“We tried to acomplish a cosmic and out of time sound»
Avantgarde Metal / Prog – Bangladesh
We bring a very special interview today with quite an original band, new one as well. They seem to be willing to hide quite a lot to let the music speak for themselves. We will talk about the fresh new and first record, the spectacular instrumental Zenith Transient, highly recommended, quite difficult to define, prog, avantgarde, metal, instrumental, space-like… and then some.
We just found out they seem to range from BanglaDesh, as we interviewed them. And on top of that, as a nice token from the band, you will find a discount coupon at the bottom of the interview for our readers from Astraeon
We kick off this interview by asking, for those of you not knowing this band so far, about the origins, when and where was Astraeon formed?
Astraeon was formed in Dhaka, Bangladesh at the very beginning of 2004, by a very clueless group of individuals who at the moment had no idea what it would finally end up becoming. For a very long time, it remained an extremely private studio project, with no plans of any sort of public release.
We would like to know about the name, ASTRAEON, its origin and why the band chose it.
For most of its lifetime, the project didn’t even have a name. We had an internal working title, but I guess we always knew that it would never become the final name. The name ‘Astraeon’ was actually coined relatively recently. We’ve been trying to achieve a sort of timeless and cosmic sound with our music, perhaps how one would perceive the songs of distant stars and worlds to be. We’re not sure if we actually managed to achieve such a feel, but we felt that combining the words ‘astral’ and ‘aeon’ to create ‘Astraeon’ got us one step closer to it. 🙂
The style you propose is totally avantgarde, a melodic Prog Metal with symphonic and funky or groovy elements. I should add I am blown away by the record. What influences brought you to this outcome?
Thank you for your appreciation, it means a great deal to us. The full list of our influences is simply too long to be mentioned in its entirely, but off the tops of our heads, we would readily go with Iron Maiden, Agalloch, Estatic Fear, Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, Nightwish, Kamelot, Samael, Sirenia, Skyforest, Sorrow Plagues, X Japan, Warfaze and countless other superb bands who changed our lives with their music.
‘Zenith Transient’ is a great record that I personally include in my playlists since its release. What is the end result as compared to your initial ‘view’ of what the record would be? Is there a big difference?
As mentioned earlier, we were completely clueless when we started the project. We just created music haphazardly over the years, composing tracks when we felt like it, so there was no grand vision which we had ever aimed for.
When we finally decided near the end of 2018 that we were ready to make a public release, we put together a dozen of what we perceived to be our best compositions for a debut album. But it was not until we listened to the final mastered tracks that the realization hit us that even if we had had any expectations to meet in the first place, they would probably have been soundly exceeded at this point. And it is the praise and support that we receive from our listeners that makes us understand that putting our best efforts behind our music for the last fifteen years have not been in vain.
An instrumental record. What other instrumental bands do you listen to or admire? Any Spanish ones, like Toundra or Blusa or Cloudmap? How about Mono, the Japanese band?
This may come as a shock, but we rarely listen to exclusively instrumental bands, if at all. We perceive the human voice as simply another monophonic instrument, as just another component of a song’s overall orchestration. However, we do listen to loads of bands which feature absolutely minimal vocal presence in many of their tracks, even if those don’t quite count as ‘instrumental’.
This may sound strange, but since pretty much every band we love involves definite vocal elements to some degree, it taught us to compose our songs in a way that would (hopefully) keep listeners from being bothered by the absence of vocals without interfering with their enjoyment of the music. Judging by the response we have received so far from listeners, it worked out in our favour. 🙂
This release, quite a remarkable one in the field of Avantgarde Metal, according to your site transcends from turbulence to tranquility. How long did the composition take? What inspired you guys?
Although Astraeon’s journey began in 2004, the tracks that made it into this release were composed over the last thirteen years or so. It’s pretty much impossible to specifically state what inspired us, but it’s safe to say that everything we have gone through has played a part in it. Starting from the music we listen to, and going all the way up to the beautiful and terrible experiences of our lives, everything had an effect on the sound of Astraeon. It has been a long and eventful ride, with plenty of ups and downs, and we are no longer the same people we were when we first started on it. In a nutshell, this album is an expression of our entire existence, a testament to our survival.
When we started composing, our goal was to tell a story without words through each composition. It is in fact part of the reason as to why we rejected typical verse-chorus-solo-bridge-based song structures, and instead went pretty crazy with the changes. If the album has one massive overarching theme going for it, it’s CHANGE. If parts of a story keep coming back over and over again, it wouldn’t normally make for a very interesting story, would it? 🙂
In the orchestration I have noticed plentiful of ‘non-Metal’ instruments. Is Metal a goal, an objective, or a starting point for Astraeon?
Metal is the foundation on which Astraeon stands at all times. It is the starting point, but also the point to which the music would always return after wandering all over the place across many styles and genres. On several instances across the album, we used eastern classical instruments such as the sitar, tamboura and tabla to create an ethnic atmosphere that sharply contrasts with the Metal roots, and on numerous other occasions, we have made use of unashamedly electronic synthesizers to create unique sounds that no acoustic instrument can produce. Metal purists often look down upon such instruments, but we never claimed to be purists to begin with – we just want to keep exploring and see how far we can go.
Which song in ‘Zenith Transient’ would you all agree best describes what you have done?
This is a very difficult question, given the range of diversity that we have tried to explore in the album, but we believe ‘Invictus’, ‘Obsidian Core’ and ‘Xenocide’ can provide a pretty solid first impression of what our music is about to someone who has never come across it before. Naming just one track is pretty much impossible.
Tell us a bit about your aspiration to secrecy. No band member names, no bio, we barely know where you are from!
In our everyday lives, we are very much reclusive in nature, and we greatly enjoy our privacy. Additionally, we want people to focus completely on our music, without needing to pay any attention to the identities of the people behind it. Yes, as individuals, we are not well-known or popular by any means, and given the very much radio-unfriendly sound that we have chosen, we are very much likely to remain that way – so we plan on doing so well, so that if someone shows any interest in our music, they can experience it without any sort of predetermined bias that can come from even the most superficial form of identification.
‘Kyrios’ sets off to a fantastic start, with a groove not many bands can offer, ranging from metal to pure funky sounds some times. Congrats! Why did you place it first in the record? Is it a statement? What is the song about?
We’re very glad to hear that you liked the groove of ‘Kyrios’, because we deliberately placed it at the beginning of the album, with the intention to solidly set the tone without overwhelming the listeners. The first thing that’s noticeable about ‘Kyrios’ is the bass, which is in fact the backbone of the entire album. The basslines are never wildly over the top, because there is no showing off going on there – but it controls and maintains the groove and mood throughout the album, and on the occasions when it stops, its absence is felt deafeningly. We wanted to introduce the listeners to the bass from the very first moment, and also make them aware of our heavy dependence on synthesizers. The guitars and faster drumlines kick in later, reminding them that this is actually a Metal track. The rest of the song goes on to show what to expect from the rest of the album, without spoiling its secrets explicitly.
As for what the song is about – well, that is for you to decide. This actually goes for all our songs. Yes, every Astraeon track tells a story with its music, but the absence of words gives listeners the freedom to use their own imagination and envision their own stories as they go along. Think of it like reading a book instead of watching a movie based on the book. 🙂 Sure, we have our own visions for each song, but none of them are set in stone, and we would prefer not to share them with anyone. Music is a universal language, after all, and it doesn’t need explanations.
Getting to know a band goes mostly about touring and playing live. Are you guys touring? What do you think the experience will be like? Will your vow for secrecy be affected by it?
We have absolutely no plans to tour and/or play live. We have always strictly been a studio project. And like you just said, going live would pretty much ruin the secrecy anyway, so we are happy to continue being reclusive as always. Moreover, it would take quite an ensemble to play these compositions live. It would perhaps not be technically difficult, but it would be a financial and logistical nightmare that we can very much do without.
Let´s dream a bit now…have you given thought to playing abroad? It would not be strange to think or consider that your music would have broader acceptance in other countries, something quite common in this particular genre.
We do understand what you are saying about our music receiving broader acceptance in other countries, especially given how rare it is for a band to release an instrumental album in Bangladesh, and an avantgarde one at that. However, our plan to permanently remain a non-touring studio project still stands, because of the same reasons mentioned in the answer we gave to the previous question. Also, to be honest, we aren’t very much bothered about international acceptance in this era – when a virtually unknown Bangladeshi Avantgarde Metal band gets interviewed by a major Spanish Metal blog, it is a pretty good sign that it’s on the right track. 🙂
Also, it should be noted ‘Zenith Transient’ has already been pirated a ridiculously high number of times (especially by Russian and Chinese torrent trackers) all over the world. It goes without saying that this hasn’t helped album sales, but it is definitely doing wonders for our music in terms of international exposure, so we aren’t hugely bothered by it. 😛
Living off music is tough and we know not many make it. It can be too soon to ask but are you considering a second record?
To be honest, it was never our primary intention to make money from our music. If we wanted to make money doing music, there are far easier (read: infinitely more mediocre) ways to do it than spending fifteen years working on instrumental Avantgarde Metal songs. 😛 But yes, all that being said, we’re aiming to unleash our next release in 2020 or 2021. Given on how much material we can put together, it may be an EP or another full-length album. Let’s see. Fingers crossed.
‘Xenocide’ offers marvelous basslines, accompanied by piano. Do you guys have PhDs in Music, or at least MAs (Kiddin’!) or you are self-taught?
We’re entirely self-taught, and that too only by ear. When we started this project, we didn’t even know where to start. And to this day, we are pretty much uneducated when it comes to music theory, and largely clueless about stuff like chords and scales. When composing, we just go with whatever sounds/feels right to us. It seems to be working, so we don’t question it. 😛
We want to finish the interview with 2 questions about the current state of affairs of the music biz. Would you say the audience is selfish? We mean this because the current tendency is downloading records and later on even disrespecting the band if they do not like the result. How do you feel about it?
As we mentioned earlier, our album has already fallen victim to countless instances of piracy, which has potentially hurt our sales as well. However, we believe that quality speaks for itself, and a good album continues to be so, no matter how many people steal it. In fact, illegal downloads sometimes serve as demos for these people, and sometimes they even end up paying for a legal copy if they like it enough.
On the other hand, if some trashy band gets insulted by pirates who illegally downloaded their crappy album, it’s still on the band, first and foremost, for not being able to release something good – because the chances are pretty high that it isn’t just the pirates who are displeased. If people who don’t pay for your stuff hate it enough to mention their hatred, people who have paid for it are even more likely to hate it, because they have wasted their hard-earned money on it, not just their time. 🙂
Is the audience selfish? Yes, perhaps. But on the flipside, this selfishness on their part is also helping to weed out a lot of mediocrity from the scene.
This is our signature question for bands, this time applied to Astraeon. How is the Metal music biz in your home country, in terms of record sales, merch, concert tickets as well as of course concert attendance for local bands?
The Bangladeshi Metal scene used to be pretty crazy in the 2000s, but it has become rather stagnant over the last decade or so. Good Metal bands are not extinct here, but they appear pretty infrequently, and even when they do, it often turns out that they aren’t trying to do anything very original or take risks, instead opting for cookie-cutter formulae established by other bands in the past. Many of the distinguished older bands in the scene have also been reduced to releasing what can only be described as uninspired crap.
For the most part, the Metal scene of Bangladesh is still considered to be ‘underground’ by many people, since it never quite achieved widespread mainstream popularity outside of the dedicated youth demographics. Metal concerts do take place here (and sell out), records and merch do sell pretty well too. However, Bangladesh hasn’t yet managed to become a destination for touring international Metal bands, and it is safe to say that this wouldn’t be changing very soon.
This was it, if there is something you would like to add, this is your space. It was a pleasure both the interview and the review.
As a special gift from us to the readers at Dioses del Metal, we would like to offer the discount code ‘dioses50’, which, upon application, would allow ‘Zenith Transient’ to be purchased at 50% off from https://astraeon.bandcamp.com. 🙂 Even if you don’t want to or cannot afford to buy it, we would still request you to listen to it on any platform you prefer, and share it with your friends and family members who may be adventurous enough to try music that’s a bit different from usual.
We hope the readers enjoy our album as much as we enjoyed creating it.
From us all at Dioses del Metal we wish you the best!
Your support means a great deal to us. Thank you very much for this opportunity!
ITUNES/APPLE MUSIC: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/zenith-transient/1456543792