When you find out that the new band you’ve just discovered from Serbia was first put together by a 16 year female and at 19 she has now unleashed her bands’ debut album, you just have to find out a little about how that all comes together! VICERY are an experimental Death Metal act from Belgrade, Serbia and their debut full length ‘Devolution…’ impressed me so much that I reviewed it here. Fronted my Ivana Momčilović and ably supported by her partner Elio Rigonat, Vicery have unleashed one the most promising debut albums of the year. I recently caught up with Ivana to explore their short history and the process involved in pushing ‘Devolution…’ out to the rest of the world!
– Hi there, Ivana! Thanks so much for chatting with me today at Blessed Altar! Really looking forward to giving our readers some more insight to your band, Vicery!
– Thank you for giving us the opportunity to voice ourselves K!
– It is our pleasure! Of course, we are here to chat about your recently released new album – Devolution – out on Narcoleptica productions. How has the response been to it so far?
– To think that something we’ve recorded in our bedroom would not only attract a label that supports us very well but also sell CDs and fill up our first gig a couple days ago is really awesome. The response was beyond our expectations.
– The wonders of Social Media and Bandcamp has made getting your music out to the world so much easier hey? Not so long ago, a band from Serbia would have found that very difficult?
– We are pretty young so we only hear stories from the “old guard”. Back in the 90’s all they could do was distribute demos on cassettes hand to hand. While it’s easier to click upload then work on getting an actual physical release, it also makes the market more saturated, devolving the overall hype over new bands.
– Yes, that is the double edge sword of spreading the word so quickly. Ivana – I mentioned in my review that Devolution pretty much blew my head off on the first listen. You must be rather pleased with how it has turned out? How does it compare to the debut EP?
– I must admit that I hated how our debut EP turned out. Back in 2016 we only knew how to record our music, and we let other people mix and master it. That provoked us into taking control over everything, so Elio built up a year and a half of experience before mixing and mastering “Devolution…” all by himself on his bedroom computer and headphones. This time we could craft every smallest detail to perfection. “Devolution…” sounds amazing on any set of studio monitors, headphones, earbuds, computer speakers, car speakers etc.
– That hard work clearly paid off! Devolution sounds huge! You mentioned your partner in Vice (and Vicery) is Elio Rigonat – he has worked on his own material and also with local act Kobold. How did you end up getting involved with him and Vicery
– Back in 2014, I didn’t know much about the local metal scene. One day I met Kobold’s ex-frontman. He sent me their, then unreleased, debut EP. It was the first Serbian metal band I’ve ever listened to. One day I’ve messaged Kobold instead of him, asking some questions related to the band, and Elio replied since he actually managed the page. We started talking and decided to hang out later that day, talk music and stuff. When I met him he had a severely broken right arm with rods drilled through and all over his arm to fix it in place while it heals. It was a bloody swollen mess. He was always in severe pain and any sane person would just lay at home, but he was hanging out in the park with metalheads, drinking beer, being all positive and even bringing his electric guitar with a pocket amp trying to play it with a freaking mutilated arm. We fell in love that evening and have been together since. Vicery was supposed to be our small weekend project just for fun, but somehow it got out of hand and became something much more important to us.
– Sounds like a bit of fate there, Ivana! You started this band when you were 16 Ivana – now most 16-year-old females I know of are NOT involved in extreme music – can you give us some background to how you came to this point in your life and formed such a band?…Were you raised by Metalhead parents?
– My dad listens to classic rock like Deep Purple, Queen, AC/DC, Black Sabbath etc. so he raised me on those bands. The rest of my family listens to Serbian folk music (that’s the furthest from metal that you can go). My extreme metal interest was spontaneous. I’ve always played computer games a lot and loved it when metal music played in the background. Somehow I came across Metallica, and that led me to discover the first wave of Norwegian black metal. I was 12 I think.
– Awesome, Metallica to Dark Throne….that’ll do it! Getting back to the new album, Vicery works from a Death Metal template. But as I stated in my review, there is a little more going on here that straight up emulation – there’s a strong rhythmical element running through the album Ivana…can you add some comment here about what you were trying to achieve with your sound?
– I wanted a simple, rhythmic and atmospheric sound so I tried writing some riffs myself to give the idea to Elio how I wanted Vicery to sound. Did I mention I can’t play the guitar for shit? Anyway, those “riffs” ended up as the opening riffs in Rapture, Golden Bullet and some songs we plan for the 2nd album. Elio followed the formula and wrote the rest of the album. For some reason, he decided to “cripple” himself with a fucked up tuning he’s unfamiliar with, so he tuned to “Devin Townsend” open B. It removed a lot of his ability to play the way he’s used to, so mostly rhythm and atmosphere remained. Vicery was never supposed to be a technical masterpiece, it’s supposed to be pure atmosphere and energy.
– Well, that has been captured loud and clear! I love the energy in this record. There are also some distinctive tribal beats and sounds involved too – including, if I hear correctly – the digeridoo?? As an Australian, I loved hearing that being incorporated…was this an authentic use?
– We tried finding a didgeridoo in Serbia for weeks but failed to do so. We experimented with PVC pipes but it just wasn’t “it”. In the end, Elio programmed it using some didgeridoo sample library he found. He took his time though, making it sound authentic in his own way. We hope one day we’ll have more resources than a computer, a microphone and a guitar.
– I’m sure that will come in the future! Devolution is a super heavy album too – all the more so because of your vocal performance. I stated that there are not too many female vocalists that could match your intensity captured here…where the hell did you discover that??
– Ok…Care to name any vocalists that inspire you?
– Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation, King Parrot, Tatiana Shmayluk (from Ukrainian Metalcore act Jinjer, who I think is the only mainstream female growl vocalist that actually sounds good), Max Cavalera (LEGEND!!!) & Alexi Laiho.
– That’s a fair list and includes some unexpected names – Hell, Matt Young from Aussie’s King Parrot would be stoked! Your performance, combined with some very socially aware lyrics is delivered with some spiteful rage, Ivana. This is a very heated, pissed off record no question – something I suggested in my review was how does a 19-year-old become so ‘angry’ so early in her life?
– Let’s just say I was involved with people right out of some psychological horror movie, went through some shit times and somehow managed to get through it all physically unscarred. In the end, Elio pulled me out of it all with his good spirit.
– Hmm, the crowd you hang with hey?..I get it! You have produced a couple of videos for the album – ‘The Rapture’ and ‘Enforcer’ – Great work! Who put those together?
– We wanted to film a badass “Dope DOD”-like music video for Rapture, however since we were broke, it was filmed by our amateur photographer friends who would often record in-between the scenes and stop recording when the scene arrives. They never checked their recordings in-between takes either so we assumed they were okay. They forgot all the smoke flares at home, it was -20°C, other friends in the video didn’t take it seriously and got drunk, high and bored. In the end, we were left with a shitload of amateur footage. I got pissed off, got high, and gave up on having a music video, but Elio spent the evening and whole night trying to make something of it. In the end, it turned out great. He’s a wizard when it comes to making something out of nothing.
TSAR #1 video was Elio’s brainchild. He’s a fan of the whole Alice in Wonderland books, cartoons etc. so he just did the whole thing on his own.
Since he did the last two videos himself I wanted to make the Enforcer video so I did. I cut up some free stock footage, glued it together and slapped some effects. Elio couldn’t resist not polishing it to make sure every single frame is synced with the music as much as possible.
– As painstaking as that sounds, Elio’s work clearly paid off! Let’s look at some specific tracks, Ivana. If you could pick 3 tracks from the album that show off Vicery’s ‘point of difference’ what would you choose and why?
– “TSAR #1” for its “Drum & Bass” electronic type approach to metal, “Golden Bullet” for its diversity in riffs, clean to growl vocals contrast and exotic chords, and probably The Cult since it’s the song that started it all. It consists of 3 simple riffs, yet it’s intertwined with details that make it unique.
– Great selections…all killer tracks! I really love that instrumental ‘Euthanasia’ – that is a 4-minute killer riff monster that I have on repeated rotation…you didn’t want to add lyrics to that one?
– We had some mediocre lyrics, and when we tried adding them it just cemented what we already knew, that Euthanasia should be an instrumental “dividing” the album since the first 6 songs follow a certain concept while the three old songs don’t.
– Ahh, great point…I didn’t notice that myself! And the significance of the album title ‘Devolution’ – can you explain the meaning behind that choice?
– Elio and I are always observing the bigger picture around us. We can see people getting more anxious, neurotic and lost by the day, devolving from what they once were. We hope that after “Devolution…”, “…absolution” comes and puts everything into its rightful place.
– It’s probably inevitable…The artwork is also something that stood out to me on initial perusal – By Tara Kerac – is he a local artist? Were you looking for something specific when you were deciding on cover artwork?
– Yes, he is a local artist that Elio worked with in the past for his 2nd solo album “Egregor II”. He’s one of the more talented people in the country when it comes to making metal artworks. We don’t have many good artists here, most people turn to foreigners or accept anything given to them for free as “artwork”.
At first, I was supposed to do the artwork myself, but I concluded that I wasn’t good enough so we sketched what we wanted, and he realized it.
– How did you originally hook up with your label Narcoleptica productions? Happy with their work?
– Elio contacted Narcoleptica among hundreds of other labels for his solo project and Kobold, but he got turned down. We don’t know if they kept an eye on him and his work, but they contacted us like 3 days after we released our EP on CD for a tape deal, and eventually a CD deal when we released our debut full-length album.
– Hope they do well by you! How is the Metal scene in Serbia? Do you get to see many international acts come through?
– Since 2015 we’ve been getting many legendary bands coming here. It’s been a blast and it drained our wallets dry. Also, we have many “world class” Serbian bands, but it’s REALLY hard getting out of here and into Europe. A tour might feel like a cheap vacation to foreign bands, but to Serbs, a vacation is not something easily affordable.
– Speaking of the live scene – what are the plans for Vicery in this setting? Is this something you are doing? I think I was a recent promo for your first gig, is that correct?? If so how was that received?
– We knew that we had to go live for us to grow as a project, but we couldn’t find other members willing to commit. In Serbia, everyone is “in a hurry” and “busy” all the time but somehow nobody gets any work done ever. It’s fascinating, isn’t it? We decided to find a rhythm guitarist and just play all the programmed parts as backing tracks from our phone, similar to an old Hungarian band “Gire”. After all, it’s about us having fun on stage and not committing to the unwritten norms of the audience, right? People were confused at first but we all had fun together when the initial shock passed and it was amazing.
After the gig, so many that doubted us and doubted me congratulated us and many wanted to join our band to fill the “missing spots”. We’ll see how that turns out, we kinda like this setup. Our three-year-old “Samsung” drummer/bassist/keyboardist can’t leave the band on a whim and he never falls out of rhythm.
– Haha! Yes, at least you can rely on your drummer etc to turn up!! Finally, what bands is Ivana listening to at the moment? Any you care to recommend for our readers?
– Lately, I have been listening to Children of Bodom, System of a Down, Slayer, and also some non-metal music like Dope DOD because they have ballsy rhymes and a hardcore sound. I believe that you can find inspiration in other genres too. I mean, Vicery sounds weird because of it. There is plenty of influence from gothic, death-thrash bands along with drum & bass etc. It all falls together so nicely.
– Finally, Ivana, in wrapping up – on behalf of the staff at Blessed Altar Zine I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you every success moving forward with Vicery. Care to add anything we may have missed?
– Thank you for the opportunity K! We can add that you’re probably the first ones to write about our band and really “get” the sound we were going after. It made us very happy. We hope we’ll stay in touch for further developments and releases because we will surely keep working hard, and stay honest to the core!
Interview by KMaN
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