Andy: It all went really well actually, we found a formula to write the songs and we all talked about how we were going to record them and it all went to plan. Dan Abela and Mike Smith did a superb job with the recording and engineering, everyone involved is really happy with the overall outcome.
The album is the first Hecate Enthroned album to feature Joe Stamps on vocals. What does he bring to the band and this album?
Andy: Joe has brought a massive vocal range with plenty of power to the band, his lyrics and arrangements are in fitting with all the rest of the music, Hecate had been missing Joe in the past for sure.
What inspired the songs on Embrace Of The Godless Aeon?
Joe: Lyrically the songs are influenced by various themes, here are some examples. Silent conversations with Distant Stars is actually about the way in which an atheist copes with the death’s of those close to them. When I dream of people in my life who have passed away they never speak, which I believe is my minds way of telling me I can no longer communicate with them. I’m also very interested in astronomy, so I’m aware that when we look into the night sky we are looking into the past as the light from many stars can take years and years to reach us, some of those stars may well no longer actually be there. So when I’m dreaming and I look into the eyes of a person in my life who has passed away, the light that is in their eyes is like that of distant stars. It’s an image that is rather poignant to me, but oddly comforting. Erebus and Terror is a telling of the doomed Franklin expedition and how people can under certain pressures lose their humanity and revert to a more base nature; broken physically and spiritually baying like wolves at their shattered morality. Temples that Breath is a cutting indictment of the Catholic Church that paints the church itself as a callous entity. It specifically references the disgusting actions the church has committed against children for many, many years.
Is there a story of why the album is named as it is?
Joe: The title Embrace of the Godless Aeon refers to a new era of enlightenment that we see from a more educated population that leads to less people relying of theistic religions for answers. I feel my lyrical approach is more inspired by the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris than anything else. However, I did think it was important to retain the elements of Satanism and the occult that were present in previous albums, albums that I was a big fan of before I became a member of the band. There are also many references to fantasy fiction and historical events too.
The epic Erebus And Terror ends the album in devastating fashion. Did you always plan to close the album with such a crushing statement?
Andy: When we wrote that song it was hard to see where on the album it was going to go, after many listens and talks about it, it just seemed to fit perfectly as an ender.
The artwork for the album is stunning. Who created it and how did you hook up with them to do the cover?
Andy: Thanks! Nestor Avalos an old friend did the fantastic artwork for the album, he’s done previous work with us as well, this is an oil painting he created showing Hecate summoned and arisen it fits the huge epic character of the music inside, we were all blown away with it!
How do you feel that the band’s sound has evolved since your last album Virulent Rapture?
Dylan: It’s down to the overall production, this album has all the elements of Hecate Enthroned, all the elements that were previously visible on all our previous albums but with this one the layers and depth is more evident because of the crystal production without losing any of the power and heaviness. This album is an accumulation of where we are as a band musically. We are very proud of it. Its strength lies in it being a total package, its 8 very strong songs that all standalone but have come together to create a complete album. Along with the themes and imagery behind it delivers on all levels. There are fast aggressive moments, heavy brutal moments and huge open epic passages but they all have their own place and time and don’t fight but combine to deliver a truly monumental metal experience. The overall sound has a lot to do with this and the production and mix by Dan Abela has given the songs their space to breathe but be a part of the whole miasma. We have never been so pleased with the sound of an album.
Dylan: We started playing UK shows, at first it was venues local to us then we gained more gigs as our name carried, London was always a good place as there were more shows and venues along with promoters who actually booked Black metal bands and in fact brought some foreign bands over and we started jumping on some tours and also played with a lot of Death metal bands that travelled through. As it was all quite new and in some cases the first time these bands had played over here the crowds were very good so there was a lot of shows and a UK tour was quite a few dates, unlike now. Once we had a good set of songs together we recorded the demo and got our first deal with Blackend quite soon and as you say there weren’t many bands in the UK doing what we were doing and due to the distribution of the label being so good our early albums were available across the globe and for some regions we were 1 of the first BM bands they got to hear or at least were able to buy the music s our name spread quire quickly.
Andy: Well it was difficult… we struggled to play shows and to be accepted in the metal scene in general, I mean I used to go to clubs that had a few hundred people in and you’d be lucky to see 3 black metal shirts in there, black metal was very anti trend then which is a different story 25years later totally the opposite in fact!
The band started when black metal was shrouded in secrecy and infamy. What do you recall of those times?
I’d like to tell you, but I can’t… Muhaharrr….
Were the Norwegian and Swedish black metal scenes a big influence and did you have contact with those bands at that time?
Andy and Dylan: Yeah the movement in Norway and Sweden had an influence on us, that was a gate way for us to get our music out there, we played shows and fests with a lot those bands especially on their early UK tours. That Scandinavian sound was an influence for us but we have always had our traditional British metal sound which tends to be more akin to the spooky horror film vibe with some gothic elements mixed in.
Will you be touring and playing festivals in support of the new album?
Dylan: We very much hope so and are currently working on some dates with our agents and managemt, this should be EU and UK in the next couple of months to get behind the album. There could be some American dates later in the year but all will be revealed as soon as they are confirmed.
Who have you enjoyed touring with and playing shows the most?
Dylan: We always enjoy playing and touring with our good friends Akercocke and last year we did a UK tour together which was a success on every level. We have been playing shows together since the mid 90’s and have remained great friends. They were with us in those early days of BM here in the UK and with them being London based it was always great going down there to play some shows together.
What does black metal mean to you in 2019?
Dylan: For me personally BM is about the music, dark, evil, satanic imagery played with passion and commitment. I’m not saying BM has to be satanic some great BM bands have and do use other themes. It’s always felt that we are on the edges of extreme metal and a bit more misanthropic than other genres and I have always enjoyed that element of mystery and it’s something in Hecate we have always used. More so than a lot of the other BM acts.
Did you always want to include symphonic and operatic influences in your sound alongside the extreme metal harshness?
Dylan: Yes of course. The symphonic element has always and always will be a huge part of our sound. When we started making this kind of music we always knew that keyboards would be involved, it’s how we deliver our brand of metal, this dark, sinister style; a soundtrack to our own horror film. And now with Sarah the operatic and all the different vocal styles she brings.
Who were your main influences back then and nowadays as well?
Dylan: Well we have touched on the Scandinavian influences, bands like Emperor, Dissection and we can mention some death metal and thrash metal bands. Individuals have a lot of their own musical influences that reside outside of metal and rock as musical influences can come from anywhere and can be around structuring songs and composition.
Many thanks for this interview and our darkest regards go to your readers and fans.