Hell Gate sets sail again.
Formed in 2012 in France’s Grand Est, the band released two EPs before unveiling their self-released debut album in 2020. In 2023, Hell Max (vocals), Hell Tiche (guitar), Hell Ben (bass) and Hell CoXys (drums) sign with Music-Records for the release of Vagues d’Amertume, their second full-length.
A rough sea greets us as Au Plus Loin de la Terre begins to shroud us in its intriguing veil of mystery, followed by a throbbing rhythm and the first howls. The jerky riffs mingle with soaring keyboards, providing a perfect basis for airy leads soothing the atmosphere, then letting a clear voice appear in the misty break before the final, which leads us to Par le Fond and its much more aggressive sounds. This track’s atmosphere is much heavier than the previous one, combining frantic riffs with intense screams, complemented by icy harmonics, before fading out to make way for L’Océan Aux Mille Tempêtes, whose first moment’s quietness quickly turns into a choking torrent backed by a more Old School blast. The track is also shorter, but still allows itself a moment’s respite before fading out with a gripping final that leads into Les Naufragés, which quickly floods us with its intoxicating darkness. The most virulent tones are channeled by a majestic break, but gradually join the flow, bringing their share of desolation to the melancholic tones already in place, before we drift into Errance, the shortest song, a soothing interlude where seagulls lead the way to Epave, which returns to saturation and despair. The howls are more visceral, the leads sharper and the bass much more present, creating a permanent oppression that can even be heard during the break, which is supposed to be a salvation, as Phare develops a contrast between its different elements, constantly playing between lively riffs and hypnotic leads. The track’s foggy middle section allows us to catch our breath before being thrown back into the wave of heady heaviness that ends with Grève, the final song, which takes care to develop soothing tones before letting rage regularly take hold of the band, who take advantage of both length and dissonance to suffocate us one last time before fading out for good.
The ocean has driven Hell Gate to offer us on Vagues d’Amertume a true ocean of melancholy, coupled with rage, suffering and above all, a rare intensity. Take advantage of the rest moments before allowing yourself to be submerged by their universe.
Hello, and thank you for your time! How could you introduce the band Hell Gate without using the usual musical style labels?
Hell Tiche (guitar): Hello, thank you for granting us this interview. I’d define Hell Gate as a band with a melancholic and brutal disparity stemming from several influences.
Vagues d’Amertume, your second album, will be released in a few weeks’ time. Have you had any feedback on it yet?
Hell Tiche: We’re pretty proud of this opus, as it reflects our state of mind over the last few years, which have been complicated to get through as a band. Initial feedback has been very positive, confirming our choices and our creative approach.
How would you sum up Vagues d’Amertume in three words?
Hell Tiche: Melancholy, Violence and Wandering.
Vagues d’Amertume comes out three years after your debut album. Did you notice any changes or evolutions in the creative process?
Hell Tiche: The composition of Vagues d’Amertume began during the lockdown and reflects our state from that moment onwards, symbolizing the metaphor of the world at that time and still today. Our way of creating works well and remains the same.
Why did you choose to keep the band’s lyrics in French?
Hell Tiche: We stayed with French because we have a varied vocabulary and we recognize ourselves more in this style of writing.
I notice that the sea is a recurring theme on this album. How did this theme come about?
Hell Tiche: We chose the ocean theme because of the freedom it brings. It’s a subject that’s particularly close to our hearts. We’re talking about man’s problems with this indomitable element. It also allows us to escape to the farthest reaches of the Earth.
Although each song has its own musical personality, the compositions are a mix of raw riffs, massive vocal parts and darker, more soaring elements. How do you manage to create a balance in your compositions? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Hell Tiche: Our influences are very varied and heterogeneous. Each member of the band brings his own vision of music to the table. That’s what makes the project really dark and disparate.
How do you manage the placement of vocals?
Hell Tiche: The vocals depend on the mood of the composition, which defines the message or story being told.
I know this is a difficult question, but do you have a favorite track on this album? Or the one that came most naturally to you?
Hell Tiche: Each track is so different. But the whole is complementary. The last track, Grève, has a very special atmosphere that brings Vagues d’Amertume‘s journey to a close.
Vagues d’Amertume is released on Music-Records, your new label. How is the collaboration going?
Hell Tiche: Music Records is our first label, and as we listen to it, it allows us to concentrate on our art, reducing the administrative and financial burden involved.
How did you discover Extreme Metal, and more specifically the Black Metal scene? What do you consider to be the scene’s must-have bands?
Hell Tiche: Extreme Metal, and music in general, are an integral part of each and every member of Hell Gate. Black Metal, and more specifically Post-Black, allows a great deal of freedom in the styles we infuse into each track. Bands to recommend from this scene would be Der Weg Einer Freiheit, White Ward, Gaerea. In the local French scene: Pénitence Onirique, Déluge, Houle, to name but a few.
Do you have any plans for the follow-up to Hell Gate? Especially about live performances?
Hell Tiche: Of course, we’ve got several concerts coming up at the end of 2023 and during 2024, with a new show and some great dates in the pipeline.
Are there any musicians or artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Hell Tiche: There are so many… we manage to collaborate and meet the bands that are shaping the current scene. It’s all the more motivating.
Do you think you’ve improved as a musician with this album?
Hell Tiche: I would say that we don’t set ourselves any limits: we don’t hesitate to mix our preferred styles to always come up with something that suits us best.
Which bands would you like to play with? I’ll leave it to you to imagine a date for the release of Vagues d’Amertume with Hell Gate opening, and three other bands.
Hell Tiche: The perfect release date would be Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Gaerea, White Ward and Hell Gate.
What dish would you compare Hell Gate‘s music to?
Hell Tiche: Our music is like a spicy dish with dull colors, but full of different flavors that will give you a « taste of home ».
That was my last question, so I’d like to thank you for your availability, and leave you with the final words!
Hell Tiche : Thank you very much for your time. It was a real pleasure to answer this interview. And don’t hesitate to come and discover Hell Gate and the world we want to share.