Blood Libels

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Remember the days of the late ‘90s when it seemed like everybody and their brothers started up a symphonic black band? Old school black metal bands began infusing orchestral elements to their sound, melodic death metal outfits incorporated some Cradle of Filth-y nuances, and the trendy thing to do was add female vocals into the mix. It was a fun time for a while because some of the releases were top notch. But like every fad – especially in metal – it dies off almost as soon as it starts. For a few years, symphonic black metal was scoffed at for the most part because the bands were either A) trying too hard to sound like their heroes; B) were just not that good; or C) both.

Enter Saille, a newer band that hails from Ghent, Belgium. It’s true that the Belgian sextet play symphonic black metal but these guys aren’t your typical run-of-the-mill troupe in this metal subgenre. After a decent debut album Irreversible Decay in 2011, Saille has stormed back with follow-up gem Ritu. Sporting a raw yet polished sound and songs that have as many tiny intricacies as easy, catchy hooks, Ritu is a sensational album that will instill fond memories of when this genre kicked ass.

Saille guitarist Reinier Schenk was kind enough to spend some time with TeethOfTheDivine to answer a myriad of questions regarding Saille, Ritu, Belgium, and how fans need to look past their label as only a symphonic black metal band.

First off, congratulations on the new album, Ritu. It’s a fantastic creation that brings back great memories of when the symphonic black metal genre was at its best.

Thanks for your kind remarks.

Is Ritu everything you and the rest of the band hoped it would be before you went into the studio to record it? Are there any aspects of Ritu that you are not happy with?

I’m convinced everyone in the band is more than happy with the result and we got everything in place. There are always some minor details and every musician thinks he can do better next time, but besides that we’re very proud.

How long did it take you all to create the entire album from start to finish? What is the process Saille takes when writing new music? How do you all feed off each other’s ideas?

As a matter of fact it went ridiculously smooth compared to the recordings of our debut album; we could hardly believe it. We got this thing started in February 2012. We didn’t have something really, just some bits and loose ends. Dries (Gaerdelen, keyboards) started making stuff and Jonathan (Vanderwal, guitars) and I added the guitar parts. We had four months before the recordings started. Fortunately, I’m the owner of Shumcot Recording Studio, which is a huge advantage for the band. We recorded the drums at the very beginning of July and ten weeks later the final mix was completed and sent to Tom Kvålsvoll for mastering. I guess, since the vibe was right and every one of us aiming in the exact same direction, it paid off. Of course we had our share of some minor mishaps, but overall it was great working together.

Saille has a varied sound, meaning that you implement many elements of music into your songs. What are the main influences within the band and how difficult is it to integrate so many different sounds into your music?

Ever since Saille grew being a real band, these instruments became an important part of the Saille-sound, thus we were sort of obliged to ourselves to do it again for the successor. It just fits us and keeps it interesting. You know, Saille consists of six individuals, each of them having their own taste of music and experience. Some of us are fanatic black metal fans, while others are more death metal influenced. Most of us enjoy listening to classical stuff as well, but if you’d ask which metal band is our main influence I can honestly say ‘none’. Our music actually is based on a classical foundation with black metal ingredients added to it.

The style Saille plays isn’t entirely original because symphonic black metal is a genre that was unfortunately played to death many years ago. However, you guys have infused a fresh new life into the genre. Though one can hear many different bands’ sounds in your songs, Saille has its own style where it comes off as refreshing and creative. When writing your songs, how often do you change things around if it sounds too similar to another band from years’ past?

We work intense in a small team adding, puzzling, and joining different parts we all record at home. In the end, when it’s figured out, when the drum computer and fake instruments are in place we send them to the others, so they can give their opinions and adjustments. In the end, after the demos are finished, the drummer adds his real drums, the singer adds the lyrics, etc. Within a few weeks we have quite some material in just one song. Meanwhile the others work on another song and this process seems to work out quite well for us. It never sounds similar to what we’ve done before with so many people working on it and so many ideas joined together.

Considering that you guys do play a much more symphonic black metal style and the explosion of that scene has come and gone, do you find it more challenging to break out to get more exposure? Or, since the genre isn’t as abundant these days, is now actually the best time for Saille to be releasing albums?

We never thought about that really. Everything is just kind of happening to us right now. We work as hard as we can and we try to get things right, but it’s not thought through frankly. I guess we’re just lucky.

Unfortunately, there will be people who will cast you guys off as a Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir wanna-be band and probably won’t give you much of a listen. If and when you hear or read these gripes, what are your thoughts?

Eh, we don’t care, really. It’s just a perception and most of all a wrong conclusion. Of course you get some influences from everywhere, but in general we just do what we’re up to on that very moment. Frankly, I think that most of us don’t really like both of the bands you just mentioned, or at least not as role models.

The album highlight, in my opinion, is “Runaljod”. It’s the perfect combination of fierce riffing, catchy arrangements and sweeping, dramatic emotions/melodies. Though the entire album is strong, this song stands out as the best. Do you agree with this?

No, definitely not. It’s my least favorite track, to be honest. Like I said earlier, there are six entirely different characters in our band, each one of us has his personal taste and influence. And I do think that’s a good thing; it keeps it interesting and everyone gets his fair share.

Saille is a new band to the metal scene, though the members have all been in several different bands over the years. How has the experience of being in so many other bands helped turn Saille into what it is today? What have you all learned from the other bands you’ve been in?

Well, experience is always a good thing. Since we all join our experiences together in one band, you can say we also joined forces. We all have been playing live a lot and in different genres and all over the country. After a few years you can tell what’s wrong or right and you know who can be trusted, which venue is good or bad, which person can be contacted for this or that. Experience is very useful when starting a new band, without being a teenager this time.

Belgium isn’t known as a huge breeding ground for metal bands, though there is actually quite a bit of history in metal from Belgium. How is the metal scene in Belgium?

We can’t complain. It has been worse. I have the feeling the metal genre is on the rise, things are happening again. We do play a lot of gigs in our country naturally, but as you probably know, it’s not that big. Therefore we are busy expanding, playing abroad as much as we can from now on, which is actually going quite well.

 Do you think Belgium is overlooked by most in terms of the quality of music that comes from there?

Belgium is very easy to be overlooked, since it’s so damn small. We had some bands like Aborted, Gorath etc. You can hardly say these bands are being overlooked in quality.

 Going forward, what are the plans for Saille in the next five or so years? Do you plan on touring quite a bit and are there any plans on coming over the USA?

We’ll release another video clip shortly and then there’s lots of gigging in 2013. That’s what we’re planning to do!  I hope we can get to the USA for some gigs, so we can only ask you all: get us there, it’s up to you (laughs).

 Thank you for your time and we can’t wait to hear what comes next from you guys!

Many thanks for the intie! All the best!


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