Delving into Black Metal

AENAON, the unique band from Greece, proves that music never ends and in the same time, there are no rules when writing music. Their weird combination of black with different music genres drew my attention and luckily I had the chance to conduct an interview with the guitarist of the band, Achilleas C. and discuss about their new album, their past, theirs goals and of course, their view on music.

You just released your third full album “Hypnosophy”. What is the meaning behind the whole album? Why Hypnosophy?

Yes, our third album has just been released and we are very proud of it. “Hypnosophy” is a beautiful word that Astrous came up with combining the words “Hypnos” which is the personification of sleep, and “Sophia” which means wisdom. So, in general this album is structured upon ideas such as the dreams, hypnosis, the subconscious, death, spirituality etc. It is a surrealistic journey open for any kind of interpretations.

For the first song, you used the Greek word, “Oneirodynia”. What is the song talking about? Any hidden or notable meanings?

Well these are all Astrous’ lyrics and words but I can give you my interpretation. “Oneirodynia” means suffering through dreams but also, if you spell it “Oneirodinia” means a vortex of dreams. If you read the lyrics you’ll understand that these both meanings are exactly what this track is about not only lyrically but also musically. A vortex of strange images and sounds, a journey into the subconsious. “Buried in a tank full of empty thoughts, absorbing every dream between insanity and oath”. These are the first lyrics and they are pretty much a great intro to make the point of the whole album.

Musically, the whole album is pretty dark and ambient presenting, though, some colorful moments. What kind of emotions is this album evoking for you?

Some people say that this is not a black metal album and it lucks of “evilness”… they feel quite confused with what we do. Well, this is not black metal indeed. As you said, this album is not just “dark” or “satanic” or anything. It is dark but it’s also colorful, and I like the word you used. Diversity was always a strong element of our music and “Hypnosophy” is full of it. Most of the album is nightmarish but you can also find moments of relaxation and emotional harmony. There is anger and frustration but there are also moments of joy and playfulness. If there is darkness there must also be light to create the contrast. We have created an epic journey, a glorious experience with a complete spectrum of emotions. The very end of the album is a statement though, leading to catharsis after a final devastating black nightmare.

How did you come up with the idea of using saxophones inside your songs? Was it intentional from the band’s early days?

Saxophone was one of the first instruments we tried to experiment with in our first album “Cendres et Sang”. Back then I was in Audio Visual Arts department in Corfu and I had a classmate/friend that was an excellent saxophonist so I thought it was a good opportunity to experiment with. Chris Agouridakis played some parts in “Cendres et Sang” and we loved it. We decided we wanted some more and in “Extance” we worked with Orestis Zyrinis. The results and ideas he threw on the table really made a difference and that’s how we decided to make sax a constant element in our music since we also found the right musician. Same thing goes with the other instruments we use such as bouzouki, oud, sazi, sitar, oriental percs etc. It’s not that we just love those specific instruments but we have the right member (Nycriz) to perform them.

Are you fully satisfied with “Hypnosophy”? Does the result meet your expectations?

Yes, I’d say that we are completely satisfied with the results, more than ever. All goals were achieved the way we visualised them, music, aesthetics, lyrics, production. We always move forward though so in the next release we will try to achieve different kind of goals.

Somehow you manage to combine jazz with the black metal genre. Is it easy for you to combine those two disparate genres and reach the desired result?

It’s not only jazz actually. Our minds and our way of thinking is able to incorporate any kind of elements and influences. Personally, I find this process very easy and it comes all natural. If a sound or an artist (no matter style and genre) speaks to our hearts then why not being able to incorporate it into our art.

All of your songs seem to be the result of rigorous experimenting. How is the song -writing and recording process for you? Especially with all those collaborations.

In general we don’t compose music based on riffs. The first version of a song is created in my mind as an idea or a story, structure, emotion. After we create the first demos and Astrous has also a plan about the vocal lines and lyrics then we start brainstorming and building up the arrangements all together. At that point we start also talking about doing “experiments” and there’s no such thing as “experimentation” if you can exactly predict the final result. That’s the beauty of it. For example when we send “Void” to Sofia Sarri we didn’t know what to expect from her but we knew we were going to like it since we liked Sofia’s work in general. Same thing happened with Charis Pazaroulas of Stone Cold Dead. He went to the studio and recorded his ideas. Once again we didn’t know what to expect but he offered us something unique that we didn’t expect and that was pure magic. Sometimes of course an “experiment” or collaboration might go wrong but who fucking cares, if you don’t try and fail you won’t be able to achieve anything new ever. We love taking risks.

In order to achieve such a unique music result you definitely have to be open-minded to all kinds of music genres and artists. What are your core music influences?

Well, the core of our influences is black metal for sure. We started that way and progress later so it is hard to change the root since it is part of our identity. I don’t think we have specific love for other genres, we are just music lovers and if we listen to something that we really like we are open minded enough to use it as a tool in our own music. I started thinking of a making a list of genres in the beginning but then I realised that it makes no sense since it won’t be complete or accurate.

Your album cover is pretty creepy and in the same way elegant. Is there a meaning behind the cover?

Well it doesn’t look creepy to me but I agree on elegant! I’d say it is quite dark, atmospheric for sure. All the illustrations made by Lukasz Wodynski for the album are characterized by surrealistic elements and symbolisms. The red color of the fabric is very important in the cover illustration. Red is intense, it is blood and pain but it is also warm and sexual. My personal approach on explaining what I see is life (baby) and death (skull) as one, in harmony. Naked woman is like god, the archetype of mother, has just revealed life or is preparing to cover up life. This is a pattern of symbolisms, there is not just one explanation.

What are the biggest differences between “Hypnosophy” and “Extance”?

I guess “Hypnosophy” is less black metal in many ways. It is more mainstream in terms of production and “catchiness” (we do have some pretty melodic and singing tones here and there) but in general it’s also much more experimental and avantgarde. One thing is for sure though, both albums really need some effort to be understood and loved by the listener.

How is your fanbase in Greece? When you first begun, were the fans supportive enough to help you evolve and produce something better or did you just create music for you, not caring about people’s opinions?

Of course we care about people liking our music. We express ourselves but it is very important to manage to “convince” people to give us a chance because without their financial and psychological support we can’t survive. We like listening or reading reviews and opinions. It helps express ourselves better, it’s a tool for us in order to understand our inner goals and criticize ourselves in order to become better and progress. To answer you question, yes, there are people all over the world and many in Greece as well that have been really by our side. We don’t have a huge fanbase but we do have many individuals that love what we do and support us anyway they can.

What are your touring plans? Have you scheduled any shows outside the borders or any shows in Greece especially in smaller cities apart from Athens and Thessaloniki maybe?

When we started “Hypnosophy” we decided to stop doing live shows and just being a studio band since our financials were terrible and doing rehearsals while all being in different cities was a pain in the ass. Now, we do see some rising interest from promoters outside the Greek borders and it’s really hard to turn such good proposals so we are starting considering and trying to find solutions to form a live line up again.

What can we expect from Aenaon in the future?

More music for sure and you can always expect the unexpected in all ways. Thank you for your interest and support.