Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust
CoC interviews Gordan Cencic of Ashes You Leave
by: Pedro Azevedo
Amidst the current flood of bands allegedly playing doom metal with lead female vocals, only a few have a doom component strong enough to justify that label. Ashes You Leave are one of those. Not hiding behind the "gothic" doom metal with female vocals label that has become so fashionable lately (undeniably with some occasional fine results as well), Ashes You Leave have released a very worthy follow-up to their doomy debut _The Passage Back to Life_ all the way from Croatia, and it turns out to be one of the best doom metal albums I have heard in a while: _Desperate Existence_ [reviewed in this issue]. Drummer Gordan Cencic answered my e-mail questionnaire.

CoC: Most people (myself included) know very little about the Croatian metal scene. I personally only know Castrum, besides Ashes You Leave, of course (and I must say I prefer Ashes You Leave by far). Would you like to tell us more about Croatian metal?

Gordan Cencic: The metal scene in Croatia is very poor, and it's fading away more and more every day, because simply the bigger media are constantly trying to destroy the "Metal world". Small individuals are destroyed as soon as they show themselves a bit. Here rules the politic that says that all that is "metal" is bad. But still there are a couple bands and fanzines that are alone against everybody. Hail to them! Ashes You Leave is, together with Castrum, the only band that has, in the last twelve years, succeeded to break abroad, and we are also the only doom metal band in Croatia. Besides us, there is still a small number of metal bands, but their activity is very hard to hear.

CoC: You have been producing some very doomy music; what everyday (or other) influences cause this?

GC: Doom metal is, for us, a way of living and creating, and because of the fact that it was created by the gathering of not too optimistic people, it was the most appropriate musical style for us. Besides religion, which is one of the greatest sources of inspiration for us, our creativity is "helped" by this decadent world around us.

CoC: What about musical influences? I can find some clear doom/death influences in your music, but it remains a bit different from the usual; I can say the same about the female vocals.

GC: If we are speaking about influences in the music of AYL, then we can freely talk about My Dying Bride, Cathedral and Pink Floyd, but in our future work we will try to remove any other influences from our music. Regarding the female voice, I can only say that we didn't want a standard female gothic voice, a girl sounding like a seven year old; we wanted a strong female voice.

CoC: In my opinion, you are also a lot doomier than most bands who use lead female vocals. Do you agree? Why does this happen?

GC: I'm not 100% sure that we sound a lot more "doomy" than other bands who are using a female leading voice, but there must be some truth in your claim; I think that mainly it's due to Dunja's voice and the honest expression of all band members while we create music, contrarily to some other doom bands, who think that this music is simply a good trend and end up growing into complete boredom and slight comedy.

CoC: What's happened in the band, musically, between the releases of _The Passage Back to Life_ and _Desperate Existence_?

GC: In time, we started to experiment more and more with other musical styles, so that we could express ourselves more completely. Besides that, we have also grown as persons and musicians.

CoC: Why did you choose the title _Desperate Existence_ for your new album?

GC: The album _Desperate Existence_ is composed of almost hysterical depression. The band was in that kind of state because of all kinds of problems created by some ex-members, and during that period of time the chances that our second label Arctic Serenades would fall apart were getting bigger and bigger. This really happened, and then we didn't even think Morbid Records would be interested in AYL. In fact, you can say that we were really in a state of complete despair.

CoC: What exactly is depicted on the front cover of your new album?

GC: Regarding the cover page of the new album, it represents a fallen angel who changes from a sacral shape into damned shape (desperate existence). It's symbolised with a shadow stretching from a normal cross that's in a gothic window, which mutates from the sight of the fallen angel, in the form of an inverted cross, which the angel is entering.

CoC: The fourth track on _Desperate Existence_, "Et Vidi Solem Evanere", and also the last one are quite different from the rest of the album; I personally like "Et Vidi Solem Evanere" very much. What were the ideas behind these tracks? What were you trying to achieve with them?

GC: Like on the first album, there are songs which we thought we would present much better in a classical way, or in another way without using guitars and drums. It is simply our choice, and besides that I think that an album is more interesting with some more variety.

CoC: Now that you have a new album out, what do you think your music will evolve into next? What changes do you see as most likely to happen in your music soon?

GC: Like I mentioned before, AYL is still developing, and let's say that it will continue to use a lot of elements of Croatian folk, and let's say that the new material will have a bit more of a gentle sound. It will all be placed in an atmosphere of melancholy and depression, so we will still be playing our own style.

CoC: What are your plans for the near future? Do you see yourselves leaving Morbid Records and signing for a larger label?

GC: Our near future plans are tied with putting out our third album, but there is still a lot of work to do, and also eventually a Summer tour. Regarding Morbid Records, we are still planning to stay with them, because they are really highly professional, and besides they represent a big second family for us.

CoC: Are there any words you would like to add to conclude the interview?

GC: Don't ever give up, because only the brave are winning, and keep the doom flame burning!!

Contact: Gordan Cencic, Franje Candeka 23b, 51000 Rijeka, Croatia

(article submitted 19/5/1999)

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