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Pre-lockdown, pre-pandemic, and just as their third album was released, I spoke with Walran and Celin of Angellore about what they were up to. It ended up taking a while to publish, but here's something from a slightly more innocent time, just a few months back.

Interview with Angellore.
"Ah, Doom. Never quite goes as planned. I had this live Skype catch-up with Angellore's Walran (keyboards/vocals) and Celin (bass) back in late February, just after the release of fourth album 'Rien Ne Devait Mourir'. Preorders had just shipped out, though mine were still on the way, and we were all particularly excited about the LP version, as The Vinyl Division had packaged it with extra tracks and a 40-page booklet: that was 'A Story', the band biography that I'd spent the last few years writing for them. Of course, in order to be part of the packaging, that had drawn to a close some months earlier and gone off to be laid out, illustrated and printed. So the plan was just to bring things up to date as far as the album launch, to accompany the review I was working on.

And then, somewhere in the middle of typing this up, the world pandemic hit, and everything went crazy for a while. It's still crazy now, obviously, but in a kind of leaden, slow-motion blur of almost-identical days, and I've finally had time to finish transcribing this. Because it's been a while, I did wonder if I should ask some follow-up questions about the last couple of months, but decided against it. That wasn't the mood of the original conversation at all, so it seems more appropriate to leave it as it was - a much happier moment, taken from what now seems like an age ago. Though I will say here, I have since heard from Walran, and the band are all doing OK. Hopefully they'll find some enjoyment in revisiting more normal times, too!

As it was a live interview, it's always nice to have some context - so...Celin doesn't usually talk a lot, unless prompted. When he does, it's with a quiet, dry humour and a certain degree of self-deprecation, but a very sharp eye for detail. Walran always has plenty to say on any subject, and presses his points with a fierce but wholly affectionate and infectious passion, driven by a genuine love for the music which both shaped, and is replicated in, Angellore."

Editor's note: If you're confused about the significance of 'A Story', well, it was originally intended to be something which would mark the 10-year anniversary of the band. Not by charting their progress from rags to riches, which hasn't quite happened yet, but more by detailing the everyday adventures that any developing band might experience. At the moment, if you want to read that, you need to get hold of the 'Rien Ne Devait Mourir' vinyl LP version. If you want a bit more band history for free, we did this comprehensive interview in 2015."

Angellore: Rosarius (guitars, clean & extreme vocals, keyboards), Lucia (vocals), Walran (extreme & clean vocals, keyboards), Celin (bass), Ronnie (drums). (Photo: Emilie Garcin).

[After about 3 minutes trying to get both sound and video working at the same time]

Walran: Hello - can you see me now? Celin: Hello, how are you?

Sorted out the technology now, I think! Nice to talk to you both again, hope you're well. So, the new album, 'Rien Ne Devait Mourir' - how excited are you, now that it's actually launched

Walran: We had a gathering with the band last weekend and it was a very, very nice time because we discovered some glowing reviews online while we were together so that was cool. We saw many beautiful reactions also, because we posted the entire album online, and the best part was to see Anders from Draconian, the lead singer, sharing our album on Facebook and writing - he said exactly, I think - "words are not enough to describe how much I love Angellore and this album"! That was just so heart-warming, we were all super-happy to read that, and of course every time he posts something about Angellore so many people discover us. It's so, so cool to see one of your idols sharing something like this about your music, and all in all, I think the fans are not disappointed. I was, to be honest, expecting better reviews but when it comes to our main target audience, our friends and fans and followers, they seem very pleased with the results, so that's actually very reassuring and very nice to see.

I've been keeping an eye on the Finisterian Dead End site, hoping to see pictures of the CD package, but unfortunately that literally just shows the cover art.

Celin: There should be a kind of unboxing video on the way, but we are still waiting for it.It should've been done by our Italian friend and it's kinda late.

Angellore - 'Rien Ne Devait Mourir' CD unboxing (2020):

Of course, you were having special packaging for both CD and vinyl versions - what do you think about the finished products?

Walran: There is only one thing that bothers us about the CD, especially Celin. I would say it's a bit sad because the printing of the cover was not exactly what we expected. The guy who dealt with the printer said there was no check print before the cover was printed, and it's a bit of a bummer because Celin put so much work into the contrasts and the shades of grey on the figures, and it turned out a bit different to that. But the rest of it is absolutely gorgeous, the digipack is extremely nice, once again quite original like La Litanie was, but a bit classier I would say. We didn't have a proper booklet for La Litanie, because we had the cards thing, but this time we have a beautiful booklet, very well printed, so I'm very happy with the CD. On the cover we have an embossed logo, which is top-notch, I really, really like the effect.

Well, I speak on behalf of all of us when I say that the LP turned out great in every way. The Vinyl Division sure knows how to get things done properly! David is the most professional person we ever worked with. I was actually surprised to hear how good a song like "A Romance Of Thorns" sounded on vinyl! Such warmth and depth, it was like rediscovering the song again. And when it comes to the object itself, it was a relief to see how refined the printing was (the LP one is much closer to Celin's original vision), and having the book covering the entire history of Angellore to go with the LP is literally a dream come true to me. And it's such a great feeling to get our bonus tracks finally available for the world to hear. We put a lot of work into them and I genuinely think they deserve to be heard. We consider ourselves very lucky to have Mike agreeing to write the whole Angellore story and to have been picked up by such a label. Their roster is glorious and it's lovely to see Angellore featured there, among so many bands that we love and that inspired us! We're among the very smallest there, and it really means a lot to have been picked up by such a prestigious institution.

First pages of the LP booklet: the picture is from the first time Rosarius and Walran met, back in 2007.

I suppose I should ask a bit more about the book - you came up with the idea out of the blue, we spent several years working on it, and now it's finally published. So how did you find the experience?

Walran: Well, I'm curious to hear what our bass player has to say about that, but when it comes to me personally it's honestly a dream come true. When I was a child and had my - so to speak - small musical project with my friends where we were basically only hitting guitar strings and kitchen implements and shouting - we called it "art rock", but it was just noise - even then, when I was just ten to twelve years old I was writing all the time: "our story", but there was no story back then! The dream for me was to have people interested in what we were doing, and sharing it with the world.

And with Angellore I thought it was so cool that everything that happened to us, all the experience - I mean, for a non-touring band, we've been through quite a lot - and we're so passionate about the music that I felt it deserved to be shared. I was super-scared of coming out as pretentious or full of ourselves or something, and then I met the perfect person to join us in this adventure and put his words and wisdom and talent and experience at our service. So basically what I said to Ronnie and Rosarius at one point this weekend was I spend so much time dreaming my life instead of living it, if I worked my keyboards harder, or learned another instrument I could be a much better musician as of now, but seeing this printed it seems to me that it was not all in vain.

Everything we went through, all the good times, all the bad times, it's good to see that there was interest from all the people that got the vinyl - I had, just a few minutes ago, a very nice email saying that the book was an extremely pleasant read and that one wouldn't expect that from such a small band. Well, that's perfect, it means that we hit it, because something like that, the book we worked on together, it has been a great experience going back in the past, sharing the memories and telling the stories, and seeing it printed and written by someone else. But it's also what, as a fan, I would love to read from one of my favourite bands. I mean, Empyrium did that with their retrospective and that's how I got the idea in the first place to tell our stories like they did, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the band and the coming of the third album and looking back on the whole history of Angellore. And if I could read that for a band like Estatic Fear or Agalloch or Draconian or Saturnus I would be extremely happy. It's made by music fans for music fans. And personally, it makes me extremely happy. I saw the booklet this weekend and I couldn't help but smile because it really is a dream come true to see it printed.

Celin: He's happy...

Walran: What would you say, bass player?

Celin: I would say you, Mike, should be writing the book on Draconian and Saturnus and Estatic Fear...[All laugh] No, it's fun to see the intertwining: Walran, the way he loves to tell the stories, I've heard them like a hundred times, but when they're written by you it's like a whole new story. I like the way you put a shine on this band, on the whole history - and, like any good doom band, we are celebrating our tenth anniversary on our twelfth anniversary!

I'm very happy, I just couldn't do the design of the whole book, it was just too much work, I just did the cover. But I'm happy with the outcome, I think they did a great job, can't wait to hear back from the fans to see what they thought about it.

Walran: It's an honour for a small band like us to have such a great book at this time in our career, but I think, as you said in the book, it's a story of everyday, basically, and I'm sure that many musicians that struggled just like us will smile by reading this and thinking I've been there and I know what it's like, so it's not only the Angellore story, I think it's just a great story!

So do you have any special launch party planned, anything like that?

Walran: Not at the moment, no, I mean the biggest thing was the listening session you were invited to, a long time ago already! But now that the album is out we just want to basically promote it in the best possible way, try to get some new listeners interested and last weekend we had this little intimate celebratory party with the band and the wives and girlfriends of the band and it was just a relaxed nice time. I mean for us it was sometimes such an ordeal to go through with the whole project that it feels like a huge relief to see now everything is done.

There was actually a bit of a hiccup: the digital version was available one week before the release, which was a surprise and not such a good one! We don't know exactly what went wrong but it wasn't supposed to be this way - we had friends and fans emailing us to say did you know the album is available on Spotify and Deezer and all, and we basically didn't know. In the end it was OK, we decided to post the album on our YouTube channel to do some damage control, so to speak. But the main point for us right now is that people listen to our music, that a lot of our fans won't be disappointed - it seems like so far, so good - but also for new people to discover us. I feel that it's an album full of passion and I would love it to get a bigger fanbase!

'Rien...' first unveiling - listening session in Paris, October 2018. Among those present: hosts Walran, Florianne, and Celin...and myself as a guest.

Of course, when you do finally go on tour, you'll pick up loads more followers...! [All laugh]

Walran: Yes, that really is the next step if we want the band to grow. We're buying some materials - oh, one thing I can add, we haven't rehearsed with him yet, but we are going to try with a second guitar player, a session guy who's actually much more advanced than us when it comes to professional musician experience. He's been touring before, and he really enjoys the band; I've been talking to him the last two days on Facebook and he was asking about the songs he ought to practice. So it is going to take a lot of time - the fourth album is our current dream and goal and priority for this year. But after that I really think there's a chance that we will rehearse more regularly and more seriously, so to speak. So I'm not going to say Angellore is going to appear live next year because I've said that so many times and it hasn't happened. I'm not going to go there again! But, yes, we're still working towards that, and nowadays there are a lot of small festivals for doom metal fans and bands like us, so I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem to find a place that would be happy to have us and hopefully, fingers crossed, next year or the year after we'll finally get there.

Have you carried on being busy with other material in the meanwhile? I know you like to overlap the continuous development side of things.

Walran: It's true, we always do that and we love it. You do know us well! [Laughs] We already have two demos that are starting to take shape for the next album. The original plan was to hit the studio this summer, but that's going to be too soon because there's still a lot of work to do songwriting-wise and we want to take our time to make things right so the current plan - although it could change - would be to go into the studio around the end of the year.

The new songs we have are around 10 - 12 minutes and I would say they're quite doomy, with loads of female vocals and quite atmospheric, very, very sad as well. A bit different than what we've done on the third album, I would say it's in the vein of La Litanie but more refined, with more quiet parts. We're very happy with them, we started to rehearse them this weekend and I think it's promising, I'm very excited to work on the different material. I would say it's less ambitious than Rien Ne Devait Mourir, but very atmospheric and touching. As it should be!

Angellore - 'Blood For Lavinia' (Official, 2020):

Are you planning to carry on with the things you tried out on 'Rien...' - the live recordings, the proper classical instruments, real choirs, all of those sorts of inclusions?

Walran: I would love to, but I think it would depend on the opportunities that we have. We had such a great experience especially with the flute player that we have to carry on with her! I would love to have some more oboe, and clarinet would be a plus as well, because it would fit very well to one of the songs. When it comes to choirs it was very difficult the first so although I'm keeping it in mind, I don't know if it's very realistic - we'll have to see. But it's a bit too soon to say, because I don't really know what the songs need and it will very much depend on what they need. And of course there will be violin, we've always had proper violin parts on the albums and of course we cannot give up on that now - it's too beautiful! So, we'll see. We are thinking about a change of producer as well, so that's going to be a big change for us after three albums with the exact same team.

Any idea who, or is it just that you feel it somehow needs a different production touch for this material?

Walran: Well, we would love to go with Déhà, from Belgium: you know, he's been playing in Clouds and Slow - well, he's not in Clouds any more, but he still has Slow, which sometimes sounds very much like Shape Of Despair, which is far from being a bad thing! I've been working with him for the latest Abduction album and we get along super-well and he likes Angellore and it would be a perfect fit. He showed some interest so... Once again, it's not set in stone yet but most probably we will go to Brussels and record with him.

Celin: It's quicker to get to Brussels than Marseille. And cheaper!

Studio Evertone, Marseille, with Florent Krist, producer of the first three Angellore albums.

Yes, I suppose it is! Cool. So, looking back on all the work for Rien...', what would you say were the biggest lessons learned from that?

Walran: That's a good question - I'll leave the first answer to the bass player!

Celin: I don't know! Not to trust an Italian guy? We should've learned this from the first album... [All laugh]

Actually we had this very discussion with David about a week ago, and I just was like 'Well, I'm really sorry, but I can't see what I should be learning from all this, because every new album we like start from scratch, with new label, new producer, new everything. So we know the mistakes we made, but I cannot see how we can not make them again! Sure, we're trying so hard, but every time we fail! So, I can't wait to see the new shape it will take, the new mistakes that will be made...[Laughs]

We know we need a new drum set for this album, we know we need a new guitar setup, but I don't know if we'll be able to have them.

Walran: I think what I want to improve as well, like Celin said, the label part is always tricky and it was never our original plan to change label with each album - I mean it's really not the way I planned or envisioned things when we started, but, you know, happenstance... You can't control everything and thus far we're quite happy with The Vinyl Division, they did a perfect work for us and Finisterian Dead End is a big improvement from everything we had before, so maybe slowly but surely we're getting there.

But when it comes to the music, I want - like Celin - better preparation. We have to take care of the drums and the guitars, to make sure that they'll sound perfect when we hit the studio. I want to focus on the playing, to rehearse a bit more carefully, to make sure that we're as prepared as we can be, because I thought we were very well-prepared for Rien Ne Devait Mourir and it wasn't bad, but it could have been better, and I will always try to improve that, to be the tyrant, so to speak, that will push the other guys and myself to give the best that we can.

I mean, I like the way that we do things now: writing, sometimes together, sometimes alone and the first two songs we are currently working on were written by Rosarius and me in the old-fashioned way, like we did in 2007, and then bringing them to the rehearsal room and working on them. And I would love to do that, to have some proper pre-production, so we could already record some parts from guests before entering the studio, to save time... I would just like us to be more efficient, because with time and family and work it's getting harder and harder to make time for Angellore, but it's still something that's so important in our lives, such a priority that I really want us to make things right - so, focus on the preparation to make the best possible album when we get to the studio. That's basically the lesson I learned from album number three, where we were not as prepared as I hoped we were, and it was very stressful for me!

So would you consider taking on a band manager, or a PR and management company?

Walran: Well, we never thought about it because, in a way, I would like to rely on the label a bit more to do that kind of stuff, but we can do it ourselves. Ronnie and I, we've been involved in the music business for a little while, and Rosarius used to write for a Gothic/Dark Arts alternative magazine, so we all have contacts and we try to use them wisely and to promote ourselves. It would be great to have someone else to help with that, especially the PR, but thus far we've had some pretty good results mostly relying on ourselves. So I don't think we need to do more. If the band was touring, of course, we would need somebody to spread the word, but as we're still not ready yet, there's no rush. We'll mostly do it ourselves, and hope that some people who love the music spread the word!

So how are the rest of the band, then? Are they having as much fun as you two?

Walran: I certainly hope so! This weekend was amazing. I had tons of work to do before, and even while, I was in Chambéry with the rest of the guys and once that was over I could really enjoy being with my bandmates, feeling the family touch in Angellore. Everybody was super-happy. Lucia was taking care of the Instagram and talking about what we should do to celebrate the album, maybe throw a competition to involve the fans. And us guys were talking about the fourth album and how happy we were with the third and what we thought of the first review we had and it was an extremely nice atmosphere. It felt like somehow we reconnected...I mean, there was never anything wrong or bad, but it seems like we all were busy with our own things and this weekend was a proper gathering and a celebratory time, and I think we're all really excited to rehearse again and that feels great! I mean, you know me, I'm always the guy who is not happy about something, and Celin can testify that when we get out of Chambéry on the train I'm always like 'Oh we worked on this and it was great, but I wish we could have worked more and I'm super-disappointed...' [laughs] but honestly this time I was only smiling, I was genuinely happy.

Celin: And we got ourselves some street credibility - you have to tell the tale...

Walran: OK, I have to tell you this wonderful story - so, we were rehearsing a new song in the rehearsal room at Rosarius and Lucia's place. It has a very tragic main theme, I wrote that and Rosarius and I worked on it, and it was the first time the whole band had rehearsed it together. So were just playing it, no-one was singing, it was just instrumental, and at some point we hear some banging at the door. So Rosarius was immediately nervous - he has a boiler that blows steam out on to the street, and his first thought was something had gone wrong with that, and my first thought was 'Oh my God we're being too loud and the neighbours have to complain and we'll lose the rehearsal room...'. So in like one second we imagined the worst - but it was actually a very nice neighbour who Rosarius knows, telling us someone had left a note at the door. Once again, I thought this cannot be good..., and then it was an extremely beautiful note left by two girls who were just passing by. While they heard our music, they thought it was a magical moment and stopped just to listen, and they said they wished us the best, hoped we'd keep on playing and they'd leave us with a smile. They didn't know anything about us, or the name of the band, or what the song was, but they took the time to do that. And that was just so amazing that someone would do that - especially in these days, when everyone has cellphones but nobody has a piece of paper! We were just so, so happy - of course we all took a picture of the little piece of paper, and Rosarius and Lucia will frame it for our next rehearsal!

That's a really nice story to hear! So have you got any further with your contribution to the Estatic Fear tribute that's currently being put together? Is your part finished yet?

Celin: That's a good question, because actually Ronnie should have been asking us some mixing questions last weekend, but he forgot! So, for all of us, apart from Ronnie, the mixing is done - we're still waiting for his rhythm for the mixing process.

Walran: I think we're really almost there, I mean Celin sent the first version that he produced and mixed himself. I thought the rhythm guitars were a bit low, so we got those a bit higher and then I was very happy with the result. Rosarius and Lucia seem to love it as well, and they didn't have any changes, but Ronnie said that he would ask for some adjustment and at one point in the weekend he actually mentioned to me what he had in mind, but I was half-asleep and I forgot, so we're still waiting for his feedback.

Celin: That's typical Ronnie stuff! [Laughs]

Walran: Well we're really 99% done. It's really nice - it's not the sound quality we get out of the full studio but it's still very nice. We had a proper flute player, a proper cello player, and it's not so far from the original but it's still Angellore in many ways, so I think that's the right balance for a cover.

Angellore - 'A Romance Of Thorns' (2020):

Are you doing anything else with any other musical projects, at the moment - Abduction, or any of those?

Walran: Yes, Abduction is going to release its third album in April or May, and we're going to have an LP version, and a book...although not written by Mike, so not as exciting as the Angellore book, obviously! It's going to be a great concept album about a historical French figure and I think it's the best thing we've done so far, and I'm happy with that, so I'm curious to see what people think. It was challenging to sing, but worth it! And I'm involved in two other projects that should release their first albums in 2021 - one of them is a sort of Viking Metal, and the other is a surprise, so I cannot say anything about it, but it's going to be interesting and hopefully it's going to bring some attention to Angellore as well.

Loads of things going on - in a way with this Angellore album being released and the next one in preparation, and Abduction getting more lively and the other projects it seems like everything is coming together. It's like my musical life, so to speak, is finally starting after years of just small things now everything is happening at the same time and although it's a bit overwhelming I'm very very happy about it.

I think we have plenty here to go into the interview - is there anything else you guys want to add or ask?

Walran: Nothing comes to mind right now; what about you Celin?

Celin: I just want to thank doom-metal.com, because it's one of the best websites for doom out there, so yeah, I'm really proud to be part of that story.

Walran: That's true, it's really nice to get some following from some websites we were going to when we were younger, and still go to now. That's cool, and it make you feel part of something much larger than you are and the community knows who you are, and that's more than enough for me. If most people who are into atmospheric gothic doom have heard of Angellore, even if they don't like our music, then it means we've done something right. We've always wanted to bring our listeners back to the way gothic doom was made at the turn of the century, and if some people who are nostalgic for that kind of music can find us and enjoy it, well that's perfect - so, yeah, it's really great to be featured on a website that does so much for the music we all love.

Always a great pleasure to chat with you, guys, take care and have a lovely evening

Walran: Take good care of yourself, thank you once again for your time, and we'll keep in touch anyway! Celin: Thank you, bye.

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Angellore bandpage.

Interviewed on 2020-05-06 by Mike Liassides.
Thermal Mass
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