Words by Paige Cobos
Story telling is an eternal aspect of life. We crave it in every creative shape and form. Nothing beats a good horror story especially as the seasons turn colder and the days get shorter. Stories of mysterious places and beings from other realms are timeless aspect of horror fiction. Often one loves to think what kind of music would accompany their favorite dark stories of old.
The German stoner-doom metal band Confusion Master unleashes their own otherworldly story with their second album Haunted. Coming off the momentum of their stellar 2018 debut Awaken, Haunted is a conjured cosmic swirl of doom drumming and thundering grooves that will leave listeners mad for more. We caught up with the band’s guitarist Stephan Kurth and talked about inspirations, creating an album to a lost Lovecraft tale and what he would do if Cthulhu himself really rose up from the depths.
Off Shelf: With the release of your second album Haunted approaching quickly, how are you feeling to finally unleash it onto the masses of the world?
Stephan Kurth: We’re feeling nothing but delighted completing all work and vision of the past three years with Haunted. It’s like before and after totally not being the same.
OS: Coming off your debut album Awaken from 2018, what inspirations and ideas came to mind in the early days of creating Haunted?
SK: Visually keeping up with the journey of Cthulhu and that being said we knew only Antonio/Pig Hands could visualize that. We were into heavy touring in 2018/2019 and shaped half the songs already during those gigs while we discovered a desire to incorporate more drone elements while at the same time simplify basic rhythmic arrangements.
OS: There is a strong feeling of a marching foreboding throughout this album. Did the essence of the difficult and dark winter of 2020 seep its way through into the recording sessions?
SK: Absolutely. During pandemic lockdowns we haven’t been technically allowed a long time to rehearse or meet. We postponed recording sessions three or more times for almost nine months. We found lucky short periods of time in between society’s lockdown over here in Rostock. Totally alone in our cold practice room shelter, rushed on getting everything onto tape before world downfall. There has been a sense of distinct cold atmosphere in the recording, especially the second session where we recorded “Jaw on a Hook” and “Casket Down.”
OS: Haunted as a whole has this awesome quality of a forbidden Lovecraftian tale with each song serving as a chapter in the story of the album. Was that intentional?
SK: It’s been an intentional idea to collect frames in the story of a rising old one from the sea coming for humanity and the album title summarizing its faith in it. Accepting the fact, collecting these frames – musically and lyrically taking years – we really like to work that way. Also, speaking of side b, both songs could be one too as they derive from the same origin riff. So that repetitive element to combine all given frames is omnipresent in the record.
OS: One of my personal favorite tracks from the album is “The Cannibal County Maniac.” The fusion of the doom drums and the psychedelic vibes of the guitars is amazing. What was the creative process like in composing this particular song?
SK: Ok, now we are talking! That song was made as an artistic homage to Mark Greening, especially his distinct style of drumming which escapes the backbeat style regularly. The lyrics and story refer to a short independent movie, Welcome To Cannibal County he’d been in in 2013 and Ramesses already did the soundtrack to it. The lyrics take that story further. We are massive fans of Electric Wizard, Ramesses, and Dead Witches so we really enjoyed putting our full mindset in this tune. We sent a rough mix to Mark and he totally liked it. We were talking on a split record with Dead Witches for a second, but they already had another split in the pipeline. This story does not end here as we will do another tribute to the tribute! [laughs]
OS: For the stunning album artwork you guys tapped Macedonian artist, Antonio llievsky also known as Pig Hands. What was the collaboration process like with him to create the art of Haunted?
SK: We, and I particularly, have worked with Antonio on different band illustration projects since 2013. Having the opportunity to engage with a guy as talented as him for a project will bring a great result if you let him take the lead, doing it in his own flow. We ping-ponged a few ideas though and here’s the result! A creative process always requires a bit of back and forth and sometimes some tension goes with it in regards to colors, frames and such but that’s part of the process and certainly not negative in any way. We simply love his style and the way we work together.
OS: What are some of the artists right now that you are listening to that you think more people should know about?
SK: Trialogos Stroh Zu Gold on Exile On Mainstream Records, Versus The Stillborn-Minded – Peacefully In Our Sleep, They’ll Crush Us Like Lice on Hallelujah Stoner Records, Guevnna – Burning Skyline on Long Legs Long Arms Records, Noizegoat/Earth Federation split LP on RSR Records… so much to discover still really!
OS: Lastly, if the Great Old Cthulhu himself were to rise up from the depths of the sunken city of R’lyeh, what is the first thing you do?
SK: Oh yeah, I had that vision already many times living in a tourist city close to the beach here in the Baltic. While he would come for the tourist harbor area first, probably I would bike out to our practice room shelter, recording a last tune addressing the above.