Wednesday 8 June 2016

Enter The Sang-Dragon - An Interview with Witchroat Serpent

I became a fan of today's guests when I reviewed their debut album on The Sludgelord back in March 2014. I hadn't heard of these guys before but I was blown away by their heavy blend of Doom Metal riffs blended with heavy Stoner based Occult vibes.

I've heard people compare these guys to early-era Electric Wizard which I kind of agree with but they are more much more than that. They're perhaps one of my favourite bands coming from the French Doom/Stoner Metal scene.

I'm talking about Witchthroat Serpent who have just released their incredible new album – Sang-Dragon. An album currently kicking up a minor storm in the Doom Metal community. Everything about Sang-Dragon improves so much on their debut album. It sees Witchthroat Serpent finally coming into their own sound and identity to create one of the heaviest and catchiest Doom Metal albums you'll hear this year. If you haven't heard it yet I recommend you do that now as you're seriously missing out.

Alex at Deadlight Records (who I interviewed yesterday) asked me would I like to interview the band. I said – Hell Yeah!!! - Fortunately the band agreed to do this interview.

Hi guys. How are things with you today? Thanks for doing this interview. So why did you choose the name Witchthroat Serpent for your band? Any specific meaning?

The origin of the name Witchthroat Serpent comes from the close relationship between shamanism and sorcery. In shamanism the serpent represents a tunnel to the other world, during the trance he is commonly described as the ultimate apparition, allowing us to switch to the other side by diving into his throat, a kind of representation of emptiness to reach complete “letting go”. The symbolism of the snake is also widely used in witchcraft and occultism, this reptile is the guardian of secrets and knowledge; witchcraft is a way to get in touch with him, a way to explore our depths and our fears. We could also see a kind of analogy between the spells of the witch coming from of his throat and the venom spat out by the snake. The throat is the common element between these two entities, connecting them in the occult. Secrets will be revealed when you first dive into the serpent’s throat!

How did the band get together? Did you all know each other before forming the band?

Yes, we already knew each other before forming Witchthroat Serpent. Fredrik and I already played in Habsyll, a drone/doom band, and when Habsyll went on stand-by we decided to make a new band to satiate our need for vibes and low ends. At the same time I played in a grind band called Artemisia Absinthium and I asked Lo the bassist if he would like to join us to form the power trio of Witchthroat Serpent. He accepted immediately and then we started to rehearse and compose our first album.

How would you describe your music?

Doom music filled with occult feelings along with ethereal atmosphere. All played on old tube amplifiers and recorded the old way to keep the live intensity and the old school vibe. We like to add magic to our music and our lyrics are here to support the whole thing.

Your new album Sang-Dragon – is superb. So different from your debut album.

Whanks, we are also very satisfied with this album. We planned from the beginning to release the second album 2 years after our debut so it’s perfectly on time!

Did you do anything differently when recording the new album compared to your debut album?

It was recorded the same way but in a professional studio by a marvelous guy. We recorded it live in one day under the influence of Sang-Dragon and then we added additional guitars, vocals and organ. We also brought more attention to the compositions, progressed in our performance and practiced very rigorously before entering the studio. The result is there and we are very happy with it.

Sang-Dragon has a different tone from your debut album. It's more focused and heavier. Was that your intention, to release something different and create something more powerful?

We developed our equipment, our amps, our speakers and our effects and chose exactly what was needed to achieve the sound we wanted, and now we can say that we found it. Of course there will always be some changes to our equipment, but now we are really pleased with our sound.

Why did you call the album Sang-Dragon?

Sang-Dragon is the name of the incense we use on stage. It is a particularly powerful incense used for spiritual elevation, exorcisms and connection to the divine. This incense was ancestrally extracted from Socotra Dragon’s tree, a tree present in tropical areas closer to the equator. You can find a picture of one on the back of the Sang-Dragon CD.

Looking back at your debut album, would you change anything about it? Or are you happy with the way it is?

We like the way it sounds. For the first album we were still looking for the ideal equipment and did our best with what we had at that moment. We recorded everything ourselves and it was a great experience. We continue to play a couple of songs live and we are still pleased while performing them.

The album is being released via Deadlight Entertainment. How did you hook up with them?

Alex is an old friend, he offered us a deal for the CD release of the first and now the second album. He has done great work for those releases. Note that the first album was released on vinyl by Emetic records and soon we are going to announce the label that will release Sang-Dragon on vinyl.

How hard is it being a band in today's world? What are the most difficult aspects of being in a band?

Hard to explain, nowadays it’s all hard, everything’s corrupted and it’s all illusion. I think the hardest thing is to be confronted with human stupidity -- but you don’t have to be in a band to know that!

What is the songwriting dynamic in the band? Is it a collective effort or down to one individual?

Fredrik comes up with the riffs and then we work together to make the grooves and the structures, focusing on lyrics and our feelings. It’s always been like this and we like to work this way.

Will you be touring this record heavily this year?

We made the Sang-Dragon tour in May just after the release of the CD and we are planning to tour again in autumn following the release of the 12” vinyl LP. Then we are going to play at Crumble Fest in June, a festival oriented towards stoner & psychedelic, and we will play the Motocultor Festival in August, one of the most well-known metal festivals in France after Hellfest (which we played in 2015). More gigs are coming up for 2016 and we plan to tour northern Europe in 2017.

We have to talk about the fantastic artwork by the amazing Branca Studio. Who came up with the overall design of the album cover? And did you have much input into the design or did you leave the folks at Branca Studio alone to weave their magic.

We met Pol & Marta for the first time at the Day of Doom festival in Barcelona where we played in 2014 and then we liked each other’s work. So when we searched for the artwork for our new album we immediately asked Pol to make a witch with a serpent instead of a tongue to illustrate the name of the band. Pol understood exactly what we wanted and created this piece of art that we are really proud. It’s a pleasure to work with him, he is a really nice guy.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans?

We would like to thank all the people supporting us, coming to our shows and buying our stuff. It's because of you we can achieve our goal to create a sonic wall of doom. The serpent will come down your throat for eternity!

Well guys, thanks for doing this. All the best with the new album as it’s a brilliant album.

Many thanks, it was a pleasure to make this interview. Long live to Outlaws of the sun blog.

Words by Steve Howe and Witchthroat Serpent

I want to thank Alex at Deadlight Entertainment for arranging this interview. Thanks to Witchthroat Serpent for doing this interview.