Ilenkus Interview: “We wanted to be heavier and more chaotic”

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ilenkus interview

New EP Hunger is out now.

We’re going to out on a limb here and state that Galway post-hardcore/post-metal quintet Ilenkus are currently, for our money, Ireland’s most accomplished metal band. Since 2010 they have presented a dexterously crushing and exploratory brand of post-hardcore that delves deep into post metal. Rarely do you find a band of any genre that are as intense and pummeling and yet possess such nuance and deftness of touch.

We had a chat with the band recently and they explored the over arching theme of their recently released EP Hunger, their desire to streamline their sound for the EP, and the reaction from a non-metal crowd to their performance at Knockanstockan.

Overblown: The songs on this album are a bit more direct and concise than on your second LP The Crossing. Why did you decide to take this route?

Ilenkus: We’d always taken a very broad approach to songwriting in the past, not worrying too much about direction and just seeing where the songs took us. For this record we decided to change our approach, partially as a challenge to see if we could make something more focused and also I think stylistically we wanted to make something heavier and more chaotic.

O: Obviously your music is quite confrontational and aggressive. But another thing I particularly like is the lyrics. They step aside from a lot of metal lyrics. For instance, ‘Hunny Bunny’, for me, is about questioning your cultural script and questioning your place in life. Could you tell us what inspired that song?

I: To answer that question we need to delve into the concept of the record. It isn’t something that we wanted to put to the forefront of how we promoted the music, but seeing as you asked I’ll briefly describe it:

The theme of the record is loosely based on real events, it describes an individual who is enacting their dark fantasies while being in a state of delusion. We wanted to tell the story from that person’s perspective.

‘Hunny Bunny’ is meant to describe the mundanity and pointless monotony of his life, which leads the protagonist towards a mental state of wanting to perpetrate acts of violent aggression. This is never explicitly stated, merely suggested. The lyrics were designed to be relatable to most people’s lives, in a sense suggesting that many of us are closer to the edge than we would like to admit.

O: Your new EP is titled Hunger. Where did the title come from? What ‘hunger’ does it refer to?

I: Hunger refers to the insatiable desires of the protagonist in the story and the constant longing that many of us feel for something more in our lives.

O: Another new song you released from the EP is ‘Pretty Secret’. What inspired that track?

I: Again this song is part of the over-arching concept. It focuses more on the desires of the deluded mind. The ‘pretty secret’ is what the person longs for and this track particularly deals with the transition from wanting something, to feeling that the object of desire is necessary. We tried to work some dissonance into sound of this track, to highlight the dissonance within the mind of the subject of the story.

O: You have some upcoming gigs in Bristol and Nottingham. Are you looking forward to getting back on the road?

I: Absolutely. This record was written particularly to be played live. Aside from focusing our sound, we set out to write something that would be really fun and rewarding to perform. Connecting with people in a gig environment is incredible, your boundaries are down and there’s something much more primal about the way that you can interact. Emotions can be high at times and it can be an intense experience, but that’s what we love about it.

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O: Last July you played Knockanstockan in Wicklow. How were you received by a non metal audience?

I: Surprisingly well I think! We weren’t really sure what to expect from the gig, we just knew we were gonna do our thing and see what happened. It ended up being incredible; a really receptive crowd, eager to partake in the chaos and general insanity. My thoughts on it are that because there weren’t a whole lot of heavy bands on the lineup, people really just broke free when we started playing and got into the raw energy of the show. We always play really fucking loud so I think that worked in our favour as well.

O: You told The Sludgelord that you’ll be working on new music next year. How do you think you’ll approach that process? Will you continue writing more concise material like the stuff on Hunger?

I: I don’t wanna give too much away or say something that isn’t true, because until the songs are all written we don’t really know what our next music is gonna be like. I can say that we really enjoyed making ‘Hunger’ and I can imagine that some aspects will definitely remain. Beyond that it’s anyone’s guess…

O: You have an Irish tour in the works. Where will you be playing?

Answer: We’ll hit all the main spots, Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Limerick and of course Galway. It’s also always nice to get out and play some weird places, I feel like this band was partially shaped by playing gigs in weird rural locations – so hopefully we’ll do a bit of that too.

If you like this Ilenkus interview, you might enjoy our interview with Ten Ton Slug

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