Death Engine advances again.
Created in 2012 in France, the band released a first EP, followed by two albums before intensely touring, then gradually disappearing. In 2022, after two years of work, the band led by Mikaël Le Diraison (guitar/vocals), Tony Bozanic (guitar), Sébastien Mollo (bass) and Tom Shannon (drums) resurfaced to announce the release of Oceans, their third album, on Code Records, their own label, in collaboration with Throatruiner.
Drums were recorded by Joris Saïdani (Birds in Row).
Hyperion floods us with feedback before releasing the first dissonant riffs, quickly accompanied by a thick and oppressive basis. Tortured vocals finds their way in these waves of raw and worked sonorities which continuously crushes us before suddenly giving way to Leaden Silence and its bewitching melodies. The rhythmic will ignite again to let throbbing and heavy tones invade us along with the persistent screams, then Pulled Down allows us a short moment of respite before rage mixes with sweetness. A few clean vocals parts bring a soothing touch to heavy saturation, then an airy break leads us to the last chorus and to Lack, a much more aggressive and energetic composition, especially on drums. The track remains dark and oppressive, just like Mess which reveals a visceral melancholy before letting saturation weigh the sound down by giving it this massive touch, but it still keeps airy leads on the chorus, completed by the soaring break. Dying Alone develops an ominous atmosphere thanks to its rhythm section, which will be completed by chaotic guitars and heady vocal to lead us to Empire, the last and longest track, which will close the album with a progressive sound skillfully navigating between saturation and soaring harmonics until this chaotic climax, which will make the track slow down before a cheerful final.
As Death Engine moves forward, anyone who gets in the way is crushed by explosive saturation, throbbing vocals and heavy influences. Ocean is as chaotic as it is polished, revealing a huge potential.
Few questions to Mikaël Le Diraison, singer and guitarist for Death Engine.
Hello and first of all thank you for your time! How would you introduce the Death Engine project without using the usual « Metal » labels?
Mikaël Le Diraison (vocals/guitar): Pleasure is all mine. Hard question I would say cold dark & violent.
Where does the name of the band come from, and how do you relate it to the music you play?
Mikaël: It’s a comparison between a vehicle crashing against a wall and this world in which we live going mad. We are spectators and actors of an ecological collapse without any radical questioning of the system by our leaders, or any real general awareness. I feel angry, powerless, deeply melancholic and afraid. These are surely words that describe the band’s musical color well.
In 2023, the band will release Ocean, its third album. Do you already have any feedback on it?
Mikaël: It is not yet released, some reviews have been published. They are positive, we are waiting for the rest. We are eager to have feedbacks because this album is the result of a long process. At some moments it seemed to us to be a real Way of Cross as we had so much troubles. Its conception pushed us to our limit, we had to be resilient and not give up. It could just as well have been called Obstacle or Complications ahahaha.
How was the composition process? As well as the writing of the lyrics?
Mikaël: It was spread out over a rather long space of time which began in March 2020 during the first lockdown to end at the beginning of 2022. All the composition work was carried out with MAO with the band’s round-trip in studio to put in common but always within the MAO framework. The health situation pushed us to work differently. Concerning the writing of the lyrics, it is not very secondary for me, not to understand “less important” but it only happens as the process’ last phase. If there is no guiding idea, if the voice’s placement is not natural and clear during the layout phase, the song is discarded. About texts, I didn’t have any predilection themes, I went naturally without asking myself too many questions, writing what came to my mind. Not to be too straightforward but to be a little more suggestive, even abstractive on some tracks. I write according to the music and at the T-time, the meaning sometimes appears later to me, I like this way of proceeding. So it is not the most enjoyable moment, it is very centered on malaise in the broad sense, adding to difficulties of realization and personal problems for some of us.
The band had a period of inactivity after 2019, what pushed you to return to the studio?
Mikaël: The health situation, it’s what put us back on track. We had stopped the group after having gone through a rather chaotic period. And then frustration too, the feeling of having left things in the air after two albums and a mini, the feeling of not having said everything. To end in this way was so pathetic, it ate me up. So to answer your question, we found ourselves confined, it was a good time for introspection … and for the hostilities’ resuming.
We find a lot of influences in your music, whether it’s Post-Metal, Post-Hardcore, Sludge… how do you manage to combine all the elements to create a coherent and haunting sound?
Mikaël: For the music and this album in particular, I was talking to you about the importance of temporality. It allowed us to take all the elements making the band’s identity, to sometimes remove some of them, to add others, to experiment. We often let the song settle to take them back later or simply discard them. At the beginning we had a clear idea of the general feeling, let’s say that we had the content without necessarily having the form and we took the time to build it piece by piece. We have all experienced shocks of anxiety in recent years and this album had to tell that. Then indeed there is the question of musical influences, I don’t listen to the same things throughout the year and it has an impact on my way of composing. This album had to form a homogeneous whole and we had to find diversity in it. The coherence you are talking about is the result of work and choices, it had to be coherent, it was an objective we set ourselves. Nowadays, I don’t listen the musical genres that you mentioned in your question anymore, even if we are stamped in this aesthetic and it is quite normal. Unfold, Breach, Neurosis, Unsane… are part of Death Engine’s musical DNA, it’s undeniable.
The track that intrigued me the most is Pulled Down, where we also have some clean vocals to create an extremely contrasted universe. Does this track have a particular story?
Mikaël: We can say that. It’s the story of a song that I wrote and demoed in 3 days, including vocals, which never happened to me. Usually, about the main lines, the global vision of a song, everything comes to me rather quickly after having begun it but for this one, it was quite fast. I really wanted a song like this one, I had been working on it for a while without finding a real way out. Then one day I plugged my guitar, I played this intro and everything else followed. I had managed to find the connection point between a maybe more « easy listening » song and the heaviness, the intensity and the melancholy of Death Engine. On the other hand it was the most complicated track to record in the studio, it underwent some modifications. We enhanced this cold touch on the bridge which was more Krautrock-sounding at the beginning, with these clean guitars bathed in chorus and recorded on an old Peavey Musician with a transistor. Vocals were done at the end of the studio sessions and I was literally exhausted. We had to stop because I was losing my voice, we started again a bit later to finish, it was not easy, I was exhausted. So yes, it has a particular, very easy and very difficult story at the same time, it’s weird. Lyrics are about depression, about the incessant questions you ask yourself to keep you awake, about how hard it is to sometimes get up in the morning, to make sense of it all, to reach far away at times to find the resources and bounce back.
What are your plans for the future of the band? Whether it is a possible passage to the live, other releases…
Mikaël: Playing live is of course our priority, we want to defend this album on stage after all this time spent making it and preparing its release. We also created an associative label, Code Records, and we want to continue to develop it. We sure have projects… but it’s still a bit too early to talk about it.
Are there any musicians you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for a title, an album…
Mikaël: Milena Eva from Gggolddd without any hesitation, on a track.
Which bands would you like to tour with ? I let you create a tour or a date with Death Engine and three other bands!
Mikaël: Gggolddd, Health and Hangman’s Chair.
Thanks again for your time, last words are yours!
Mikaël: I recently saw Titane by Julia Ducournau. Her previous movie, Grave, had already slapped me in the face and I really enjoyed this one. It’s so good to see such talented directors, showing so much audacity and courage in the French cinema today. Thanks to you for this interview and thanks for your support. See you soon.