Interview by Carcassbomb
- Aeons Abyss
- Death Metal
- Melbourne, Australia
- Latest album: Impenitent (Nov 2019)
- Latest single: “The Great Hanging” (April 3rd, 2020)
- Next Album: Late 2020
- Music: Bandcamp / Spotify / Youtube
Aeons Abyss are releasing a stand alone conceptual single on April 3rd called “The Great Hanging” that features a collab with fellow Aussie Shanon from Eternal Rest. Here is the link on Spotify, give it some love. Both of Aeon Abyss’ 2019 releases, Pity Eloquence and Impenitent are Name Your Own Price on Bandcamp too.
Thanks for being a part of the Australian Heavypedia, who are Aeons Abyss?
I’m Steven O’Brien and I do the majority of the songwriting, the music (guitar is my main instrument) and mixing for the band, along with my partner in crime, Paul O’Brien (no relation), who takes care of the lyrics and vocals.
Things have been moving fast for Aeons abyss with your debut EP Pity Eloquence quickly followed by a debut LP Impenitent both in 2019, showing the energy of a fresh new band. The material however has been written well in advance with your music making journey starting decades ago. Can you tell me a bit about that journey and the official transition into Aeons Abyss in 2017?
As teenagers, we had a school band in the early 90s, and wrote a bunch of songs. We managed to gig a bit locally back in the day, and even got into a studio to demo up a few tracks. But it was pretty hard to make it as a metal band in Australia at that time. I always wanted to get our songs out there and after reconnecting with Paul, who now lives in a different State, we decided at the end of 2017 to reform as a studio project. I set up my home studio, taught myself how to record, mix and master, and Paul taught himself how to record vocals, and off we went. Matt from Straight To The Core Podcast goes through the history of the band in great detail. If you want to know more, you can listen to episode 10 of his podcasts
The result of years of perseverance shows in the work, the music is very solid. What was it like seeing a lifetime of ambition come to fruition with Impenitent and the largely positive response it got?
It’s been great. The music is mostly going on 30 years old, and it is amazing to think that our songs have stood the test of time, and been pretty well received. These songs were written when we were kids, and now as grown ups, to be able to revisit our music in this way and to rediscover the joy of creating music; well it’s been a lot of fun
Both albums have a strong focus on cover art, how important is the visual arts side of Aeons Abyss and metal in general to you?
As a studio band (for now), the artwork is critical to get people’s attention. There are so many talented artists out there working in the metal scene, and the artwork ultimately becomes iconic in representing the album. The artwork for Impenitent (by Satta) is simply outstanding, and the amount of effort and time he put into it is phenomenal. He worked in the style of Gustav Dore and absolutely nailed the brief and was fantastic to work with. We also did another recent collaboration with Satta showcasing a bunch of his works on YouTube to our music, which was really positively received.
Despite being a death metal band Aeon’s Abyss have found a great way of communicating the lyrics through the music that are furthered by the storied artworks. What is the origin of this lyrical focus and what are the core themes behind them?
Paul is a brilliant writer. His writings often have deeper meanings, and stories within the story, which you can discover by taking your time to interpret his writings. Often he will have multiple versions of a ‘study’ for a song, and have different options for delivering the words. This is why he did the readings of our songs on his Instagram account.
For our next album, we are going to focus more on society, as there are so many critical issues with the world right now, with the human species being at a tipping point, and we feel we need to express our views on these things through our music.
Aeons Abyss is very prominent on social media, has this huge online shift in the music industry made it easier for you to achieve your goals with the band? Or perhaps harder in some ways?
Social media is the main way for us to get our music out there. If we just gigged locally, released and distributed our music, and didn’t promote it on social media, no one would hear us as the streaming services do not push unknown, independent bands. You have to generate your own following and social media is perfect for this. I really enjoy connecting with metal fans all over the world, and it is very humbling when someone takes the time to check out our music and actually let us know they like it. To honour this community, we want to do more with our followers, including offering potential song collaborations with talented individuals who would never get the chance otherwise to be part of a genuine music release. This includes working with other independent artist.
The present of Aeons Abyss feels so active vibrant right now but you’re already pressing hard into the future. You have a new single coming out tomorrow, can you tell me about this track?
The Great Hanging is a new standalone single and will be the first of such collaborations. We think it’s a pretty cool, viby track, written in the style of early thrash / black metal. The lyrics focus on the rich 1% of society who wield way too much power, and make decisions for their own benefit rather than for the common good. It will drop April 3rd, and features Shanon Davern from Brisbane’s Eternal Rest doing guest vocals, and Rogers Rocha of Brazil’s Savagez playing the guitar solo.
We’ve also worked on a Slayer cover (“Die By The Sword”) as part of an underground Slayer tribute compilation being run by Antichrist Magazine (released 28 February)
Our next album will drop in the latter part of the year. The music for this album is done. It will be a 9-track album of all new songs, with a different sound to Impenitent; still Death Metal, but probably a bit more sophistication in the song writing, which is I guess to be expected since the time-gap between our old stuff and now. Paul is just finishing off the lyrics, and then we will get into recording the vocals and finalising mixing in the first half of 2020. The intent will be that through the lyrics, each track is linked and will tell a continuous story, from start to end.
Next year, we are seriously thinking about trying to gig. We may recruit some band members for a one off national tour, or we may try and buddy up with another band to do a guest spot. We are also thinking about a live stream event, with just Paul and myself, playing to backing tracks.
Considering the project has spanned so many years there must be a huge variety influences at play. What were some of your most defining albums in the early years?
I grew up listening to pretty much everything on the radio during the 70s and 80s, but also Blues (such as Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee) and lots of guitar driven music, like The Animals and early Dire Straits. Then I got into AC/DC in a big way in Year 7 at High School, and quickly progressed to the heavier stuff. Metal bands that influenced me back in the day were featured on our Instagram Page in the lead up to Impenitent. From these, the ones that most influenced us would be Obituary, Morbid Angel, Carcass, Slayer, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Pestilence, Deicide, Napalm Death and Bolt Thrower.
And what about in recent years, have there been new bands that have inspired your sound?
I spent a lot of time through Uni discovering classical music, to the point where I started learning orchestration. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Mahler and Berlioz opened my eyes to a completely new world of pure genius. Nowadays, since I’ve started streaming music, I’ve properly discovered Black Metal. I love bands like Darkthrone, Immortal, Mork and Emperor. Also, the continuous supply of quality small underground bands makes for endless listening options. When I find a band I like, I really do enjoy visiting their entire catalogue and spending some time with their music to take in all their works, and their evolution as musicians.
As an Australian band, what are your thoughts on the current metal scene and some of the barriers it faces?
There are only a handful of bands whose achivements make it feel like they’ve transcended Australia and become truly international success stories; bands like Parkway Drive, Northlane, Disentomb and Thy Art Is Murder spring to mind. Then there are a heap of local tier bands that have the talent, put out fantastic music, play consistently to small local crowds, or niche markets, but can’t break out of the local mentality. The main barrier is the actual band themselve not driving the international interests that would allow them to get picked up by a major label. Across the globe, with so many bands doing the grunt work as independents or on smaller labels, to break out, you have to be a ready made success, which guarantees a label instant returns.
Also Triple M has recently started up a 24-hour metal show on mainstream digital radio. This is massive, and I hope they consider supporting local music, as it could be a game changer for a small local band to be showcased to the masses.
What’s some advice you can give to new bands trying to start out or perhaps even to older bands trying to join the online age?
There is a lot of metal being released globally every week. A lot of people listen to their metal nowadays like they watch streaming TV; binge and move on. The only way to guarantee longevity in the industry is to genuinely connect with your fans and followers. Other than meet and greet at gigs, social media is the best tool for this and it is invaluable for any band wanting to grow and become successful. One engaged fan who cares about your band and your music is better than a thousand who listen once and move on, never to return.