Kai Beanland, singer and guitarist of the Black Metal band Ante-Inferno answered my questions about the release of the band’s second album, Antediluvian Dreamscapes.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Ante-Inferno without using the usual “Metal” labels?
Kai Beanland (vocals/guitar): My name is Kai. I write, play guitar and perform vocals in the band. Thematically, our music is an invocation of everything that is terrible, haunting, maleficent, contemptuous and yet beautiful in this world. The melding of extreme violence with aeons of harmony. The quiescence of Mother Nature held up against the destructive nature of humankind. Imagine standing on a meadow amidst the grass and flowers, listening to the way the wind stirs the trees around you, and suddenly being assailed by a vision of murder, suffering or murder. The pain, misery and pointless human torment that stains even the most awe-inspiring places on this planet.
How did the band meet?
Kai: Several years ago, my desire to create bestial music having reached a point of no return, I simply sent out a message asking for interested parties. Gary responded and we started practising. Mateo joined us soon after and that was the line-up for the first few years. Mateo has moved on now, but we are still in touch. Along the way, we roped in Nate to play on bass and, recently, Ben on second guitar. My original vision was to play a primitive brand of Death, Black and Punk, with the likes of Slaughter and Bestial Mockery as influences, but we soon began exploring this more melodic and ambitious approach, which we pursue to this day.
Where does the band’s name come from, and what is its link with your music?
Kai: The Ante-Inferno lies just outside of Hell. It is a lamentable place to which those who lived a life without sin, yet who never embraced God, are sent. The place is full of Pagan poets and philosophers, forever denied Heaven simply because they lived before the age of Christianity. Those people are accompanied by the neutral angels who never joined Satan in rebellion, but never stood with God, either. It is spoken of in some depth in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first book in The Divine Comedy, and demonstrates how those who are free thinkers and follow their own intellectual and spiritual path will be ruthlessly and endlessly punished. In this case, the torment is not by physical means but by the denial of that which all dead souls crave: to be allowed into heaven. These themes and sense of loss and desperation resonate in our music and lyrics.
The band is about to release its first album named Antediluvian Dreamscapes, how do you guys feel about it?
Kai: Actually, this is the second album, the first being Fane from a couple of years back. We feel happy with the compositions we have made. They feel stronger, more cohesive and closer to our artistic vision than anything we have done before.
How does the composition process happen? Was it different from your previous releases? Did you have some guidelines for this amazing artwork?
Kai: I write all songs by myself initially, and then develop these in the practice room with Gary, who will suggest alterations to the song direction and structure based on drum patterns he sees in his head, riffs he particularly likes or feels are not working etc. As for the artwork, Stefan did an excellent job. It’s a really beautiful piece. We gave the basic concept, which is in line with the lyrics of the album, of a soul standing on moorland before a great portal in the sky, a passage between worlds and time. He worked with that and added his own ideas to create the great work that eventually materialised. The Grim Reaper-esque character was Stefan’s idea.
When I listened to Celestial Mirage, I was hooked forever. How do you melt Old School-made Atmospheric Black Metal with so much intensity and sincerity?
Kai: Thank you. I think this could be because we never set out solely to write so-called “Atmospheric” Black Metal, a tag I have a bit of an issue with. Not that we consider ourselves to be Experimental, but we feel no need to be confined by the trappings of any one genre, or sub-genre even, and thus the sound is allowed to travel in a direction that feels natural. For me, Black Metal is about hate and absolute vitriolic rage, just as it can also be ethereal and beautiful. The aggression is important. Perhaps this dual approach is what lends the music its intensity?
Some compositions are really long, like Celestial Mirage or Two Score And Ten Souls, how do you guys manage to keep our attention for a long moment?
Kai: We tend to write songs that go through many different stages, with varying riffs and tempos to hold one’s interest throughout the song. The exception to this, of course, is Beyond the Immemorial Veil, which follows quite a repetitive structure. The other crucial factor is to consistently write riffs that are memorable, if not catchy, and to know when to stop playing these riffs or to send the song in an unexpected direction.
The last track, named Nightmares Of The Eschaton sounds different to me. More straightforward, more weighing… do you have an explanation about my feeling?
Kai: Yes, this comes from my need to convey barbarism, violence and hate in the music I create, words you may not immediately associate with Ante-Inferno on account of the haunting atmosphere we tend to convey. Sometimes, those primitive feelings must emerge and inform the direction in which the songs must go. There will be more of these stripped-down, direct songs on future releases, to sit alongside our more progressive material.
Since 2020, Covid-19 crisis fucked a lot of things up, how did you face the situation as a band? Did it have an impact on the album?
Kai: Well, the album was written entirely by me and Gary. We live in the same town, so the band was able to continue without too much difficulty. Nate remained a member but didn’t participate in the writing process. We suffered a multitude of cancelled gigs, delays at pressing plants etc, all of which was disheartening and irritating. But otherwise, we coped. The main problem was getting together to play as a full band. None of the album’s lead guitars has been heard until I recorded them in the studio, and many leads were improvised on the spot. This likely would not have happened, had we been preparing for the studio as a complete four-piece band.
Do you already have plans for the future after the release of the album?
Kai: We have already written a third album in its entirety. We have some gigs planned and hopes for a tour or two, but few concrete plans at present. We expect that this will change as the weeks progress.
What can you tell me about the evolution of the Metal scene around you?
Kai: To put things into perspective, my school years took place during the 90s, when of course the Nu-Metal scene was thriving and extreme Metal was still underground. Since that time, extreme metal has had a huge resurgence, and the internet and social media have made everything infinitely more accessible. A huge part of me really dislikes the internet, its influence on metal fans and everything else it represents, even as I recognise how useful it can be for underground musicians like ourselves. I now wonder where things will go from here for the metal scene. Will it all collapse under the weight of its own expanding popularity, endless memes, vacuous social media nonsense and cancel culture, or will we advance and progress in ways that are genuinely interesting?
Do you think you still improve yourselves as musicians?
Kai: I barely consider myself a musician! Although I feel I have improved as a guitarist in recent years. As a band, we grow tighter and more capable, whilst our compositions become stronger. It stands to reason there is room for further improvement.
What are your best and your worst experiences as a musician ever?
Kai: Taking Furia on a small tour with us was a great time. This was just before everything collapsed with covid. My proudest moment though is the creation of this album, which is an embodiment of everything I’ve been working towards for a large part of my life. As for lousy experiences (though by no means the worst), one that springs to mind is an event many, many years ago while playing with the Hardcore band I was in at the time. We found ourselves in some windswept, dying seaside town, the sort of place where soulless, featureless shades shuffle through the deserted streets with litter scurrying around their feet and plastic carrier bags entangled in trees. A landscape of brutalist, concrete shopping precincts fabricated in the 1960s and forever stained with seagull shit… We suffered permanently freezing conditions for days on end, nowhere to go, gathering in our own filth, and nowhere to sleep or even sit down but the back of the car. After all this grim waiting around, our vocalist decided to leave on a whim, so we never got to play.
What led you to the Metal universe back in time? What was the very first album you ever bought?
Kai: That would be Countdown to Extinction by Megadeth. I was led to Metal by the sounds of Thrash and Heavy Metal emerging from my dad’s record player and filling the house, right from when I was a little baby. So it was a natural place to end up for me.
What do you know about the French Metal scene? Which French bands do you know and like?
Kai: My knowledge (of any scene) is not so current, as I make little attempt to keep up to date with everything that takes place. So, I cannot comment on the nature of things right now. However, I do have a reasonable number of classic French Black and Death Metal albums clogging up my CD and record collection. Mütiilation, Gorgon, Vlad Tepes, Antaeus, Arkhon Infaustus to name a few… I suspect our drummer Gary could talk about some more up-to-date acts. I know we have both been listening to Cénotaphe a lot, lately.
What if I ask you to compare Ante-Inferno’s music with a dish? Which one and why?
Kai: The rotting corpse of an animal, consumed at the brink of humanity’s demise. You are starving, and so, somehow the meat tastes good. You wolf it down with reckless abandon, but it poisons you on the inside, and eventually leads to your untimely, sickening death.
Are there any musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with?
Kai: Not especially. Not that we would immediately say no to any offer. I find the prospect of a collaboration difficult to imagine. It would be interesting to see how it would turn out.
Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with Ante-Inferno as opener and three other bands!
Kai: This is something I honestly never think about, so I can’t give a genuine answer.
That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Kai: Nothing much to add. Just to say thank you for the interview and for giving us a chance to speak our minds and be heard! Keep up the good work!