Herod Interview: “You can choose anxiety or denial, denial is easier.”

Herod

New album Sombre Dessein is out February 15th via Pelagic Records.

Swiss sludge/progressive metal outfit Herod are ferocious. There can be little denial of that fact. Their music is confrontational and beautifully brutal. Combined with this, they also craft music that is expansive, challenging, and winding.

On February 15th, they will release their second album Sombre Dessein via Pelagic Records. Mastered by Marcus Lindberg of Cult of Luna and featuring an appearance by Bill Steer of Carcass, it is also their first album to feature former THE OCEAN vocalist Mike Pilat in their ranks.

We sat down to chat with Pierre Carroz (bass/guitar) about the evocative concept behind the album, the bi-lingual approach on the new record, and ‘shipbreakers’.

Overblown: The album art for your upcoming album Sombre Dessein is taken from footage of ‘Shipbreakers’. They are “people who dismantle huge container ships”. What draws you to this ‘shipbreakers’?

Pierre Carroz: When Michael and I worked on the lyrics, I came up with a concept made out of ideas and punchlines I had been collecting for a few months. At that time I was reading the works of a French philosopher (Michel Onfray) who introduced me to the idea of the inescapable end of our civilisation as a Greek tragedy. We all have studied the history of ancient civilisations that have collapsed at some point but it is like we cannot face the idea that we might reach the end of our civilisation that started about 2000 years ago.

After brainstorming with Mike, we decided to build the lyrics with the concept of the rise & fall of a dictator, which is also a tip of the cap to King Herod. Design-wise, I had the idea of the shipbreakers when I saw the documentary Freightened that talks about the cargo freight which ships 90% of what we consume in social, economic and environmentally disastrous conditions.

I thought this idea was a strong statement of the madness of our blind « consumption project » and the fact that we’re all concerned. Afterwards, I looked for documentaries that talk specifically about the shipbreaking in India and Bangladesh in order to do the design and the video clip for the track « Fork Tongue » which will be released February 5th.

Herod
‘Sombre Dessein’ album artwork.

Overblown: The album concept is about “the end of our Judaeo-Christian and thermo-industrial civilisation”. Do you think we’re on the way out as a species?

Pierre Carroz: I mean that’s why we’re talking about tragedy. The idea behind the lyrics is the acceptance of the situation, the confrontation of our denial and the quest of a certain « tragic wisdom » in order to find the light where it is. I think this is an interesting time. We basically killed about 70% of biodiversity in 50 years and there is still a lot of people talking about greengrowth and sustainability.

We could use here the Titanic Metaphor: The world is a wonderful and luxuriant boat floating on a calm ocean and suddenly you see an iceberg ahead… but you also know this iceberg might be 10% of what it is actually immersed. I think there is an awkward feeling in the air. No one is really doing what we would have to do in order to save ourselves from doomsday, like a Greek tragedy. You can choose either anxiety or denial, denial is easier.

Overblown: Former THE OCEAN vocalist Mike Pilat has joined you for this album. How has affected the music that you create?

Pierre Carroz: Mike is bringing a lot of experience, a serious impact and variety of screams and cleans. Instrumental-wise I think we’re now all on the same track with everyone in the band and we try to stick to my initial riff ideas and then try to push it as far as possible together. He’s also playing a baritone guitar which can be used as a bass but also playing harmonies on ambient parts.

Overblown: The first track to be released from the album is ‘Reckoning’. Why did you choose that song as the lead single?

Pierre Carroz: Reckoning has been the very first song that has been composed and rehearsed, it always meant to be the single. It is more an “in your face” track.

Overblown: Who created the video for ‘Reckoning’? What is the concept behind the video?

Pierre Carroz: We are working with “As Human Pattern” from Paris since the beginning, for all video clips. 3 videos will be released for “Sombre Dessein”. “Reckoning” video has been released on Jan 10 and was made out of archives footage of ancient civilizations that collapsed. “Fork Tongue” video has been released Feb 5th and is made out of “Shipbreakers” footage.

“Shipbreakers” are the people who dismantle huge container ships which end up mooring to die on Indian or Bangladeshi shores. HEROD create a strong musical and visual image of the abysses of the human consumption project, which turns out to be hell on earth for these people whose everyday work involves constantly risking their lives to feed their families. And we’re all concerned. Third video will be a lyrics video released the day of the album release date, Feb 15.

Overblown: The album will include a bi-lingual vocal approach. What do you feel this adds to the music?

Pierre Carroz: The bi-lingual vocal approach adds an unusual but intriguing aspect to the band’s delivery. Mike has been learning French since he auditioned for Herod (we are based in the French part of Switzerland) and I’m gonna do the backing vocals on stage as well, which is pretty new for Herod and challenging for me.

Overblown: Give our readers a piece of advice for 2019?

Pierre Carroz: We will release our second record “Sombre Dessein” on February 15th this year. Next, we play our release show at Pont Rouge in Monthey, Switzerland on February 23rd. After that, we are on tour all around EU with The Ocean and Downfall of Gaia. The future is looking good! We feel humbled to find ourselves in such a position.

Herod will also be touring Europe in March and April with The Ocean:

13/03 – DE, Stuttgart – Im Wizemann
14/03 – CH, Geneva – PTR/ L’Usine
15/03 – FR, Lyon – CCO
16/03 – FR, Toulouse – Rex
17/03 – FR, Marseilles – Les Pennes Mirabeau
18/03 – FR, Colmar – Le Grillen
19/03 – FR, Bethune – Le Poche
20/03 – UK, Birmingham – Mama Roux
21/03 – IR, Limerick – Dolan’s Warehouse
22/03 – IR, Dublin – Voodoo Lounge
23/03 – UK, Glasgow – Audio
24/03 – UK, Leeds – Brudenell Social Club
25/03 – BE, Antwerp – Trix
26/03 – NL, Den Haag – Paard
27/03 – DE, Cologne – Club Volta
28/03 – DE, Leipzig – Werk 2
29/03 – PL, Poznan – U Bazyla
30/03 – DE, Bremen – Tower
31/03 – DE, Hamburg – Logo
02/04 – SE, Stockholm – Fryhuset, Klubben
03/04 – SE, Gothenburg – Tradgarn
06/04 – NO, Stavangar – Folken
07/04 – NO, Hamar – Gregers
08/04 – DK, Copenhagen – Vega

Follow Overblown on Facebook and Twitter.