Cadaveric Fumes Interview

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This French band may have just delivered the best death metal recording of the year, OK, it's From 2012, but who cares?

No self-respecting death metal fan can go without Macabre Exaltation, the demo from French band Cadaveric Fumes. It is too late to snap the tape demo, so I strongly suggest that if you wanna be disgusted in the most charming of ways you place an order of the Blood Harvest vinyl version that just came out. This is, no doubt about it, one of the best death metal recordings in recent years. Having spun it thirty times in a row I reached out to the band to see if they were up to an interview, and boy, if they were...now, these are fucking answers. On the other end we had guitarist / vocalist Wenceslas and in one question bassist Romain. Read on and spread the word...

 

DS – So guys, Cadaveric Fumes is a fairly new band with just a demo on your backs. Let’s start with a bit of history, if I am right you come from Rennes, how do you guys meet each other and decide to form a band? Were there any members that are no longer part of Cadaveric Fumes?

W: Cadaveric Fumes actually started many years ago when Romain and Léo discovered death metal together and felt the urge to write their very first songs. Back then the project was not based in Rennes, they were still living in a fairly small city with not much going on, and this little duo remained confined in Léo's bedroom. Romain and I met later in high school when we were 18, I was still playing in a garage rock band at that time and had no clue what death metal was, or Metal for what it's worth, but our friendship led me to discover the genre little by little. After high school, I went to Sweden for 2 years, during which time Romain moved to Rennes for study purposes. Léo and him continued to compose together from time to time though, and I for my part slowly descended into the realms of metal. As I went back and moved to Rennes as well, Romain and Léo had hired a bassist, and the four of us started to rehearse on weekends. It did not last for personal reasons. Anyway, after months of silence, Léo finally moved to Rennes and we decided to take a fresh start as a “power trio” during the summer 2011 and began to rehearse again. We composed four songs during the following year which ended up on our very first demo “Macabre Exaltation” released through Impious Desecration, a local label hold by Olivier Drénou. Olivier was a friend of us and instantly got interested about the idea of releasing a local death metal band's first demo. Death metal bands in Brittany are not numerous, most metalheads here are more into either black/folk metal or more modern brutal death metal stuff. However, the Rennes' metalhead community, though small is pretty strong and passionate, and we do have some bands and projects worth listening to like Hexecutör, Perversifier (even if not exactly from Rennes) and Nuclear Abomination. A few months after the release of the demo, we decided to hire Reuben to play bass. He was a friend of a friend we had met during various metal evenings in Rennes, and his freedom of mind and passion about metal and music in general got us closer. When he told us he liked Cadaveric Fumes and could play a bit of guitar, we instantly asked him if he would join the band, and everything went naturally.

DS - Going back to the time when you were first introduced to death metal, what are the qualities of the death metal genre that you believed hook you into it? Is it the music alone or is it the subject matter? Is it both?

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W: We all have an angel and a demon inside of us, and in everyday life we usually put our inner beast inside because we live among other people in a society. We ended up blaming this demon for being “inhumane”. I guess death metal is about accepting this demon and letting him in control for a gig or an album. Death is a subject that has been depicted in art since the dawn of mankind, and it still is, and that is what fascinates us the most about death metal. There are so many ways to talk about Death. There is something in death metal that really grabs us by the guts, it is a very powerful music, in terms of violence but also of atmosphere. A good death metal gig really takes us into the caves of torment for an hour. We are mostly influenced by the Scandinavian scene from the 90's, especially the Finnish scene for its gloomy and cosmical features, with bands like Convulse, Demigod, Abhorrence, Demilich, Adramelech... but the Swedish scene is obviously very important to us. However, so is the American scene, and Morbid Angel remains our biggest influence of all time (anything from Altars of Madness to Gateways to Annihilation, we will never get tired of this band). Morbid Angel truly represents la crème of death metal. Another very important band to us is Carcass, because it is very rich sounding. In Carcass, you have grindcore, death metal, rock'n'roll... and the lyrics are extremely well-written a well. You can also add Repulsion, Obituary, Sadistic Intent, the list could go on and on and it is always when people are asking you that you have no inspiration, right?

DS - Cadaveric Fumes plays death metal, which is a genre that has grown quite a bit over the past few years. There are a lot of bands and lots of death metal only zines, Why do you think it is that death metal is thriving in these times and what is your opinion of this ‘growth’ and have you got any idea of where this may go and/or if it will die down soon?

W: I believe internet has played a very important role in the development of death metal and metal in general this past few years. Suddenly people are able to discover extremely rare old demos and bands can share their music very quickly and easily, and we sure are part of these bands. Some will regret the “good ol' days” but I for one thing ain't the nostalgic kind, and I think it is neither good nor bad, it always depends on how you use the media. Its growth has ups and downs as well: it is great to see so many newcoming bands, but we did witness a monotonous pattern in many of them, a pattern I call “old school death metal”. We try not to use the term to describe our music anymore, because we find it has become an unjustified instant quality labelling: one band releases a demo, calls itself “old school death metal”, and suddenly it becomes part of the “good bands worth listening” because they play “death metal the way it should be”. That expression is anti-creative garbage, and is the result of this “old school” trend that has been going on for the last few years. There is no “way to play death metal”, the very first bands did not gather in their rehearsal studio and tell themselves “we're gonna play death metal the way it should be”. They had everything to construct! Bands focus too much on sounding like their predecessors, and we're ending up with a large scene composed of bands that sound alike. To me, the most important thing is to be personal. I'm not saying Cadaveric Fumes is original, we definitely have clear influences and a fairly classic sound, but we play what we like the way we like it. Call it old school if you want.

DS - Your demo Macabre Exaltation is pretty great. It is very atmospheric, the guitar has a pretty sick sound. Can you please elaborate a little bit about its recording, where was it recorded and how long did it take? Who produced it and how close does it sound compared to what you had initially in mind? or sounds that you don’t like about it?

W: We are pretty lucky because the guy who recorded us is a friend of mine who insisted on being the one to record, and since a recording session with all the gear necessary for a good sound costs quite some money, we agreed to work with him. He is not at all into metal in general, but he really wanted to have some new experiences, new challenges in terms of recording. It took us 2 days to record the 4 songs, and we did it in our rehearsal space, in a garage. It was a strain because I had a little bit of experience in the process of recording with a band, but Romain and Léo had never been into a recording session apart from that time when they would record stuff in their room together when they were younger, so it was a fairly new challenge for them, especially for Léo who had to stay behind the drums for 7 straight hours! After this long and tiresome moment, I handed the bass and the guitar tracks, and Romain did the vocals. It was a very interesting because we ended up having new ideas during the recording. For example, the intro of Unspeakable Visions actually sounded very oriental, so we decided to make it even more oriental, adding guitars to enhance the arabic atmosphere. We also thought of arrangements for the vocals we had not thought about beforehand. It felt really amazing to hear the songs recorded and finished, and our sound engineer really understood the ambiance we wanted to create despite his complete unfamiliarity with metal in general. There are of course some defects on this demo, some guitar tracks you cannot really hear, or other I would have liked to record instead, or the bass drum which is a bit weak, but in the overall, the atmosphere we were looking for is present, and that is what matters.

DS - Let’s talk about “Vault of the Haunted Mist”, I wanna get into the songwriting of the band because overall, there are quite a few arrangements. Musically speaking, is there much jamming going on or does every member work on their own parts?

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W: I usually do my best to work during the week so that I have at least one good riff I'm satisfied with when we meet. In the rehearsal space we jam to find ideas, we also like to put the instruments down for a few minutes just to discuss about the atmosphere we are looking for, what we want to talk about, what a riff inspires us... I sometimes record riffs at home and send them to the guys to have their opinions about it. Reuben and I also meet from time to time to work bass/guitar arrangements. The interesting thing about only having one guitar is that we can make nice arrangements with the bass, we like to work that as well. It either starts with a text Romain wrote or a topic we discussed about beforehand, or I just have inspiration and show a riff, and from then we write and compose, it depends.

About “Vault of the Haunted Mist”, I had found the main riff several months before we started to compose the song. It came to me after listening to a Necrony song (weird huh? Who'd've thought!). From then the rest of the song came pretty quickly. It is a very easy-to-play song, every part comes naturally, and there something very smooth about it. It still remains my favourite song for the moment, very right-in-your-face.
I think the number one feature a song needs to have to be a Cadaveric Fumes song is a sort of gloomy, almost melancholic atmosphere. We like our songs to be morbid as hell. We do not only want to find good riffs, we want to feel an insane atmosphere going on. The listener has to wonder what kind of mental issue could have procreated this.

DS - How strong do you feel about the themes that death metal bands tend to cover? Do you think that its self-imposed limitations are good because those are what makes death metal or do you think that this will eventually hurt the movement because these will cause everything to become repetitive and unoriginal?

W: The distinct vocabulary used in death metal is not specific to the genre, these words are just part of the lexical field of death. Take a look at the Victorian British literature, there are definitely some evil texts in many books, dealing with death, decay, darkness, horror and the Devil. If you want the listener to feel death and terror then death and terror have to be present in every aspect of your band: music, artwork AND lyrics. I do not think this is really a matter of self-imposed limitations, there are just not so many talented writers out there. Who can blame them, most bands sing in english and yet are not native english speakers. Don't get me wrong, ain't arguing that bands should use their mother tongue, just saying that it takes knowledge and experience to write well in a foreign language.

Writing original lyrics is not necessarily a matter of using original themes, the important thing is to write things your way. It is about being personal, just like in music. For example, Carcass' texts are great, very twisted and feel insanely deranged because by using technical words to describing horrifying events, the point of view gets detached from every moral aspect. Combined with the grooviness of the music, the alchemy results in this singular psychopathic atmosphere.

There is an ambivalence in this whole subject: a well-written text adds quality and richness to a song, it can even change how the listener will perceive the music, and yet in many death metal songs, unless(/even though?) english is your mother language, you might have a hard time fully understanding what is said except if you have the booklet in front of you. Not really death metal, but take a look at Impetigo's lyrics, they are very well-written as well, but you cannot understand anything from what Stevo is saying. Oddly though, that does not prevent you from appreciating the music. Isn't that even part of the death metal scheme to leave some mystery, to force to take a closer look because of the dark, forbidden and yet seducing aspect of the genre?

DS - What would be your opinion of a band that has a dirty death metal sound like yours but that contains political lyrics? Would that be death metal in your view?

W: Death has nothing to do with politics, death concerns every living creature. It is not about deciding if such a band is death metal or not, but I surely would not be interested into it, because that is not what I am looking for when I listen to this music. I do not listen to death metal to get political opinions but to feel the power of death viciously slither throughout my veins. I do not see what politics would have to do with that, and I am actually not very interested in engaged music, except when this engagement brings something interesting to the music itself.

DS - Lyrically, what fields are you trying to explore and what message, if there is one, are you trying to convey? How do the lyrics in your music fit the music and viceversa?

W: Romain is the one who handles all the lyrics, I sometimes share a small contribution, just giving some ideas. We also like to spend some weekend evenings around a cold beer, just the four of us, to discuss the themes and atmospheres we would like a song to convey. The lyrics are usually more of an illustration of the music rather than an obvious story we are trying to tell, and both intermingle to serve an ambiance. Sometimes I come up with a beginning of a song, and we discuss what it evokes us, what we think it should be about. Sometimes the lyrics are already written and we then try to embroider around the text. At the end, we like to let the listener's imagination make its way, so we keep the texts as vague as possible whilst being sure they make sense though.

Romain is a Lovecraft-devourer thus many of his texts are influenced by the author's work, but it does not necessarily deal with the Ancients. Lovecraft's work is all about the “undescribable Horror”, and that's what we're trying to convey through our music and texts. Romain is also very fond of horror movies and of course the celluloid madness of horror maestros such as Lucio Fulci had an impact on his lyrics as well.

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DS - The demo is sold out, at least I haven’t been able to find it anywhere. I think there are plans to release it in other formats by Blood Harvest. First of all, how do you feel about the reception to your recording? Were you surprised or were you expecting it?

W: The reception has been amazing for us since we had never planned nor expected any notoriety from our demo whatsoever. We were just three guys who rehearsed every saturday to play the music we liked, and we were already excited just about the idea of having our demo released. I mean, we felt like we had become a “real band” if you know what I mean! It feels great because we tried to be sincere in our music, and the demo is like a part of ourselves. Witnessing its confrontation against the outside world turning out so positive has been nothing but joy for us. It took us time and hard work, but it proves it was all worth it and the fact that Blood Harvest took such an interest in our work to decide to release it in vinyl is truly an honour for us.

DS - What is next for the band? More recordings, are there any songs ready? We know that in August you will be playing in Denmark?

W: The Killtown Deathfest in Copenhagen is our next step, no gigs planned afterwards before the Wolf Throne Festival near Paris in November (with Convulse, Demigod, Interment, Krypts, Venenum, Destroyer 666 and many more sick stuff...). It will be our first time outside France and we are having difficulty to realize we are really part of this amazing festival! We might piss our pants. A split is currently at work, nothing I can reveal yet, we hope it will be out before winter 2013. It will contain 2 songs we've been playing live for some time now. We are currently composing some brand new stuff as well, pushing our boundaries as far as possible in terms of creepiness and insanity...

DS - I know you are big horror movie fans, I read about it on Nihilistic Holocaust. You also come to cite a few classic, some Italian some are not. I love movies and I have recently been very surprised by this really gory French films. Frontiers, Sheitan, Martyrs, Calvaire and others, one that I thought was very disturbing and atmospheric was Inside (a l’interieur), talking about this subject, are you aware of this ‘new wave of French films? If so, what do you think about it? Good, not? Can they compete with the classics” Do you like their gory aspects or do you think they are atmospheric enough? If you think these are not good, please elaborate why you think that.

Rom: I've just seen two of the movies you listed : Sheitan, Frontiers and A l'intérieur. To be perfectly honest I have to say that I don't really remember Frontiers, and Sheitan left me an awful memories...but I can't really explain why, it has been a long time since I saw this flick. A l'intérieur was great and worth watching thanks to the claustrophobic anxiety it developed (and of course the scissors manipulation). Anyway, this“wave of french films” you're talking about are not really what I would call “Horror movies”because most of them are just basic thriller/slasher movies flirting with torture/porn stuff. A mix I'm not really fond of, even though I really enjoy Thriller and Slasher movies on their own...

In the past decades the french industry mainly produced some movies mixing suspense and thriller with a light hint of horror. The atmospheric terror developed by other European directors like Dario Argento or Armando de Ossorio never spread to our native country, probably because of the disregard french directors had for this kind of movies at a time when art cinema and intellectual preoccupations prevailed. The only man I could name is Jean Rollin who did horror movies in a gothic fashion with vampirism and stuff (“Le frisson des vampires”, “Les raisins de la mort”,...). But since the early 2000's it seems like the slasher/horror genre begins to find an audience. A director like Alexandre Aja really helped to make the genre popular with his movie “Haute Tension” , which is in my opinion one of the best horror/slasher movie ever made in France (he later directed the remake of “The Hills Have Eyes” wich was extremely good as well).

To answer specifically to your question, I don't think the few french horror movies you listed can ever compete with masterpieces like “The Beyond” or “Suspiria” for the one and only reason that they are not trying to achieve the same purpose. Fantasy is completely missing in the modern Horror cinema, directors tend to show straight and brutal violence instead of creating the FEELING of horror and doom to come. That's a shame.

DS - What are your all time favorite French records and which bands (not necessarily french) are you listening to the most these days?

W: That would be a difficult question to answer as I have been acquainted to the French scene only recently. We're total worshippers of actual bands like Necrowretch and Ritualization, I could also quote ancestors like Mercyless, Massacra and Burial Vault, but I would not call these bands “all time favourite” because I have not known them for long! I am a big fan of the brutal death metal band Kronos though, I can't encourage enough everyone to listen to “The Hellenic Terror”. Our bassist is also a huge fan of the doom/prog metal band Northwinds. France is not exactly well-known for its metal scene, although we did have a great heavy metal scene back in the 80's, with bands like H-Bomb, ADX, Sortilège or Warning. The french records we're mostly listening to these days would be Necrowretch's “Putrefactive Infestation”, Warning's “Warning II” and H-Bomb “Coup de Metal”, otherwise we like to listen to other french stuff, but not exactly the metal kind. But in general, the bands we're mostly listening to these days would be (in total disorder) Morbid Angel, Pestilence, Demigod, Judas Priest, Convulse, Morbid Saint, Saxon, Midnight, Necrowretch, Bastard Priest, Repulsion, Pentagram, Carcass, Death Breath, Deep Purple, Impetigo...

DS - Any last words?
W: Thanks a lot for your interest in the band, and keep up the good work!