Interview: Epiphanic Truth

With the release of Dark Triads: Bitter Psalms To A Sordid Species, Epiphanic Truth has been added to the list of bands who have taken up the task of explaining the why behind the extreme metal rather than just demonstrating the how.

Svalbard speaks very clearly in song titles, lyrics and actions about what they stand for, believe in and are angry about. Dawn Ray’d recently released a double-A side where they state their position very plainly. Këkht Aräkh, while not political, also fit into this category by making what can only be described as romantic black metal and covering topics such as losing love and social exclusion.

These bands do not simply sing about gore, satan or detached, abstract anger. They explain the why. Epiphanic Truth does the same but in a slightly less straightforward and earnest way.

“Vainglorious and malicious.
Incapable of error, embellishing truth.
Convinced of their own charm and grace.
Exploring a gap beyond reality.”

Epiphanic Truth – An Inescapable Verdict

Dark Triads is the anonymous group’s debut album, which was released on 21st May through Church Road Records. We reviewed it on the site, so if you haven’t read it then jump over here and do that.

We spoke to the band about their lyrical content, musical inspirations, the general state of the world and what to do about it. Erm… and biscuits.

ACT: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak. Congratulations on the release of your debut album! How has it been received generally, and how do you feel now that it’s out there?

ET: We’re ecstatic to have finally released the album & the accompanying ‘music film’ visualiser, although now we face the strange feeling of emptiness that creates. This album we have spent so long on is now out there, the reviews have come in and interviews completed, while there is promotion left and stats for us to gawp at the time for us to really start thinking about the future approaches.

The largely positive reception has been flattering, we honestly expected it to be more divisive critically so we’re surprised how passionate many of the responses have been, yours included! We’re all confident about what we created, so to see the majority of other people agreeing our art has value & relevance is certainly pleasant!

Our current ‘worst’ review is still largely positive, so we ought to consider ourselves lucky the album fell to favourable ears. Hopefully it will continue to spread and even captivate people a decade or more from now!

ACT: This feels like a mammoth work. If the concept and lyrical content weren’t enough, the music is an involved and complex listen. What was the writing process like and how long did it take from starting writing to hitting the studio?

ET: It was a long process with plenty of downtime, we never rushed and we were never prompted into speeding up the process. We all have our own ‘home studios’, so really we were ‘in the studio’ for the entirety of the project. Wilfred recorded his drumming in his own set up and the only processes that took place in a studio independent of the core members was the mixing and mastering process by Lewis Johns.

We truly don’t remember any dates, but the writing likely started in earnest early on in 2017. We would work when inspiration struck and step away when necessary so as to not force anything. Once the album was recorded, the mixing/mastering took place towards the end of 2019. The time between then and now was spent planning, filming, animating & editing the music videos.

While we are happy with what we’ve produced, this is the area we feel there is the most obvious room for improvement and growth. Hopefully we can take what we’ve learned from making videos for this album into the next album.

ACT: Dark Triads… covers a lot of ground in terms of genres and styles. Can you go into some of the influences that have gone into the making of this record?

ET: The very first band to reference is Akercocke. Every single member of this collective is a huge fan and they were undeniably the initial inspiration when ‘Epiphanic Truth’ was still just an idea being thrown around. A black/death metal band with a great appreciation for textural & timbral variety, making use of a plethora of instrumentation and composing adventurous, ever-shifting, genre-blending bangers. We may not carry over the ‘gentleman satanist’ schtick of their first phase, but even they’ve grown beyond that.

The second band would be Ulver. The best way to explain why Ulver is such a huge influence is simply to tell you to listen to their entire discography, start to finish. Words won’t achieve the same as experiencing the music for yourself will. Speaking purely for myself, I do not love each album equally but I think we’d all agree that we do not know of any other bands that has done what Ulver has.

An appreciation of ‘Rock In Opposition’ (RIO) and adjacent bands. Acts like Magma, Univerz Zero, Art Zoyd, Faust, Guapo, Secret Chiefs 3 and (albeit not RIO, they’re equally avant-garde) The Residents.

The other most prominent influences come from a shared enjoyment of the works of Carl Michael-Eide, Toby Driver and Mikael Åkerfeldt. All renowned for their unique takes on extreme metal. Ved Buens Ende & Virus are the greatest purveyors of off-kilter atonality and considering our enjoyment of ‘RIO’  it’s natural we’d be drawn to their dissonance.

Maudlin Of The Well & Kayo Dot were hugely informative for their genre-blending, expansive & adventurous structures that perfectly contrasts order and chaos.

Opeth – not afraid to write goofy, goth concept albums, masters of dynamism and texture/timbre, the perfect singing voice accompanied with the best extreme vocals. Once again speaking for myself, My Arms Your Hearse, Still Life & Blackwater Park are F L A W L E S S. Fight me!

ACT: I think I was clear in my review that I love the music, and without the concept, this would still be a fantastic album. But I feel that without the concept, this record would not exist. So it’s probably a good idea to dive into that a bit. Through chatting on Twitter, I know this record sees you taking a look at modern society and technology through the lens of the dark triad of personality traits. Can you talk a bit about what inspired your interest in the dark triad, and how you came to map that to our current zeitgeist?

ET: It comes from a mixture of personal experiences with people in our lives, our experiences of growing up alongside the commercialisation of the internet and it’s gradual development into the Pandora’s Box we didn’t realise we had opened.

We couldn’t help but notice how much of the reactionary ‘anti-sjw’ and ‘classical liberalism’ type of content was being promoted to us & the people in our lives and gradually understood how much content being presented as concerned with ‘free speech’, ‘skepticism’ & ‘facts over feelings’ was merely a vehicle for Far Right politics, conspiracy hypotheses & pseudoscience.

It’s evolved even further since we started the collective and the whistleblower revelations of the activities of SCL Group and it’s subsidiary groups (formerly Cambridge Analytica, Aggregate IQ) further lifted the lid on how businesses are fomenting propaganda for their clients to appeal to their worst instincts, such as the Dark Triad of Personality Disorders.

The revelations of the likes of Edward Snowden & Chelsea Manning, the leak of the Panama Papers detailing the vast & convoluted tax evasion & money laundering. The books ‘Alternative War’ & ‘The Art Of Hybrid War’ by Met Police Whistleblower JJ Patrick. ‘Moneyland’ by Olive Bulloughs. The works of The Strugatsky Brothers, Ursula Le Guin, Philip K Dick & Stanislaw Lem.

It’s surely tiresome just reeling off a list of varied works that influenced us, but it is also hard to detail exactly how we came to decide upon things when it was consistent incremental work over a long period of time. We would observe these events, consume these works & more, so we feel they’re the most significant factors directly influencing the output.

ACT: I know you’re up to date with the latest in British politics. How do you see the next few years going? Will we be stuck with Boris? Will Keir ever get his act together and actually be opposition? What’s the best realistic outcome you can see for near-future, post-Brexit UK?

ET: Entirely fucking predictable, especially considering how many people kept on stating we’d find ourselves in this mess. But, sadly, too many people just listen to whoever is the loudest, most positive & simplest. Repeat your nationalistic mantras enough times and it appears enough people will vote to fuck themselves… as long as they can devise some form of schadenfreude towards an out group whilst detaching themselves from the harm caused. Why blame yourself or the people you believed in when you can project it onto people you dislike?

It appears that nobody is likely to be able to defeat the Conservative government while opposition is either non-existent, mealy-mouthed or misrepresented. Boris may not maintain the role of leader, but he’ll likely be replaced by someone like Gove or Sunak. Kier’s not yet achieved what people hoped we would, nor do I believe it is likely he can. I don’t envy his position but nor do I believe he’ll exceed Jeremy Corbyn’s electoral record. I presume it’ll be a while before we see any positive change.

I am hopeful the Green movement can advance and offer a true alternative to the conservative/Labour dichotomy. One of my biggest fears, something I believe Naomi Klein addressed, is how the green movement can and is being subtly co-opted by White Nationalist groups. An issue that ought to be universal increasingly becoming the narrative of ethnonationalism could be a horrifically virulent mind-virus for future youths.

Concerning British politics, I think there’s going to be the most concerted efforts at perception management we’ve yet face and I fear we likely face a similar future to the post soviet states. Promised ‘freedom and prosperity’ yet they were and still are robbed by feckless embezzlers that seek to gentrify the poor into being forgotten in slums they were left with.

We already see how the pandemic has been utilised as a way to financially reward donors & colleagues instead of provide an effective, comprehensive plan and is looking to be fertile ground for future data harvesting/scraping endeavours. We have faced over 120,000 deaths after the government consistently failed to act upon advice given in a safe, timely manner.

We are still witnessing how the government has failed the victims of Windrush & Grenfell. We’ve apparently forgotten about every single civil, financial, political & electoral crimes serving ministers have committed.

We need to figure out a way to unite people against the Conservatives, but in incredibly divided and turbulent times it is hard to picture how this is going to happen.

With the government and it’s supporters happy to stoke perpetual culture wars, people are going to have to figure out an effective response – the people who so often claim to favour ‘facts over feelings’ seem to end up being be some of the people most emotionally invested in their personal interpretations, what they *feel* must be the way things work rather than acknowledging a gap in their knowledge.

ACT: On the topic of being British, there are a few topics we ritually have to talk about. I’ll skip the weather chat, but I do want to ask about your hot beverage and biscuit choices. If I’m having biscuits I’ll have tea and go for the good dunkers like digestives or hobnobs. How about you/the band?

ET: REALLY?! 😂 At least it isn’t framed as ‘what biscuit would you *be*’!

Coffee. No more than twice a day or else I transcend time and space. I am afraid to say that I’m not exactly a biscuit dunker, it’s ok, just not a fan of the biscuit detritus floating in my mug. I’ll munch on a rich tea, a choco leibnez or the lotus biscoff here and there.

ACT: Hey, I could have asked you about the weather…

Thank you so much for taking the time for this. Before we close out, I’m curious about what’s next for Epiphanic Truth. I have to assume you already have other projects you are dedicated to, and you’ve already said you won’t play live. Do you have plans for new music in the future?

ET: We intend to develop a niche in the newly emerging ‘metalhead biscuit’ market…

In all seriousness, we fully intend to continue creating and releasing music. The bands that each of the members are in will do their thing and we’ll likely conduct ourselves in a similar way to how we created this album. There’s already cogs in motion, but nor is there any rush either. Whilst we won’t be gracing any festival stages, we do intend to provide some further audio/visual before the end of the year to further support the album.

‘Dark Triad: Bitter Psalms To A Sordid Species’ by Epiphanic Truth is out now. You can buy it here.

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