Interview with Au Champ des Morts

Au Champ des Morts Logo

Have you experienced the raw melodic bleakness of Dans la Joie by French black metallers Au Champ des Morts? If not, then I heartily recommend you to. The album is a rich journey through harrowing depths and terrifying highs. Highly emotive and evocative, here’s a band that know a thing or two about wearing their hearts on their sleeves and producing music that feels like it has real soul.

Prepare yourself then, and let’s explore the world of Au Champ des Morts…

Introduce us to Au Champ des Morts

ACDM is a French band, based in Limousin and Auvergne, started as a duo in 2014 with Stefan Bayle (Anorexia Nervosa) and Migreich (Vulv). Now we are evolving as a trio composed by Stefan Bayle (Vocals, Guitars), Cécile G. (Bass, Vocals) and Wilheim (Drums). We have released one EP « Le Jour se Lève » through Debemur Morti Productions last year and now our first album « Dans la Joie ».

We are 3 persons connected by art, tradition, a strict view of the World, a conscience of what should be. The band was forged around a common culture and sensitivity for only one purpose: give life to a personal and spontaneous music that takes body through Black Metal.

What are your influences?

Our influences are rather diverse, in ACDM it goes essentially from Cold Wave, Black Metal and old Hard Rock. We are not really newcomers in this scene, but some bands like Bathory, Celtic Frost or And Also The Trees, Sisters of Mercy have haunted me for decades. But also some « modern » bands like Austere, The Devil’s Blood, Alcest.

We have a strong background in dark music, and we want to express every facet of these influences in ACDM, without any restraint.

Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend

Throane – Derriere nous, la lumière : The New Dehn Sora project is a pure chef d’oeuvre, my favourite of this year
Alcest – Kodama : No Need to introduce this one. As usual, a Masterpiece
Tempers : A post-punk band I’ve recently discovered, and I love their single ”Strange Harvest”
Sanne de neige : Goth band from Norway really promising
Hypothermia – Svartkonst : A wonderful oppressive, strong, personal, album.

Au Champ des Morts Band 2

Tell us about Dans la Joie

Dans la Joie, is the result of our experiences, frustrations, knowledge and culture. We have written this album as quickly as we can. And after we finish it, we began to see that it has a concept about death over all its forms.

It begins with someone’s death to grow through the whole collapsing of our world, concluding with our foundations shattering, and then : “La Fin du Monde”.

It contains seven tracks which develop our sickness of the dying Western society and illustrate its course towards the end.

A bit later we will be releasing a vinyl version and a special edition with an additional track, a cover of “Driven like the snow” from the Sisters of Mercy.

Please expand on the themes explored on the album?

Like I said before, the theme of Death is omnipresent on the album, but not only physical death, it is also about spiritual and symbolic death. A hopeless, decadent world, far from the Principle, having turned its back on Tradition. With this album, we wanted to write a testimony of the end of this civilisation, so as to be able to rebuild the lost symbolic which enables the universe to maintain.

We’re talking about “Joy” in its biblical way, about the unveiling of the true meaning of God’s speech. We’re looking to reach Illumination through faith and knowledge.

We must find sacred again, or we will never pass through the next cycle. This is what has guided our writing.

How were the songs written?

Viscerally!

For the musical parts, it starts with an idea in my head, which quickly becomes an obsession. So I record it, and then I let things happen, like if I have no control on what is expulsed. Every tune, every lyric, every beat of our drums came to us spontaneously, without thinking clearly about it. I think that’s the right way to compose metal, I like to hear music which come from very very far inside.

For the lyrics, in general, we write together on a theme or something inspired by the music, or a personal experience that has affected us.

What was the recording process like?

Painful and exhausting, like every album…

We have recorded this at Drudenhaus Studio which belongs to a very close friend of mine, the keyboard player for Anorexia Nervosa, my previous band. It was a lot of work, but we spent really good time and we’re really glad of the result.

We gave all of ourselves into this to bring a performance as sincere as it could be.

What’s your favourite song on the album and why?

Maybe…L’étoile du Matin. Its solemnity, the Cure-like drum pattern, this prime Cold Wave atmosphere mixed with this whole Black Metal sound. Here is what we are.

How did you choose the cover artwork?

We ask Dehn Sora, a great artist to create an artwork for the album. We had already worked with him on the “Le jour se Lève” EP, and he perfectly understands what we want and where we want to go. His work on Black and white, light and shadows, is fantastic, and like every great artist, his work has an infinity of interpretation, a unity in symbolic. In the end what he proposed to us matched perfectly to what we had in mind for this album.

Au Champ des Morts

Do you think cover artwork is as important as it once was in these heavily digital days?

Yes of course! We are really attached to symbolic on all these forms and levels. The image is a part of that, which is equally important as music. Our cover has a lot of keys to understand our music. Listening to this kind of music is a spiritual experience. The image is a part of this experience, to understand it, it must be able to feel it fully. The trinity, image, music, lyrics is an indivisible whole.

We’re the old school way of making music. We wanted it huge and full of details and this artwork is totally part of our work here. This picture has not been made to be displayed on a computer screen, but on a vinyl sleeve.

How do you think your music will progress in the future?

Well, we don’t have any particular idea of what our next songs will sound like.

The music, as for this first effort, will come to us. It’s just a reflection of ourselves.

All we have to do is display it the better way we can.

That’s our goal in life.

What is it like working with Debemur Morti?

It’s a dream! From all the labels I had to deal with, it’s the only one that really takes care about Art. They’re not here for industry or money, they’re doing this because they have the same needs as us, a vital one, to keep this form of art alive. To make a difference in this degenerate period. We are on the same wavelength and it’s a relationship of mutual trust and respect. We’re very grateful for their whole support.

How do you feel that your band fits into the black metal scene in 2017?

Good, I guess ? Honestly, I don’t really understand this concept. I’m not making a difference between 1982 or 2017. Once the music is delivered, it‘s out of temporality. I share the idea to be a part of something, of a movement, but only a doctrinal one, not a scene. This idea of scene implicates that there’s a competition to be part of the scene, an idea of progress, as a technical improvement, of old and new, and I’m strongly opposed to this point of view.

Au Champ des Morts Band 1

What is it about black metal that inspires you to play it?

Even if Black-Metal is just a medium, a generic name for a kind of music, I think I prefer considering the concept behind as a foundation, a metaphysical doctrine, something far beyond the music itself, hidden. A bridge between this plan and Knowledge. The point is to reach this part, to achieve a transcendental journey by appropriating this music. We’re not inspired by black metal, we try to achieve ourselves through this doctrine.

But, I’m not attached to the shape of music. It’s nearly impossible to define what black Metal should be technically speaking. Finally, when someone claims to play black metal, often, it’s not, because there’s only the form not the content.

For example, bands like The Devil’s Blood, Aluk Todolo, or In Solitude are far more in the Black Metal spirit, in its doctrinal way, even if their music certainly doesn’t sound like the idea people have of Black Metal.

What are the next steps for Au Champ des Morts?

We are trying to write the best music we can for another album, and start to prepare for concerts, but now we’re a trio, we don’t know yet if it’s a sufficient line up for a live performance, so we’re going to take our time to prepare what should be Au Champ des Morts live.

We do not want to stagnate, and still have so many things to express, on record or live.

Any final words?

Everything is coming to an end…In Joy…And Light.

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