Interview with Thecodontion

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Thecodontion came out of nowhere and blew me away. Their demo Thecodontia is so strong and well-formed that you’d think they’d been doing this for years. I absolutely loved it. I simply had to find out more about this enigmatic and nasty band…

Give us a bit of background to Thecodontion – how did you form?

STILGAR (bassist): Me and Heliogabalus are always discussing weird musical and lyrical concepts that would be fun to explore. He had the idea of forming a raw black metal project about dinosaurs named Bactrosaurus, then I got involved and proposed the name change to Kronosaurus first, then it became Thecodontion. Also we thought that black/death metal (the “war metal” subgenre to be more specific) would have fit the concept better.

HELIOGABALUS (singer): We wanted to combine two different ideas. I wanted to form a black metal project without guitars, while Stilgar wanted to do something with a “prehistoric” concept. We put that together and after a while Thecodontion was born.

What are your influences?

S: We really like war metal like Pig’s Blood and Malefic Levitation, but also more atmospheric and experimental variants of the genre, like Antediluvian, Grave Upheaval and Mitochondrion. Ride for Revenge was also for us a proof that it’s possible to play black/death metal without guitars and making it sound great anyway.

H: Our main influences are probably Antediluvian for the imagery and Ride for Revenge for the idea of playing black/death metal without guitars. But we tried to develop these influences in a personal manner, also taking account of the importance of some extreme metal bands from the ’80s, like Celtic Frost. Some influences might actually change in the future, we are ever evolving.

What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

S: I’m listening to the newest Pandiscordian Necrogenesis tape “Eigenwelt” that I just got in the mail as I’m typing this, totally crazy improvised and technical raw black metal. Other than that I’m digging the latest Nuclear War Now! releases. Knelt Rote and Chaos Echoes have released two kick ass albums this year. Can’t wait to grab the newest Rites of Thy Degringolade and Grave Upheaval too.

H: I’ve appreciated the latest Ataraxy record a lot lately. They’re from Spain and play a kind of doom/death metal that, while not necessarily innovative, it’s a perfect balance between riffs and atmosphere. I’m looking forward to a lot of albums this year: Malthusian, Imperial Triumphant, Mitochondrion and the newest Wormlust.

The name of your band and of your debut demo are tied into the themes that you are exploring – tell us about these

S: Prehistoric creatures and dinosaurs are unexplored themes in metal, at least with lyrics that are just not “dinosaurs are brutal”, but with an almost “academic” way of writing them. Also we think it fits the whole “war metal” sub-genre and its primitive and raw sound. I’ve been fascinated with dinosaurs since I was a kid.

The whole concept of the demo revolves around thecodonts, which were not dinosaurs actually, they lived before them and resembled ancient crocodiles. They’re not even called thecodonts anymore, they belong to the Archosauria clade now.

Future lyrics will explore other prehistoric creatures and related concepts too, not just thecodonts (there are not that many of them after all!).

H: We focused on a very fitting topic for this style of music, I think. At the same time, it hasn’t been explored much, I’m talking about prehistory. Our filthy and evil bass riffs can carry the listener back to the prehistoric swamps where there was a constant fight for survival.

The demo concept, as said before, is about thecodonts, large prehistoric crocodiles that are considered to be dinosaurs’ ancestors.

We’ll explore different themes in the future, while keeping the prehistoric imagery with an informative approach. You can read our lyrics on our Bandcamp page and in the tape booklet, they’re a very important aspect for us.

What’s the story behind your use of multiple bass guitars in lieu of a more conventional setup?

S: We thought that using distorted bass in lieu of guitars would have helped to convey a more primitive sound and that is possible to make decent music without the need of guitars, that are predominant in the genre.

Me and Heliogabalus work well together and share similar ideas, so we wanted to develop a musical, visual and lyrical concept without outside inputs that would have otherwise watered down our vision. Bass it’s probably the only instrument I’m confident with and I suck at guitar, so that was a rather obvious choice for us.

H: We thought about this a lot, we wanted to stay within the canonical structures of the genre, while giving a personal sound to our songs. We distorted the bass in a peculiar way in order to provide an even more unique sound. I think we succeeded but we’ll strengthen some aspects of our sound, we’re at the beginning and we have to improve.

Thecodontion Promo

How did you write the songs on Thecodontia?

S: Heliogabalus wrote the main core and structures of the songs, I just did the arrangements for the higher bass parts and solos. Then I wrote lyrics adapting them to the song structures.

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

S: For me it’s “Longisquama Insignis (Skeletal Analysis Of A Kyrgyz Diapsid)”. My favourite lyrics of the whole demo.

H: My favourite is “Stagonolepis (Robertsoni/Wellesi/Olenkae)”. It’s the most elaborate song and it features interesting melodic passages. Melodic War Metal, hearing is believing!

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

S: We are writing new music constantly and our style is going towards a more ominous, abstract and atmospheric direction, it seems.

H: New songs are taking form and we hope to record something new soon. In my opinion the new material is more interesting and mature, but they won’t lose impact. Time will tell, but we have the possibility to do great things.

What are you goals for Thecodontion?

S: We hope to get our music and concept known around, we are happy when somebody is positively struck by our unconventional style or lyrics. If we manage to inspire future bands or get people interested in prehistoric creatures, it would be awesome.

H: Releasing an album under Nuclear War Now! Haha, just kidding. I think we have something to say musically, I’d like to add something personal to the history of this music genre. It would be quite an achievement, I hope to succeed.

How do you feel you fit into your local metal scene, and what is it like?

S: Our musical style isn’t that big in the Italian underground, sadly. We probably have more fans abroad, but we hope to spread the word here too. I just like a bunch of Italian metal bands, honestly, I think we are a bit behind other countries as regards the development of metal music. There are lots of nostalgic people that just waste time ranting about the younger generation instead of making noteworthy music. Or younger people that are nostalgic about decades they didn’t even live in first person.

H: It seems Italian listeners are less interested in this kind of music. I live near Rome, we have Demonomancy here. It’s an important band for this genre but they rarely perform live near Rome or in Italy in general. However, there’s a city named Parma in Northern Italy, where this style of black/death metal is performed always more frequently. Maybe there’s hope to see something similar around here, let’s see. It’s a bit of a shame, there are interesting bands, but they’re surrounded by a sea of mediocrity.

How do you feel that you fit into the wider black metal scene?

S: Having the same audience as our main influences would be great. Maybe having them as labelmates or sharing the same live stage in the future.

H: I think fans are more receptive on a worldwide scale, and that our music might have a more “international” scope. I hope one day we’ll be able to reach similar goals as the bands I’m inspired by, it would mean having done a good job.

What will the band be up to for the rest of 2018?

S: We’re going to release a 7″ EP with material coming from the same sessions of the “Thecodontia” demo, we are talking to a couple of labels to release it in the second half of 2018. The concept will be different though, a leap forward in the prehistoric Earth timeline.

Do you have any plans to take to the road?

S: Sure, we are working on that already. We have found two session members for drums and the other bass, they’re two friends of ours. We live a bit far from each other so it will be a slow process for rehearsing, but we plan to start performing live around Autumn of 2018.

Any final words?

S: We are happy you loved the demo and thank you for the opportunity to talk about the band and its concept in-depth. You can follow updates on our Facebook page, listen to the demo and support the band directly on our Bandcamp and grab the demo tape on Gravplass Propaganda (the label which released the demo on cassette)’s shop.

H: Stilgar provided the links. We also want to thank Bart from Gravplass Propaganda, he’s been the first person who believed in us. His label released many artists we like (e.g. Eggs of Gomorrh, Kult Mogil and Engulfed) and I hope that will be a good omen for us. Cheers to all!

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