French doom band Monolithe continue to impress with every new release, and latest album Zeta Reticuli is no exception. Guitarist Rémi Brochard explains a bit more about the concept behind the release, and how it fits in with Epsilon Aurigae…
Introduce us to Monolithe!
MONOLITHE is a dark/doom metal band. The band was created in 2001 by guitarist/songwriter Sylvain Bégot and has released 6 albums, one compilation and 2 EP.
What are your influences?
In the beginnings, that might be British early doom/death bands, some death metal bands and a lot of everything else, really.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
Actually, speaking for myself, I listen to prog metal a lot, with greats bands such as Circus Maximus. I also listened to the last Moonsorrow; not their best but still a great album that I highly recommend. I discovered the new Winterhorde album, Maestro, a prog black metal band which kicks ass. Also King, the last Fleshgod Apocalypse album, and a nice discovery: Carpenter Brut, a French electro project, which reminds me the movie Drive’s OST!
Zeta Reticuli is a companion piece to Epsilon Aurigae – how do the two fit together?
Epsilon Aurigae & Zeta Reticuli is a duology. Sylvain wanted to write and record a double album. He always thought double albums were milestones in a band’s existence and he felt it was time to create ours. Zeta Reticuli is the second part of the duology. The albums – Epsilon Aurigae and Zeta Reticuli, are connected but they are also independent unities. It was indeed a huge sum of work to deliver so much new music all at once, especially as he wanted to move forward artistically. But here we are and that was certainly worth the pain at the end of the day.
As I said earlier, the albums are connected but also independent unities. They have the same number of songs, same length, same themes and they constitute a whole once reunited. All 6 songs on the albums are about being, feeling or looking for oneness or wholeness: unity, singularity, uniformity, soleness, and loneliness… It’s not really a concept but this one single theme is developed on all songs. Musically, it is a move forward for the band to become more and more style-free. There are almost no rules to what we can add and change to the music.
What’s the meaning behind the song lengths of 15 minutes exactly?
First of all, 15 minutes can be read one-five (Monolithe five), and the album was released in 2015. 3 times 15 minutes makes 45 minutes: not too long, not too short. Zeta Reticuli also consists of 3 songs, so 3+3 equals 6, number of albums we’d have released at that point, and so on. And it was something fun to do as well.
Your sound has been evolving over time, especially so over the last couple of releases – how has this come about and why?
I think that, when you’ve been composing for such a long time – 15 years, it’s natural to look for evolution and to change some aspects of your music. And meanwhile you’re evolving yourself in your own life too. Music is all about emotions, feelings and passion; so I think the music you do is closely interlinked with your life changes. The first saga was very long – 4 Albums and 2 EP, and it has been kept coherent all along. But MONOLITHE wanted and needed to move forward artistically, as I said before, so Sylvain came up with something different, 2 albums long and getting a break off previous “funeral doom” tag. Now the music sounds more like some dark metal / doom, with songs a faster pace – sometimes we even hit the 70 BPM!!! ^^. But still, the space ambience remains intact! So even if it’s evolving, the band’s identity remains there.
How do you think your style will progress for future releases?
For the moment, the only thing I can tell you is that the next release will be a stand-alone album. And I’m pretty sure it will be a good one, as I listened to some demos – just one actually, but a very powerful one! I can also tell you that, for the first time, Sylvain will include some ideas we’ll provide him! I mean “we”, the live members.
Tell us about the introduction of clean vocals into the last song on Zeta Reticuli – The Barren Depths
Sylvain wanted a song with clean vocals in the new release. Guyom Pavesi, who sings “The Barren Depths”, is actually the singer of guitarist Benoît Blin’s rock band Devianz, and MONOLITHE’s sound engineer…so he’s a member of the band’s family, so to say. Considering this, he was an obvious choice. In my opinion it’s been a good one, because “The Barren Depth” is actually my personal favourite MONOLITHE song!
How was the cover artwork chosen?
The artwork and design is by Robert Höyem (Overhaus.com) and we have been working with him since 2012. He has perfectly captured what the band was about from early on. His work for MONOLITHE is part of the band’s image and identity. There are no directions concerning the artwork design, we give him a total freedom.
Do you think album art is important to a release?
I think album art is important because it kind of represents the album; it gives the first impression we have on it. For the two last albums, we had very similar cover art, to represent the tight link between the two releases. If the covers were chosen randomly, the link could have been unnoticed.
With music becoming increasingly digital in nature, what’s your take on the digital/physical debate?
I don’t think there is such a debate. I personally love physical releases and I’ve got a good collection of CDs. But I like digital files too because I can listen to them everywhere, without having to carry that big portable CD player we still had a few years ago. So, for the many people who don’t want to own CDs at home, that’s a nice alternative.
What have your experiences been like regarding the current state of the music industry, and how has it been working with Debemur Morti Productions?
It’s always very hard when you start a project, because there are so many bands, playing everywhere, all kind of music, especially since the democratisation of home studios. So I personally had lots of opportunities, and I got lucky to find some good bands with good people playing for fun and passion. As far as I know, it’s been all good so far with Debemur Morti, they’ve been a very supportive label to us.
Playing live – essential or pointless?
It’s important to me because I really love to play live. It’s a rather unique sensation when you bear a project for which you worked hard, and with which you can finally perform on good stages with nice crowds. That’s why I’m very happy to share this experience with MONOLITHE. They’re a band I knew before playing with them, and a band that I wanted to see on stage. I guess I’ll see them more and more often now!
What are you up to for the rest of the year?
We’ll mostly be playing gigs for our Epsilon Aurigae Tour.
Any last words?
Thanks for the interview!