VOTUM – Take The Vow
February 22, 2016, 2 years ago
Polish progressive metal band Votum, which translates to, “A vow (made to the gods),” has created a dark, moody vibe on its fourth full-length release, :Ktonik:. New singer Bart Sobieraj brings a vibrant, soaring, soulful approach to the band’s overall sound on its nine expansive tracks. Joining Sobieraj is Zbigniew Szatkowski (keyboards), Adam Kaczmarek (guitar), Adam Łukaszek (drums), Bart Sobieraj (vocals), Bart Turkowski (bass) and Piotr Lniany (guitar). A few of Votum’s members answered BraveWords writer Kelley Simms’ questions via e-mail.
BraveWords: The new album was mixed by David Castillo. What were you going for sound wise? Did you relay anything to him about how you wanted it to sound?
Bartosz Sobieraj: “Before recording the album, we had discussed in details what we were aiming for. So we knew that the album had to sound heavy, massive, low and spatial. And these were the suggestions for David. He knew exactly what to do to achieve this kind of sound. And I think that his role in this process was enormous. We were quite surprised after listening to the first version of ‘Satellite’ for the first time, as this is the song which we had mixed first. The finishing touch was done by Tony Lindgren from Fascination Street Studio. After this, we came to the conclusion that this is a damn good sounding album!”
BraveWords: What was your mindset while writing the songs and how did you go about constructing them?
Bartosz Sobieraj: “I think that all of us wanted this to sound amazing. We were ready for something serious and we didn’t want to compromise here. So we wanted the album to be emotional, brooding and intriguing. First, we’d composed approximately twenty drafts and started to work on it. I believe that all of us contributed when composing and this was rather a complication than something that helped. But I guess we couldn’t have worked under the leadership of one person as this just seems to be not engaging for the rest of crew. After this was done, we rehearsed it and refined it until we were sure it was right.”
BraveWords: I’ve read somewhere that the band’s name translates to “a vow (made to the gods)” or “prayer where a sacrifice is offered.” Can you please elaborate on how you decided on the name and where the phrase comes from?
Adam Kaczmarek: “Back in the day when we were searching for a band name, we decided not to focus on English or Polish words, but to pick something less obvious. We went to the library, studied some Latin books, and here we are. At that time, it was all about that vow, but after those years we know it’s much more about the sacrifice.”
BraveWords: There’s a great blend of styles and atmosphere on the new album. Who are some of your influences?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: “There are lots of different things that one can be inspired and influenced by, and I feel that both in my case and in the case of the rest of the guys, it's not other music. We keep our heads clean, we don't look to imitate or take directly from other artists. If one finds ‘traces of other bands’ in what we do, I would rather consider that similarity to be looking at the same kind of emotions in a similar way. My piano teacher used to say that there's no new harmony or chord after J.S. Bach, and even if you don't have such conservative approach you'd find that it's difficult to reinvent the genre. We're not (currently) looking to invent a new genre — to us, music is merely (or as much as) a means of emotional transfer, forced empathy. Kind of like taking perception altering drugs.”
BraveWords: New vocalist Bart Sobieraj replaces original singer Maciej Kosinski. What does he bring to the band and did it change the sound of the band in any way because of the switch?
Adam Kaczmarek: “It’s natural that the new voice redefines almost the whole sound of the band, especially when we’ve decided not to search for someone similar to Maciej. Not to copy the previous voice, but we’ve searched for someone specific, unique and intriguing instead. It wasn’t easy but we’ve succeeded 100%, and at this point I can’t imagine Votum with a different voice. Moreover, now I feel pretty strange while listening to the previous albums. Bart brought a lot of emotions to the new music, lots of new ideas and directions. He’s also a very good guitarist, and that’s also a huge advantage while composing new music. As a person, he brought the right attitude and motivation, he’s a strong pillar of the band.”
BraveWords: On your fourth full-length release, how has the band progressed from each album?
Adam Kaczmarek: “Apart from the whole process of changing the vocalist and guitarist, for us every record is a huge step forward, musically and production-wise. It’s obvious that the new album is the biggest leap of them all, as we’ve changed the musical direction a bit, due to personal changes, gained new inspirations, new energy and fresh ideas. It’s also a huge step in the production quality — finally we have the band in which all members know what they are aiming for, and the top quality of both music and the production. At this point I can say I’m very proud of what we’ve created together and of the band that we’ve become after a lot of struggling and darker days.”
BraveWords: If there is one track on the new album that sums Votum up the best, in your honest opinion, which one would it be?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: “To me, it's ‘Spiral’. Brooding, massive, distressing; It’s a way of composing that we want to keep up in the future. The theme behind the album is submission and surrender. We as humans can be influenced, and bound by many things: love, lust, drugs, technology. We create an environment in which is easy to lose oneself, stop thinking and be merely a follower. The album tackles such issues and explores such themes.”
BraveWords: What’s next for Votum including touring plans?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: “We start off with our co-headlining European tour with Italians Kingcrow. From (Feb. 26) we begin our journey across Poland, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Holland, England, France, Italy and Germany. There's plenty of shows and we are looking forward to that as (Feb. 26) is also the international release date of :KTONIK:. We're keeping our fingers crossed as this is a little bit of revolution in sound we put ourselves through and we're really eager to show it to our audience. Everyone who had a chance to listen to ‘Satellite’, our first official single from :KTONIK:, hopefully sees the potential which lies in this album. We see it and that makes us really eager to show it around. After the tour there will be a lot of planning, next tour, festivals and as much playing as possible.”
BraveWords: Since you’re not yet a household name in North America, what do you think you need to do to break into this market?
Zbigniew Szatkowski: “A lot of conviction and a little help from our friends. Since we started cooperating with Inner Wound Recordings as our label and with our booking agency Intromental, all our efforts are backed up by an additional professional team which will eventually lead us to the far corners of the earth. I do think it's only a matter of time, even though we are currently concentrating on the European market. With the previous tours across the old continent and the upcoming ones, we know that things are looking up. It's difficult to conquer all the same time, but sure as hell we have a plan for all of that.”