Hometown: Denver, CO
Album: Promethean Pathology, out November 25 via Profound Lore Records
RIYL: The Matrix. Comfortable Confusion. Intoxication.
There’s been a clear resurgence of bands more than happy to gleefully fuck with established genre norms, and I’m here for all of it. Such experiments are never going to work out every time, but there are bands and albums with which the creative formula just works. Lykonoton are here to mess with your mind with their electronic extreme metal, and if you can get comfortable with the initial confusion, the results are intoxicating.
Promethean Pathology weaves a dark, digital tale of the shadow self and the power with which we have over our own happiness and success. It’s a great example of something that happened 20 years ago with the boon of tech noir classics, using modern technology and sci-fi to tell tales as old as time: Do we have free will; can we forgive ourselves; will our advances only drag us closer to a caveman age?
That sort of turn-of-the-millennia fear feels sadly prescient again, due to our inability to not royally fuck things up every couple decades, it seems. It doesn’t hurt that their blend of industrial, ’90’s electronica, blackened death metal, and cocaine-laced psychedelia is enriching and absorbing. [A]p0k explains where this potent potable came from and how they made it work:
“One of the crucial discussions in forming this band was the idea that the music truly reflects an electronic black metal band, not just a metal band with electronic elements. On the one hand, from an originality standpoint, metal with electronic overtones is hardly new, so there was definitely a desire to not just tread the same paths but to try and fashion something new, albeit using ideas and influences that would be familiar to many people.
“Similarly, we worked to give both aspects the respect they deserved, meaning both the electronic and metal parts were constructed in a way that felt balanced and yet could work on their own. In a sense, the idea was that neither part of the music is meant to take charge. Rather, they work together to establish concurrent themes, constantly weaving in and out to establish dominance. The result is often chaotic, but it does establish a certain ebb and flow that I find intoxicating.”
I’m fascinated by how often this record overwhelms yet comforts me at the very same time. Part of that is due to a true sense of atmosphere at the center of Lykonoton, but the clarity of songwriting is at the top of reasons why this album kicks ass. [A]p0k shares why that might be:
“This album was an interesting one to tackle. From a personal standpoint, I’m used to writing a riff, bringing it to the band, jamming it, and establishing a theme. With this project, it was important to pay attention to the components of electronic music that make it what it is, namely that it’s beat-based. Sure, you can start from a melodic idea, but the beat you write to that idea establishes the base of the song.
“With that in mind, it was actually difficult to write this album, mostly because I had to switch my usual method of working in reverse. I started from the beat and worked from there. That alone wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was taking this process and crafting a metal album, with the flow, the full band element, and the depth that people have come to expect from the genre. Despite the intense learning curve, it was an immensely rewarding experience in that it brought forth a sound that I never could have conceptualized alone. For that, I have to give huge props to (the rest of the band) who turned this album into something completely unique.”
I can’t help but ask about the visual aspect of the band, which seems as important to you as the music. It took longer than I care to admit for me to realize there were two women on the cover, and the whole thing feels like an ode to what should excite but actually terrifies us. The Fulci eyes, and your purple sigil, pop in contrast to the darker shades. What inspires Lykonoton on the visual side of things?
“The visual aspect is indeed important. A lot of the imagery is really just a nod to the millennium-era culture that we grew up with, but it is interesting that you bring up the two women on the cover. There is a subtle theme in the album that pertains to a hanging shadow persona. This isn’t necessarily a secondary personality. In fact, it is, primarily, you to the point that you don’t always hate this persona, but it is there, whether you like it or not.
“It’s the voice in your head that tells you that you’re not good enough; it’s the seeping dread that you try to ignore, and it’s the cackling demon at the edge of the bed when you just want to sleep. Yet, it’s also the companion in your darkest hours, the cheerleader when you’ve hit zero, and the Virgil when you’ve lost your way. In essence, it is the human experience. The cause of all our woe, and the salve for our longing. It is something that we did not choose, yet must endure, for that is the gift of being. The price of existence.”
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Marsh