Q&A: Convocation on Writing Debut Album, “Scars Across”

Doom/death duo Convocation released their debut album, Scars Across, at the end of March. Created over a number of years, the duo took their time to find their sound, a spacious, gloomy yet evil blend of doom and death metal.

Decibel spoke with LL and MN about writing Scars Across and finding that sound.

Members of Convocation are in, or have been in, a host of other bands, the most notable two being Dark Buddha Rising and Desolate Shrine. Where do the two of you (LL on instruments, MN on vocals) find the time to start another band?
MN: We agreed to do Convocation without having urgent schedules. We do Convocation when we have suitable slot and dedication for that.

LL: Exactly. I think there’s zero problems about the schedules. We’ll do what we want whenever we happen to have time. Neither Desolate Shrine or Convocation are active [on the] live front at the moment.

Scars Across is your first release. How long has this album been in the works, and what are you feeling now that it’s been out to the public for a few weeks?
MN: LL and I started recording music together [in] 2012. If I remember correctly, we started recording Scars Across [in] 2015. To be honest, I’m quite surprised for the really positive response. It’s not a basic doom-death album and I was waiting for some kind of doom purists attack. Did not happen.

LL: Yeah. The songwriting process took a long time overall, yet there were times when we did not write a single note. I did not compose the album for years actively but it was more a slow burning process. I’m really proud of what we managed to accomplish. I think it’s something special for sure. Maybe the reason for that is the fact that I haven ́t been following doom (or anything else, really) metal scene actively so I could not create too much self-pressure. I didn’t compare [or] reflect the music to any of the genre’s bands at all so in that sense, MN’s comment about getting potentially shitted on by genre enthusiasts is relevant [laughs].

What was the writing process for Scars Across like? What were your influences on the record?

MN: My life is my influence. My death also.

LL: The writing process was quite hard. Not because I couldn’t get songs done but because we were searching for the right direction for the band for a long time. We didn’t want to sound like any other band (if possible) – tried to find an unique angle which also feels tailor made for us. I think we originally did more than two albums’ worth of material that was thrown into a recycle bin. Some of those songs might find a new shape, form one day but for this album, Scars Across, they did not fit or feel right.

Lyrically, the album is described to be about the evils of humankind. Were you calling upon specific examples of this when you wrote the lyrics for Scars Across?

MN: It’s personal. It’s always personal when I’m writing lyrics. I’m writing about my past and present. But I have many personalities in me. So, you have to be a bit fucked up to understand my lyrics.

LL: I agree

LL did the artwork for the record. Why did you choose to keep it in the band, and what were you striving to represent with it?

LL: I’ve been doing all the artwork for all the releases I’ve played on last 10 years or so. It’s natural for me. Of course there’s a shitload of work to handle the art department in addition all the music and production but that’s my cross to bear. And I do believe that the outcome is greater when you’ve suffered for it. I want to point out though that this time I got help from Mattias Frisk (the handwritten texts), Misantrophic Art (logo and the symbol) and Giorgio from Everlasting Spew did the layout work. So this is more collaboration than I’ve done in years and it worked really well.