BLACK FRIDAY: ACATHEXIS Talks About Their Origin, The Human Condition, and the End of Fallen Empire Records
The human condition is something highly variable and often volatile. It's a constant state of flux and it differs between each person afflicted with it. We try to feed it religion, sciences, philosophy—anything to give it meaning or stability. Yet, for such an intimate malady, there are often a lot of external factors that send the personal machine into meltdown. The machine senses the outside stressors and, in some cases, shuts itself down. The human becomes numb to the stimuli and the very things that are supposed to make it human. This tumultuous occurrence is what the international effort of Acathexis conveys.
The trio of musicians came together in a rather unorthodox way. They were demos without a direction. It wasn't until their home, Fallen Empire Records, brought Belgium's Déhà (Yhdarl, Slow, Imber Luminis), California's Jacob Buczarski (Mare Cognitum), and, indirectly, Argentina's Dany Tee (In Element, Seelenmord, Downfall of Nur) together to form Acathexis. The veteran group of musicians has a fair share of experience between them. As one might expect, their first effort together is a scintillating debut of melodic and depraved black metal.
Across four tracks, all of which range from nine to 10 and a half minutes, the trio creates an introspective medium and a psychological analysis of humanity over fiery riffs and blistering drum patterns. The darker and somewhat abstract subject matter combined with the immaculate instrumentation made for a late-year pick for one of the best black metal albums and one of the fiercest albums Fallen Empire Records released in its final year. It's a swansong of sorts for a label that has played such a pivotal role in bringing the best black metal the world has to offer and a new endeavor for three musicians who have already built careers as respected and innovative minds.
Metal Injection: You three are all from very different parts of the world, but all involved in black metal to quite an extent. How did you three manage to find each other and come together to form Acathexis?
Jacob Buczarski: Well, I remember that it was actually Fallen Empire who originally showed me the demo tracks that Déhà made and was saying that he knew it would make a killer album if it was completed. I think Déhà was already working on a million other projects (per usual) and simply hadn't gotten back around to them for quite a while, right? The Fallen Empire label head thought I could help bring it to the finish line. The demo tracks were killer, so immediately I wanted to work on it. At the time it needed drums, vocals, and lots of polishing up.
Déhà: Yes, Fallen Empire had those demos for quite some time as I didn't really know what to do with them much (that reminds me of how We All Die (Laughing) started too) and then—well, to quote The Godfather—I was made an offer I couldn't refuse: working with Jake & Dany. I knew them from their previous works in their own bands and my answer could only have been "yes."
Jacob: Fallen Empire's thought was that I would perform the vocals on it as well but as I started working on it I actually didn't feel like I was the right person for the task. I thought that a more dynamic vocalist would be far better, and I was familiar with some of Dany's work on his other projects. I believe we had even already talked about collaborating on something together, so this was the perfect chance.
Dany Tee: I remember that when they told me the idea of working together, I agreed immediately because I feel a great admiration for their work.
Metal Injection: That's a really cool origin story and I think it ended up working out for the best because you three–though you're not in proximity of each other–really have some great chemistry on this debut. I imagine a lot of it comes from knowing each other's works.
Speaking of Fallen Empire, the label has unfortunately come to a close. They—in conjunction with your new label, Entropic Recordings, Jacob—released this debut effort.
That label has been such a tastemaker and curator of excellent extreme metal for years now. It's released music from other projects you've all been in as well, I believe. What are your lasting memories of the label or how has it helped get you to the point you all are at now?
Jacob: Well it's certainly the end of an era for me personally. Fallen Empire releasing Mare Cognitum on vinyl was a major milestone for me, it exposed my music to a very discerning group of listeners, and was released in a way that so respected the music… It was simply a great honor for me. Along with that, I consider Fallen Empire to be one of the most important entities in underground black metal, so the news left me pretty gutted for more reasons than one.
And finally, with Acathexis, this project simply would not have existed without Fallen Empire. But as I grew close with Fallen Empire's label head over the years, I've seen him break his back over this shit, so I completely understand and respect the decision to close the doors and move on to new things. It's sad to think it is really over because it actually became a big part of my life! But it is absolutely for the best. So, my hope with Entropic is that I can perhaps fill at least some small portion of the void left by the absence of this great label.
Metal Injection: Fallen Empire was big for me too. They introduced me to a lot of cool and unique projects I might not have found on my own. It's certainly tough to see it go. I'm hoping Entropic works out too.
Shifting back to Acathexis. The name of the band reflects a lack of emotional reaction to events or interactions and the song titles themselves seem to indicate something very introspective, internalized, or personal. Would you all be willing to talk a little bit about the personal meaning behind this new adventure?
Déhà: When I started composing this album, my state of mind was not the best (oh, surprise), and as you know, I have 666 bands and when nothing really comes up for them, I tend not to create the 667th band. I try to go with the idea until I feel that I'm done—that the emotion is released. For this, I needed such fast-paced and melodic black metal that gave me the trips. I was trying to fulfill the emptiness I felt then. It was only when I read the lyrics when it all made complete sense. It's more than "understanding" the music. And then it was complete. This album was already a descent to some of my worst "pensées sombres," but the end result made it lucid. A lucid bad trip.
Jacob: I assisted with the lyrics, but Dany had the primary role there. I believe Dany began writing lyrics first and sent them to me, and they fit perfectly with the music, so I followed his lead. What he had written took a very introspective tone, like an internal dialogue, and while I can't speak for his inspiration specifically, it gave me the thought to approach the theme from a psychological angle. I decided to read up on anomalies in the psychological world—real tragedies of the human condition—for example, children raised in solitude, extreme situations of abuse, etc, and the result it has on human development. For example, read up on Genie the "feral child", if you haven't.
It tends to result in a complete lack of ability to process information and stimuli in a typical way. In the process of reading about these things I stumbled on the word "Acathexis"—a deadened response to the world around you, a complete lack of feeling, induced by trauma such as this. The human experience is riddled with trauma, and I believe this phrase encapsulates the lowest depths to which the human psyche can be driven to: a dead numbness, where one cannot be hurt anymore because one can no longer feel.
Dany: Jake was the one who suggested the name. I thought it was great, even for me being a psychologist; I would never have considered calling a band like that. It was perfect to write about situations where we are not in front of mere anguish but about a raw primordial state—something deeper. An experience that emphasizes the timeless and endless side of suffering. Such as the feeling of falling indefinitely without anything to hold on to, because there’s no chance to grasp a connection with something that backs away the feeling of that particular sensation.
I’m talking about losing it all, even the ability to feel. So the name Acathexis fits perfectly with what we were trying to transmit in this project. The songs were flowing into quite a solid form based on the chemistry that was brewing between us. Regardless the lyric composition, I don’t usually write the lyrics before listening to the music. I prefer to let the music guide the path of the words. I feel that way is more dynamic and the music is sending a strong message. It’s not like we mixed two separate things. In this album the lyrics were born from the music itself. That’s why we took our time.
There are few songs written by Jake with a few corrections of mine and vice versa. In some situations I started writing a lyric and Jake made annotations or corrections. Working that way made a severe impact in the meaning of the text and the vocal lines. We spent lot of time trying to find the "correct" line and the best way to say it, with the precise vocal texture that the specific part needed. Fallen Empire worked in the vocal production as well, I mean, all the members were so connected into what we want to state, each one of us in a deep introspective feeling that we all shared.
Metal Injection: This is certainly a very introspective and psychological project from you three and with this incredibly strong debut, where do you see this project going in the future? Are there plans to continue with Acathexis or is this something you'll pick up when you have the time?
Déhà: Oh, we're already talking about working again very soon for Acathexis. That's for sure!
Jacob: We actually have one more complete track that did not make it onto this album. It was the most experimental of the bunch, and we decided that it did not pace properly with the rest of these tracks. It will absolutely see the light of day at some point.
As for new stuff, yes we certainly plan on it. I would like to be more involved with the riff department, as I think our style of writing is very complementary, and I only had a chance to do a few guitar parts this time around. It would be a mistake to not explore this sound further!
Déhà: I second that a lot. Working as an entity is something I am really looking forward to!
Dany: Although we have just released the album, we are already thinking about the next one, I sure that in this opportunity the result will be much more intense and solid since throughout this time we have been getting to know each other and today the project works as a band pretty settled.
Jacob: Yeah, despite working remotely from one another, the process of making this album was quite smooth. I know working on another album would be a seamless endeavor now, judging by how this went and how we've gotten to know each other.