(Comrade Aleks brought us the following discussion that he had with two members of the multi-national funeral doom band Aphonic Threnody, whose latest album is out now on Transcending Obscurity Records.)
A bit of good deathly funeral doom won’t hurt anyone. International project Aphonic Threnody proves it with their third album The Great Hatred released by Transcending Obscurity Records just a few days ago.
Formed in 2012 by Riccardo V (guitars, bass) and Roberto M (vocals), who are also known with their doom death band Dea Marica (put on hold since 2013), Aphonic Threnody gained a fair reputation delivering their artistic and grim litanies at full capacity. The lineup changed from album to album and now the project consists of Riccardo V, Juan Escobar on keys, and Justin Buller on guitars. Juan joined Aphonic Threnody six years ago, and he took part in over a dozen different bands (you know for sure the Chilean melodic death doom band Mar de Grises, one of his most well-known outfits). Justin Buller has a shorter list of bands he was involved in, and funeral capella In Oblivion is one of them.
So… The Great Hatred is a killer title, something most of us know well nowadays. Let’s learn more about it with Riccardo and Juan.
Hail gentlemen! Accept my sincere congratulations, it seems no epidemic can stop Aphonic Threnody yet. How are you? How do you see this situation?
Riccardo: Hello and thank you. It’s been a pretty busy time over here. We always have projects and other situations going on. This album has taken a lot longer to come out than expected, but it’s finally here and everyone seems happy. I actually have different views on this world epidemic but my life has not really changed at all.
Juan: Hi Aleksey. I’m very glad to talk with you again and thank you for this opportunity to give some feedback to our doom congregation. The entire situation is a global disaster, firstly because no one expected it and second because we do not know how to fight it literally as a society. In the same terms, I hope to see the end of the pandemic soon and get on with normal life.
A lot of extreme metal bands do songs about plague, apocalypse, and other “death-to-mankind” themes. Okay, usually it’s about black metal bands, but doom metal deals with these topics too. So war continues, nature dies, social tension grows, it looks like the last days are upon us or upon the next generation. Do you see that there’s still a place in this world for such aesthetic reflections as you present on The Great Hatred?
R.: Absolutely. We are in a very depressing world where hurting one another is taken for granted. Our lyrical themes are about so many elements of life and death that I think we can continue to explore so many areas.
J.: Just life is a great inspiration to write, and the situations that mark you in life too. Between them are the recurrent topics of war, death and the end of everything. I have written many times about just a thought or an exact feeling and there is a point of view from my side about the enormous hate relative to something or a particular thing, and we are able to express it on the records/songs, screaming or playing epic riffs full of hatred and sadness. Doesn’t mean that life it’s a great deal )))
Speaking about metal poetry: Occasionally I’ve recalled Skyclad, a band which I listened to a lot 20 years ago, and I see that their lyrics didn’t lose their worth. How do you approach creating music and texts for Aphonic Threnody? Do you aim to imprint temporary images as Juan has said or do you see it as a chance to write a universal message?
R.: I personally write lyrics or music when I feel inspired. It is a feeling from within that I have managed to harness over the many years. Nothing is forced but it must feel natural like nature; everything has its place and you can change little things to make a bigger picture. I don’t look at my lyrics to have a big meaning but rather to connect with people spiritually and for them to question life and existence. If your music is great then your lyrical theme will be inspiring and will live long in people’s memories.
J.: There will be always a memory or inspiration and a feeling. I think most of the times when I try to write poetic music I’m trying to put a feeling inside chords or lyrics. Most of the time but not necessarily all the time, so it is subjective and unpredictable
The Great Hatred is a big title — may I ask toward what you direct this hatred?
R.: This was about life and how much hatred we put into this planet. Nature is the one thing that just takes what it needs. We live for greed and things that are really not that important at all. I’m guessing this is all about a rage from within.
Aphonic Threnody – The Great Hatred
Do you see a chance for positive changes? And do you believe that your songs might change human minds? Though doom isn’t a right genre for preaching to people, and you’d probably win more listeners with well-written but lyrically empty songs like “Nocturnal Emission”?
R.: It’s all about questioning our minds, beliefs and what we are here for. I absolutely believe in fate. You may be in the worst place imaginable but years later realise that this moment had to happen for you to be where you are now. No matter what genre you are in, music can change people’s minds and lives. I strongly believe this. Certain songs have saved me from the darkness many times. I’m truly grateful for so many amazingly gifted artists. They inspire me.
J.: We speak for the people, we empathise with what is in people’s hearts. It is true that this is not a massive genre, but it has been growing from the time I know. It has songs of strong meaning for many, including us
When Death Comes (2014), Of Loss And Grief (2017), and now The Great Hatred – all of Aphonic Threnody’s full-length albums were released in October. Is it a kind of rule for you?
R.: You would think that this is the case but we never plan this. To be honest, this album has been ready for over 16 months.
Did you feel it as an actual thing now, since the emotions and ideas you put into these songs probably passed 16 months ago?
R.: A long time has passed since this album was written but look now at the world. I think the album is so relevant to what is happening. I’m still enraged with society and especially the social media impact that powerful leaders have let us believe in.
J.: Hate will be never enough. I think it is a never-expired emotion
Aphonic Threnody was an international project from the beginning, and now Justin Buller from the US band In Oblivion joins you on guitars. Did he take part in composing The Great Hatred?
R.: Justin has joined for the next album, which is complete. He has really put his mark on it and I can’t wait for it to come out.
J.: Justin joined us exactly after we finished recording the new album. He will be part of us for sure on the next record.
New album? May you reveal any details concerning it?
R.: In fact we have two albums on the way. One is already completed and the other will be a huge two-hour monster. We have Val from Frowning on drums on the completed one, as well as Daniel from Clouds on vocals. Kostas is back on keys as well for the double, with Juan on vocals and Daniel on drums. It’s pretty big man.
There were two guests on Of Loss And Grief – ex-Alunah vocalist Sophie Day and Frédéric Patte-Brasseur who plays guitars in such misanthropic acts as Ataraxie and Funeralium. Do you have special guests this time?
R.: No, not this time. We thought it would be best to just concentrate on our own strengths.
J.: Riccardo and I worked on this album for 2 or 3 years maybe, and it was a long walk I can tell you, but we are satisfied with what we have done. I think it was a total blind test for us both. We had no idea how it was going to end, and when we realized that the band was only us was, like “Damn it! Ok, we should work a lot to make it”.
Riccardo and Juan, you both started another doom project Arrant Saudade back in 2015, and there’s been nothing heard about it since the release of that debut album back then. Do you feel a need to keep that project alive as well?
R.: Yes, I really enjoyed this album and hopefully we can sort out a new album in the future. We have a few ideas lying around so maybe we will venture back into this project at some point.
J.: For sure we want to write some new music but for a couple of years we tried it and it was difficult for some reason. We have it in mind as well
Aphonic Threnody – Drowning
Juan, you’ve said that you and some former Mar de Grises members are preparing a reissue of the band’s discography. What drove you to do this?
J.: Rodrigo Morris and I work parallel but not together with the Chilean band Mourning Sun, who had released a new album a couple of years ago with the Spanish label The Vinyl Division. David the owner told us the idea of releasing one of the Mar de Grises albums on vinyl format, and ya, we talked about it and was like “Fuck yeah!”, so that’s all. It was a lot of work and the label will release two of the albums on vinyl format this 27th November worldwide. Preorders are open on the website of the label (www.thevinyldivision.com).
Mar de Grises could celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. Did you speak with the other members about a reunion? It’s rather impossible, but I know people who would ask this question anyway.
J.: By now it is not a possibility. It is certainly impossible with the actual situation (Covid-19).
Riccardo, previously you took part in a few others bands. Do you have some news from this side?
R.: Yes I featured again on bass with Towards Atlantis Lights which is fantastic. I’m also doing all the guitar on Antim Sanskar, which hopefully will be out next year if all goes well, plus another two Aphonic albums.
And there was already an announcement of a new Towards Atlantis Lights album — how soon will it be released? And what did you prepare for listeners this time?
R.: It will hopefully come out next year. It really is heavy this time and more brutal but really still keeping in same vain as the first. It seems fans are really liking the track that Kunal has put up on his sampler for 2021 on Transcending Obscurity Records.
I’m sure you both will agree, and I think that this statement is true… though it is an awkward question… but I think that bands like Aphonic Threnody, Towards Atlantis Lights, Void Of Silence, or Pantheist are quite big and important for the scene, but there are not that many followers in the bands’ social media profiles. All of us have been into doom metal for years, right? But objectively funeral doom remains a very niche genre. Are you used to this pariah position?
R.: Yes we do not expect to be massive but if you look now at the Doom scene in general, especially Funeral Doom, there are so many one-man bands now. So many bands, and not much originality to me. They all sound so much alike. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing at all. For me I’m happy to bring out our music to our fans. That’s all that matters to me. Quality music with amazing merchandise, which we have now that we are signed to Transcending Obscurity. I think sometimes people get so caught up in genres and what band belongs to what genre. I see some arguments going on and it’s crazy. If you look at Aphonic we are classed under so many different genres.
J.: I’m used to, and maybe comfortable with, the fact that numbers don’t matter. I strongly think the message was successfully delivered if you touched (by the heart) one or 100 people or more.
Riccardo, you’ve mentioned two new Aphonic Threnody albums. What about the second one in this set? Do you feel you’ve succeeded in creating two albums with different individualities?
R.: Absolutely. The next one is a lot darker in feel and includes some great guitar work from our new member Justin. The double-album is really slow and super heavy. This album is extremely important to me and about some horrific circumstances that happened to me. I still have not come out from the darkness, so I vented a lot into this album.
Transcending Obscurity are known for their tendency to make different gorgeous releases of those bands they work with. What can we expect from The Great Hatred limited edition box?
R.: Something special. As a label they really put out some top-quality merchandise. I’m pretty sure it will have magnets, badges, etc. All the merchandise looks amazing.
J.: Yes, they have a really great taste in quality and their releases are just gorgeous. We are looking forward for this release so much.
I’ve seen there’s also new stylish Aphonic Threnody’s hoodies in stock. Do you wear such things now?
R.: I’m awaiting my delivery and if it looks good I’m wearing it even if it’s my own band.
Thank you for the interview gentlemen. I believe we’ve covered all the main themes concerning Aphonic Threnody’s news, but if you have something else to tell, bring it on!
R.: First of all Aleksey thank you so much for these questions. It is people like you who keep pushing the genre and promoting our bands, so you’re the best. A big hug to our fans who support everything we do.
J.: Thank you Aleksey for considering us, and thank you to the people who support the band and to our label and partners. Stay strong in these pandemic times!