ÉOHUM - Where Black Metal Meets the Environment, Heritage and French Horns

Montreal’s Éohum first got my attention with the hook of having a full time French horn player augmenting their brand of black metal which was thematically steeped in environmental consciousness, exploration of heritages and respect for ancient traditions. The enthusiasm exhibited by founding member and guitarist Jeremy Perkins ended up pulling me in further. Normally, this is the spot where time would be taken to give some sort of context or detailed introduction to the band that formed in 2010 and are about to issue their second release, Eadlfaeder via the Mycelium Networks label, but Perkins took the baton and ran with it like a motherfucker when we sent him a few questions as a means of getting to know his band. Here, we present the opportunity to listen to a new track called “Eurocide” and read some pretty heartfelt words.

Was the decision to have a black metal band with a French horn player from the start, or is that something that fell into your laps? How difficult is/was it to find people who play more traditional/not-common-in-metal instruments who are also into and willing to play extreme metal?

Good question! The French horn, from the get-go, was a part of the band. When I sprouted the idea, I envisioned a live theater with a full brass set, but when I had my friend Annie Perreault, a professional horn player, start with us I realized one French horn would be more than enough for our project. Not only did it give that live presentation people would love, but a powerhouse of low bass undulations for the warrior in us all. It sounded amazing. When I later started writing the parts for her horns, the orchestration was powerful and from a simple add-on, I decided it would be an integral part of our band as with any other instrument, so versatile and powerful in itself and now we are so content with the outcome. To the second part of your question, it wasn’t a struggle. I’m surrounded by musicians of all nature and I was actually blessed to have an experienced player of that specific instrument at hand. But it just so happened the French horn was what I aspired for, being the leader in low tone brass sounds, was available! As any movie soundtrack or warrior call horn of ancient Europe would use a large cavity to blow air within, we wanted to replace the usual synthesizer or piano, by the all original and power-filled French horn! She loves metal and her integration in our project! 

As I understand it, there was a specific thematic intent to Éohum from the start. Please describe and how would you say the focus has changed over the course of time, the addition of members and with your own personal development over time?

Yes, Éohum is all about the lack of interest in our forefathers, cultures and relation to nature in a symbiotic manner these days, a call to our past symbiotic relations and faiths instead of feeling oppressed. A kind of reckoning of our roots becoming shorter and lost with time, a calling to our souls and entities, where somewhere we all belong no matter where you’re from. Most black metal speaks in a negative or conservative manner, speaking of the indoctrination of Europe. Yet, we speak of blaming none one but ourselves for this loss of interest nowadays. Our message on the other hand reminds of who we are, where and who we shall become without our past relationship with life, traditions and cultures. The idea of just being humans and a whole on a universal level is amazing, but as a people we have a history and this history makes us who we are, respectful and proud of our heritage and of others relation to theirs. I find today's aggressiveness and misrepresentation of cultural differences comes from this misidentification of the problem being us not doing our part being ourselves handing down that torch. The focus never changed. Cesar Franco, our new bassist, is of Amazonian tribal descent and his Amazonian forefather's colonization by the Spanish and the destruction of the Amazon is actually on the forefront on environmental awareness level these days. This strengthened that message for the band as we all share this message from our past. Just so happens even before his arrival our first LP's [Revelations, Aurora of an Epoch] main track, “Equatorial Rains” spoke precisely of that area. And our drummer, Luca Belviso is a full-fledged Italian, very proud of his roots and has the more warrior-like approach being from a powerful culture and historically spread state. But Éohum goes further than indoctrination and petty topics like conquer and divide. We speak of the current lack of interest in our past tribal lifestyles and faiths, when we were us and had faiths that reminded us our place on Earth and respected the planet and had talents for survival. It isn't about politics or power, but about our past symbiotic relationships we had with nature and our surroundings. Our healing rituals, medicines, recipes, songs and lands have been sold on the market for capitalist and greed filled agendas robbing us of our humanity and spiritual approach to life the last 100 to 2000 years. We want to remind that, no matter where we are from, our roots have shortened due to this unnatural progression humanity has taken and now upon these times of crucial change and environmental decay we must take pride in ourselves and our past teachings and survival skills. It is not us that changed our direction the last year since our mediated release of our first LP, but politics have strengthened their grip on the peoples of the world and we the pawns have been swept away by multimedia, science and political slavery where faith, respect and difference are seen as taboo, almost forgotten as our lineage will become.

What does the title of the upcoming EP refer to?

Ealdfaeder, means forefather, ancient ones, in old English, Anglo-Saxon. It reflects our message and the band primarily being of Celtic/Gaul descent that we refer to this EP as a calling of our ancient’s voice without the traditionally used Viking or warrior power metal feel, which most bands are not descendants of, even if they sing it. We directly speak of the issues at hand and our descendants’ lost voice. The original idea behind black metal for the original North European movement was of Norse, Viking warrior descent. We are Anglo-Saxon and Gauls, thus the Celtic resonances in our images, words and beliefs for the EP. We aspire to widen the original genres perspective. Doom being a sound and black metal a message and brutal sound, we blend the two with both message and sound giving way to a fresh air and sound but with the same direct intent and feel as a base.

Was there anything that was embarked upon differently in terms of the writing and/or recording of Ealdfaeder when compared to your previous demo or any other bands you’ve been in in the past?

The first album was an introduction to the theme, a welcoming, a softer version of our message where words, ideas and theater took more place. I wanted a poetic, theatrical feel to the Revelations album, like an intro to a movie, where spoken word started the dream as we embarked on the versatile and multi-faceted genres all blended together to an introductory album of revealing topics about our humanity as a whole and less identifiable than Ealdfaeder. I knew the second release would be more our main direction and sound as a whole. I wrote the last EP with the musical intent to give our full-fledged rawness in an epic voyage. Without today's deceiving bore of copycat genres and albums, we wanted to offer our best at date and put our full passion for metal at the forefront and less of a theatrical aspect - more music and message. It felt great and we will give nothing but more of the Ealdfaeder feel on albums to come. We have already embarked on writing our next album already.

How are the different visual elements of the cover art tied in to the music, lyrical topics and one another?

They are hand-in-hand; throughout the album the message remains the same. Visually, you have the ancient Celtic circle encompassing the Stonehenge background and DNA strand which in itself is overlapped by a Neanderthal male hunter holding hands with a Sapiens princess skeleton. This pays respect to our heritage of human hybridization making us the people we are today. We might go far with our message, but it remains a recalling of humans roots, our relation with nature, our story to tell and respect toward each other’s cultures, beliefs and bloodlines making up the world today; diverse, blooming of beauty and rich relation to nature in the fields of shamanism, medicines, ancient sciences and foods no matter where we are from on Earth. Being of European descent, we represent ourselves and embark on a quest we share with all cultures globally whom have been colonized, forgotten and assimilated. A common topic for environmentalist today is seen with our bassist's Cesar Franco's South American/Amazonian peoples. Their losses have been detrimental the past 50 years due to capitalism and deforestation. We speak for all in respect and equality, in loving our heritages as well. The top of the EP cover is an Elk, the the Irish Elk, Megaloceros, the largest deer species to have walked the Earth, which our ancestors hunted for survival in the ice age.

What's in the band's plans once the EP is out and available?

Work on our live presentation and play as many key shows as possible to get the band out on the market, spread the message and get the following possible to enable us to embark to the next level as a band. We hope to be invited to shows that will ignite the love for our personal passions and touch the hearts of the masses. Write as many possible tracks to offer a full album as soon as possible, we love the process and I love working the arrangements and producing. We really are a machine and inspiration is our main drive.

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