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A Dirty Dozen with AETHEREUS – January 2022

| 22 January 2022 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Aethereus is a progressive technical death metal band hailing from the soggy Pacific Northwest city of Tacoma, Washington. First introducing their visceral brand of tech death to the world with their 2015 EP, the band merges dizzying technicality with ethereal melodies and dissonant aggression, a combination that has only grown stronger with each release. Blending the technical skill of modern death metal with the raw energy and atmosphere of its forebears, Aethereus aims to create music that is sonically powerful and emotionally impactful. In the wake of 2020’s pandemic-induced tour cancellations, the band decided to make lemonade and poured every ounce of energy, anxiety, and stress into finishing their monstrous follow-up album, Leiden. Through sheer will and in direct spite to the global circumstances keeping them apart, the album was completed in May of 2021.” We get Kyle and Ben to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Kyle: With Leiden, we took a lot of the sonic elements we had explored in Absentia and Ego Futurus and refined them while simultaneously pushing ourselves harder than I think we ever have, both creatively and with our performances. More than anything, our biggest goal was just to write better songs than we had before. Something we did in terms of the structure that may not be immediately apparent on first listen is that we arranged the album so that it begins much more melodic and then progressively becomes more dissonant. There are a few recurring motifs introduced in the first few songs that will pop up throughout the album, but they’re a little uglier and more unrecognizable each time they occur. Conceptually, the story of this album is a direct follow-up to our first EP. There are even some riffs in the final song that call back to the opening and closing tracks on Ego Futurus. I also ended up sharing a lot more vocal duties this time around with Vance, so I’d be curious to see how well folks will be able to differentiate us.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Kyle: Neither of my parents were musicians themselves, but they always listened to a very wide variety of music while I was growing up. My mom was more into modern pop and R&B while my dad was stuck firmly in the 70’s / 80’s with a lot of classic rock and metal. Regardless, music has always been omnipresent in my life. I don’t know if there is necessarily a single moment, but I remember seeing my dad try to play guitar was something that sparked my interest in the instrument. As I got more into guitar driven music, that interest just kept growing until I finally asked for a guitar when I was in 8th grade.

Ben: I got a guitar in middle school around the time I was discovering bands like SOAD, Metallica, and Pantera. After finding some early success in playing, I knew this was what I wanted to do.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Kyle: In the early days, it was a lot of Jimi Hendrix, Van Halen, Ozzy, and Iron Maiden (courtesy of my dad) which eventually led to Nu Metal bands like Korn. Eventually, that led to me buying an MTV Headbangers Ball CD that had Meshuggah’s “Rational Gaze” on it which kicked me right onto the extreme metal path.

Ben: Metallica was HUGE in my development, but Pantera was definitely my biggest influence in my early years. I bought Cowboys From Hell in 8th grade and it blew my mind. Sadly, one month later Dimebag was shot and killed in Columbus Ohio. After that, I wanted to learn all his songs and learn all about his life story.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Kyle: I think it would be pretty awesome to collaborate with Steve Von Till from Neurosis. Hands down one of my all-time favorite lyricists and his solo work has provided some of the most beautiful/melancholic music I’ve heard in a long time.

Ben: I would love at some point to collaborate with Justin McKinney of Zenith Passage. Love his composition in both riffs and leads. Dude has a great creative vision.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Kyle: Hiking with my dog, watching old kaiju movies, cooking, and playing the occasional video game are all part of my non-music happy place.

Ben: I love games, whether they’re board games or video games. I’m very competitive and love executing a successful strategy.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Kyle: I would describe it as what you’d get if you mixed the more melodic elements of Beyond Creation and Obscura with the aggressive dissonance of Gorguts. We’re kind of in that sweet spot between more conventionally melodic tech and gross dissonance. As far as weird comparisons, I wouldn’t say any of them have made me cringe, but we have been compared to bands like TBDM a lot which, while I love Dahlia, doesn’t really make any sense to me.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Kyle: I think most of us like cooking, so that could be anyone (though if I had to choose, I’d say Ben or I). Scott is the one getting the drinks in, no doubt. Matt is definitely the one most likely to break into song.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Kyle: Sometime last spring, I got to talk one-on-one with Karl of Nile a few times over Zoom. That was pretty damn surreal. Also ended up having dinner with Jeff Loomis and a couple friends at a Denny’s in the SODO district of Seattle.

Ben:  I saw Judas Priest a few years ago and as I was walking up to the venue, I realized Jeff Loomis was standing in front of me. Despite having briefly met him in 2008 at an Opeth show, I was completely nervous and ended up being too intimidated to say hi. Before that, it would have to be Dean and Tobi of Archspire. Nicest guys in the world, but for some reason I can’t get un-star struck around them.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Kyle: More than anything, the unlimited creative freedom is the best part of being a musician. If I couldn’t be a musician anymore, I’d probably put more energy into photography or some other visual art.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Kyle: Honestly, I’m just happy anytime someone wants to ask me about my music (or music in general). I think the only questions that aren’t as fun to answer are the ones asking us about our musical influences.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Kyle: Sure. I have had plenty of times where I look back on some of our older songs and hear things that I wish we would have done differently while writing and recording. That being said, I don’t think any of it was necessarily a misstep or do-over worthy. It was all a part of the process of us learning, growing, and improving.

Ben: When I was 18 I was lucky enough to play in a band called Eterna Nocturna with drummer Nick Pierce (Unearth, The Faceless). In hindsight, I wish I’d have taken it more seriously and gotten a job to upgrade my shitty gear. Feels like a missed opportunity.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Kyle: Gorguts’ Colored Sands. This is such a monumental record that demonstrates more forward thinking, creativity, and raw skill in its first minute than a lot of bands are able to in their entire career. From the writing to the performances to the production, this record is in a class all its own. I remember hearing this album when it came out and not being able to really put to words how it made me feel. It was and still is such a visceral experience beginning to end. Brooding, sinister, and chaotic. To hear something so complex, dense, and raw that also demonstrated masterful songwriting was and still is something very rare in this genre. This album had an enormous impact on how I approach death metal and is one of which I shall never grow tired.

Ben: I would love to have played violin on Dimmu Borgir’s Death Cult Armageddon. Mostly I wouldn’t want to change that album at all, but just knowing that I’m somewhere in that symphonic mix would be sick. That album was a stepping stone for me as I got into more extreme music.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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