In the spotlight for this week’s Meet The Band is the UK black/death metal duo Itheist. They recently switched band names and released their self-titled debut. Vocalist Kane Nelson and multi-instrumentalist Dan Couch introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Itheist.
Dan Couch: I wanted to start an extreme metal band back in the early 2000s. I knew a drummer so we got some songs together then advertised for a lineup. Kane responded, and we’ve been friends ever since. That lineup unfortunately disintegrated, so after trying multiple musicians and finding them lacking, the band was put on ice. Eventually the need to create music outgrew the desire for a full band lineup so we became a studio only band. We released two recordings as Aetherium Mors, changed the band name to Itheist, and here we are today with our first album.
Describe the songwriting process for your self-titled debut.
Dan: The bulk of the songs were written pretty quickly after completing the Aetherium Mors Entrails of the Soul EP. I was feeling energized and inspired and wanted to expand some of the elements on that EP. The process is usually divided into separate writing and arranging sessions, I’ll come up with riffs and ideas, then when I feel there are enough that suggest they belong together I’ll spend time arranging them. Demos were constantly being sent to Kane for feedback as I wrote.
Kane Nelson: We had several conversations about the sounds and the lyrical themes, bouncing ideas back and forth until we had a unified idea to pursue.
Dan: Yes, as the lyrics took shape it led to some of the more cinematic elements such as samples, piano, melodic vocals, etc.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Kane: Just having a laugh in the studio in between takes. I remember me and Dan cracking up over my Lord of Darkness, Blix (from the movie Legend) impersonations over the mic in the studio.
Dan: Yeah, it’s great spending time in the studio having a beer and a laugh, then when the metal starts to flow the mood takes a more serious turn. (laughs)
How did you decide to have Damian Herring do the mix and master?
Dan: I love the sound Damian gets for his band Horrendous among others. Natural sounding drums, not overly compressed, dynamic, those things appeal to me. I like to be able to hear details in a mix rather than having everything obscured by distortion. He is super easy to work with and the whole process was a pleasure.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
Kane: I’d say its dissonant, harmonious and powerful.
Dan: It’s dark, powerful melodic extreme metal. These songs were written on a 7 string guitar but I didn’t want to over-exploit the low B string, so I tried writing songs in different keys and made sure to use the entire range the instrument offers.
What led you to go the independent route for the album release?
Dan: We were planning to release the album via Eihwaz Recordings, which is a sister label to Bindrune, but the label owner went on hiatus to focus on some other things in life. So we ended up self releasing. I’m used to doing things independently, anyway. Most band releases I’ve been involved with started as independent releases, and some were then picked up for label releases, vinyl and merch anyway. perhaps an offer will come along. Either way we will continue to make music and release it however we see fit.
What are your goals and expectations for the record?
Kane: We just enjoy making music and developing our sound. It’s definitely a milestone album for us. We have reached an intended point on this record that has taken a long time. We are very happy with the end result. Hopefully our metal kindred will enjoy listening to the record as much as we’ve enjoyed making it.
Dan: Absolutely, we just wanted to push our sound further, playing with more elaborate arrangements, samples, and better production. it’s an album solely for our own pleasure, and if other people enjoy it, that’s a bonus.
What has the early response been like from reviewers and fans who have heard the pre-release tracks?
Kane: We are very proud of what we have achieved on this record. Overall the response from fans has been excellent. We all know what music does to us when it resonates with us. The reviews I’ve read have been positive overall.
Dan: I have played some tracks to friends of mine who have commented on how the music is more refined and sonically heavier than our previous releases, so I feel we’ve achieved what we set out to do with this release.
Do you have any plans to put together a full band to play live?
Kane: We would love to play live. Drummers in the West Country are hard to come by these days.
Dan: The new material being written at the moment definitely has live performances in mind, but we will see. We both have families and careers so it is hard to find time to do it properly. I already have the musicians in mind that can do the songs justice, other commitments permitting.
How did you get started in music?
Kane: Things only really truly began for me when I auditioned for the original Eternal Saros line up back in 2004. The success of that meeting is the foundational reason for people enjoying our self titled.
Dan: I’ve been playing guitar since I was 11 or so, and drums on and off for the last 8 years. I come from a very musical family so it seemed inevitable that I’d end up doing something musical. I doubt my family had this type of music in mind though. (laughs)
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Kane: Pantera, Slayer, Judas Priest, Venom, Black Sabbath, Eyehategod were my early influences.
Dan: I started on Guns N’ Roses, Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer before discovering Carcass via the song “Heartwork.” That significant discovery has guided me ever since, via Emperor and Opeth and towards Portal and Ulcerate.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Kane: Ozzfest 2002 was my first concert
Dan: Carcass on the Heartwork tour in ’93.
What is the metal scene like in your area of the UK?
Kane: You will find some of the most dedicated metal fans and musicians in the West country. It is perpetually lacking in a scene, yet the bands and fans soldier on. In some areas down here, you really can be the only metal head in the village.
Dan: There are fragmented scenes of sorts, but most gigs rely on pulling bands in from other countries or areas of the UK. I’m lucky to have played some high profile gigs with my other band, notably supporting Ulcerate, Gorgoroth, Vader, and The Great Old Ones among others.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Kane: Deathspell Omega- The Synarchy of Molten Bones, Judas Priest- Screaming For Vengeance, The Great Old Ones- A Tale of Dark Legacy.
Dan: Skaldic Curse – Devourer, Ceremony of Silence – Outis, Avslut – Deceptis, Aosoth, Convulsing, Misthryming. There are tons of bands. I’m always scouring the underground for filth!
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Dan: Thanks for the interest and support, check out the new album here!
(interview published June 29, 2019)
Listen To Itheist – “Garden Of Baphomet”