Humanity Defiled Interview: Death, the Solo Way

Photo by Lore Basyn
Photo by Lore Basyn

The one-man death metal monstrosity called Humanity Defiled has been on our radar since 2013, when main dude Iwein Denayer ripped ears and faces with the project’s first album, Circling the Drain.  The music satisfied our need for death metal with doom inflections and an idiosyncratic style.  This summer, he released sophomore bruiser The Demise of the Sane, and it fulfills all the promises of the elder record.  Tight performances, whipsmart songwriting and a sense of purpose make Demise a great 2015 metal release.

In this month’s issue of the magazine, you can read more about Denayer and his dedication and musical direction.  He had more to say than we could fit onto the page, though, so here are a few more of his thoughts.

What was the process like to put together your own home studio?

Well, one of the first things I did since the previous recording was selling my studio monitors. I don’t use ‘em because I switch between studio headphones and car stereo, home stereo and in-ear-phones. Also a lot of trial and error involved but it works for me.  Almost all of the stuff I used on the first album was also there for the second one. I invested in a few more Toontrack products, and a BC Rich Mockingbird Heritage Classic bass. I love those guitars.  I think, if one would calculate how much money I’ve spent on recording equipment, it’s all reasonable. It’s common bollocks new equipment will get you better songs, haha.

You mentioned that you tend to write songs all at once, in a short span of concentrated inspiration. Was that still the case with the new HD album?

Like the previous album, most of the lyrics were written in 1 day.  There were going to be 9 songs on Demise. At the very end of the process, I felt it was incomplete. And on a restless Sunday afternoon, I squeezed out ‘the circular strain’. Recorded completely in 2 hours. Extremely rewarding! 

You have talked about the impact your job has on your music… Can you discuss if/how having a family affects your musical ideas?

It doesn’t have that much of an effect on my music. Having a family sometimes means delaying the creative process, haha. But there aren’t any specific themes that shine through in the music. Sure, there’s an indirect impact, because there are tragic situations that are stuck in my head. And that also affects family life, only to realize how thankful I am to live as peaceful and tranquil as we do.
My wife’s totally not into metal. That also helps.

Do people you work with (either co-workers or the young people you work with) know much about your musical output? Have they heard it? What reactions have you gotten?

I know there are a few youngsters that know what I do musically, but I haven’t gotten any reaction.
My co-workers also know, but it always is a bit awkward when talked about. In general (work, friends, family) there’s never enough time and space to discuss it thoroughly. If I would play something more mainstream, there would be less thresholds. But it’s the ol’ fear of the unknown that comes into play and people then easily lapse into clichés and jokes about those clichés. They almost always fail to talk about the essence. Other musicians (no matter what style) mostly understand this. I recently had a conversation with a real crooner about the music we make. He understood, although he never listened to metal. That says a lot. It’s all about putting your soul in your art. No matter what medium, every sincere artist knows this.

How did you gather collaborators for the new album?

Well, funny you ask this. Alexander, who plays leads on ‘loss’, was in a class where I gave a guest session on contraceptives and STD’s. I’m guessing that’s 8 or 9 years ago. He saw I was wearing a metal shirt and told me he was planning on becoming a really good guitarist. He also began playing in bands at the time I was still in one. He now plays in a prog-metalcore band called MY AIM.  People who love the genre, have to check ‘em out. I asked him if he was willing to do some guest stuff and he immediately accepted.  Awesome dude and a really great shredder, just as he planned.

Do you have any favorite moments, either from the process of creating the new songs or within the recorded songs themselves?

Well, recording ‘the circular strain’ was pretty funny and pretty intense. I was like a madman in my little recording room. In 2 hours all was done.  I also had fun recording the SSD cover. Al Barile himself gave me permission to record. I sent him the result and he said ‘awesome’. Mark Mckay (Slapshot) also let me know he found it pretty rad. Very rewarding, also because I kinda look up to these guys.
Have you been playing HD songs live? Do you have plans for shows in the near future?

I don’t play HD songs live and I don’t intend to. People have been asking many times about a live band. Problem is, I see HD as my own very personal outlet. When I play in a band, I want it to be a democracy. That’s what I like about being in a band. I don’t see myself dictating band members on how to play my songs. What I do see possible, is creating a brand new HD song, live in front of an audience. That would be genius.

Can you talk about some of the music you have been listening to most frequently?

That’s always a hard question. I got to know Utter Blackness, a one-man black metal project out of Salt Lake City. It’s the tried and tested lo-fi black metal formula, but Xander does a brilliant job. There’s a 2-song Utter Blackness/Doodsangst split coming out soon.  Perturbator is also very good. It doesn’t sound like metal, but it actually is. The last Shape Of Despair is also very, very good. New Tribulation, Wiegedood, Skogen, Solefald,… too much to mention. But all good stuff. Also very looking forward to the new Serial Butcher album. Can’t believe these guys aren’t getting any more attention…