heard of. Sometimes people ask me how the hell do I
remember those kind of lyrics and my answer is that I don’t know. It
just happens. When I sing my own lyrics the main difference is that I am
singing exactly what I feel and a clear example of this is Carpe Diem.
But all in all I have to admit that I don’t stand near Albert’s lyrical
capabilities and I think his songs are really deep, poetic and filled
Not only the music, sound and lyrics are great, but also the cover
artwork by Jowita Kaminska of Attacker, Deceased, Manilla Road, etc fame!!
How has the cooperation between her and Forsaken started, how do you
like the picture she’s drawn and what’s the idea behind the cover motive...
is there any connection between the artwork and the lyrical concept or
met Jowita for the first time at the HOA7. She liked our show a lot and
showed interest in giving some sort of artistic contribution to the
band. We went back to Malta and took a close look at her website. She
also sent to us some cool pictures from our HOA show. After a couple of
emails to decide how much she will get paid for her work we agreed that
Jowita would be commissioned to do the cover artwork for Dominaeon.
Albert gave her the lyrical conceptual meaning of the album and after a
multitude of sketches and changes in ideas for the artwork we chose a
sketch from the loads she had done for us. It was a bit hectic in the
beginning stages because every time we where changing something in her
sketches but in the end we were very impressed with her final result.
What I believe is really great about this cover artwork is that we built
it together with Jowita. The artwork is dark and doomy and clearly
depicts the whole meaning of the album’s concept. Basically, the cover
depicts the "abscondant" or "hidden" God as a dark mystical circle (signifying
infinity) enveloping the hebrew tetragrammaton Jehovah...which is the
name given to God in the Greek Christian scriptures. Rays of light
emanate from the circle and fall upon and blind the angel of light (lucifer)
pictured in the centre of the artwork implying that there is only one
true pathway to revelation and that all begins and ends from one true
source - the Abscondant God."
Jowita is truly a very talented artist and I believe this is clearly
shown when one takes a look at her other renditions for the Exodus,
Manilla road, Attacker and other bands’ cover artworks. When I met her
at KIT5 I told her that she is now one of the Forsaken family and we
also dedicated Carpe Diem to her because it is her favourite Forsaken
song. At KIT, Jowita also showed us the original painting of the
Dominaeon cover and we got really emotional watching the real thing
painted with oil on canvas. We also took some photos with the painting.
Apart from being a great artist and photographer, Jowita is a great
person too and it’s really interesting talking to her not only about
Metal and art but also on other life issues.
German underground label Immortal Vinyl Records has already announced
the release of an LP version of “Dominaeon”!! Great!! Can you already
tell us, when we can expect this release to be out and if there’ll be
any gimmicks that will make the vinyl a little more special than the CD?
Leo: At KIT we talked with Holger about the vinyl issues
of Evermore and Dominaeon. Dominaeon shall be released at a later stage
at the end of next year most probably. So it is very early to talk about
the proceedings and any extra material (which there will surely be) on
this release. Holger will surely release Dominaeon as a vinyl because as
you have already said it is already announced. So I shall keep you
posted with details later on next year.
Not only an LP version of “Dominaeon” can be found on Immortal Vinyls
“coming soon” list, but also a vinyl release of your debut “Evermore”...
can you give us some info about that release as well and what does it
feel like to know, that this album will finally come to vinyl honours as
Leo: Evermore shall be the next Forsaken release on vinyl
by Immortal Vinyl Recs. The double LP will include the same liner notes
present on the c.d. plus photos and also the Neon Knights cover version.
As regards to bonus material on the Evermore vinyl version we are
planning to include some live tracks from the HOA7 show. We are supposed
to enter Temple Studios to open the hard disk we got from HOA , choose
the best tracks from it and transfer them on a master so that they can
be included with the Evermore tracks.
We already felt very overwhelmed that Golden Lake re released Evermore
and you can imagine how we feel about its release on double vinyl. Anima
Mundi and Iconoclast on vinyl are considered as a jewel for us. In my
opinion the presentation is much better. For me vinyl is cult and rules
over the c.d. and I feel really honoured that all Forsaken releases
shall be all released on vinyl thanks to Holger. I want to take this
opportunity to thank Holger and Bine for all the support they are giving
to Forsaken. We call Holger “DOOMICUS EPICUS MATERNUS” and at KIT he
brought a beer called Maternus so that he could drink it with us. A
great person indeed.
Only a few days after the release of “Dominaeon”, Forsaken entered
the German stages again and played a fantastic gig at the fifth Keep it
true festival!! What was it alike to play this great festival and what
are the best memories you connect with it?
Leo: People had already told us after playing at HOA7 that
our next festival should be KIT and as a matter of fact Oliver from KIT
saw us at HOA and was really pleased with our performance and he
contacted Albert with the invitation to play KIT5. Playing at the KIT is
a great experience for me personally and also as part of a band. Apart
from meeting really great people I already knew (like you, Reiner Broggi,
Till etc etc) I also got to know new people with whom I have started a
good friendship like Nuno and Doomboss. I also met Rich Walker from
Solstice and Isen Torr, Angelo from Cold Mourning (playing with Slough
Feg) and Joe Hasselvander (ex Pentagram playing drums with Raven) I was
also fascinated by the enormous metal market at KIT. I just didn’t know
from where to start and where to finish because there’s so much material
you can buy there.
Playing on stage had its good and bad episodes. I think the sound on
stage and from the PA was very good but it’s a pity Albert had those
problems while playing All Is Accomplished. The problem was only a
shitty DI box. But all in all we look very positively at our performance
and I think the KIT is a very well organised festival and the stage
personnel were very helpful also and I
also want to
thank Oliver and Tarek for putting us on the bill. Playing in front of
such a great crowd who supported us from the beginning till the end made
our whole trip from Malta very worthwhile. Without the crowd’s support
the band is nothing on stage. MEGA THANKS TO EVERYONE. I also want to
thank Mac for helping us as a soundman. He did a wonderful job for us at
the mixer. To tell you the truth there is no special moment which I can
recall at KIT and the warm-up gig because I can assure you that I
enjoyed every second I spent there. The bands playing there were of top
class especially Anvil and Raven. We also had a crazy great time with
the Skullview guys. Apart from being a very good band, they are really
honest and crazy at times but it was great meeting and hanging up with
them. I think the only band which disappointed me where Virgin Steele. I
think their show was tampered by a very bad sound. Pity because they are
a band with a long history in metal.
Apart from a great set of songs from your earlier releases
“Iconoclast” and “Anima Mundi” as well as some awesome songs from “Dominaeon”,
you’ve also delivered a stunning cover version of Black Sabbath’s
“Symptom of the Universe”! Why did you chose especially that song for
the crazy Metal fans at KIT?
Leo: Locally we do various cover versions in our gigs and
we tried it at HOA with Dark Reflections which went down really well
with the crowd. So we thought of doing another cover but this time we
wanted to be sure that it will be a bone crusher. We had to choose
between Symptom of the Universe and Black Sabbath. We decided for the
first one as we preferred a track with fast killer riffs for KIT. We
played it really good because now I have seen it on the DVD and people
seemed to enjoy it.
In Lauda-Königshofen I’ve not only seen you freak out on stage, but
you were also always present in the hall, chatting with friends and
banging your head to the other bands... so please let me know, which of
them were you looking forward to the most, which did you like best and
which were the biggest surprises?
Leo: When I come up to festivals my aim is to give my best
for the band’s performance, have fun and enjoy the music for which I
have so much passion inside. Forsaken’s music is deeply entrenched in my
heart and it’s a natural thing that I head bang a lot on stage. And the
more the crowd supports and headbangs with the band’s music the more I
freak out. I also like to support other bands and apart from enjoying
their music, I like the atmosphere in the middle of the crowd especially
in the front row. It’s just a feeling which is so natural to my metal
attitude. Another thing which I feel is obligatory for a band’s frontman
is the direct communication with people and I feel this on stage and
also among the people I meet at a festival. Yes I really like to chat
with people and take photos. I also like to hear different opinions on
our music because from every individual you can learn new things which
can improve what you do. And also remember that we come to Germany only
once a year and I want to get the most of it every time.
As regards to bands I was really looking forward to see, they were
Virgin Steele, Raven and Anvil being some of the oldest bands to whom I
am a fan myself. As I told you before I was disappointed by Virgin
Steele but for me Raven were awesome, they just killed me. For me they
were the true headliners of KIT5.They transmit so much energy to the
people and I really felt that inside. I also met them personally and
they are really cool guys. I was also very much surprised with Ignitor
because I had not heard them before and they also kick ass. All the
other bands were phenomenal and make this festival really a cult event
for true metal heads.
At the warm up gig I did not see Strikelight because I arrived late at
the Sporthalle but I was blown away by Emerald (I had never heard them
before also). Powergod are a great cover band but my ultimate self
destruction was for the Anvil show. My God I could not move after their
show. They simply fucking RULED. Lips is King.
You’ve just brought us a new album and a fantastic concert, but since
I’m almost addicted to Forsaken, I’d already like to know, what’s coming
next from you and your mates!? What can we expect from you in the next
Leo: Our next release will definitely be the Evermore
double vinyl release. We shall also be playing live locally to promote
Dominaeon and sell some merchandise. We still owe Temple Studio a
considerable amount of money for the Dominaeon recording so we have to
play as much as we can to pay David. We are also in contact with some
people to play in festivals abroad next year but nothing is confirmed so
better keep silent for now. And obviously there is still an album left
to be done on contract with Golden Lake so we will surely be doing new
songs. There’s so much Doom left in us that we have to unleash to the
Since your website forsakenmalta.com is currently under construction
(when will it be availible again?), I wonder
what’s currently the
best way for your fans to get into contact with you and find news and
infos about Forsaken?
Leo: Yes finally we have found a decent web master for our
website, who is really willing to keep it updated on our every move.
There will be a total change in the layout and there will be much more
information as we will be able to update some things on the site
ourselves. So stay tuned for our new website which will be on line in no
time. The best way to contact us will be by visiting our old website
which is still online at www.forsakenmalta.com or you can write an email
to me on email@example.com or to Albert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there anything that I forgot to ask, but that’s still on the tip
of your tongue? If so, here’s your chance to say it!!
Leo: This was an extremely interesting interview and I
don’t think you have left anything out. Your interest and dedication are
outstanding, Tobi. Keep in touch whenever you can, even through the
And through we are!! Leo, thanks alot for your answers!! I say
goodbye now and leave the famous last words to you...
Leo: Thanks again for this interview and for your interest
in Forsaken . I urge all the Metal Coven readers to keep the metal flame
burning and believe in their dreams. Forsaken have been doing this for a
long time now. I also hope that all the readers of this web zine get
hold of Dominaeon and play it loud. It is available on a host of
distributors worldwide. DOOM ON.