French death metal is like Swiss chocolate. Once you’ve tasted it you can’t give it up. So give AFFLICTION GATE a taste and I’ll promise you that you will be happy for a long time. Anders Ekdahl ©2013
To those out there that are new to AFFLICTION GATE perhaps a short introduction is in order?
-AFFLICTION GATE was born in the southern part of France in Spring 2006 with the aim to play traditional Death Metal as it used to be in its glorious era back in late 80’s and early 90’s, therefore, taking inspirations from early masterpieces of UNLEASHED, MASSACRE, ASPHYX, BOLT THROWER, DEATH, GRAVE etc…. We noticed that the French Death Metal scene of the 2000’s was only filled with modern sounding, technical and blast beating oriented bands so we felt it was also time to show that the former Death Metal essence was still alive.
The French metal scene has in my ears always been a bit off the beaten path. What is it in the French nature that makes you guys play such great metal?
-Thanks for the compliment but I would simply say that, whatever the geographical situation can be, it doesn’t change the potential and talent that bands can have. I must admit that France is not usually known to be the best place when it comes to Metal or Rock : I mean this is not something engraved in the culture of this country, unfortunately… In spite of that, we always had quality bands in various genres already back in the 80’s thanks to TRUST, ADX, SATAN JOKERS, BLASPHEME, SORTILEGE, VULCAIN, KILLERS, FISC, SQUEALER etc… but as most of these bands were singing in French, I guess it also has quite limited the chance to spread further the music to some extent, I’d say. Anyway, then came bands as AGGRESSOR, MASSACRA, LOUDBLAST, MERCYLESS and then, ANTAEUS, MUTIILATION, DEATHSPELL OMEGA or AOSOTH and the most popular one at the moment being GOJIRA (even if I’m not a fan at all myself), to name only a few now. So, we can mainly say that it’s the extreme sounding bands who helped to put France on the Metal map, thus, got respect and credibility at an international level. For some people, it’s still surprising or even kinda “exotic” to see that great bands can come from France. Some might feel attracted by this while, on the opposite, some might ignore us for the same reason (laughs). The most important is to let music speaks for itself and I think that the mentioned above bands prove that we can compete with other scenes worldwide.
Is there such a thing as a French death metal sound? What would characterize it?
-I don’t think we can speak about a real specific type of Death Metal for us, unlike in Sweden, USA or the early Grind oriented scene of UK back then, for example. AGGRESSOR, MASSACRA, MERCYLESS and LOUDBLAST are considered as the pionneers and the “big 4” of Death Metal here but I guess they just played the music they wanted on their own above all, following their instincts and inspirations each. They all used different studios to record their albums and, anyway, there was nothing like Sunlight or Morrisound Studios nor guys like Colin Richardson here that could have contributed to develop a kind of French trademark on this issue too (MERCYLESS and LOUDBLAST have respectively worked with Colin Richardson and Scott Burns and recorded 2 albums each with them, by the way). The French Death Metal scene might not be considered as a leading nor an influential one but those who are familiar with albums like “abject offerings”, “disincarnate”, “towards beyond” or “enjoy the violence” can’t deny it’s a serious force to reckon with. No matter if they didn’t define a particular French style : those 4 bands have/had their personality and we can proudly say that France is able to offer some truly solid, timeless releases.
What is the French metal scene like today? Is there a scene to speak of?
-When it comes to the more old school sounding Death Metal, it’s facing a revival but the scene is still a minority compared to more modern or trendy styles. It’s mainly rooted in the Underground. We have some rising and crushing bands like NECROWRETCH (signed on CENTURY MEDIA), RITUALIZATION, NECROBLOOD, CADAVERIC FUMES, ZOLDIER NOIZ, PURGE or THE SEVEN GATES (featuring ex MUTILATED guitarist). LOUDBLAST seems to be more active than ever yet they will never beat their old releases, according to me. MERCYLESS is about to release their brand new album “unholy black splendor” this month and AGGRESSOR is still playing live. Others as NO RETURN are still here too releasing albums on a regular basis but we can’t say they are the same band who recorded the great “contamination rise” in 1991, unfortunately… SUPURATION did a quite successfull return this year still in their unique style as introduced on “the cube” (1993).
Where do you see AFFLICTION GATE fitting in on a worldwide scene? What bands are you closest to in spirit?
-We belong to what I use to call the present “new wave of old school Death Metal” scene together with GRAVEYARD (Spain), LIE IN RUINS, DEATH BREATH, REVEL IN FLESH, PROFANAL, CLAWS, DEAD CONGREGATION, FUNEBRARUM, CRUCIAMENTUM, VENENUM, STENCH OF DECAY, TORMENTED, BONE GNAWER, GRAVEHILL, VOIDS OF VOMIT, DROWNED, MIASMAL, MORBUS CHRON and many more. With AFFLICTION GATE, we simply try to keep the flame of the ancient metal of Death burning yet at our humble level, of course. We don’t re-invent the wheel and we don’t give a shit about being “original”, anyway. AFFLICTION GATE is pure old school Death Metal worship and we are paying tribute to the bands which inspired us. Death Metal done by fans for fans. Be it for friendship and / or for more conceptual sides, we feel close from ACHERON, PENTACLE, ASPHYX, MERCYLESS, KATATONIA, PAGANIZER, MY DYING BRIDE, BOLT THROWER, DISSECTION, MORBID ANGEL…
Does death metal have to be Anti-Christian to be true? What kind of lyrical themes do you deal with?
-As far as we are concerned, irreligion is a part of what we develop through our lyrical themes which also refer to despair, depression, war, death, solitude, isolation, destruction & self destruction etc… Basically, we are exploring and exposing Darkness through its various shapes and manifestations : the one which can bring freedom, strength and wisdom or the one which can lead to downfall and chaos… Still, for the better and the worse. Lyrics are definitely not gimmicks or fairytales for us : it’s the mirror of the negativity and the darkside we can behold or we can witness. From sadness to rage, all these aspects and emotions are gathered through AFFLICTION GATE. From my own point of view, I understand the global idea of Metal music as the voice of rebellion, subversion and individual freedom so, it should naturally reject conformity and the empty values that religions stand for.
How important is the art work to bring out the message that you have as a band?
-It contributes to reflect the concept further and strengthen the visual impact. It really must be at one with the idea of what the band wants to express through a release. For “shattered ante mortem illusions”, we used a painting from Charles Gleyre titled “evening / lost illusions”. I guess it perfectly fits because, on this illustration, you can notice an old man who sees his past life memories, hope and dreams fading away. Despair is the key word behind “shattered…”. The loss of everything you lived for, stood for, believed in or loved before the coming of death. What once was and never shall be again… Talking about message, I’d like to point out that AFFLICTION GATE is not a message band in the sense that we don’t try to possibly “influence” people nor to give moral lessons to them. We rather invite people to make their own idea and take what they want in our concept, symbolism and lyrics.
How important is it that there is a theme/ideology behind the band? Could you be a death metal band just for the music?
-In the AFFLICTION GATE case, we couldn’t play Death Metal just for music or by chance. I mean you have to get into dark, morbid and extreme topics to fully connect with this style & its atmosphere. When you are in a band, it’s essential to put into an artistic dimension the things that picture what you truly feel, experience or embrace because to play a kind of role would be pointless. Of course, if we like Death Metal, it’s because this kind of Metal music sounds in its distinctive way but, on another hand, if there is the word “Death” to describe this particular style, there is also a reason that can’t be ignored neither, if you ask me. Here again that’s just my own opinion and I don’t pretend to behold the truth nor I expect that all the bands follow the same way, of course.
When you release a record what is it that you expect to get out of it? How important is it that you reach as many people as possible with the records?
-First of all, self satisfaction above all, of course. Then, when you believe in your music, put your guts in and that you are proud of the material you have recorded, I think it’s normal to do your best to promote it and to share it to the maniacs who are into the same stuffs. We are not looking for “money and fame” : thinking about cashing in with old school Death Metal in present times would be quite retarded, by the way (laughs). We know why we are here : passion & dedication belong to the motors of the band’s existence. We wish to keep on proposing an honest, decent music with a soul and to make it live on stage as much as possible.
What future would you like to see for AFFLICTION GATE?
-To record a new 7”EP titled “dying alone” before the end of the year. No release date nor label announced at the moment. We have started again to play live since late March with our new line up, sharing bills with PENTACLE (Germany and Belgium), MERCYLESS (France X 3) and PROFANAL (France) and it was really great to return on stage so, we are now looking forward to play at the Death Doomed The Age Fest Fest III in Germany in September. More gigs might happen in late 2013 and early 2014. Finally, I guess it will also be the time to work on a new full lenght album.
Thanks a lot for the support, Anders. For those interested to know more about AFFLICTION GATE, please, visit www.myspace.com/afflictiongate or join us on our recently launched official Facebook page.