Tuesday 14 December 2021

10 Questions With K AMON K + Arca Ende Aeterna Review

It was with a bit of hesitancy that I decided to re-start my 10 Questions interview format. I'm building it up slowly in order to hopefully achieve better content, so this evening I'm extremely happy to be able bring you the first interview (of hopefully many). It forms part of a wider feature on the French black metal band K AMON K, which also includes a review of their recently released album Arca Ende Aeterna as well. All of the below answers were provided by guitarist/keyboard player Kzg.

1. Who is in the band (if you want to say) and where are you from?

Kzg: K AMON K is currently composed of four musicians: 

Kra Cillag on guitar, keyboards and vocals,

Kzg on guitar and keyboards

Kra Altar on drums & arrangements

Fyr on bass

We are all French, and the main heart of the band is located in Lyon (centre east of France).

2. What is the history of K AMON K? When and how did you form?

Originally, the band was just Kra Cillag and myself. That's how we started to compose "Arca ...". At the very beginning there was a band called NERAEON, where Kra Cillag was the only member. I joined the band when the first album was released in 2018. And we immediately started to compose what was to be the second album of the band. But the further we got into the composition, the more we distanced ourselves from the very academic style of the first album. It wasn't even a deliberate choice, we were just guided by our instinct.

Once all the guitars and keyboards were recorded, Kra Altar joined us to do the drums. In our minds, there was no other drummer who could come and play with us, because we have known each other for so long. We didn't have to talk for long to agree that he should join us. Then the three of us decided that this album would be the beginning of a new era and not just a second album. Once Fyr arrived to record the bass, we decided to take the name K AMON K.

3. Have any of you played in previous bands and are you in any other bands currently?

We have known each other for over 20 years. And of course, since then, we have been able to play with other bands. They were not only important to us, but also had a certain importance in the French black metal scene. It's a past that is certainly not denied, but while those bands meant everything to us at the time, well the same is true with K AMON K, that band is what matters most to us today. If we had wanted to look back, we would have reformed our old bands. The past is the past. K AMON K is a new entity that has everything to prove, but also wants to be free of any ties that could hinder its progress.

4. What are the lyrical themes of your debut album ‘Arca Ende Aeterna’ and who write’s the lyrics/music? Is it collective? 

For the music of this album, initially, it was just the two of us, Kra Cillag and myself. We took our time by having sessions where we listened to what had already been recorded, and then we put in the new riffs. It was a simple and natural process. The more we progressed, the more ideas came in, both in terms of guitar riffing/melodies, and in terms of sounds for the synths. Once the guitars and synths were recorded, Kra Altar composed his drum parts with his own personal touch. His vision brought a new dimension to the songs. And finally, Fyr arrived with the bass parts he had composed. He also brought what was missing in the songs. So, in the end, it's a collective work. This album is the sum of our four visions.

As for the lyrics, they are mainly the work of Kra Cillag. This is an exercise he is used to and which he performs with brio. He has this metaphorical ease that allows him to express many ideas in a few words.  It's quite difficult to define a theme, because we can't sum them up with a simple: we're talking about war, or Tolkien… It's more abstract.

It's very philosophical and it's mainly about our vision of the world in its being and its appearance.These are themes that we are used to.  In terms of form, the texts can sometimes remind of the Book of Revelations in their excessive and epic metaphors. It is very “solar". There is also a work of coherence with the rest of the music, because the voice is an instrument in its own right. So the choice of words is important. And corrections can be made right up to the moment of recording.

5. What are your thoughts on French black metal at the moment? Is the community in France strong?

Well, to be perfectly honest, we don't really follow the French scene. It's not a real desire to hide what's going on there. Generally speaking, our interest in black metal is not as important as it used to be. We still listen to it, but in a less intransigent way, we are not locked in this universe anymore. On the other hand, I think that the French black metal scene is still of good quality, because the little that I could hear in the recent productions, seemed to me of a good level.

And as for the community, we don't have much to say about it. We've never really been involved in any movements or anything. So it's impossible for us to judge the strength of the community. Personally, I went to a few black metal shows last year, and I think the atmosphere had mellowed. Maybe it's the standards of the time. But the audience is still there, and that's a good thing. Even if black metal is not as sulphurous as it was 20 years ago, there are still regular underground parties and concerts.

6. Are there any bands that have influenced you?

Yes, a lot. Music in general is omnipresent in our daily life, and it doesn't only influence our compositions. Each member of the band has his own favourite universe. We are not in perfect osmosis when it comes to our respective tastes. We agree on some things and not on others, like everybody else. If I had to talk about the band as a whole, the bands that we agree on are classics like Emperor or Dissection for black, Dismember for death. And when we move away from extreme music, then we agree on bands like PINK FLOYD. Besides, "Arca ende aeterna" contains some passages that are more or less direct references to the bands that are close to our hearts.

7. What are your favourite albums/EPs at the moment?

Nothing very specific for me. Mostly it's sessions where I listen to all the albums of a band. These are often nostalgia-driven choices with old bands. So mainly favourites that have been around for years.

8. Do you intend to play live with K AMON K?

Yes, for us, being able to perform live is a desire of all of us. And from our past experiences, the stage is not unknown to us. We don't want to remain a studio band. But even if today the line-up is sufficient to perform on stage, we would like to recruit other musicians exclusively for the live show. It's very important for us to be able to recreate an atmosphere that is as close as possible to the one on the album.

9. It is early days I know, but how do you see the band evolving?

Difficult question. Evolution is an inevitable and vital part of musical creation. But it is important to be true to yourself, that way you respect the listener. If we keep the same creative process as for "Arca ende aeternA" then things will happen naturally. This album is just the beginning. And logically, we shouldn't take as long as the previous album to compose and record. Arca took a total of three years from the first riff to the release. Now the line-up is complete and we have already started working on ideas. 

10. Finally, what are your thoughts on the music industry as a whole and where do you see it’s future?

The music industry as a whole has always been a subject of debate, Pink Floyd talks about it in "Have a cigar" for example. But in any case, like any business that makes money, there are vultures lurking around. It's not unique to this business. And musically, there has always been and will always be some good and some not so good. My tastes are not the fashionable ones, but I was also part of a generation that was despised by older people.

But, if there was one thing that disappointed me, then I would say that it would be to have seen musicians scuttling themselves what they had created, such as destroying the mystique of black metal by giving in to a kind of dictatorship of appearance. I'm not a big fan of the whole social networking thing, I'm not against it either. But from there to post your whole life, I don't think it's useful for black metal.

Apart from that, I think there's still quality stuff coming out. And the internet also has a good side, it makes it easier to discover new things. Self-producing is becoming something that is done more naturally. So in the end, the mainstream and the underground still exist, they just have different forms. And as for the material side, we can say that things evolve in an erratic way. The media evolve, and so do the demands. We go from CD to MP3 and then back to vinyl... Now there are NFTs. I think that being able to predict what's going to happen is a rare gift.

Labels: Aural Music/Code666

Formats: CD/Digital

Released Date: 26 Nov 2021


1. Le Bruit Et L'Enfer

2. Du Tonnere Dans Le Gouffre

3. A Jamais

4. Voyageurs

5. Voeu De Tenebres

6. Les Paroles S'envolent Les Ecrits Brulent

7. Le Serpent Dans L'Eclipse

8. NRAT Alpha

Arca Ende Aeterna is K AMON K's debut album yet the band’s collective experience shows through right away on opener ‘Le Bruit Et L’Enfer’, which is both as ravaging as black metal can be but also melodic and approachable. Describing them as just a black metal band though is a bit unfair, as their sound is permeated with tones of death and doom, as well as ambient atmosphere. The way the vocals are enveloped by the instrumentation yet still stand prominent is impressive too.

‘Du Tonnere Dans Le Gouffre’ takes K AMON K’s expansive sound a step further and it’s only the album’s second song. It makes you wonder why there was even a pause between it and the album opener. The drums at their most powerful are truly blasting and cold, while being sensitive when they slow down. The guitars and keys are slightly more buried within the recording, yet the textures and melodies they create are very authoritative in their own way, while the vocals again don’t overpower everything else. The production, mixing and mastering makes it all sound very cohesive so far.

The noisy ambience that leads you into ‘A Jamais’ is a sign of something else being at play and indeed there’s a slower, more mournful approach taken here, especially with the tempos. It’s more effective than you might think and paints a more menacing picture. The tempo doesn’t stay as slow for it’s whole, but it’s undercurrent still pierces through. Much more doom-orientated without being so, if that makes sense.

As a solitary evening jam Arca Ende Aeterna is perfect (though it’s equally as perfect at any other time too!). ‘Voyageurs’ embraces everything that’s great about modern day black metal extremity, while remaining true to the French masters of old. If you were expecting a truly avant-garde experience, you may need to look elsewhere. What K AMON K does do brilliantly though, especially on ‘Voyageurs’, is inject their music with so many different layers, from meandering shoegaze-type instrumentation to epic guitar solos and maybe even some jazz? Maybe my previous statement about not being truly avant-garde was wrong (you tell me!).

‘Voeu De Tenebres’ has a droning guitar intro that becomes more and more engaging as it goes, and as more of K AMON K’s atmospheric elements take hold. It’s a shorter song that invokes the darkest side of black metal. The instrumentation is put to greater use than the vocals, yet it still maintains so much majesty.

On ‘Les Paroles S’envolent Les Ecrits Brulent’ the music hits full-stride right from the off. There’s a more urgent edge here, which is mainly due to the song’s tempo and more traditional black metal approach. There’s isn’t much time for breath but sometimes that’s a good thing.

I always struggle at times when I reach this point of an album review, trying to think of new perspectives and things to say about the songs. It’s a bit easier tonight through, as I’m deep into my fifth day stuck inside (due to that fact that I’m waiting for the results of a Covid PCR test). ‘Le Serpent Dans L’Eclipse’ matches my mood at this point perfectly, as it’s harsh but not completely noise-laden or indecipherable. There’s still some light breaking through in the form of K AMON K’s instrumental melody. 

Final song ‘NRAT Alpha’ is a combination of almost cosmic black metal and shoegaze, with some of the most passionately delivered vocals to reside on Arca Ende Aeterna. On looking back at this review, it appears quite long (it has taken me a few days to finish writing in between other things), but I don’t see that as a bad thing because this album is grand, it’s engrossing and it deserves all of the attention. I suppose it’s not a surprise given the expertise of the members that form K AMON K either. It’s late in the year but you might see it named on some year end lists if there’s any justice.

You can stream and purchase the album on cd, as well as digitally via Bandcamp below:-

K AMON K - https://www.facebook.com/kamonkofficial

You can also buy cd copies from Aural Music here - https://www.auralwebstore.com/

Aural Music - https://www.facebook.com/auralmusicgroup

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