France’s Akiavel may be a relatively new band but the impact they’ve made on the death metal scene with a self-titled EP and follow up full length V cannot be denied. The band’s touring plans may have been cut short due to the pandemic but their creative fire is at an all time high seeing as their upcoming second full length Væ Victis comes just over a year removed from their last. And, it’s a BEAST. Death metal that is brutally vicious yet ominously atmospheric is tough to pull off but this band wildly succeeds and charts a path all their own. V was a great record but Væ Victis is an excellent record with sharp songwriting and laser precise instrumentation. Definitely one you don’t want to miss. Just ahead of the album’s release, we posed our set of Profile questions to drummer Butch and guitarist Chris so head below to see how it went down.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
Butch (drums): I started playing drums when I was 10 years old, worked a bit on my rudiments at the beginning, and then I did not practice any real technical exercises for decades. A couple of years ago I went back to practising and training a lot on my drum technique in order to improve it (and to be able to play Akiavel drum parts! (laugh)). Anyways, I’m very far from having reached my goals, I think my entire life won’t suffice!
Chris (guitars): I started playing guitar when I was 15, it’s also been a long time! I cannot say I achieved my goals. I actually think nobody, except maybe really iconic musicians or mythic bands, ever reach them…
What is the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
C: We, fortunately, never had to get into awkward or embarrassing situations when it comes to shows or promotion, but we would probably not let this happen…
B: Since our first tour was cancelled due to lockdown we only got to play twice live as Akiavel, once at the “Off” section of the Hellfest festival, in 2019, and once in another festival in Montpellier (South of France). Even if we all had previous musical careers, due to this canceled first tour, we did not get a chance to experience “Spinal Tap” moments as Akiavel. We know this will happen when all things come back to normal, and we hope it will be soon!
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
C: I’m happy to see a French band like Gojira become so big worldwide, they are for me a perfect example of a very well managed career, excellent musicians and nice human beings. One of the main lessons we can learn from their success is that each band needs to act unique, needs to create its own universe, its unique sound, to be different. It’s the best way to be recognized and appreciated for what you are. Just be yourself!
B: The positive thing we see nowadays is the way music can be spread around the world very fast thanks to social media and all music and video platforms. This is essential, especially during this period, and that way small bands may become quickly known and their music appreciated by people from the other side of earth just in a click… Well, things are changing fast, so everything will be different over the next decades for musicians, the music industry and, at the end of the day, musical variety and creativity. Let’s hope the best will come out of all this!
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
C: Akiavel is just here to create and play music, our universe brings our fans into human madness and fears. Our first album was about the 5 wounds of soul, and the lyrics of our new album Vae Victis is about the human monsters that are serial killers. As for the social and political issues, we keep it for us. Of course we all have our opinions but Akiavel is just here for music.
B: We consider our mission as a band as mere entertainers. We create our own atmosphere which is related to the kind of music we play, and to its violence, but that is it. Our music, the videos and pictures we propose are all here to reach one single goal: telling a story, a story people may like and linked to our music. This is the story of Akiavel. We do not think our opinions matter really as a band. As citizens we all act as we see fit, but as a band we only entertain by bringing power and energy to those who listen to us! (laugh). This being said, some bands think differently and use their music to serve a cause, like Gojira for instance, and this is very good! We are all unique even in our conception of our social role!
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
C: I was young, like 10 or 11 years old. One day I happened to listen to Iron Maiden’s “No Prayer for the Dying” in the car of a friend’s parents, and I immediately fell in love with Iron Maiden. My family was OK with that, I seemed mentally fine, so they apparently considered I could listen to what I wanted (laugh).
B: I did not know we had this in common, but “No Prayer for the Dying” is also one of the first albums I ever bought and which took me into Maiden’s music (and more generaly Metal)! I actually followed the path of my older brother, who played guitar in a metal band, so I borrowed a lot of his cassettes and instantly became a Heavy Metal, and then Thrash, fan. My parents thought this “teenager’s” musical tastes would change rather quickly, once we would grow up a bit. Which was perfectly true for my brother, not exactly for me…
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
B: Do continue speaking about young and smaller bands, from your countries and from abroad, this helps a lot to have such highlights by independent media.
C: On my side, I just want to say that if you find it bad, don’t talk about it instead of speaking of it bad, people can make up their own mind with social media.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
C: To dominate the world we would have to mutate into cats, I’m actually hardly working on it (laugh). My job is to work for Akiavel and for our own label Akia Records. I do a lot of sports, martial arts, biking, running, but I actually like playing video games a lot (laugh).
B: Our goal is to spread our music as far as we can, with a focus on all the main “markets” for metal: North America, Europe and South America. Actually, we would be happy to invade all and any countries that are keen to receive us, as soon as we can resume traveling!
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
B: I’m a big AC/DC fan, so I always listen to AC/DC at some point during the day. After having listened to their newest album (Power Up) a lot, I went back to Rock or Bust and Stiff Upper Lip, which are actually both really good. Otherwise I also listen to a lot of the “newest” Testament as well (the era beginning with Demonic, which is not that new…), Gene Holglan, Dave Lombardo and Paul Bostaph all do a terrific job on these albums, its a real treat for me to listen to these albums!
C: I currently listen to very old French songs, lots of 80’s music, I feel melancholic these times. But then listening to the tracks of our new album Vae Victis make me feel quickly better (laugh)
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
B: First, we have the release of our second album, Vae Victis, on the 23rd of April. Then we will shoot several music videos within the next couple of months. After that, we will get ready for the new gigs. We hope that the French shows scheduled in Fall and Winter won’t be cancelled!
C: You can follow the details of the release of our new album on all social networks, and you can find where to listen to it, or even to get your own copy. And we have also worked on limited vinyl editions, as well as many new cool designs for our print on demand merch. Make sure you check them out!
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
B: I’d say the same, this is exactly the way we see our music: powerful.
Many thanks to Chris, Butch, and Akiavel for their time!