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Interview

Arkhum Bassist Matt Edwards Discusses New Album "Anno Universum"

Oregon based, blackened death metal act Arkhum recently got picked up by Vendlus Records for the release of the band's debut full-length album "Anno Universum." Heavy on the technicality, and oozing an atmosphere of Lovecraft style sci-fi, the album is a surprising piece of metal mayhem from a band on the rise.

While discussing the themes of the album, Arkhum bassist Matt Edwards stated, "They’re our way of trying to convey the feelings we get of just looking out into the stars at night, wrapped in the shroud of science fiction and various scenarios taking place in the cosmos." He goes on to explain how he adds his own bass groove to a brutal death metal release, how the band works as a unit, and where Arkhum is going from here.

xFiruath: When did Arkhum first get started and how do the band members know each other?

Matt: Kenneth and Stephen Parker (brothers) started the band back in 2004. They knew Kyle Jendrisak, who picked up the guitar just to be in the band. Names, drummers and bassists (including myself) all came and went for a while before settling into more or less our current incarnation around 2007.

xFiruath: When did you personally get involved in music and what bands have influenced your sound?

Matt: My family has always been a very musical one, and I was surrounded by all kinds of music growing up. I didn’t really get into it in a big way until I got a bass guitar from a pawn shop when I was twelve. After that music was life. I pretty much gave up a social life in high school because I just wanted to stay home and play. I was originally influenced by classic rock old metal, Sabbath especially. Since I discovered extreme music though, I’ve drawn inspiration from almost any bassist who isn’t afraid to play a bass line every now and again as opposed to just copping the guitar for an entire album. Groove and technicality are both what I listen for in music, and try to bring to Arkhum.

xFiruath: Do you guys have any other projects outside of Arkhum?

Matt: A few, actually. I personally have two: a black metal solo project called Terra Deep, and an electronic/ambient thing called Crystal Shyps. Stephen has a sludgy, progressive type project, The Will of a Million. Kenny and I have also played around with recording some raw black metal under a couple different guises. It really keeps egos down when we all have our own personal outlets. We let Arkhum be the place where all of our tastes can mesh together into a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

xFiruath: You guys just signed to Vendlus Records for “Anno Universum.” How did that come about?

Matt: We were lucky enough to snag Jason Walton (Agalloch, ELS, Sculptured) to mix and master the album. He really liked it and passed it along to Joe Cortese from Vendlus Records. A few e-mails later, we had an offer. That was pretty much it honestly. We’re really excited to be working with Vendlus for “Anno” and our next release. They’re helping us get our music to places we just wouldn’t be able to on our own.

xFiruath: Where was “Anno Universum” recorded?

Matt: “Anno Universum” was recorded entirely in the living room of Stephen and Kenneth’s apartment. It’s definitely a testament to how far home recording technology has come and what people can pull off with Pro Tools, a laptop, a lot of patience, and tolerant neighbors.

xFiruath: What do the lyrics deal with on the album?

Matt: The lyrics are what I would describe as Lovecraftian Sci-fi, detailing events such as extrastellar invasion, genetic manipulation, long-dead civilizations, etc. Even though the lyrics are on the more fantastic side of things, genuine science is of great import to us. They’re our way of trying to convey the feelings we get of just looking out into the stars at night, wrapped in the shroud of science fiction and various scenarios taking place in the cosmos. Kenneth, being an amateur astronomer, journalism major and fucking literature-devouring vortex never really did the death metal “shock value” thing with his lyrics, nor is there an defined message to our songs. They’re meant to affect the reader/listener in the way a painting or other piece of art affects a person. They don’t tell one how to feel, but there are many things one can take away from them.

xFiruath: How does the song writing process work for the typical Arkhum song?

Matt: It’s a completely collaborative effort. Arobas Music was cool enough to hook us up with copies of Guitar Pro 6, which is a super helpful composition tool. Basically we just tab out riffs in GP, then e-mail them back and forth letting everyone get their unique flavor into each song as we hash out a final arrangement. We can really be perfectionists and nitpick each note in a riff if we need to. It speeds up the learning process as well because each member can show up at a rehearsal already having jammed the song plenty of times at home.

xFiruath: What’s in the band’s near future? Any plans for live shows or recording?

Matt: We’ve already started writing and demoing for our next album which we’re aiming to release next year. Shows will probably be sparse for a while, but a full U.S. tour next summer is in the planning stages, and a small west coast stint is definitely a possibility. Basically we’re just waiting to see where this album will go and trying to keep up with it.

xFiruath: What band and albums have you been digging lately?

Matt: Fleshgod Apocalypse’s “Mafia” has been in pretty heavy rotation pretty much since it came out, as well as “In the Constellation of the Black Widow,” by Anaal Nathrakh. Recently though, I’ve been getting into Ulcerate, Portal, and Nachtmystium. Oh, and Devin Townsend. Pretty much anything he does is amazing.

xFiruath: How is your local metal scene?

Matt: Struggling. There are so few all ages venues left anymore and a lot of bands have either gone on hiatus of disbanded altogether. It’s getting harder to set up shows for local acts, and most larger tours just go to Portland. There are still plenty of quality bands here, but it’s getting harder and harder to see them. People have to really support what venues they have, and support local music in general.

xFiruath: Anything else you’d like to discuss?

Matt: I just want to tell people to support all the music they reasonably can. Go to shows. Buy a CD (yeah right). If you download an album and dig it, buy a shirt. The music we love will only be as successful as we can make it.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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