‘North is the homage to the great white North, still untouched by mankind’s dirty hands.’
photo: Sorcier Des Glaces
The Goat Tavern: Hi Sébastien, how are you? Thank you for taking time to answer some questions for The Goat Tavern and congratulations on your recent musical effort, ‘North’. What is the response from the media so far? Are you and Luc both fully satisfied with the final results of this album?
Sébastien: Hi! The response has been really great so far, even better than we expected. I think that ‘North’ is the icy continuation of ‘Ritual of the End’, that we also got great reviews for worldwide. You know, the most important is to make the music we like, the way we like, and if people like it then it’s great. On ‘North’ we didn’t make things differently.
TGT: ‘North’ was recorded in your own place, Hell Studio in Québec. Did the work on this album look different to the previous records? You have been producing and recording your own albums by yourself since 2010. Does it feel good to have all the time you want in the studio without anyone rushing you to do something faster? The production of Luc’s drums is so crisp and clear. I guess he must be one happy man?
Sébastien: I’m becoming more and more confident with every new musical production I do in the studio. I learned a lot since 2010. You got the point, the best thing is to have as much time as we want to record, mix, etc. We are taking our time and I make sure I like every detail in every song. Luc is of course really happy about his drum sound! He’s lucky as I like loud drums in the mix, it’s not taking a backseat. He’s a very skilled drummer and also very versatile as he can play jazz or pop rock as much as extreme metal.
photo: Sorcier Des Glaces
TGT: I think since the ‘Moonrise in Total Darkness’ you’ve ditched the keyboards for the greater purpose of your creative musicianship. When I listen to ‘North’ or even the previous ‘Ritual of the End’ album, the atmosphere created by the real instruments is surreal. It almost feels like all the melodies are played on the keyboards. How did you come up with this idea? Will you ever use keyboards again?
Sébastien: I don’t think we will ever use keyboards again in Sorcier Des Glaces sound. We have found our sound and we don’t need them anymore. I like to use layers of lead guitars with effects, in the same way shoegaze was created in late 80’s / 90’s. If you listen closely to some shoegaze bands (Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Ride and many more) that I also like very much, you will notice an approach in sound not that different. I like to create atmosphere, but without fake strings sounds or choirs. Do I like keyboards in metal? The answer is yes, as we do use a lot in Moonlyght’s sound and also in my other doom metal project Passage, but in SDG, I don’t feel we have to.
TGT: Your lyrical concept haven’t changed since your first record, ‘Snowland’. There is a lot of icy darkness and obscurity on your every release. Did you ever have a thought of changing direction in what you write about or do you feel obligated to stick to your theme because of the name of your band, Sorcier des Glaces?
Sébastien: I belong to that ‘atmosphere’, to that coldness I am from. We will never change that concept, it would not be Sorcier Des Glaces anymore. We did evolve since ‘Snowland’ though, both musically and lyrically. We have grown up and that’s what is called ‘evolution’.
TGT: I’ve noticed that on your every record you only have one or maximum two songs in French. Is there a reason why you use so little French to express your feelings in lyrics? Will you ever record a whole album in your native language?
Sébastien: This is VERY important for me to express my origins, where I am from. In Québec we speak mainly French. That’s why I need to write some French lyrics for SDG. But I don’t feel like I’m obligated to only sing in that language. English is an universal language on Earth, and I am also very comfortable in writing songs in English to express my thoughts, my feelings to as much people as I can. I do like both languages for our songs! But for our upcoming split album with black metal band Ende from France, we will only have songs in French.
TGT: After listening to your new album at least 666 times in the last seven days I must say my two favourite songs are the title one, ‘North’ and ‘La Noirceur Éternelle’. I have a feeling that they’re somehow connected together. They have this special, magical bond between them. Can you tell us more about these two songs? What are they about?
Sébastien: ‘North’ is a very special song for me, as I have composed it back in 1995! It was originally composed for my other band Moonlyght back then. We even played that song many times live, in rehearsals, etc. with Moonlyght. It was slightly different, but the cold and melodic vibe of that song always remained the same. In 2010 I decided to re-work that song for SDG, because I thought it had more SDG essence than Moonlyght, that became more and more a progressive metal band then. ‘North’ is the homage to the great white North, still untouched by mankind’s dirty hands. ‘La Noirceur Éternelle’ was composed in 2011. It has that dark and icy feeling. It is a sombre look at how humanity has become, and how we are heading into eternal darkness.
Sorcier Des Glaces – ‘North’
TGT: I have to ask you about the ‘Dawn of the Apocalypse’ song from the new album. I think this is your first time you’ve collaborated with another artist for one song. Is David Martel the Montreal based singer and songwriter? Can you share some light on who he is, what role David played in this song and how did this all happen?
Sébastien: No, David is a friend of mine. He is the lead singer in Abastruse Custody, a thrash metal band in Québec. I did produce their first album at Hell Studio in 2015. David has a very particular and evil voice, so I wanted him to make some guest appearances in a song on our new record. I also collaborated a lot with Monarque in the past, who is a good friend of mine. I like to incorporate some people from the Québec metal scene. It will probably continue that way in the future.
TGT: Who is responsible for the artwork and front covers on your records. Every album cover looks different. The ‘North’ artwork is simply stunning. Is that a picture or a painting? Could you tell us little a bit more about?
Sébastien: It’sstrange because ‘Snowland’ and ‘North’ are somewhat connected as I personally took these pictures myself back in 1995 or 1996, in the same photo session. So I think the ‘North’ front picture is drawing a line from our very first record until now. For ‘Moonrise In Total Darkness’ and ‘The Puressence of Primitive Forests’, these are real painting exclusively done for SDG. I always liked the first three Ulver albums, with their painting as front cover representing the nature and the raw atmosphere.
Sorcier Des Glaces – ‘Moonrise in Total Darkness’
TGT: In your long career you’ve only recorded one split and that was with Monarque. One of the songs is a cover of Darkthrone’s ‘Blaze in the Northern Sky’. Are you planning more splits with other bands in future? If you ever record another cover song what would it be and why?
Sébastien: We have recorded a cover song of what I consider simply the ‘best’ black metal song of all times: ‘The Freezing Moon’ from Mayhem. It will be released as one of the two bonus tracks on the reissue of our second album recorded back in 1999, ‘Moonrise In Total Darkness’. Galy Records take care of the official re-release. I took inspiration from Dead’s vocal version, my favorite one, even if I totally worship ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ album. I think we managed to get a very cold atmosphere for this one, seen throught the eyes of the immortal Wizard of Ices! We also plan a split album with a great black metal band from France, Ende, that will be released next September via our label, Obscure Abhorrence Productions. It could be seen as an extension of the ‘North’ album, we have 4 exclusive songs only with French lyrics. We recorded drums in the same session as ‘North’, so it got the same precise and powerful sound.
TGT: For the last two records you’ve worked with German label, Obscure Abhorrence Production. Are you and Luc both satisfied with the work they do for you? Do you have plans to continue to work with them? Any reason why you’re not with a Canadian label?
Sébastien:It’s a great label and it gives us a lot of exposure in Europe. I really love to work with Andi from OAP. He is working very professionally. We will release vinyl versions of ‘Ritual of the End’ and also ‘North’ at the end of 2016 with Obscure Abhorrence. We also work with Dread Records from the USA, they are releasing all our albums in cassette format. And last but not least, Galy Records. Eric Galy and I began work together in releasing our entire discography in digital format everywhere worldwide (Itunes, Spotify, etc) and now we plan to reissue our old albums physically on CD. It’s easy to work with him as we are friends and are not far from each others.
photo: Sorcier Des Glaces
TGT: SDG music is timeless. Your sound and way of writing is dedicated to the Norwegian scene. When I’ve heard ‘The Puressense of Primitive Forests’ for the first time not knowing where you were from, I was certain that SDG was Scandinavian. What are your inspirations today? Do you look up to the same bands like you did over two decades ago?
Sébastien: Well, I always had the same ‘core’ inspiration for SDG music since 1997: Mayhem’s ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’, Dissection’s ‘Storm of the Light’s Bane’, ‘Witchcraft’ by Obtained Enslavement, Ved Buens Ende, Ulver, Tormentor, old Samael, Darkthrone and many others. But you have to know that I like a lot of music, and non-metal one. Like I said earlier, I’m a big shoegaze fan, so I love a lot of mainly British bands like Slowdive, Ride, etc. Post-rock, soundtrack music, even some electronic music. I mean, even if I like a lot of these, that doesn’t mean that SDG sounds like this or will ever do, but some element here and there could be found.
TGT: In the SDG discography there are hints of thrash metal influences. The Tormentor cover is epic. Canada produced lot of successful thrash legends like Razor, Sacrifice and Annihilator. Is thrash metal still popular in your country? What impact did those bands have on the Canadian underground?
Sébastien: Not sure if it is really popular, but honnestly I don’t care! Many of Annihilator’s discography are total classics to me, one of my favourite Canadian bands. ‘Never, Neverland’ and ‘Alice in Hell’ are milestones in Canadian Metal history in my opinion. Voivod has done so much, also one of my fave, ‘Strappado’ from the Canadian thrash metal legends Slaughter is a killer album. Tormentor has a big influence on me because it has that very evil feeling that I just can’t find on many other bands. It is very particular. First two Messiah (Switzerland) albums has that kind of evil vibe too that I really like. Nocturnus ‘The Science of Horror’ also, a big influence on me and my musical inspiration.
TGT: SDG will have the 20th anniversary next year. Do you have any special plans how you want to celebrate such occasion? Any special releases?
Sébastien: 2016 is a very active year so far with the ‘North’ album, some re-releases, vinyls, split album, etc, so I’m not sre about our 20th anniversary in 2017! We will of course re-release our first album ‘Snowland’ in the very near future. Concerning this, I recently found the original cassette master from the studio back in 1997/beginning of 1998, so we will of course make a remastering of that. But the most interesting discovery I made is an old cassette that got some really old riffs from that period. Some songs didn’t end on ‘Snowland’ when we recorded it. We plan to do something special for that release, probably work these unreleased songs and record them as bonus tracks. But we will record the old way: raw, natural and primitive, to fit the ‘Snowland’ atmosphere as it is meant to be.
TGT: I know that you have said that you would never play live. Is there anything that could change your mind? 2017 would be a perfect occasion for you as the band to do the first and only tour. I think your fans would appreciate it. Do you get many offers to play festivals in Canada or Europe?
Sébastien: We’ve been offered so many times, even some festivals in Brasil and in Germany recently, but at the moment the answer is still no. Never say never, but there is no plan at the moment.
TGT: All good things must come to an end. I’d like to thank you again for taking your time to talk to us. The Goat Tavern would like to wish you another 20 successful years to come with Sorcier des Glaces. This is the time when you can deliver some message to your UK fans.
Sébastien: Thanks for your support! Sorcier Des Glaces is timeless, so another 20 years would be great! It is a big part of myself, my personality, so as long as I have inspiration and passion for this it will never end. We might have some rest for a while after all these projects in 2016/2017, but it will not end, that’s for sure. Cold Primitive Metal forever!