Opening a portal to hell through riffs and high volume.
It's not rare for musicians to reform, fall in, or fall out of bands, mainly due to musical differences or interests that stray from the group's current direction. In the case of ITHEIST, it's members wanted to enter a new phase of existence and explore different ambitions following years of experimentation and experience. Formerly Aetherium Mors, the Dan Couch and Kane Nelson duo have coalesced under this new ITHEIST moniker to set forth a self-titled debut as a brand new, reimagined ensemble. However, ITHEIST is more than just a name change, rather a complete evolution in sound and purpose and this self-titled release proves just that.
Today, Heaviest of Art is proud to share Neter Amon from the Satanic hymn collection that is Itheist ahead of it's June 21st release date. This blast-beat filled behemoth is a powerhouse of blasphemic energy, merging black and death metal with clear cut precision and leaving charred remains wherever it lays waste.
Stream the explosive Neter Amon below:
In addition to the stream, we had the opportunity to touch base with Dan and Kane about the record's cover art, working with Damian Herring, lyrical themes, and more:
Before even listening to the record, listeners are engaged by the vividly detailed album cover that illustrates a demonic destruction of celestial beings. What was it like working with Manuel Tinnemans on this work?
Dan - Manuel was a natural choice for me. A previous band I was in, Holodomor, used his work as an album cover, and the result was so impressive I wanted to use his talents again. His work on Beyond's 'Fatal Power of Death' and Lychgate's self-titled debut sealed the deal, incredible stuff. The artwork exceeded our expectations; it's a striking image that has immediate impact with the almost eye-like initial appearance which draws the viewer in, and yields further detail as you study it more closely. It's sometimes hard working with artists as the concept can get lost in translation, but we had no such issues with Manuel.
Kane - I have Dan to thank for having the privilege of Manuel creating the artwork for us. It perfectly captures my alternate ending to Milton's Paradise Lost on the track Infernal Insurrection. He's such a great artist and we couldn't have been happier with the end result.
The band has undergone significant change since first forming, evolving as the years go by. Coming into the record, where do you see Itheist now?
Dan - The album represents both a closing of a chapter and the opening of a new one. The album was initially intended to be for the previous band (Aetherium Mors) but as the music and lyrics developed, it was clear that we'd moved beyond the concept we'd envisaged for Aetherium. The timing seemed perfect to make a fresh start with Itheist. This album represents the pinnacle of my writing and playing abilities as of that point in time.
Kane - Lyrically speaking, Aetherium Mors was a symbolic spear in the throat of theology. It was a weapon I wielded to express what we were against. Itheist champions what I stand for, which makes writing much more interesting and it doesn't rely heavily upon an opposing force like religion or politics to be relevant.
With that said, what did you want to accomplish on the Itheist debut?
Dan - I wanted to take the parts of Aetherium Mors I felt were strong, and leave the more naive and generic parts in the past. I wanted to raise the bar in every way, in terms of song craft, production and lyrics. I'm satisfied that we achieved that, and have created a strong foundation for us to build upon for the next Itheist release.Kane - Lyrically I wanted to bring the symbols of Satanism and their meanings to life on this record. I see Itheist as the band I wanted to find all these years. It's a gargantuan sound that lyrically resonates with my beliefs.
What was the driving force behind today's exclusive, Neter Amon?
Kane - Well my driving force was to open the Sigil of Baphomet up like a Lament configuration on a musical level. There is more than Neter Amon lyrically on that song, and it's a great title that invites you to a much bigger world than just pentagrams and goats. Amon’s name means "hidden", theologically described by the ancient Egyptians as too secret to uncover; his awesomeness too great to know. What relevance this has in an Atheist religion will take some studious investigation for anyone wanting to open that door…
Both the lyrics and music itself is highly driven by Satanism and it’s many virtues. Is there a message in particular that you’d like listeners of Itheist to leave with?
Kane - No messages, though I always wanted to have a hidden message on vinyl, when played backwards, something like "you're playing it the wrong way you idiot"... We wish for metal fans to enjoy the dark powerful music that we create. Infernal hails!
Musically, what was the goal coming into the record?
Dan - My aim was to continue my experiments in blending melody and dissonance that I started on the last Aetherium Mors EP. Such an approach to music has endless possibilities, and I've barely scratched the surface with this album. With a lot of bands you tend to get either melody or dissonance, so it's less chartered territory to blend the two in my opinion.
Kane - Every piece of music that Dan created was just bigger in scale and in complexity than anything he'd written before. I remember ringing him up and saying that what he had inspired me to write had transcended Aetherium Mors. My goal was to simply honour the music that Dan was creating and as we started fusing our respected crafts together, I realised that this was a different beast.
There’s a lot to dissect on here, from the blackened death to the melodies. Are there any particular moments in life or bands that you can cite as a particular influence in sound?
Dan - I've played in so many bands over the years and heard so many albums, it is difficult to name specific examples. However ever since hearing Heartwork by Carcass at age 15, I've wanted to write extreme music. It has taken many years, many bands and many recordings to reach this point. The other metal bands I've performed in during my musical journey all helped to pave the way; although I play/played drums in two of those bands (Carcinoma and Holodomor), I learn and internalise the songs from a guitarist's point of view so it was inevitable that their more chaotic and dissonant approach would become part of my musical DNA.
What was it like working with Damian Herring, who took on the mixing and mastering?
Dan - I am pretty fussy when it comes to the way music is produced. One of the more irritating developments of the last few years is 'brickwalled' production and the 'Loudness War'. Damian is very much into more natural, dynamic productions and that shines through on his work with his own band Horrendous, and other bands he has mixed for. I've been unsatisfied with the production on many of the recordings I've been involved with over the years, so it was a pleasure working with Damian and he really nailed the sound we were going for.
With Itheist being self-released, is there a sense of musical freedom that allows you to do as you please with the record?
Kane - The greatest asset you have as a band with your own studio is time. Time to get it right, reflect and realise that it isn't several times over. Also giving the music time to breathe in your subconscious for a time and then having an idea for a vocal or a sample come to mind and then apply it as and when you please is musical freedom, yes.
Dan - I have played in several bands that have self-released music, so it seemed a natural thing to do and a perfectly valid approach. Of course it would be good to have label backing as self-releasing can be expensive. Labels also act as a seal of quality and approval that can get past certain barriers, but being on a label also doesn't guarantee that the music will be heard by a wide audience! So yeah, it gives a sense of freedom, and being a control freak it means I only have myself and my bandmate Kane to answer to. Working with Clawhammer PR has helped immensely in getting this album out to the right channels. In terms of musical freedom, our way is the only way, and I couldn't work with a label that tried to interfere with that anyway...
Itheist is out on June 21st, 2019 and you can pre-order your copy HERE.