Empyrean Throne's Get Together Leads to New Music and Future Plans

Southern Californians Empyrean Throne is a death metal act who is gotten done writing and recording for their upcoming release "Demonseed". They are also accepting various artists from major labels to play shows with them next year with a whole lot more in-store. In fact, the entire band took the time to discuss "Demonseed" and the single that lead to it's release called "A Crow's Feast".

Andrew – Vocals
Bryan – Guitars
Mike - Guitars
Dan – Drums
John – Bass
Kakophonix - Cello

1. What brought about the creation of Empyrean Throne and is there a long history of music appreciation between each of the members?

Andrew: I went on a trip after graduating NYU to Scandinavia to visit my family with our bassist John, while there we were super inspired musically to form the band. We had both been part of other musical acts in the past, but after two months of immersing ourselves in Viking culture and partying with the members of Aborted and Mayhem it was the logical thing to do. We spent about a year or so going through different line-up changes and writing tunes that we felt were “worthy” before we got to where we are today. Our newest members are Kakophonix and Mike (the latter being the most recent addition). For me music drives every creative endeavor I do. I see it as the highest form of communication that transcends language, culture, and other social barriers. And who the hell doesn’t love writing metal!? That is the short version I guess.

Dan: I joined Empyrean Throne so I could expand my music knowledge and skillset into the fast-paced and very technical blackened-death metal genre. I started off as a classically trained violin/violist. Once I got to middle school/high school I moved to percussion instruments (xylophone, timpani, chimes, etc.…) Finally in my junior year of high school (Nov 2006) I got my first drum set. I started off as a punk-rock drummer, and have been progressing ever since. The current album “Demonseed” shows off a lot of technical skills shared amongst all the band members, and comes together to make an epic sound you won’t soon forget.

Kakophonix: I came into the band pretty recently, so I’m hardly qualified to speak on the actual conception of Empyrean Throne. I first met Andrew when I was playing a show as a live touring member of Abigail Williams in LA in summer 2012. He contacted me shortly after my leg of the tour was done. I showed him some of my material for my solo project Hvile I Kaos, and he subsequently invited me to lend my services as a session cellist for his band. A year later, in summer 2013, I was working on the Demonseed record, and shortly after that I was in the band full time.

Bryan: I was brought into the band as a guitarist in late October early November of 2012, yes there has been a long history of music appreciation among all of us.

John: It all started on the docks of Nyhavn in Denmark, my buddy Andrew and I came up with this epic idea and stuck with it.

2. Why did you want to go and call the band Empyrean Throne and what is the meaning behind it?

Andrew: The Empyrean was believed by the Greeks, Romans, and other ancient cultures to be a divine place within the heavens occupied by the element of fire. It appears in literature such as the “Divine Comedy”, however in many different mythologies, the Empyrean itself also means the place at which energy and chaos emanate from, and that the forces at work within the Empyrean are neither good nor evil, but indifferent. We have taken the band name and the imagery associated with it to mean the source (the Throne) from which chaos flows and enters into the mortal world.

3. You have been sharing the stage with the likes of Cattle Decapitation, Abigail Williams, The Browning among other well respected metal acts. Are there any bands that have inspired the overall sound of Empyrean Throne?

Andrew: Behemoth, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Captain Geech and the Shrimp-Shack-Shooters.

Dan: Goatwhore, Black Dahlia Murder, Job for a Cowboy, Faceless, Attila, Veil of Maya, August Burns Red: All of these band’s stage presence and performance techniques set the bar for what we want to achieve with our live shows. If the band members are having fun on stage, the crowd/fans will have a better reaction and connection with the band.

Kakophonix: I’d definitely say that Behemoth and the Black Dahlia Murder are both huge influences on the band’s sound as well as our general approach. In general, the distinctly Polish style of blackened death metal (Behemoth, Hate, Vader, Vesania etc.) is something we draw from a lot. Concerning the symphonic element, Dimmu Borgir, Septicflesh, and Fleshgod Apocalypse are all bands we emulate. Black metal bands like Carpathian Forest, Svarttjern, and Abigail Williams all play a part in influencing our sound, along with fuzzier black-ish bands like Goatwhore and Skeletonwitch. We’re a pretty eclectic modern extreme metal band.

Bryan: Behemoth, At The Gates, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, The Black Dahlia Murder, there are so many other bands to list but that’s just a few.

John: Dan inspires me.

4. How would you define your style and sound of metal, and why should a metal fan listen to your work?

Andrew: We would classify ourselves as blackened death metal, but we have a heavy symphonic element with Kakophonix and his sexy cello playing. I’d say that any fan of extreme music would like our sound, whether your into the Dimmu Borgir style of black metal, technical death metal, or if you like the symphonic stuff, there is a little something for everyone. The best way is to give us a listen and see for yourself.

Dan: My style of drumming incorporates a lot of inspiration from three main drummers: Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Matt Greiner (August Burns Red), and Travis Barker (Blink-182). I’ve studied the technical abilities of Mike Portnoy to be able to have consistently clean fills and an interesting sound to every beat. Matt Greiner was the one who inspired me to get into heavy/death metal in the first place. His energy, double bass speed, and insane patterns are always played as if he’s a robot. Every single note must be played flawlessly in time and on a specific part of the drum. Transitions across the drum set should appear to be effortless. Finally, Travis Barker has taught me how play with power, and really drive the band during a live performance. If I can’t hear the guitars on the monitor, I have to think like Travis and power through it as the heartbeat of the band.

Kakophonix: I'd characterize Empyrean Throne as a symphonic blackened death metal band. We draw from all corners of the extreme metal pantheon, the intensity and heaviness of death metal, the ferocity and atmosphere of black metal, and the cinematic strings are probably the three most defining features of our music. Metal fans that want something huge, epic, beautiful, terrifying, and invigorating should definitely give Empyrean Throne a listen.

Bryan: These first few songs have a catchy melodic sound to them with just the right amount of heaviness and great metal tone. I can’t quite say we sound like any other metal bands, I think we do our own thing and build upon the collective metal that we all listen to. As a band we all work very hard at our craft, and this being our first album, I feel the quality of our songs shows that we work hard at what we do and try to give the metal audience a quality product. Future works will be even better.

5. What's the story behind "A Crow's Feast"?

Andrew: “A Crow’s Feast” is part of the larger story of Demonseed (the record) as a whole. It is a concept record of the birth, rise, and fall of an Anti-Christ like figure. In “Crow’s” he has pretty much destroyed most of the planet, however he is killed as a result of this, and in his last moments he has a moment of hesitation as to whether he will ascend to the realm of the dark forces he served or if all of this was just the bi-product of his own madness and that there is no reward after his death. That’s the Spark-notes version.

6. This single comes off your album "Demonseed", how much time went into the recording and producing of this CD, and are you happy with the results?

Andrew: Demonseed, was a labor of love (pun definitely intended). We started recording it in September of last year. The studio we were working with had a massive amount of problems, which delayed recording into February. It was killing us as a band so we got our money back and re-re-record at Sound Temple Studios (Winds of Plague’s studio). We recorded it with Ryan Williams, former bassist of The Black Dahlia Murder; he was a total pro and very fun to work with. I myself am definitely happy with the results and I can't wait to share it with everyone.

Dan: With the correct recording studio it took us about 2 months to record (drums tracked in one day). Then lots of time used to fine-tune and perfect every second of every song. Fucking love the CD!

Kakophonix: My work for the Demonseed record was somewhat removed from the original collective process, seeing as most of the songs were written before I joined. My job was basically to take all the songs on the record except for two (Nothing But Vermin, The Fascist Messiah), and add a symphonic element by means of a multi-tracked 16-piece cello choir, played and recorded entirely by myself. I recorded everything from home in order to cut studio and travel costs (I live in Pasadena, which is a bit of a hike from Sound Temple Studios) and to allow me to be a perfectionist about my work. I would basically roll out of bed every morning this summer and be recording by 9 am, and continue that way all day. The whole process, including writing, sending rough demos to the band, and re-recording and finalizing everything, took about a month and a half on my end.

Bryan: We are happy with how Demonseed came out. A lot of days and hours went into making this album, but as with anything if you want a good product you need to invest your time and energy in it.

John: We had a really good idea of what we needed to do walking in through the doors of Sound Temple Studios. Big shout out to Ryan Williams for putting up with our shenanigans and making an awesome sounding record.

7. What's your take on "Demonseed" as a whole?

Andrew: Again I am very happy with the record as a whole. Like any bands first release we are growing and evolving our sound. Demonseed, with all the recording fuck-ups put a lot of pressure on us to finish the record so the whole process felt a little rushed. With album two, we will definitely take our time with everything and have a more refined and narrow focus on our sound overall, if that makes any sense. But in short, Ryan did an amazing job on the mixing and mastering, and I am very happy with it.

Dan: In your face, fast-paced, symphonic blackened death metal.

Kakophonix: I’d describe Demonseed as a solid and promising debut record. In the process of making the record, the band has solidified and matured quite a bit, and has taken steps towards really finding our voice. Empyrean Throne is definitely capable of bigger and ballsier things down the line, and Demonseed has pointed us in the direction necessary to get there. I’m very happy with this record, and very proud of the work that everyone’s put in.

Bryan: Straightforward in your face head banging, blackened death metal goodness.

John: Demonseed is and will continue to be the crushing foundation of our metal origin. It turned out better than I could've possibly imagined and it is the first of many.

8. What's your favorite song on the album right now?

Andrew: They are all my little degenerate children, but I would have to say “Follow The Plaguelord”. We definitely bring out the big guns on that track. It’s the most epic of the lot.

Dan: A Crow’s Feast! I get really excited on stage when it’s finally time to play A Crow’s Feast. The single is currently out for everyone’s enjoyment… GO DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE NOW!

Kakophonix - That’s a tough question. All of them have positive aspects to them. If I had to pick, I’d say, “Follow the Plaguelord”, because it represents much of where we’d like to head in the future artistically. The two runners-up in my book would be the opening song “Death March” and the single “A Crow’s Feast”. Both of those songs are damn cool.

Bryan: “Nothing But Vermin” or “Follow The Plaguelord”.

Mike: I'm a fan of “Follow The Plaguelord” and “Demonseed” personally.

John: “A Crow’s Feast” for sure. I go nuts on stage when we play that song!

9. Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs?

Andrew: Being a film guy, yes absolutely!

Kakophonix: When one listens to the music of Empyrean Throne, one should envision the thunder of war.

John: Yes definitely, I think any good song needs to have that.

10. What would be the cinematic equivalent of "Demonseed"?

Andrew: “Demonseed: The Movie”, would be a 50 minute battle sequence with a 1000 plus extras sporting the latest in medieval weaponry. It would be shot using 50 RED Epic cameras mounted on 3D camera rigs, preferably shot at 48 fps. Add special effects and few pointless JJ Abrams style lens flares, then movie time. Only available in IMAX-3D.

Dan: TROY!

Bryan: The movie “300“.

John: “Anchorman” but with zombies.

11. Where is the new material headed for future releases?

Andrew: More of a blackened death metal sound. We are refining the stuff we like and playing with new ideas. We want to use more/different instruments to get a fuller orchestral sound, stuff like that. We are doing a cover, which we are excited about, and are already about 1/3 of the way done with material for our second record.

Kakophonix: We intend to exploit the symphonic element quite a bit more. My personal artistic goal with Empyrean Throne is to make us America’s answer to European symphonic extreme bands such as Dimmu Borgir and Septicflesh. As such, we’ll probably be taking steps towards adding more than just cello choir, eventually progressing towards a full orchestral sound. Apart from that, I think it’s safe to say we’re going to head in a direction akin to that of our European metal influences.

Bryan: Our new music will have more complexity, and structure. We always strive to improve our craft; I’m excited to take a bigger role in song writing for the new album where the current album (Demonseed) had a lot of the songs already established when I joined the band. Also new material will be writing on seven strings.

Mike: I'm hoping as the new guy I can maybe bring a little of my background into the music like the melodic and technical death metal, a bit of thrash, metalcore and punk.

John: Technical seven string guitar madness, ear shattering blast beats and face melting bass licks

12. Where can we go if we want to listen or purchase your work?

Andrew: You can get our single “A Crow’s Feast” as a free download from our bandcamp page at empyreanthrone.bandcamp.com.  The record will be available on our bandcamp site as well as iTunes upon its release, which is set for Dec 5th of this year.

13. Who would you say is the most metal out of your band mates?

Andrew: Kakophonix. Hands down.

Dan: John is most metal… Andrew is the most metal in ideology and theory.

Kakophonix: I'm just going to go ahead and say all of them.

Bryan: I would say myself but how do you judge something like that?

Mike: I agree with Kakophonix.

John: I am all that is metal!

14. Who would win in a headbanging contest between you guys?

Andrew: I'm in a close race with Kakophonix and Bryan, bow before my neck muscles!

Dan: ME!

Bryan: I would say myself, my shaved head has no wind resistance so I can whip my head back and forth with hurricane force.

Mike: I'm pretty sure I'd beat everybody when it comes to head banging.

John: It's a tossup. I get very violent with my head bangs and Andrew just makes it look so damn good.

15. How many band merch is in your personal collections whether it'd be hoodies, beanies, t-shirts, wristbands, etc.

Andrew: My entire wardrobe is almost all band t-shirts. I do my shopping at concerts. Currently wearing my Cattle Decapitation tee.

Dan: Not enough. : (

Bryan: I have 40-50 black band shirts from various bands I enjoy, many of which don't fit me anymore.

Mike: All of my clothes are from concerts or from a band’s online store. So it's all band merch.

John:  Haha ya I have a lot of merch.

16. When it comes down to the whole album process and release day - does the band get boxes of the album and you guys get copies for yourselves or do you have to buy your own album? Or do you rather not even own a copy of your own work?

Andrew - Once we get the CDs printed we will each have a copy. We already have the master tracks. I don’t know about the other guys but I am going to frame my CD in a place of honor in my room, or stick it someplace were you would be forced to see it upon entering my house.

John - We will have boxes of the single to pass out plus boxes of our actual album to sell. We already have people wanting to pre-order it, so let us know and get it while it's hot!

17. What format do you like your personal music to be - digital, CD, vinyl, cassette, a-track? If you could put Empyrean Throne's music in any of these formats even the older one's would you and why?

Andrew: CD format for me. I like having the actual record even though I listen to all my stuff through my iPod. It would be totally cool to have a vinyl copy of Demonseed; nothing beats the sound quality of vinyl.

Dan: Vinyl, you can’t get much more kvlt than that…. Just imagine… Hey I have Empyrean Throne’s record on vinyl…. Go grab the record player!

Bryan: I prefer CD’s, I loved going to the record shops before most went out of business, and seeing what new music came out. I like having something tangible from a band that I can hold, read, and store on a shelf to display, it is important to me and other people and probably why vinyl is also making a comeback among music lovers, having a digital file has it advantages in reaching a broad audience over the internet but lacks in its ability to connect with the buyer in certain ways.

Mike: I'd have to say CDs because that's what I grew up with. Even though all my music is in iPods I like having a hard copy if everything. Although I would like to see our music in every format possible

John: Vinyl for sure because it captures the complete sound wave giving it a richer sound and a more accurate listen to what we're actually playing.

18. Your single "A Crows Feast" will be made into a lyrical video - why do you think bands turn to this way with their singles?

Andrew: I personally think lyric videos are stupid, but they are great promotional tools especially for album singles. I think most bands do them to save either time or money, and just hire some animation guys to hack something together. Which does work, however you forsake telling any sort of meaningful visual story to really bring the song to life.

Dan: To get the word out to the masses as quickly and easily as possible!

Kakophonix: It looks very professional. It looks like the band took the time to give their fans and colleagues something visually appealing to go with the song. Also, adding the lyrics and the cover art gives people a good taste of what the band is all about. It’s a fitting way of complimenting the fans and letting them know we care about them by presenting them with something appealing.

Bryan: By listening and reading the lyrics at the same time, I think it allows the message of the song to be better absorbed by the listener.

Mike: I too think lyric videos are lame, but they are nice in a promotional sense. It's just one more release that will keep the fans happy and wanting more plus there are fans out there that do really get into the poetic aspect of the music.

John: It's a good way to promote yourself and give our fans an inside look on what the song is trying to convey.

19. Speaking of videos, will you be shooting a video for any of the songs or the single in the future?

Andrew: Oh yes! Especially since I think lyric videos are lame. We haven't really decided on which song to do yet since we are still working on releasing the record but we have a few ideas in terms of what track we will pick. We are going to try and shoot something in December, but it depends how crazy things get with the holidays.

Dan: Fuck yeah we are… I don’t know if you knew this, but Andrew is kind of a big deal…. He enjoys directing films.

Bryan: Yes Andrew has studied film/directing and knows the contacts to make a great music video, so we have plans to make a video from one of our songs, which one I can't say now.

20. What are your upcoming plans for playing shows and touring?

Andrew: We want to get in a big show before the release and then hit the stage hard after to promote it. It depends what comes up and what we get offered. But there is some potential stuff in the works for December and January. It would be cool to play out of state to expand our fan base. But we are weighing our options.

Dan: The ideal show for me would be: House of Blues in Anaheim, and opening for August Burns Red/ Attila/ Goatwhore / Cattle D!

John: There are a lot of big things up ahead. Until our promoters are ready to announce the upcoming gigs we're obligated to keep things under wraps so go to our Facebook page for updates show schedules. We plan on conquering the world.

21. What are your upcoming plans for the holiday season?

Andrew: Shoot a music video, Xbox One, and drinking Snapps at my house, in no particular order.

Dan: Gut busting drum solos and blowing people’s minds with our new CD release.

Bryan: Eating turkey with the family.

John: To home brew a batch of moonshine so evil it will literally rip your face off.

22. Would you like to say or add anything else?

Andrew: Download “A Crow’s Feast” for free at empyreanthrone.bandcamp.com, and tell all your friends to buy some merch so we can play a show in Iceland, because that would be brutal!

Kakophonix: I’m really pleased to be a part of this band. I spent a couple years record-hopping as a session player and a hired gun, and am glad I've’ve found a band to stick with. All the guys have something unique to offer, and everyone pulls their weight and contributes. I think it’s safe to say we’re all artistically invested enough in this band to where something really cool is taking shape, and really organically at that, since we’re all operating on the same wavelength. This isn’t the last you'll be hearing of Empyrean Throne. Not by a long shot.

Bryan: We love the support we get from our fans, friends, and family to do what we love, which is making heavy metal music work.

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