Even to avid followers of the style, it’s certainly no secret that death metal, perhaps unlike certain other genres, possesses the intrinsic potential to convey as somewhat wearing and uninspiring. As someone who loves the style and its peripheral incarnations, this still strikes me as understandable, and likely stems from the often repetitive nature of blast beats, coupled with brutally cathartic but otherwise expressionless vocals, and a general pace that can leave the listener feeling disoriented and overwhelmed. However, whilst not always entirely debonair, it’s safe to say this extreme approach is one that can be consummately adapted into an articulate, passionate art form, and this is something that countless acts have been able to achieve over the years, with names such as Fleshgod Apocalypse, Obscura and Fallujah all coming to mind in this regard.
On the subject, Parisian sextet Promethean are another act who appear to be striving to land themselves in this aforementioned bracket, offering an elaborate and eclectic brand of death metal that explores an array of atmospheric, symphonic, and blackened elements. Having thus far unhanded just one four-song EP (Aloades, released early last year), this is an outfit that is almost entirely fresh on the scene, despite their seemingly fully fledged ability to showcase a plethora of creativity and musicianship. Based on this, we felt it was only fitting to select Promethean as our official featured artist of the week. Let’s take a closer look!
Taking a moment to initially focus on the sound itself, it’s fair to say that Promethean‘s general trope sets them apart from the majority of death metal bands today. Self-proclaimed as ‘an intense brand of blackened death metal with a strong orchestral focus‘, this is a sound that serves to thoroughly engage the listener through its varying components, rather than falling into the previously mentioned trap of blast-beat dominated mundanity. To echo the band’s own words, the orchestral and symphonic elements in their sound really are key to the overall product, acting as a clear focal point, and adding an entirely new dimension to the mix. As a result of this, the overall aesthetic is able to convey as far more dramatic and fervent, at times almost mimicking the sensation of watching a suspenseful movie. Going aptly hand-in-hand with this general dramaticism is the concept behind the name of the band itself, the members of which were able to run us through this in eloquent fashion:
‘In Greek mythology, Prometheus (the far-sighted) is the Titan who created man from clay and defied the gods of Olympus by stealing the scared fire, giving it to mankind. This figure finds an echo in many cultures and modern myths – the flame being often seen as a symbol for knowledge, intelligence, progress.
Prometheans, as we understand it, are passers of knowledge and those who see beyond the veil of illusions, enlightening the darkness.‘
Having broadly covered the ins and outs of Promethean‘s sound, a logical next step is to take a look at how this sound was formed. As usual, we took the liberty of querying the band’s creative process, and in response the guys did their best to outline it for us:
‘Our debut EP Aloades was an incredibly formative and challenging experience. While not perfect in terms of production and writing, we feel it’s a modest but successful experience, and we were thrilled with the amazingly encouraging feedback we got. The early compositions were essentially moulded by Leo (drums) on his own before finding the right line-up to turn it into a more collaborative effort. Usually, the composition process begins with finding a memorable melodic line that constitutes the main theme of the song, and then we expand from it. We lay the melodies, riffs or main orchestral parts and the rest flows naturally. We find this way of composing to be efficient in keeping the songwriting engaging with a clear direction, considering the density of the music. On Aloades, most lyrics are dealing with Greek mythology and were written by our former singer Louis. We settled for exploring a different mythological corpus with each release, in the broader sense of the word, whether it is historical, eschatological, literary etc.‘
It goes without saying that at the core of any unique sound is the inspiration that led the artist to crafting it, and Promethean are obviously no exception to the rule. This is another thing we were interested to query with the guys, and once again, they took the liberty of providing a thorough response:
‘We all come from different backgrounds musically, but what unites us is a certain taste for forward-thinking music, artists that are able to push the boundaries of their respective genres (bands like Unexpect, Xanthochroid, Igorrr etc.), bands that focus on an orchestral approach to their craft, obviously (Emperor, Septicflesh etc.) and of course renowned composers such as Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, or film / video game score writers (Danny Elfman, John Williams, Ryan Amon, Nobuo Uematsu, Hans Zimmer etc.).‘
It’s quite clear not only from this, but from the music they produce, that the members of Promethean are all heavily inspired individuals, and have subsequently been able to channel this into abundant artistry and passion. Furthermore, it would appear that this is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of what to expect from this band. When questioned on the matter, the guys were able to confirm that they’re hard at work on their debut full-length attempt, and claim that it ‘should see the light of day in 2018!‘. In addition, it seems that the heavy use of motifs and thematics is something that will make a grand return in future material, with the band additionally hinting that ‘Lovecraft readers should be delighted!’.
All-in-all, it goes without saying that Promethean are another fresh, immensely talented outfit that are still yet to show their full potential, despite a thoroughly impressive debut release. Despite, as I mentioned at the beginning, the genre of death metal having the broad potential to come across as mundane and uninventive, this is undoubtedly an outfit that are striving to defy that principle, offering a brand that honours all the positive aspects of the style, whilst simultaneously breaking down the barriers of convention, and employing a series of eclectic influences. With much more promised for the future, all that remains is to pray that this band will be back soon, and that they indulge us with much more of what we’ve seen from them so far.