Pulse of Nebulae interview
Pulse of Nebulea are an international progressive death metal band. I first met Hisham and Martins (vocalist and guitarist of the band) when they were part of a band called Samosa Terror in Dubai close to a decade ago.
A couple years ago, Martins linked me to a single from the new band he was working on with Hisham. The track was ‘Elusive Elation’ and I was really impressed by the instrumentation as well as production. They have finally released their self-titled debut album earlier this month. The 8 track album has been described as “Progressive death metal” however you can hear hints of melodic death metal and even power metal. The catchy guitar riffs are well complemented by growled vocals. ‘Triumph of the Sun’ and ‘Drone’ are a couple of my favourite tracks from the album. An impressive debut release, Pulse of Nebulea are a band to keep an eye out for in the future.
I spoke to Hisham and Martins about the album, and their future plans.
You have been working on your album for some time now. How does it feel to have it finally released?
MP: It feels absolutely fantastic! So much time and effort was put into writing, producing and recording it, I really thought it was never going to end.
HC: We poured a lot of ourselves into this album. Listening to the final product reminds us why it was done in the first place. Hearing this album is like listening to our thoughts. That, in itself, fills me with immense pride.
Hisham and Martins were part of a band in Dubai. How did Dirk Verbeuren become a part of Pulse of Nebulea?
HC: Yes, we first met and formed a band when we were in high-school in Dubai. Noticing our similar interests we immediately clicked and knew we were going to be working together for a long, long time. Both of us being huge fans of melodic death metal, especially the old school Swedish kind, we naturally have always loved Soilwork. When Martins started looking for potential drummers, Dirk was obviously our first choice.
MP: I got in touch with Dirk through my friend and co-producer Matt Wicklund (Ghost Ship Octavius, ex-Warrel Dane). At first when I reached out to Dirk, I did not get a response for several months, because he was on tour. I also spoke to several other drummers, received many demo recordings, but didn’t quite find the right musical fit. Eventually Dirk replied back and said he really liked the two demos I sent him, which later became the singles we released in 2014, and decided to take part in our project. After we had done the first two demos, we absolutely loved the collaboration and asked Dirk if he would be interested in becoming a member of the band, to which he agreed. As a result, Dirk did more than just record drums for the album, he also took part in arranging the songs and breathing life into them. As a result the whole collaboration turned out far better than expected, I honestly can’t imagine having worked with any other drummer.
Your self-titled album is a killer mix of death metal and progressive metal. Tell us about the album.
MP: Hisham and I have always been fans of progressive metal. For me, personally, Edge of Sanity and Opeth have been huge influences. Musically the album is a mix of all the different kinds of music we like, there is death metal, black metal, groove, orchestral elements, and even power metal, for example, before I added the guitar and keyboard melodies, Triumph of the Sun sounded just like a Manowar song.
HC: Vocally, the aim was to diversify, mixing different genres and vocal styles to create a unique and versatile sound. Also, we aimed to take the listener on a journey to try to experience events and themes which occur constantly around us, but are only subconsciously perceived. With astronomical themes, like Triumph of the Sun, the sun turning into a red giant, and hardships of suffering a man goes through without questioning the reason, like Elusive Elation.
With Hisham in Germany and Martins in Latvia, how did you manage to write and record the album?
MP: Since we already keep in touch on a daily basis, it really wasn’t all that difficult, thanks to modern technology that permits it. We already make an effort to see each other in person two times a year, which gives us time to also work on the songs in person. Hisham and I both have home recording capabilities, so we record on our own, exchange ideas and spend long hours fine-tuning them over Skype.
HC: I record vocals in my basement with a cheap mic and interface, Martins is the one with an actual studio. I took two trips last year, in March and September, to fly to Latvia to do the final vocal recordings for the album. Dirk did all of his parts in LA and sent them to us, as we proceeded with the recording process. Martins handled everything else on his own.
The album has been mastered by Dan Swanö (Unisound). How did that happen?
MP: Mixing this album was quite a serious ordeal for me. Even though I do have a reasonable amount of experience, mixing my own music is always the worst, it never feels done and there is infinite room for improvement. I spent an absolutely insane amount of time mixing this album and was never really quite satisfied with the result. Eventually, I made the decision to take a vacation, an entire month off from the project, when I got back, I sat down and finished it. Turns out that stepping away from something that had become an obsessive habit and clearing my mind, was all I needed. I knew right from the beginning that I wanted the album to be mastered by a name engineer, to give it that extra sparkle on top, so I had contacted three different engineers. Dan replied quite quickly and said that he’s extremely busy and will probably be unavailable until late autumn, but told me to send the mix over anyway, and he will have a look. It didn’t really work out with the other guys, but Dan got back to me in 4 days time with a finished master and the response: “Sounds fucking great I must say. Great mixwork!” That was single best response I could have ever gotten as an up and coming engineer and artist, especially, since Dan is one of our musical idols.
What have you been listening to lately (metal and non-metal)? Are there any acts that have inspired you of late?
HC: During the album writing process artists like Dark Fortress, Cattle Decapitation, Be’lakor, Opeth, Insomnium and Sikth made a serious impact on the different vocal techniques I implemented and experimented with. And lately I’ve been really enjoying the new albums by C.B. Murdoc, Black Crown Initiate, In Mourning and Ihshan.
MP: Well, Hisham already mentioned a lot of artists that I also really enjoyed, but I suppose musically, a lot of the compositions were heavily inspired by orchestral music and scores from films and video games. The longer and more atmospheric songs heavily rely on slow buildups and extensive layering, which is something I learned from composers like John Williams and more contemporary artists like Leprous. Atmosphere is something I believe many artists these days overlook when recording and producing albums, which is something the Black metal artists usually aim for as the single most important element, as opposed to technical proficiency that most modern bands focus on. One of the most life-changing musical experiences that I’ve had in recent years, that made me re-think the importance of composition and structured chaos is Gorguts – Colored Sands, an absolute must listen album to any metal fan who is looking for something out of the ordinary.
What are your interests/hobbies outside music?
HC: I am a full time architecture student, which takes up nearly all of my free time outside of music. As architecture is a creative output, it gives me inspiration for developing new ideas in music and vice versa. When I do get free time, I either spend it watching TV shows, informing myself about history, geography and politics, or I just go outdoors.
MP: Since I work full time in software development, I don’t have a lot of free time either, which is probably why it took three years to get this album done. But I really enjoy drinking craft beers, watching and reading science fiction, space operas, and fantasy.
Is the band going to be a studio project or a live band also? Do you have any plans to perform live soon?
MP: We are currently putting together a line-up for live shows and we will be embarking on a short Baltic regional tour this September. With this we aim to gain experience and build on the momentum in order to play festivals next summer.
HC: The main difficulty is finding a suitable drummer, as Dirk is unable to join us due to his obligations with Megadeth.
Thanks for answering our questions. Do you have any final words?
HC: Thanks for having us! Please, check out our album and videos on YouTube.
MP: Hopefully our fans won’t have to wait 3 more years for the next album.
Both: Jus drein jus daun!
Listen to Pulse of Nebulea below