Interview: Cadaveric Fumes (2021) | From The Bowels Of Perdition

Conversation with

Cadaveric Fumes

Let’s start this by drawing a parallel between where you are now in your private lives compared to where you were, for example, back in the Entwined In Sepulchral Darkness days. That said, is Wenceslas still an order picker and a full time guitarist, notwithstanding his formal qualifications as an English language teacher, does Reuben still study obscure theories and worship single malt Whiskey, is Léo still a demolition worker and, last but certainly not least, have you made a career in the promotion of cultural events yet?

Romain: Unfortunately, I never had a career in this overcrowded field, made other stuff instead. I’m now heading towards web development. Wenceslas moved to the north of the country where he lives with his wife, working as a stage technician and expecting a child. Reuben finished his PhD in mathematics and is now a teacher in a junior high school, the single malt worship, I think, is still strong. Léo stopped being a demolition man and started his own business of landscaping.

It feels that you have barely scratched the surface of your creative potential on Echoing Chambers Of Soul and that the band could have given so much more hadn’t you broken up. When you were discussing the decision, did at any point the promise of leaving a respectable musical legacy behind you, both quantity and quality-wise, threaten to outweigh those personal reasons that eventually led to a split-up?

Wenceslas: There’s a French saying you could put Paris in a bottle with “if”. Mark my words, the band could not have given so much more if we had not broken up. One day we decided it had to end, and suddenly we could do anything we wanted. Suddenly the burden of tomorrow was gone and it freed us to be as ambitious as we wished. And what we wished the most was to make a great death metal album. And not just any great album, but a classic. Something that would leave its carve in the stone, in our hearts at least. Something we would be proud to listen to when we get old, too old. Of course, it is exciting to hear the result and imagine what the audience is gonna think of it, and we do hope people will remember us this way. Cadaveric Fumes could not end in a simple announcement on Facebook. But we are no fools, Cadaveric Fumes had to die and that is one of the reasons why this album turned out the way it did.

Was it with a heavy heart that you decided to lay everything to rest, with the band arguably reaching the apex of its creative curve? How difficult it was to make that decision and come to terms with it?

Romain: It was not an easy thing to accept that the band would not pursue anything after the recording of the album, yes. The decision had been made quite early, way before we even planed all the studio details. We were close to not even record the album actually, but I insisted that it would have been a massive letdown to stop without releasing at least an album, especially since we teased it for years and had been working on it for months, restructuring the line-up and everything. This is indeed the band at its best in my opinion, but we would not have permitted it to be otherwise. It had to be our best record, so the band could die in peace.

Cadaveric Fumes Interview

Now that you have finally gotten this album done, are you afraid that the itch to sit down and write another one will eventually haunt you, considering how remarkable this one turned out to be?

Wenceslas: Quite the contrary, I have been struggling with inspiration in a quasi-existential manner for a long time, and this album gave me hope to go on as a musician. It reminds me that I am plenty capable of making something worthy of my time and effort, something that I have known forever but always struggled to realize. This is not the end of it all, for sometimes one needs to die to be reborn.

Burning yourselves into the album until you burned the band itself is how you explained the band’s relationship with this album and the cost that eventually had to be paid for even setting out on that journey. Could you elaborate on that very powerful sentiment a bit deeper, and the fact that the band’s crowning achievement ultimately became its downfall and demise?

Romain: To put it lightly, the recording has been quite a pain in the ass. I will not go into boring details but we struggled to get the guitar sound we were looking for. It took time and a lot of sacrifices to be 100% satisfied with it. In the end, we had Wenceslas solely recording the guitars and letting Reuben go during the recording process. We literally had to tear the band apart to have this album done.

Talking about this record recently, you said that you dreamt about it for a long, long time. Given the circumstances, do you maybe feel that you shouldn’t have let yourselves dream about it for so long, that you perhaps wouldn’t have ended up so exhausted and burnt out had you put the wheels in the motion earlier, and switched from thinking to acting?

Wenceslas: That is true and we all have our share of regrets looking back to what we did and how we were. For one, it was me who composed all the music and it always took me a long time to make a song, but often ended up unsatisfied with the result anyway. Then again, if wishes were horses… I do believe we did our best in this ten years long adventure to make it worthwhile, and we have our share of fond memories with the band, but it could not have ended otherwise. Cadaveric Fumes was doomed to be a struggle. The day we realized this tragedy, in the philosophical sense of the term, we knew it had to die.

Is the split-up even more bittersweet for the fact that your final album is actually your debut album as well?

Romain: We had a long period of time between the moment we decided it was over and the actual release of the album. Time enough to grieve and overcome the bitterness. At the time of the mixing process, my only concern was for the album to sound as good as possible and I’m very glad and proud of what we achieved and how the finished product ended up. I’m actually glad there is a finished product, to be honest. I don’t think we could have given much more, especially in this context.

Would you say that Echoing Chambers Of Soul is consistent sensibility-wise, without any significant peaks and valleys, or do you feel that it covers a wide range of moods and emotions, that it is mercilessly crushing and beautifully uplifting at the same time?

Wenceslas: Cadaveric Fumes has never been about pure violence for the sake of pure violence, and I get easily bored with bands that are too monolithic. It has always been about balance. Awe is both positive and negative, shadows only exist when light is elsewhere, and there is no tragedy without hope. But a dark spot needs to be clarified ˗ the emotions we try to convey are ancient, fundamental, simple, thus complementary. Death metal cannot be about doubt and uncertainty. Too many bands nowadays try to appear more nuanced by playing the sensitive card. It feels awkward and just does not work. All in all, we wanted this album to represent who we are as human beings, wandering the chaotic darkness of reality, forever seeking the shed of light and meaning.

Cadaveric Fumes Interview

There is something about the title Echoing Chambers Of Soul that implies emptiness, hence the echoing. What precisely did you have in mind when you came up with that interesting title?

Romain: I don’t remember exactly how or when I came up with the title, but I was looking for a title that would resume everything I always tried to convey in my lyrics. Something that would be the synthesis of our journey. Those chambers deep within the soul to me are endless and hide the marvelous, the obscene, the phantasms, the fears, the transcending. It opens a lot of possibilities lyrics-wise, it is a bridge between the psyche and the mysteries that lie within the stars. The idea of speaking of the mind while using an architectural metaphor was also very appealing to me for some reason.

Apart from its evident aesthetical value and the sheer impact of the image, are there any additional layers to the front cover of Echoing Chambers Of Soul as it pertains to its meaning? Does the cover stand in close correlation with the album title, the lyrics, or maybe even with the fact that the band is about to vanish into obscurity from which it came from in the first place?

Wenceslas: Fun fact is that this cover was not custom made. We really love Adam Burke’s work so we looked through his available art and stumbled upon this amazing painting and it just clicked. It was perfect. Which in a sense gives it a deeper meaning indeed. To me, it just looks like a classic piece of art, picturing fundamental aspects of human existence ˗ life and death, darkness and glimmer, magnificence and insignificance. That is what this album is all about.

The press release for this album says that the band spent five years wandering, trying to reinvent its sound, searching for a meaning to keep on playing this beloved genre of music, through sweat and blood. Would you say that you have found that meaning, ultimately?

Romain: I speak for myself when I say that I would have stopped my involvement in music a long time ago if I couldn’t find meaning in what I’m doing. So my answer is yes. Then again, the struggle with Cadaveric Fumes was always about the simple question do we still have something to say? The answer is on the record I guess.

How smarter and wiser do you feel now, leaving through the exit door of what Cadaveric Fumes was, meant, and represented, compared to where you were mentally and intellectually entering in? What are some of the most profound insights and realizations you garnered along the way about yourselves as individuals, the band, and the music you dedicated the best ten years of your lives to?

Wenceslas: I think the most important lesson we have learned throughout the years is that bands are like couples, you get together, share the most intimate aspects of your personality, make amazing memories together. Then you have to manage conflicts, criticisms, disagreements, frustrations, etc. Ultimately, you realize that you have to choose between friends and bandmates, and even though they can come together, they don’t always do. But you don’t need a band to be friends, only to be bandmates. In a good band, music always comes first. That is the hard lesson.

Cadaveric Fumes Interview

Is it true that some of the songs didn’t make it to the album, that they had been written and then thrown away? How much music do you believe was discarded, quantitatively speaking, more or less than what ended on the album?

Wenceslas: The whole album was written in one piece, so to speak, and apart from a song like Voidgazers that was re-written almost entirely, we did not have to throw anything away. There were a couple of songs from the 2017 demo that were abandoned, but they simply did not match the quality or even style of those that made it on the album.

When it comes to your portfolio, do you believe that the quality control by the band wasn’t always impeccable and that some songs that weren’t quite up to par somehow found their way to some of your releases? In other words, is there such a thing as a bad Cadaveric Fumes song? Among the recorded ones, of course.

Romain: I am pleased with all the releases we did, the 2017 demo being the only exception. We’ve always worked democratically in the band and it was one against three in favour of releasing that demo, but I still feel it was not worthy of a proper release, especially not after Dimensions Obscure. We ended up having it as a merch-table only release and very few people heard it. I rarely listen to our past releases but I’m glad they exist. It’s a testament to who we used to be during our twenties which is kinda interesting, no matter how cringy some of them might sound now (laughs).

Speaking of Dimensions Obscure, would it be fair to say that the band was slowly starting to come into its own with that EP, that Echoing Chambers Of Soul probably wouldn’t be possible without it?

Romain: Exactly, this is where we started to have our name spread around the map. We had a great response with the first demo as well, but nothing comparable with Dimensions Obscure. The record made it to a few top year lists in the US which brought us a lot of attention I think. And to this day it seems that we have a better following in the US than in Europe, oddly. This record definitely helped us to find a certain way of putting unorthodox guitar melodies and leads into our mix. This is also where I started to clarify where I wanted to go with the lyrics and themes for Cadaveric Fumes. However, we never had the idea to do an album version of Dimensions Obscure at all. Each of our releases sounds quite different. But I think we managed to synthesize specific aspects of all of them for Echoing Chambers Of Soul.

Was writing music always a struggle, a process you would deem draining and exhausting above all else?

Wenceslas: As said, Echoing Chambers Of Soul was written after we decided to finish the band so it came out easier. I felt free when I composed it because I knew it would be over after this one. Then again, I have been playing with other bands, even in different genres, and writing music was always a painful process. Even today it is still difficult for me to write songs. It has to do with the way I approach composition, particularly in metal. I have never composed out of love for metal but out of frustration. Because no band I had ever listened to was perfect to my ears. I do not think I have ever really wanted to make a homage to the genre, but rather to put out the music I could not hear elsewhere. I think that is why the people who like what we do find that we have a peculiar sound. I am proud of this album for this reason. It represents what I qualify as quality death metal.

Cadaveric Fumes Interview

In spite of never finding anything that sounded perfect to your ears, were there any bands of your generation that you were at least somewhat inspired by, whose work motivated you and pushed you into a healthy competition, for the lack of a better word, or were you always and exclusively inspired only by the classics of the genre?

Romain: Back in 2011, when we started the band, there was a huge boom in the European underground scene in terms of death metal. Also, the fact that we caught Blood Harvest’s interest very early made us realize there was something to do. We met so many quality people in those early days, especially in the Kill-Town Death Fest, where we would go religiously each year from 2011 to its demise in 2014. It was something that motivated us for sure. Bands-wise, we were very influenced by the decrepit rot-infested sound of the Finnish death metal of the ’90s, also US bands of course, Morbid Angel being our all-time number one influence and plenty of other stuff, as you can imagine. In terms of newer bands, I think Morbus Chron was one of those that we thought was above the rest, especially their 2012 EP.

While it was around, did Cadaveric Fumes serve a purpose in your lives that was perhaps greater than the music itself? Did you see the band as some kind of emotional vent, or maybe even a form of self-inflicted psychotherapy?

Romain: Yes, for sure. Having a band, releasing stuff through a real label, traveling to play abroad. This was my childhood dream. Not that we made it big, but still, it was all new to me, so yes, it was more than just playing music in the garage with my friends. Cadaveric Fumes has been the vortex that drained much of my thoughts and focus during my twenties. I wouldn’t say it was psychotherapy but it definitely gave me something to achieve and be proud of, other than the usual things like school, works, family, etc.

Do you take pride in the fact that you’re going out on your own terms, without compromise, regardless of how irrational that decision may seem to the outside world considering that the band has never been better?

Wenceslas: I firmly believe that what makes this album special is in part the fact that it marks the end of our chapter. It is better to burn out than to fade away. Nothing is sadder than a good band releasing two or three bad albums before disappearing.

Ultimately, when it comes to Cadaveric Fumes and all choices and decisions the band made over the years, do you have any regrets?

Romain: I would like to say I have no regrets but I would be a liar. We had our share of frustrations. I wish we could have capitalized on the momentum we had right after Dimensions Obscure EP. And by that I mean more touring. We could have gone higher. However, I’m also very proud of what we achieved. These years have been incredibly formative and made us who we are today. All in all, the positives outweigh the negatives.

How would you like Cadaveric Fumes to be remembered?

Wenceslas: As a great death metal band.

 

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