Exclusive Interview: Kohnerah talk influences, previous bands and “Ominous Ubiquitous”!
They say that good things come to those who wait, which is perhaps a play on patience being a virtue and one band who have waited quite long enough are Kohnerah. Having put out live recordings and demos in 2018, 2019 and 2020 they finally unleashed their debut full length album “Ominous Ubiquitous” last month and it is nothing short of immense. Engineered and recorded by Adam Mitchell (Daemon Poetica, Hammerlord, The Esoteric) at HammerFarm Music Studios in Lawrence, Kansas before being mastered by Dennis Israel (Moloch, Misery Index, Amon Amarth) at Clintworks Recording, Mixing & Mastering in Seth Germany, it has out greasy paw prints all over it. We spoke to guitarist JD Cantrell and the conversation went something like this…
There have been demos and live recordings of some of the songs that make up “Ominous Ubiquitous” going as far back at 2018 so it must feel great to have the album finally out there? A weight off the mind? “Absolutely! We actually recorded the demo for “Wake Of Oblivion” in 2017 which was probably right when we had finished writing that song. I think we were so excited about having completed our first song that we couldn’t wait to demo it. After that we put our focus on writing the rest of what would become Ominous Ubiquitous. In 2019, we recorded demos for “Antimatter Annihilation” and “Bovine Excision” with the purpose of preparing ourselves for the studio, however soon after that we were faced with the Covid-19 pandemic which had completely halted our plans. It’s hard to say for sure how much time we lost due to the pandemic but we eventually got back on track and it feels really good to have the whole collection of songs completed and released for everyone to hear. We worked very hard on these songs and I think we can be proud of what we achieved”
What makes a collection of musicians known for their prior convictions in the likes of Damned by the Pope, Obliterate the Apex and Diskreet get together and form a new band? “You know, in my experience it is not easy to find the right group of musicians who have the same vision and drive. In fact, many of us in Kohnerah had previously tried to start a band together in some form or another but those inceptions never fully materialized for whatever reason. I think our vocalist Stephen Babcock (Diskreet) must have noticed these trends because he seemed to have made a conscious effort to get the right people together. The band we were in at that time was not working out and Stephen called me one evening and said he wanted to try something completely different. About a week later, we were jamming with Ryan Bender (Obliterate The Apex) and almost immediately, we started working on material. I think the three of us recognized each others work ethic and knew we could make something happen”
One of the many things that really impresses on the record is the vocals from Stephen Babcock which we described as both “shrill and deep as if his fragile body contains a wailing banshee and a cave dwelling beast at the same time“. Were there any moments when you thought you needed to dial him back a little bit or was it simply a case of unleashing the beast and letting him do his thing? “Ha! That description of Babcock’s vocals is perfect! Honestly, he is the kind of beast that cannot be tamed, nor should he be! His vocal style is very unique, I think he uses every fibre of his being to create those monstrous roars and I believe that is what makes it sound so unique. There are no tricks or techniques employed, he BECOMES the cave dwelling beast!”
If we are made up of our genes and our influences, what is in your genes and who would you consider your influences? “All of us have different influences but we share many that are the same. I think it’s safe to say that some of our major collective influences are Death, Hate Eternal, Nile, Decrepit Birth and Deeds Of Flesh. We are also fans of black metal bands like Dark Funeral, Immortal and Dimmu Borgir, as well as Doom Metal bands like Ahab, Yob, and Pallbearer. I have also developed a fondness for psychedelic rock over the years and I really enjoy early 70’s bands like Captain Beyond and Khan as well as newer psychedelic rock bands like Graveyard and Uncle Acid”
Another thing that works really well on the record is having the instant gratification of the shorter cuts at the start with the pair of longer and more shall we say Progressive Technical Death Metal cuts at the end. How did you go about getting that flow and balance right when ordering the tracks? “Good question. We initially thought “Plucked From The Sky” would be a great opening song but our producer Adam Mitchell at Hammerfarm Music Studios suggested we start the album off with “Wake Of Oblivion”. He felt that song was the best overall representation of Kohnerah so we took his advice. “Elegiac Departure” seemed like the obvious closer, both because of the lyrical content and the constant resurgence and build up of the final riff. Then from there I think we just thought about the contrasting differences and subtle nuances in each of the songs and tried our best to balance them in a way to keep the flow interesting from one song to the next”
What’s next for Kohnerah? “We are currently writing new songs and working to be back on the stage. It is very possible that a follow up album could be in the works as early as 2024”
“Ominous Ubiquitous” by Kohnerah is out now and might be available over at bandcamp.