Expanding "Horizons" With Anubis Gate - Henrik Fevre and Kim Olesen Discuss The New Record
Band Photo: Anubis Gate (?)
Sometimes, it's just not enough to have an album be heavy, innovative, and consistent. In fact, for the really good ones, it's got to be more. "It has to have some kind of vulnerability to get to me," says vocalist Henrik Fevre of the monumental progressive metal foursome, Anubis Gate. It has to be able to touch its listeners with sincerity.
Men of their word, the creative forces behind Anubis Gate have been consistently achieving that vulnerability from album to album while still being quite novel in their melodic choices. On their latest album, "Horizons" (reviewed here), the members stretch out in a few new directions, adding in nods to older rock and 80s pop, as noted in their earlier release of the "Sheep" EP, featuring covers of Pink Floyd's "Sheep" and Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings."
Speaking to Metal Underground, they opened up a little more about the inner workings of "Horizons."
Frank Serafine (Progressivity_In_All): If you had the scientific condition of synesthesia, what color would you ascribe to each song on "Horizons"?
Henrik Fevre: I'm sorry, I don't get any colours when I listen to music. I really can't relate to said condition. Maybe I'm not normal (or maybe I am).
Kim Olesen: I probably see music more in landscapes than in colors. The album cover is pretty dead on as far as my visual/musical association goes.
Frank: Did Jacob Hansen assist in writing any of the songs this time around? Which one(s) and how extensively?
Henrik: Jacob had nothing to do with the writing or arranging of "Horizons" whatsoever. He produced the drum tracks and the final mixing, and he did a fine job. We're happy to be working with him, still.
Kim: As far as sculpting the sound of the finished product, Jacob is indispensable for us. But even when he was in the band, he was the one who wrote the least. He always came up with killer material, though.
Frank: In which ways do you think that you've changed/grown as songwriters since 2011's "Anubis Gate”?
Henrik: "Horizons" is a very different album from the last one, but that is partly due to the line-up changes. One of our writers, Jesper M. Jensen, is not in the band anymore, therefore the outcome is naturally different (Jesper has delivered only a few parts to ”Horizons”). But still, some of the songs are typical Anubis Gate, some take us in a new direction. We've never had a song as close-up and naked as "Erasure" before and we've never done anything quite as electronic as "Never Like This". So every Anubis Gate album adds something new to the universe. I like that. That's where I see growth.
Kim: Yeah, as Henrik said, we always try to do something new. Not for the sake of doing anything new really, but for my part, I find it impossible to write the same way as on a previous album. Even though I’m in my fourties (or perhaps because I am in them), my musical perspective moves quite fast. The only thing that does not move is that I always ask myself if an idea works in the context of Heavy Metal. Because no matter how you turn and twist it, Anubis Gate is a Metal band, and, as an example, a blues part just wouldn’t cut it.
Frank: How long did the writing and recording processes take for “Horizons"?
Henrik: It took the usual two years, so, accordingly, it should have been out in late 2013, but the mixing ended up taking longer than anticipated, so the release had to be postponed to 2014.
Kim: We are pretty consistent in our writing process. An album typically takes two years from the first note is written to it’s finished. With us, there is really no dividing line between writing and recording, because a lot of stuff survives from the demos to the finished album. Typically, keyboards, percussion, and guitars that are not “hi-gain”. A lot is thrown away, too, of course. Once the demos are finished, we record real drums in Jacob Hansen’s studio. We then track the “hi-gain” guitars for real, replacing the demo guitars, which are often done on “writer’s adrenaline” and therefore not as refined as needed. The finished vocals replace the demo vocals and then Jacob Hansen mixes with me assisting.
Frank: What sorts of things contribute inspiration to your writing process nowadays?
Henrik: Lyrically, it comes from everywhere. Sometimes, from TV programs or films. Other times, it comes from within; a feeling or a thought explored. ”Horizons” is very much a fiction album, lyrically. The self-titled was was much more personal. Musically, I usually get inspired by music from other genres than metal. At the moment I listen to ambient stuff from the likes of Brian Eno, David Sylvian and Harold Budd, but also pop acts like Deacon Blue or jazz by Pat Metheny Unity band/group. If we're talking hard rock/metal, it's Tesseract or Cynic that inspires me the most. So you see, I get inspiration from many different genres, which I believe is crucial for making interesting music in whatever genre we're talking. If music is too predictable, I get bored.
Kim: My inspirations are an amalgalm of 80’s metal (Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Voivod, Crimson Glory, Slayer etc etc), 70’s prog (Genesis, King Crimson), 80’s melancholic pop (Aha, Kim Wilde, Duran Duran, The Mission etc), electronic music (Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel jarre) and newer bands like Keane, Rammstein…… Anything melancholic, really….
Frank: With so much attention paid to the detail of the backing textures and sonic landscape of the songs, how much of it is written at the same time as most of the song, if any of it?
Henrik: Sometimes it added later on. Other times, it's the very mood of the song from the beginning, before there's any vocals or lyrics, so it's hard to tell, really. There's no standard procedure.
Kim: Any combination of starting points is possible. As Henrik says, sometimes the first thing to happen in a song is the atmospheric keyboards. Other times, it’s hard riffing. Sometimes it’s the vocal melodies that come first and we construct the music around them. Any procedure will do. The more variations to the process, the better.
Frank: In our last interview with you, you explained in 1-2 sentences each what each song on the "Anubis Gate" record meant to you. Would you care to do the same with the songs from “Horizons"?
Kim: Disclaimer: I’m going to go cosmic on you now, LOL….
"Destined to Remember":
HENRIK: Organic river leading you to the place you are destined to visit - to be whole. Strong opener.
KIM: Uneven even.
"Never Like This":
HENRIK: Synthetic dream world with a bunch of questions. One of the greatest rock songs we've done.
KIM: A direct motion.
"Hear My Call":
HENRIK: A matter of survival. A great introduction to the skills of Michael Bodin and the forthcoming sound of AG.
KIM: The newest writer writing a classic.
HENRIK: One of my favourites; there's so much going on and it's unpredictable, ever-changing and advanced in the rhythm section. Like a vintage port, full of different flavours.
KIM: Shifting sands.
"Revolution Come Undone":
HENRIK: Put the pedal to the metal and let's go. Lots of energy and a wake up call for those who was dreaming away through the airways.
KIM: Easy on the surface, complex below.
"Breach of Faith":
HENRIK: Anubis Gate meets Mozart. A long and very melodic piece about some serious war matter. The other favourite of mine.
KIM: For every sufferer of PTSD. (The lyrics move me, sometimes to tears.)
HENRIK: I keep coming back to this one. I guess I haven't quite explored every aspect of it yet, which is great, 'cause it keeps me interested.
KIM: Tension, then finally, release.
HENRIK: A heavy pocket symphony. Abstract lyrics actually inspired by the cover art. We've never done one like this before.
KIM: The journey is actually the destination.
“A Dream Within A Dream”:
HENRIK: Long journey into several dream-landscapes and -soundscapes. Under the circumstances, it ends fairly well. I was happy to be part of its creation.
KIM: Everything we were at that point in time.
HENRIK: A very personal note to me. I am so pleased that we could actually get away with being so close up on a metal album. I really hope it touched some of you out there!
KIM: No separation between us and you.
--Author’s Note: For a more in-depth full-band track-by-track, read here.
Frank: What inspired the artwork to “Horizons”?
Kim: I don’t know because I found it in its finished form on brilliant Greek artist Nikos Markogiannakis’ homepage. But once I saw it, I craved it. As I said earlier, it was so dead on with my visual image of the album, it was almost eerie. I had goosebumps. And once it was chosen it started to influence the last stages of the creation of the album, which, to me, makes ‘Horizons’ the most “complete” album we have ever done from an artistic point of view.
Frank: Which is more important -- that your emotions are accurately translated into your music or that the listeners can connect to the emotions in your music?
Henrik: As I see it, if you want to make good music, first you have to please yourself. It will shine through if it's contrived in any way to make someone feel something or to make someone like it. The only way you can touch people is by being true to yourself and your taste. Then, the listeners might follow you. Otherwise, it's pretty doomed. In other words, if my emotions are accurately translated into the music, then the listeners get a fair chance to connect to the music.
Kim: What Henrik said. Exactly what Henrik said!
Frank: Which is more important in music -- being intentionally novel and innovative or being consistent?
Henrik: May I pick none of the above? I think it's more important to touch people. It might be a strange agenda in a genre that is often dealing with anger, death and Satan, delivered with growling vocals, wild guitar shredding, and ultrafast bass drums, but that's the way I feel about all music. This is probably the reason why I'm rarely touched when listening to metal. It has to have some kind of vulnerability to get to me. It might get loud and violent, that's fine, but I also need to feel the people behind it. Not only a wall of aggression.
Kim: We are never really intentional. We trust in the process. And if at first the things don’t work then the process will just have to be longer. And I think this belief in our process makes us innovative and consistent at the same time.
Anubis Gate is currently rehearsing and gearing up to return to playing live shows and can be followed on their Facebook page.
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