Impending Triumph - Interview
There comes a time when we as listeners feel like we should take a break from listening to various extreme metal sub-genres, and just enjoy some good old heavy metal. Of course, this rule also applies to musicians who work or have worked on many various bands and projects, that suddenly decide that they should just instead work on something catchy, simple and effective, without an excessive need for over-saturating their music. The case and point here is the heavy metal two-piece Impending Triumph, formed by François Blanc (Angellore, Abduction) and Déhà (Wolvennest, Drop Dead etc.). Both dedicated themselves to form a heavy metal project which will focus on a fantasy setting of their liking, while the main goal is to make music inspired by the likes of Accept, Helloween, Running Wild, Manowar, Grave Digger etc. So for this occasion, I've decided to share a few words with these two fine gentlemen and see what they have to say about the story behind their project, Impending Triumph.
Greetings! First of all, I'd like to wish you a warm welcome on behalf of the MetalBite crew!
François: Thank you and thanks for your interest in the band!
The beginning of Impending Triumph dates all the way back to 2020, and fast forward 3 years later, here we are with your debut EP which is soon to be released via Jawbreaker Records. Could you please tell us something about the project's early days? What truly inspired the two of you to start Impending Triumph, considering the fact that both of you are coming from a background of various extreme metal bands/projects?
The whole adventure started in the most unusual way, actually! Some time in May 2020, a drawing artist I admire posted covers of old books he found in his attic on his Facebook page. These were all fantasy stories from the 80's, with epic visuals showing stuff like dragons and barbarian warriors in flashy colors. When I saw the post, I commented and wrote something in the vein of "wow. How cool would it be to have a drawing like this as the cover of an old school heavy metal album?" And, rather jokingly, the artist answered and said: "you do the music, I'll take care of the artwork". That totally took me by surprise and really got me to think. After all, I had been a heavy metal fan for as long as I could remember, as my sisters, who are much older than me, were addicted to this music when they were teenagers and blasted Manowar and Accept all the time at home when I was a kid – much to my parents' dismay. I had always wanted to sing in that style but genuinely didn't think I had the right voice for it. But these past years, I had worked a lot on my clean vocals, especially with my progressive black metal band Abduction and my confidence grew. Déhà had always been the best of producers and vocal coach for me, so I thought this random Facebook comment could possibly be the sign I was waiting for without even knowing it. I asked Déhà if he would be on board to start a heavy metal project with me, as he is a skilled composer that can also play many instruments. And turns out although he had always been into heavy and power metal as well, he never had the opportunity to express himself in that genre either! So, we decided to give it a try, and see what we could do together. And as soon as we finished ‘Armies Of The Conqueror', which was the first song we did for the project, we knew that there was something there and decided to go further with it. And to conclude the story, the comic book artist that involuntarily started the project did provide cover artwork that was absolutely stunning, but a bit too far from what we had in mind. We might use it someday, but meanwhile, I asked another comic book/graphic novel artist, Sébastien Grenier, to do the artwork. He's the metalhead, he really is into that type of sword and sorcery universe, and he fucking nailed it. Sorry, that was a rather long answer, but that's exactly what happened.
Heavy metal music and epic fantasy has been the most common combination utilized by many bands throughout the ages, and you certainly seem to be an exemplary band that keeps the tradition breathing. Are there any specific tales, movies, games, illustrators/painters, writers of the fantasy genre that inspired the world you crafted for your project?
Yes! Since it was a comic book artist who gave me the initial push I needed to start the project, I decided to hide some references to the graphic novels and comic books I loved as a teenager in the lyrics. Aside from the introduction "Dawn Of Death", all the song titles in the EP are taken from comic books that I love. They are famous here in France or in Belgium, but probably not so much abroad. I still advise your readers to check the Thorgal saga ("The Invisible Fortress" is the 19th book of the series) and The Quest For The Time Bird, which is an incredibly deep and moving story. That's how I got the idea for the "Temple Of Oblivion". The lyrics of our songs have nothing to do with these books though. Aside from that, books and movies like the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy, the old "Willow", "Dark Crystal" and "Neverending Story" are definitely inspirations, and regarding illustrators, I would name Frank Frazetta, Ken Kelly, Jean-Claude Gal, Victor De La Fuente and Simon Bisley as my main idols. I also love more classical painters like Peter Nicolai Arbo. Just looking at their paintings makes me wanna create music. An endless source of inspiration!
How do you perceive this entire "New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal"? Do you look at this so-called "wave" as a revival for the old school sound or more like a preservation of traditional heavy metal music in the modern age where everything rapidly develops?
I would say both, to be honest. I think it's a great and fascinating scene, and a very active one. You can tell that most of the bands that brand themselves "NWOTHM" are playing this music out of pure passion, and not because that they want to become millionaires. I love that! It preserves the original heavy metal sound, but it's also kind of funny to see that while all the bands in the eighties were working hard to get the best possible productions for their records, most NWOTHM bands are trying to align to these old standards instead of abiding to today's norms. They feel like they need a dirtier approach if they want to sound "real" or "authentic". And as ironic as it may seem, it usually works very well.
Considering the fact that we've touched the subject of "New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal", were there any bands particularly in this category that you specifically looked up to and inspired you to do heavy metal music as well?
When I entered the vocal booth to record my very first vocal lines for Impending Triumph, I thought "okay, I'd like to sound like a slightly more aggressive Markus Becker (Atlantean Kodex) if I can!". But that's it, really. I love bands like, well, Atlantean Kodex, Enforcer, White Magician, Freeways and a few others, but although I was inspired by their approach of the sound, with the big reverb on the vocals and the slightly gritty, crunchy guitar sound, when it comes to the music itself, we took inspiration from the pioneers and not from any band of our era.
According to your official source, the tale behind the EP is that it's about a fictional empress which presents herself as a defender of liberty, but is in fact a tyrant in disguise, while her story is told by one of her most loyal followers and biggest admirers. Could you explain a bit more in detail what exactly is this story which is being told?
The story takes place in a medieval type of universe, where mythical creatures are real and brutal fights rather common. The typical heroic fantasy decorum, and the perfect setting to describe epic rides, fierce battles and depict weird, ominous characters. We thought it would be the best possible way to emphasize the importance of always being critical and really think about what's going on around you without sounding like arrogant, annoying preachers. I like to keep the lyrics rather vague so every listener can make of them what he wants, but we thought it would be interesting to walk in the steps of this unknown soldier, who is blindly following orders and is deeply convinced that Puritania is the best possible ruler for the queendom. He literally worships her and would do anything she asks without a single hesitation. But in due time, the events are going to deeply change his perspective and he's about to experience a rough awakening that will completely change his perception of life itself. That story will be developed later, on future releases. So, yes. Impending Triumph is all about the rise of a hypocritical, self-absorbed, evil ruler in a fantasy world. Hence the name of the band!
I hear quite a lot of influences in your songs, varying from Running Wild to Grave Digger and even Manowar. While working on your songs, did you directly focus your songwriting on aspects of these specific bands or was it more on the fly?
Actually, your first hypothesis is correct. Before starting to work on a song, I would play to Déhà some of my favorite heavy metal tracks so we could draw inspirations from them. The idea was never to copy one song or another, or one band or another, but just to analyze some elements of songs we loved and try to make them ours. For example, I took the idea of having a leitmotif for the second part of "Temple Of Oblivion" from the Accept song' "Princess Of The Dawn". These two songs are nothing alike, but you have the same idea of having one simple yet catchy idea as the basis of a long, epic composition. And before writing "The Invisible Fortress", we listened to "Thor (The Powerhead)" by Manowar. I thought it would be awesome to give more space for the vocals in the verses, and to have a lead guitar playing with the choirs in the chorus. It was very pleasant and so far, we've been keeping the same approach on the upcoming album. But nevertheless, the songs were kinda written on the fly as well. Déhà is very quick to come up with some ideas and a very efficient songwriter. When we start to write, we don't stop until the song is finished, because once you get in the right mood, you just feel the passion burning and you follow your instincts. Sometimes something magical happens when you sing a vocal melody or play a guitar solo for the first time. And that energy can never be perfectly recaptured, so we tried to save those precious moments when we could.
Although it is still a bit early to talk about your future plans since your EP is yet to be released, what are your next steps that you'll be taking if this EP succeeds? Will you be working on a full-length album or perhaps even some live shows with additional members as well?
The success of the EP won't have any impact on the course of Impending Triumph's career. Of course, I hope some people will dig what we do, but even if we end up selling ten copies, we will keep on working on our first album, which is already half-written and recorded. We are so much into it and can't wait to share our new songs with the world! Regarding live, we are definitely up for playing some shows as well. We are too busy to tour, unfortunately, but one-offs here and there would be awesome. We have some talented friends that have already expressed some interest about playing with us so time will tell if the next step will be our first album or some shows somewhere in Europe. If a festival wants to book us, that might speed things up on the live front!
This might be a bit of a difficult question to ask but how would you sum up your music, especially with this fantasy setting of yours, in a very picturesque manner?
That's a great question, and not an easy one to answer. I feel like the cover artwork pretty much sums up the essence of our music. Check out "Haggarth" by Victor De La Fuente or "Epopées Fantastiques" by Dionnet and Gal – that's pretty much what I have in mind when I write my lyrics or sing them. Shadows of warriors in silver armors riding through untamed, desolate land below a blood-red sun, with smoke coming up from the soil. Something epic, big, empowering, and deeply melancholic at the same time.
There are so many great releases already out this year and plenty of more are along the way, including your EP. Are there any upcoming releases in particular you're excited about, besides yours of course?
I'm a big fan of Tenhi and Saturnus, and both bands are releasing new albums this year, so that's exciting. Sorry, this is quite far from the heavy metal universe! Aside from that, I don't know. I don't have much time these days, but I'm always up for some old-school heavy metal. One can make great discoveries just by going from band to band on YouTube. And Déhà and I both have several releases coming up from our other bands and side-projects that we are excited about.
Thank you so much for doing this interview! Are there any final words you'd like to leave to all the people reading this?
Thank you for reading this interview, hope my answers weren't too long and that you dig what we do. Déhà and I both thought these were really interesting questions and hope to talk to you guys again when the album is done!
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