Domhain - ''extreme metal is the best way to express extreme emotions'' - Interview
Domhain hailing from Ireland have just released their superb debut Ep Nimue, a collection of songs that with the haunting dual vocals create an atmosphere that is earthen and organic throughout its three incredibly multi-layered tacks. It is both heavy and alluring, dangerous and yet calm. It is the ideal of originality that bought the experienced heavy musicians together.
Anaïs Chareyre-Méjan Cello, Drums, Vocals ‘’Bryn and I started Domhain in 2021, we knew that we wanted to try new things while using Bryn’s dark and atmospheric compositions as a base, but we didn’t really know what the end product would sound like. Andy and Nathan joined us and added their skills, ideas, and inspirations to ours, and we were helped by amazing musicians like cellists Jo Quail and Raul Andueza to create our own sound. Nimue is Domhain’s first born.
Bryn Mills Guitars, Vocals (backing) ‘’I had the opportunity to create music with Anaïs and the idea was to draft our own version of atmospheric black metal with a twist of cello and clean vocal chanting. The result is the first release “Nimue” which we are all very proud of.
Nathan Irvine Guitars (lead), Piano ‘’I was the final addition to Domhain. Bryn approached me and asked if I’d be interested in joining and adding my flare to an already existing template. At the time I was looking for a new project on the back of covid lockdowns, I needed a reason to get out and socialize again. When Bryn let me hear a very early demo of “The Mourning Star” I couldn’t turn it down.
Does Nimue come from the lady of the lake and the inspiration to combine classical themes with modern music?
Anaïs: Bryn’s writing is mainly inspired by nature, and Nimue is also represented as a goddess of nature. The EP concept is the waking of Nimue, seeing the damage caused to nature by human beings and taking her revenge.
Bryn: The idea of Nimue was to give tangibility to the idea that we are running out of time, insofar as to try to metamorphosize an ‘Autumn’ of our time. The music was a collaborative effort towards doing so.
Does having every member as a multi-instrumentalist lead to such a diverse musical sound?
Anaïs: we actually kind of became multi-instrumentalists while writing this EP. None of us had done clear vocals before, Nathan hadn’t really played piano, and I was barely starting to play cello… but that’s still what we wanted to do. We are still learning; this music is definitely very challenging to write and play to us all!
Bryn: Domhain is lucky to have Anaïs, Andy and Nathan’s input. Without it, the band would have no future. The possibilities for creating music as they see it are boundless and I am happy to contribute the bones for their input.
Andy Ennis Bass, Vocals: ‘’ We all offer something different, and a lot of things we didn't know we could do before trying it. Having the "give it a try" mentality has helped us to find our style.
Nathan: All four of us are well versed musicians and have been in multiple projects through two decades. Having said that, Domhain has put us all out of our depth and forced us to learn new skills. It’s been a process of trial and error, not just in regard to new instruments and ability but also different tones and how to unearth specific emotions. The end result is incredibly satisfying.
Nimue is incredibly heavy yet also diverse. Are all the different styles a natural evolution that is also uplifting?
Anaïs: I wouldn’t call the evolution and the different styles direction “natural”; it was what we wanted, definitely, but it was a challenge… it does sound natural in the end thankfully.
Your music is also incredibly personal. This is vitally important and a counterpoint to the mythology that is within your music.
Anaïs: for this particular question I think we might all have a different answer. Personally, yes, I’ve put a lot of my personal feelings and emotions into this. I lend my own fears and anger to Nimue, it’s hidden and part of the music.
Bryn: I feel that, in order to create music, you must live it. Otherwise, it’s all just image and superficial nonsense. Writing music can be rewarding if it is done with humility and authenticity.
Andy: My priority is how music can make someone feel. I understand that lyrics are an important part of music, but for me, the creation of sounds and rhythms, vocally and instrumentally are paramount.
Nathan: Having a concept for the record has allowed us to freely express ourselves without looking like we’ve been caught with our trousers down. My despair is on show, but I hide behind the mask of Nimue.
The idea of combining vocal harmonies with atmospheric black metal?
Anaïs: when we first talked about this new project with Bryn this was the most important ingredient to me. This also turned out to be the most difficult part, live especially… but I absolutely love it.
Bryn: Why not? Winterfylleth do it perfectly, as do Havukruunu.
Andy: It's become an integral part of our sound. We're not the first to do it, and we won't be the last.
The vitality of extreme music ?
Anaïs: extreme metal is the best way we know to express extreme emotions. It’s so much more difficult to talk about them.
Bryn: Black metal should be reflective of culture and emotion. As I said previously, anything else would-be superficial nonsense. However, I don’t claim to be a ‘black metaller’.
Andy: I am proud of that. Heavy music has been a big part of my life, and being able to create it with other like-minded individuals is very rewarding.
Nathan: I’ve leaned towards the more extreme styles of music my whole life but that’s not all I enjoy or am capable of. It’s a specific type of flavouring that has a time and a place. People want to be entertained but the most important thing is that the music excites us, the writers, first.
Is it truly a genre without limits?
Anaïs: it is really… when you think you’ve heard it all, all of a sudden there is Zeal and Ardor and Sleep Token bringing something you’ve never heard before. I hope musicians will always keep pushing the limits.
Bryn: When you listen to Panopticon and Wolves in the Throneroom, you can probably get an idea that anything is possible in this genre. I feel that the ‘wall-of-noise’ approach is an essential part of creating atmospheric black metal, but not the only component of it.
Andy: Creation and limitation are not conducive. Boundaries can be stretched, and rules can be broken. That's where the best art lives?
Nathan: There were no limitations with Nimue. If an idea was brought to the table, we at least tried it. The same goes for other aspects too, for example, we’re a small band just starting out and we’ve created music videos for every song on this release. We did this with a “why not” attitude. We’ve no reason to hold back.
How do you define uncompromising?
Bryn: I would say that you can gauge uncompromising music by the emotions it evokes.
Should all art be extreme without compromise?
Anaïs: IMO art should be whatever the hell the artist feels like doing. From happy flowers to blood and rotten guts.
Bryn: There is no original art anymore. But, if you live what you put forward, then I guess you have a right to call it extreme in a sense.
Andy: Art is art. Whatever the artist wants it to be is what it should be.
Plans for the future and new releases?
Anaïs: We are currently writing an album; it is a long process for us, but we are already really excited about how it’s shaping up! We really hope we can get some nice gigs in the meantime. We are very excited to play in Paris next year at the Cernunnos Festival.
Bryn: Domhain has been strengthened by the creative input of Anaïs, Andy and Nathan, and I’m sure this will stand them in good stead going forward. It’s only an idea at the moment, but one that has the potential to solidify a sound which can be carried forward.
Nathan: The template is already there for a second release. We will be honing our skills, old and new, as we prepare to shape future songs. In the meantime, I hope people continue to enjoy Nimue and come see us at shows.
Top 6 albums of all time?
Anaïs: Opeth: Blackwater Park and Damnation, Shape of Despair: Angel of Distress, Dead Can Dance: Spiritchaser, Havukruunu: Uinuos Syomen Sota, Primordial: Nameless Dead
Bryn: Primordial - Spirit The Earth Aflame, Lethian Dreams - Red Silence Lodge, Anathema - Judgement, ColdWorld - Autumn, Agalloch - The Mantle, Blut Aus Nord - Cosmosophy
Andy: Cult of Luna - Mariner;
Weigedood - There's Always Blood At The End Of The Road; Watain - Lawless Darkness; Portishead - Dummy; Draconian - Under a Godless Veil; Ulver - Flowers of Evil
Nathan: Sisters of Mercy-Floodland, Cradle of Filth-Cruelty and the Beast, Devin Townsend-Accelerated Evolution, Coldworld-The Stars are Dead Now, Jeff Wayne-War of the Worlds, the Presidents of the United States of America-II.