** Now that Slumber is ancient history, AtomA on ice, and Rapture in perpetual hibernation, few bands (let's give props to Enshine) have been able to take melodic doom-death to heights of awesome. Enter Fractal Gates. Formed in Paris, France, the members of Fractal Gates made one hell of a debut in Altered State Of Consciousness, but surpass all expectations with new effort, Beyond the Self. Read on as guitarist Stéphane Peudupin and vocalist Sebastien Pierre (also of Enshine; see interview HERE) tell the tale of Fractal Gates and why they're your new favorite band. How serious of a project is Fractal Gates? A full-time band, right? Stéphane Peudupin: Fractal Gates is a band that means a lot to us. We do what we like, no concessions. That said, Fractal Gates is not a full-time band in the sense that we all have jobs that take us a lot of time and we all have other activities. For example, I do martial arts, websites, etc. Fractal Gates is more like a important hobby for us all, plus you know that having an underground band is never gratifying financially, only a few bands in France do that full-time, like Gojira, etc.
What didn’t you want to repeat from the first full-length to Beyond the Self? I hear a lot of growth between the two albums. Stéphane Peudupin: We wanted to enhance the overall speed and dynamic with the new album. We thought the first album was OK, but had perhaps too much “vision” between the songs (synth interludes). We wanted also to have faster songs that would be even more catchy. We had better guitar and composition skills after the first CD, so we managed to create better composed songs with more variation, tempo changes, etc. The drums are also more complex.
I think a lot of metal bands forget the melodic or counterpoint qualities of the bass guitar. I hear a lot of, say, Rapture or Slumber in Fractal Gates. Allowing the bass guitar a bit more space. And for it to not always follow the guitar. Stéphane Peudupin: Bass is important in Fractal Gates, we like the groovy sound it provides and the huge bonus it brings to the songs. The idea is to not always follow the guitar rhythms, but to have a genuine bass line with its own rhythm. That is why we have some rhythm guitar lines that are less complicated and technical. But I don’t think the bass in Fractal Gates is constructed the same way as Rapture or Slumber. Sebastien Pierre: While Rapture is my favorite metal band, and that it inspired us, I don’t find the bass guitar that close to Fractal Gates. I guess, it’s more in this case a matter of clear production letting hear each instrument. I agree on the fact that Rapture and Slumber have ones of the richest bass guitar parts on doom-death albums.
I find Fractal Gates has good compositional sense. What do you think makes a good song? Sebastien Pierre: Good beer while composing? [Laughs] More seriously, I guess you shall have something to say musically. Preferably with some concept behind. Dig deeply, the melody you hear in your heart, and try to reproduce it with a fidelity and shape. Be sincere with yourself, deconstruct as many times as needed, to rebuild it until it sounds like what you felt originally.
What are your favorite songs and how do they play into Fractal Gates? Sebastien Pierre: Hesitating between "Timeless" and "Glooms Of Cyan." First one for the spacey chorus, close to "Skies Of Orion." And the second one for its doomy feeling. Stéphane Peudupin: Quite hard to say which ones I prefer more. I like the entrancing feel of "Reverse Dawn" and the melodies of "Everblaze" and "The Sign." I like the groove in "We Are All Leaders" and the doomy aspect of "Glooms of Cyan."
You tapped Dan Swanö to produce the record. Describe how that relationship came to be. I realize he’s a famous musician, producer, etc. Stéphane Peudupin: Dan is clearly a legend. I am a fan of his works (especially Edge of Sanity). I really like and admire his way of composing and creating melodies. I sort of understand what he does and really feel close to his musical style. We contacted Dan because we wanted a different sounding album and we thought that since our musical styles are not that much different, Dan could understand and handle our new CD perfectly. He is a very cool guy and gave us guidelines and some tips for the new CD. I really am proud that he put his vocals on two of our songs, plus I know he enjoyed recording the vocals for the Top Gun song “Mighty Wings” a lot, and that is great to know!
Septicflesh is one of your influences. Did Sotiris come onboard immediately for “Timeless” or did he take some convincing? Stéphane Peudupin: Septic Flesh is the band that got me into creating metal music. I really like Sotiris’s melodies and way of composing. It's really incredible for me to have two guitar lines of his un “Timeless.” We happened to exchange some mails a while ago, and I told him about Fractal Gates. I sent him “Altered State of Consciousness” and he said he really liked our stuff and particularly the song “The Eclipse.” I then talked to him about a new song we were preparing for Beyond the Self and asked him if he would be interested in recording some guitar parts for the song, he immediately approved! We then sent him the rough version of the song and he liked it very much. He recorded his parts and did a wonderful, inspired job, which confirms that he really liked what we did! That is a great honor!
How does the cover of Cheap Trick’s “Mighty Wings” fit into Beyond the Self? Stéphane Peudupin: This is a quite unusual track, I admit. It is a sort of '80s AOR (adult-oriented rock) with a incredible catchy melody and chorus. The sort of stuff that stays in your head, and that is precisely what we like! We recorded the cover song using a faster tempo and transformed it into a Fractal Gates song with clean and guttural vocals. We think, personally, that the song fits in nicely in the sense that it makes Beyond the Self breath a little. It brings freshness. Dan did an excellent job with the clean vocals; he recorded it the way he wanted and that is just perfect. I personally think it's a hit song thanks to him!
What’s the overall theme to Beyond the Self? Something like our collective minds have escaped the Earth to find we’re not alone? Stéphane Peudupin: Without going into details, as I like to let each one getting his own interpretation, Beyond the Self's themes are about introspection, alternative visions of life, out of body experiences, stillness, new world order, and indeed some alien-related lyrics like the eponymous track ["Beyond the Self"]. Some songs are more science fiction stories, as "Glooms Of Cyan," which depicts a civilization forced to flee wars by diving into an abyssal new realm.
So, since most of our readership is North American, where can metalheads find Beyond the Self? Apart from Youtube, of course. Support us if you like what you listened by purchasing the CD on www.fractal-gates.com (our Bandcamp). It's not expensive and the band gets all the money and not the label, and that is better! You can also purchase digital versions for a couple of bucks. I don’t think you can find the CD in North America in shops at this time.
** Fractal Gates' new album, Beyond the Self, is out now on Great Dane Records. Order it directly from the band HERE. Or, you can fly to Paris, try to find the guys walking around (not recommended, Paris is a big city), and convince them to take your American dollars on current Euro conversion rates. They probably will, considering you've traveled all the way to France for a CD, but we can't guarantee it.