DREAMGRAVE: Next Big Hit

Dreamgrave

In the last couple of years there has been a real avalanche of the new progressive metal bands coming from Hungary. Dreamgrave, as one of the representatives of the Hungarian prog scene, released their debut full-length album titled “Presentiment” in October last year which was mastered by Gábor Vári. The release garnered very good feedback both from fans and media, and set the pace for the future which looks bright.

Prog Sphere talked with guitarist Dömötör Gyimesi and keyboardist János Mayer about the album, influences, gear, and more.

What evolution do you feel “Presentiment” represents for the band comparing with your debut release “Deadborn Dreams”?

Döme (Dömötör Gyimesi): Growing up. Becoming professional musicians. The feeling that music became the part of every moments of our lives ever since we started working on Presentiment. Now we understand the effort it takes to build a sustainable and successful, constantly evolving musical entity. That’s the harder part: to evolve, applying every tiny bit of your newly learned experience to your performance and not to sit in your 15 minutes of fame. There’s insanely much work ahead of us right now.

It took two full years to write, to demo and to produce it from the very first note to the digipak you can actually buy now. It’s an evolution to a musically and emotionally advanced music, framed by a coherent and broad concept bearing every single feeling and thought of our lives from the last couple years.

How long “Presentiment” was in the making? 

Döme: Not so long after I left alone following the demo era I started to work on ideas and skeletons of some of the songs you can listen now on the album, and truly hated to be totally alone with my music. In August of 2012 János joined and almost instantly started to adopt my musical and (back then Hungarian) lyrical concepts, integrate his own style and write his own songs (Memento Mori, Presentiment 2, ethereal parts of It’s Ubiquitous). Then basically we took the whole year of 2013 to complete writing the lyrics and the songs – beside our daily jobs of course. Having the entire material demoed and toyed around a dozen times we hit Black Hole Sound Studios in our hometown Szeged, starting with guitars. During the studio sessions we did zillion iterations of still pendent ideas, orchestration, going into sickening fine details sometimes, cherishing it into the extremes. That’s why we’ve got it done only by October of 2014.

Dreamgrave - PresentimentTell me about the themes the album captures. Describe the journey this album represents.

Döme: Wrapped in an abstract, distress-filled fantasy the album presents our impressions about our world, our society, ourselves – the reason we are here and ultimately the ending we are headed. We have an exact definition for the work “presentiment” in a way we wanted to project it through the songs.

Presentiment [prɪˈzɛntɪmənt]: a sense of something about to happen; a premonition, a feeling that something, often of undesirable nature, is going to happen. this feeling that conquers your sanity and rumbles through your mind, leaving nothing but inexplicible dread and fear and hatred for what’s to come. your senses awaken, your perception gets clearer by the minute and now you know that whatever the fuck we are doing here is just the top of the slope, the door to a new era, the beginning of the ending.

We simply grabbed eight different stages of the concept, starting with the metaphor around a deeply surreal, all-destroying, annihilating force, the Black Spiral, slowly progressing to more tangible themes and moments, while disengaging in a positive climax (It’s Ubiquitous) in the end. We decidedly wanted to pour as much emotional charge and contrast into the songs as they could take in to reach a hopefully special and moving composition with the album.

Describe the creative process behind the album, and the process behind the propulsive, mercurial title track.

János: We didn’t have an elaborate creative process. Döme had a lot of ideas and almost finished structures from when he was working alone so these became the foundations of songs like Black Spiral and The Last Drop Falls. Some of the song parts were jamm-based, some of them were only written in the studio, others were written throughout our demo process or at home. Basically the songs were written by Döme and me in a zca. 50-50% distribution but everybody pitched great ideas in their own instrument.

The song ‘Presentiment’ was written basically by Döme from the time he was working alone. If I’m not mistaken this song was originally created to be an instrumental song – a perfect example of the ‘man proposes, God disposes’ phrase :) After I joined the band I added the vocal parts and the synths and we’ve created the bass parts together. Btw this is the song in which I’m the proudest of the bass melodies: it’s almost never the same and still has some nice melodies, especially in the lyrical middle part. :)

Delve deeper into what “False Sense of Confidence” is communicating.

Döme: As the album progresses the themes are getting oriented towards a more individual-based approach, grabbing more human factor in contrast with the abstract surrealism and apocalyptical visions around which the first four songs was built up. That’s a kind of an absolution and expression of faith in a possible positive outcome from the darkness which the concept implies. Ultimately this song is about a person’s realization of his or her own ignorance-based extreme self-confidence that eventually devours a whole life. As in every song my raw vocals fills the role for some kind of a “dark/evil” narrator, or alternatively an inner voice of self-contradiction or brooding in this movement.

It’s been eight months since “Presentiment” was released. Are you satisfied with its reception?

János: Yes, completely. You know people tend to have that feeling when creating something for a long time, that they might be wrong about everything regarding that work. You know, when you delve into some serious self-doubt and ask the questions: “Will anyone like what I’m doing?”, “Maybe this is all really shit, but I’m just used to it now”. But then almost immediately after we’ve released our record we’ve gotten tons of great reviews and feedbacks. For example I don’t think we have gotten an under-seven evaluation, and mainly they were 8s and 9s with some ‘perfect’ along the way. It’s a mesmerizing feeling to read those articles from across the globe.

Dreamgrave

Which bands or artist influenced your work for the album?

János: There wasn’t such a band, I think. We didn’t want to make a replica of any band, we just penned down what we liked. The goal was to remain in the “boundaries” of our concept and try to make our music interesting but entertaining. This might sound cocky but we really tried to create something unique. I don’t mean that there aren’t any parts in our record that resemble to another band – hell, originally we played a complete rip-off of an Opeth riff in one of our songs (you can guess, which one it was ;] ) – but the maximum resemblance we tolerated in our music was the “-esque”: Dream Theater-esque, Opeth-esque, Steven Wilson-esque and so on.

Tell me about the complexities of creating this album.

János: Well there were a ton. Maybe the hardest part was to find the members. It’s quite hard to do when you live in a city of 200k and you play such an underappreciated genre. But now we’re almost in the finish line with our line-up, only a bassist is missing now. Well, and a cellist, a saxophonist, a flute player, a double-bassist … :]

What kind of gear do you use for recording your music?

Döme: you’ll be surprised, because this paragraph will be quite short. I used a single Ibanez RG1550MZ for each and every guitar track driving a Celestion V30 loaded cabinet with a Laney Ironheart amp. A MXR Zakk Wylde OD was used for the solos, and tons of VSTs for the ethereal and clean parts of course. And that’s all for guitars, haha! Anyways, it sounds just as awesome as I wanted to: a recognizable, raw sound texture was successfully achieved.

The bass was a Fender Precision Bass turbocharged with some Sansamp stuff. János used a quite wide range of unique presets of his Korg Krome and TR workstations, and of course a smack of VSTs, mainly Omnisphere. The DAW was a good old Pro Tools powered Mac Pro with an Apogee I/O and Focusrite Liquid pre-amps. The main professional force behind the production quality is Gábor Vári, our producer who is really a top-notch sound engineer when it comes to music production, we’re really proud we’ve worked with him throughout the birth of Presentiment. We’ve learned A LOT! :]

What is your view on technology in music?

János: Since I’m a synth player I might be a bit prejudiced about this question, but I would say that I’m really happy with how things are going with the improvements in the technology used in music. I mean we are closer and closer to get “that” sound out from a digital equipment which simply makes music much more fun and accessible to any musician – especially financially. So all in all I welcome the technological evolution of our days and can only hope that in a few years we will be able to recreate even the finest “mistakes” of the sound of (e.g.) a mellotron, because if not, I will need to sell all my assets and buy one for myself :]

Dreamgrave live at the Prog Heaven festival in Budapest (photo by Niki Steiner)

Dreamgrave live at the Prog Heaven festival in Budapest (photo by Niki Steiner)

What advice or philosophy might you impart to other musicians, be it in forms of creativity, technical stuff, the business side of it, or anything else?

János: Well two huge clichés: Work harder and never give up. Yeah it sounds lame and all but this is the way to go. You work on your songs. Then you work some more. Then you go to the studio and work even more. Then you release the album and try to send it to as many possible contacts, magazines, webzines, labels and so on as you can think of. Or google can think of. Then you try to get your hands on even more contact lists. Then you try to create material for your web presence: videos, photos, blog-like-posts…. You try to share something every day … and then you hit the rehearsal room 2-3 times a week, for 3-5 hours or longer, organize concerts and events, and then you start all over again until you get the attention your music deserves. But that’s the showbiz :]

Döme: Damn man, do you really want me to go deep on this? Well, I just don’t want to be yet another musician who complains about how hard it is to get out there and really nail it, but one thing’s for sure: there are shitloads of copies out there without having anything unique or deeply emotional, or even artful in their music, slowly diluting the whole progressive metal scene, leaving almost no chance to prevail, undermining the grandness of this genre. Just because progressive metal and djent (which has nothing to do with progmetal and still) is trending nowadays.

About creativity and musicanship? Be honest and playful with your ideas, don’t stop at the first possible fitting chord, drive your music by your feelings. And never settle, even if you’re hate the whole thing from the bottom of your heart, just open a bottle of some good whiskey and get back to practice or compose and stop whining.

What are your plans for the future?

Dömötör: It’s the simplest question we have ever had. WORLD DOMINATION of course! And we mean it! :] We’re gonna be the next big hit, no question about it! Seriously, I mean you have to have your true confidence in yourself and fight for your honest dreams and goals no matter what. We have so much more to offer!

János: I deeply believe in our creative forces so if our world domination and this next big hit plan fails, plan B will still be quite nice: making tons of records and pushing ourselves and our listeners boundaries as far as we can.

Dreamgrave‘s album “Presentiment” is available from Bandcamp. Follow the band on Facebook.

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