Atrexial is a Blackened Death Metal band that hails from Barcelona, Spain, and is ready to put its mark in the metal scene with their intensity and talent. “Souverain”, their debut album, was released last Summer via Godz Ov War Productions and judging by reviews and reactions, one should keep an eye open for the band. Pest Webzine decided to chat with the band to find out more about their material and what can be expected of Atrexial in 2018… read on…
Please introduce Atrexial. When/who/where did Atrexial come together?
Atrexial was born in 2014 as a side project formed by Naga S. Maelström and two more musicians. The three of them had main bands but Atrexial released two songs with that line-up. After that Naga decided to transform Atrexial in a one-man band in order to write all the songs for “Souverain”. Then, on late 2016 Naga met Louen, an old friend from the Catalan scene and Labelua to record “Souverain” and after that, Belegurth joined the band, ready to become a live band, releasing “Souverain” on April 2017 and making the live debut on September 2017 as the headliner of a special event.
“Souverain” is Atrexial’s debut album that was released last year. How did you feel when your material was released for the world to listen to it? What kind of feelings came across you?
The only word for defining that is Pride. When you are confident about your work and you feel you have something interesting to show to the people who are sensible to the kind of music you represent, and mostly when you claim your hometown or your country as a land that produces quality. We are thankful for every word regarding “Souverain”, somehow in a few months good opinions came from all around the globe.
Why the title “Souverain”? What does it mean to you? Why use a French word and not a Spanish or English one?
This title is a declaration of might, majesty, elegance and darkness. It defines the kind of music we want to cast and the elements we want to conjure up when our music invades silence. The French language possesses the subtle taste for elegance and it stands out of the typical English names. Just because we are Spanish we don’t need to name the album or songs in Spanish. The world is full of culture and every language has its own nuances for expressing certain feelings.
Who’s responsible for the lyrics? What lyrical themes do Atrexial deal with?
Louen and Naga are the lyrics writers. The idea has always been simple: not to fall in stereotypes such as gratuitous Satanism, death, or manifests, so the goal was to explore the nature of human instincts, like the hunger for power, the loneliness of the mighty ones, exploring the perspectives of suffering, prophecies, even mythology based on dark a Mesopotamian demigoddess. The album is quite plural on lyrics but always being true to spontaneous ideas that put together they converge into a compilation of dark thoughts and insights.
Tell us about the cover. Why a 3-horned beast/face/mask? Who designed it? What’s its meaning?
The cover is a work of art created by the great Nestor Avalos from Mexico. He is well known for creating amazing pieces shrouded in occultism, spiritualism and darkness. We wanted to have a stunning cover that was not so conventional, so a hand painted canvas was a perfect choice, and the three-horned cloaked figure is the representation of wisdom, darkness and might. The combination of these elements composes the figure of a majestic “Souverain” and for us, the perfect balance between beauty, art and power embraced by a dark blood coloured background.
Where was the album recorded and mixed? Who did it?
A big part of the album has been recorded at Naga S. Maelström’s home studio, it took some months to get the guitar textures and the synths, and the same for drums, although some drum parts were recorded along with bass and vocals at F2F studios in Sabadell, a town close to Barcelona. The album was mixed there as well, all that was done by Marc Figueras, a good friend of ours and a great professional.
Godz Ov War Productions from Poland released the album. How did you come across them?
Truth is we are owners of our music and the band was quite new and unknown, so we had to spread our music as fast as possible. Nowadays your album gets copied and published in dozens of direct download websites in a few hours. So we published the album on YouTube and many labels sent emails and messages making offers and deals. We anticipated what would happen, and we were lucky enough to be contacted by Greg from Godz ov War Productions, who really cared about us and our music and provided an excellent treatment. We are proud to have signed with a Polish label. We appreciate their interest in ourselves and our music is rooted in their musical legacy on blackened death metal.
Did you send a demo to any other labels? Did they respond at all?
We did not send the demo to any label. We just posted the album on YouTube, and all other big music streaming platforms like Sound Cloud, Spotify, and similar. We published our contact email address and just waited for the best deal. As we said in the beginning of the interview, if you are confident about what you released, it’s just a matter of time to get the proper response and the proper deal. We received many offers from the US, Australia, Northern Europe, Spain, France, Italy, Colombia and some other countries. It is flattering to get this recognition from around the world.
What response did you get from the media and the general public? Scumfeast Metal 666 Webzine chose “Souverain” as the best Black Metal release of 2017. How proud do you feel when the metal scene appreciates what you are doing?
First of all, thanks for that. We are very proud of that achievement, especially nowadays when many great bands release great albums and even the consecrated ones as well. It is good to know that your work is appreciated by people who understand the essence of such a special metal subgenre as Black Metal. It’s a complicated kind of music and metalheads are very critical and can have a strong opinion. All the album reviews have been very positive in general, it was not just a couple of reviews from Spain; it was more than 50 in a few months and from all parts of Europe, Middle East, North and South America, Australia...so once more, thank you all.
Naga S. Maelstrom is the founder of the band. Is he the one who calls the shots? Is Atrexial a democratic band in which all members participate or is there a leader?
Naga is the founding member of the band, correct. He wrote the songs but at the end of the day he is just one more member of the band along with Louen, Labelua and Belegurth. All the steps that the band must take are agreed with all the members after studying pros and cons and the needs of the band. It is quite simple, every member contributes with different things, and if all of them row in the same direction then the band grows, as every project at any field.
Who runs Atrexial’s facebook page and other social media? Is it nice dealing with the fans directly and have their reactions straight away?
Atrexial’s Facebook is run by Naga, and Instagram is run by Louen. But it’s not necessarily always like that. It’s true, it’s nice to get some feedback from the fans, see if people react to some news, pics, videos or even events. The most special reactions are the comments of the full album streaming on YouTube, we really appreciate all those comments and the time people take to express their opinion about what we created. We are proud about that.
What do Atrexial have in store for 2018?
We have some cool dates to announce on 2018, hopefully some good European festivals, and some Spanish tour dates at places we skipped on the previous tour by lack of time or complicated agenda issues. We respect a lot our hometown Barcelona so we won’t saturate the town with lots of gigs despite having a loyal audience. We will always innovate and have special events for the people who supported us from the first day at our home. Let’s see what’s next for Barcelona. Until then we will explore other places and share stage with some great bands. Meanwhile we have released some new band merchandise, soon available for everyone via shipment, guitar picks, stickers, three t-shirt designs (girlie model available) “Souverain” digipack, and two patch models, and some new novelties yet to be announced. We will launch the digital store soon.
Are you currently preparing new material to be released? If so, do you have any idea when we’ll be able to listen to some of it?
Yes, we have some new stuff but it is on early stage yet. It will take a while to be ready; we have not planned a specific date or month to release it, not even the format. We truly think that if you want to deliver quality, don’t work under pressure, that’s for the mainstream artists/bands that became money makers and have millionaire contracts and must work against the clock.
Being Atrexial a band that has only released an album, is it complicated booking concerts and all? Have ever any venues asked you to play for free?
It is not difficult at all. If you take a look at “Souverain” we have a long album and medium length songs, so we have enough repertoire for more than one hour, we have even non-released songs and other resources. There are many combinations and it’s never a complication. We always must discard songs to make the concert length fit to the schedules.
Of course, we got asked to play for free at some venues, but not with Atrexial. We are experienced musicians and Atrexial has never played for free. Musicians who play live are translating a huge work process into an hour of stage, so that must be compensated. It’s a matter of respect. No more no less.
The band is kind of a baby when it comes to playing live as you’ve only been doing it for about 5 months. What did you learn in these months? Do you get butterflies in your stomach every time you play?
We’ve learned you must earn everything through actions. Prove everyone why you are playing and make sure they will remember you. Respect and be respected. Work hard in every aspect of your band, sound, technical aspects, stage aspects, requirements, investment and so on. There’s always something mystical about the 5 minutes before jumping into the stage, that’s hard to explain, but that’s a nice feeling. We are experienced musicians on stage so we are used to that. The secret is to enjoy these moments and be professional out there.
How is the audience responding to your live shows? What’s the craziest show you’ve played at?
Unsurprisingly, Black metal audience is not known for moshing and being extreme, but surprisingly they appreciate a lot our live performance, and they are loyal, honest and thankful. They prove it in every gig we play, they are supportive through getting some merchandise, reacting to every song and having some beers after having played.
We’ve played like a dozen gigs so far, and we’ve seen weird and crazy things. We remember the last show of the second leg of the Spanish tour on October, where both guitar amps died and we had to play with different gear and at some point, maybe at half part of the set list, one of the amps broke and we had to finish the gig with just one guitar instead of two and it was fun to see how the band adapted and overcame with no words. The crowd saw it and was really aware and supportive. Now it is fun to remember but we were f*cking pissed off on that moment.
Music spreads so fast these days because of the internet. Do you think technology and social media may have affected the essence of music?
That’s a great truth, musical instruments, recording devices and producing tools are available for everyone, and even worse, there are senseless musical genres or generic lyrics or content out there, so it gives everyone the possibility to release their own music, and the formula is simple: the more available tools equals more releases, and that means more competence and it means less true essence. Nowadays the world has short memory unless you create something original and unique. If you work in your own essence, maybe someone will remember you.
How’s the underground scene in Barcelona? Do metal bands get along? Many people attending the shows now that Barcelona is filled with tourists?
There’s a bit of everything here but generally bands do get along. There’s a whole new generation of bands, some young, some experienced and each one searching for their own opportunities inside their genres that are mostly Metalcore, Thrash, Goth, Viking but just a little minority of Death and Black Metal.
The fact that Barcelona is a touristic town doesn’t imply the tourists come to the gigs. You know, metal is attractive to a low percentage of people. The mainstream and conventional layers of the world are visible but not the underground ones and metal is one of these sub-layers in society and culture.
Do Atrexial pay attention to politics? Are you for the independence of Catalonia or against? Why?
We do pay attention to what happens in our land, everyone should be aware of what happens around you, especially if your country lives in a special politic context. We’ve been asked many times about that, it is curious that it’s becoming a topic that arouses interest in more people than we thought. Let’s say we support the balance between Spain and Catalonia because being realistic, independence is almost a utopia now. But being realistic, it is not fair to live under a repressive government that is the most corrupt of Europe and the same who steals money from Spanish and Catalan people. Reality is that we don’t want to be ruled by people like this, and independence has become the flag of freedom for all the people who think Catalonia has a true and millenary identity forged through a language, history, art, music, values and global culture. It’s frustrating and it is undeniable. In the end, every country has its own internal problems, right? It’s all about being practical and realistic, and politicians will never be like that.
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Thank you guys for supporting Atrexial. See you soon. Hails to Pest Webzine! Respect!
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Interview by Sónia Fonseca