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Early '90s Spanish eclectic, atmospheric Doom band Golgotha have largely been silent since splitting up after their 1998 second album, despite ostensibly reforming in 2005. So, following 2018 EP 'Arise', Comrade Aleks investigated further...

Interview with Golgotha.
"In Majorca in 1992, a few friends united in their love of heavy music created Golgotha. Although from an island, they weren't isolated from outer influences, and it seemed that they'd heard Lake Of Tears' 'Greater Art' when they headed into the studio to do their first recordings. Golgotha's sound tends towards both sudden tempo accelerations and aggressive lunges or, conversely, gothic atmospheric parts - however, during their first years they carefully held on to their firm, low sound. The band split after second album 'Elemental Changes' in 1998, but guitarist Vicente J. Paya resurrected it in about 2004 to record one more album...after which the outfit just disappeared. Another reunion happened in 2015 and this time two more members of the original line-up joined Vicente: Rubén Alarcón (drums) and Amon López (vocals). I got in contact with Amon as Golgotha released a new EP, 'Arise', through Black Night Productions just a few months ago - so that's the perfect moment to recall the band's legacy."

Golgotha frontman Amon López, talking to Aleks today. Photo: Lluís Terrassa.

Hi Amon! How are you? What's new in Golgotha?

Hello Aleksey, well, very grateful for your interest, we are composing new songs.

Sounds promising - let's introduce Golgotha to our readers: the band was founded in 1992, how did that happen? How did you meet each other? And why did you choose such a name for the band?

The band was a project that Vicente Payá (guitar) kept apart from his group Unbounded Terror, because the themes were out of death metal style and there should be more variation of styles.

Vicente and I had known each other for many years, we had been together in several bands and at that time I was free, he called me and told me what I had planned to do and I thought it was great.

The name of Golgotha came because Vicente liked an LP of Incantation that was called "Onward to Golgotha" and he took the name from there, it was not for anything religious, after getting the first job we learned that it was the mountain where they crucified Christ, but we had no idea.

2016 line-up: Vicente (Guitars), Rubén (Drums), Amon (Vocals), Juan (Guitars), Pedro (Keyboards), Risto (Bass, replaced by Javi in 2017). Photo: Laura González Guerra.

What are your memories of Golgotha's first years? What influenced the band back then?

The start was quite fast, Vicente called me on a Saturday, on Monday we went to the venue and the songs were almost ready, the others were two brothers from another band Inertial Mass, we were all friends of friends, on the island all the musicians were local. We got to know each other and we got along very well, I wrote the texts and in a short time we got into the studio.

Our influences in those dates were quite varied, from bands like Orphaned Land, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Ministry, Solitude Aeturnus, Mercyflul Fate, Sisters Of Mercy, Tiamat, Fields Of The Nephilim, Slayer, Coven, Paradise Lost and etc., at that time everything that fell into our hands was a gift that we squeezed to the fullest.

You recorded debut album 'Melancholy' in 1995: what was your main goal when you entered the studio?

Our first LP was a much longer work, all the previous topics we took them and retouched them again, the new topics were much more varied in everything. There was a record company that had invested in us and we had to measure up, we also had great enthusiasm. The objective? Do a job to be proud of, even if only we liked us, but if people liked it so much better.

How much time did you spend in the studio? Did your budget allow you to do some experiments there?

We were there more or less 1 month, all day locked there, we were very focused on it and since the songs were already finished we did not have to do experiments in the place. When mixing, it was quite complicated to get a sound according to the style. Everything was quite stressful but we loved the result and that heals everything.

Golgotha - 'Lonely' (1995):

Angelo Borras was your sound engineer during this recording session, how did you collaborate with him? How many of his ideas did you use in 'Melancholy'?

Angelo was the owner of the recording studio, he had already recorded the previous demos and EP, but he did not contribute anything in particular, the sound we wanted was something quite old school but with specific points updated as the sound of bass drum or the general atmosphere and that study was perfect, with saying that the LP was not mastered and it sounded great.

But Angelo (and Mané) were only dedicated to recording, editing and mixing.

Did your label support you enough back then? Did 'Melancholy' get proper promotion?

The label supported us a lot, paid the recording, the promotion, got us several concerts in the Spanish territory (very difficult at that time being from an island), the record company was small but always treated us better than we could. "Melancholy" was promoted in catalogs but the biggest promotion was word of mouth, which people liked a lot and recommended it.

What formed your vision of Death Doom metal?

Death metal is something that already came from other bands, on the island it was a style that hit very hard in a very short time, many bands came out after unbounded terror.

How would you describe the overall musical theme of 'Melancholy'?

Golgotha's style can not be considered death doom since it covers many styles, death, stoner, doom, gothic, thrash. The prme reason that I accepted to sing in this band was for the versatility and variety of styles with which you could work and that there were no limitations.

Live at Dead Fest II, 2018. Photo: Edko Fuzz.

The band is located on Majorca, in the Balearic Islands? Did you feel Golgotha was an isolated band back then because of its geographical location? How often did you play gigs during this period?

Yes, we are in Palma de Mallorca and as I said before, living here it was and is quite complicated to do concerts outside, you have to take boat or plane. We had several concerts and we looked for a few more on our own and decided to take a caravan and go two months to Spain and play everything possible to promote ourselves, everything went quite well and we had a great time.

Can you say your homeland influences the band in some way? Do you have any local influences in your lyrics?

Our island is a meeting point of many different cultures; all this makes it easier to be more open to styles. Geographically, it does not influence us much in our lyrics.

How would you summarise your lyrical message? What do you express through your songs?

The lyrical theme usually deals with moods, specifically those that make you feel bad, depression sadness, grief, agony, everything is very inner, very soul. I'm not very interested in talking about the physical theme, or the earthly theme (politics, religion...), in short I try to explain it in fiction mode, mixing fantasy with emotions.

Golgotha - 'The Wood In Me' (1998):

How did you work on your second album 'Elemental Changes'? Did you want to try something new this time? Did you want to develop the band's sound?

"Elemental Changes" was a very complicated job, the audience expected a less primitive album, the pressure was very hard, we were all quite stressed, a foreign producer came and put us against each other, recorded badly, left and left us with the songs without mixing . We had no budget to make another decision and the final result was not satisfactory, all that led the band to lose motivation and finally to separate. It was a cursed record from the first minute. Now we are going to remaster it and take it out again with another sound and design.

Please tell me more about the 'Elemental Changes' reissue: how much do you want to change about the initial material?

The remastering of LP "Elemental Changes" was decided by us since the rights of the first 2 LPS were sold to a record company that no longer exists, so being authors re-using the graphic material and sound was something we had pending. The audio theme we can improve ourselves because we decided to do it and leave it much better, the art work also needed another change. The whole graphic theme has always taken me, and the design of "Elemental Changes" was a chaos (which was coupled with the recording) of which I'm not proud, and using the base of the previous style I designed something much more in keeping with the record. We tried to get the recording studio to provide the tracks separately but they looked for them and they had already been deleted, so we can only master them, we have added in the introductions some background sounds, rains ... that we thought were missing. We will also edit the first LP "Melancholy" which was left unmastered and with a new design.

Amon, what happened in 2004 when Vicente resurrected the band with a new line-up? Why didn't you join it?

In 2004 we met to record a tribute to a punk band from Mallorca, then everyone went on their way, Vicente and I tried to continue but each one had a different vision of what we wanted to do and decided to separate. Vicente followed with other components and at first I was not going to call it Golgotha but the record company asked for it and it came out that way. Now live we play songs from that LP "New Life" but with my voice.

You spent several years in FireSword with Juan Carlos Eichborn Hanly, how did you start this project?

FireSword was a project by J. Carlos Eichborn who was the guitarist of the first thrash metal group from Spain that we assembled together. After years he was giving me songs he was doing at home, I told him that some songs could do very well. He told me that if I want to sing, he would pass me the texts and I would record it at home at my own pace, we would release several EPs of 4 songs in a row. I offered him my help with the following LP and he came out with "Enslaved To The Void".

What's the status of FireSword since you released 'Enslaved To The Void'? Do you plan to continue it now that you're in Golgotha again?

FireSword is now about to release a new LP, but this time I do not collaborate with him. I was doing the songs with Carlos, the singer of Inferitum (black metal) and they were playing them, but I was very busy with the mixes and the design of the Golgotha's EP "Arise" and I did not have time to record the voices and I insisted that they take Carlos as a vocalist, in the end they did it and in a short time the CD will be ready. I do not rule out going back another time but now I do not think it's the right thing to do and I hope it goes great.

Golgotha's EP 'Arise' was released just a few months ago, in February. What's the story behind your final reunion with the band?

Helevorn asked Vicente and me to play the "Lonely" song in the presentation of their "Compassion Forlorn" album, we went up and had such a good time that we decided to get together again to do a series of concerts for the 20th anniversary of "Melancholy". We got together four of the original musicians, two of them could not and so we added two new musicians who were fans of the band. We did a few concerts and when we were all comfortable we decided to start composing new material.

Golgotha - 'Arise' (Official):

How did you record these new songs? Do you feel that you managed to keep the band's original spirit from the '90s?

For "Arise" we recorded everything by ourselves, Rubén the drummer took care of it, we recorded the voices in the studio of a friend (2 blocks from my house), then we mixed it between Rubén and myself in December.

The truth is that the final result of the compositions is very Golgotha, the sound is quite dark and not as clean as the sound that is being released now. The artwork was my work and it reflects the content, everything is quite balanced with the others. The fans tell us that they love it, that it is like the continuation of "Melancholy" and that it seems as if we have never left.

What are the band's plans for a new full-length album?

We are composing songs for an LP, we hope to have it ready by the end of 2018 and with the topics that we have at the moment I think that they will not disappoint anyone, they are as dark as those of "Arise".

Do you mean that it'll be the same Golgotha people heard in the '90s? How far do you plan to go from the original sound with it?

I want to say that it will be a very dark material, with a more direct composition, without so many complications or changes, they are more raw topics, we will record (if everything goes well) with the producer of "New Life" for the sound that Pablo takes out above all in the guitars. It is incredibly bestial.

Who's the chief songwriter in the band now? Do you work all together on new material?

Mostly the songs are composed by Vicente and then we all moulding and put in our parts. Other songs like "Silences" came out in a couple of afternoons without waiting for it, we started with a rhythm and everything flowed by itself.

Amon, what are your ambitions for Golgotha today? How far do you plan to go with the band this time?

For the moment we are focused on composing the new material and recording, future plans are to be able to do concerts in all the places where we can and that the new album can be promoted well and that it is a good continuation where people can feel something good.

What makes you continue perform Death Doom metal today?

If you mean to sing, I've been enjoying music since I was 14 years old as one of the most important things to feed the soul. I'm still discovering styles, musicians, bands like the first day, and having worked as a DJ in many metal bars for years it has been like a happy obligation to keep up to date on music.

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Visit the Golgotha bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-07-18 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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