This year on February Italian one-man project APOCALYPSE (a.k.a. APOKALYPSE) led by Erymanthon Seth released the new album “Pedemontium”. It is the fifth studio album in a discography, featuring heavy and pounding drums, big choirs, soaring vocals and even folk and classical influences, like mandolin, acoustic guitars, pipe organ and orchestra. The epic and bombastic music will embrace you as the lyrics will tell you the stories and legends of Piedmont, one of the most beautiful regions in Italy and the whole world. In the meantime, I propose to plunge into an interview with Erymanthon Seth.
Hi! Tell us about the origins of the project. At what point did you realize that you need to arrange your material within the framework of this project? How did you come up with the name and what meaning did you put into it?
– Well the whole thing basically started out as a Power Metal band on November 1st, 2015. I had this idea after having played guitar for just over a month, so I hit up a couple of buddies to see if they wanted to form a band. We were some 14-years-old shitkids, with no experience or anything, no contacts in the local scene, nothing. I had very serious intentions and ambitions since day one, but the others didn’t, they just fucked around the whole time and did nothing productive. It was a waste of time and money and it was very frustrating, because my music was, and still is, my number one priority. I wrote songs nobody would even try to learn, rehearsals were always a mess and I think we had only one or two occasions when everyone actually showed up. So eventually I kicked all the members out, because they were an incompetent bunch of idiots. Good friends, yes, but not at all fit to play in a band. Some months after that, I decided to pick up this project again, keeping the name we had, but changing the style completely to a very Bathory-influenced Epic/Black Metal.
The name is really nothing special. I was on Wikipedia one day and I read something along the lines of “Metal music is often centered around apocalyptic themes”, and I thought, “APOCALYPSE sounds fucking cool!” We recently changed the name to APOKALYPSE, just to make it a bit more unique. That’s it!
How is the preparation/birth of new material happened? Is it a matter of inspiration or increased practice, hard work? Where does the inspiration for a song begin?
– Anything can be an inspiration. You never know when a riff or melody or lyric line will pop into your head. When I was in school I used to bring my papers with me all the time and whenever I got bored I would just write lyrics. I think 90% of the lyrics on the first 3 albums were written that way. I often come up with stuff when I am playing my guitar or some other instrument, or when I listen to music (not just Metal music), but I might get inspired by walking mountains, reading a book or poetry, watching or reading the news, and well… a lot of other stuff. Any life experience can serve as an inspiration. But then once you have the idea you have to work on it, develop the whole song structure, write and arrange all instruments, vocals… that requires time and dedication, but when I am inspired it just comes natural. If I am not inspired and I force the process, it’s really draining and the result is often not as good. Then of course we have the recording and mixing process, that I do myself in my own studio, and that’s just work. It can be very fun. But then I can’t listen to the stuff for a while because I heard it so much that I can’t stand it anymore!
I know Bathory inspired you a lot. Could you name your personal top-10 songs by this project? And describe in a few words why this project and Quorthon personally so impressed you?
– Oooh, that’s hard. Okay. I’ll try to pick one from each different album… I’d say A Fine Day To Die, Song to Hall Up High, One Rode to Asa Bay, Necromancy, War Machine, Twilight of the Gods, Ode, The Wheel Of Sun, Vinterblot, Call from the Grave. Honorable mention, Blood on Ice. In no particular order, though the first three songs I mentioned are really on another level for me, for sentimental reasons. But again it is a very hard question, had you asked me on another day I could have said something entirely different. Why Quorthon’s music is so special to me… besides the immense impact he had on the development of the Extreme Metal scene, which we all know about, I “connect” with his music on a very very deep level. I believe the man really had a gift in putting emotions into his music. Not just with BATHORY, I love his solo albums too. Take “Boy” from his first solo record. It is such a strong, emotional song, I always get very intense emotions out of it. There is no music that gives me the same feelings and emotions as his music. That’s why it is so special to me. We could go on talking for hours but this is the short answer, to keep it brief.
What another musical projects have served as a guideline, a source of inspiration for you?
– Well, since the beginning of my musical journey, surely Nightwish, the band which is responsible for my decision to pick up music in the first place. Then Yngwie Malmsteen, still my favourite guitarist to this day. Also a lot of Norwegian Black Metal, I’d say especially Mayhem, Burzum, Windir. There are a lot of other Metal and non-Metal artists that I really enjoy listening to, and that have surely influenced me in some way… I like Angelo Branduardi, some stuff from Jean Michel Jarre, I am in love with Swedish and British Folk music, I listen to a lot of Classical music (J.S. Bach especially), I listen to ambient music… There is a lot of stuff that I like listening to.
How do you think your latest album differs from your previous works? How much has the style of the project changed from release to release?
– The latest album has a lot more Classical music and Folk music influences than the previous ones, there is a lot more keyboard, we have orchestral prologue and epilogue, we experiment with new sounds such as the mandolin, and also I only sing in a clear voice, there is no Black Metal screaming on this record. I really think there are no two APOKALYPSE albums that sound alike, because we try to evolve and bring things one step forward with every album we make. Every record has its own character and mood, and while there is a common vibe or atmosphere that links them all and makes them all sound like APOKALYPSE, the music itself differs greatly. “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” is perhaps the less original work, it is basically a tribute to BATHORY in the era between “Blood, Fire, Death” and “Twilight of the Gods”. Then we have “To Hall Up High – In Memory Of Quorthon” which is a cover album, it was really appreciated by the audience, but that’s not my material so we don’t need to comment on it. It’s just covers. After that, we have “Odes”, a very introvert and depressive record, there is a lot of Doom Metal and Depressive Black Metal influence on that one. Then “Collapse”, very very different, this is purely a Death Metal album. Faster, more brutal, and a lot of lead guitar. This is a guitar-based album. And finally we have “Pedemontium”, which we talked about before.
What is your favorite thing about modern black metal? How much has the genre evolved over time in your opinion? What’s better / worse, easier / more difficult?
– I think the best thing about Black Metal, be it old school or modern, is that it is such a broad genre that you can do whatever the fuck you want. There are no rules in Black Metal. You have Satanic, occult, “evil” sounding bands, as well as depressive ones, you have bestial/war Black Metal, then atmospheric, epic, folk-inspired, symphonic… or a mix of it all! And it is still Black Metal. And that’s the best thing about it. You do what you want. As long as you stay true to yourself, you can dig deep into yourself, find and evolve your sound. It is very difficult to find two Black Metal bands that sound exactly the same. Whenever you open a new Black Metal CD you bought and play it in your stereo, you have no idea of what you are about to hear. As far as better or worse is concerned, it just comes down to personal preference.
Tell us; what are the main differences, pros and cons of playing in a solo project rather than in a band for you? How difficult is it in general to assemble a full-fledged roster in your country?
– If you have a one-man project you have to take care of everything. That’s both a blessing and a curse: on one side you are the only one to make decisions, you work at your own pace, you are the only person who has a say on what the music sounds like, what the album cover looks like, when does the album come out, and all that, you can expand your own ideas without any interference… which is what I want for APOKALYPSE. On the other hand, you have to take care of promotion, social media, recording, mixing, shipping orders, and all that. And it is a lot of work.
Forming a full band requires a lot of effort but it can be done, the underground is full of bands. I can mostly talk about my part of Italy, but the underground scene here is getting better and more solid. I personally am also the singer and second guitarist of the band Feralia. But as I said, a band is a lot of work and you should treat it like work. It requires money to be invested to buy instruments, rent rehearsal rooms, pay the studio and all that. You have to make music a priority, rehearse regularly, practice your instrument… it is great fun, but you must have a serious attitude about it. You have to keep Metal at heart. Otherwise you end up like that bunch of shitkids that was the original APOCALYPSE, and you’ll never do anything more than playing a couple of songs in your cellar. If you’d much rather go out drinking every weekend with your friends or at the disco, watch TV and play video games instead of practicing and rehearsing, you might as well quit. There’s no shortcut: you get back what you put in, and not even that. I am in contact with musicians in the local scene, I play in the band and all that, it’s mostly people well in their 30’s or 40’s, and those of them who are involved in somewhat of a serious band or distro or anything all have that attitude, even though it might not be their main job or the source of income that pays their bills or food, they still treat it just as seriously. Otherwise you have the people who “grow up”, they cut their hair, sell their jackets and guitars, and live the “normal” life whatever the fuck that means, or go play rockstar in their cellar once every two months. To each his own, I guess.
The project is inspired by history, legends, mythology, fantasy. What legends, myths, are you most captivated by? Which countries, nationalities or historical eras? What would you like to write your upcoming works about?
– I really really like ancient Greece and especially ancient Rome, of course that’s also part of my heritage. Both the history and the mythology of those civilizations are very fascinating. I like Celtic and Scandinavian stuff as well, but I never read as much about them. I also really like the whole European history of the 1800’s, especially in regards to arts, poetry, philosophy and all that, with Romanticism, and also the beginning of the XX century, until the end of World War 2. Very very interesting stuff.
I don’t know about future records. Maybe I will incorporate more poetry, maybe I’ll sing about history or philosophy, or maybe I’ll go onto a more introspective route, We’ll see.
The music of the project also has a strong inspiration from nature as i feel. Tell us about the nature of your country. What would you recommend for lovers of atmospheric and possibly gloomy places to visit?
Of course I would recommend to visit the Alps, the mountains in the North of Italy. They are beautiful in spring and summer but I feel they are at their best in autumn and especially in winter, covered in ice and snow, below a grey and cloudy sky, if you want that gloomy, austere, yet epic vibe. The hills and countryside of Piedmont, the region I am from, are especially fascinating in autumn, with fog and mist, reddish trees and forests and all that. I love sitting somewhere in the countryside, with the gentle mist, reading a good book, listening to music with a good good glass of red wine. Then of course, you might also visit the countless monasteries, churches and ossuaries scattered around the whole country, if you want to get some of that dark, “gothic” vibe.
Does literature / games / movies play a role in your lyric writing, concept creation?
– Literature does, as can be seen in “Odes” where I incorporated two poems by the Latin poet Horatius. Poetry and philosophy play a role too, I like reading and it often gives me new inspiration, but so does art in general. Not so much movies I guess, I am not really an avid movie watcher, and not at all games and especially not video games. I never play video games, I do not like them at all anymore, I find them boring because I can’t really put much thought or creativity in them. I used to play them until I was 12 or 13, but not anymore.
In your opinion, is the label important in the life of the band? Is there someone other who help you with the promotion? How do you generally try to promote yourself, with the help of what / who?
– The label is surely very important, it helps you with promotion and with financing the pressing of CDs for example. Distros also help, by selling your records and helping you reach a broader audience. As far as the last album goes, that’s the one I got most help for, promotion was done by the label Earth And Sky Productions (the label that released the record), Mister Folk Promotion and Distro, Io Pan Records, Wine and Fog Distro, and I also got exposure in the “historical” Black Metal shop of my city, Pagan Moon Organization, that has my record in its catalogue. Of course, I also did some promotion on my own through social media, which is what I have always done. I usually get a lot of support from magazines and fanzines that I get in contact with, and I have also scheduled a radio interview on FVIMI Web Radio on October 14, 2021.
What kind of movies do you like? I really like classic horror from your country; it has its own uniqueness. Could you recommend anything that filmed in your country in recent years that is worth paying attention to fans of heavy music or dark cinema?
– I can’t actually, because I am not really a big fan of movies, it’s not a field I have delved into that much, not yet at least. I don’t watch a lot of movies, and I usually like watching funny comedy movies, especially Italian comedy. But there are some other, more “serious” movies that I like, too. To mention some of my favourite movies, I’d say “Rush”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “Cloverfield”, “The Joker”, “Smetto Quando Voglio”, “Perfetti Sconosciuti”.
Tell us more about how the music scene is developing in your country. How has the musician’s life changed in general due to the Pandemic?
– I am very very young, I have little experience in the local scene so I can only tell a little bit, and most of it is from things that I have been told by other people who have been in the scene for longer. It seems that in recent years, the Black Metal and Extreme Metal scene is getting stronger again, very much in the underground, which is very good of course. Live music has been slowed down a lot because of all those lockdowns and stuff. As a one-man band, we didn’t have a problem at all. I have my own studio and all that. I can write songs in my kitchen or the living room, ha ha! Other bands had more problems, but everyone seems to have found a way to keep making music. Some bands did live-stream concerts. With Feralia we produced an acoustic EP, where everyone recorded their parts themselves from home. I hope than now that the world is finally opening up again, we will see an outburst of energy in the whole music scene and especially in the underground extreme scene!
Could you recommend some interesting underground bands from your country?
– Sure. Check out Kormak, as well as Funeral Oration and Necrodeath (two names that are more well-known and established). I also recommend Dark Passage if you like Heavy/Power Metal, and to conclude, I recommend Enisum, an atmospheric Black Metal band centered around the legends surrounding the Alps of Piedmont.
And according to tradition, in the final question, tell us about the project plans for the future
– I really don’t know! After “Pedemontium” I was really drained, so I had to take a break from music. I have nothing ready with APOKALYPSE and I’m not working on anything new, it’s not the right time. We have a new album coming out next year with Feralia, so that’s the priority at this time and that’s what I am focusing on the most. There will surely be a new APOKALYPSE album in the future though, whenever the time will be right and whenever we will have something interesting to bring across to the audience. So be ready for it!
I take the opportunity to salute you all. Remember, stay true to yourself, and keep Metal at heart! Hail the Hordes!