The duo Dawn Of Existence are in this week’s Meet The Band spotlight. They just released their debut album Ancient Arts. Astor (vocals, bass, guitars, synths) and Votan (guitars, synths) introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Dawn of Existence.
Votan: The band technically started in 2017, but Astor and I have a long history of playing music together and have been in some other bands prior to that. In 2017 we decided to put all our efforts into this band, springboarding off some riffs we had been writing on our own and have been working at it since.
Astor: We were both playing in a band that I ended up leaving sometime around 2015. After leaving, I just spent time writing and recording metal riffs and demos. One night when we were hanging out and talking it turned out Votan was also recording metal demos and we decided to start sharing them to each other. Once we heard each other’s demos, we decided to record an album.
Describe the songwriting process for Ancient Arts.
Votan: Just about all the songs started with a couple of riffs/parts and then we fleshed them out over some time to bring them all to completion. For example, a song like “Toe Up” started with some riffs Astor wrote and I came in and added some flair and came up with a riff for the bridge, added a solo, etc. Lyrics usually are the last to be added and those usually start as an idea or concept we’re interested in that we want to explore.
Astor: The writing process was a little different for this one. Since we have a very large collection of riffs and demos we initially just started piecing things together. We’d pick certain demos we liked, then grab certain riffs we wanted to develop, and then had a rough idea for an album. Funnily enough, while we were working on all these songs and riffs we already had, we were still writing new material. Of the eight songs on Ancient Arts, four of them were new songs written during the recording process.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Votan: Probably going into the studio to oversee tracking of drums.
Astor: I don’t want to remember it for all the obstacles we had and are still trying to overcome, but there’s been a long list. I did really enjoy working with Fern and going to his studio for drum tracking. I also enjoyed doing all the guitar reamping, mixing the album, and video editing.
What was the most challenging part of recording Ancient Arts?
Votan: There was a time during the recording where we were waiting for weeks/months for this piece of equipment to arrive so we could complete the guitars. It was frustrating and we were anxious to get everything completed. It was worth the wait but I’m glad we don’t have to deal with that again.
Astor: There were several points during this recording that were fairly challenging. We went into this planning to reamp our guitars at a later date; essentially just a process that takes the recorded guitar signal and plays it through another amp to be recorded again. We also knew we wanted to use custom speaker cabinets as well. As the pandemic hit, getting parts and equipment became nearly impossible and we had unfinished cabs sitting around for nearly 10 months and studio equipment lost in the mail, several times. We were finally able to get everything we needed and everything reamped so we could move onto mixing the album. The music video process wasn’t any easier though, but we’ve made it through it.
How would you describe its style/genre?
Votan: People who’ve reviewed the album seem to be struck by how diverse and how much ground it covers. There’s death metal, melodic death, black metal, goth elements at times. But it’s never all this or all that and no matter what we do, we still manage to wind up sounding like us anyway. So people can call it whatever they want I guess.
Astor: A lot of people have been labeling it as “blackened melodic death metal” but I always find it strange. It seems they are thrown off by my blending of death metal growls and black metal screams. If you go into Ancient Arts thinking it’s blackened melodic death metal, you’re not going to immediately hear that on the first song or two. It’s there, but so is death metal, melodic metal, and goth elements. What people call us doesn’t concern me as long as they’re enjoying it.
What lyrical topics do you address?
Votan: Songs can cover topics such as history, ancient cultures, fantasy, cosmology, the occult, etc or a combination. We kind of just do whatever we like and feel like as far as that goes.
Astor: As Votan said, anything from history to fantasy, to occult, to space. Even if it doesn’t quite seem like it, every song on Ancient Arts kind of ties together in one way or another.
What led you to go the independent route for its release?
Votan: We’re a pretty new band so it was mainly out of necessity and stubbornness I suppose. We enjoy having our hands in the creative process for everything as well.
Astor: I don’t know if we exactly chose to go the independent route. I think it was our only route releasing our debut album. We’re a new band with a small presence that has received great feedback but we are still definitely unknown. Yeah, we definitely like being as hands on as possible. We did all of the recording, tracking, mixing by ourselves except the drums. Fern recorded his drums at his place FL Recordings and mastered the album. We’ve done all the artwork and design ourselves and shot and edited all the videos and pretty much everything else involved with the album. Someone can certainly help us out. (laughs)
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Votan: We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the album already but main goals right now are to get the planned music video for “Škoda ‘14” and “Toe Up” ready for release and just try to let as many people as possible know about the album. I want this release to get people excited about what’s to come as well.
Astor: Honestly, I do hope this album gets noticed on a larger scale. We’ve heard great things so far and we just want more momentum behind the release. I hope this album allows us to do even greater things in the future and help us finally piece together a permanent lineup.
Do you have any plans to play live?
Votan: Definitely. We’re currently working on putting a full band together but it’s been challenging. Stay tuned!
Astor: Absolutely, absolutely. We definitely have ideas for a live show but… we need a full band first.
How did you get started in music?
Votan: I started playing bass when I was around 10 or 11 years old, thanks to Astor. I played that a ton until I got into high school when I bought my first guitar so we could start playing together as more of a band. The guitar was a Jackson Kelly that I still have here next to me.
Astor: I started playing bass around 10 years old. My older brother and all the kids in my neighborhood were already playing guitar and I had a cousin that was a bass player that made me see how cool it was. My first bass was a Memphis ¾ scale that I still have today.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Votan: Early days were bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Misfits, Danzig, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath. Stuff like that. Then a little later I discovered the bands coming out of Sweden, Finland, Norway, etc. and that changed a lot of things musically for me.
Astor: I actually grew up listening to old country and outlaw country but definitely got into metal at a very early age. Votan and I both did. We were listening to the same stuff. Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Megadeth, Misfits, Danzig, etc. and by the time we were 10 years old we were listening to Testament, Slayer, Pantera and stuff like that. Eventually, Votan showed me Jotun by In Flames and that set me on a completely different musically forever.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Votan: Metallica at the Alamodome 1997
Astor: Metallica at the Alamodome 1997. We actually went together with a few friends. Corrosion of Conformity was the opener.
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Votan: Digital painting, oil painting, video games.
Astor: I don’t have much time for it anymore but building cars. Photography, videography, and I’m a huge Arsenal FC supporter.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Votan: Looking at my Spotify, apparently old Mercyful Fate, Katatonia and Nightingale. (laughs) As for newer bands, Astor and I have been pretty tuned into things like Thulcandra/Obscura as well lately. We recently saw them live in Austin and they kicked ass.
Astor: I’m always listening to new and old Hypocrisy and right now I’m listening to a lot of Majesties, Imperium Dekadenz, Behemoth, Septicflesh, and like Votan said, Thulcandra and Obscura. There’s definitely more. I love hearing new music.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Votan: Ancient Arts came out on May 5th on all the usual places. Check out our links for our merch site, and stay tuned for more music videos and news. Stay metal.
(interview published May 6, 2023)
Watch Dawn Of Existence – “Marble Garden” Video