Thursday, March 1, 2012

Epitaph Of Doom: CEREMONIUM, An Interview with Thomas Pioli Of Legendary US Death/Doom Cult!

CEREMONIUM needs no introductions in the underground. The legendary Death/Doom outfit that started its doom laden journey as early as in year 1992, have created some of the most crushing Death/Doom assaults in the history! The band put a stop to its musical journey around in 2003 for some unavoidable reasons, The reason being Brandon Diaz (Vocals/Guitars/Keys) was fighting cancer.  
Nihilist Webzine (El Salvador) Editor and Putrid Ascendancy (India) Administrator Oscar Miranda Griffin spoke to Thomas Pioli (Guitarist) recently. We present you the brief conversation.  

NW/PA - I'm the Editor of Nihilist Webzine  from El Salvador and Administrator Of Putrid Ascendancy Webzine/Community from India, Its is an honor to interview Ceremonium, Welcome! Thomas!!.

Thomas: Thank you, Oscar, for the interview and cool words. Need coffee..!

NW/PA - Ceremonium has been extremely underrated band from the 90's, Could you please tell us how Ceremonium was formed?

Thomas: I just had a vision what this band would be. Im glad I found the right people. It was in 1992, and there was this death metal fest in NJ with Goreaphobia, Ripping Corpse, and others. I met Oscar and Vic for the first time and like minds think alike I guess. We rehearsed death metal that we loved. Jon of Deteriorot helped us on drums until we found Chris and Brandon and this was our first full lineup.  

NW/PA - The album "Into the Autumn Shade" for me is one of the first works that introduced me to the genre "Death/Doom Metal". How long did it take to record the material and if you found it difficult to find a label interested in launching the material?

Thomas: Thanks! Back then there was not so much interest for doom/death but again this is just metal. We had "Nightfall in Heaven" 7" EP out and a demo by then, so there was the label's interest. As always true underground warriors prevail. Fadeless Records were starting up and we had pen correspondence. They picked us up for the first album and it seemed more interest that came from Europe back then as opposed to the States. You had to push more effort when we first started. I think our sound was definately more Euro, plus traditional metal bands.

NW/PA - How was the scene of New York back then?

Thomas: It was the best! NY rules! With NY there wass a certain mindset and dedication in metal and its always there. So many bands were releasing killer albums and it was inspiring to be around.

NW/PA- What were the main influences on the sound of Ceremonium?

Thomas: Carnage, Entombed, Abhorrence, Funebre, Demigod, Crematory, Bolt Thrower, Paradise Lost, Mercyful Fate, the list is endless.

NW/PA - You played with legendary bands like "Rottrevore, Unleashed, Napalm Death" to name a few. How was the experience playing wih them?

Thomas: Sick. Rottrevore's classic drum roll, instrumental, Johnny's horn, the wipe outs, 90s death metal was total class and it was an honor being on any of these bills. They are great people and were great experiences. Its hard rehearsing a set and preparing for a show, however its pays off in the end getting out there for a frenzy.

NW/PA - Death/Doom Metal as genre, has changed much today than before. In early days this genre did not see much support coming their way. Tell me how do you feel about this change, being a member of a band of early 90's?

Thomas: I will tell you this. I once had this talk with Scott Koerber who was doing a book on doom/death with a top notch lineup in it, and I thought many English bands favoring a brutal style went softer at one time or another. Could be because of the tea they drink...Try more beer??? I dont know...I have always leaned towards the heavier side of things, even when it can be melodic. I am very conscious of it. Honestly doom can be so powerful, even with one single note. Pink Floyd is a great example. Less is more feeling. Though I do play faster music these days.

NW/PA - After the release of debut album, why did you decide to take a break for almost 5 years to release the next album?

Thomas: It was not a break. Ceremonium were playing lots of shows, even various fests in this time so we were productive. I think the band took a long time to write songs, basically having standards of what was created. We didnt rush. I guess it did hurt us to a certain degree for not having it out sooner. Actually the band recorded "No Longer Silent", only 3 years after the first album. This version was not released though. Chris and Tom Wilkinson former Immolation guitarist wanted to start up a label although the idea fell apart before releasing our album. They wanted us to record at Vortex Studios which was owned by Chris' brother and Immolation did a promo there as well. I would say the results were very satisfying and it was awesome getting the chance to hang around these dudes. After being in this label limbo it hit me to start up my label Destro Records and this became its first release.

NW/PA - In the beginning of the year 2000, you released "No Longer Silent" and it was in the same line of previous work and was excellent. How difficult or easy was it to mix the album? Since new decade brings new technology to enhance the sound.. !

Thomas: Yes, I agree technology brings changes, sometimes for better and often for worse. I think 'No Longer Silent' is well recorded and would have been better with more time spent on recording. It was analog and this is my preferred technique. We also had Dan Lilker doing the pre-production work for us and those pointers helped. It captured our sound, its heavy and raw. When tuning down so low, theres a fine line between how the sound can be without losing power or clarity. We got Darkthrone's "Cromlech" keys ound almost identical so props for the quality gear!

NW/PA - In 2003 you decided to leave the band is a state of "pause" because Brandon Diaz was fighting cancer. The decision to leave the band was unanimous or there were some who disagreed with that decision?

Thomas: This was difficult. Obviously within a band there are tensions with relationships and it takes a toll after years. I dont want to comment on it as its personal, and I guess nobody disagreed. I tried to be there when I could and people need their space.

NW/PA - Could you share with us some anecdote related to Ceremonium?

Thomas: Sure, When Vic first met me, he remarked I look like I could be from Sweden, This ensued a prolonged talk of discussing killer acts, the Stockholm Syndome!   

 NW/PA - Do you think that Ceremonium had the merit that it should be mentioned as one of the bands that created the blueprints of genre "Death/Doom Metal" with Sorrow and Winter of New York Scene, Do you think Ceremonium still did not get its due?

Thomas: I feel it mattered to those who respected death metal. It was exciting in those days, writing mail, and the trading. Today everything is tech oriented and is quick fix. Its faster to do certain things with less effort. Although I still check out newer bands.

NW/PA - Do you have any plans to return with Ceremonium and playing live shows or may be a compilation in future?

Thomas: No shows planned, The plan now is to release "Dreams We Have Written". It will be a double CD compiling all the bands material; both albums, EPs, and rare stuff. The way for people to grab these shreds of misery once again and cool packaging for the supporters. It should be out on Weird Truth Productions in March/April 2012...Get in touch.

NW/PA - Wasn't Destro Records supposed to release this compilation? 

Thomas: No Weird Truth Productions is releasing it:

 NW/PA - You have participated in a live concert with Incantation, tell me how was that experience to play live for Incantation?

Thomas: Yes an US tour in Golgotha days, and Brazil in 2003. They were positive experiences in general playing killer shows, meeting cool people. Sharing stages with Entombed, joining 13 as luck would have it were exciting times.. Negative things I wont comment on. You learn from working with different people.

NW/PA - You are involved in another band named "Thevetat". Can you tell us about this band?

Thomas: Thevetat has been on my mind for a few years in some shape or form, really getting together in the last few months. Its a death metal band, I guess in the 90s traditional style. I had some players at various points then they fell apart, and even now am putting a lineup together. It will take patience. The new songs are crushing and Im looking forward to getting a proper release out. Its different than most things I have done before.

NW/PA - Well, Thomas I need to ask this question as its a fixed question for all interviews we conduct!!. What are your 5 favorite Extreme Metal albums of all time?

Thomas: This could change quicker than weather...Bolt Thrower "Realm of Chaos", Morbid Angel "Altars of Madness", Pestilence "Consuming Impulse", Immolation "Here in After", Kreator "Terrible Certainty".

NW/PA - As the editor of Nihilist Webzine and Administrator of Putrid Ascendancy, I want to thank you for your precious time and this informative interview. Best wishes for Thevetat and Ceremonium!!. Hails!!!

Thomas: Thanks again Oscar. It was a pleasure. Keep it metal and hail Satan.



Last Known Line Up

Brandon Diaz - Guitars/Vocals/Keys
Thomas Pioli - Guitars 
Brian Yost - Bass
Chris Tredici - Drums

Putrid Ascendancy and Nihilist Webzine wants to extend their gratitude to Mr. Thomas Pioli for this interview! If you have a band and do want to feature on our webzines, Do write to us,

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