By far one of my favorite releases of 2015, I was really taken by surprise with Abstract Ritual, the latest EP from Budapest, Hungary's Omega Diatribe—a band that I'd really like to see capture some more attention. Having already reviewed the EP, and had the band's lead guitarist, Gergő Hájer, put together a killer list of 10 Hungarian Metal Bands for us, of course the logical next step was to conduct an interview to coincide with the forthcoming US release of the Abstract Ritual EP through Independent Ear Records. So, here's a conversation with Gergő about chugging metal grooves, chilling out with drum 'n' bass, working with Kevin Talley, and much more...
I know you were previously in a band called SyCo I. Were any of the other members involved with prior groups, or was Omega Diatribe the first run for most of the guys?
Glad you know SyCo I! Such great memories for me... You know, it was a really strong friendship inside that band. We started playing music together, so SyCo I was the first "real" band for us.
Omega Diatribe initially formed fairly quickly after the dissolution of SyCo I, correct? What led to the quick transition from one band to the next?
Yes! I always had a clear vision of what I want to do musically and what my goal is. I was in a band with my best friends, but from time to time I felt like I had to move if I really wanted to use my skills and reach my goals in the "music industry." You know, SyCo I was a crazy, young group of friends with really strong love for each other, not a professional band with highly skilled musicians. We had no goals, we just wanted to go partying, smash the stage, and get as stoned as we could. So, that was the reason why I quit SyCo I and created Omega Diatribe.
What were some of the "gateway" bands/albums that introduced you to metal when you were young, and eventually led you down this path?
I was a hardcore Slipknot fan when I was a kid. I think I still am, ha, ha... but only for the first three albums. I was always going mad for chuggy guitars, heavy grooves, and raw vocals. My soul is hungry for this. Machine Head, Sepultura, Soulfly, Korn, Pantera, Hatebreed, and Ektomorf were my real iconic bands who showed me the way. I'm still on this way, but the lineup has been supplemented with some new names like Meshuggah, Crowbar, etc. I always feel music with true feelings, and I always try to separate myself from the trends. I can only show my two middle fingers for the trendy bullshit all around the world. I'm sick of it!
In speaking about your less obvious influences, I had read that the band has an interest in things like psychedelic dub and electronic drum 'n' bass music, which I'm completely unfamiliar with. What draws you to those very non-metal avenues of sound, and are there any particular artists you would recommend for fans of Omega Diatribe to give a chance?
We try to be open-minded for good things and for good music. Besides metal music, we're big fans of psychedelic music, drum 'n' bass, and similar styles of electronic music. When our minds are full of chuggy heavy metal tunes we have to change a bit, too, and keep calm, ha, ha. I can highly recommend Shpongle, Ott., Stakka & Skynet, or Hallucinogen for anyone who loves the sound of mystery. These artists gave me huge influences that I can use in metal music, too.
I also read that the band name "Omega Diatribe" was loosely inspired by Star Trek, and you have this representation of the name as "a secret ancient writing stem from an unknown alien civilization, a contract between humans and aliens about the use of the planet Earth..." Is this some sort of actual conspiracy theory, or just an idea conceptualized by the band to apply meaning to the phrase?
The only plan was that we should get a fuckin' name quickly, ha, ha, ha! The basic idea came from the Star Trek series, but we did not want to use such an unequivocal thing, so we changed one word in it. Unfortunately, it was just words that had a good sound, but no real meaning. So, one crazy night my bandmate, Ákos [Szathmáry, bass], came up with a story that made it significant. Ever since, Omega Diatribe is:
There's a secret, ancient writing stem from an unknown alien civilization—a contract between humans and aliens about the use of the planet Earth. The government calls it the "Omega Diatribe." This contract says that humans can only use the Earth for a limited time. When our time is over, the aliens will come back and take us to a higher level planet. Only the open-minded people can survive the transmission, because their minds can undergo the changes of the human body.
That representation of the band name crosses over into the lyrical content as well. And then there are the equally trippy ideas expressed through the sample of philosopher Terence McKenna in "The Quantum," etc. How did you discover such theories, and would you say there's an overall concept to the band's lyrics?
When we found our voice, Geri [Komáromi], we knew we wanted to create something different lyrically than the common metal lyrics. Geri's mentality and his view of this world are so unique, so his ideas for the lyrics are totally fit for the music. We've also got lyrics which were made by our bass player, Ákos. These songs are "Three Mystic Apes" and "Abstract Ritual." When I wrote "The Quantum," I didn't want to put vocals on it, just a short sample with mysterious, delayed sounds. When I told the idea to the guys, they came up with the interview of Terence McKenna that you can hear on the song. It just totally fit the song's mood.
Renowned drummer Kevin Talley (Dying Fetus, Misery Index, Dååth, etc.) performs on the Abstract Ritual EP. What's the story behind how that came about, and what was the experience like? I assume it was all handled via the internet?
When our original drummer, Dávid [Metzger], left the band we fell into trouble, 'cause our drum tracks are not so easy, ha, ha. In my opinion, the drummer is the heart of the band. If the drummer sucks, the whole band sounds like a piece of shit, so we always want to work with professional drummers. When we rehearsed with the candidates, they didn't bring the quality that we look for—technically and even in attitude—so, months passed and there was no result.
Then I came up with an idea: what if we could make our new songs with a professional drummer, and then we'd have more time to find a permanent drummer here in Hungary? I was afraid if we couldn't play shows and didn't drop some new tunes, the crowd would forget Omega Diatribe shortly, which I really didn't want. So, I already had Kevin Talley's contact and I wrote to him with the situation around the band and sent him one of our new songs, and he totally dug it! After he tracked the song, we came up with the idea, "Why can't we just make a whole album!?" He offered us a really friendly price, and of course we accepted this offer. This is how Abstract Ritual was born. It was all handled via the internet! It was a big honor to work with Kevin Talley, and the drum tracks speak for themselves.
You record all of Omega Diatribe's output yourself, correct? Is this done in a home studio environment, or do you have your own "proper" studio?
Yes, I built a home studio called 515 Studio, where we can track all the songs that we have. All of our releases were recorded here, including mixing and mastering, too. We also won some studio time in SuperSize Recording. This is one of the biggest and coolest studios here in Hungary, and the studio is really famous in all of Europe. So, a new, ass-kickin' Omega Diatribe song will come out really soon... prepare yourself! The drums are already done, made by our newest family member, Tommy Kiss. He did an amazing job, you'll hear it!
Do you record other bands as well, or do you have any plans to do so in the future?
Not really. Music recording is my biggest passion, and I don't want to turn it into work. Of course I can help my friends to make their recordings better, but I mainly focus on commercials, film, and narration if we talk about working with sounds.
You work at a shop called Swastika Tattoo, and I've seen some photos where Geri is wearing a swastika necklace as well. Clearly there are no political or racist intentions involved, but many people are simply unable to respect the pre-Nazi interpretations of the symbol. Has this ever created any misconceptions about the band at all?
Yeah, my main work is at Swastika Tattoo. I'm the receptionist guy; Geri is the piercer/body modificator, and one of the tattoo artists there. Swastika Tattoo is one of the best tattoo studios here in Hungary, and the business is my close friend's. This is why I work there. Most of the band members had long dreadlocks a few years ago, so I don't really think anyone from the crowd could believe we're Nazis, ha, ha, ha. Our mentality is absolutely shown in our music and our manifestations. We don't really care about that... it's not our fault if anyone doesn't know the original source of the swastika symbol.
In general, is the swastika not viewed with any form of stigmatized controversy in Hungary?
Hmmm, let me see... maybe by the people with limited brains. Sadly, here in Hungary there are some big Nazi movements, and they've got some sympathy from the authority. This is a really strange thing in the 21st century, you know?
Speaking of tattoos, several members of the band are obviously into tattoos and body modification—your vocalist, Geri Komáromi, having taken things to the widest extremes. How do people typically react? Has Geri, in particular, ever suffered prejudicial attitudes?
I think you can imagine how people react to Geri's look, ha, ha. It's a daily thing... I think he's gotten used to it. Of course the older generation does not really understand why Geri is looking like this, they think he's from a UFO, ha, ha. The younger generation is even more interested about why he's doing this with his body. If anyone is interested about it, read the lyrics for "Extrinsic" and read between the lines.
You're now gearing up for the US release of Abstract Ritual through Independent Ear Records. How did you hook up with an American label?
I heard about Independent Ear Records from Rob Arnold of Chimaira. I sent them an email with our press kit and our releases. They like what we're doing and they recognize some potential in us. So, we signed a contract with them for a year, and we'll see what we can manage together. The guys are really familiar with us, so we're interested about the future...
Abstract Ritual's US release will be available on the 11th of September (the same day as the new Slayer release, ha, ha, ha). The most important thing is that the release gets an exclusive bonus remix of the song "Hydrozoan Periods," made by one of our Hungarian friends, dOTS. You can pre-order your copy now.
Now that you're working with an American label, is there any chance of Omega Diatribe performing in the US? Have you played much outside of Hungary so far?
There's some plan for the next year, but I can't tell you more now... it's a really complex and expensive thing to get our asses to the US. But, we'll see... I hope we can make it happen with the guys from Independent Ear. We also want to do a short European tour in 2016. Our spring tour will start in September, but will move through Hungary only.
How would you describe Hungary's extreme music scene? Is it a tight-knit community?
Hungary's got some really talented bands who deserve the world's attention, but I can't say it is a tight-knit community. Everybody walks on their own path, you know, but that's just my view...
Well, I think that's all I've got. As I've mentioned, Abstract Ritual is one of my favorite releases this year, and I'm truly looking forward to hearing more from the band.
Thank you, man! I'm really glad that you feel what we're doing... Thank you to all who believe in us and support the band! Stay true! Peace.