"Vaya", the first official album from Germany's Death Metal hopefuls Symbiontic is one of the best German Death Metal releases so far this year and I think that means a lot. Reason enough to get in touch with guitarist Torsten Horstmann and ask him a couple of questions...

Hi there! First off: Please introduce yourself! Who are you and what part do you play in SYMBIONTIC?

Hi there! My name´s Torsten Horstmann and I´m playing guitar.

Your new album “Vaya” has been released in April. So far the reactions have been very good and sometimes even enthusiastic. Please put the development between your first album “BioConstruct” and “Vaya” into your own words.

I think "Vaya" is a big step forward! That´s what every band says about their latest recording, haha. But we see "Vaya" as our debut album for "BioConstruct" was a demo. The new material is more intensive, the whole atmosphere is darker and the songs are heavier. The arrangements became a bit more complex but still catchy, they work perfectly on stage! And reading the reviews and talking to people we seem to be on the right way!

The info describes “Vaya” as somewhere between Death, Pestilence and Morbid Angel. Another band that came to my mind is Nile (especially regarding the “interludes”). Can you live with that comparison?

The bands mentioned in our bio are just some of our "biggest" influences (there are many others), the classics that we have a lot of respect for! It´s always very hard to describe your own stuff but for an info sheet you have to... For the NILE comparison: Of course we can live with it for they are an amazing band. I love their latest album. The songs "Vaya" and "Calling The Storms" have this oriental atmosphere and that´s what´s typical for NILE, so I can understand the comparison in parts. But on the other hand I think that our style differs a lot from theirs, our material is catchier and has much more Swedish elements.  For me the comparison is more a compliment because NILE is a very, very professional band with an unique sound. That´s what we try to be, too.

As said before: Reviews have been great so far. What´s really remarkable besides the music is the outstanding layout and artwork. I guess, you´re very happy with the new album?

Of course we are! This was all made possible by Sascha Ehrich (SYLPHONY CREATIONS / guitarist in FRAGMENTS OF UNBECOMING), thank you! He and GROUNDFROST did a fantastic job, the artwork fits perfectly into the music.

Regarding what I just said about the artwork and the layout: Do expect CDs and vinyl to be replaced by digital downloading in the near future so that the consumer won´t get anything more than “just” the music? How important is the packaging for music in your eyes?

For me it´s still very important to have the "whole" product in my hands. With cover, lyrics, credits and all that stuff. If I really like an album I´ll buy it, otherwise I don´t need it. I´m not this collector-guy who buys tons of CDs but a CDR without anything or MP3s on my computer won´t satisfy me if I like a band. This downloading-stuff is ok to check out new bands, not more (for me). What the future will bring I can´t say, watching my friends there are (and hopefully will always be!) the maniacs that love vinyl and CDs. I can understand that people get their stuff from the net, there are so many bands and the money is limited. But files can never be that personal as a "solid" album!

Is there some kind of concept or a special thought behind “Vaya”? Who or what is “Vaya”? What can you tell me about the lyrics?

"Vaya" is a demon in old Iranian mythology who takes the souls of people on the 4th day after they died (Cool, a friend of my ex girlfriend was called Vaya as well haha - Stefan). We were looking for a strong title which is catchy on the one hand and also mirrors the dark atmosphere of the album. There is no lyrical concept, it´s more a musical one. We talked a lot about the position of the songs to make the album as compact as possible. The lyrics on "Vaya" are very aggressive and violent for Volker had a lot of personal stress the time he wrote them. I think he used them as a an outlet for that. But they all have this dark and mysterious vibe...

“Vaya” is your second album and given the quality of that album I guess there´s a lot to expect from you in the future. What are your goals and dreams with SYMBIONTIC and what do you think does the future hold for you?

Our dreams? To get as far as even possible with the band and to join stage with the Death-Metal heroes, haha. And to record better albums, I think our masterpiece is still to come. By now we have finished composing most of the material for the follow-up to "Vaya" and I can promise that we won´t disappoint any Symbiontic-fan! That´s what´s driving us forward: Writing better organic and compact songs.

In which direction do you think will Death Metal develop in the next few years? Right now we have this Metalcore thing going on and not too long ago it looked like Oldschool Death Metal would have its great comeback. But personally I´ve got the impression that the Death Metal gets more and more technical (e.g. The Dillinger Escape Plan, Into The Moat…). What do you think?

That´s hard to say. There have always been trends which the industry wants to make profit of. And there are always great bands (mostly the "inventors") which survive the hype and stay. For example the Oldschool-stuff, I really love the "Resurrection..." album of BLOODBATH. It sounded so fresh and wild, every song a killer! But I haven´t heard another album in that direction that kicked me that much. Some nice stuff but nothing really great. There are too many clones out there. I also like some so-called Metal"core"-bands (with less core in it, haha) but as in every trend there´s too much copy of the copy. And with the extremely technical stuff, it´s ok as long if the song demands it. If it becomes sports on instruments it bores me. A good song is a good song, no matter if it´s NECROPHAGIST or NIRVANA. I think all the genres will develop and the best bands will stay...that´s the way it has always been.

Do you think that this Metalcore trend makes it harder for you or the Death Metal underground in general to get attention or do do you expect the Metalcore phenomenon to vanish within the next months?

This trend will kill itself. Remember the Black-Metal hype in the early 90s or the New-Metal thing. Of course it´s hard at the moment and it will stay hard, but that´s not because of the Metal-Core thing. There are simply too many bands out there which really don´t have a musical vision but just copy their faves. I don´t need that but the fans decide what they listen to and support. I have really no aversion against Metal-Core, DARKEST HOUR and THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER e.g. are great, but I really can´t find much "Core" in them, for me it´s just  Death-Metal combining new and oldschool elements. Metal-Core just became a trademark to make people buy albums and I think it will vanish soon. And the labels will create a new hype...

There´s a lot of argument over that so-called “Violent dancing” at the moment. What is your own experience: Do you think that there´s an increasing number of Hardcore kids at Death Metal shows? There are also a lot of Hardcore people who aren´t happy with the ongoing Kickboxing and stuff. So do you expect the venues and organizers to react?

I have not seen this stuff at our shows and I haven´s joined many "Core"-events so I can´t really judge it. Regarding to magazines etc. there is this tendency and it´s not my kind of "enjoying" a show. And I don´t think that these kung-fu-fighters are real music-fans, they use the gigs to make their own show. Moshpits are ok as long as it is "friendly violent fun" and not just blind violence and beating. I don´t know if there are more Hardcore-fans at Metal-events, but if that´s the case it´s ok for me if they come because of the music. Man, my first show ever was a And to the last point, I don´t really believe that (all) organizers care about the health of the audience as long as they can make money. And if they "react" the bands will be the ones to suffer the consequences.

What are your plans for the near future? Is there a tour in the making?

As I mentioned before we are working on a follow-up to "Vaya" and we give a lot of energy into it. Besides we are preparing for the shows to come. Right now there are no touring-plans but there are a lot of gigs to come! Visit our page for the dates! We also hope that we´ll get the opportunity to play some of the summer-festivals 2006. We promise you a kick-ass performance! We´ll see what the future holds in store...

Okay, we´re done! Thank you very much for your time!

Thank you for the interview! Cool questions and very nice that you dropped the "history"-question. Greetings to the maniacs out there and to NETINFECT (hope you read this;)...