Interview with Darvius Noctem of Days Of Our Decay

Brought together by Cosmo Morte of US band Scream Machine, we had the pleasure of meeting Darvius Noctem of Canadian goth/black/industrial metal band Days Of Our Decay and reviewing the excellent album Electric Twilight which was released a few weeks ago. With a rich mix of flavours reminding of the likes of Rammstein, Deathstars, Dimmu Borgir, Type O Negative, and Sisters Of Mercy, as well as unique and vibrant imagination of its own it was a release that found a firm place on our playlists. Wanting to know more about the band and the great creativity brought forth by Days Of Our Decay we threw a flurry of questions the way of Darvius and he graciously revealed all.

Hi Darvius welcome to The RingMaster Review and many thanks for talking with us.

Firstly could you just tell us about yourself?

Man, you gave me the hard question first.  I am so horrible talking about myself, but I think my Facebook “about me” section sums it up.   Here goes…

I draw stuff and occasionally get paid for it. I also compose and play music, but usually don’t get paid for that. Sometimes I collaborate with other musicians for various projects. I end up talking to myself a lot because no one really listens to me to begin with. I hate most things, particularly: people, religion, and summer. Most people often mistake me for a “snob” when I am actually a misanthrope. I’m extremely opinionated and often voice my opinions, which usually get me into some degree of trouble. I have a dry, morbid sense of humour, but I am usually the only one laughing.

What is your musical history before Days Of Our Decay?

I started playing guitar when I was 15 or 16, but just couldn’t really get into it and moved on to learn bass, drums and then keyboard.  I took piano in high school but never really took it seriously until just before I started Days Of Our Decay.  During high school I played in a really lame electronic/rock/metal/experimental band called: The Spacemen On Vacation.  Later on in my early 20’s I joined my friends’ band: Malice.  It was more of a nu-metal influenced band in the same vein as bands like Coal Chamber, Spineshank, etc.  Initially, I played drums and then moved into the keyboard and bass position just before the other guys called it quits, which is then when I started Days Of Our Decay.

Days of Our Decay was initially and in many ways still is a solo project?

I started the band and wrote a few songs, but wanted to get my ex band  mates from Malice to join and contribute, but due to our life schedules and one of the members alcoholism, it ended up just becoming my solo project, and in many ways it still is a solo project.  I have had many different people in and out of the band over the years, but the only other official member is Demonika Demise.  Most of the past members were just brought in so we could play shows.  I recorded some demos and alternate versions of songs with a lot of the past members, but none of the final songs included them.  There are some demo cds and a live cd floating around – I will tell you that.

What was the intent and spark behind starting the project for you?

I wanted to have a rock/metal influenced band that was really keyboard savvy.  The thing that annoyed me the most in metal and rock is that the keyboards were always mixed so low, or just so minimal, so I wanted to have a band that featured keyboards as the driving instrument.  In addition, I am really attracted to dark music, whether it is heavy or soft, which is something I also wanted to incorporate into my project.   Ultimately, I wanted to create a sound that I wanted to hear in music, from a listener perspective, and at the same time, I wanted something that didn’t take itself too seriously.

You have self termed it “Elevator Music For The Dying!” could you elaborate on that and did that apply to your music from the very beginning? I ask as I know you had a later album with the term as its title.

It was originally a line from a poem/song I wrote in my late teens and I thought it was just something silly and over the top, and just decided to run with it.  The term did apply from the beginning.  In regards to the album:  Elevator Music For The Dying, it kind of summed up every aspect of the band at the time and prior to that.  That album was more or less an end of an era and Graveyard Superstar was the first album of the new era.  It’s ultimately still “Elevator Music For The Dying” it’s just expanded a bit more, I think.

 From what I know of your music you are unafraid to explore your own and the music’s boundaries?

Umm, sort of.  I don’t stray much from my trademark style, but I am always trying to incorporate new elements per song or album.   Overall, I just try to write and play what comes natural at the time.  That’s also easier said than done.  I tend to over think everything.   Sometimes I write a riff or a song and have to think “Did I write that riff before?” or “Does this song sound too much like this one?” etc.

You are quite prolific release wise especially in recent times and I know people have commented on that to you but I get the sense whereas other musicians might do the same but just throw everything out they create whatever the standard you have a disciplined and strict standard you place upon your work and maybe discard songs as many as you release?

Definitely, for every album I generally write and record up to 20+ songs and narrow it down to the best 11 or 12.  It’s hard to determine what makes the cut until the end because each song means something to me, but I try and make each album as dynamic as I can and have it flow really well from beginning to end.  I always second guess myself though because you never know what songs are gonna connect with people.  I find that most of my favourites are people’s least favourites and vice versa.  One of these days I might just make an album of songs that I hate and maybe everyone will love it and it will be a big hit.

Is creating music the first and last thought for you each and every day?

Sometimes.  I think about drawing and art just as much.  Sometimes I write songs in my dreams.  No joke.  I wrote 2 songs from how I remembered them in my dream.  One was called:  “The Letter And The Ghost” and the other was called: “Gift.”

As you mentioned you work with Demonika Demise in the band and though she is mentioned as a backing singer she brings a lot more than her vocal skills to the project?

I think of her vocals as more of an instrument, rather than a backing singer.  It’s a complete contrast to my vocals, but somehow they seem to work well together.   I think that if I sang more conventional or if she sang more unconventional, it wouldn’t work.  In addition, she helps me with some of the final mixes.

How did you both meet?

We met online in December, 2006 when I was living in Minneapolis.  We got engaged and I moved to Canada in 2007 and the rest, they say, is history.

Does she get involved with the initial songwriting?

Haha, no, not at all.  She admits that she is not a songwriter.  She understands this is more my project and doesn’t want to interfere with that.  She has helped with a few parts though.  She helped me revamp an old song and she wrote a choir part to the intro/verse of our song:  The Dark Gift.

We have had a discussion about bands that people compare your music to rightly or wrongly so what are your major influences and which ones do you think have most added texture to your ideas and sound direction?

I`d say that our biggest influences that helped shape our sound would be: Deathstars, Type O Negative, Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Dimmu Borgir, Nightwish, She Wants Revenge, Sisters Of Mercy, Diary of Dreams, and The 69 Eyes.  Demonika’s influences are roughly the same as mine, but she is really influenced by more female -vocal oriented stuff like: Tarja Turunen, Evanescence, We Are The Fallen, etc.

I know Marilyn Manson is mentioned a lot when talking about your music especially vocally though I do not see it; does this get a bit tedious?

You are probably one of the only people who don’t see it, haha.  That’s cool though.  Overall, it does get tedious, but I usually find that it`s mostly from people who don`t know of any other darker- type bands, and since Manson is so mainstream, everyone just associates me with him.  I admit that I think our singing techniques are fairly similar from the raspy-ness in our voices and how we drag our notes, but if someone were to listen to us back to back, they would notice drastic differences.  I suppose at the same time, if someone compares us to Manson in a complementary way, I don`t get offended or anything, haha.

Always late to the party haha our introduction to you came with the great Electric Twilight which came out earlier this year. You first started making music for Days Of Our Decay with your first release The Devil’s Concubine appearing in 2005 I believe? How has your music evolved through the past decade and you as a musician and songwriter?

Yep, I wrote Devil`s Concubine back in 2005, but rerecorded for world release in 2007, and to also include Demonika Demise, as she was not on the original recordings of the first 2 albums.  Over that course of time, my songwriting and composing has gotten so much more refined and mature.  I can play stuff now that I could never play years ago.  We integrated new elements over the years and gradually got away from a lot of the `metal` aspects in our initial sound.  However, that will always be there in some form or another, I think, which is cool.  The production has greatly improved over the years for sure.  Even our vocals have changed and matured, quite a bit.  In the early albums it was about 50/50 singing to screaming, whereas now, I barely scream anymore.  Our vocal accuracy has greatly improved as well.  In a lot of ways we simplified and in other ways we expanded from the drums to the keyboards and all the sounds in between.  It was just a natural progression, I think.  I also managed to learn how to create and define a “mood” for a particular song much better.  Before it was just playing notes and making riffs.  For Graveyard Superstar, we started incorporating more guitar-synths and simpler compositions, as compared to our older work.  At this point, I can barely listen to our first handful of albums without cringing. 

Your website http://daysofourdecay.yolasite.com suggests you have already three more albums planned for the rest of the year and into 2013, are you that far ahead or is this just planned targets?

Ever since 2009 we have been 2 or more albums ahead of schedule (so to speak).  Keep in mind, we have been this far ahead even with me scrapping lots of songs.  I work extremely fast and can put out 1-2 finished songs per week.  If I were to die or end the band today, there would be a good 5 albums ready to go.  We’d be like the Tupac of the gothic rock world – dead, but still coming out with albums!

How do you create your music, what most often comes first and how do you develop these seeds?

I usually sit around and think to myself, “What would people really NOT want to hear.”

I’m usually inspired by a song, whether it is good or bad, or some kind of mood or feeling and then I sit at my keyboards and see what comes out.  I have spent hours just messing around with keyboard riffs and ideas, but usually I try and get the music to the chorus part done first and build the rest of the song around that.  A lot of times it doesn’t work that way, but that is initially how I start.  Once I finish writing and recording the main keyboard part, I fill in the rest of the sounds.  The drums usually come together last, as far as the music goes.  99% of the time, the lyrics and vocals are written and arranged after the music has been finalized.  I hate writing lyrics though, yet, ironically I spend a lot of time working on them.  It’s like an organized chaos and sometimes a warzone when I am writing a song.

You produce and mix your own releases too?

Yep.  I have the most unconventional equipment set up, but somehow it works for us.

How do stop yourself from getting too close in that department when you are doing every aspect of the music, do you have an outside ear to offer thoughts and ideas around too? Demonika maybe?

Exactly!  You hit the nail on the head, my friend.  I have to step away from it a lot and have Demonika take a listen.  Aside from her, I don’t want any outside influence because I don’t want to feel like I have to compromise what I do to appease someone.  Occasionally, I will ask my friends what they think of a particular mix or song, but that’s it.

How do you set up your live shows, still just the two of you?

It has changed for every show.  For the first 3 shows, we had a full line up (vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums), without using any kind of backing tracks, but when I moved to Canada, we got booked for a show and I couldn’t secure a line up, so I had to resort to having our music (keyboards and drums) backtracked with Demonika and myself on vocals (respectively).  Honestly, I had so many problems with live musicians in the past, that we decided to keep the backtracks and go from there.  Some people might see that as unethical, but whatever.  The music is all created electronically, and unfortunately I can’t sing and play keyboard at the same time, so we have to resort to extreme measures to play shows.  Demonika doesn’t want to play shows anymore, and honestly, neither do I.  However, I get that “itch” from time to time, so if we play any shows in the future it will just be me and my lap top on stage.  I am also considering doing “internet shows” so people from all over the world can check it out, being as most of our fans are either in Europe or the U.S.

Is there a good audience for goth/black/industrial metal in Canada and especially Ontario where you are from?

Not at all.  We constantly get the cold shoulder from promoters around here, as well as bands, and just people in, general.  Most of the people around here just hate our style of music.  It’s really discouraging and disappointing.  The main thing is that it’s so divided here between crowds/scenes.  To make it in a band around here you either have to play really banal sounding hardcore/metal or classic rock and country.  There is no in between.  With most of our past shows, we’d get booked to play with all metal/hardcore bands, and that crowd is definitely not our demographic, to say the least.  Our last show we ended up opening for a blues, cover band.

Can we move on to the great art work to your albums, that is all your work too I believe?

Yes, indeed!

How long have you been creating art and is it an important part of the whole music experience you bring to your releases?

I have been an artist way longer than I have been a musician.  I have been creating art since I was a little kid.  I think my art is really contrasting to my music, but I think they work well together as a package deal.

What are your inspirations in this aspect of your skills?

I’d say mostly:  Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Joan Miro.

I am sure I am wrong but I just have this thought there is a link or theme running through your art which wraps around your releases?

Well, the art you see is just my style, so all of my pieces have a unique, ongoing look and theme.  For album covers, I generally just choose a piece that seems to fit for that particular album.

Apart from your album sleeves you do not have a gallery for your work on the website so where can people see more of your art?

Thanks for asking. Yes, I do:  https://www.facebook.com/visualdecadenceofficial

Does the art come after the music when creating music or arrive hand in hand?

No, I do art and music completely separate.  However, a song title has been known to influence a piece of artwork.

Which receives the priority of your time music or painting?

I’d say it’s about 50/50 give or take.  Some days I work on music all day and vice versa.

When can we get our ears and thoughts into your next album?

“Master Of Funerals” will be the next album, which we are planning for Halloween this year (2012).

Once again a great many thanks for sharing time with us.

Would you like to leave with a final thought or comment?

It’s not how much Crown [Crown Royal] you can drink, it’s how much ass you can get while drinking Crown.  I believe Vinnie Paul said that or something like that.  In regards to the music and art, you can download most of our albums on our website and tell all your friends (who might like us) to ‘like’ us on Facebook and spread the decay.

https://www.facebook.com/daysofourdecay

Read the review of Electric Twilight @

The RingMaster Review 16/05/2012

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MiXE1: Module 02

When the debut EP from UK electro rock band MiXE1 was unveiled in 2010 there was more than mere interest set in motion for any future releases. Module 01 was a haunting and vibrant collection of tracks offering much promise ahead whilst at the time lighting up thoughts and emotions with its warm enveloping sounds. A free single last year in A Spark In The Air only strengthened the eagerness for more with word of a follow up EP set for 2012 the trigger for even more enthused and impatient waiting. Module 02 does not disappoint, a four song release it brings an evolution in sound and invention with all the essences and imagination that first captivated still on board.

     MiXE1 is the solo project of Hatfield based songwriter Mike Evans. Having played in an alternative metal band he reached a point where he wanted to express himself in a different way and turned to electronic music, a genre that had already engaged his tastes. The project which became MiXE1 allowed him to find a more positive energy and area to express himself within, bringing a contrast to the darker sounds and lyrics which were borne from his previous band. It was a move as by the evidence of his releases which has openly inspired his creativity, the new release being no exception but a further step forward in his vision, songwriting and its realisation.

The EP immediately lights up the senses with opener This Is Not Goodbye, synths and dazzling swarms of sound wrapping around the ear with a tender embrace. With an emerging throbbing pulse the song spreads deeper into the head as the vocals of Evans, smooth and mesmeric soak the music in dazzling harmonies and care. Swaying within its warmth one is then thrust into a frenzy of aggressive guitars, vocals, and blistering intensity.  It creates the perfect union of extremes and continually unpredictable glories, offering a NIN/ Celldweller like feel with bursts of Sonic Syndicate. That is simplifying it as it has a uniqueness and freshness that is MiXE1 alone. It is the best track on Module 2, a sure and persistent companion to share time with though the other three songs that stir within the EP are just as compulsive.

Your Heart Is The Beat starts with the unlocking of the song, its grace and flow emerging from shadows into the limelight of the ear with a heated grace and hypnotic energy. Emotive and seemingly personal through passion and heart the song is a wave of summer warmth splintered with flashes of harshness which ignites even deeper veined satisfaction. Electro pop with a Visage like breath the track is a wonderful excuse to visit inner thoughts and emotions with an understanding soundtrack.

Do You Know continues the feeling with more eighties electro flavouring though it reminds more of John Foxx led Ultravox with its underlying rock edge. Another song with euphoric depth to it the irresistible pleasure lifts the lowest spirit and any darkly shadowed emotion with caring imagination and evocative thought coated in infectious harmonies and soaring melodies.

The release is completed by the impassioned Never Been Gone, a far reaching atmospheric mist of emotion spotted with falling sonic glittering and the tenderness of electronic enveloping. Once more Evans brings textures to the music which makes each dip into its sea of sounds fresh and deeply rewarding. The song invites one to lie back and let it take them through their own journey of memories, thoughts, and feelings, the wonderful sounds an understanding companion.

Released June 16th on Static Distortion Records, Module 02 is a stunning result of an artist who has found a full well of imagination and craft within music he is relatively speaking still fresh to and it harbours even greater promise for a planned debut album ahead. Just to be picky one would say more guitar and more of the metallic abrasion on that please, but if it is as good as this EP, we will take anything MiXE1 brings with relish.

RingMaster 196/05/2012

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States of Matter: The Scheme of Things

If you are looking for some new and exciting rock sounds then maybe head over to the debut album from UK band States of Matter. With a flavoursome mix of classic and hard rock with extra spices from far and wide The Scheme of Things will more than feed the demands and senses of rock fans everywhere. Eight tracks of enthusiastic and finely crafted rock n roll it is hard to imagine many that will not be wrapped up within its energised eagerness immediately and permanently. To be honest classic and hard rock with very few exceptions fly by our tastes only receiving a cursory glance at best but this little enthused piece of sound has had a few secretive and furtive returns on top of just around the review.

Formed in September 2011, the quintet from Bournemouth is as new as the sounds they rustle up with skill and strength. Taking influences from the likes of and as wide as Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Yellowcard, Ray Charles, and Kids In Glass Houses, they have taken no time in grabbing attention with live shows around the south of England and their debut video for opening song on the album Skyline. Filmed at Bristol Filton Airport earlier in the year it offers all you need to know about States of Matter and The Scheme of Things.

Skyline emerges on a wave of electronic atmosphere as a sizzling guitar lights up its skies with a fine display of melodic invention. The song builds up its elevated presence before reaching a plateau of powerful riffs and boisterous energy which finds an even more enthused intensity within the excellent infectious chorus. The track is an immediate hook from the album, an invitation into its arms that is impossible to resist. The vocals of George Holloway are impressive and easily fit the stylish sounds surrounding him, backed by great group vocals throughout the song.

As indicated in the opener the guitars of Harrison Perks and Richard Couchman are another element of the songs which one cannot fail to be impressed with, the following Jeez Louise sealing the opinion with some fine and imaginative play from both. The song is a definite favourite on the album, another irresistible slice of strong songwriting and its contagious unleashing. Though not always as openly heard as one would like on the more raucous tracks, the bass of Iain Sheppard is a brooding growl behind the song, his obvious ability adding a groove behind the scorched guitar sounds.

The album as it progresses reveals a diversity of sound and intent which is to be admired especially as the band pulls it off each and every time. The power ballad Cassiopeia is an emotive feast for the ear of passion fuelled piano and guitar majesty, the track rising and dipping in intensity like a heavy hearted chest. The power and reach of the song explores beyond the ear to wrap tightly around senses and emotions, a masterful piece of composing brought forth with further passion.

The eighties rock flavouring of Hot Of The Press adds another taste to the album and though it is not as striking as the trio of songs before it, classic rock fans will love its easy and anthemic sounds. The track, alongside Shotaway and the closing Hit For Six, did not quite find the appeal as elsewhere here but that is down to personal taste only and the dislike of the genre that spines them. They are like the medicine that you know is good for you but has a taste that makes one reluctant to take it, for those that love older rock sounds they will drool over them.

The remaining two songs on the album are the soulful Only Lovers Left Alive with a great southern twang to its provocative charms and the excellent The Casual Company. With a splatter of sleaze to its bluesy rock stance it has a splash of Wasted Sinners to it that draws one in eagerly. The rhythms of Lloydi Gee Pearson throw the ear into a frenzied state as the bass and guitars twist and turn with exuberance and ingenuity. The track is real rock n roll brought by real rock n rollers and pure pleasure.

If you love your classic and hard rock you will adore States of Matter and if not you will still find more than enough satisfying and imaginative things within The Scheme of Things to have a great time in its company, we did.

https://www.facebook.com/StatesofMatterUK

Ringmaster 16/05/2012

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Allegaeon: Formshifter

Formshifter the new album from Colorado melodic death metallers Allegaeon is just one of those beasts that you can only be impressed by no matter which metallic flavour lines your heart most. It is quite simply a masterpiece of defence splitting aggression, mesmeric technical prowess, and blistering scorched melodies, that is not to mention the deeply manipulative grooves and tumultuous numbing riffage which drives each and every track. The album is immense, a ruthless incursion of ear and heart which leaves one in no doubt they have just experienced the mightiest and most invigorating storm.

    Formshifter is the follow up to 2010 debut album Fragments of Form and Function, an album that put them on the metal map with force. Formed in 2008 by founding member and guitarist Ryan Glisan and soon completed with the addition of classically trained guitarist Greg Burgess, vocalist Ezra Haynes, and bassist Corey Archuleta, Allegaeon (pronounced: uh-lee-juhn) drew attention with their four tracked self-titled EP of the same year. 2009 saw them sign with Metal Blade Records and the eventual release of their critically acclaimed first album the year after. Following up such an impressive introduction to the wider world is always testing but they make it look easy as they return with an album that puts even that mighty debut in the shade.

Recorded at Lambesis Studios with Daniel Castleman (As I Lay Dying, Impending Doom, Carnifex, Winds of Plague), Formshifter splatters the senses against the cranium from the start with not only brutal intensity and insatiable grooves but also from the sheer class of their melodic invention. It never leaves one alone for a moment persistently barracking, provoking and captivating. It retains the core sound that made its predecessor so dominant but brings a fuller depth and uses a wider palate to create with. The band adds in multi sourced flavours to their melodic death metal spine without diminishing the tight powerful structure and strengths that make them Allegaeon; in fact they have simply just made them even more formidable.

The opening melodic beckoning of first song Behold (God I Am) sets one up majestically for the soon to follow wall of destructive intensity, and riffs that cripple the senses within seconds. It is a rampant muscular assault that leaves no avenue twisted and escape route blocked with its mountainous intensity. With solos which leave flesh as cinders the track is a stunning start to the album and yet not even close to be the best track on the album.

The following Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst explores inner corners you did not know existed as its grooves search out every shadow for the stunning guitar invention to glow within. Not one for over blown guitar play or constant solos it is still impossible not to be blown away from the imaginative and glorious creations from Glisan and Burgess, the latter one of the finest guitarists around and with the discipline and skill to stay well away from indulgence.  Throughout the vocals of Haynes growl and crawl all over the emotions with authority, emotion and venomous spite veining every track with a harsh intensity.

Every song on the album is a ravenous predator upon the ear mauling with titanic riffs and melodic ingenuity that lights every pore. The likes of the unrelenting bruising Iconic Images, the viciously clawed The Azrael Trigger a track which twists and torments the senses until you have no idea what day it is, and the infection spewing From The Stars Death Came, all leave one a breathless husk as they devour every synapse and feeling.  It is with Twelve – Vals For The Legions though that the band ignites the most ravenous fire within.  It immediately consumes with a groove which tantalises and excites whilst wrapping it in a fury of rhythms and riffs to bring any stiff kneed recipient to the floor. Contagious and intimidating the song prowls the ear as the guitars eagerly offer a mesmeric sonic intrusion with a final captivation coming from the brief Latin classical guitar insertions which invite nothing but the deepest affection. As the track drops its final colossal note it transforms into a wonderful guitar instrumental, the classical heart and skill of Burgess irresistible, and though the piece feels unrelated to the song it aligns itself to it is a deeply satisfying moment on the album to match the song itself.

Formshifter is immense and Allegaeon a metal giant, the album is the proof so now is the time to go and be impressed.

RingMaster 16/05/2012

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