Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fatum Elisum Interview

France's Fatum Elisum put out an album earlier this year by the title of  Homo Nihilis that inks the band indelibly into the ranks of France's burgeoning Doom / Death clan. Earlier I had the chance to talk to bassist Alexandre about Fatum Elisum and their peers across the Atlantic.

CT: For those who have never listened to Fatum Elisum, how would you describe the music you've thus far created?

Alexandre: Fatum Elisum plays doom death metal, without keyboards or female vocals, these are important points to notice. I think we sound like old English doom death metal bands like Cathedral (In Memoriam and Forest of Equilibrium era), old Paradise Lost, old My Dying Bride and old Anathema, with other influences. So you could expect long songs with heaviness, gloom and maybe some kind of tragedy on our music.

CT: Can you relate to us the origin myths of Fatum Elisum? How did the group form and since, how have the members coalesced? 

Alexandre: Christophe (guitar) and I met in March 2002 in a metal shop in Rouen called Hellion Records, and we spoke about doom metal. After that we thought about forming a doom metal band with Sator, our former “drummer”. After many tries, we had a more serious project during summer 2006, with Sator, Céline our former keyboard player, Jean Cédric on guitar and with Ende on vocals. But we did not agree about the musical direction and this project stopped quickly. So in March 2007, Christophe, Céline Sator and I asked to Hugo to join us. Hugo used to play with Sator, and was at that time playing guitar with Last Offender (heavy thrash metal). We rehearsed during spring, and in July 2007 Ende joined us as the singer. That was for the real beginning. In October 2008, when we split up with Sator, we had at that time a gig scheduled and we could not cancel it. So we asked to my brother Christophe to help us for this gig, and as he really enjoyed it, he became our drummer. I think this gave us a real start as playing with him was what the band really needed.

CT: Does each member bring a specific aspect to the music such as, is one member particularly excellent at writing convincing melodies, or lyrics?

Alexandre: Since the writing of the song Dancer of Spirals on our first album, we have the same method for writing songs. Hugo and I work together on the songs structure and showing to each other our riffs. Then Hugo makes all the melodies and harmonies, and after that we rehearsed the song altogether. Ende writes all the lyrics.

CT: On your facebook page, you mention that you made a specific decision to not include keyboards in the band after originally starting with a keyboardist. Why did you specifically choose to leave keyboards out of the band? Many bands in the doom death style utilize keyboards prominently and do not suffer from the inclusion. Morgion comes to mind.
Alexandre: Céline was at that time Sator’s girlfriend, so in a way, that’s why she was in the band. After many rehearsals, Hugo and I felt disappointed by the keyboard, which avoided Hugo to express him with lead guitars. In the beginning of June 2007, we did two rehearsals without Céline, and after listening to the recordings of these rehearsals, we found out that it was far away better. Céline is a good keyboard player, but this instrument did not fit to our music, as we wanted to do something very dark and crushing. And the melodies from a guitar, for me, are clearly nobler than coming from keyboards with synthetic sounds. More over, in my opinion, it is quite difficult to be very original when adding keyboards to doom death metal, as everything has been said by many bands, notably by My Dying Bride and Saturnus. Even I like bands like Skepticism, Profetus, Saturnus and My Dying Bride, I think this instrument has no place and will never have its place in Fatum Elisum music.

CT: Where do your influences lie, musically, lyrically and conceptually?

Alexandre: As said before, our main influences come from lots of bands, like Cathedral, My Dying Bride, Anathema, Paradise Lost, Celtic Frost, Mourning Beloveth, Evoken, Mournful Congregation, Black Sabbath, to name a few, but we listen to many kind of metal, notably Black Metal, Death Metal, Thrash Metal, and Epic Metal. We also do have personal influences, Christophe our guitar player, Hugo and Ende, listen to a lot of classical music, and Christophe also listens to a lot of world music, and for example, I enjoy artists like Neil Young, Sixteen Horsepower, Wovenhand and Joy Division.
Lyrically, Ende reads a lot of thing, so you could find his influences on his lyrics; this is something important in the band, as we often speak about the books we read in the band. Ende really enjoys author like Nietzsche, Cioran, Albert Camus, Antonin Artaud and William Blake. Conceptually, the word Fatum means Destiny in Latin, but in the way of its fatality, as Victor Hugo described it in some of his books. So, in my opinion, there is something about this fatality in our lyrics and in the emotions brought by our music.

CT: Tell me about the recording for your most recent release, Homo Nihilis. How did this recording differ from the first self titled release?

Alexandre: Well, there are no big differences from the first record, as we worked once again with Julien Bous. I think the big differences were on the drums as my brother is a good drummer and did a very good recording session for this album, so there are real drums on this record. But, we all progressed as a band, so the recording sessions were better for us. We recorded the drums, the guitars and the bass guitar in Postghost Recording Studio in December 2010. The vocals were all recorded in the church Saint Romain of Cailly, in February 2011, with Julien Bous. That was once again an amazing experience, but very extreme as it was very cold in this church, but the result is better than on the first record, as we had more time to record. We were happy to work once again with Julien, he knows us well and also knows what fitted for us, and he is a very good sound engineer. He did a great work for the mixing process which was done from March to May, and we obtained what we really wanted for this album.

Thankfully to Stu, our marvellous boss from Aesthetic Death, our album was mastered by Greg Chandler (Esoteric), who also did a great job for us. So we are really happy with these recording sessions and with the final result.  

CT: How has the reaction been to the record so far from what you can tell?

Alexandre: At this date, there is only one review about Homo Nihilis. I know that Stu is very pleased with our album. The only reactions about our record came from friends, they were good but it is hard to take a distance from that. Romain from Postghost Recordings told me that this one is good, and far better than the first one.

CT: In a recent review of your new album, Homo Nihilis, Dominik Sonders of compared Fatum Elisum with another local band, Ataraxie, practically pitting the two bands against one another (1). You've played shows with Ataraxie, but do you know Ataraxie personally? Have they been an influence on you?
Alexandre: I’m fed up with the endless comparisons to Ataraxie, as we do not sound like them, they are more extreme than us, and we are more influenced by the Peacevile Three than them. In fact, it seems that as we are from the same town, we are and maybe will always be only a copy cat of Ataraxie for many reviewers. That makes us laugh in the band, and Fred from Ataraxie was amazed about theses comparisons. Anyway, there is no competition at all between us, as we are friends. My brother and I are working on a new project with Fred and Sylvain from Ataraxie, Hugo and I have a gig organisation with Fred, and Jonathan is a good friend of mine. They’ve been an influence on us, not musically but in the way they managed their career, notably for their integrity. In fact they told us good advice when we begun, and let us play our first show with them and with Indesinence in November 2007. More over, I discovered doom metal during the nineties, so before Ataraxie was born.

CT: Do you feel that often times critics fail to look at each band singularly, instead perceiving each band as being in conflict with others? It seems that Dominik was hoping you would be a different band.

AlexandreI am also a reviewer; I often compared bands to other bands, but not in the way of making or creating some conflicts, but in order to have some main references for the readers. That’s the problem with a review, sometimes you loose something while doing comparisons or making some competition like “this one is slower than the other one”, or “this one is darker than this one”. It’s good to have reviews for a band, as it is a good way of promotion, but the best way to discover a band, in my opinion, will always be to listen to them on a disc or during a gig.

When we created the band, we did not want to be a revolutionary band, but only to play the music we wanted to do and to hear. There is some kind of worshipping of the elder bands in Fatum Elisum, and we pay our tribute to them, notably while doing cover songs, but you could also find it on many way on Homo Nihilis. I do not know what Dominik was hoping, he is free to think and write what he wants to, and this is not a problem for me.  

CT: Outside of Fatum Elisum, what do you occupy your time with? Do you work? Have kids? Hold candlelight rituals to the Elder Gods?
Alexandre: I have a daily job; I’m an educational advisor in a high school. I spend a lot of time rehearsing as I play in many bands, notably Absynth (black metal), the new project mentioned above and Forsaken Peddlers, an Epic Doom Metal project with Hugo and Christophe from Fatum Elisum and Florian from Absynth. I listen to a lot of music daily and read books. I’m an atheist, so there is no god worshipping.

CT: How does the message of Doom Metal, relate to reality? Does it?

Alexandre: Sometimes I think I was born too late, and everything I do, I do it very slowly. More seriously, I do not think there is one message, as they are some many bands and styles. I really enjoy the integrity of doom metal, and the loyalty of its fans. It’s always good to meet people during festivals whose listen to or play the same music as you. Anyway, sometimes, when I am in a bad mood, there are only few bands that I could listen to, like Warning, Abandon or Mournful Congregation, as their music reflect well what I feel.  

CT: What bands would you recommend for those who enjoy your music? What local bands would you promote to readers of this article that you feel deserve the attention of the underground loyalists?

Alexandre: Sorry if I’m not original, but I would recommend old Paradise Lost, old My Dying Bride, old Cathedral and old Anathema for those who enjoy our music; and bands like Imindain, Loss, Asunder Ophis, Mournful Congregation, Mourning Beloveth, Process of Guilt, to name a few, but all are different and very good. Did I mention to Ataraxie? 
Apart the well known Ataraxie, we are lucky to have a good scene in Rouen, with many good bands, so here is a brief presentation of them:

Prön Flåvurdik, a fantastic experimental drone doom band, with very good musicians. You should check their latest record, Opus 3, which was re-released by Paradigm Records this year. Their forth album is actually on the mixing process, and will be surely a huge album; I saw the band playing the new materials many times this year.  
Mhönos, a drone doom ritual band with unknown musicians from Rouen, their first album will be released on November on Le Crépuscule du Soir.
Telümehtär, a black metal band, with, once again, very good musicians from different bands from Rouen.
Caruos, true pagan metal, with Nekurat from Hyadningar, Tommy from Wolfinside and Siegfried from Keen, they’ve just released:
Yuck, a unique band of grunge black metal, the perfect meeting between Seattle and Bergen. Their second album, This One Is Good, has just been released on Postghost Recording:
BadSwamp, a heavy rock band, with an excellent front woman:
Hyadningar, epic and insane black metal, even the band split up last year, I recommend this band, and I recommend to you to check Void Paradigm, the new project of Marquis and Nehluj:
Last but not least, even it is not metal, I recommend to those who enjoy folk music The Middle Tide:  

CT: What are Fatum Elisum's future plans? Are there new tracks in the works already? Tours? Gigs? Any plans to play shows in North America or abroad?

Alexandre: The future plans are to play the more gigs we can to promote Homo Nihilis, so we are searching for gigs not only in France, but also abroad. That would be nice to play in North America, but we have unfortunately no plans to play there, but if you have some, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I think it would be difficult to play in North America, notably for the travelling costs, but if one day we have the opportunity to play there, we will surely get it. We are working on a cover song of Darkthrone, Hordes of Nebulah, and on a new song, for a third album.  

CT: Thank you! Feel free to end this interview with whatever insights, commandments and philosophies you wish.

Alexandre: Thank you this interview and for supporting Fatum Elisum. Check our second album which will be available on November the 5th. Support the real underground and, Doom or be Doomed!

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