Interview with Hecate Enthroned
By Tammy Lomax
I recently had the wonderful privilege to get some questions over to long term bass player Dylan Hughes, from the band Hecate Enthroned. These absolute legends have been going strong for over 25 years!
Q: Firstly known as ‘Amethyst’ then ‘Daemonum’ in 1993, Hecate Enthroned were alleged to be one of the most intense bands that erupted from the death metal scene back in 1995. You embraced a symphonic black metal style in the early days, progressing and advancing with time and adding more elements of melodic death metal! What inspires and motivates you guys to keep going?
Dylan: We originated in Wrexham, North Wales. Back then the scene was young and very exciting, seeing bands come over for the first time, bands that are now regarded as instigators and albums that have become classics, gigs were sold out and the energy around the whole scene was electric. Being a part of that; recording albums, playing gigs was very intoxicating and fired what we were doing and of course we were young 😊 Now we’re older, wiser but still have the same passion for writing and playing music, we love creating as a band and doing shows, the energy and drive is still there and we have been incredibly lucky to have an amazing fan base that have supported us for over 25 years so producing for them and getting the reactions and feedback we do really keeps us going.
Q: In 1995, the first demo released, “An Ode For A Haunted Wood” was the start of something beautiful. MTV featured this release and Hecate Enthroned were one of the first extreme black metal bands to gain from this experience. Hecate Enthroned caught the attention of Blackend Records and you all collaborated to remaster the tape and turn it into a E.P “Upon Promeathean Shores (Unscriptured Waters)” From this moment you guys had a true black metal sound. How did the band conclude to this decision and why?
Dylan: Blackend had heard the ‘Ode…’ demo and our constant gigging had gained us a following over here enough for them to contact us and show considerable interest. We played a mini-UK tour in I think ‘94 or ‘95 with Primordial and Sigh. This did really well and after seeing us on the London date Blackend offered us the contract. They were a decent label and as a subsidiary of PHD they had excellent distro and promo. As the ‘Ode…’ demo was so popular we rehashed and re-recorded those songs as the first EP for Blackend “Upon Promeathean Shores…” and the track ‘Ode For A Haunted Wood’ got a video and playtime on MTV Headbangers Ball. There were very few black metal bands with videos at that time, so it did get us a lot of publicity and literally went across the world, with PHD distro our releases were one of the few bands and labels that got to countries outside of EU and US, and fans from those early times are still with us now.
Q: In 1997 Hecate Enthroned released its first full-length album “The Slaughter Of Innocence”. Produced by Andy Sneap, it directed the band to a faster, more brutal chapter. It was very well-received; however, the band did experience some negativity by being criticised as a “Cradle of Filth rip-off”. How did you guys approach this and what was the outcome?
Dylan: we’ve never given any credence to the COF press, we were both UK bands playing symphonic black metal, we shared members and COF were the bigger band so its natural this will happen. Most press and journalists don’t have the knowledge or imagination to write anything other than comparing bands to other bands, in a way we all do it. We just got on with what we do, we always have, we write the music we feel in the way that’s natural to us. As you say that album was fast and brutal, we have always been on the brutal side of symphonic and with a very Black Metal feel even with the Death Metal edge we have, our natural playing style is aggressive and that’s what comes out along with the orchestral and more gothic elements.
Q: At the end of 1997, a couple of band members were replaced by yourself and guitar player Andy Milnes. The following year Hecate Enthroned released their second full-length album “Dark Requiems…And Unsilent Massacre”. Using keyboards as the main instrument and adding layers of horrifying atmosphere, brutally consistent with the previous albums, What is your favourite track to play on this particular album and why?
Dylan: Yes, as a band develops, members will change or people will come in and out, it’s about finding the musicians that work with the band and that contribute to the creative process while bringing elements of themselves that either enhance or compliment, not always easy but we have been very lucky with the people we have had in over the years, some great musicians and friends. That album was again very fast & very nasty but with a darker overall feel, due in no small part to the production given by Pete ‘pee wee’ Coleman. We still play a few tracks from that album live and I’d say a favourite to play is the title track ‘Dark Requiems…’ it’s a powerful fast paced song with a really atmospheric end that builds into something horrific.
Q: The last album released by Blackend Records was “Redimus” in 2004, it showed a more aggressive edge and was produced by Phil Green via Blue Room Studios. In February 2013, guitarist Nigel Dennan and you were interviewed for the Hungarian documentary ‘Attention! Black Metal’, then later that year signed a new deal with Crank Music Group and delivered the album “Virulent Rapture”. Why did you sign a new deal and is there any advice you can give to bands regarding networking and getting their name out there?
Dylan: There had been around 10 years since the last album “Redimus” was issued, we had still been playing live but no studio work and no label. We had received a lot of offers but none we could work with or liked, and our personal lives had developed to where a lot of things were on hold. The offer from Crank was good and we went for it, unfortunately they didn’t exist for that long and reissues became difficult, but they did a great job with the album and it remains a favourite amongst fans if not a bit of a cult classic. Fortunately, our current label M-Theory Audio have rereleased “Virulent Rapture” this year and fans now have the chance to add it to their collection, also a beautiful vinyl release. The best advice for bands looking at contracts is to get a lawyer, a good one. Networking and promo are now online, social media, if you’re good with that stuff you’ll do well. It’s very easy for bands to self-promote as everyone is online.
Q: In 2006 Hecate Enthroned embarked on a UK headline tour playing in London, Southampton, Nottingham, Bradford and Wolverhampton. In 2007 you performed in Norway at Inferno Festival alongside Immortal, as well as several shows in Spain, Bulgaria, Romania and Germany. In 2013 Hecate Enthroned headlined a mini-UK tour, then headlined at the Hell Fast Attack Festival. With so many festivals and tours under your belt, What has been the most memorable and rewarding?
Dylan: Most memorable tour was probably EU with Satyricon and Behemoth in 2000, some great cities and venues on that and with 2 great bands who were both starting to really get huge 😊. Festival wise it would probably be Inferno as the bill was incredible and Brutal Assault in CZ, again great bill and what a great location for a fest, an old army camp. Such a cool vibe there. MetalDays as well, again it’s an incredible extreme metal fest with such good organisation in gorgeous surroundings.
Q: Hecate Enthroned were scheduled to do a gig in Bogotá in December 2012, which would have been your first show in South America, sadly it was cancelled twice. In the same month, the band announced they had fired both vocalist Dean Seddon and drummer Rob Kendrick. Rob was then replaced by Gareth Hardy, and in April 2013 Elliot Beaver was announced as Seddon’s replacement. How do you keep focused regardless of setbacks and disagreements in the band?
Dylan: Yes, that was very unfortunate and disappointing. South America holds great support for us, one of our biggest fan bases so not getting there and having several cancellations is very upsetting. But like anything in life if you love doing something and it means everything to you then you just get on with it, work around it, learn from it and progress.
Q: Since 2014, Hecate Enthroned have been preparing and gearing up, ready to deliver a new album “Embrace Of The Godless Aeon” which was eventually released in 2019. How do you prepare, and what are the processes involved when writing a new album?
Dylan: We constantly write and have ideas, rehearsals regularly turn into jam sessions as well as individuals having ideas and riffs, it all comes together in rehearsals and we thrash ideas out into songs. There are always parts and riffs hanging about, some never get used and others can wait a long time before they do but it’s a band process and everyone contributes. The completed songs then get hammered out until they work and are ready to be recorded. By the time we’re in the studio the songs are there.
Q: This year has had a devastating impact on the music industry, how have you occupied yourselves and what can we expect from Hecate Enthroned in 2021?
Dylan: It has been difficult for us to do anything, obviously no gigs but due to restrictions even rehearsing has been patchy. We recruited a new drummer in Matt Holmes this year and literally only had a couple of rehearsals with Matt before the first lockdown so obviously priority, when we got the chance, was hammer the set and old songs with Matt. But there hasn’t been much of that in recent months due to personal circumstances around shielding and health. It’s been the same for everyone and it’s been so sad seeing venues and bands disappear, but we will get through this and, when we can, we will get back to the stage and resume blasting. We have some rescheduled fests and tours for 2021 we just hope these can become reality.
Q: Lastly, If you could all have one icon over for fine dining and beers, who would it be and why?
Dylan: I know Lemmy is dead but…got to be the man. And for obvious reasons, who else could you enjoy some fine dining with 😉
Many thanks for the interview Tammy and we wish all of you and everyone out there the very best. We are strong together and we will get through all this shit, see you all on the road very soon!!!!
Thank you so much Dylan and Hecate Enthroned, it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you over the last few weeks.
‘Plagued By Black Death’ (Brand new Lyric Video from the reissue of the “Virulent Rapture” album)
Andy Milnes – Guitar
Nigel Dennan – Guitar
Dylan Hughes – Bass
Joe Stamps –-Vocals
Pete White – Keyboards
Matt Holmes – Drums
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