Review 1869 : Toter Fisch – Aspidochelone – English

Toter Fisch raises the black flag.

Formed in 2013, the crew led by Romain « Horgoth LordToad » Nobileau (vocals), Rémy Robinot (bass), Jérémy Bayon (accordion, Scumbags, ex-Hecate), Pierre Dri (drums) and Tanguy Andujar (guitar, Forgotten Tales Brotherhood, ex-Anthares, live for Saor) announce their tenth anniversary with the release of Aspidochelone, their ambitious second album.

The adventure begins with Awakening, a first composition which quickly introduces the band’s style’s inherent elements, such as the epic atmosphere on which catchy riffs are born, surrounded by vocal parts. The accordion also plays an extremely important role, punctuating the waves of warlike rage with its singular tones, just as it does on The Tongue, The Saber and its driving accents that create a contrast with the rawer parts. Samples are also abundant on this track, which eventually gives way to Petwos Call and its danceable tones weighed down by a dark crushing rhythmic basis, which are also joined by massive vocal parts and ominous tones. The mix remains unifying and will undoubtedly be very effective live, especially the final break, before the melancholy resurfaces with Memories, which knows how to enhance the most nostalgic sounds in a very natural way, even when the rhythm is aggressive and heavy. The Island revives the band’s festive elements, skilfully blending them with an energetic approach sometimes borrowed from Death Metal or more obscure influences, but also with its soaring Folk roots in the background before allowing us a moment’s respite with the introductory sample of Abyssal Beast, which ends up sinking us into the heart of a merciless battle. Symphonic influences are perfectly exploited to give the track haunting elements, as on The Bow where melodies resonate between howls, creating a natural complementarity that even integrates a few clean vocal parts before a grandiose final. Ritual returns to danceable tones, while being dominated by an omnipresent fury, punctuated by majestic orchestrations and the heavy roots of the leads, before presenting Blessed And Chained, which is guided by wild howls while placing its playful riffs. The rhythm section is subject to a few accelerations, before Neverending ironically brings the album to a close with an epic instrumental composition worthy of the greatest adventure films.

Toter Fisch‘s latest chapter perfectly lives up to the expectations the band has created among its fans, offering with Aspidochelone a short hour of majestic, furious and epic sounds that easily sweep you up in their nets.


Version Française ?

A few questions to Toter Fisch’s members.

Hello and thank you for your time! How could you introduce the band Toter Fisch without using the usual labels of musical styles?
Pierre (drums): Toter Fisch is a band that recounts the fantastic and disturbing adventures of its crew, downplaying the fun and emphasizing the dark side of its facts.
Tanguy (guitar): It’s the cursed child of Finntroll and Pirates of the Caribbean!

Aspidochelone, your second album, comes out in a few weeks now. Have you had any feedback on it yet?
Remy (bass), Romain (vocals) and GG (accordion): Impatient. We’ve had some encouraging feedback from friends and family, and the first reviews are coming in soon.
Tanguy: After the obstacle course which was the album production and the fact that it’s my first release with the band, I’m torn between excitement and anxiety.
Pierre: Relieved! And a little stressed, all the same…

How would you sum up Aspidochelone in three words?
The band: epic, dark, intense

Aspidochelone comes out six years after your first album, how did the composition process happen? Did you notice any changes or evolutions in the creative process?
Romain: The composition process was much more demanding than for our previous album. Some of the compositions predate the creation of Toter (2005 for the oldest). And everyone was able to add their own touch, resulting in an impressive number of variations and compositions…
Remy: It took a long time to compose, as the line-up changed and the covid didn’t help… I personally put a lot more effort into Aspidochelone than I did on our previous album, taking an active part in the arrangements. I also took charge of writing the lyrics and the concept, which was a first for me, because until then it had been GG‘s job. It was quite a challenge, but I’m happy with the result!
Tanguy: Honestly, for me, the most complicated part was finding my place and understanding the creative process as part of a group. It was an intense and extremely interesting work, which not only helped me progress in my way of composing by pushing me to my limits, but also helped my compositions evolve towards something bigger, more complete and more accomplished. The big icing on the gigantic cake was collaborating with Thibault Chavanis on the orchestrations, who gave our music a symphonic richness beyond our expectations!

According to the Internet, the Aspidochelone is a sea monster, a sort of « turtle-island ». Why did you choose this name, and what is the concept behind the album Aspidochelone?
Remy: The Aspidochelone is indeed an island-like sea creature with many names and appearances in different mythologies and legends. It is always described as a monster that sinks any sailor unfortunate enough to land on it. The basic idea was to find a sequel to the adventures of the cursed crew of the Toter Fisch after Yemaya. After a lot of research into the fantastic bestiary of the oceans, we found that this creature would be a perfect central figure for this album, at once mysterious, dark and grandiose. It symbolizes Toter Fisch‘s passage into another world. The album tells the story of this wandering crew, who cross the path of the Aspidochelone, then their journey into a world of voodoo deities, the Lwas, before finally signing a pact with them. There are 2 possible readings of this story, one being very literal, and the other more personal, somewhat linked to our experience as a band. We wanted to stay with a concept album, with a story that unfolds over the course of the tracks, but focusing more on the psyche, the confused emotions of the crew for several reasons, the first being that this is what inspires me most personally. What’s more, we feared that yet another pirate adventure would quickly go round in circles and be too… boaty! We’re keen to offer music that moves away from pirate clichés, so we wanted the same for the lyrics, without betraying our universe.

I know it’s a tough question, but do you have a favorite track on this album? Or the one that came most naturally to you?
Remy: Probably The Bow, because it’s a very Melodic Black Metal track, with an epic, melancholy atmosphere, and very beautiful clean vocal lines.
Pierre: The Island! For its apparent joviality that darkens quite a bit, with just the right amount of gritty riffs.
Romain and Tanguy: It would probably be Neverending, because it represents a beautiful osmosis of composition between the two of us. It’s also the one where Tanguy had the most fun with the epic orchestrations, with a strong film soundtrack feel.
GG: Blessed & Chained for its hyper martial and orchestral side, its Folk chorus but not too much!

Like Yemaya, your first album, Aspidochelone is an independent release. Was it the band’s intention to remain independent?
The band: We had mixed feelings. On the one hand, we were looking for a label that appreciated our world enough to want to collaborate with us and push us to the top. On the other hand, we didn’t want to sign for the sake of signing. Despite a few positive responses, we decided to release the album independently, due to a lack of really interesting proposals. We’ll be thinking about this again for our next release, so stay tuned!

In your music, there’s a contrast between the heady folk elements provided by the accordion and the more raw basis. How do you manage to strike a balance in your compositions?
Tanguy: For me, it’s first and foremost a question of arrangement, choice and personal taste. And a bit of luck too, let’s face it. Then there are all the exchanges within the group, during the composition process. We’ve got a very democratic way of working, and maybe that has a part in balancing the whole thing out. In the end, we just get to a point where it sounds good to our ears. Whether there’s the right balance is up to the listener to judge!

How did you discover Folk Metal, and more specifically the singular world of Pirate Metal?
GG: Swashbuckle and Running Wild for Pirate Metal, and Finntroll for the Folk side.
Romain: Finntroll for the folk side and Alestorm for the Pirate Metal, but that was after Toter Fisch was created!
Tanguy: Following a course on musical crossbreeding in secondary school (hello Mrs Fablet!) between traditional, learned and contemporary music (Rhapsody / Eluveitie…).

Do you have any plans for the future of Toter Fisch’s journey? Particularly in terms of live performances.
The band: A lot! We’re working on a few dates in France for the end of this year and the beginning of next year, and hope that our album will be well enough received to open the doors to French and foreign festivals for 2024. We’ve also got lots of projects in the pipeline: music videos, a new scenography, a new setlist, new merch… all will happen gradually!

I’ve already seen you on stage three times, between Cernunnos (2017 & 2020) and Motocultor (2017), and I immediately noticed your polished aesthetic. How did you go about designing your costumes, and how do you prepare a Toter Fisch live show?
The band: Costumes are a mix of bargain hunting and craftsmanship. As for preparing the live shows, it’s usually done spontaneously during rehearsals, over one (or more) beer(s)!

Are there any musicians or artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
The band: We’d love to record in legendary studios that are currently out of our reach, like Peter Tägtgren‘s Abyss studio. We’d also like to work with vocalists who have a strong personality in their singing, as we did with Jen (from Volker) on Mami Wata. We have a few ideas for the future, but it’s far too early to say.

Do you think you’ve improved as a musician with this album?
Pierre: Yes, and there’s still work to be done! The Captain tends to compose within our limits, so we’re obliged to take things up a notch with each release. That’s the challenge!
Tanguy: Between the compositions and the personal technique, I think we’ve all raised the bar for this album. And some of Captain‘s riffs gave me a hard time! #ritual
Romain: Yes, in terms of stamina and certain rhythmic vocal parts.

Which bands would you like to play with? I’ll let you imagine an Aspidochelone release date with Toter Fisch opening, and three other bands.
The band: Finntroll, Moonsorrow, Fleshgod Apocalyspe

What dish would you compare Toter Fisch‘s music to?
Pierre: A Creole dish. Sweet and salty, to vary the pleasures, and a big dose of spice to spice things up and burn those who aren’t ready!
GG: A pineapple pizza (for the Caribbean side) and lots of hot sauce for the Metal side!
Tanguy: A raclette … because I love raclettes and I want a raclette!

That was my last question, so I’d like to thank you for your availability, and leave you with the last words!
The band: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to answer this interview. We look forward to seeing you at a concert or at our release party in Lille on September 16th! Cheers!

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