In looking back at some of my previous pieces for the Vault, I’ve noticed that I occasionally have a tendency to over-explain albums, particularly ones with some sort of narrative attached to them.
Why do I mention this? Because I have a VERY strong urge to over-explain Hexeth. But I’m going to fight that temptation, which is a bit easier since Comte Bergaby (also of Palmistry, Moulin Banal, Shezmu, Pénombre, and at least five others I’m forgetting) was kind enough to provide some illumination himself into the sci-fi narrative that connects all of Hexeth’s releases – the latest of which is comprised of a single, 24+ minute track called “The Hexeth,” which we’re streaming here today at the Vault.
It’s actually one of two records that will be seeing release on LP in the near future. We’re very happy to be able to share the news that our friends at Grey Matter Productions will be releasing “The Hexeth” as a single-sided LP with etched B-side later this Spring. With a compilation of the first two Hexeth demos entitled Lore also on the way from Crypt of the Wizard, this is a good time to be a Hexeth fan.
The Comte and I chatted a bit about both. Check out the absolute mind-fuck of “The Hexeth,” and then check out our conversation below.
Indy Metal Vault: First off, thanks for the interview – I know that you’re an unglody busy dude, so I appreciate you making the time. There are about a hundred questions I’d like to ask about all of your various projects, but I’ll (mostly) stick to the one we’re streaming from today, Hexeth. Even though there’s a running sci-fi narrative that links all of the releases thus far, Hexeth is actually the most personal of all your projects. It’s also the one you return to most often, as The Hexethis your fifth release (not counting the Lore compilation) since last April. I want to start by asking something I’ve not been able to figure out myself – what’s the origin of the name ‘Hexeth’? As far as I can tell, it’s not a specific reference to anything. Is it a play on the word ‘hex’?
Comte Bergaby: First off, thanks to you for covering this release! You got it right, Hexeth is a play of the word ‘Hex’ – I added ‘eth’ at the end so it basically means ‘Hexed’ – so ‘the cursed one’.
IMV: For those not familiar with your previous releases, there are two main characters – the Hexeth, who is some sort of monstrous creature and one of the last of his species, and another character called the Observer. We’ve not seen the Observer since Demo, and at this point in the story, the Hexeth is on his way to Earth. You’re also revealing less of the narrative with the notes on each release – in fact, Multiverse doesn’t have any story at all on its Bandcamp page. How far along do you feel like you are with the story? Do you have an end point in mind for it yet?
CB: Well, all I can say is that the story is definitely not over. I am still writing it at this point. Multiverse was silent on the lore because the concept was that the Hexeth was living that same story over and over in different times and spaces.
For this release the lore is also absent, leaving only the music for a descriptive view of the creature. The pressuring feel of the Observer will definitely be back, but through other characters and contexts in another release. In fact, I have a long piece ready called “Protochasm” that will advance the story once again. So to answer your question more clearly – the story is far from done.
IMV: If I understand the symbolism behind the narrative correctly, the Hexeth represents the things that drain people of their spiritual and emotional energy: anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD, etc. Stripping away the sci-fi aspects, how autobiographical is the Hexeth saga?
CB: You are right; it is autobiographical. Anxiety, depression, ADHD and OCD are definitely things that have been affecting me throughout my whole life. That’s why the lore is a bit vague, just like these health issues – they are hard to interpret, hard to understand. There’s also the aspect of the ‘Observer,’ which is basically the judgment of others upon one’s behaviour.
IMV: In something of a departure from the rest of the Hexeth releases, “The Hexeth” is more of an in-depth study of the titular character than an advancement of the narrative. Why did you decide to take a step back on this release and slow down the storytelling that way?
CB: I needed to take a step back from the story and explore the ‘creature’ itself, and explore myself as well. It also gives me time to see in which direction I want the story to go. I will eventually publish a small booklet with the whole story inside – it is planned to be in the final release of Hexeth…which I’m not anywhere near reaching yet.
IMV: From what I gather, there are no ‘lyrics’ to Hexeth’s songs, at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, they’re sung in a language of your own invention that sounds both primitive and painful. Why did you decide to approach the lyrics that way? Have you developed the language to the point where it could be written and translated, or is it more like a primal scream kind of thing?
CB: An invented language is something that always appealed to me. It’s a bit of a ‘homage’ to Tolkien himself, who invented the Elvish language, among others.
Also, I believe it is actually easier to ‘speak’ about these issues (ADHD, OCD, Depression) through an invented tongue. It’s straight up feelings and visions that way.
For now, I have a couple of ‘letters’ drawn that fit with the pronunciation of certain sounds – but this language will take months, even years for me to fully develop. Plus, I do it for my love of fantastic literature. It’s for my own pleasure, really.
IMV: From a musical perspective, “The Hexeth” is easily the most complex thing I’ve heard from you. That’s not just because its 24+ minutes long, either – there are very few points on the death metal spectrum that you don’t hit over the course of the song, including some of the techiest riffs I think you’ve ever written. It all holds together incredibly well, too. What was the writing process like for it? Did you envision it as a single epic track from the start, or was that something that evolved as you were working on it?
CB: The idea of a single song-album has been in my mind for a while. Originally it was about 35 minutes, but I always end up cutting riffs and parts that I don’t like as much. I am very pleased with the 24-min version and I believe it pays respect to the character and project well.
IMV: I don’t like the usual ‘influences’ question – I think it’s too predictable and kind of boring. Given the sci-fi narrative aspect of your Hexeth material, however, I want to ask about influences from a different angle. What are some of your favorite books/movies/etc. that had an influence on the way you’ve gone about constructing the story on Hexeth’s releases.
CB: Definitely Tolkien, like I mentioned before. But I also referred deeply to some of Dostoyevsky’s work.
However, the original idea of the ‘space theme’ comes from a very harsh psychedelic drug trip I had few years ago, which gave me some kind of ‘fear’ of space. I had to recover from it for about six months before I could even talk of anything ‘universe’ related.
It affected me deeply, but it also resolved a lot of internal issues. It gave me realizations about my mortality and where I came from. I could describe the trip, but I will hold off from it. The scar isn’t totally healed yet – this record is the closest thing to what I experienced that night.
IMV: Given how prolific you are not just with Hexeth but in general, you must have recording down to a fine art. Not all of your releases have recording credits with them – do you essentially record and mix all of your material? Do you have studio access, or is it more of a DIY thing?
CB: DIY all the way. I record everything on a shitty laptop with a two-input soundcard. The exception is the latest Palmistry album, which was mixed and mastered by the amazing Dom of Freeways.
He did an incredible job and reminded me how much I suck at recording and mixing – haha. I am going to record more albums in a more professional way in the future, though – like the Shezmu full-length. We will have access to more resources to make it sound huge.
IMV: Several of your other projects play live – do you ever see yourself putting together a touring lineup for Hexeth and playing a few dates?
CB: I doubt it will happen, but we never know.
IMV: What’s next on the horizon for you, either with Hexeth or any of your other projects?
CB: I have a COMPLOT! compilation coming on both CD and Vinyl towards the end of 2019.
SHEZMU is entering the studio soon for a full-length, which is also our first recording with a bassist, a long-time friend of ours named Yan T.S. (ex-AIAUASCA). We don’t have a label for it yet, but we will start our research once it is completely done.
WARSLAVES is releasing a short EP called Whips, Whips, Whips…shortly. We are just waiting on the artwork. A full-length is also in the making, but we are slow as hell with it. This one will be out on cassette format.
The PÉNOMBRE full-length is written, we just need to rehearse it before we start the recording process. We are also playing Brooklyn, NY in April with our buddies ORDEALS.
SADOMAGICKAL SEDUCER and PINK MASS are releasing a split soon. We only have the vocals left to record.
HEXETH also have a split with a very cool USBM act. More details about that around November – everything is recorded already.
PALMISTRY’s Behold!is getting the vinyl and CD treatment. The announcements from the labels will be made in April. We are also going to play a gig with one of the sickest doom bands of all time this summer, but I can’t tell more. The line-up will include Jim from Lüger on guitars, Antoine from Chthe’ilist on bass, C.L. of Shezmu/Pénombre on drums, obviously my wife K.B. on vocals, and myself on guitar.
I think that’s enough for now.
IMV: Thanks again for being willing to answer a few questions. I like to leave the final word to the artists – anything else you want to add?
CB: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a little more personal in this interview, I rarely do, and I appreciated the experience. I would also like to thank CRYPT OF THE WIZARD for their friendship and work on the Lore compilation, and GREY MATTER for the trust on this new record. Daniel, you are the man!
Cheers! Thank you all for the support. You keep fueling my dreams and I am grateful for that.