This week we’re shining the Meet The Band spotlight on the French death metal band Akiavel, who recently released Vae Victis. Vocalist Auré and bassist Jay introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Akiavel.
Auré: Akiavel is a French death metal band formed in 2018. At a barbecue party, after a few beers, the idea popped up between Jay (bass), Chris (guitars) and myself to create a new death metal band that would be different from all types of bands one was used to see and hear around. We wanted a genuine melting pot of all our musical influences, we wanted to remove all the boundaries that existed between all the types of metal we love. The idea of Akiavel was born, and we quickly recorded a self-titled EP. Butch (drums) joined us a few month later to begin the writing process of our first album V, released in February 2020.
Jay: Actually, the music we play ranges from classical heavy metal like the great Iron Maiden, to pure violence like Benighted or Aborted, but also thrash like Slayer or Testament, and even Hatebreed! Our music is deeply rooted into every and all metal styles. (laughs)
Describe the songwriting process for Vae Victis.
Auré: This new album is inspired by some of the darkest and most depraved monsters in history: serial killers. Each song represents a true event, even if the way we tell the story is ours, and is adapted to lyrics of our songs. (laughs)
Jay: The writing of this album has been fairly easy since we know each other, each others’ tastes and the way each other plays much better after a couple of years of existence of the band.
What is your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Jay: We recorded Vae Victis at the Artmusic Studio, where we already recorded our first album. We knew the studio and the team really well, so it was pretty easy to focus straight away on the music itself.
Auré: The recording was very pleasant. And when my son came over to record the backing vocals for “Comrade,” it was really crazy for me. I was really proud and happy to be able to share such a moment with my son.
How did the pandemic affect the process?
Auré : We have clearly not been able to gather or rehearse during the pandemic. We were in the same situation as most of the bands in the world. But we were already pretty much used to working remotely, since we all live in different cities. The curfew was not that big a working revolution for us! (laughs)
Jay: Yes, all this situation did not slow down the writing and composition process. On the contrary, we even had more time to spend on the creation of this new album than we had for the first album.
How has your sound evolved from V?
Jay: To me, the sound is even more raw and more powerful than it was on V. We went deeper down this route of a natural, but powerful sound. I hope you noticed it, and that you like it!
Auré : In terms of vocals, it is less “death” type than on the first album, it is more garish. I found this tortured singing more adapted to the songs and the subject of the album.
You recently released a video for “Comrade.” How did you approach putting it together?
Auré : It’s a genuine tribute to the victims of Andreï Tchikatilo. We are very proud of this title because our children sang and played here. The video has been shot in a crazy location in the south of France, with these killer actors who are all friends of ours. You should definitely check this video out, we love the atmosphere and strong symbols behind the images and the lyrics. We wrote it in the memory of all the kids whose lives have been stolen by this monster.
What led you to go the independent route for the release of this album?
Jay: After the release of our first album on a small label, we realized we were the best people to produce and promote our music, we did not need any kind of intermediaries. So we created Akia Records, and we are very happy with our choice!
Auré : We have a super manager in the US, Cori Westbrook, who helps us a lot in terms of promotion. With her help, nothing is impossible to achieve. (laughs)
How has the response been since its release?
Jay : We were really impressed and happy by the good responses! The public’s reaction (especially abroad) to our two albums, that was crazy and unexpected!
Auré: Yes, the very positive reviews especially of Vae Victis by the press and the positive reaction of tons of people from everywhere, thanks to social networks and despite the absence of live shows, were just overwhelming!
What has been your most memorable Akiavel live show?
Auré : We once played at the Off Session of the Hellfest festival, back in 2019, a few months after the creation of the band (and way before the release of our first album, V). Our friend Stephane Buriez (Sinsaenum, Loudblast) came on stage with us to sing a couple of covers with us! That was awesome!
When do you plan to resume playing shows again?
Auré : We hope to be able to honor all future shows! We have four festivals scheduled in France from September to November. That will be really cool! Fingers crossed!
You played both Slay At Home Fests. How was that experience?
Jay: Yes, we played in February and June, that was a real honor to be featured in these festivals alongside such great bands!
Auré : It was a very cool experience, and that allowed us to expand our public all over the world, we are very grateful!
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Auré : I am very close to nature. I love learning every day about the living world and personal development.
Jay: My family! And then Akia Studio. I love recording other bands when I’m not playing for Akiavel.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Jay: Hatebreed, as always for me!
Auré: Benighted and Carcass, as always (laughs). And Butch made me recently discover C.I.A., the band of Glenn Evans (Nuclear Assault) and the album In the Red from 1990. I love the flavor of this punk-thrash mixed style!
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Auré : Just thank you for your interest and for taking the time to read us! We prepared a lot of surprises for the future, stay tuned!
Jay: Yes, thank you for everything, we hope to see you soon on the road!
(interview published July 3, 2021)
Watch Akiavel – “Comrade” Video