Etat Limite. A term which gathers a certain number of personality disorders, but also a project of Atmospheric Black Metal coming from Nancy, France.
Formed in 2020 by Wintersieg (instruments, ex-Deinos Mastema, ex-Lying Figures) and then joined by Usher (vocals), the band offers two albums, L’Affrontement de l’Intime (The Intimate Confrontation) and Chaque Être est un Hymne Détruit (Every Being is a Destroyed Anthem), respectively in May and October 2022.
L’Affrontement de l’Intime consists of nine tracks, starting with L’Idée Positive and its despair-filled vocal sample which perfectly fits the mood of the soft instrumental. The sound fades to let Etat Limite drown us under its wave of haunting darkness before welcoming visceral screams to create a suffocating and intense mix which also knows how to let slower soaring sounds amaze us. We will also find some keyboards to accompany the raw riffs, just like on L’Homme sans Visage which offers a soothing sound which slowly moves towards the arrival of vocals, then oppressive saturation. The track is punctuated by the drums acceleration, then it breaks and lets Sous L’Influence du Chaos Rampant crush us with its heavy rhythmic made of quite slow massive sounds. Even during accelerations, the track remains heavy, while Sortez les Infirmières de mon Monde plays on dissonance to support its as macabre as realistic flow of pain, sometimes accompanied by some clean choruses. De Paradis Artificiels en Enfers Dysphoriques revives the stabbing sounds while keeping the dissonance developed on the previous track, letting this hypnotic mix lead us to pure rage without really fading, just like on the melancholy born from Lame sœur and its icy tones. The track is quite short, but it is perfect to illustrate the duality living in the band’s universe, between clean sound’s softness and saturation’s strength, and it also combines intense vocal parts before L’Affrontement de l’Intime, the eponymous track, begins accompanied by soaring harmonics and deep choirs. The rhythmic pattern regularly flares up, letting screams surface, then transcendent keyboards guide us to the final, followed by The Haunted Damned, the last composition, which unveils solid and heavy riffs with a rather Old School approach on a relatively lively rhythmic pattern, which will finally let keyboards putthis chapter a final touch.
Less than six months later, the band unveils Chaque Être est un Hymne Détruit, which also counts nine tracks. Combat Intérieur, the first, slowly starts with moody but soft sounds before being flooded by darkness and saturation, completed by some majestic keyboards. Vocals are quite diversified, going from raw screams to oppressive choruses before Ennemie de Morphée offers cold DSBM tones to express itself, while keeping the heady keyboards. It is also worth noticing some parts are more intelligible, putting us in front of visceral rage which suddenly drops us on Chirurgien de l’Inconscient and its surprising hypnotic tones before saturation crushes us again with its melodious dissonance. Douce Insomnie follows with an abrasive rhythmic which announces the explosive fury and its epic keyboards, but also the vocal fog haunting the track. The sound will be broken by a sample before the haunting wave comes back to life twice to lead us to Le Malheur and its aggressive industrial sounds, followed by raw riffs and desperate vocals. The work done on lyrics to deal with this simple but omnipresent subject is also noteworthy, to accompany heady leads before majestic choirs appears, followed by Chaque Être est un Hymne Détruit, the eponymous track, which goes back to the Old School and lively sounds to develop martial sounds. Vocals are also much darker, giving an impressive aspect to the suffocating sound just like L’Enfant Maudit du Pessimisme Noir which is also tinged with melancholy on softer parts. The contrast between the two universes is quite impressive, as well as this almost solemn part which spawns from the middle of the track, then Personnalité Limite puts us back in raw and dark aggressiveness with tearing howlings. Sharp riffs mix with hoarse vocals to invade us before making us progressively suffocate, letting Ténèbres close the album with an unhealthy and heavy haunting rhythmic. Riffs will still regularly ignite, offering these cries of despair a massive basis to spit their darkness.
With two albums, Etat Limite has developed an oppressive, raw and truthful universe which bluntly hurts. We can notice a progression between L’Affrontement de l’Intime and Chaque Être est un Hymne Détruit, which is illustrated by a greater vocal diversity and sometimes more impressive riffs.
Few questions to Wintersieg, creator and composer of Etat Limite.
Hello and first of all, thank you for your time! How would you introduce Etat Limite without using the usual « Metal » labels ?
Wintersieg (all instruments): It’s a tricky exercise to have to introduce a project without using the « M » word, but it’s an interesting one. So, of all my musical projects, past or present, Etat Limite is by far the most personal. This project is the reflection of my anxieties, my fears, the too invasive emotions of which I am the helpless slave and which prevent me from living normally. Etat Limite is my outlet, it is the concrete and sincere representation of all these rather abstract concepts which characterize the complex universe of human psychology.
Where does the name of the band come from, and how do you relate it to the music you play?
Wintersieg: Borderline personality disorder (Etat Limite in french) is, as the name suggests, a personality disorder characterized mainly by an inability to manage emotions, whether positive or negative, low self-esteem, unstable interpersonal relationships, addictive and self-destructive behaviors (drug abuse, reckless spending, dangerous driving, risky sexuality…), parasitic behaviors (self-mutilation, suicide attempts…). I myself have been affected by this disorder since I was a teenager, as far back as I can remember, but I was only officially diagnosed three years ago. When I created Etat Limite, it seemed logical to name this project as such because, as I said before, this project represents who I am and what I live, and I express, through music and lyrics, everything I feel, without any filter, without any limit.
In 2022, the band released two albums, L’Affrontement de l’Intime in May, then Chaque Être est un Hymne Détruit in October. How do you explain your productivity? What are the feedbacks on the albums?
Wintersieg: When I created Etat Limite, I had composed and recorded 18 songs in total. I selected half of them and it became L’Affrontement de l’Intime. The recording of the vocals took a year, I took a little less than two years to work on the mixing and mastering. I was then contacted by Huard Productions and France, Black, Death, Grind who offered me to produce the album. Once the album was finished, it reached the press, and that’s when I started to work on the mixing of the 9 remaining tracks. It was pretty quick because I was based on the work I had already done on the first album. I wrote all the lyrics, recorded the vocals on most of the tracks in a week, did all the artwork and the album was finished and ready to be sent to the press about a month after the release of L’Affrontement de l’Intime. France, Black, Death, Grind didn’t agree to release the second album so quickly, so I decided to stop working with them and produce the album myself with my little label Infinitum Malum Productions. Huard Productions supported me and offered to co-produce the album. This explains the short time between the two releases. As for the feedback, concerning the first album, although they were relatively few, they were all very positive. Concerning the second album, I also had some very positive feedback.
How did the composition process happen? As well as the writing of the lyrics?
Wintersieg: I have a very particular way of composing but it has remained the same for almost 20 years. In fact, I compose and record at the same time. When I start composing a song, I plug my guitar on the sound card, I start my recording software, I create a new project and I set up all my tracks (guitars, bass, drums…) with the plugins I usually use (amp simulation for guitars and bass, VST for drums…). Once everything is ready, I start playing until I find a riff I like and I record it directly. I program some basic drum patterns and record bass. Then I start the same process again, I look for a riff that I like and which goes well with the previous one, I record, I program… And I do this until I get a complete song. Once the track is recorded, I work on the drum patterns and then I move to recording the ambiences, keyboards, sampling… All the tracks I released, with Etat Limite for example, are tracks which were done in one session, that is to say that when I start from scratch, I don’t stop until the track is finished. Sometimes it can be quick, like 2-3 hours, sometimes it can take half a day or a day. To give you an idea, composition and recording of the 18 tracks which compose the two albums took me about two weeks of time. What takes me the most time is mixing. I write my texts independently of the music. That is to say that I will compose at a certain moment and I will write a text at another moment, but I do not write according to the music. It’s once I’ve recorded a complete album that I think about this text will go on this track and so on.
At the beginning, the project was exclusively instrumental, why did you choose to recruit a vocalist?
Wintersieg: You are wrong, Etat Limite was never an instrumental project. Maybe you were misled by the band’s page on Metal Archive’s website. I didn’t create this page, but I saw that there was a demo referenced in the discography, which is called « Anabase Nocturne » and which gathers several instrumental tracks. This demo never existed and I think that the person who referenced this demo made an amalgam of several things and didn’t understand what Etat Limite was, but well, I’m not going to dwell more on the subject, it’s no big deal.
At the beginning, I had the intention to make a real band with Etat Limite. I had placed a few ads to find musicians but as I expected, it didn’t give any result. So I decided to do a one-man band, as I had already done with Deinos Mastema. But, with lockdowns, lack of training, depression which ate my motivation and my desire to sing up, as well as the abuse of certain substances which damaged my vocal cords, I had lost a lot of vocal capacity, I basically had nothing left in the bag. I didn’t feel able to record a whole album and I didn’t want to waste all the work I had done on the music with low-end vocals. So I placed a few ads all over France to find a singer, I got several answers and my choice stopped on Usher who perfectly understood the project’s state of mind, I liked his voice right away and humanly it was also very well from the beginning. I am more than satisfied with the work he did on L’Affrontement de l’Intime and I do not regret my choice.
Is there a title which means more to you than the others?
Wintersieg: Well, if I had to pick only one track out of the two albums, it would definitely be Ténèbres, the last track of the second album Chaque être est un Hymne Détruit. It’s probably the track I’m the most proud of, and it’s the one I’d give a listen to someone who didn’t know Etat Limite.
Both albums are anchored in an extremely melancholic and dark Atmospheric Black Metal, with French vocals. Why did you choose to keep the French language to convey your raw and pessimistic message?
Wintersieg: First of all, it was the easy way out. I’m not very good in English. But beyond that, I think we have a very beautiful language and it fits perfectly to a style like Black Metal. I grew up with bands like Anorexia Nervosa and Forbidden Site. When I heard Hreidmarr spew out all his hatred or despair in the parts where he sang in French, it literally transcended me. And finally, when I write my lyrics, I can go very far in psychotic delirium, I use a lot of metaphors, images, I like to play with words and with ambiguity and double meanings… And usually these are things that are almost impossible to translate in English.
What are your plans for the future of the band? Whether it is a possible move to live, other releases…
Wintersieg: So the next release of Etat Limite will be a 6 track EP with 4 unreleased tracks, a cover of a song from my old band Lying Figures, and a cover of the song Etat Limite done by the band Karlëk. I finished the composition and the recording of the songs a few days ago, I have almost written all the lyrics so there is only recording vocals. But I intend to let some time pass before considering a release, it will not be before at least May 2023. Otherwise, the third album has already been recorded for several months, we are just starting to work on the lyrics with Usher but I don’t plan to release it before 2024.
Are there any musicians you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for a track, an album…
Wintersieg: Honestly, I have no idea. I’m a person who doesn’t listen to much music in general and especially not much Metal, and I haven’t been interested in the Metal scene for years. There are a few recent bands that I stumbled upon and enjoyed, but I never dug too deep. In what I know of the current scene and of the bands I would like to do a collaboration like a split with, I would say Glaciation (because Hreidmarr!) or Mortis Mutilati, as far as French bands are concerned, or else Psychonaut 4, which for sure, as a recent band, was one of my most intense musical emotional experiences of these last 10 years.
Thanks again for your time, Last words are yours!
Wintersieg: Thank you for your interest and support for Etat Limite. Thank you for this interview which is a little bit out of the frame of the basic interviews and which asked me a lot of reflection. And thanks to all those who will take the time to listen to our music.