Diffusing the Malodorous: An Interview with Cadaveric Fumes

The French quartet known as Cadaveric Fumes have lingered in the death metal underground since 2011. After releasing a solid demo in 2012, and contributing two exceptionally violent songs for a split with Demonic Oath, Cadaveric Fumes set their sights on The Great Unknown and their weapons to “obliterate.” The result being Dimensions Obscure, an MLP of cosmic dimensions and seemingly boundless replay value. Without being the first death metal band to explore thematically the abyss beyond our little, blue rock, Cadaveric Fumes’ dedication to their new vibe runs deeper than cover art, lyrics, synth samples, etc. With Dimensions Obscure, the band completely revolutionized their sound without abandoning the ways of true death metal.

After spending the past two weeks marveling at the far out intelligence of their new MLP, I was granted an opportunity to correspond with one of the members of Cadaveric Fumes. What follows, then, is a conversation between myself and Reuben Muntrand, bassist of Cadaveric Fumes. Thanks again to Muntrand for his candid responses in this interview.

Reuben, thanks for agreeing to the interview. You play bass in Cadaveric Fumes, right? Do you handle any other duties for the band?

Dutch, thank you very much for your interest in our band! I am indeed the bassist in Cadaveric Fumes, and this is my only duty within the band.

You weren’t on the demo, but you did help with the layout, according to my research. What changed? How’d you end up joining after Macabre Exaltation?

I indeed wasn’t in the band at the time of the demo, however I only helped for the layout of the 12’’ reissue of the demo in 2013, and at that time I already was a full member of the band. When the demo came out in 2012 as a tape through Impious Desecration Records, I wasn’t involved with the making at all: I barely even knew my future band-mates. However, since Oliver from Impious Desecration is a friend of mine, he told me about that promising local Death Metal band, so I immediately pre-ordered the tape (actually, I was the only one to do so), and I attended to their first two live-shows (their only two public gigs without me). I loved that dark and evil music they were doing!

Our town Rennes (or Roazhon is Breton) being a medium-sized one, you quickly get to know anyone involved in the old-school Metal scene. Therefore it was only a matter of months until I met the three guys from the band. One night, at a Metal happening in some bar, Léo Brard, [Cadaveric Fume]’s drummer, asked me drunkenly if I wanted to join the band. They didn’t knew if I was playing the bass or not (I actually only played the guitar back then), but wanted to give me a try because they felt I would fit in the band, humanely-wise. I learned, and loved, to play the bass, and quickly I joined the band as an official member.

Speaking of the demo, Macabre Exaltation is a much more conventional death metal affair, especially compared to Dimensions Obscure. Do you think it’s important that a band first prove themselves to be capable of making exemplary death metal before journey into the peripheries of the genre, so to speak, as you’ve done on Dimensions Obscure?

This is a trick question, for I wasn’t involved with the demo at all; as for the also more conventional split-EP with Demonic Oath, I only played bass on the recording, but I did not take part in the making of the songs at all. I think it isn’t a matter of proving anything: when they composed the demo and the split-EP, nobody knew about them, none of them were involved in any Metal project in the past… So it was only the matter of three friends rehearsing in some garage only to have fun together. Therefore, they played the music they all loved: typical old-school Death Metal, in the vein of Morbid Angel or the Finnish scene. Little did they expect to get a fourth member a few months later, and to play in [Denmark's] Kill Town Death Fest one year later!

It's not an uncommon formula: release a demo and maybe a follow-up EP or full length of killer, but pretty standard death metal before eventually treading weird new ground. In the case of Cadaveric Fumes, what inspired you to go beyond the expected conventions of death metal and into the weird unknown?

Things changed since the early days of the band. We all grew a little bit older. Not much, but enough to get through that phase in which one finds every band paying its homage to the early days of Death Metal exciting. There are too much of these [bands] nowadays! Also knowing that people were expecting our follow-up made us want to release something great, much more ambitious than the early works.

Also, you have to know that our guitarist Wenceslas Carrieu isn’t your usual trendy metalhead; he has always been involved in Garage projects, and listens to various kinds of music. When I joined the band, as I am much more into Doom, Heavy and Black Metal rather than Death Metal, and because I listen to a lot of Psychedelic Rock, Punk, and so on, I got along well with him, and I somehow encouraged him to express his diverse influences within his writing.

Lyrically speaking, what brought about the thematic change when comparing Macabre Exaltation and Dimensions Obscure? What made you guys look up and consider the darkness beyond our world as a source of inspiration rather than focusing on death, burial, etc.?

Actually, this change wasn’t thought ahead. It just happened in a very logical way. Our singer Romain Gibet writes his lyrics, and he has always been heavily influenced by Lovecraft. When our music evolved to a more psychedelic form, he felt inspired to write more nebulous lyrics; but this was only a continuation of the unspeakable horror, a slightly different form of the same figure. Between death and the Beyond, there is only a step.

There is an overarching cohesion to all of Cadaveric Fumes’ material. For instance, “Vault of the Haunted Mist” isn’t very different from “Extatic Extirpation,” excepting of course the synth samples, the overall buoyant grooviness, as well as the pace of the latter. So, how does the writing process go down for Cadaveric Fumes? Does your guitarist Carrieu bring in whole songs, or is the process more of a collaborative effort between the entire band?

Wenceslas brings almost every riff, but we write the structure of the songs together on rehearsal. Even when we tried to evolve within our music, we remembered our older songs which worked quite well. “Vault Of The Haunted Mist” is a really seminal song for us, for it was the favorite song on the demo to many people, we tried to remember why it worked so fine when writing new songs.

Cadaveric Fumes’ has had practically the same lineup since the band started nearly six years ago. Do you think that's important for a band's success?

It all depends on the band. If some band has a mastermind, it may be better to change regularly… However in our case, it is more difficult. As I said, we write our songs together, and we’re all friends. I can’t imagine how it would be if any of us were to leave the band.

Please tell me how you achieved that “rubbery,” sort of “twangy,” guitar tone on Dimensions Obscure?

Wenceslas and our sound engineer, Romain Baousson, are close friends, and they manage to know an amp-collector near Rennes. Therefore we had the privilege to record our EP in his home-studio, in which there was an amount of old amps as unspeakable as our lyrics. They worked a lot on the sound of the guitar, recording it on various amps ranging from the ‘50s to the ‘70s. They even re-recorded the guitars a second time, because the sound on the first recording wasn’t satisfying enough. On my hand I had the honor to play on an old amp who happened to be owned by a bassist of Scorpions, and by the sound of it, it certainly wasn’t used for their later FM stuff!

Is jazz an influence at all? The solos in “Where Darkness Reigns Pristine” sound especially like chaotic saxophone.

Perhaps there are some, I should ask Wenceslas about his solos! What is sure is that he listens to Jazz, I remember well a day on the road when we were on tour this spring in which we had a debate together concerning Dave Brubeck. Also, we’re both into the work of John Coltrane, and perhaps plenty of others. Nevertheless, we never deliberately added Jazz influences in our music, this was never our concern. Perhaps on his side he did without telling us, or maybe that crazy sax you heard came rather from The Stooges or King Crimson.

What inspired the synth intros on Dimensions Obscure?

Wenceslas wrote all the intros. When he was composing them, he was listening to a lot of early Progressive Electronic music to get inspired, such as Space Art or John Carpenter.

Compared to many other modern bands, you take your time with releasing material. The result is incredible—every song is a prized possession—but so far all of your releases are very short. Can you say why this is? Is everyone so busy that getting together doesn't happen as often as you'd like, or do you all just spend a lot of time working on/working out the material before committing it to record?

It’s a bit of both, and it’s really frustrating for us, we’d love to write music faster! But we’re not always around to rehearse, also the fact that our songs are written at our meetings slows the writing process a lot, especially when we need to play our set-list to get ready for some gig instead of composing.

That being said, when can we expect a proper full length from Cadaveric Fumes?

Actually, we’re writing our full-length right now! Or at least, we’re supposed to… After our tour across Europe in June, we decided to stop all our live activities, so we can focus on writing songs at our rehearsals. Sadly, we were very busy this summer, and not even once did we get together… I hope that we’ll manage to start composing quickly, for we’re quite ambitious about that release. We want it to be a no-filler Death Metal onslaught, keeping our psychedelic and cosmic influences in them, but always rocking and always darker… Our EP was a time of experimentation, which always lead to some mistakes. We were looking for our new sound as a 4-piece band. We hope our album will be the time of mastery.

Could you please suggest some lesser-known French death metal bands, active or not, that our readers should know about?

My favorite early French Death Metal acts are Massacra and Mercyless. As for the more recent ones, I really love Necrowretch and Ritualization, and if you’re into weird psychedelic stuff, Chaos Echoes is a truly amazing band. If we talk about Death Metal in a very broad way, we could mention our Grindcore scene with legends such as Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition or Blockheads, or some Death/Doom Metal bands such as Ataraxie for instance. These are only my personal favorites, the scene is much bigger than that in our country, and I’m positive everyone into Death Metal can find a French band suiting his tastes.

Any plans to tour or play a fest stateside? I for one would love to headbang in person!

We’d love to! Touring is expensive and we’re still an unknown, underground band… We hope that in the future promoters will be interested in financing a tour on your side of the ocean.

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