Brand new extreme metal band Sinsaenum has a knack for high speed creep. In yet another musical mixing of creative forces, this act is made possible through the ideas of veteran artists who know sonically exactly what they want, when it comes to death metal.
The band is the brainchild of Frédéric Leclercq, bassist for Dragonforce and guitarist/songwriter for Sinsaenum. Commonly called a supergroup in the music press, the studio project’s lineup is rounded out by Mayhem vocalist Attila Csihar, vocalist Sean Zatorsky (also of Daath), Loudblast guitarist Stéphane Buriez, bassist Heimoth (also of Seth), and former Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison. These men have metal running through their blood.
A dark purveyor of “Sin-metal”, as he humorously dubbed the band, Leclercq talks to Iris about the formation of the band, subtleties in its music and art, being rebellious and different, and its Planetmosh-reviewed July 2016 release, Echoes of the Tortured.
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Echoes of the Tortured is your newest music-child. It’s been a while in the making, and is so different from the band members’ other bands. So… why now?
Better later than never! I guess it wasn’t the right time before… Some of the riffs are very old, but most of it was written from 2010 to 2013. It wasn’t very serious at first… Well, let me rephrase this. I am always serious when it comes to music, but I mean that I didn’t have a particular goal. I contacted Stephane, and he was interested in doing something, but again there was no pressure, just “let’s see how it goes”. I guess when Joey said he wanted to do it and started to talk about recordings, it just all of a sudden became very real. I had to finish the songs, we contacted Sean, Attila, Heimoth… and here we are. Everything seemed to fall into place at the right time. So to go back to your question, it happened now because that’s how it was meant to be… I guess. :)
The fact that these songs have been in your mind since the late 1990s shows that good ideas (or good riffs!) never go bad. They will always have some connection or relevance somewhere.
Exactly! I have tons of unused music. I trust my guts, and when I know that a riff is good, I just put it at rest somewhere until the right time comes. It’s the same with Dragonforce – some of the riffs I used on the last 2 albums are very old, I just never had the right opportunity to use them properly.
The band name sounds like a mad scientist’s radioactive new element. It definitely fits the music.
(laughs) I see – like plutonium, uranium, sinsaenum. I guess we are missing the I – we should have been called SinsaenIum. Well, Joey came up with the name. I was trying to find something, but wasn’t getting too far. Joey wanted to make a name up, rather than use “existing” words, so I trusted him on that. He was listening to our music one night and wrote down ‘sin…insane..sinsane..um..sinsanum…’ He texted me, and it went back and forth a bit like ‘sinsanum, sinsaEnum, YES, THAT’S IT.’
The logo is killer…
The logo, made by Damnation Creations, is amazing. I love it. It’s the combination of 2 aspects of our music: the top of the logo being clean and “majestic”, and it slowly decays and melts into something raw and putrid.
(Humorous…) You know how metal has a million different subgenres? What sub-sub-subgenre is Sinsaenum?
More like a billion! Well, I think everything already exists. Let’s say we play Sin-Metal. (laughs) Yeah, why not?!
Picking Attila for the project seems natural: he moved within the sphere of “extreme”. Joey Jordison is known in mainstream rock circles. Does adding musicians who are also fans of death metal, but who don’t necessarily play that style “for a living”, help with creativity?
The main criterion in Sinsaenum was to make music with people I feel good with. I didn’t ask people that I didn’t have a connection with. Now, to be perfectly honest with you, I wrote all the music myself, without thinking “Oh, Joey’s on drums, so I should go for that beat”. But I’m sure it will be interesting to create together and benefit from eachothers’ influences.
I’ve had the chance to hear the EP and Echoes of the Tortured – both are great. I like how the music’s speed breeds uneasiness or an unsettled mood. It’s angry and restless. It’s not all about speed though. On the full-length, what parts worked out most like you envisioned?
Thank you very much for your kind words. I am totally satisfied with both releases, and they all sound like I envisioned. You should listen to my demos – it’s very very similar to what’s on the album. The other musicians improved their own parts, because… I’m not a drummer, my voice isn’t as good as Sean’s or Attila’s, and Stephane’s solos are great. So I’m totally happy. We are totally happy.
Extreme metal has grown-up or matured since the 1990s. It’s almost arrived at a point like where rock music is: it’s starting to fall in to conventions and set ways of doing things. How are you going to shake things up?
I’m just gonna be honest, and do what I think is right. I don’t want to overthink it. If I try and force myself to be original at all cost, it won’t be honest. I think I just have to follow my heart. My music is a mix of all the things I’ve experienced in my life, so in a way, it’s already unique.
Pop music, and 80s rock music at least, both seem harness the same existential energy as metal, but they have opposite endpoints. Some rock and pop has dark lyrics and happy music, and some metal has dark music and more benign or escapist lyrics. Why have the genres been seen “at odds” with eachother, like they’re enemies, for so long? It’s all art…
I totally agree. I guess it’s more about people being open minded. When I was younger, I was into metal and metal only. The rest was “for the masses”, and I didn’t wanna admit that I found some things actually very pleasant and catchy (laughs). Now I don’t care anymore – when I’m home, I listen to everything from Brujeria to Hall and Oates. But I consider myself a metalhead at heart, always. I guess “non-metal” fans think we listen to noise, and metal fans think that “normal music” is just rubbish and commercial. When you cross the border, you realize it’s not always the case, both sides. I found and kept heavy metal as a sign or rebellion against mainstream normal living. I guess a lot of metal fans are like that: rebellious and different.
With ten interludes and ties from one song to the next, you’re obviously supporters of the full-album concept – the sonic journey. Is that from stubbornness, or is it part of the shake-up?
Definitely stubbornness. (laughs) I’ve read reviews with people criticizing the interludes, arguing it kills the intensity of the album. Fine, if that’s what they think. To us, it’s more like “the calm before the storm”. I like the stabbing scene in a movie – the graphic part – but you also need the build up, the tension leading to that scene. Moreover, I wanted to force the listener to listen to the album from A to Z. I wanted indeed to take them on a journey. So yes, sure, they can skip and listen to the songs only, but you get the whole picture if you put the album on and let go.
We’re not used to death metal and keyboards here… at least not the Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Deeds of Flesh “brutal” faction. You’re definitely mixing the genres. Is that where you want death metal to go?
It would be pretentious to say that we are leading the way, or forging a new path, but right now I am working on new songs and there are still synths in it. I guess I took that from symphonic black metal, but also from the bands I didn’t listen to when I was younger – Morbid Angel, Pestilence… It’s good to have a few touches here and there, not constant synths all the way through.
Now that your vision has been released to the world, what was most gratifying or satisfying part of the process?
I don’t know. It’s always strange when an album comes out, and especially this one because I’ve put all my energy and soul (and sanity) into it. I can think of a few unsatisfying things, but the most gratifying… I don’t know. Simply the fact that people understand my vision. That people like it. That’s great to be able to share your music and get a positive reaction from it.
A lot of these projects end up short-lived: maybe 1-3 albums’ worth of material is released. Is that a side effect of putting together a band with musicians who are all in “other-other” bands? Or is it a side effect of creativity — that part of the music “personality” has been explored as fully as it needs to be?
It’s hard to tell. I have plenty of darkness in me, so creativity shouldn’t be an issue here. I have been in Dragonforce for 10 years now, and maybe someday I’ll have had enough of this part of my music personality, but so far, I like the balance of the two. Some people stay in the same band forever, and some change a lot because they like to explore. As for “supergroups”, I guess it’s difficult, because we all have other bands. I cannot predict the future, but we are here for the long run. I can only speak for myself, but I won’t give up, because I need Sinsaenum to unleash these emotions.
What’s next for the band? Will Sinsaenum be touring or playing festivals?
Well, as much as we’d love to play live, we are also very busy with our other bands, like I just said. And I’m sure people respect that. So all I can say right now is that I am working on new songs, and for the rest, time will tell!