Funeral Doom Friday: At Long Last, YHDARL Delivers the Great Loss
Finally, the weekend is upon us. What better way to kick it off than with the latest installment of "Funeral Doom Friday". For those who are new to this column; each week features a new or classic album from the realm of extreme doom. Much of funeral/death doom's might comes from an oppressive emotional weight and the use of death or black metal motifs (played at a trudging pace, of course.) Pioneers like Mournful Congregation, Evoken, and Esoteric have mastered this blend of dirge and destruction. For 25 years, they have methodically built compositions that stretch for dozens of minutes all while keeping fans enthralled. Time has elapsed since the days of Thergothon and much like the world around us, the genre has evolved. Today's modern bands contort the very construct of the genre, breeding darkly refreshing new work. Their work thankfully gives this column plenty of material to share.
Déhà is a bit of a mainstay in Funeral Doom Friday. Regular readers must certainly be aware of his many projects like SLOW and Yhdarl. He also does a lot of work behind the scenes producing, mixing, and mastering music for numerous bands. It's his work as one-half of the Yhdarl duo that intrigues me the most, however. The Belgian pair of Déhà and vocalist/keyboardist, Larvalis, craft a sinister mix of funeral doom, drone, and black metal. For a number of years, Yhdarl worked to release Loss—which Metal Injection is very proud to present today—yet many circumstances prevented its grand reveal. Now that Loss is upon us, it shows itself to be a fierce display—one, unlike any other Yhdarl album.
Loss utilizes much more black metal, especially early in the record on "Ignite – Ashes" and "Despise – Pity". It then slowly transitions into more drone and doom elements by its conclusion. This sort-of toying with genre norms is nothing new for Déhà. He's made a musical career out of this. I had a chance to discuss the new record, his extensive discography, and much more with him recently. Listen to an exclusive premiere of Loss and read our conversation below. The record sees its official release next Friday—the 19th—on I, Voidhanger Records.
Metal Injection: Loss has been a long time coming. I'm sure it is finally nice to have it released after all this time. Yhdarl and your many other projects combine for an extensive discography. What about Loss makes it special or unique to you?
Déhà: It was composed years ago, seven I believe, and it was lost five times. Hard disk failures, backup failures, like a curse if you will. Larvalis and I recorded the voices for this album on the first demo for it right after we finished Ave Maria. We had it in mind to go to something harsher, yet still fitting the same mood—and it just happened.
Loss has a special place for me as an album which I thought I couldn't make because of production needs. As you know, Yhdarl doesn't care much about production sometimes (demos, etc), but we both wanted something which would be "breaking" this image, especially after Ave Maria, which, back then, was the best effort I could afford as producer.
It also points to me that Loss is the last album I composed when consuming psychedelics, alcohol, chemicals, and acid. I'm tired of hiding myself behind stuff—I face my shit sober.
Do you find that your approach to creating or producing music has changed since you have become sober?
Absolutely. I've become more aware—and I suffer way more—which means the armistices are also more intense. This is not something I'd avoid, honestly. I've become fully aware of my phobias and anxieties on a medical level, then, of course, I could understand a lot of things more with my music: I needed to better myself as a person and a musician as well. That being said, it goes with accepting to live with one's demons. I've become calmer, sometimes, which enables me to actually work with or for people as a producer.
You mentioned earlier that you and Larvalis had the mind to find something harsher. I think that certainly holds true with Loss. Admittedly, before I listened to the record, I was anticipating something more like outright funeral doom or drone. However, there is a lot of black metal in this chapter for Yhdarl. Is this more blackened approach something we could expect in Yhdarl's future? It is undoubtedly a lethal concoction.
The future will tell. I can't really tell you about what's happening next because a lot of different albums are in the works. One of them goes back to the first album—Humainly Sick—with a better sound and a lot of guest vocalists. It means very slow funeral doom/drone. Another one is the sequel to Ave Maria, so you kind of know what to expect. I always keep on making "demos" with a more lo-fi sound that are semi-improvised. There's even the live recording of the gig at Brutal Assault last year, which is more chaotic black metal. I can't tell you.
Yhdarl is a purely cathartic band. I even remember one song on the bonus CD of Ave Maria, called "The Last" —which is pure drone ambient—it fit the band so well. I won't even speak about Antithesis, it's 5 continuous hours of noise/metal something. It just happens.
With this much musical output between your numerous projects, how does your mindset or writing shift between each of them? You already said Yhdarl is purely cathartic. How does that differ from Slow or your other projects?
Oh, I just don't know. Sometimes I can come up with a melody that starts as black metal but ends up in a hip-hop song. There are, nevertheless, several conceptual albums with which I had to be in a specific mindset. That was the case with Slow—I won't stress enough how much the input from Lore (lyricist of Slow) helped me on V – Oceans. It really depends. It's chaotic.
Well, whatever it is, it appears to be working for you. You've recently picked up record deals with I, Voidhanger Records for Loss and Aural Music released Slow's V – Oceans. You've been seeing some great returns from tireless work, but I've got to know… When do you find time to sleep?
When I can—I do. Sometimes I miss my harsh insomnia because I had more time. Now I find myself old enough to need to sleep, but I just work. I am trying to open my studio so I hope that becomes my full-time job. Producing is bliss for me.
You've certainly helped produce a number of records over the years. What about producing makes it so enjoyable for you?
That I become—through producing—an extra member of the band. It allows me to see further than I do in my own music. I have more ideas for arrangements, sounds, and definition… It's a real pleasure to be trusted by a bunch of people who share the same passion and let me handle their sound and increase the band's mood, specific aura, and originality. Most of the time, it's fun times. Between vocal coaching and making them say stupid things—the amazing discussions, the amazing reactions—it's awesome. You feel that you've helped, and that's sufficient for me.