Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mystical Occult Metal: The ORDER OF ENNEAD Gather

Mystical Occult Metal: The ORDER OF ENNEAD Gather

For Unrestrained! Magazine

Kim Kelly 2008

Building upon an existing legacy of brutality, the shadows behind blackened death metal marauders Order of Ennead are poised to strike fast, hard, and deadly at a stagnating scene. Borne from the ashes of progressive death metallers Council of the Fallen and the restlessness of creative minds, the band quickly came together and recorded a bloodthirsty debut album (soon to be released by extreme music mainstays Earache Records). Sticksman Steve Ashiem (of Deicide infamy) took time out of his hectic schedule to explain the origins of the band, their debut record, and the universe itself.

“Scott was working with Kevin in Council of the Fallen, and when I finished tracking “Til Death Do Us Part” with Deicide last fall and had nothing planned for the next year, I wanted to keep busy with something. Scotty mentioned CotF, gave me some demos, and I decided to jam with him. We started writing the first song at that first practice and put a song together every practice until we had an album’s worth. I think everyone’s already being well-versed in the workings of a band – you know, how to write, record, tour, etc – and being quite proficient musicians and eager as hell to work made this band come together very quickly and work at constant progression. It’s definitely not just a project – too much work went into it. Kevin might say that it’s a continuation of CotF for him since he wrote for both, but for me at least it’s a new thing, a new vibe, and a new direction. Definitely a new sound and style compared to CotF. The thought of being labeled as a “members of” band never occurred to me – I just see it as a bunch of dudes making an album.”

Like most of the bands that fall under the umbrella of “black/death” these days, Order of Ennead is definitely a brutal, unrelenting force, but unlike many of their peers, take a rather cerebral approach to the style - displaying both an acute sense of melody and a strong grasp on the importance of writing an actual song, as opposed to a series of “parts.”

“It starts with quality musical ideas. Those can be molded and structured into anything at will. That’s how I see it, anyway. Like clay – you make of it what you see, it doesn’t make itself. The same with music, except it’s what you hear. Don’t just look at your fingers; listen, and ask yourself what it needs and where it can go. That’s what I do, anyway.”

That attitude is apparent on “Order of Ennead,” the group’s self-titled debut. Steve explains the title (or lack thereof) by saying, “I think it’s appropriate for a debut to be self-titled, plus it leaves room for the concept of the band name itself to sink in without a separate title getting in the way. The band name is title enough.”

Speaking of the band’s name, one must ask: Just who were the Ennead, anyway?

“The band’s name stems from a creation myth. The Ennead were the nine givers of life and culture to the universe – the original being, and the eight offspring. It’s as if they were nine, but one. They are attributed with giving all spheres of culture and knowledge to man, bringing them out of the stone age so to speak. The “Order” of Ennead is a concept we created to acknowledge the existence and importance of the proliferation of all knowledge itself. Sounds a little grandiose, I know, but you asked!

As is fitting for such a cosmically-minded group of individuals, Order of Ennead’s lyrics tend to steer clear of genre clich├ęs. Instead of screaming bloody gore, they turn their voices upward – and inward.

“Kevin writes the lyrics, and generally does steer clear of the shocking style of lyric writing. He tends to deal with what he’s seen and learned about himself and others, on a grand scale and on a very personal scale, as well. Some of his lyrics are quite positive in nature, as a matter of fact – the deal with vision and empowerment. For Kevin to write gory, evil, or otherwise explicit lyrics just wouldn’t be his style. He’s being honest with himself in a very clear and concise way, writing lyrics that only a focused and clear-minded person could write. I think that says a lot about him.

Kevin writes all the riffs, too. He comes up with the parts, gets a nice basic arrangement going, and if there are any issues, I’ll help him out with arranging/structure. Between the two of it, we pretty much get it done!”

The album’s celestially-themed artwork only serves to solidify Order of Ennead’s position as something “different.” Instead of decapitated heads or inverted virgins, the cover of “Order of Ennead” is simple – a singular star, engulfed in flames and flanked by eight smaller planets (meant to represent the other eight members of the Ennead), framed by imposing columns straight from an ancient temple.

“I came up with the concept, and an artist named Summer Lacy did the artwork itself. I thought that the idea of the Ennead and all that it represented to me was bigger and more vast in scope than anything we could touch or see plainly. To illustrate that, the image of that which we all reply on yet have little knowledge of and absolutely no control over, the Sun, represents the one original. Around it are eight planets, of course all reliant on the sun, spawned from it as we all are. All of them together represent the nine of the Ennead on a large scale, which in turn represents the vastness of the still-untapped knowledge which is right in from of us all, waiting to be discovered. Again, grandiose, but you asked, haha!

The band’s fresh take on a flagging genre, coupled with the preexisting relationship they had with Steve’s other band, caught Earache’s eye and led to an easy partnership between the band and label. Given their past dealing with Deicide and legendary back catalog of death metal classics, it just “makes sense,” as Steve said. As a death metal lifer, he has seen the rise, fall, and resurgence of the American death metal scene, and while he has already done more than his fair share to keep it going strong, is still hell-bent on making more progress.

“Honestly, I think the scene and the attitudes have changed very little. It’s been the same since I’ve been involved and was probably the same long before I showed up! I think now what’s different is that most genres have been invented and defined and there’s no new ground to cover. The good thing is that all the different styles of meal are still viable. By that I mean that everybody is touring somewhere, both the old bands and the new bands of all styles. It’s a fuckin’ free for all!

Personally, I’ve been on a quest for self-improvement, as far as my drumming goes, so I’ve been pushing myself in that regard for years now. I’ve also been pushing myself to stay busier in general with Deicide, Order of Ennead, and whatever else comes up. I guess I’m inspired by creativity itself, and a lot of different types of music that you might not think I’d be into, but the common thread, no matter what style or age, is that it’s all very well-crafted musically and structurally.”

While guitarist Jon finishes up his degree at NYU, Steve and, as of recently, Kevin busy themselves pulling double-duty in Deicide and the Order, which Steve hints may possibly yield more Deicide/Order of Ennead dates in the near future. While they stay occupied with touring, promoting, and eventually working on their next record, those of the Ennead will keep a very simple goal in mind.

“To produce quality work on tape and live, and to actually work as much as possible, grow the band, and see what happens. Why not, you know?”

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