It's always nice to hear bands that not only rip shit up but can also find the time and talent to compose some serious songage. Last week, French-Canadians Incandescence dropped their debut album of rollicking black metal full of actual chops and interesting structures. After releasing a few songs on their La Valse des Ombres EP two years ago, the duo burrowed deeper into their collective darkness to create nearly 40 minutes of black metal informed by all the usual suspects (punk, melancholy rock, death metal, etc.). They sent us a song to share with you called "Devorer Le Temps" - not really our pick for most representative or outstanding track, but who are we? - but you can also check out (and buy) more of the album here at Bandcamp. The Incandescence guys also told us all about the band's drive and recent exploits, which you can read following the music player.
Is Incandescence an equal collaboration/partnership between members, or is it primarily Philippe’s musical project with vocal contributions from Dystre?
The band's only permanent members are Philippe Boucher (who composes all the music, plays all the drums, guitars, bass guitar) and Dystre Fjell (who composes the lyrics, does the vocals and takes care of the visual aspect such as album covers, artwork, etc). It was necessary to hire session musicians (Marc-Antoine St-Onge on the bass guitar, Maxence Bégin and Mathieu Meunier as guitarists) to perform live, but they are not present on the recordings.
What musical or lyrical motivations drive the Incandescence sound?
The lyrical inspirations come from various litteral sources (H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker) as well as inspiration from visual sources like Beksinski's paintings, H.R Giger's haunting works and other surrealist artists. Our vision takes you inside the darkest corners of the mind, to explore hostile environments that may alter your perception of life permanently.
The musical inspirations come mostly from the second wave of Norwegian Black Metal, and other countries too (Ukraine, Sweden). We try to create a dark and glacial sound, while keeping the aggressive factor very present. We don't want to sacrifice technicality for ambiance, as we believe in a perfect blend of both to create an interesting brand of black metal. The constant shift in the music keeps the listener interested and challenged. Phil's main instrument is the drum, so the priority is on giving himself challenges with his playing while keeping in mind his driving influences. The guitars are more simple, because it isn't his main instrument. The focus is more on effectiveness and direct support of the drums.
How does this band achieve its goals differently from your other musical projects?
This is Dystre Fjell's only musical project, as he has a diploma in visual arts. The other bands in which Philippe Boucher plays in are Beyond Creation, First Fragment, Chthe'Ilist (as the drummer) and his one-man black metal project Décombres. They all require constant practice, shows and touring. Most of them (except for Décombres and Chthe’ilist) have full-time members, so that makes a world of difference regarding time investment. For Incandescence, we keep in touch regularly and pitch ideas to each other regarding the direction that the new material is taking. We try out some ideas, as Dystre Fjell can also play some drums, and that process is very rewarding for the quality of what we put out.
Your new album contains material from your 2011 EP. Have those songs grown or changed at all for you since that EP was released?
We completely re-recorded both of them (La Valse des Ombres and L'Abîme du Rêve), but there were only minor musical and lyrical changes. The musical structure is the same.
What was the recording process like for the new album? Anything particularly difficult or surprising along the way?
The songs were almost finished for a while (about 2 to 3 years ago) and everything was finalized before the recording, so we came in the studio very prepared. The recordings went smoothly with us trying to make it sound as natural as possible (fewest takes and cuts, less studio editing). Phil was using triggers for his bass drums, but it won't be the same for our upcoming albums. We are very pleased with the results, as we managed to do what we wanted in the first place.
It seems like there are a lot of great musical partnerships coming out of your geographical area. Do you feel like your location has a fertile heavy music scene with lots of ideas and communication among musicians?
The scene is indeed very crowded with talented musicians, but the communication factor mostly plays in other extreme metal scenes (technical death metal), with musicians playing in 2, 3, even 4 bands at a time. The black metal scene is mostly based in Quebec City, so we don't have as much contact with the others. There is a mutual respect, but black metal is more about individuality, to elevate your art first and foremost.
How much have you had the opportunity to play these songs live?
We have played 2 gigs since the birth of the band, last April with Neige Éternelle, Csjethe and Absu, and our album release at the Messe des Morts III festival with Ptahil, Demonic Christ and Baptism. Both have been met with a very good response from the audience. Even with that in mind, we try to keep it at 3-4 shows per year to stay fresh and to keep bringing something new to the table every time. With the session members' various occupations and Philippe's busy band schedule, it fits perfectly.
How was your experience at La Messe de Morts III?
It was a complete success, as this show marked the release of our first full-length album Abstractionnisme. Lots of people came in to see us on Thursday night and gave us great reviews, bought some merch, so it looks as this is only the beginning for us! Playing in the most important black metal festival in North America really helped making this a great experience for us, as we have met a lot of passionate fans and musicians alike.
Anything else coming up in your near future you want to discuss?
Because the material on Abstractionnisme has been written for a while, we have a lot of new material ready that keeps getting closer to completion. The only thing left is arranging the vocals and recording the thing, all songs are done. We will be playing a couple of shows in 2014 and concentrating on laying down the tracks for a new release. Be ready for this, as it will be some of the most complex and intense material to date. The lyrical aspect will also be conceptual, an epic story that takes root in the last song on Abstractionnisme, “La Prophétie de la Lune de Sang”. Phil is always working on new material and he’s always experimenting with his instruments, so the compositions never [cease] to grow. We think that the best way to discover different ambiances and concepts for upcoming albums is to take different paths that we have not yet explored. We don't limit ourselves. The priority is to always create with the feelings that transpire from our music, to keep that black metal edge present and intact.