Eryn Non Dae are one of the more individual bands out there today, and their latest album Abandon of the Self is probably their greatest work to date. Sprawling, epic, and emotive, but probably not in ways you are used to, the band’s new album is a tour de force of progressive, expressive metal.
Bassist Mickaël André gave me some deeper insight into his remarkable band, and how Abandon of the Self came to be…
Introduce us to Eryn Non Dae
We formed in 2001 in Toulouse South France and Abandon of the Self is our fourth record.
Where does the band name come from?
The band was called End. Until 2007, then we signed with Metal Blade records and they asked us to change the name because they were afraid of getting trouble with other bands or entity already using the word End, so we tried to find something while keeping the letters E.N.D. I remember that we had just a week to find something, and you can imagine how happy we were, I mean finding a band name is never the fun part of the thing so when you have just a week to find another one, it’s not very comfortable. But we ended up with Eryn Non Dae. Which doesn’t really means anything, we just liked the way it sounded.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
I would start with a danish band called Get Your Gun, sounding like a mix between Wovenhand and Tom Waits I think…I’ve seen them live recently and they are quite intense.
The latest Ulver, The Assassination of Julius Caesar is really a masterpiece, they never disappoint and never cease to evolve.
I also just discovered a band called O’brother and their album Endless Light, the exact kind of music I’m into.
Das Seelenbrechen, the fifth Ihsahn solo album is the latest one I got into from him, I always need more time than he’s releasing music to understand his evolution, so it’s the last one I’m into, I really love the improvisation vibe he tried on the second part of the album. One more time it’s an artist that keeps searching and evolving and it’s something that I am really looking for.
I really enjoyed Midnight Champion from the Icelandic band Legend, it’s very hard to describe but it sounds magic !
It’s been about six years since Meliora, what have the band been up to since then?
We played gigs during the two years following up the release of Meliora and then the band went through a kind of weariness, we were very happy with Meliora and we felt that we were missing something, we felt that we were not playing enough gigs, and so it was like the album wasn’t getting what it deserved, we ended quite discouraged. So we tried to start a new writing process around 2014 but it wasn’t satisfying so we kind of stopped meeting as a band for a few months.
Then we spoke about trying again around summer 2015 but with the idea of a different writing process, then things went quite fast, considering our usual rhythm, I mean that Abandon of the Self was written and recorded between summer 2015 and summer 2017. We learned a lot of things about our possibilities during that period.
How did the creation of, and the reaction to, Meliora influence Abandon of the Self?
The main thing is that we didn’t want to make the same album, It’s even more than that for me personally, but I know that we are a band and that we have to consider everyone’s opinion to keep the band sounding as Eryn Non Dae. And it’s a good thing but I really wanted AOTS to sound different than Meliora. The good reaction to Meliora had no impact on the creation of AOTS since it’s not our job, we don’t need to consider people’s opinion to be sure to sell the next one! Haha!
More seriously, we know what people like in our music and I think they will always find something in our records that can « call » them but it’s not something that we consider when we wrote AOTS, the main thing was that we needed fresh air while writing and also in the sound.
Tell us about some of the concepts, ideas, and themes to be found on Abandon of the Self
AOTS deals with finding unity, it starts with the vision of something fragmented, it’s a vision that embeds everything around us, then it’s about struggling to find a way to make these different parts coming back together to form a whole. It’s an image for any conscious being but also on a more universal level, considering also some elements we are not necessary able to control directly.
How would you describe the album’s character and sound to someone that hadn’t heard it?
We wanted this album to sound even more organic than Meliora, but as each record we did, we think that AOTS needs an attentive and active listening. And at the end, the album reveals itself as a whole, so it’s always hard to describe what we do, we try to express what is in our heart through music, so the album sounds as a bunch of universal human feelings cutting through twists and distortion!
How would you say the album fits into the wider metal scene?
It’s an interesting question because one more time with this album, we realise that it doesn’t.
It could be because we use elements from a large variety of metal genres, but it’s also the reason why a lot of people can’t unfortunately access our music. Sometimes we feel like we are not easy enough to identify because of this mixture, we sound too violent for a lot of metal fans while sounding too much melodic to some extreme other. We also see that when we work with people on booking gigs or for promotion, it seems that the aim is hard to define since we can’t be categorised with hardcore, black metal or heavy something so everyone around us is trying to put us in a genre that could help to describe or give an idea of what we do, but it looks quite impossible and I’m not saying that we sound unique or anything close to that but sometimes we think that it’s really a difficulty for us to feel this sentiment of not fitting any scene.
What’s the significance/meaning behind the album artwork?
The artwork is related to the song Fragment, when you know that, I think that it gives enough information to start thinking about the relation between the artwork, the lyrics and the music. This is also the first time we didn’t put the lyrics in the booklet, we wanted the images to have more room in the way the album should be approached. The entire artwork gives a good panorama of the album concept, I think.
Do you think album artwork is still important in today’s increasingly digital age?
Sure we do. We could never think another way. Since the importance given to a record seems to follow the same path given to the album as an object, an item, if we should consider it as less important, we could do the same with everything else. I mean we could think « oh, that song isn’t that good but who cares, it’s in the end of the album, nobody is going to listen to it… » or « the album sounds not so good, but who cares, it’s gonna be listened through shitty earphones in 192 kbps! ». So maybe it concerns only a few people and sounds a bit old fashioned, but yes artwork is still important, as the album sounds, as any guitar riff on any words on any song of the record. It’s a whole and we put all we have in any details of the record.
Are you happy with how Abandon of the Self turned out?
The context within the band was kind of complicated two years ago so when we think about this album now, I think we are all very pleased this album exists and what it has turned into. We think that we achieved something refreshing for us, because it was the main goal.
If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything different?
Hard to say. This is typically the kind of question I am asking every second during the day, because I’m quite an undecided person, so when I can, I redo things over and over until I feel that it’s over or until someone stops me….
I think each musician knows this sensation of hearing only mistakes and things that could have been done differently on their records, it’s quite normal I think, and there is often no relation between real mistakes and that wish to do things better. So knowing that, we have to give it up and accept it the way it is. Concerning AOTS, I have to admit that we worked quite quickly from the point we decided to do it, so we were so focused on this album that I think we achieved something with it, something really « finished » and satisfying.
Now that it has been released, what have the reactions been like so far?
Quite good! We had some of the nicest words we ever heard about our music. I think that the core of the people listening to this band fully understand where we go, they listen to the record accepting our vision and the path we take to achieve it, so it seems that people understand this album very well.
What are your goals for the album?
We wanted this album to make its contribution to our journey first. And of course we would like to play the most gigs we can. We felt very frustrated with that with Meliora so we always hope to do better now.
Will we have to wait another six years for a follow up?
I wish I could say no! But who knows ? Of course we don’t want to take so long until the next one but we also know that nothing rushes us to go faster than our usual rhythm, and the most important, than our desire to write. So we’ll see.
What’s next for Eryn Non Dae?
We have a few gigs coming, so we focus on that first.
Any final words?
A big thank you for your questions and an even bigger one to everybody showing interest in the band, sounds a bit formulaic, but it’s really important. Thanks.