Divine Lust | Interview with João Costa

[Divine Lust]

Although Divine Lust formed in 1998, it was only last year that the Portuguese group have followed-up their self-titled debut from 2002 with a new release. During the last six years Divine Lust have undergone a period of introspection, readjusting their formation and refining their song-writing and come out with a second work drenched in sorrowful and beautifully poignant melodies. “The Bitterest Flavours” sees the band incorporating the singular sound of the Portuguese guitar into their compositions, capturing to a certain extent the more desolate and fatal ambient of the music that echoes in the old streets of their home city Lisbon, the fado.
Scratch the Surface caught up with the band’s drummer, João Costa to get a better understanding of Divine Lust’s melancholic journey.

Divine Lust is a melancholic Metal act with roots in Lisbon, a city that in the past was the stage for innumerable human tragedies and misfortunes and was portrayed by some Portuguese poets such as Alexandre O'Neill and Fernando Pessoa as being an intrinsically melancholic and somewhat fatal city.
Being the human nature mutable to the environment that surrounds it, to which point do you consider Divine Lust to be influenced by the melancholic traces of your native city?

“Since we’ve started receiving some feed-back from foreign countries regarding our first album I have noticed some surprise in the reactions and almost incredulity for the fact that a band coming from Portugal can practise this type of sound.
And these reactions extend for other national bands within a more melancholic type of metal, in a way that Portugal to the eyes of many people, especially from the north of Europe and the US, is still seen as a very exotic, sunny and almost tropical country…
This generalized idea ends up being the consequence of a certain unfamiliarity of our culture and history. I like to think this genuine melancholy is part of being Portuguese, translated in the national song and even in the Portuguese Guitar, more specifically the one from Lisbon, which is built in the shape of a tear…
On the other hand, this attraction for a certain fatalism always was a part of our “unconscious collective” and Lisbon was a witness throughout the centuries, seeing many of their own leave without returning, knowing as few the meaning of the word “Saudade”- (Portuguese word for homesickness, missing something or someone-ED).”

If eventually the group had originated from another city other than Lisbon, do you think the sound of Divine Lust wouldn’t carry such a strongly emotional and melancholic load?

“I wouldn’t say Lisbon is an exclusive cradle that inspires people to make this kind of music, quite the contrary. We have many examples of regions with tradition in melancholic metal, even in Portugal, like the islands and Alentejo.
According to some, it’s the consequence of isolation.
I know that we would forcibly sound different… Although this emotional load is assimilated in an almost unconscious form, it certainly wouldn’t make sense for us to introduce the Portuguese Guitar as we did in such a natural way in this album and even the lyrical component would have most certainly, another shape…”

Six years following the release of their self-titled debut album, now surges a new work entitled “The Bitterest Flavours” and is understandably a different record from its predecessor. The band is more mature and confident of their capacities, walking towards a more epic path close to Doom-Metal in its most classical form and distancing a little from the Gothic sonority that characterized their first work?
Is this a signal that Divine Lust is closer to what they really want to achieve, it this the consequence of a bigger stability in the line-up gained throughout these last years, or a little of both?

“After the first album, there was a consolidation of the identity of Divine Lust, in a very natural process throughout these years. I feel the band became heavier and it’s not indifferent to the fact that we’ve finally added a permanent guitarist during all this time. It’s inevitable to evidence that the maturity level had an evolution, as much in the human side, as in the level of composition and execution, which makes us feel satisfied with the cohesion and coherence that we believe to demonstrate in “The Bitterest Flavours”.
The differences between this album and the first one are, in all possible comparisons, clamorous. It is complicated and thoroughly to say if we are closer or farther to a certain style but, now with the album already recorded and with a greater distance from its writing process, I risk to describe it as a mixture of influences of classic Doom Metal ala Black Sabbath and Candlemass with the Doom/Dark Metal of the last decade.”

“The Bitterest Flavours” opens with the words “Let them take me as begone, my last days, my lost dream, will fade as one…” and closes with “Put some flowers in my tomb, I don’t fit in this world”, betokening a sombre, melancholic and pessimistic feeling, deprived of any sense of hope.
Could it be that your songs function as some sort of catharsis, a clean of the soul from all things negative for Divine Lust collectively and individually or there’s a more positive message hidden somewhere in your lyrics?

“I cannot nor want to deny that practically all the lyrics and music had been written in a profoundly negative period at a personal level, and in some cases, also at a collective level, in which fortunately or not, it didn’t lack a predisposition to compose in Divine Lust. At least on a creative side it was productive time and looking back, it’s comforting to feel that “from the deep bottom of the well” raised a form of art…
You’ve guessed it right! I’m convinced that it really functions as a catharsis, since we’ve channelled these feelings into paper or into our instruments as an almost primary necessity, to keep the welfare of our mental health.”

The majority of the press label Divine Lust as a Doom-Metal band, which although it’s a musical genre with a determinative influence over the band’s sound it also ends up being a little limitative, given that Divine Lust branch out into other musical areas and styles as well.
Do you think this happens because the press doesn’t find a better definition to describe you?

“I understand there’s a global necessity to label a band’s sound. For several times I hear or read musicians that transmit some discomfort, block or simply run away from such questions… But it’s normal that a journalist, a record label or even the authors themselves would want to minimally familiarize the sonority of a project for someone who never had the chance of hearing and define it himself.
In some way, it also provokes a nodding towards a certain segment of the “market” in detriment of others, which isn’t that beneficial.
In our case, if people want to call us Doom Metal, that’s fine… There’s someone who calls it Dark Metal, Gothic Metal, Doom/Heavy… It’s all fine as well! At the end, we’re all that with the addition of other ingredients that are not so easily pigeonholed. To us, it’s simply Melancholic Metal, which instead of delimiting us to some predefined format, ends up giving a certain freedom inside of what we understand to be our identity as Divine Lust.”

Now that the album “The Bitterest Flavours” is out, what’s the next step that Divine Lust intends to give in a near future?

“Now that the album is already in stores at a national level through Compact Records, it’s our best interest to continue promoting it and try that the biggest possible number of people takes their time for, at least, to get to know what Divine Lust are nowadays.
There’s also a plan to record a video for the song “Veil of Golden Leaves” as well.
At an international level, the feedback from the record company that released this album, the French Deadsun Records, is that promotion and distribution has just started.
Regarding their work, we just have to pay attention to what goes on outside.
The next phase passes for guaranteeing distribution in the biggest possible number of countries where our label doesn’t arrive and I can advance that we’re already developing some contacts in that direction.
Last but not least, the live promotion, which is deeply our reward for all the months/years locked up in the studio.
We already have some dates scheduled, among them a small Iberian tour with the Australians The Eternal in April. All these concerts, as well as some of the new themes and everything regarding Divine Lust, are available at the band’s official site, which I invite everyone to pay a visit!”

The invitation is made so, point your browsers to: www.divinelust.com