A few weeks back I dumb-lucked my way into French symphonic death metal band Promethean, and raved like I'd been bitten by a raccoon that's on death's doorstep about the grandiose punch to my face that is their EP 'Aloades.' As it turns out, my shameless fanboy fawning caught the attention of Promethean's guitarist, Gaëtan Marquer. After some tough negotiations which included more than a few veiled threats of violence, Gaëtan agreed to answer a few questions for us. As ever, what you see are the questions exactly as they were asked and Gaëtan's answers exactly as they were received. Considering this band is out playing whenever and wherever they can, while simultaneously working on new music, I just want to say that I really appreciate Gaëtan's time and am legitimately excited for this band's future. So give the interview a read and then stop on over to Promethean's Facebook page so that you can keep up with all of their band news. Big things are in the works, as you'll see below. Rage on! JPR
MA: First off, let me extend my thanks from across the pond to Promethean for taking time out of their crazy schedule to spend a few minutes with Metal Abyss. Let's talk about that busy schedule, actually. You guys just came off of a show with Assiah, Stengah and GOROD. How great was that and what was the crowd reaction to your set? Any songs in there that weren't on your EP?
Gaëtan: Hi Justin, hi Metal Abyss readers, Gaëtan (guitar) here! Thanks to you for the nice talk. The show went very well, thank you! It was basically a hometown gig for Axel (keyboards) and I, so there was a lot of friendly faces in the crowd, but not exclusively. We do have the habit of playing a couple extra songs that aren't on "Aloades", and the response is very encouraging for future endeavors. I think we managed to deliver a convincing set - the venue was packed and the answer from the audience was great, we had lots of fun, so it's all good! It was an honour to share the stage with the French tech masters of Gorod and to watch them play, they convey so much energy on stage while keeping things incredibly precise... these dudes are beasts, and perfect gentlemen!
MA: To say that Promethean's sound is a dynamic one is to sell it short by a mile. On 'Aloades', you guys crafted a dark, monstrous symphony in four movements. How difficult is it to replicate a sound like yours in a live setting?
Gaëtan: VERY ahah! We've been lucky so far to play in venues mostly offering great technical conditions, but each time it is a challenge to adapt and find the right balance in our sound – it's safe to say it's largely perfectible and we're still learning. But we're also lucky to be working with our own sound engineer Johan (from Mannaz Records) who knows our music well and what it takes to bring it to life in a live context.
MA: My musical ability begins and ends with the ability to play 7 chords in any order that you want, so I never miss the opportunity to ask real musicians about song writing. Where does the process begin for you guys and how did everyone's different parts come together to create the songs on Aloades?
Gaëtan: Interestingly enough, the compositions on 'Aloades' are fairly ancient (I think "The Plague" is nearly a decade old now) and are the work of our drummer and mastermind Leo, who has a training as a classical pianist as well as jazz composition. The rest of the band was involved rather in the orchestral arrangements or general direction of the record, and I brought the idea to switch from 6 to 7 strings guitars, bringing more depth and nuance to the guitar work.
Regarding past and present composition approach, it usually begins with a melodic theme – a line that is memorable and that will constitute the core of the song. It can be a riff, a piano part, or a basic orchestral motive, and then we expand from that. We find this process to be efficient in keeping a song engaging and somehow catchy despite the many layers and variations in our music - to have that strong melody grab the ear as a focal point for the listener. This way each track has an identity of its own. Of course, some parts are more "traditional" and riff-based (e.g. "A Forbidden Symphony"), we try to keep things diverse seeking for the right balance between melody, mood, pace, atmosphere, aggression etc. Everybody in the band has its own musical background and assets, so future composition process should prove to be quite interesting as it'll evolve into a more collective effort.
MA: You guys probably have that friend who thinks that every death metal band is growling about devil worship and dissecting kittens. Even a cursory glance at Promethean's lyrics dispels that myth. Can you talk us through a song like 'Le Supplice des Aloades' and why you guys chose the lyrical theme that you did for this record?
Gaëtan: It's hard enough getting people to actually read the lyrics ahah! The harsh vocals are often an impassable barrier for the non-initiated, unfortunately. Our music mingles a sense of epicness and darkness tied together, so we wanted to find a lyrical theme that could underline it's grandiloquence and dramatic aesthetic, without any pretention. Leo already had the Greek mythology in mind when composing so he basically gave initial directives to our former singer Louis (Guttural Deepthroat, ex-Insain, ex-Dissected Mind) who wrote the lyrics for the EP (except for "A Forbidden Symphony").
Greek mythology is quite the perfect fit for metal, with all the stories of betrayal, vengeance, violence, sex etc. and it offers a pretty extensive established corpus, so it's easy to have fun with that. With the arrival of our current vocalist Nicolas, we discussed the possibility of expanding the concept and exploring mythologies, in the broader acceptation of the term – historical, literary, eschatological etc. Indeed, the myth of Prometheus finds an echo in many different cultures and modern declinations – he created Man from clay, he stole the sacred flame of Olympus and is the passer of knowledge to mankind. Prometheans, as we understand it, are meant to carry on passing the flame as a symbol of truth, knowledge and integrity, illuminating the darkness and tearing the veil of illusion.
We decided to translate this concept into different contexts for future endeavors, and we settled for the mythos of cosmic horror brilliantly coined by American author H.P. Lovecraft on our upcoming album. It is obviously a classic in the metal world, but hopefully we'll be able to apply our own touch to it !
MA: So I have it on pretty good authority (Gaëtan's, actually) that there's a new single coming in preparation for your debut LP. How far along are you in the writing/recording process and when can we expect an official word on a release date for the record?
Gaëtan: What I can tell you for now is that the album is written. We still have some work to do on orchestrations, but the biggest part is achieved. The goal is to unleash it by the end of the year. As for the single, it is recorded, but we cannot announce a release date at the moment unfortunately, as we're currently planning all the details surrounding it. We're thrilled to see there's demand regarding new material so we want to take our time and make everything right!
MA: As far as that new record is concerned, is it what you would consider to be a big departure stylistically from 'Aloades' or will it feel more like a natural extension or continuation? No Selena Gomez covers, I hope ;)
Gaëtan: You're only saying that 'cause you haven't heard our Selena covers yet... ;) Seriously though, there is no departure from what we established with 'Aloades' but the album will definitely be a step-up on all levels – songwriting, technique, balance, production etc. We really focused on achieving equilibrium between the more intense and the more airy parts, the orchestral and the metal elements, the different paces and the overall dynamics of the record. It is quite ambitious, but we put a lot of heart and passion into it and we're hopeful that's something that will click with people.
MA: Quite by accident I stumbled across a debut EP from a band that you guys know, Dystopy, and instantly fell in total lust with it. It seems like there's no end to great bands and albums coming from France right now. Who are you guys listening to and are there any other up-and-comers from your scene that we should be on the lookout for?
Gaëtan: Oh yes they're friends! The French scene has always been quite vivid and witnessed the birth of some pretty innovative acts, from Gojira to Deathspell Omega. It is stimulating to be a part of it at our modest level. We really enjoy the music of our pals in Stömb, with whom we're sharing the bill in a few weeks. They have a unique take on modern instrumental progressive music - it's all about grooves and those deep soundscapes rather than technical display, with a somewhat cinematic aesthetic – refreshing!
We've also all been hooked on the works of Igorrr and the many projects of its members acting as a sort of experiemental/avant-garde music collective, Corpo-Mente, Rïcïnn, Öxxö Xööx or Ele Ypsis. Each one has a unique personality, Igorrr is this insane aggregation of extreme metal, electronic/breakcore and baroque music, Corpo-Mente is akin to trip-hop with many acoustic touches complemented by Laure Le Prunenec's pristine vocals etc. Also, symphonic metal fans should be on the lookout for Deathcode Society, who nails the modern black metal sound with bombastic orchestrations, fellow Lovecraftians in The Great Old Ones have been delivering breathtaking post-black for a while, while the death metal addicts should get a fix of Pitbulls In The Nursery, Gohrgone, Exocrine or Valsa Pintura... I could go on and on... !
MA: Everyone we speak with here at Metal Abyss gets asked this question: What was your first metal concert and your first metal album?
Gaëtan: My very first metal gig was Soulfly at the Bataclan in Paris, which goes back to the Dark Ages tour in 2006. It really was the peak of their career, in my opinion. The venue was suffocating but I remember being happier than ever! My big brother was (still is) into metal so it was always around somehow, but my true voluntary discovery of metal happened with the S&M album from Metallica (which is funny in hindsight considering the symphonic nature of Promethean). I remember playing "No Leaf Clover" on loop when I was no older than 7 or something. But the genre really clicked with me a few years later in high school.
MA: Talk to us about the immediate future of Promethean. Are you guys gearing up for a tour, buckling down to record the new record, or possibly both? Please say both :D
Gaëtan: It's your lucky day: both ! There's been discussion for proper touring but it will be made only easier once the album is out. We're trying to really get our music out there and prove our value on stage, so we're playing everywhere we can and as often as possible. But there's also a lot of work for the LP so we'll probably settle down around the summer.
MA: Where can fans go to buy a copy of Aloades and where can we go to keep up on band news?
Gaëtan: Bandcamp is the place to go for digital and physical release as well as merch. As for all content relative to the band (news, live footage, pictures etc.), you can follow us on Facebook Thank you again for your questions and thanks to your readers for their time! See you on the road!