Depths of Hatred – Emerging AnewThursday, 25th March 2021
After two full-length records and an EP, Depths of Hatred decided to add some new elements to their deathcore formula with the addition of new vocalist William Arseneau. Managing to capture the same level of frantic brutality as their previous offerings, but injecting it with an added depth, sprinkling of melancholy, and bolstering the melodies (including clean vocals), the band has found a middle ground all to themselves. Inheritance rages with fury, but distinguishes itself with intriguing hooks that only add to the flavor. We sat down with drummer Karl Desjardins and vocalist William Arseneau to get a detailed look at Inheritance, the band’s evolution, releasing an album during lockdown, and more.
Dead Rhetoric: You brought in William [Arseneau] for the new album, which allowed you to go in a different direction. Was this something you were contemplating before he joined the band?
Karl Desjardins: Yeah, before we didn’t really have a singer that could do the cleans or that range. It was definitely something that we always wanted to try but we didn’t have the chance before. Getting Will into the band was a very good surprise for us. It was matching well with the new songs and the direction we wanted to go in. it was perfect timing.
William Arseneau: The first time I met the guys, they asked me if I would be willing to sing on the new record, and I said of course. It was cool in the way that they approached the whole thing. Since I could, they just went with it.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel that Inheritance does to up the ante in comparison to previous releases?
Arseneau: From someone that was outside of the band before this record, it’s a bit of a 180 while still trying to do the same thing. It’s really similar in a lot of ways, musically – there’s still the tremolo picking, the breakdowns, the blast beats, but overall the mood is different. It’s a lot less frantic, there are more ups and downs, and it’s more dynamic. When you add my vocals on top of that, it adds another dimension with the clean vocals. So it’s an evolution of the band, basically.
Desjardins: It’s a big improvement for us. We still have the same vibes, like Will said – the riffs and the Black Dahlia kind of stuff, but we were trying to experiment more. The sound made a big difference too. The mixing process brought us to a whole new level.
Dead Rhetoric: So is that kind of like a fresh start for the band?
Desjardins: Yeah, for sure. We are only looking forward right now. There are hard times right now and we don’t know where things are going to be, but the plan is to keep going with this fresh start. It’s a new beginning for sure.
Dead Rhetoric: Being that you had established yourselves with the deathcore riffs and Black Dahlia kind of stuff, how do you feel the reaction has been to the new direction of the material?
Desjardins: I’m happy with how it’s going. I was afraid that the percentage would be more in the ‘dislike’ range, but I’m surprised by the positive reaction. Of course, there are going to be a few people who are upset by the cleans, but it’s only because they don’t like cleans. It’s not because the music sucks or anything. It’s just not their genre. I would say that maybe the second one was a bit harder for people, because there was a lot of clean singing, but I think when people listen to the whole album and they get into the vibe, they are going to see that it’s something that flows from beginning to end.
Arseneau: I was expecting to be thrashed so hard. I figured that there would be a lot of ‘he’s not as good as the other guy,’ and I didn’t really care because I was expecting it. But people have been messaging me and saying that they love it, and people who hadn’t heard the band before have been loving it. At this point, I don’t care – I just want it to be good. People seem to like it, so that’s good.
Dead Rhetoric: I think the thing you have going for you, is that even if there are a few people that are turned off by the new stuff, it opens a new door for new listeners.
Desjardins: For sure. People that maybe don’t even like deathcore might maybe listen to the band and see how heavy it is, but they like the cleans, and that is going to open us up much wider for an audience. That’s what we are hoping for. To speak realistically, we like the deathcore scene and touring, but if we can achieve something more, that’s our goal.
Dead Rhetoric: I think too, you are playing death metal in the end, it’s not like you are out to win the Grammy’s or anything. You are doing it genuinely, and most people tend to appreciate that.
Arseneau: The music, for us, is the most important part. We are making something we like, and if people want to listen, that’s cool.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you talk about the cover art for Inheritance?
Arseneau: The cover art is inspired by the story of the record. I believe it is the first record by Depths that is a concept record, in terms of the lyrics. The record is really dark, so the album artwork needs to be really dark too. The record is a kid in a cult who inherits the will of his father.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you go into some of the details of the overall concept, I had a feeling that the album was conceptual based on listening and the PR releases so far.
Arseneau: Yes, it’s entirely conceptual. The album opens a certain way and we end it with the same kind of framing so it’s kind of a cycle. So as I was saying, it’s about a kid that grows up in a cult and his father is the leader of the cult. He has to face trials to inherit his father’s fold. So it’s about him trying to become his own person, but being tied to this whole family situation. At the end of the day, it’s still a cycle, even though he wants to break free. So it goes full circle – he becomes his father, and the story repeats.
Dead Rhetoric: Was that your first attempt at doing something conceptual like this?
Arseneau: No, it was not. I have another side project and we did exactly that. I did a full length concept album with them. But for this one, I wanted to do it again, because I love that sort of thing. I love the cyclical nature of it. It it’s an album, you have to at least have a certain cohesion between the songs, so I figure why not do it with the vocals? I am not really intending to do it, it just happens naturally.
Dead Rhetoric: Between Will joining the band, having some more maintenance on the production side of things, and having two years here – did you just do everything you could to ensure that you were doing this album the right way?
Desjardins: Yeah, pretty much. We had a lot of material, but it took a long time to put it all together, as well as the member issues. It was a hard time for us at one point, but it gave us a lot more time to prepare for this album. We had a lot of good things that were planned, and everything is going well now. It’s just going to get better. We already have some new material. We are always cooking up some new stuff. With William now, we have a new member and he also plays guitar, so everyone is going to put their heart into it and it’s going to be even better. You always think the next one will be better and the one to make you go big. We are always ready for the next one.
Arseneau: When I joined, the record was already done in a way. The music was finished, so I came in and learned the songs and I started writing lyrics. We were working on it for a while, and I’m proud of how it sounds. It sounds really sick.
Desjardins: We just needed to put the vocals down when William came into the band, so he put his stuff into the new vibe. When the overall concept and everything, it turned out so good.
Dead Rhetoric: What were some of the challenges you came across with promotion, getting the videos done, and things like that due to the pandemic?
Arseneau: COVID-19 is something else. When we started, the whole thing was basically done. We had recorded everything right before the pandemic. In February of last year, we were filming our first video, which was for “Fastidious Imitation,” it was just before. Things were going well, and then everything shut down. We had to reschedule a lot of things. It was difficult, but we did figure out a way to do a lot of videos, which was really cool. For each song we are putting out, there’s a video for it. So now, it’s going great!
Desjardins: We haven’t been able to get together and jam in forever because of the curfew and meeting size limitations, but we were able to work everything else around.
Dead Rhetoric: One thing I feel with the new album is that there’s a lot more of a push where you infuse the more brutal stuff with some melody. What’s your thoughts on how death metal moves forward?
Arseneau: [Laughs] I have no clue. Death metal will always be here. For me, it will always be about being heavy. A lot of other genres will grow from death metal into something new. Right now, deathcore has been pretty big. Our good friends in Brand of Sacrifice, they aren’t kidding around. They are doing something different. I feel like we are too. There’s the extremely heavy stuff mixed in with a lot of dynamics. I don’t hear a lot of clean vocals, especially meant to be only clean vocals, in the genre.
Desjardins: I think we bring something new. It’s not like something we have heard before. I think if it will be incorporated more, that would be cool, but if not, we are still going to be doing it. We will bring that epic vibe. We always have key words for when we do music. It’s epicness and melodic. For us, we keep it traditional at some points, but we are always going to try to evolve it.
Arseneau: Evil too!
Desjardins: Evil is the best! [Laughter]
Dead Rhetoric: You are a part of the Canadian scene. Do you have any favorites or bands that you look to that are in the area for advice?
Desjardins: I’m super close to the guys in Beneath the Massacre. I went to high school with them, so they are close friends of mine. They put out some very good material, with Barone on drums and everything. They made a great comeback, and it sucked for them that they were in the middle of tour when COVID hit. In Montreal, we were lucky because it’s smaller, and everyone knows everyone so it’s a tight community. We are very lucky with that. There’s also a lot of snow up here this time of year so we stay inside – that’s why there are a lot of good bands in Montreal!
Arseneau: The local scene here is crazy! We have some of the best death metal bands – going back there’s Cryptopsy, Gorguts, Beneath the Massacre, Ion Dissonance. Some really cool bands!
Desjardins: There’s a lot of genres too – death metal, deathcore, goregrind, metalcore – there’s a big variety. When the shows come back, it’s going to be madness downtown with people everywhere!
Dead Rhetoric: Moving through the years with the band, how have you had to challenge yourselves to gain a wider audience?
Desjardins: It’s hard to say. We always are kind of doing our thing and go with the flow. If people follow and it goes naturally, we don’t push anything. We do what we love, and I’m still going to listen to the old stuff and it will be our main influence. We are trying to bring something new, but we will always do what we want for ourselves first. But the reaction is very good – we’ve never had numbers like this on Spotify. But we go with the flow and see how it turns out.
We’ve been a band for so long, Martin [Trottier] and the other guys, but Will has only been here for two years. To be honest, Will has yet to do a show in Canada with us. He did a US tour with us and that was his first experience, but we haven’t done a show up here because of COVID. We had one that was booked around March 20, but it was cancelled before we got to do it.
Arseneau: I’ve been aware of Depths of Hatred before I joined. I had seen them like six times live and been friends with a few of the guys. So when I joined, it was like, ‘why not, let’s go!’
Desjardins: We were so stoked to find him. At one point, we were a bit nervous that we wouldn’t find someone who was serious and willing to take the responsibility to do it for real. That’s the hardest part – to find members and get everyone on the same page. But now we are solid, and it’s going to be great!
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel you need to do as a drummer to make your own impact within the extreme metal scene, where there is a lot of emphasis on blast beats?
Desjardins: I’m a straight-forward drummer. I’m not the most technical drummer, but I’m always trying to improve myself and bring more variation. The new songs are giving me more openings to make more accents and bring my drumming to the next level. For the next album we are trying to switch tempos, so that it will give me a lot of new possibilities. I’m not super used to it, and I’ve been working a lot to improve that on the personal side. It will definitely help on the long run and I’m trying to bring something better and improve. But there will always be some traditional blast beats because we love it. We love the grooviness. When we compose, we are always trying to think about the live performance. I’m always going to try to bring something special that gives me more possibilities.
Dead Rhetoric: William, you mentioned that you had done a concept album previously. In your mind, do the lyrics need to have as much to say as the music?
Arseneau: Yes and no. In metal, it’s not the main focus I would say. A lot of people really enjoy growls and the vocals are basically another instrument on top of the music. But to me, yes it is important, since I am a vocalist. I try to write the best lyrics I can, and I am the type of person who doesn’t want to do the same thing other people have done with vocals. With metal, it is about gore and brutal stuff – I want to keep it more vulnerable but still be heavy. In a way, I feel that half the people won’t care or learn the lyrics, but I feel like the other half will give it a shot and listen to the whole thing with the lyrics and really appreciate this other layer on top of the music that I feel is really important. You can feel so much more connected to a song that has lyrics that mean something to you. So I give it my all.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there anything planned right now besides the album release? I know you mentioned there’s a number of videos.
Desjardins: Since we don’t know when touring is staring again, and we are doing all of the videos in-house, I think we are just going to put out videos and more videos. It’s not super complicated for us to do, and it’s really good promotion. We love to do it, and it’s good for people to see. If people can’t see us live, we might as well do videos. We were thinking of a live stream, but I’m not sure about that. We don’t have a good set up and there’s nothing that we think we can reasonably do over here. Maybe we can do some playthroughs too. We are just trying to maintain the hype and put out new stuff.
Arseneau: Yeah, that’s basically all we can do right now. We aren’t really planning anything since things are so up in the air. We will wait, and when things are good to go, we will probably have a tour. But now, we are working on new stuff too. There will be another album in the future, and that’s it for now.
Desjardins: We will work on new stuff for sure. We have another album to put out still, so we are going to work in production mode and try to make the best music we can.