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Interview

Naraka Guitarist Jean-Philippe Porteux Talks Debut Album "In Tenebris," Collaborations And More

France has an interesting history when it comes to metal music. Geographically between the United Kingdom and Germany, two countries which are more famous for their metal, they are often overlooked. Nonetheless, if one knows their history, they will be able to tell you that the French have always been there, giving the world such bands as Trust, Sortilege and more recently, Gojira, Dagoba, Beyond Creation and Fractal Universe.

Last week it was the turn of another French band to hit the scene, as Naraka, featuring former Dagoba drummer Franky Costanza, burst on to the stage with their debut album, "In Tenebris." Draawing comparisons to such bands as Septicflesh, the French four piece have already begun earning rave revuews for their work and will soon be hitting the road to support their full length introduction. To find out more about the band, Metal Underground caught up with guitarist Jean-Philippe Porteux, in an interview which you can watch in full below.

Diamond Oz: First of all, congratulations on the release of your debut album, “In Tenebris.” What can you tell me about the title of the album?

Jean-Philippe Porteux: Thank you. “Tenebris” is a Latin word which in English means “Darkness” or “Hell” and as a title for our music, it’s a good thing, we think.

Oz: Definitely. I’ve been listening to the singles and they’re very striking. It’s very fierce music.

Jean-Philippe: Thank you. There is no concept about the band or the album, but there are three songs which are only orchestration and no vocals and these all have Latin titles, which is to underline that these are the instrumental songs.

Oz: And how important is orchestration to your music?

Jean-Philippe: That’s an influence from the bands we like. We’re fans of Septicflesh, Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Fleshgod Apocalypse, things like that. We have many more influences like Gojira or, for me, old stuff like Pantera or Sepultura, but I think orchestration brings a little melancholy or sadness. As the guitars and drums are very aggressive, I think the orchestration can bring some melody. It’s a good thing

Oz: Absolutely. You can definitely hear a bit of Septicflesh in your music but you’re also not copying them.

Jean-Philippe: Yes, many people compare us with Septicflesh when it comes to the orchestration, not about the guitars or the vocals, but people do make that comparison with the orchestral parts. The singer of Septicflesh also did the artwork so it’s easy for people to make that comparison.

Oz: Yeah, I was going to say, obviously Seth Siro Anton has done the artwork, like you said and he’s one of those artists who you can instantly recognise from his work. How well do you think this artwork represents the music?

Jean-Philippe: When we contacted Seth, we didn’t add any notes on what we would like for the artwork, just some words of inspiration to see what he could make and that he could do whatever he wanted to with those. First he presented a woman with an octopus, which can be found in the booklet, after that we asked for something like a monster which resembles a man or a woman after death, whether it be purgatory, Heaven or Hell and we liked the good work that Seth made for us. He always has an atmosphere, whether it’s for Septicflesh or one of the many bands he’s worked for like Moonspell or Dagoba.

Oz: You’ve also done two music videos for “The Black” and “Mother Of Shadows.” Are you happy with how they turned out and do they display the music well?

Jean-Philippe: Yes, especially “Mother Of Shadows,” as we have a guest, Lindsay Schoolcraft, the previous clean singer and keyboardist of Cradle Of Filth and now she has a new band called Antiqva. We especially love this song because of what she brings and she agreed to appear in the music video. The director had us film our parts in France, but she’s in Canada, so we all had to be filmed in front of a green screen, so after that we could add the flames and fire and everything else that’s in the video. “The Black” is not the same kind of song for us, it’s something a little more Gojira influenced, I think. It’s more aggressive with not a lot of orchestration and there’s a masked demon which appears in the music video. We like them both but I have a little preference for the one with Lindsay.

Oz: Of course, I imagine that must feel very special to have her on board. You’ve also released another song with Veronica Bordacchini from Fleshgod Apocalypse.

Jean-Philippe: Yes, we released this one on the album’s release day. This one isn’t a music video, it’s a visualizer, so it has a picture with us and Veronica. She was really nice for saying yes too. It was the same idea as with Lindsay, to add clean vocals to help contrast with the growls of our singer, who is a very good clean singer, but the female vocals bring something like the black metal choruses of nineteen years ago. We like mixing that with the modern production and also Fleshgod Apocalypse shared the song and tagged us, so are very pleased.

Oz: That’s very good of them. You also have a tour coming up with Septicflesh and Carach Anren.

Jean-Philippe: Yes, this will be in March next year. It’s a big tour, thirty six dates all across Europe, including in England, Scotland and Ireland, then after we’ll be in France, Spain and many other countries. It’s a big opportunity for us to open for bands we like and I think the fans of Septicflesh and Carach Angren will like Naraka. We’ll see, but we are really excited to tour with two big bands. There will of course also be shows in Sweden and Norway, the home of black metal. I don’t think we’re a total black metal band, but I think we are influenced but when it comes the guitars and vocals, we’re maybe more modern.

Oz: I agree. It’s definitely not like say, Darkthrone or Mayhem or something like that.

Jean-Philippe: For us it’s a mix. We don’t always have songs with orchestration and I think in the future we’ll continue with some having more and some having less. We don’t want to be stuck in one kind of metal. We want to be open to as many people as we can and we love so many things, that if we want to do a thrash metal album, or a death metal album then why not?

Oz: Very good. I believe you have some members in Paris and some in Marseille…

Jean-Philippe: Yes, the majority of the band is from Paris and the near area and the drummer, Franky Costanza, who was the previous drummer of Dagoba, is from Marseille, but he only joined us for the album, press photos and the music video. There is a live drummer at the moment and we’ll see what happens as the band grows. We will see but for the moment, this way is good for us.

Oz: OK. After the tour with Septicflesh and Carach Angren, do you have any more plans to promote the album? Maybe playing some festivals?

Jean-Philippe: After that we do have other plans to tour, although it won’t be a big tour. Some festivals. We are in discussions with the management but for now, nothing that I can speak about! Hopefully the tour will open some doors for us for the future as I hope to grow the band and I hope the management and the booker can help us do many things and then of course, the plan is to record the second album.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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