Azure Emote's Mike Hrubovcak Talks Aliens, The Illuminati, And Avant-Garde Death Metal
Band Photo: Azure Emote (?)
If you love all things avant-garde and progressive and haven't heard the name Azure Emote before, get ready for this project to show up on your radar in a big way. The band features members who have been involved with Fear Factory, System Divide, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Vile, Monstrosity, and more, and is out now with second full-length album "The Gravity of Impermanence."
Metalunderground.com is now hosting a full stream of the entire release right here, which is a discordant symphony featuring bizarre industrial sounds, backing choirs, symphonic strings, and death metal brutality.
Before immersing yourself in the heavenly havoc, check out our interview with the band below, in which vocalist Mike Hrubovcak was kind enough to provide a complete track-by-track breakdown of the album, along with a full history on the band.
xFiruath: For our readers not familiar with Azure Emote, can you give me a little brief history of how the band got together and what it’s done so far?
Mike: Azure Emote was formed in 2003 after the breakup of my other band Divine Rapture at the time. It was a traumatic breakup for me, and I felt the need to keep going. Most importantly I just needed a personal outlet for my all my negative emotions, so I got together with my good friends Ryan and Pat from Rumpelstiltskin Grinder and made something crazy happen. “Chronicles of an Aging Mammal” was then recorded and put out on Czech based Epidemie Records. I then put Azure Emote into hiatus though as I joined Vile and Monstrosity and Ryan and Pat continued on with Rumpelstiltskin Grinder and other projects. It wasn’t until 2011 that I got the itch to write my own music again and get creative with all the crazy things that I don’t really have the freedom to do with the other bands I’m in.
xFiruath: How did you get hooked up with Selfmadegod Records?
Mike: Well I knew of SMG for a while through my friends at Relapse, and had worked with them on the artwork for the XXX Maniak releases. SMG is putting out a lot of awesome and diverse stuff now so I thought it would be a good fit for how crazy Azure Emote’s music is. It’s cool to also be on a polish label, as my family’s nationality is Polish/Czech, and the previous album was on a Czech label so it seems fitting to keep that going!
xFiruath: This is the band’s second album – how does it differ in terms of style and structure from the first one?
Mike: It differs a lot, and not just because it’s different members now, but also because that first album was my first time writing my own music. The albums were also written 10 years apart, so just as I can say that I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago, that also applies to the music as well (pulling from different experiences and influences in my life at those particular times). The root and darkness of Azure Emote is still there though, being the healthy release of my personal negativity. Azure Emote is all about creativity and passion with no boundaries yet utterly misanthropic to the end. I think this new album is more refined though, more focused, and a bit angrier. I’ve learned a lot over the years, but I guess life has taken just as much as it’s given.
xFiruath: Could you give us some insight into the lyrics of each track?
1. Epoch of De-Evolution - It’s pretty self explanatory, and about humanity's dependency on technology so much so, that we’re actually getting dumber as a whole. Also the growing lack of a connection with the earth, the universe and the whole quantum instinct, that without it, will eventually lead us to our demise through selfish animalistic ego.
2. Carpe Diem - Is about breathing in the pain of life, and cherishing it, accepting it, and knowing that it’s just another part of the experience and that without it, you would feel nothing, especially not those fleeting peaceful moments that without the pain would not feel so beautiful in contrast.
3. Marching Forth - Is about the power and fortitude found in solitude, not found from external saviors but from embracing the empty dismal truth of nothingness that grants you the opportunity to create your own will, marching forth and forging your own path, creating as you go.
4. Sunrise Slaughter - Has no lyrics but features the actual screams of live pigs being slaughtered along with harmonica melodies made to convey the morbid reality of another creature’s suffering by our hands that we tend to overlook, while we toil away into another bright day for ourselves.
5. Conduit of Atrophy - Is about the cycle of life in general, a morbid cycle of ever reaching ambitions, quickly fading memories and inevitable points of decay. It’s a broad channel or portal of energy that slowly deteriorates as you travel along with it.
6. Veils of Looming Despair - Is inspired from the feelings conjured along the shores of a dark ocean with a bright full moon above. How sobering and cold yet beautifully empty. The beach at night is one of my favorite places to be, especially in times of distress. It puts everything in perspective. A black void to one side, the lights of life to the other, the endless eternity above, and the grounding earth between your toes.
7. Dissent - Is about the illuminati, and the initial anger that one feels when confronted with the facts and puzzle pieces that seem inconceivable, but when put together paint a vivid and realistic picture of humanity seen from outside our sheltered box.?
8. The Living Spiral - Is about the highs and lows of life. All the unfair situations, tribulations and pains of life in general that spiral out in waves of inescapable whirlpools. Eventually one of them is going to pull you down.) ?
9. Obsessive Time Directive - Is about whatever it is that you choose to occupy your time with before you die. In order to escape the pointlessness of life we choose to labor, to create, to work, to achieve something that makes the time feel worth while and to give ourselves meaning. Everyone has their hobbies. Some paint, some create music, some play sports, some have children, some just work, etc.?
10. Patholysis - Is dedicated to Dr. Jacob “Jack” Kevorkian (R.I.P) - brilliant pathologist, euthanasia activist, painter, author, composer, instrumentalist, philosopher and pioneer of personal autonomy.
11. Destroyer of Suffering - Is about the personal right to die, euthanasia and mercy killing. It’s abhorrent to me how we can put our pets to sleep but not our loved ones. We’d rather prolong their suffering and condemn those with the bravery to do what is needed or desired. We’re constantly subjected to governing religious fanaticism and dogma.
12. Annunaki Illuminati - Is about the existence of extraterrestrial species and their involvement in our creation, history, present lives and future, as well as the correlation with the illuminati. Plausible evidence demands public investigation. Seeing is believing. "Read everything, listen to everybody, don't trust anything unless you can prove it with your own research."
13. The Color of Blood - Is about betrayal, and the chaotic emotional intricacies of human relations and the foolish idealized expectations we cling to.
14. Puppet Deities - Is about how governments and those in power use religion to control populations, manipulating gods on strings while the masses act like primitive children unaware of the puppeteer behind the curtain. “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”
xFiruath: How did the recording go, and are there any guest musicians on the album?
Mike: The recording went well, and I went back down to Nightsky Studios again in Maryland with my friend Ron Vento of Aurora Borealis. It’s always a great time to work with him and everything always goes smoothly there and always comes out killer. This whole album is really a conglomeration of guest musicians with me as the composer and creative director I guess you could say. Myself and Ryan Moll from Rumpelstiltskin Grinder are really the only two original long-standing members. This new album though has Mike Heller of Fear Factory on drums, Kelly Conlon of Death on Bass, Pete Johansen of Tristania/Sins of thy Beloved on Violin, and a ton of other contributions from members of Hate Eternal, Visions of Atlantis, Yakuza, Pyramaze and many others…
xFiruath: There’s a lot going on in the cover artwork – how did that come together and does it reflect the themes of the album?
Mike: Yes, it most definitely reflects the overall concept. "The Gravity of Impermanence" summed up generally means the weight of dealing with how "nothing lasts forever." Impermanence or "Annica" is the Buddhist understanding of this reality and how attachments to conditions we might perceive as permanent, later cause us suffering. The cover art shows a lot of symbolism throughout it.
The dead or dying tree on the cover is made up of the human phases of life, from the young child playing in the water, to the working man, the enlightened mid-life strength, to the slow and tiring decay of old age and then eventually death. The tree of life is also being uprooted and swept over a waterfall from a violent azure river or ocean, showing that all things eventually erode and disappear. The city that once was thriving is burning and engulfed in war, (brown and chemical ridden with chemtrails lining the sky) showing how humanity will eventually destroy its own civilizations. There are also UFO’s and other elements hidden throughout the art that symbolize a lot of the other topics brought up in the album. The in-sleeve artwork expands on this even more.
The concepts and art are very personal to me, and at the time of writing this album I was also struggling with impermanence myself, dealing with the breakup of a 5 year relationship, the end of a 10 year day job and the start of a new one, moving/relocating yet again, facing impending family deaths, and a lot of other changes that always seem to happen all at the same time.
xFiruath: Are there any plans for additional visual representations, like a music video or lyric clip?
Mike: Yes most definitely. I've made video collages with lyrics for old songs before like "Complex 25" off the first album, but this time around I'd like to take "Destroyer of Suffering" or "Annunaki Illuminati" off the new album and really go all out with something really crazy, original, and totally pro. I'm looking forward to it, but just need to get the time and money and it's going to take a lot to organize all the people and artists and script it all out.
xFiruath: Do you have any live shows lined up?
Mike: I'm trying to organize that as well, and have already been offered a few big festivals this summer. If anything I’d like to hit some festivals in Europe or a small mini run to start. It will just take a lot for me to organize so it may take me a while to get that up and running depending on funds and availability of everyone and if I can even find the time myself between touring with Vile and Monstrosity.
xFiruath: What’s going on in your local metal scene, and does Azure Emote get to take part it in frequently?
Mike: There's alot going on locally here in NYC, Jersey, and Philly. I'm friends with a lot of the promoters here as well, but again, until I can organize the live lineup properly and "get all my ducks in a row," I won't be booking anything anytime soon. With most of the members already extensively touring in their other bands, and living in different countries, I will most likely have to use an alternate live lineup.
xFiruath: What music are you listening to, and what are you looking forward to in the coming months?
Mike: I'm looking forward to the new Hypocrisy and Immolation albums, also I heard Arcturus and Ne Obliviscaris are working on new albums, so I’m hyped about that. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Masters Hammer, Suffocation, and Dehumanized as well as the newest Katatonia and Septic Flesh albums. The new Dead Can Dance LP is amazing as well.
xFiruath: Anything else you’d like to add?
Mike: Thanks so much for the interview! I hope everyone keeps checking the Azure Emote website and Facebook for info on new merch and other awesome surprises that I have coming very soon! HAILS!
Ty Arthur splits his time between writing dark fiction, spreading the word about underground metal bands, and bringing you the latest gaming news. His sci-fi, grimdark fantasy, and horror novels can be found at Amazon.
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