Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Xaon Talks Black Metal Beginnings, Album Composition, Bjorn Strid Guest Spot and Band Recommends!
Swiss trio Xaon are about to release their debut EP very soon. Having played in a successful black metal act for over a decade, this represents a new direction and what I'd consider a revitalized sense of purpose in many ways. Utilizing elements of melodic death metal along with more depressive structures, there is certainly something interesting to note here!
Interview with Flo (bass/lyrics)
Let’s start by introducing the band. Tell me a little bit about yourselves and how you came to be. You’re about to release your debut EP in just a few days. How excited are you?
Just before Xaon, I was with Vinc’ in band (a well-known swiss melodic black metal band that existed for around fifteen years). We released our very last album, then did some tours and a lot of shows with them, it was some pretty cool. There were some very intense and rewarding moments but and I still don’t know why Vinc’ (the former guitarist of this band) and me became very disconnected towards each other during the latter stages of the band.
Time flew like birds escaping face of the first symptom of plague and the other musicians seemed to be fine playing without any devotion, any utter passion and any interest. They became totally disconnected from metal and it's dark and profound energies. Thus, we decided to wait for the past band's very first hiatus in order to jump at the opportunity to create a new band, Xaon. A new band dedicated to playing devoted, heavy, powerful and melancholic songs under the radiant aegis of some great names like MY DYING BRIDE, KATATONIA, WINTER, the mighty PARADISE LOST, TYPE O NEGATIVE, the German VALBORG, AUSTERE, DAYLIGHT DIES, SATURNUS, ULVER and SOILWORK.
This band was for us like a psychic cork-remover. As a dries fountain, to have a new band with musicians only devoted to heavy and gloomy music was a pure act of resurrection. We wrote the lyrical contents and compositions over a six month period. It was very intense and pleasant. During the recording of the lead vocal parts, we stood astonished and thrilled by the vocal skills, presence and charisma of the Franco-American singer Rob Carson and we packed him up with us as a permanent member.
We’re madly excited for the release of the album! It’s a big step for us and regardless of how it will be received, we are already very proud of these compositions but we don’t want to hurry because we’re still at the beginning line of this promotional journey. We warmly hope that every metalhead will be able to find in our musical streams something that resounds positively in their inner cloisters and bring some power, courage, strength for his everyday life.
We are just at the inception of our story...
Tell me a little bit about this EP. What was the writing and recording like? It seems that there’s a bit of folk flowing through this, reminding me a little bit of early Disillusion (GER) or Solefald, albeit having a rather crushing edge as well. Then again, there’s also some elctronics. It’s a playful mixed bag.
As I may have said, to have the opportunity to work only with Vinc’ for the musical sphere and myself for the lyrical, textual, conceptual spheres was a complete freedom and we really needed it! To work and play with some musical unbelievers is very tiring, exhausting and frustrating. We both realized that we could just work and follow our hearts and our musical tastes without having to confront ourselves with people that have lost faith in both metal and music in general. We felt it roaring in our guts and in our hearts.
The different melodies, the lyrics and the concept are like some disparate pieces which quietly sleep or stridently infect our minds. These disparate things were coming so quickly that we had to take time to drink some booze in order to talk a lot about how this new music could be or how this next EP would have to sound but every time, we would stay both very prudent and discreet. Vinc’ didn’t play with his face to me during a lot of parts that deserved to be recorded in this EP and I never read to him any pieces of the poems or lyrics that I had already written.
In Xaon, the creation of some of the new musical pieces came from sessions when we were both locked separately in our ways. We talked about the EP’s main direction but we let our imaginations flow as we worked to create the details regarding the album.
So I must temperate my answer, as only a few pieces have been in a kind of locker for a while but for example, a piece such as: The Soulcleaner is a fresh creation, inspired by some bitter and hurtful experiences face to blind vanity of the warm youth.
During the recording process, everything was quiet. There was some tiny tension between me and Vinc but it seemed normal to us because we deeply love the musical material that we handle. When me or Vinc started to make an incomprehensible manipulation on a musical detail that we already deeply liked in a certain shape, it gave birth to some tensions but I really like working with him.
It was a little bit tormenting when we were faced with the possibility of working with Rob. Like every human, we anxiously shiver facing the unknown, facing this kind of a leap of faith. It was a disagreeable and tormenting moment but by luck, very temporary (and the discomfort wasn’t given by Rob or his performance on our songs but simply as I already said, by our fear facing this decision and its fallout that it could be decisive for Xaon’s future).
Thanks for noticing the similarities between Disillusion (I’m a huge fan of the '04 album: Back to Times of Splendor. It’s a pure ears-crusher, a gleaming jewel) (It's also one of my favorite albums of all time - The Grim Lord) and the all-mighty Solefald (I’m a big fan of every album that they released. As you said, our music is a bit more “crushing” but they know how to make a guitar sound mystical and how to build superb melodies that carry our souls very far away, near the cold cosmic void!)
What was it like working with Bjorn Strid on “Discrowned?” That track really slays and seems to carry melodeath in a new direction. I’m a bit reminded of Blood Stain Child in some sections.
We weren't thinking about BLOOD STAIN CHILD with this song, but we thank you for the compliment. We've always liked SOILWORK’s music and the powerful aura given by Björn’s voice. Just before meeting Rob, Vinc and me talked a lot about to have a very particular kind of voice on this song (of course, we especially didn’t want to use a golden, well-known name in order to promote our music. I always think that this kind of maneuver is fundamentally childish, pitiful and deserves a vehement, severe and viscid sputum straight to the face! For us, a guest-musician on a track could be only admissible when the band and the guest are some kind of friends (for example, look at the guest performances from Chris Barnes on the GORGUTS album Considered Dead on the tracks "Rottenatomy", "Bodily Corrupted" and "Hematological Allergy." Chris and Luc Lemay are some friends and I suppose this collaboration was friendly teamwork between two friends from two different bands) or if the band aren’t able to produce the effect or the sound that they’re searching and the only way to produce a decent result is to ask for help outside of the band. The case regarding the song "Discrowned" was the latter.
This song was the first that we wrote for this EP and I don’t know why we were very angry and corrupted by some intense feelings of malaise, powerlessness and solitude. We hardly wished to have a powerful and very versatile vocal line on this track. Nothing afflicted or sad or a kind of “boo-hoo” kind of feeling. It was supposed to be just pure violence, a feeling of useless revolt or a heavy and bitter weight on our mind and shoulders. We hadn’t met Rob yet and nobody in our close musical friends were able to give us what we desperately wanted then, so we thought about asking a professional musician to fill this position. (But I don’t remember clearly if it was said more with a half-smile instead of a serious visage).
A few weeks after that, Vinc went to a SOILWORK gig and crossed Speed’s path in an empty corridor. He didn’t hesitate to ask him if he want to scream some sentences in one of our songs and one or two months after, we received the song “Discrowned” not with just a chorus sung by Björn “Speed” Strid, or just a mere verse but the entire song! He did such wonderful and amazing work with it! Every time I hear this track, I feel extremely honored to have these kinds of vocals on the song.
So have you been working on a full-length as well, or are you planning on playing a few shows first to see how well the material does in front of a live crowd?
Actually, we’re working on some new stuff, as you can guess. So, Yeah, the next release from Xaon will be a complete album and we have already finished all of the compositions. We’re swimming into our stream of thoughts regarding the arrangement’s possibilities and the capability to maximize the dumping and the implosion of feeling with the adding of some unusual instrument in the realm of Rock’N Roll music.
As the lyricist and the bassist, I dream of a much heavier and depressing, far darker music with gloomier panoramas conducted by the acoustic instruments (like we did with the cello) but –and it’s very important- without falling on the “gothic” or the “symphonic” style of music. We wish to stay heavy, mean, groovy and brutal as a metal band but with less catchier parts and more darker, complex and suffocating parts. Nevertheless, keep in mind that it’s only a personal wish. Xaon is a trio. When we will work on the draft's new material, we will find some agreement and a fair consensus between all composers. We will probably begin recording this new album around the beginning of 2017. If we –as persons- are still alive.
What are some bands that you guys are digging right now? Any artists you’d recommend we check out? (Besides yourselves, of course.)
Ah! A question about bands. I really like these kind of questions. If you don’t know about these bands just take a look and I promise you won’t be frustrated!
PAYSAGE D’HIVER: A famous Swiss black metal band. Murky, ghastly and cold music. Perfect tunes to die frozen, the eyes bathed by the lofty, white and powerful mountains.
CIRITH UNGOL: Heavy-doom horrific band with a mad and talented bassist and a devilish voice. The ol’ school band of my selection! Take a look (and let’s prefer the opus called: King of the Dead and One Foot in Hell)!
DUX: The French band of this selection. The last opus, Carnations was a huge and massive blast for my ears. A power trio black metal band. It's potent, melodic, tormented and wise music for the listeners that like the tasteful tunes.
FUNERAL FOG: The Canadian-one! You won’t be submerged by the disdain facing these tunes. You will float under what I will present as a profound devotion!
THERGOTHON: Perhaps the Finnish pioneer for funeral doom metal. Only one demo and one full-length, a complete fulfilment and a strangling voyage through obscurity.
A good selection can’t be called as good as it wishes to be if there aren't bands like: PLAGA, SVARTIDAUðI, DARVAZA, BEHERIT, DEATHSPELL OMEGA, HESYCHAST, MGLA and more!
What are some of the things that you guys do when you’re not playing music? Are there any other acts that you play in?
My life is structured by my love for music and my professional activities are near this interest but I like to wander through nature, to write some little stories, to read books about astronomy, mythology, the history of religions, philosophy, medical science, the history of art and I definitely enjoy reading some good novels or stories from writers like Edgar A. Poe, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Victor Hugo, H.P. Lovecraft, Goethe, Theophile Gautier and Gerard de Nerval.
To answer your next question, we do have some other bands that we still play in. If you like to hear good stuff in the melodic death metal sphere, don’t hesitate to take a look on the French band: BLOODSTORM where our singer Rob does the main vocal lines (http://www.bloodstormofficial.com/), if you like black metal stuff our second guitar player, Guillaume is your man. Don’t hesitate to check: ENOID (https://enoid.bandcamp.com/) and SERPENS LUMINIS (where I’m the lead singer with Guillaume behind his six-strings: https://www.facebook.com/SerpensLuminis/?fref=ts). If you like some rough stuff, I mainly sing in some swiss band: CALCINED (www.calcined.ch) and ERZEBETH DANE (https://www.facebook.com/erzebethdane/?fref=ts)
This is a very promising record and I’m now seeming to recall it after the first time I heard it a little while back. I wish you guys the best of luck, as I really think there’s a potential to go far and further carry the banner for Swedish melodic death metal into a new age!
Thanks a lot for these interesting questions and this interview! Never give up! Stay totally proud and strong about what you are and became!
Long live Metal!