Interview with Antoine Guertin (drums) - Aeternam, February 2010


Formed in 2007 in Quebec City, Aeternam has been preparing to unleash their own brand of epic death metal upon the world. Combining classic death metal with epic melodic soloing and middle-eastern influences, Aeternam has fine-tuned its craft and made it into a blend of brutality and melody. Their first studio release and Metal Blade Records debut 'Disciples Of the Unseen' is just released, time for the PowerofMetal to get to know more about it.


Please introduce the band to our readers?


Antoine Guertin: We're Aeternam, from Quebec, Canada, since 2007.  On vocals and guitars, you've got Achraf Loudiy. On second guitar, you've got Alex Loignon. On Bass, Jonathan . Jo is also doing live death vocals. On Keyboards, you have one crazy dude name Sam Dubois and finally, on drums and also filling out this interview, Antoine Guertin.


How is the writing process for a Aeternam song?


Antoine: Usually, that would be Ash, our frontman, who would come up with a song in a very beta and raw version.  After we discussed the riffs, structured the song, fine crafted the lyrics and made all the arrangements, we start to jam the song in our rehearsal place.  That's where the final version comes out.


Metal Blade is one of the bigger labels in the metal scene, how did Aeternam get a deal with this label considering that 'Disciples of the Unseen' is just your debut?


Antoine: Yes, Metal Blade is definitely an awesome label, and we're proud to have the chance to work with them.  It happened quite randomly actually.  After we received the final master of the album, we uploaded a couple of songs on our MySpace page.  After we had a couple great local reviews, Metal Blade guys came in and offered us a deal: They loved our songs, sound and style.  It's awesome now to know that our music and message will be known worldwide.  It gives the right motivation to keep up doing this.


Do you have a contract for more albums with Metal Blade?


Antoine: Well I prefer to keep a low profile on what are the terms of our contract.  But let's say we'll be working hard to make the second album even more interesting than the first one, for the fans, and for the label.


You hail from Canada and your classic death metal is combined with middle-eastern melodies, where did this idea come from and were you inspired by Nile or Orphaned Land?


Antoine: Yes, in some way.  I could add Melechesh too.  But we don't sound like any of those bands don't you think? We're not as brutal as Nile, but a bit more than Orphaned Land... Well, it just came out that way.   Nevertheless, the bigger influence would be Ash, our frontman, who comes from Morocco.  He left his country 3 years ago to Canada for study purpose.  I met him at school actually.  That music has always been part of his life you know, so it's kinda for him easy to 'feel' it.  The other guys and I quickly went into those scales, beats and sounds too, so it has now become natural for us to use them when we play music.


The title 'Disciples of the Unseen', is there a certain message behind it?


Antoine: Literally it would mean the Disciples of those we do not see. I mean God, gods, etc.  All those dogmas and super ultra beings man believes in.  We try to be a bit more original than just saying that God is an ass-hole you know... We try to add a bit of colours and imagery behind our message.


Is there a lyrical concept?


Antoine: With what I said earlier, you've probably noticed that we aren't pro-religion.  It is another reason why Ash left his country.  He couldn't say what he wanted, you know.  Living in a Muslim country doesn't give a lot of chances regarding liberty of expression against religion.  Here in Canada it's easier for him to shout it out loud and the band is the pillar that supports his hate.  We are using metaphoric images from ancient civilizations (Ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Mayan, etc) to deliver our more actual message.  Pantheons of the first civilizations of our world are the fundaments of all modern religions, so I think it's legitimate to use them in our lyrics.


If you have to describe your music to a stranger, what would you tell him/her?


Antoine: We play Metal!  Some people around called us 'oriental symphonic death metal'.  Actually it kinda fits with the mood of the music in my opinion: Epic tracks, brutality, harmony, growling and clean vocals, all stuffed with oriental melodies. That's what you you'll hear.


A nice album-cover, what does the band want to express with it?


Antoine: It is somewhat bound with the album title.  You see a Djinn eating the eye of Horus.  The demon would be the evil inside us that is rejecting his religion.  It is one of our metaphoric ideas that combine actual issues with ancient civilizations elements (the Eye of Horus is an Ancient Egyptian symbol and the Djinn an ancient Arabic demon).  But you know, I like it when people make their own interpretations, it leaves a more personal space for them. 


I read a few reviews and some are very good, but I also read one that stated that the clean singing was not that good, the intro's too long and the sound not heavy enough to outshine. Do you have sleepless nights if someone writes such things about the music you created?


Antoine: Absolutely not! It is impossible that everyone like something.  You see, some people said that the clean vocal sucked, so what, many more said that they dig it.  If someone just doesn't like the intro, then he should just skip it and listen straight to the other tracks.  We certainly take all those comments in consideration, but we don't beat ourselves up with them.


Is there a big heavy scene in Canada at the moment?


Antoine: Yes! There are a lot of great bands from Canada actually.  But I'd say the best concentration of bands would be from Quebec.  Think of Kataklysm, Unexpect, Despised Icon... Yet there are a lot of great bands still unknown too. You should check out those dudes: Southern Cross, Kälter, Unfallen, Farsight... Being of the first few bands from Quebec to sign with Metal Blade is awesome in that way too, we're helping putting Quebec on the map for international labels and public, and if they take a closer look they'll find a lot of wonders here.


Are there any touring plans and if so, do you come over to Europe too?


Antoine: See, there's nothing ready to be told now.  We're discussing plans for intense touring this summer, and Europe might be an option.  I personally never went to Europe, so that would be the trip of my life you know, going to Europe for the first time to play music. That would be awesome.  We'll make it to Europe one day, sooner or later I tell you!


Are you a metal fan that buys lots of albums and if so, what were the best 5 you have bought lately?


Antoine: Yes I do! But I don't buy only Metal albums.  That is one cool thing about Aeternam, everyone in the band doesn't listen exclusively to metal.  Best recent catches would be: Porcupine Tree - The Incident, Ensiferum - From Afar, Behemoth - Evangelion, Jason Mraz - We sing, we dance, we steal things and the soundtrack from the movie Kingdom of Heaven (God damn, this is so great).


Anything else you want to share with our readers?


Antoine: Thank you so much for the spot! Visit our MySpace page to hear a few tracks of the album, and drop us a little hello.  And if you like what you'll hear, go buy it!  Horns up and stay metal!  Cheers.


Interviewed by Reinier de Vries

Aeternam - Disciples of the Unseen

Album available on Metal Blade Records.