For some death metal bands starting out, the goal is to have the most extreme “brootal” sound possible and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. There are some great extreme death metal bands out there that are a lot of fun.
For others, the goal is more complex; it’s to create a sound that is both heavy and accessible and ultimately that has its own unique identity. Hailing from the Chicago burbs, Cimmerian definitely fits among this second group. Vocalist and lead guitarist Dean Nagel founded the band with a friend who eventually moved on. He then added his brother Tim on bass and friend Evan Dale on guitar and backing vocals.
Cimmerian already has a full-length out, Infinite Perdition, and has just released a single ‘Among Ghosts, We Slept’ off the upcoming record, Hollowing.
“Everything is written musically first for us,” Dean says. “When I go to write a song , I sit down after some inspiration and just start playing guitar. The mood I’m in can have a huge impact on a song I make, as there are certain songs on Infinite Perdition and Hollowing with a lot of feeling to them.”
Evan has taken over the role lyric writer.
“It’s as if Dean makes the canvas and then we all have to paint the picture. And it turns out surprising well,” Dale says. “We all had more of a part in the actual recording, producing, and overall creation of this new album though. With this second album, I took the chance of coming up a theme and the lyrics. I worked quite hard on it so we could have something serious and personal to represent the sound that was being created. The lyrics on the upcoming release were done to match the quality of what was coming out of the studio.”
Cimmerian is clearly part of a generation of metal musicians who have been freed by bands like Between the Buried and Me and others to bring influences in from everywhere. The band talks about growing up listening to bands like Insomnium, Agalloch, Opeth, and Enslaved alongside names like Foo Fighters and Dredg.
“I developed most my techniques from learning songs by BTBAM, and watching videos of Paul Waggoner,” Dean says while his brother lists influences like Alex Webster and Victor Wooten.
“Alex inspired me to play death metal and, with the videos I have watched, taught me techniques that I use today,” Tim Nagel says. “I also like playing all different styles of music so I have been watching Victor for a couple years now and picked up a few techniques. I also received lessons from a music teacher to expand my music knowledge.”
Refreshingly this is a band aware of the giants of the genre but also very much a part of what is going on right now in metal.
“I believe we draw influence from every musician we meet who is doing exactly what we’re doing,” Evan says. “We get inspired by people who are just like us, trying to get their name out there. And for every person who sends a kind word our way, I think it takes us ten steps further. Sometimes it goes beyond the actual music.”
That unabashedly emotional approach to death metal is something this band doesn’t shy away from.
“I like to put a lot of feeling into our music, that’s where the melodic part comes from,” Dean says. “I also like to experiment and try different things when I write, and not limit us to one style. I listen to many different kinds of metal styles, which I like to incorporate into our music.”
Evan says there are certainly progressive elements to Cimmerian but you can’t call them a true prog metal band. And that, he says, is a good thing.
“I think we call it ‘melodic’ because we somehow formed a way to play a melody and make it sound evil,” the non-Nagel brother member of the band explains. “There are parts on our songs where you can hear the Insomnium or Dissection influences but over all I think the term ‘melodic death metal’ is just an umbrella statement. There’s a strong importance of making songs that are heavy but also memorable after they’re over.”
That’s certainly a goal Cimmerian has achieved with the single, ‘Among Ghosts, We Slept.’
“We tend to have songs that could sometimes go in any direction and things may not repeat if it doesn’t feel right,” Evan says. “But with this single there’s a strong emphasis on the whole verse, chorus, bridge type of stuff. It makes for a pretty catchy tune and we hope it can hold people over till we release the full length album.
“I think we have evolved a lot since the release of Infinite Perdition, so you should expect many different things from Hollowing,” Dean says. “I think ‘Among Ghosts , We Slept’ represented this well and that’s why we made it the single.”
Cimmerian hopes to tour behind Hollowing by the summer of 2014. In the meantime, keep an ear out for what’s brewing in the suburbs of the Windy City.