Aeviterne Pushes Death Metal to Existential Planes on “The Ailing Facade” (Album Stream & Interview)
Aeviterne's first full-length album, The Ailing Facade, is a soundtrack for crumbling foundations. The record is a timely meditation on humankinds' inability to escape Sisyphean cycles of violence and irrationality. It embodies, both in its content and its musical approach, the very breakdown of social order we're witnessing in real time in 2022. This is death metal by way of Camus.
Former Flourishing members Garrett Bussanick and Eric Rizk started Aeviterne with drummer Ian Jacyszyn in 2015. Their debut EP Sireless wrought dissonant destruction over its brief span. Sireless's second track "Inborn" turns out to have been a good indicator of the band's direction—its echoes can be heard in the churning noise of "Penitent," The Ailing Facade's third track, as monolithic synthscapes rear up out of the washes of guitar.
The band added guitarist Samuel Smith (Artificial Brain, Luminous Vault) for The Ailing Facade. Rather than deploy this additional firepower in service of beefier riffs, as could perhaps be expected of a death metal band, Smith has helped Aeviterne open up further compositionally. "The Reeking Suns" sees Smith and Bussanick's guitars create a runway for a grim, triumphant passage, which in turn gives way to spare ambience. This is just one of the moments where The Ailing Facade shapeshifts from harrowing intimacy to towering might.
The Ailing Facade makes deliberate and phenomenal use of negative space. This might sound like damning with faint praise, but it's true—the gulfs of noise in tracks like "The Reeking Suns" create anticipatory thirst that's then slaked by tracks like "The Gaunt Sky" with its more frenetic composition.
Speaking of deliberation, if this record sounds like the product of careful craftsmanship, that's because it was. In some form, most of these songs have existed since before Sireless. The band spent the intervening years carefully adjusting the record's many pieces. The recording process was already multi-tiered prior to the pandemic; the subsequent interruption and the band's dissatisfaction with an early mix added time to the album's gestation.
The final result is a musical edifice of carefully controlled chaos. No song here is a template. With engineering and mixing from drummer Jacyszyn as well as additional drum engineering and mastering at the hands of Colin Marston, this is one of those records that is so effortful as to sound effortless. The title track is one of the record's least conventional, an instrumental colonnade of relentless rhythm supported by pattering drum work. Rizk's ornate basswork forms a floor while the guitars soar high above, the distortion slowly falling away as the song progresses. "Dream in Lies," the album's closer and longest song that follows, is a fitting destination.
That all of this is also a delivery vehicle for philosophical meditation on the futility of human progress only adds to The Ailing Facade's gravity. Aeviterne clearly made good use of their time in the years leading up to this release—this album has the density and depth of a work of literature.
The Ailing Facade comes out March 18 via Profound Lore Records. Listen to an early stream of the full album and read an interview with Aeviterne frontman Garrett Bussanick below.
The Ailing Facade is billed as a psychological record—the cover art could be read as a depiction of the conundrum of trying to understand the mind using the mind. What are the thematic underpinnings of this album?
The themes can be broken down into two parts. First, the lyrics directly ponder ideas of futility, extinction, madness—concepts that exemplify, for instance, that utopia is likely impossible, as a positive can’t exist without its corresponding negative, or that the further we remove ourselves from nature, the more we create problems societally, culturally, etc. And then secondly and in response, the record is ultimately asking, "what is progress, and is it possible?"
It's been about four years since Sireless, and in that time you added a guitarist. How did this relatively long gestation period play into the development of your first album?
Almost the entire LP was written before Sireless was released. However, three or four years were spent attempting to achieve a recording we’d like. Tracking was a piecemeal process over many months at various locations. A notable delay was due to working remotely with a different mixing engineer on a mix that was eventually scrapped, leaving us to start completely over. In my experience, rarely has a recording come together quickly or smoothly. Often (and sometimes, I feel, unfortunately), it just takes time.
"Stilled the Hollows' Sway" is the first place here where the electronics really announce themselves, but there are layers of ambience and synth throughout the record. Who handled the electronics here? How did the band weave these threads into the record?
The electronics were handled chiefly by our drummer Ian, as well as myself. When conceiving what the band would be, he and I agreed on having electronics be part of the formula.
The electronics were part of the compositional process from the beginning, and so weren't added last minute or randomly "on top" of anything. And we were shooting for a balance; sometimes they have a more supportive role in the music, other times leading. All of this is to say, they have not been added for their own sake. There’s quite a bit of nuance, with the electronics and in general, for the patient listener to discover.
Genre labels can be reductive. Do you think of yourselves as a death metal band?
A quick, streamlined way to describe the band to someone is that we’re a death metal band. If the band was a genre pie chart, the biggest slice would be death metal, in my opinion.
Colin Marston's mastering and production is a throughline on so many great metal records these days. What did he contribute to this record, and who else outside of the band helped make The Ailing Facade happen?
As you mentioned, Colin mastered the LP, and additionally tracked the drums. Our drummer Ian stepped up to track everything else, and wound up mixing the whole thing as well. I think Colin’s mastering work really preserved the intention of the mix. And Colin was actually the second engineer we had master it—we had tried using someone else first, but their treatment changed how the music came across too significantly.
How is the band planning to support this record? Will you be incorporating the electronic elements into any live shows?
There is a tour happening later this year that’s coming together now. Outside of that, I think we’ll do some other select shows.
We’ve had electronics running at every show we’ve played (to varying degrees of success). I know someone who’s seen us more than once who was surprised to learn we’ve had the exact same electronics running every time—it just goes to show the live setting is full of wildcards.
You're now signed with Profound Lore—what difference did that make for this record, and what's next for Aeviterne in general?
I think Profound Lore is a great home for the LP, and the association will surely bring the band more visibility. Also, there is a bunch of rough music I have lying around for a second LP—not sure, though, when the next phase of work begins on that.
The Ailing Facade releases March 18th on Profound Lore Records.