French dark metal band Lux Incerta have been around for over twenty years. Back in April they released their second album, the excellent Dark Odyssey. While we didn’t get to review that album here, we did get a chance to talk to the band.
Mike Huck: Can you give us a bit of background on Lux Incerta, and how the current lineup came to be?
Gilles Moinet: Lux incerta was born in September 2000. Being all fans of metal, and more particularly of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Type O negative, we naturally oriented our music towards melodic Doom. We released a 3-track EP in 2004. A few shows followed, including an opening act for My Dying Bride in Paris in 2007. Being very busy with our other respective bands, Penumbra for Benjamin and The Old Dead Tree for me, we decided to put Lux Incerta on hold for an indefinite period, but without having first recorded the songs we had at the time. The album A Decade of Dusk was released in 2011.
From the original lineup, only Benjamin and I remained in the band. In 2017, Phil (drums) joined us to relaunch Lux Incerta. Finally, at the end of 2021, for the release of ‘Dark Odyssey’, we wanted to build a stable lineup with talented, motivated and humanly interesting musicians. Tibo Pfeiffer (guitar) and Maxime Pascal (bass) joined us.
It has been ten years between albums; when did the writing commence for Dark Odyssey?
Gilles: At the beginning of 2019, Phil, Benjamin and I thought we needed new songs to make Lux Incerta’s comeback meaningful. This is how the writing process for Dark Odyssey began. The first ideas and demos brought by Ben and I emerged. “Dying Sun” and “Farewell” are the first new songs we worked on. They took several months to complete. At the beginning of 2020, we had instrumental drafts of all the tracks on the album. A lot of work throughout 2020 was necessary to finalize the structures of the songs, the arrangements, the vocal lines, the lyrics.
“Far Beyond The Black Skies” and “Decay and Agony” are the songs that required us the most work. In December 2020, the writing was completely finished and the full album existed in a finalized demo version. In February 2021 we entered the studio with Fabien Devaux. Writing Dark Odyssey took us two years.
Can you describe the recording process for us? Were you all together, or were you forced to record your parts separately? Did you produce the album yourselves?
Phil Tulleau: Before entering the studio, we worked quite some time on our pre-productions, they were very close to the final songs on the album. The whole recording process happened between February and July 2021. Then we started by recording drums with Fabien Devaux (Step in Fluid, Hacride, Nove, Obsidian, Wallack, Aro Ora…) as sound engineer for this record. We rented a cottage, and Gilles was present to support me playing my drum parts. It was a very good experience.
Then we tracked all the guitars. With the exception of two solos played by Michel Hejazy, which we kept from our pre-productions, Gilles played them all and I recorded them in my home studio. There are many layers of guitars, so it tooks us weeks and was a bit tiring, but we are very happy with the sound we got, almost without reamp or amp simulator. Then the bass guitar was recorded by Fabien as a session musician. He did a really good job. Finally, Benjamin recorded vocals during a week with Fabien in my home studio, Gilles and I were also present.
In the meantime, we also asked Raphaël Verguin (Lůn, Rïcïnn, Spectrale, Psygnosis, Maudits) to play some cello tracks, and Remi Pardigol some piano. We gave them our pre-productions, with programmed cellos and piano, and they recorded their own interpretation by themselves. They did a great job, it really brings more life to these parts. Fabien Devaux mixed and mastered everything. He is a very nice person, and a very skilled sound engineer. Thanks again to Fabien, Raphaël and Remi for their contribution!
Gilles: In parallel with the recording, the visual for the album cover was hand-made by the artist Marianne Blanchard. We told her the themes of the album, as well as the demos of our recordings, and she was given “carte blanche”. She’s a great artist and a really cool person. Her work deserves to be discovered.
The news of guitarist Michel Hejazy’s passing was tragic, and must have had a profound effect on the band. In fact, you dedicated Dark Odyssey to his memory. Can you talk about how this impacted you personally, as well as the songwriting?
Gilles: We knew Michel for many years before he joined Lux Incerta in late 2019. We had a gig scheduled for early 2020, so he learned the songs in a few weeks. It was an excellent moment. Michel was very enthusiastic to participate in the development of Dark Odyssey. He brought ideas of arrangements on several titles as well as two guitar solos (on “Dying Sun” and “Fallen”). Everything was looking good. In January 2021, a few days before getting in the studio, where the three of us were supposed to go, his wife informed us of Michel’s sudden death. It was totally unexpected as we had spoken with him a few days earlier and he was, as always, very smiling and happy to be there. Michel was a really good guy. In shock, we first thought of postponing the studio sessions. But we had to finish the work we had started and in which Michel had participated. We wanted to do this for him. This is why this album is dedicated to him.
We made very few modifications on the songs, as Dark Odyssey was already completely written at that time, but we took into account the last remarks that he had made to us. The song “Shervine,” which was Michel’s Persian first name, is dedicated to him. From a more personal point of view, losing a friend at such a young age made me, and still makes me, reflect a lot on my own existence. Having so far been spared the deaths of loved ones, dying at forty-four seemed inconceivable to me. Today I realize that tomorrow it could be me, without warning. It forces you to watch your lifestyle a little more too, but at times it creates a form of anxiety that I had not known so present until here. But, death is part of life, you have to accept and deal with it, hoping to be confronted with it as late as possible of course!
Phil: We were all shocked by Michel’s sudden death. It put a stop to our momentum. After a few days, we reunited and we all agreed to continue the process, this would have been Michel’s wish. From a personal point of view, like Gilles, this reminds us that we must enjoy the life of our loved ones at any time.
What are some of the overall themes of Dark Odyssey?
Gilles: The concept of Dark Odyssey is that of a solitary journey, one during which we go through different trials, cycles and paths. In “Far Beyond the Black Skies” we talk about what it can be like to experience something that seems to never end. “Dying Sun” is a metaphor for the death of a sun, which can either destroy life around it by becoming a black hole, or create it by exploding and scattering space. “Decay and Agony” is inspired by Baudelaire’s Spleen. It’s a very dark piece that exposes the human soul and its suffering.
In “Farewell,” the protagonist has crossed paths, and the lyrics illustrate what he could tell us if he could talk, wherever he is. “Fallen” illustrates the feeling of having fallen to Earth without knowing what meaning to give to our life, nor what awaits us after death. Finally, “The Ritual” closes the album on a dark and pagan ceremony, on this strange spirituality which comes from the bottom of the ages.
You have been able to play some shows this year to support the album. What has the response been like?
Phil: At the time of this interview, we only played one gig this year for our release party, a few days before the official release of Dark Odyssey. We played mostly unreleased songs from the album, and the feedback was very good. The audience was wowed, barely knowing our songs. We would have liked to play more shows after our release, but during the immediate post-pandemic era, many bands were long overdue to tour or play festivals. These were canceled two years in a row, and when they reopened, the lineups were long booked.
Gilles: But finally we will do some shows in France in the coming weeks to promote Dark Odyssey. We will be accompanied for the occasion by our friends from Monolithe, The Old Dead Tree (in which I also play), Mourning Dawn, Lying Figures, Lyncelia and Silt. Other shows are being booked for March 2023.
Do you have any plans or desires to play shows overseas?
Phil: Yes, we’d love to play shows abroad, but we’ll first go through France and Europe. But hey, if some invite us with reasonable conditions on both sides, why not?
Gilles: France is not the best country for metal music, and even less for doom metal. Playing concerts abroad, in countries within our reach such as Belgium, Netherlands and Germany, would already be a big step for Lux Incerta. I would love to export our music a little more, but only if the financial conditions allow it.
What are your goals and expectations for Dark Odyssey?
Phil: For the moment we really want to defend our album on stage, with good bands and nice venues. But it is quite complicated after the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to not playing a very visible kind of metal. In fact, we like to perform and produce music together. We composed, arranged and produced Dark Odyssey without compromise, and we are very satisfied with the final record. We didn’t know what to expect, but we got very good feedback, which we really like, and helps a lot to get in touch with the bookers.
Gilles: Dark Odyssey is a first step for us, which allows us to register Lux Incerta as a value of melodic doom death metal. The reception has been very good so far and we are very happy. Ideally, we would be delighted if we could play a few shows with bands we admire, such as My Dying Bride, Swallow The Sun, November’s Doom and many more. To see a little further, we want to continue our work by composing quite quickly a new album which is at least as good as Dark Odyssey.
What is the heavy music scene in Paris like these days?
Phil: Today, only Benjamin lives in Paris, the rest of us live near Nantes and the Atlantic coast. About the global French heavy scene first, well, apart from Gojira and Alcest who are very well known, it’s good that some bands have more and more good reputation in the world, doing a lot of shows, such as Hangman’s Chair, Igorrr, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber (also from Nantes). From a more local perspective, we’re seeing more and more solid post-metal bands coming up, with dedicated festivals. But Lux Incerta is more in a “classic” gothic death/doom genre, and that scene is still active, if not bolstered by a few other good active bands.
What are some of the things you enjoy doing when you aren’t playing music?
Phil: With family, day job and music, not so much time for video games.
Gilles: I like spending good time with my children, my family, my girlfriend with whom I travel a lot, and of course my cat! I like watching movies, listening to music, reading, playing video games… but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to do everything because my music takes up a lot of my time. So I have to make choices, and most often it ends with something related to one of the bands I play in!
What are some of the albums currently in your playlist?
Phil: It was released a few years back but I am enjoying The Unknown by The Vision Bleak a lot recently, and Noktvrn by Der Weg einer Freiheit.
Gilles: When I go to see an artist or a band in concert, I listen to a few albums before, and if I had a good time, I listen to even more afterwards! So lately I’ve been listening a lot to Dark Tranquility (Moment, Fiction), Iggy Pop (The idiot, Free), Arctic monkeys, Idles… I also listen to bands I share the stage with (Give Up To failure, Monolith, Lying Figures..), and of course timeless metal classics such as Blessed Are The Sick, Painkiller, and Somewhere In Time. In the doom style, I really like the new album by Famyne – II: The Ground Below. I would like to see them live and share the stage with them one day.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Gilles: Thank you very much for this interview and for your support! I hope it will inspire readers to discover the music of Lux Incerta. In any case, nowadays, music is more accessible than ever, so don’t hesitate to discover underground artists!
Phil: Thank you very much for this interview! And thanks to everyone supporting us, by buying some merch and music, by attending our show or by spreading our name!
(interview published September 26, 2022)
Watch Lux Incerta – “Decay and Agony” Video