Intro: No introduction. If you don't know who those are, go fucking die... Be a corpse under glass if you will... become victim of Trephanation or beg for possession! For the rest who are already possessed, here is Sam Inzerra from MORPHEUS DESCENDS! Brutal, morbid terror since 1990!
Medarov: A real honor to have such an underground classic act on the pages of my small, unpretentious release. In times of i-net and blogspots it is great to see there are still veterans, who support the paper madness. First of all, (which is maybe the most important question) what is the current status of Morpheus Descends? Present the line-up, and what are you doing these days - 2015 anno bastardi.
Sam: The Honor is mine. Thank you, Medarov for having me here and allowing us to be a part of your old school style zine -Terozin. Morpheus comes from the era of tape trades and paper zines. So, thank you, and kick ass. Cheers to you for keeping the format alive and burning the flames of old.Morpheus Descends has been unchained from it's dungeon and is alive and well, thanks. We've been working hard, lining up a ton of work for 2015. So, keep an eye out!The current line: Rob Yench on guitar, Ken Faggio on bass, Craig Campbell behind the mic and myself on drums.
M: As N.Y. being a huge scene for metal and hardcore back in the 80's, were you involved in other bands before Morpheus? Which were those and what was your personal background before joining forces in Morpheus?
S: Hell yeah, it was a great time in the NY area in the late 80s early 90s for sure.NYC has always had a steady flow of great acts make their way through, and during that time, the surrounding local areas had shows-a-plenty as well. So, overall a great time for music.We were all in various local bands before forming Morpheus. Right before we got together, Rob and Ken were in a band called Volatile Zylog and Craig, Steve, and I were in Infectious Waste. We played 1 show together, liked each others bands, and got together the same week to discuss pursuing something heavier than our prior bands were doing. We immediately got it rolling and had 3 songs our first jam, Oct 31st 1990.
M: Let's proceed with the ascending of Morpheus, or the first years of terror. Who were the first members, where did you met each other in those murky times, where did you rehearse, and why did you chose Morpheus as first moniker? Was there some special meaning behind it? What were the goals and the influences?
S: Craig Campbell-vocals, Steve Hanson-guitar, Ken Faggio-bass, Rob Yench-guitar, and myself on drums, made up the original lineup. We jammed at Steve's place at first.The name Morpheus came to us through the influence of Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels, besides being the great Greek God of Dreams and Nightmares. We're all fans of the realms that breed dark tales and sick imagery. Morpheus was just a great fit! Our goals were to spread our own brand of metal tales and our influences span a huge range of genres. From good reads, movies, art, and of course generations of music. Although our personal record collections vary in styles, I think the biggest influence musically stems back to our classic rock roots with Sabbath and the whole realm of metal that followed. Way too many to start listing. But "style wise"- The first generation of Death Metal is where we exist.
M: 1990 saw your first release of "Accelerated Decrepitude" - a regular demo tape, the simple, no-bullshit way to start. Where did you record those raw demonstrations of violence? How many copies were sold/traded and what was the feedback?
S: The 5 songs for Accelerated were recorded at Legend Studios, Long Island NY, by Bob Vandermark.Tape trading was The Way to do it, at that time. We were hungry to be busy with our music, and traded and pushed hundreds of those tapes around. The response was great from the start, locally and from all corners of the tape trading world. We used the response to fuel digging deeper in writing and performing, and pressed on.
M: Later Morpheus re-recorded those songs for the EP "Adipocere" released by Seraphic Decay. Was there an interest from other labels before them and did S.D. ripped you off? Actually, how many copies were gone at the end...fuck that's one of my favorite releases - tighter then the demo, fucking sick death metal, ahead of its time in terms of heaviness!
S: Seraphic Decay was one of the first underground, indie labels to show us interest. In our eyes it was a no brainer! To get our material out there and to be involved with the list of bands Seraphic was dealing with, was also an honor in a lot ways.In the end, I really don't know how many copies were pressed or made it out there. I personally am proud of the opportunity Seraphic Decay gave the band, and putting out a killer package. It's a big part of how Morpheus got into a ton of hands, and for that I'm thankful.The tracks for Adipocere are actually the same tracks from the demo, just off the true masters and unlike the demo- being a tape of a tape of a tape.
M: After that, it was time for another demo, I assume the goal was to find a new label, maybe? And what bugs me most - who drew that sick art of the "Corpse Under Glass" demo, or maybe it was from some comic book? What's the story about that release?
S: The "Corpse Under Glass" demo is one of my personally favorite eras in the bands past. The music is still one of the most unique stamp in time for us, it really was the gateway that propelled us into the band we became later on, and a big part of the musician I am today. The artwork is really where it started, which we acquired the same time we found the artwork for Adipocere.Yes, the two pieces, Adipocere and C.U.G. come from the comic "The Walking Dead" by Jim Somerville the original comic mini-series not the 2nd incarnation with the same name. Although, I dig that one too.After taking the lyric writing responsibility, that was my first effort. I based the entire song off that picture, in which a cryogenically frozen experiment goes wrong, while the helpless victim is trapped in his dreams. Horrid nightmares of a world filled with flesh eating madness, while the reality of his frozen state goes rottenly wrong and unnoticed.
M: Why did you change the name of the band after that demo? To be honest, Morpheus Descends sounds even better - adds some darkness to the moniker! Also, what happened with your 1st/nowadays vocal - why he left the band before the "Corpse..." demo and where did you find his replacement in the face of Jeff Reimer (RIP)?
S: After Craig parted ways with the band for having to focus on other avenues in life, we were forced to fill a crucial position to continue on. We turned to someone we met through playing some shows together, an infamous man named Jeff Riemer from the Rockland County NY based Death Metal band Decomposed. Jeff fit in right away, with his hard work and vocal skills he got us back up to speed quickly. After getting the deal for a full length album, the name change was that time, but one I have come to love. The week before the pressing, the label got in touch and said there was a techno band named Morpheus with a single out and under the same distribution. Which was on a small label owned by Sony music, I think. We scrambled for ideas and fell back to the place from where our name came from. In Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Morpheus descends into hell to look after things, while Lucifer takes a leave of absence Demons and mounds of Hell's business to tend to...
M: Now - to the monument called "Ritual Infinity". A real ritual that went into the infinity! First of all, do you consider it a death metal classic like many maniacs do? It was released on CD and tape, but share some details - who worked on the sound, where's the artwork from and were you happy with the final result and how it sounds even today. If there's anything you would change about that masterpiece, what will it be?
S: Ah, my old friend Ritual! It really was unique in all aspects for us. It is a collection of three different recordings. All at Legend Studios with Bob Vandermark behind the board and the band helping to produce the sounds.Well, it's classic to us, that's for sure. But we are all honored that it has festered into somewhat of a cult classic. It was a great time in metal for us. Thanks to all who have helped kept the words Morpheus Descends alive.As far as the sounds go, it is what it is. Ritual has become a part of who I am, so I like it just the way it is, it reminds me of those times, it's a bit raw and nasty. But I have on occasion wondered what those songs would be like with a different production on them....The art of course is from the infamous Brad Moore. It has also become part of our identity. My honest thoughts are, it wasn't what I was expecting at first, but the colors and style struck me as so unique, that it instantly help set a tone for our tales of metal. It's as individual as the album itself.
M: That milestone was released under the banner of JL America, what were your memories working with that label? Were you happy with the distribution of "Ritual..."? How many copies you think were gone and did you see some dimes from it? What happened after the release of it? Did you tour to support it?
S: It was a great time for the band and JL was great for Morpheus. They had relativity distribution, which was just about as good as it gets. Being in the underground and the record making it to any major stores and markets, was a great thing. We played a ton of shows around the time of the release, but not any full tours. We were busy as usual and just carried on our normal approach. We didn't expect a big push from the label with tour support and such, but for us the release was monumental in spreading our music and climbing to the next plateau. Things of course can always be bigger and better but in the end, teaming up with JL and getting a few thousand copies out there was just what the band was after, unfortunately no dimes in return.
M: 2 years after, it was time for the "Chronicles of the Shadowed Ones" - another nail of doomed death metal brilliance! What do you think was the main difference between that release and your 1st album as I see it more complex and slower, with different approach towards the lyrics? But, what's your opinion? Also, who released it and why did you split ways with JL America, who seemed like disappeared around that time. Wasn't there any interest from other labels?
S: Thanks, Chronicles for me, is where most of my musical foundations really stem from. Both lyrically and a lot of the tempos and mood. Rituals will always have huge influence in the way we approach Morpheus, but I think Chronicles is just a little more developed and the story telling,more well-rounded as well. Lyrically, our love for the author Brian Lumley's Necroscope novels really fueled my inspiration for the bulk of our death metal tales, then and now. The release was self-financed and released. JL did sorta just disappear, I've heard speculations on why but disappeared kind of sums it up. After our first tour with Incantation, Anal Cunt, Gutted, and Afterlife, then coming home and getting right in the studio, followed by some internal struggles in the band. We weren't waiting for any real industry interests in our next step. So we just got on with it, and knew we had to get the release out regardless, so that's exactly what we did.
M: I've always wondered - the EP ends up with 9-min. noise composition, what does it represent? What's the meaning of the title "Moupho Alde FerencYaborov"? Also, who is Dumitru, hah?
S: This is a great story, I'll try to sum it up...The building where we recorded Chronicles has some great history to it. It is the old Colt gun factory, with a Russian onion dome on top, in the center of Hartford Connecticut. The tale we were told was the Colt family supposedly gave a Czar hand made Colt .45 caliber hand guns and the onion was a gift in return.The entire building was divided up into 4 or 5 floors of giant open studio apartments and dwellings...On the floor below Studio 45, lived a wizard named Cliff. This Shaman of sorts recorded albums of subsonic bellowing tunes on bass guitars with carved out, scalloped frets, layered with howls and chants of distant dimensions...We were lucky enough to have him visit the studio while we were working. We smoked peace pipes in a teepee in his cave, and he brought a lobster feast to celebrate our completing the recording session.True Story!We asked if he would do a track for us and so the collaboration was born. The ritual is called “Moupho Alde FerencYarborov” -"In the Land of the Vampire Ferenczy.” Ha, Dumitru is another tale. The song is "Cairn of Dumitru."In the 4th Necroscope novel, Dumitru is one of a tribe of gypsies who are servants to one vampire lord Janos. He is chosen to carve his name in stone and follow the vampire’s wolf to sacred ruins to sacrifice himself, and blood, for the survival of his lord. Lumley's novels are recommended reading for sure...
M: Talking about that topic, who is in charge of the lyrics in the band? About, what I now some are about fucked-up diseases and gory topics... Demolition Hammer used to write such stuff, also...nice! Which is the topic, you'll NEVER sing about? And how do you see the transformation of lyrics from the 1st Morpheus demo to your current days?
S: After parting ways with Craig Campbell in 91, I took up the responsibility of telling our tales mainly.In the beginning there were variety of dark horror story based subject matter, from movies, short stories and original concepts inspired by artwork and our general love of all things morbid and weird. Religion or politics are the subjects not for Morpheus. With longer songs came longer stories. It's tough to sum up a story in the structure of a song sometimes, but I think the biggest difference between the start till now is just more story to tell and our mostly Necroscope themed subject matter.
M: When we speak about live desecrations - how will you present the typical Morpheus Descends gig? Looking through the prism of time which are the best, worst and most hilarious gigs, you've pulled off? Share some stories of fun, violence and gore! Which are the best bands you've played with and are you still friends with the bands from N.Y.? How do you see your performance at MDF and where you prefer to jam - at open-air or in underground venues? Also, which is your favorite song to perform live and do you play covers?
S: The early days in the scene were much more rambunctious, and filled with crazy energy and circle pits. Locally especially, there was a wide mix of fans at the shows. We often were put on bills with hardcore bands and the crowds would frequently clash and there were quite a few brawls and insanity that would break out. Mostly avoiding serious injury, just good old fashion high energy mayhem and then all lights on in the club for a short bit till it was broke up and then right back to the music and mayhem.We are still friends with most of the NY and area bands, Suffocation, Immolation, Incantation, most shuns in general. A few other great bands we shared the stage with early on that were most memorable were Ripping Corpse, Human Remains, Mortician, Prime Evil, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Gorguts, it's a huge list of bands that I'm proud to have rocked with. One of the most brutal, was a show in Juarez, Mexico. It was literally underground, below the city street. A septic line leaked during the show but the crowd was berzerk and stomped and thrashed in it anyway.Worst one that comes to mind was on the same run, in Texas. Seth from AC smashed a bottle on some dudes head and threw a ladder into the crowd and the place erupted. Every show is an experience one way or the other.MDF should be great this year. I'm just hoping for good weather and an eager crowd. It's a great fest to be a part of. Playing open-air fests are great, something special about pounding those drums on a killer sound system outside for sure but I love the intimate setting of a good club just as much.Morpheus almost never does cover songs. Favorite track to play live is a tough one but I'll say Cairn of Dumitru is one song I enjoy every time we play it. Just a good track with a great balance of rhythms.
M: What were your activities in the period between your 2 EPs - do you think that death metal slowly started to fade away, in front of the mainstream black metal and maybe...the so-called brutal death metal? We talk about the years from 1994 to 1998.
S: I think there was a bit of a slow down in the climb of Death Metal for sure around that time. During those years we kept doing what we do but the industry as a whole definitely hit a plateau of sorts I guess. Yes there was a rise in a few other styles of metal, but I think it's only natural that things kind of go in cycles like that. Even on personal levels, I'm sure we all tend to listen to different things at different times, especially when there's something fresh or just a change of pace. I think things happen just as they have to, and Death Metal has a permanent position in the world. Thankfully, because it's still my favorite genre of Metal
M: OK, in 1997 you recorded "The Horror of the Truth" EP. To me it closes the circle of the first 3 release.Again - brutal, no-wimps, abyssal death metal - 3rd in a row for Morpheus Descends! Sadly only 13 min. long... what's the background of that EP, where was it recorded, what was the feedback?
S: The Horror EP was during a period changes for the band, members and dealings with each other. Musically, some of my best drumming, I think, and we were at quite an aggressive stage writing wise. It was recorded in Cleveland, Ohio by a long time friend of the band - mr. Brian Sekula. There were actually 4 tracks recorded, one of which did not make it to the disc, but I have put the instrumental version on the vinyl re-release and Anthology for everyone to check out. I hope you dig this little piece of lost history of Morpheus. I had some big issues with the way the final disc was originally released. Sound wise and the way things were handled, but since the band has reunited, we have closed a few unfinished chapters from our past in a proper manner years later. Fans often bring Horror up to me for one reason or another, but for the most part, people still ask to hear those songs.
M: Another notorious death metal figure Tom Stevens (Nokturnel/Savage Death...) took the microphone.Great line-up edition, for sure! How ended up in cooperation with this guy? Were you happy how the EP sounded with him charging the microphone and the guitar and was he called for a permanent member or only for the EP?
S: We knew Tom from the very beginning of Morpheus, we played a few of our first shows with Nokturnel.So, the connection was made early on and we did stay in close contact over the years. After a couple tough challenges parting ways with Chronicles guitarist Brian Johnston and longtime vocalist Jeff Riemer for various reasons. We had to press forward and Tom did a great job accepting the challenge, picking up both tough permanent positions to fill.
M: As I know, a demo tape was also in works after that EP, but what the story is and what happened with that release? Is it possible to be owned or heard today?
S: The demo was something that should've of never have happened and didn't, really. This was during the worst of times in the bands history. I approached the subject about bringing it to the list of anthology tracks, but we decided not to in the end....
M: As 1998-2005 were years of silence, what were your activities in that time? Also, why did you call it a quits in 1998? What was the main reason? Was it tough to take such a decision?
S: The toughest decision for me at the time. Morpheus was my blood sweat and tears, a huge part of my life.Basically there was just a breakdown in the brotherhood. This was at the end of a long stretch of changes in how the band was dealing with each other, and a period of different members as well.The last 2 original members left, Rob Yench and myself, just weren't seeing eye to eye and unfortunately led to us disbanding.
M: Seems like you gathered in 2005 for a really short time and then disbanded again. As I have no idea and was always curious - what happened then?
S: There was not a gathering in 2005.Also a piece of our history, before we got back together to work things out. The repress of Ritual and Adipocere on CD was not a proper collaboration. It was put out without my consent. But in the end, and summed up, I viewed it as just another means of spreading the word of Morpheus Descends. Living in the world of underground metal, a lot of things don't happen the way you'd like them to with dealing with the industry. I'm in a much better place with business dealings these days, so the saga continues.
M: Now, I'll add some personal spin to the interrogation. First of all, what were/are your personal influences and did they change after so many years, I mean which are your favorite bands? Also, as beating on the drums like a lunatic, who is your all-time favorite drummer?
S; Ok, of course tough questions to answer, but I'll give it a shot.I'll have to say Black Sabbath is still one of the most important roots for me. The Ozzy years are still at my core of metal grooves and guitar riffology.As far as Death Metal goes my biggest influences go right back to the early 90s. Still love and spin those tunes all the time. I'll just name a few of the favs- Bolt Thrower, Unleashed, Grave, Morbid Angel, Macabre, Ripping Corpse,Suffocation, you know the list. But the favorite Drummer question is the toughest, I think. There are many who I love and have influenced me, but there's one who I will forever be a student of mr. Neil Peart of Rush! I never get tired of listening to the first 8 or 9 albums from them.
M: Are you still a part from Funerus - also a respected band, playing sick, down-tuned death metal...how did you end up recording drums for "Reduced To Sludge" in a first place? Also, what are your current side-project? Present them!
S: I am presently not involved with Funerus.We parted ways on good terms, John and Jill McEntee are still family, and we will probably end up in a room again making music at some point, I'm sure. I've known John for a long time, but me playing in Mortician was the catalyst for us working together. Mortician, Incantation, and Funerus did a tour together and not long after Kyle Severn made the difficult decision to step back from Funerus. Can't remember exactly how it went down, but we got talking and I jumped right in for a tour in Mexico and Canada in 08.Reduced to Sludge is an album I love and one I am proud to say came naturally for the 3 of us.I am working on a few things right now. I have 8 songs ready to go of my own material that I handle all instruments on and after 12 years, I am still in Mortician. I am also currently recording a project called Eturnus, a group led by a brother of mine Alex Bouks (Incan,Goreaphobia). Keep an ear out, in the near future!
M: Outside the music, what are your activities and hobbies?
S: I used to have quite a few things I'd spend time on, but nowadays it's really family, work, and music. I have a studio on my property, so between those 3 things, there's hardly enough time in the day.I still like hunting down hard to find records, and window shopping for acquiring music gear is something I like to do on my few free moments.
M: Of course, the most DEATH METAL question! As there is the imminent end for every noble human or not so noble piece of shit - what is your preferred way to die and exit this sad world? How you imagine your own death and funeral?
S: Well, a quiet, peaceful death, way down the road sounds ok to me, I guess. Probably not as glorious as riding a flaming chopper off a cliff, but I'd like it a little more relaxed. But there will be a clause in my will, where the hearse driver is to get a nice tip, and take a sharp left and lose the procession for a bit, so I show up late to my own funeral. Just 5 or 10 minutes. This will happen...
M: There are those two CULT photos taken of Morpheus Descends, one in a cemetery back in the Morpheus days and the notorious one from the "Ritual Infinity" – in front of the cross. Where are those places?
S: Yes, the cemetery is from my old home town of Walden, NY. We ended up taking a bunch of shots in that graveyard, 2 of which have been used and floating around for years. The other is not too far either, that cross stands in a small cemetery in Hamptonburg, NY as well. Just a couple of spots that were the first places to come to mind for band photos. I believe they served us well.
M: As a musician and fan, how do you see the state of the death metal today? Do you think that only the ashes left or you still follow what is going on? I hope you do, as I find really boring that some of the elders are careless and have an easy decline on so many great new bands. Can you share some of the newer album, which you enjoyed - being of new or old death metal bands...
S: I think Death Metal is alive and well. I don't subscribe exactly to caring about slicing metal into a hundred different sub-genres and categories, but I get it of course. As far as categories go, Death Metal is still my fav but I still enjoy checking out just about everything new that passes my way. I do dig the modern more chaotic stuff but I seem to truly gravitate around the classic style. A couple of the classic bands that have released solid records the past several years, for me, have been Cannibal, Unleashed, Autopsy, Grave, Napalm, Incantation. I also like Dark Funeral, Malignancy, Ramesses, the new At the Gates is pretty slammin. I mean, I could go on, there's a shitload of great metal still going on all around us. I just think the outlets for music have change, and to a lot of people everything is disposable these days with a flooded market of countless styles and approaches. A lot of times if you're not paying attention or following what's going on, it doesn't exist. Times are strange but I think there's still a ton of great art and Metal music going on and it's crucial that the expression stays strong.
M: Nowadays, I think The Crypt will re-issue all of your stuff? What's the plan? Are you still in touch with them? Ugh...I can't wait...tell us something more!
S: Yes.After a long road to make this happen, I'm proud to say the time is almost here. The Crypt Records will be releasing all the original records on 12" vinyl and Dark Descent Records will be releasing the Anthology on a 2 disc 1 dvd set. It includes everything we've recorded with a few extras, plus 2 new tracks, which are also being released as a 7". The DVD is a collection of live footage from the archives, which runs around 2 hours. It has footage from around 19 separate shows. It's been great working with both labels, Ted and Matt have been awesome to work with. I'm excited for the releases and what's next for the band.
M: With that re-issue comes your brand new EP called "From Blackened Crypts" under the banner of the great, great label called "Dark Descent". Seems like you are on a move, but nothing still out...COME ON! Present that EP! What are the titles? Who is in charge of the art? What format will be out and where did you record it?
S: Haha, I love the enthusiasm!Like I said, it has been a long road and I've put a lot of work into bringing it to life, we all have in one way or another. All artworks have been re-shot from the original pieces. A boatload of photos restored and collected. Some things remastered, some things left alone, and a few things rebuilt from the ground up. Plus the writing and recording of our new material, 2 new tracks entitled "Oozing From TheUrn" and "The King's Curse". Both of which, I'm proud to say, capture the essence of Morpheus Descends. We recorded this time at my place, in upstate NY, Bloodborn Studios in April of 2014. Accompanied by a killer new cover piece by an artist and friend Putrid Matt. These tracks will be available in all formats very soon. I'm feeling good about what's happening, I hope you dig them!
M: Now one of the most important questions - what the future holds in front of you? Especially in 2015!!! Gigs, merch, albums, demos? Tell us more!
S: Ah yes, This is the year for us. It begins with the release of both the vinyls and the box set. Then on to Maryland Deathfest, and there are string of shows being setup to immediately follow and keep us busy until the end of the year. We also have plans to continue working on a stock pile of around 40 minutes worth of new material. When we started writing again the creative faucet opened up, the 2 new ones were just the first to rise to the top. But, we have some cool new music flowing right now and it's feeling really natural and just right. We've also grown as a band the last 2 and a half years, I think were working on a good level right now, so excited to see where it leads.
M: Looking back to everything and all - what is the best the band managed to achieve for all these years? And what's the thing you regret most? Do you think Morpheus Descends deserves the status it has? Underground legends, who never wimped-out...or maybe you wanted to reach wider audience...I don't know...
S: It's an honor after all these years that Morpheus has been noticed and the songs live on.I'm not really sure where our status is, but a little bit of the cult recognition has been really great. I love making music, and hope to continue until my body says stop.To me, the albums and leaving something creative behind, to be spread around, is our greatest achievement. Not too many regrets, or I wouldn't be where I am in life. I regret having to lose a true brother and band mate, by the passing of Jeff Riemer. We miss him!I'm a believer of things happen the way they are supposed to, a lot of things can't be changed.Things are going really well, I think we are creating and writing great stuff right now. Always true from our hearts kind of shit, it is the only way I know how. You know when jamming music feels forced or fake, and so do the fans. So, we'll continue to pull from the same foundations of inspiration, that we always have, and hope you feel what we're feeling with the new Morpheus Descends material...Looking forward to the feedback!
M: Now, we've come to the very end - it was more like interrogation, but I am glad to have you on my mag, as Morpheus Descends will be the main act to be featured. Sam, do you have anything to add or maybe something I've forgot to ask. The space below is yours - take care and continue the legacy of death metal darkness. Amen.
S: Well, I am honored by the interrogation! How could I feel any other way about it.With the distance between us and the connection being Metal, I thank you, sir for the opportunity to share this with anyone we have reached through our music and this killer, old school mag! HailzTerozin!It was a great interview! Morpheus Descends and myself, Thank You, Sir!I commend you, and continue fighting the fight!Thanks of course to the fans, and you who just read this...Music is important, Metal is important, Let's continue the story!
Outro: .....there will be no afterlife - JUST DECOMPOSITION...