ANTRE – interview
Photo: Ian Marshall
THROUGH DEAD EYES AND DARK PLACES – AN INTERVIEW WITH ANTRE
Yours truly recently had the great pleasure of reviewing the upcoming EP entitled "Dark Spectrum" by the British black metal outfit Antre, and I was blown away by how incredibly atmospheric and intense the entire musical affair is. Apart from its strong melodies, monstrously huge riffs, and perfectly harsh vocals, Antre’s new piece of work is as brooding and moody as it is sinister and claustrophobic. If you are on the lookout for a deeply unsettling and memorable opus, then "Dark Spectrum" is basically all you need. It is one of those marvellous and well-crafted underground gems that one can keep coming back to again and again; it simply never loses its sick charm. Eternal Terror Live caught up with guitarist Chris Marsland to learn more about Antre and what inspires them. Make sure you pre-order either the digital or CD version of the EP via Bandcamp.
Greetings Chris and thank you for taking the time to reply to these question of mine – much appreciated. Could you start out by telling us what is happening in the Antre camp these days?
Chris: So, it’s been a busy last half of the year in many ways for us. We’re predominantly a DIY band, so we’re responsible for nearly every aspect of our releases from start to finish, writing/recording/releasing our new E.P., "Dark Spectrum", which is due to release on the 15th of January, as well as making sure everyone on earth knows we’re on the "Cyberpunk 2077" soundtrack!
How and why did the band come to be and who or what motivated you to spawn the outfit in the first place? Are all of you based in Nottingham or do you live far apart?
Chris: So, 4/5 of us are from Nottingham except for our bass player Dan who is from Derby. Barry (drums) and I had been in a band that naturally ended, and we’d talked about making some black metal with Donny (who we had played shows with and were great friends with) for a number of years, so that felt like the right time to jam some ideas out. Our first couple of rehearsals went so well and we wrote half of the music that would become our first album in 4 weeks. We quickly added Patrick (vocals) and Dan who were friends and part of the great Midlands metal scene. Antre has always been and will be about escapism from the real world and about making the music we love – we like to push ourselves and grow as musicians, so that’s what we’ve always focused on as a band.
Were the blackened and sinister hymns for "Dark Spectrum" written and recorded within a short span of time or had you been working on them for months or perhaps even years?
Chris: "Dark Spectrum" was a product of the end of the first lockdown and the knowledge that another one would be inevitable. It was a very intense 2 months where we wrote/demoed/recorded all 4 tracks from scratch. We like to challenge ourselves and have found we probably produce our best work when putting ourselves under pressure, and this is most definitely the case. The drums and vocals were recorded at the much-loved Nottingham institution Stuck on a Name Studios with the guitars/bass being recorded using a DIY set up we put together at my house for a weekend.
Is there a certain theme or maybe a concept of sorts with respect to the lyrics? The artwork is simply stunning, and I was wondering how that ties in with the ideas and topics that your compositions revolve around?
Chris: "Dark Spectrum" is loosely based around the concept of dissociative identity disorder, which is something we found quite fascinating and wanted to explore further from a musical/lyrical perspective. We all have our own personal demons and "Dark Spectrum" is our release of the darker sides of these. The artwork was by the incredibly talented Alice Griffiths and represents multiple personalities being aspects of the same person.
In general, are you guys intuitive and spontaneous when it comes to putting various ideas together and crafting songs, or do you usually live with them for months and perhaps even years before you enter the studio and record them? There is a glorious sense of rawness to "Dark Spectrum" and yet the whole affair is so structured and disciplined too; there is that perfect balance there that just gets me every time I listen to the EP. It’s a fantastic and inspired piece of work.
Chris: Thank you! We have a few ways of writing music; as I’ve mentioned earlier, we feel we produce our best work when we put ourselves under pressure. Pre-lockdown, we would take ourselves away for days/weekends and really be disciplined with our time on writing a batch of songs and then take them into rehearsals and naturally sharpen/expand on them over weeks/months until we’re comfortable to play them live (if we can’t play it live, we don’t want to play it!). With "Dark Spectrum", we obviously had to draw on all the discipline to pull something together in the short window we had out of lockdown here.
I am curious as to what inspires you in terms of composing music and penning lyrics? What specific things move and inspire you to write words, melodies, and riffs for Antre? Other forms of art perhaps?
Chris: Lyrically, we are based around fantasy themes but with undertones of personal experience. Patrick (vocals) is hugely influenced by the worlds of "Bloodbourne" and "Dark Souls". Musically, it’s a reflection of the energy we release when we have the time to escape reality. We’re influenced by the atmosphere and power of black/death metal like Mayhem, Morbid Angel and Drudkh but also progressive heavy music like Tool and The Ocean.
What does the title of your new EP connote or refer to? It sounds evocative yet unsettling, and I was wondering if you could elaborate on it?
Chris: "Dark Spectrum" is the concept of the EP – the dark sides of our personalities that lurk deep within us. The title represents two things really; firstly, Patrick’s overarching lyrical concept of the manifestation of a multiple personality disorder and similarly a range of strong and dark emotions that a single person can experience over a shorter or longer period given the different pressures that life can throw at you. Secondly, it alludes to the spectrum of ideas and styles that results from our 4 instrumentalists each bringing a different song to the table, which the band together then absorb and bring their own personalities to.
PHOTO: Ian Marshall
Are you involved in other bands and musical endeavours outside of Antre?
Chris: Donny is also currently in the folk/doom band Crumbling Ghost and Patrick is also involved with a death metal band, Cacodemonic. Historically, Barry and I were in a doom band, Megalodoom (along with Tanya from Bismuth), and Dan came from a death metal background, being in Merciless Terror, so we have a well of different musical perspectives and influences to drawn down on.
What is next for your guys in the grand scheme of things? Any shows planned for later this year? And what about a full-length album at some point?
Chris: What’s next? Playing some shows would be genuinely amazing but sadly unlikely in the short term due to Covid-19. We’re going to take a very short rest after releasing "Dark Spectrum" and then spend the rest of the year working on the next full-length, which we’re really excited about.
Do you recall what the first record you ever bought was and perhaps even where you bought it?
Chris: First record? With my own money? Wow, I can! And it sits in my CD rack with its original price tag; "Smash" by the Offspring – it’s still a classic! If we’re talking first record that someone bought for me . . . "Turtle Power" (as in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) . . . the less said about that the better.
Just out of curiosity, what albums are you currently immersing yourself in at home and do your tastes in music vary?
Chris: For me, my three constant repeated records are Mayhem’s "Daemon", Blood Incantation’s "Hidden History of the Human Race" and Tool’s "Fear Inoculum". We have a massive and varied alternative music taste across the band from glam rock to punk to progressive through to doom and electronica. However, we are united in our passion of cold, harsh black metal!
Thanks once again for your time. Any comments or words of wisdom to our readers?
Chris: Thanks Jens! Words of wisdom . . . support your local bands and venues – that’s more important than ever.