Rise Of The Daimon: AGATHODAIMON Talk Return And Creation Of The Seven

April 2, 2022, 2 months ago

By Dillon Collins

feature black death agathodaimon

Rise Of The Daimon: AGATHODAIMON Talk Return And Creation Of The Seven

After nine long years of hiatus and lineup shuffles, German symphonic black metal luminaries Agathodaimon are back with their aptly titled seventh album The Seven, their first full-length since 2013’s In Darkness. 

Newly minted bassist Von Yanesh sat down with BraveWords for a deep dive into his entrance into the band, the complex recording process for The Seven, his introduction to symphonic black metal and his favorite albums.

BraveWords: To say this album has been a long time coming would be quite the understatement. It's been, what, nine years since the last record? And factoring in the pandemic fans have really waited for this one. I'm sure the feeling must be mutual within the band.

Von Yanesh: “Yeah, of course. We went on hiatus, I think it was 2013 or 2014. To clarify, I joined the band in late 2019, so this is just me telling for the other guys. They went on hiatus for personal reasons. I mean, Sathonys had his second child, so priorities just changed. He was there for his family and just taking his time. And yeah, when the kids got older and weren't relying so much on him he got back into the idea of or continuing Agathodaimon. So he called up Ashtrael, the singer and the other guys who were in the last line up of Agathodaimon, but they all went on to other projects. For example, the old bass player doesn't do anymore music, as far as we know, and the drummer is now playing with The Spirit. So he started recruiting a lot more people and I was the last one. I auditioned in late 2019 and then was officially announced in 2020.

“I think I auditioned in October or November of 2019 and I got the part at the end of 2019. So we started rehearsing in 2020 for a big comeback show in early April. And yeah, I think two weeks prior we all went into lockdown and that was it. It was horrible. It was really horrible. I think we announced being back together on the 20th of February or something, and three weeks later it went all down and it's like ‘OK, here we are now. We are back and we are leaving. Bye! That was fun.’”

BraveWords: That's unbelievable. And in terms of getting the repetitions in and playing, not even talking about new music, but just getting that chemistry built up, especially for the three new members, you know, how difficult was that? Did you have to do things remotely, whether it be Skype or Zoom? Take me through those earliest times of the pandemic with this relatively new lineup.

Von Yanesh: "Nakhateth and Mortos, the guitarist and drummer, they had been with Agathodaimon I think in the beginning of 2019, so there was more chemistry going. For me it was OK because we talked a lot during the beginning of 2020 and when the pandemic hit we had all gone into lockdown. So we didn't do any secret meetings or anything. We just worked remotely and we did a few Skype sessions here and there. To use that momentum from the comeback we did a few playthrough videos of our stuff. Each of us did a single playthrough and we did I think it was three or four playthroughs of our songs, just to have something to put out. We used every opportunity we got when it came to softer restrictions. I'm not sure if that's the right word, but when restrictions were not so hard anymore, you know? Then when we could meet we did, for every chance we got. 

"So we met, had a rehearsal, worked on new stuff, and then a week later it all went down again. It was this wave of we didn't know where we were going. But most of the time Nakhateth and Sathonys were sending ideas back and forth. When the ideas were kind of workable, I guess we all got a demo and put in our ideas, sent them back and then we had a rehearsal and tried it if it works, you know? And yeah, we really took that one far. When it came to recording the album I think it was the fall of last year. It's funny, since the pandemic time it's such a weird subject. I have no idea. I think it was two or three weeks prior to recording we had our final rehearsal where we finally could hear all the new songs in a room played live. And even then we realized some parts aren't working or we have to change that and this and have to change that again. And then we went into recording. It was tough, but I think we got through it and I think we put out a great record all of us are really proud of." 

BraveWords: Backtracking for a moment. Were you a fan of the band initially or in your earlier days before you joined. I know symphonic black metal was really gaining steam in Europe during your younger years?

Von Yanesh: “I was a big fan, or I still am a big fan, of Cradle Of Filth or Dimmu Borgir. My second metal record was Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. And it's still one of my favorite records to date. So I was into symphonic black metal. To be honest, Agathodaimon, I only knew ‘Serpent’s Embrace’, the song. I had it on a sampler. I love that song so much. As you know you are a teenager, you have to save up money. So what record are you going to buy? Is it this or that? And it never was an Agathodaimon record to be honest (laughs). But I love that song. I had it on my old MP3 player and listened to it up and down, up and down. And it's funny because that song, we always say jokingly, is this disco keyboard. But I love that song so much.  All of my friends back then, they were all into Immortal and Gorgoroth and all that really true black metal stuff. And I came up with this. ‘Hey, do you know these guys Agathodaimon? They have this really great keyboard part!’ 

“Dude, that's not music.” 

“Yes, it is!”

“So I have this question that came up a lot in interviews and I really reflected that that song was a really important song for my musical journey because that was one song when I realized it doesn't matter if it's true or if it's whatever. If I like the song, it can have blast beats and disco keyboards. And later on I played in a melodic death metal band called All Will Know, and the leader of that band was a guitar player for Agathodaimon. Every step I took on my musical journey was closer to Agathodaimon, which is kind of funny in hindsight.”

BraveWords: The whole true black metal thing always has kind of bothered me because it's like you said, if you resonate with a record or a song or whatever it might be, what does it matter? Particularly a record like The Seven, it's so incredibly layered with the soundscapes, the different symphonics, the growls mixed with the clean vocals. You're really kind of being hit with walls of sound. From your perspective, was that a pretty conscious decision in the recording process to not have a typical metal record, but really be a fusion of styles? 

Von Yanesh: “It kinda happened. We didn't really have that plan, but it made sense because, for example, Nakhateth has this background in Megadeth and power metal. And that's where all these melodies and orchestrations come from. So he has a certain feel for it. For me, I have a degree in jazz and pop music, so that's why I'm not only playing root notes, which is black metal. Play 16th really fast and I was like, ‘Yeah, but maybe I can have a fill or a lick or something!’ And that's how this all came about. But Sathonys was there making sure that it would sound like Agaothadaimon. That was really important to him. So we had a ton of creative freedom. Boundary sounds so negative, but always under the moniker of Agathodaimon. 

BraveWords: From your perspective, in terms of the songwriting or themes of the record, a lot has been made about the seven and the record being called The Seven. Touching on things with the number seven and the seven deadly sins, does the band in any capacity consider it to be somewhat of a concept album?

Von Yanesh: “Yeah, it was planned as a concept album in the narrow way. So we started out thinking about, OK, let's do a concept album about the Seven Sins, but we quickly realized that other people did a good job doing that, movies or books or whatever. So there wasn't really anything to add to the subject. What you said, we broadened the terms a bit. So for example for the sin of gluttony, we have a song about obsession. So it's kind of like linked to it in a broader term.” 

BraveWords: I'm curious from your perspective, particularly now with this retooled band after nine years and three new members. The album's been out there now for a few days. What have you guys been hearing from critics and fans?

Von Yanesh: “Yes, so far the response is pretty good. No one said it's the best so far. It will always be Blacken The Angel, no matter what we are putting out. But yeah, everyone is happy so far with it. We were, I think, number seven on Metal Hammer Germany ... it was number 18 on Amazon Metal charts on Friday of the release date, which is pretty cool. So I'm pretty happy about it and all the reviews coming in are pretty good, besides the obvious ones who are always like ‘Yeah, it's Agathodaimon, but if you really like blah blah blah metal, then listen to this.’

“There are always these reviews, but most reviews, like you say, it's a layered record that has a lot to offer. It's a tough one. That one I heard a lot. It's a tough one. You can't sit through it in one take and have it. So you really have to listen to it two, three or four times to really grasp what it's about.” 

BraveWords: You mentioned your pop and jazz background, and I'm very curious about that. Do you enjoy it when that's applied to metal? I think of a band like Rivers of Nihil, and they've had records where they've incorporated jazz instruments and jazz fusion. A band like Ghost, who obviously is incredibly controversial for a lot of fans, they implement a lot of pop elements and pop song structure. With a background like yours, do you enjoy it when those different elements are applied to heavy metal?

Von Yanesh: “Yeah, always. I'm a huge fan of Rivers of Nihil. I love their stuff. Where Owls Know My Name is such a fantastic record. It's so great. Other bands like Archspire, or Obscura, I love them so much. They influenced my bass playing on such a high level. I love it, I totally love it. What I don't like is when you combine musical styles for the sake of it, for just combining them, then it's kind of pretentious, I think. 

“With a band like Ghost, to be honest, I just started listening to them. I was like, ‘OK, no, I don't care about them.’ I know they existed, but I never took the chance. It was like everyone was talking about them. I checked them out a few weeks ago. I didn't really know them. I was like, ‘OK, what is all the fuss about? Just listen to them.’ And I actually quite liked it. It's good hard rock music. It's like listening to Alice Cooper from the late seventies or something.”

BraveWords: Was there a definitive band or record in your early days that really turned you on to heavy metal where it was like, holy shit, and it changed your life to a degree.

Von Yanesh: “Yeah, it was Iowa by Slipknot. I remember the moment I first listened to it and I think I was 13, 14 years old. I was just running around my hometown and I knew how they looked. A friend had Iowa on a cassette player with him, and it was like, ‘Dude, you have to check this out.’ Okay, it's just Slipknot. OK, I'm excited. I know how these guys look, what is happening. And it was the intro of the song and that was the most disturbing thing I ever heard. And then ‘People=Shit’ started and it's like what the hell is going on? 

“So I knew bands like Rammstein. My mom listened to Queen a lot, so I knew hard rock or all this blown-up stuff. Or Marilyn Manson, I knew what this music is. But with Slipknot, that was totally blowing my brains out. And then I think a week later I got the record. My mom was really worried about me and that got me hooked on metal in general. Then I had a friend who gave me the Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia record and that was my next logical step. And afterwards it was Cradle Of Filth. I remember that. These three bands were my beginning. And from then it was this whole new metal genre with Soulfly and stuff like that.”

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