It’s been a little less than a year since I last talked with Polish black metal band Outre, shortly before Sein/Zeit, their split with Barshasketh, was released last November. In it, the band’s bassist L.Th mentioned that they’d be heading into the studio in January with the hopes that their second full-length would be out in June. They didn’t quite hit that June target for Hollow Earth – which will be out on October 26 on CD/LP/digital via Debemur Morti Productions (preorder here) and a deluxe red vinyl box set via Third Eye Temple (preorder here) – but that few months delay is incredibly easy to forgive once you hit play.
As a general rule, I like my black metal the same way I like my carrots: raw (some vegan humor?). Outre, however, is one of the major exceptions to said rule. For starters, there’s a certain quality to their songwriting that really demands a clearer sort of production: a kind of nuance in the guitar and bass work perhaps, subtle instances of dissonance and eldritch atmospheres that would get lost in a more lo-fi production style. You really don’t want to lose any of those elements on an album like Hollow Earth, which builds on and refines all of the elements that made their debut Ghost Chants so compelling – all of which can be heard on the album’s epic title track, which we’re premiering here today at the Vault. Ghastly riffs that alternate between dissonant and sludgy; relentless drumming that makes for a tense contrast with the more mid-tempo riffs; slower, more dramatic sections and chant-like clean vocals; and the deathly growl of newly added vocalist Mateusz Zborowski.
In short,”Hollow Earth,”just like the album as a whole, is stunning, and we’re thrilled to be presenting it here today. I also had the chance to ask the band a couple of questions about Hollow Earth, which you can read while enjoying the song below.
Indy Metal Vault: I don’t think Outre has ever sounded quite as relentless as you do on Hollow Earth. It even has a sharper edge than “Time,” your contribution to last November’s Sein/Zeit split with Barshasketh, which I thought was the best thing you’d done up to that point. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the same musicians on both recordings. Was there any difference in how you approached the songwriting for Hollow Earth compared to your earlier releases?
Outre: “Time,” as we’ve always been saying, was kind of a bounce-off, a steppingstone from the basic assumptions of Outre’s sound. We wanted to use this occasion to show the other side of the band, but at the time we were recording the split we were already been in the process of crystalizing the concept of Hollow Earth, with the assumption that it was going to be a darker, gloomier and way heavier album than our debut Ghost Chants.The songwriting approach was the same as always – Damian is the main composer in the band, and he is responsible for the music. While I was always solely handling the lyrics part, this time I split this duty with our vocalist, Mateusz. So as you can see, the approach didn’t change, but the assumption did, and Hollow Earth is the next milestone of Outre’s evolution.
IMV: For the first time in a while, Outre has a permanent vocalist in the lineup. What made you decide the time was right to add a member instead of using a session vocalist like you did on your last couple of releases?
O: Actually the time was always right, but there were no appropriate people to do that. Hellstorm, who was helping us during the shows we played after the release of Ghost Chants, was not able to handle the duty of permanent vocalist in yet another band. We all knew that while he perfectly fit and vastly contributed to the aforementioned split record, the situation would have to change.
Mateusz showed up on the horizon right after Ghost Chants was released. Both parties needed some time to make decisions, and finally Outre has a full line-up, which makes the band’s functioning way easier and let us focus on the things most important to us.
IMV: Since there’s usually a conceptual or a thematic thread running through your releases, is there something similar happening on Hollow Earth? Does that incredible cover art somehow tie into the album’s theme?
O: This time we didn’t focus on some certain topic as in the case of Ghost Chants or Sein/Zeit, but there is still a common background to our lyrics. The leitmotiv of Hollow Earthis overwhelming spiritual solitude. Man has always been just a ragdoll in the hands of time and the forces of nature, vanishing and heading towards self-extinction. We don’t know the reason for our being, we don’t know if there is any higher sense. Our evolution and development are leading to our self-destruction, nothing more. Exactly like this Megaloceros on our cover. Earth is hollow.