Right now there seem to be an abundance of great French death metal acts to dig through. EMPYREAL VAULT being my latest discovery. Anders Ekdahl ©2019
You have one of these names that tell me that some thought has been involved in the choice. How hard was it to come up with the name?
-Hi battlehelm ! That’s for sure: coming up with a good name for a new band is really hard. For us, the name came after the first musical ideas. We had a concept in mind for the lyrics and the overall vibe of the album we wanted to make. This concept, the story and its characters, fuelled the writing process very quickly. So when it was finally time to settle on a name, we had all the adjectives needed to grab a fitting one.
The competition is a killer these days so please tell us why people should buy your latest album?
-I think the album is pretty well positioned production-wise. Sylvain (Gtr, production) did a killer work on it and for a first album it fulfills some pretty high production standards. As for the music, we’ve merged some tech-death influences with deathcore and some prog-stuff in ambient passages. Also the lead guitar work sets this album quite apart from your typical deathcore record.
Do you notice that there’s anticipation for you to release an album? Have you built a large enough following for people to eagerly await a new album?
-This is the first album for a totally new project, so, as a matter of fact, the following is not incredibly high. But nevertheless, we managed to bring some attention on us with the first singles and the reach from our other projects: Exocrine and Death Lab.
Now it is time to bring the record live on stage, and convert the fan to our sound. But all that being said, it is alway a piece of work to build a following for a new project, it’s kinda starting from scratch.
When you started the band did you do so with a clear intent of what kind of music you wanted to play? How hard was it to come up with a sound all your own?
-Yes, it was the case : we had a clear idea of what music we wanted to make with this project. Myself (Sylver, Gtr) and Sylvain have been talking about it for a long time. Sylvain firstly wanted to experiment with a death/black project and try getting that huge Behemoth-like sound and production, but that was some time ago. We ended up going for the same goal production-wise but merging our tech-death knowledge with deathcore influences. We knew all along that it will have to sound huge, so we wrote riff accordingly, with proper pre-production demos, to get the right impression when listening back to it. If an idea was proposed but didn’t fit this criteria, we ditched it immediately.
Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
-Yes there is a bit of that. In the metal scene, locally and nationally to some extent, everyone know each other. When we book gigs we contact other bands we don’t already know that are doing the same kind of stuff, and they understand our struggles as being a band as we understand theirs. Booking gigs is pretty hard and everybody feels the same about it, we have to help each other, even if we paradoxically respond to the same offer : you can only have so much shows of the same genre.
When you play the sort of music you play do you feel that you can have whatever you like as art work for the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?< -For the cover of our album, we gave Bastien Jez a basic idea of what the concept and lyrics were about so he could start giving us some drafts. After going back and forth a couple of times, he was ready to go with something that everyone was satisfied with. With and iterative workflow like this one, you can guide the illustrator to whatever is good for you. Personally, I don’t like when a cover can be switched back and forth onto several different bands without anyone being bothered about it. For me, a great cover album is one which is specific to that band’s album, one that tells a story, reminds you of the album’s title, or a song title, or some elements of the lyrics. I have a great fear that the change in how people consume music today will eventually kill music as we know it. What is your opinion on digital versus physical? Is digital killing music? -I happen to know the old-school death-metal scene from france as well, and indeed, fellows and fans in there are not willing to let the physical format disappear ! This genre is thriving on nostalgia and often refusing to make music available on streaming services. That varies from genre to genre in metal, but to each his own. A little money is made from selling CD’s at shows, but bands sell also other stuff than CD’s as merch. It as to be a little bit of everything, because some fans want to support you, but are not into physical format at all. Revenues from streaming services is very minimum from bigger bands, so they play live more than before. Maybe the business model is shifting, but the root of it all for us starting bands, is some musician wanting to make music. I don’t think music will ever be killed that way, maybe newcomers will just be more and more acquainted with the idea that they will never make money with it, and that it will remains 100% hobby. Is the era of great arena tours as thing of yester? What kind live scene is there for bands like yours? What does the touring circuit look like today? -In bands of our level, we are not playing the Arena game, really. We do little shows of 80-120 people most of the times. Those are small venues often run by local volunteers. Of course bigger tours are reachable later in a band’s life, as openers, but they have to be some good hype on your project if you want to avoid the 10k€ for 30 gigs pricing. When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party? -Playing live is always a good thing, but if it’s far away from home, on a series of gigs, it demands effort, it’s not a party. The 40 mins on stage are the absolute best, but there is a lot of work aside of that in order to make it work. You have to face all kinds of situations, be super organized and prepared, react to changes, adapt quickly, it is not an easy task. What would you like to see the future bring? -Now that our first album is out, we’ll book some gigs, obviously. As for the rest, if the future brings some goods chugs and insane arpeggios tapping on top of haunting-synth patch, I’ll be happy enough! https://youtu.be/RCG5jvmva5k