Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. Today's 90th TBT focuses on a band from our friendly neighbors to the North – Canada. Beyond Creation offer some of the best modern technical death metal that the genre has to offer. Pushing into the the realm of sparkling, clean production and intricate, interesting song structure is their first album: The Aura. Laden with atmosphere, The Aura stands out from the crowded 2011 tech/death scene thanks to the prominent use of fretless bass, varying drum patterns, and experimentation with tempo. Combine that with a variety of searing vocal styles and classically-influenced, lightening-fast sweeps, The Aura is a decadent joy to the mechanically and sonically minded.
Recently, I was able to catch up with Beyond Creation mastermind Simon Girard to talk all things tech death, Beyond Creation, and The Aura. Check out our interview below!
BEYOND CREATION'S THE AURA
Release Date: September 2011
Record Label: Season of Mist
Thanks for doing this interview! You are such an accessible band, and have been so very friendly!
We're always happy to reach out to fans and people that enjoy our stuff. We really enjoying making music for our selves, we really enjoy it, but at the same time we couldn't do it without our fans. Its the most rewarding thing to see that people connect with us enjoy what we like to do.
How do you like being on Season of Mist record label?
We are really happy to work with them! They are really good and friendly. What I really like is that they sign bands they like, not necessarily bands that will do a lot of touring or albums. It's a great personal ethic of the label and I find that awesome because they give the chance to good musicians to be known even if they are not that active.
Let's talk about The Aura. My big takeaway with this first release of yours, is that this is not your first rodeo. There's no way. The album is so technical, and everyone is a beast on their instruments for your very first release. That kind of composition didn't just come from out of nowhere.
I started playing music at the age of 6. My grandfather taught me music – he was a professional accordionist. He was a musician all of his life, and it was his work. Accordion is a really hard instrument to learn. You have the melody and the chords on one side, and on the other side all the bass. You need to think about the phrases, where the air is coming in and goes out. It helped me a lot during all those years to understand musicality – you know, splitting your brain up into multiple ways.
Did you have any other kind of professional training? I find the sweeps or arpeggios to be not only technical but composition-ally interesting, overall not too linear.
Thank you! I have also studied in classical guitar. Here in Quebec we have something between high school and university called college, for us. So I got into classical guitar, and it really developed my ability to take care of the 'details'. In classical guitar, you play alone. You need to be very careful, and I think it really my skills at being more precise and technical. I started guitar the age of 12, and I was already listening to – my parents always listened to all kinds of music – classical, jazz, rock n roll. My favorite band is Pink Floyd. Everything from my background influence me to write this kind of music, obviously a little more elaborate.
Are you the main songwriter?
Yes I write all the songs, mostly both guitars. I started to write The Aura in 2005 and so at the time, I was writing most of the drum and some bass parts because it was just really hard to find at 16 years old, the right musicians to play with me. So starting the first album was a little bit different because I was typing drums which took years and years! I'd say that all the song’s structures were pretty much finished around 2009. Of course, all the musicians bring their own spices and feels by rearranging their own parts but I always have quite a good idea of what I want and how to explain it to my musicians. Guyot Begin-Benoit which was our first drummer, learned all the songs and arranged it’s drum parts with its own techniques and style. He recorded all the parts on the album but the thing is, the way Christian Donaldson was mixing and mastering back then was really different than today. Maybe there wasn't much of a dynamic range to the drums, specifically. So, you got something really in your face! Chris really knows what he's doing though, he's an amazing sound engineer. All the instruments have their own frequencies and you can really hear everything clearly. However, the more years go on, the more we want dynamics and natural sounds on the drums and frequencies in general. For example, the last album, we used more microphones on the drums, better equipment also. That means Chris had a lot more frequency range to work with. So, we were able to have a really natural but powerful sound with Algoryhm.
2011 was a crazy year for the tech/death category. Bands that are now staples and huge in the genre had releases as well, such as TesseracT, Textures, Circles, Animals As Leaders and Archspire. How do you think The Aura fared among them?
Yeah, we definitely had a good response with The Aura when it came out. I think it's a momentum, where if we would have gotten this out ten years before hand, it's possible that people wouldn't have understood or wouldn't have really liked it. I mean 2001 has some technical and intense music so it really is hard to say, but I think that we came out at the right time.
I agree! However, I still think The Aura deserves more recognition than it got.
Well, also the fact that the more it goes, the more metal music changes where you have so many influences from other genres – jazz, classical music, prog in general – maybe ten years before, people just wouldn't have liked it as much maybe because of the difference in genres between then and now. That's what makes Beyond Creation unique – it's not just metal music, it's a lot of different ambiances and atmospheres.
I agree! That's why I wanted to feature you guys. For example, the bass in your music is so prominent, and in the video for "Omnipresent Perception" there's a fretless bass. Do you use a fretless for all of your work?
All the songs are recorded with fretless bass back on this album.
If you're comfortable talking about it, I wanted to know why now that you have a whole new band aside from you.
I started the band with Nicolas Domingo Viotto on second guitar but he never recorded anything on the first album. He's a long-time friend of mine. The funny part is that Kevin Chartré and I were working together at the time and he introduced me to Guyot who joined the band as the drummer in 2008. A couple of months later, Kevin Chartré was becoming the second guitarist, replacing Nicolas. In 2010 Dominic Lapointe joined the band as our bass player. Over the years, things change. Energies, I guess. It just happened like this. In 2012, my cousin Philippe Boucher entered the band as the new drummer and Hugo Doyon-Karout took Dominic’s place on bass in 2015.
But there's no ill-will? There wasn't some crazy break-up story?
When you’re young, you don't know how it is to get on the road and what sacrifices will you have to do to live with your music. You don't really think about it, you're just like « I’m gonna be a professional musician and its going to be fun ». And it is! but the reality of it is that you need to focus to get where you want to go. I just think Guyot was going on to study music and wanted to take a different path. And who are we to tell anybody what to do? Things just happen like this.
What is The Aura about? What are you singing about?
It's actually a lot of different subjects. in 2011, I was singing about politics, aliens – all kinds of crazy stuff. But the environment was one of my main subjects like on coexistence.
What kind of politics?
It wasn't really anything specific, it was just in general how humanity is doing and how we are like puppets. It's a whole big story we all know. But it was speaking to me because it is how the real world goes. It's been in the works many many decades. There's some good, there's some bad. Talking about it was something that I wanted to pursue.
Do you have a favorite track off of The Aura?
I really like "The Aura" because of the atmosphere – the different fills and solos and how everything blended together. For me, "Chromatic Horizon" is really fun, no vocals. It's really got some classical influences.
Was anything improvised on the album?
Not the structures, but some arrangements of course and mostly solos. I make sure all the songs are right, but once we get in studio, there’s always place for little changes on arrangements, especially drums. Every instrument makes a difference in the music.
You re-released The Aura. What is the difference between the original and the re-release?
There's actually not really a big difference, it's just that the re-release contain our demo version of « Injustice Revealed » from 2010. That's the main difference.
Thank you so much for your time and for being so humble!
All my pleasure! Thanks for your interest and support.