R. Polon - Vocals
H. Cools - Guitars
G. Van Droogenbroeck - Guitars
J. Frederix - Bass
D. Degrieck - Drums
Today we are with the Belgian doom metal band Monads, you can read the review to their work (recently re-released by Ordo MCM) on our website.
Welcome on Aristocrazia Webzine, how are you doing?
H.: Fine, thanks.
I would start introducing your band and its members to our readers, over to you.
H.: Monads consist of five members, all coming from several regions in Belgium. One member currently lives in Sweden, though he is Belgian. We play a style of music that can best be described as crushing doom metal, and more precisely a mix between funeral doom and death/doom, with influences ranging from black and death metal to post-rock. The line-up is as follows: R. Polon (vocals), H. Cools (guitars), G. Van Droogenbroeck (guitars), J. Frederix (bass), D. Degrieck (drums).
You are all members of other young but already known bands, I think about Trancelike Void or Sanctus Nex. Which are the reasons that led you to create this new project and did your presence in those bands influence the creation of Monads' sound?
H.: The fact that we all have some background experience, is a very important factor in the band. The way we work and play together has been defined by our pasts. Every one of us has played in at least one band or project before, and several of us have worked together with one or more of the band members in other projects. This way, Monads often does not feel like something 'new', but a new way of expression by a gathering of people that already know the 'scene'. Most of us have experience regarding record deals, recordings, studios, playing and organizing gigs, etc. Our mutual past and interest is mostly in black metal, but most of us were into doom on a personal level since long before. For several years, I'd been walking around with the idea of forming a doom band with a complete line-up (meaning the band would be able to perform live without needing session members, or not only being a studio project). I had a clear view of what the music should sound like, and what atmosphere it would project. Officially, we began in January 2011, and by the summer of that year we had finished about an hour of music. In August 2011, we recorded the demo ourselves in the home-studio of member G.Van Droogenbroeck, which we released on fifty tapes on our first performance. And that's how it all started...
Talking about influences, in the review I mentioned Mournful Congregation since I felt your music to be similar to theirs. Which are the bands that inspire you? Do you work together on your songs or is there a main composer principale and then the other members put their own ideas?
H.: Yes, Mournful Congregation is definitely a very important influence for me, in particular the album "The Monad Of Creation". However, this is not the case for everyone in the band. A rather special thing in Monads is that most members have very different tastes, especially when it comes to doom. For me personally, I would say that (besides Mournful Congregation) the most important doom influences would Evoken, Esoteric, Loss, diSEMBOWELMENT, (older) Anathema, (older) Katatonia, Worship, Abyssmal Sorrow, etc. Besides that, there are some obvious or not so obvious black metal influences: Silencer, Shining, Forgotten Tomb, Abyssic Hate, etc. Also important to mention, is that some post-rock has influenced Monads as well, as is clear in the song "Broken Gates To Nowhere". Here, I can think of bands like Daturah, God Is An Astronaut, Mono, Red Sparowes, etc. But, once again, it is perhaps the variety of tastes in the band that give Monads their specific sound. For example: some members are rather huge fans of Deftones. All the music on the demo was written by the two guitar players (H. Cools and G. Van Droogenbroeck). Three of the songs were more or less written together and partly took shape in jam sessions with the entire band present. This way, all the other members took part in the arrangements of the songs. The other two songs were written and arranged solely by H. and G. (respectively). So, to conclude the answer: there are two main composers, but the entire band participates in the arrangements.
With a monicker like yours it's almost obvious that your lyrics have deep themes: who writes the words and which are the topics you like to talk about?
H.: So far, all the concepts and lyrics have been written by me (H.). They have indeed a sincere deeper meaning and are emotionally and philosophically laden. "Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem" is a Latin quote with a deep philosophical background. Roughly translated, it would mean "the intellect judges over the truth". With this, most of the concept of the band is explained. It is inextricably connected to the band name "Monads". It is derived from the philosophical "monad", and this term is used to describe the idea of a person as a focal point of consciousness within a sea of greater consciousness, and it is believed that all things that can be considered a unity unto themselves constitute a monad as well. In this way, "monads" (plural) is a contradictio in terminis; it cannot be plural because it is the ultimate "one". So the band is perceived as a "pentad" of "monads". Five being one, the ultimate "one". The concept is widely explained and extended in some of the lyrics, especially "Within The Circle Of Seraphs", where the "ultimate philosophical truth" is considered as the "monad", and where we, the pentad, are the seraphs, angels blessed to be in the highest order of all beings, but cursed to suffer under the highest value; truth. This truth can be called philosophical, esoteric, occult/religious, however one could perceive it. It doesn't matter, it is the only thing to strive for.
Originally "Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem" was a self-released album, now it has been re-released by Ordo MCM. How did you get in touch with this label?
H.: I must admit I did not know the label before. I picked up a double vinyl of Mournful Congregation that they had just released, and decided to send them an e-mail. We got talking, I introduced them to Monads, and they decided they wanted to work with us. As a result, they agreed to promote and distribute the CD-version of the demo. Important to mention is that Despondecy Records (a doom sublabel of Heidens Hart) from Holland also took part in the release. They have exclusive distribution for the Benelux area.
Let's talk about the Belgian scene, your nation is small but there many well known bands: for example Pantheist (even if they are now in England, if I'm not wrong) if we want to stay in the Doom fields, or bands like Aborted and Leng Tch'e if we talk about other styles. How is the situation there? is there a real scene in which bands help and support each other, or do anyone think only about themselves?
H.: I think that Belgium has some great (known and unknown) bands. To name but a few: Alkerdeel, Amenra, Cult of Erinyes, Imber Luminis, Vex, Yhdarl and I probably forgot to name quite a few. And of course, there are our own side-projects as well! As far as the Belgian scene goes, I'm afraid it's the same as in most other countries. There are certain individuals that really support the scene and show amazing amounts of devotion. I'm thinking in particular of L. / A Thousand Lost Civilizations, the person who is also responsible for the Belgian branch of "Nidrosian Black Mass IV" that will take place in Brussels in February 2013. He has supported Monads on several occasions. But of course, there are also the usual shitty people, shitty bands and shitty promoters. A proof of this was when we got booked as a support for the Belgian date of the Ondskapt tour in January 2012. When the organisation proved to be extremely bad (or almost non-existant), we decided to just do the gig ourselves. So together with Ondskapt and the other bands, we (Monads) and deathmetal.be decided to make the gig happen. It's not always easy, and yes, you'll lose money once in a while, but in the end it's worth it.
About live: I know that you have already made some shows, how did the audience receive your music? Will you play also outside Belgium (who knows, maybe in Italy) or are you playing only in your nation at the moment?
H.: We've had some very nice responses and reactions to our performances, and it seems more and more people are picking us up because of that. So far we've played live five times (in just over a year), all in Belgium. We definitely want to play outside Belgium, and it looks like it should happen rather sooner than later. We are currently talking about and exploring some options about both "single" performances, mini/weekend tours and larger tours. Nothing has been planned or confirmed yet, but we hope we can play live again soon, as (both for us and for the audience) Monads live is a very intense experience. As for Italy, we are of course open for that as well. To anyone in Italy reading this: offer us something or get in touch with an organizer to get us there. It's not the bands that make gigs happen, it's organizers.
Once you talked me about your "milestones": can you explain us this idea? What is its goal and how did you think about making it?
H.: With "Milestones", the objective is to get some of our stickers around the world. Basically, you get a sticker, put it up somewhere in a public place (or at least a place where other people can verify that it actually is that very place) and take a photograph of that place, with the sticker in the picture of course. The original idea came from our singer R., and we didn't think it would get that much attention. But, instead of just giving us some extra promotion, it exploded in something people really want to take part in. Before we knew it, we had stickers on all continents. So far, we've already had three batches of stickers printed and it doesn't seem to end... You can still mail us to receive some free stickers (we'll even pay for the postage ourselves): firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hot question: I heard some rumours about you self-reviewing your work on Metal Archives, how do you want to answer to these accusations? It's true that the reviews of your album have high marks (personally I think too high, not that I want to belittle your music of course), but on that site we can often find reviews written by very young people trying to be expert metalheads while other ones are sometimes rejected with absurd reasons: how much is it reliable a place where everyone can write even if they don't have the ability to do it, place that can be Metal Archives but also, speaking more generally, the web?
H.: This was a very short-lived rumor, as it was quickly proved wrong. Yes, the first reviews we got, received very high scores. Too high? I'll leave that up to you, because I can confirm we do not review our own music. And yes, definitely. Good reviews are becoming rarer by the minute. It's just too damn easy to write something and post it anywhere on the web. On a down-side, most people will only write something when they feel an extreme emotion about it. They'll write a review when they think something is really good, or when they think something is really bad. After a while, this will show a completely wrong average score for most releases, and I am very aware of this. After all, it's very understandable. Why would you bother writing a review for something you just don't care that much about? I think that's why most reviews have this "love it or hate it" feeling. I don't think it's great, but that's how it is.
A Doom album, a Metal one (every subgenre) and a non-Metal one: if I told you to choose only one album to take with you in the afterlife for each one of these categories, which works would you choose?
H.: Impossible question, if you ask me. I started answering this question and ended up with a list I couldn't get shorter than 15-20 albums. So let's hope I never meet that particular situation. But, I would probably be best off with the entire Anathema discography, as this is something I keep returning to, no matter what. If you want the complete list, I suggest you mail to email@example.com!
G.: Doom: Anathema - "Pentecost III"; Metal: Death - "Symbolic"; Non-metal: Pink Floyd - "Wish You Were Here".
J.: Doom: Evoken - "Antithesis Of Light"; Metal: Hypothermia - "Gråtoner"; Non-metal: Tenhi - "Maaäet".
R.: Doom: Esoteric - "The Maniacal Vale"; Metal: Deftones - "White Pony"; Non-metal: Mobb Deep - "The Infamous".
D.: No style choices, just this: The entire discography of Nokturnal Mortum, the Deafheaven debut and both Daturah albums.
What do you see in Monads' future? Are you already working on something new or maybe you are working with your other bands?
H.: Besides planning more performances, we are currently writing our first full-length album. Some people call "Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem" our first album, but as mentioned before, this is actually a demo. This is a process that will take some time, and we are not rushing anything. We hope to record it in a somewhat more professional studio, but nothing's for sure yet. The music is slow, so our way of working on it can be slow as well. We are very satisfied with how our demo turned out (although there are definitely some things that need some work), so a next release must (and will) surpass this. Another thing: we hope to someday have "Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem" released on vinyl.
The interview is finished, thanks for the time spent with us; the last message for our readers is up to you.
H.: Thank you for the interview. Check us out on www.facebook.com/monadsofdoom or get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org. We still have tons of merchandise left for sale: CDs (€8), shirts/girlies (€15), hooded sweaters (€25), patches (€4) and buttons (€1). We hope to see you at a gig somewhere...