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Memories of a Dead Man – Spoken and Heard

By: David E. Gehke

And so the post-metal world continues to churn, this time with France’s Memories of a Dead Man. Curious name aside, this six-piece embodies the ambitious sound that Cult of Luna, Rosetta, and Isis made famous (well, not “world famous, but you catch our drift) on their second full-length V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (Klonosphere/Season of Mist). The band basically strips the cupboard bare, finding the sweet spot on minimal, yet monotholic numbers like “Tomorrow At Dawn,” “Under the Cross,” and “Good Morning Child.” The end result is an all-encompassing listen, the type that crosses into cerebral territory without sounding like they were eating at the scraps left from the above-mentioned trio. With this in mind, we snagged guitarist/primary songwriter Ben Deburn and singer Pierre Duneau for a round of queries. Here’s what unfolded...

Blistering.com: The band got its start in 2006. Can you give our readers the scoop on some of the peaks and valleys of the last six years?

Ben Deburn:
Hey, for these past six years, we have made 250 shows in France and Europe, and we have some vivid memories. Like this festival at the seaside where the atmosphere was so amazing that a cloud of dust rose in front of us and so thick that we couldn't see or breathe normally!

Two other memories with the ex-singer who was two meters high and weighed 125 kg, he was carried at arm's length by a crowd of metal heads in a pit gone crazy in Troyes. Another time, he was making a very intense performance, moving in all directions, and unfortunately hit a girder, which knocked him out a bit but did not prevent him from screaming. As for me, during a first part of Sonic Syndicate, I was so deep in the concert that I moved too much and my back seized up! I stood firm till the end but it was not easy.

Pierre Duneau: The first concert was unforgettable, not that it was especially good but that something really weird happened to me. I took my breath and had an epileptic fit! The people around wondered if this was part of the show (I had convulsions), and the band kept playing because they could not see me (I was in the pit). I woke up at the end of the first song, and the show went on.

The last three concerts have been something of an experience too because I had a foot in plaster, broken on the occasion of Ben's birthday... that's what you call being a true friend. Incidentally, the plaster broke during the third concert...

Blistering.com: We’ve interviewed several bands from the French metal scene and each has a different take on its progress. How do you think the scene has grown in the last few years?

I think the scene is more underground. Each band tries to create its own network, and in certain cases shares it with other bands. For example, we are part of the Klonosphere (a collective gathering several metal bands), and it's a good way of communicating, getting to know other bands, and working with people with a common state of mind.

Blistering.com: Memories of a Dead Man is certainly an interesting name. What’s the meaning behind it?

For me, it's what remains of someone who died, what makes him or her eternal. What matters is what we leave to those who remain and will follow. It's the tangible print we leave, and this to me is essential.

Deburn: Absolutely, it's the progress of a man, his doubts, his weaknesses, his values...

Blistering.com: You’re a part of the post-metal scene, so do you feel any connection to bands like Isis, Cult of Luna, Rosetta, etc.?

As chance is sometimes surprising, we have already worked with members of two of these three groups. Mike Armine (Rosetta) was even close to becoming our new singer; he appears on the maxi Maze on the title "Spoken Yet Never Heard,” and Magnus Lindberg from Cult of Luna has mastered our new album V.I.T.R.I.O.L. Now we feel equally influenced by bands like Mastodon or Tool than by the post-metal scene.

Blistering.com: Describe the songwriting process behind V.I.T.R.I.O.L.

I had already composed almost all the album, musically speaking.

Duneau: Ben sent me the pre-prod that had been recorded before by Etienne Sarthou (the man who recorded V.I.T.R.I.O.L.), then Ben gave me carte blanche for the lyrics and the way of singing. We complement one another and accept the opinion of each other.

Blistering.com: Is there a running lyrical theme over the course of V.I.T.R.I.O.L.?

Yes, there is the theme of the foundations of the human, his flaws, his internal research about death (which affected the two most active members of the group...), which also deals with religion and its teachings, secret societies, and finally the approach the universe as a signifying whole.

Duneau: V.I.T.R.I.O.L is a quest, an inner crusade, a kind of sublimation of the human being.

Blistering.com: album certainly has its high points like “Tomorrow At Dawn,” “Good Mourning Child” and “Leave Scars.” For you, which songs stand out the most?

Yes, the songs you mention are important and have real strong points: “Tomorrow, at dawn” and “Good Mourning child” are among the best titles of this album for us too, but in a more ambient, dark or punchy style: “INRI,” “Trismegistus King,” “ Diving Bell & Butterfly.” ”On the Heights of Despair” is a really strong title too. Of course, there is less melodic voice and the scream or growl dominates, which does not appeal to everyone right away.

Duneau: I really love “Meshi'ha” for the haunting heaviness of the song and the subject dealt with. I think I'll carry on with it.

Blistering.com: What made you shoot a video for “Tomorrow At Dawn?” What’s the concept behind it?

It is a small representation of the 7 Deadly Sins, we wanted to make a video clip that was affordable, open and not too dark for a first title of this album, by incorporating a few wink themes from what is around us, like the burlesque, laziness, lust... !

Blistering.com: How has the band fared on the live scene?

Cool, really cool, there is a great complicity between us on stage, it's pretty fun and the result seems to appeal to the public.

Duneau: Yes, the complicity is increasing with every show. It's not only music we share.

Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on tap for the rest of 2012?

Probably more video clips like the one just released. We will try to illustrate in video most of the titles of the album, but there may be only two real two clips “Tomorrow, at dawn” and another one at the end of 2012, “Good Mourning Child” or “Trismegistus King,” then the second part of the Postcore Tour. After making 20 shows since the release of the album, we're going to rest this summer and resume early September defending the album on the roads. And why not a surprise, maybe in December...

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