When I first laid eyes on Apocalypse, the full-length debut by We Are Magonia last year, little did I expect it to bring me back to the '80s in the way that it did.
It needs to be said that it brought me back, (in horror-speak) in a more chopped up kind of way.
I was too young and insulated back then to get my hands on any of the dark stuff, much less the glammy hair metal stuff.
I did, however, listen to enough classical music which might have been my first exposure to music in general.
The French-trio not only dabbles with the black metal genre but seamlessly infuse their music with classical JS Bach stylings, who might be my favorite composer.
But as with many Darksynth artists, the horror genre is quite accessible and something I also grew up around, making We Are Magonia one of my favorite synth artists out there.
Back To The '80s, We Are Magonia Amps Up The Horror
Recently, like many, I've had a strange obsession with the theme to American Horror Story 1984 which seems like a timid warm-up by comparison to what these guys have to offer.
I mean, just listen to the hardcore intensity of the horrors-to-come in the "Diabolus In Musica" single!
You throw a Richard Ramirez into that show and you've got something there!
Everyone should know the origins of these guys by now.
It should also be known that these guys have a dark sense of humor that's appropriate for their brand.
For example, in an interview on Neon Order, they were asked about what they do doing their free time.
"... VideoGames, Netflix, getting lost in the dark side of YouTube, partying or just chilling, burning churches, sacrificing goats on the top of snowy Transylvanian mountains, you know, the usual stuff everybody does."
The whole point was to go dark from the beginning which brings so much to their music.
ZOE DUNE: Your new album 'The Living Will Envy The Dead' is your second full-length release since your highly-praised and epic 2018 debut 'Apocalypse'. I think it's hilarious that your debut starts off with an apocalyptic theme. There's no doubt that both releases are concept albums so, what's the story you were telling with your debut and the story that you're telling now?
"This will be hard for me to describe accurately since English isn’t my native language, but I will try anyway! Basically, Apocalypse take place during well... the apocalypse! The next album takes place just after it. Everything is dark and disturbing, the survivors of the apocalypse tuned into beasts, committing the worst atrocities to survive. Being dead in those times sound like a better idea than being alive. The living will envy the dead!"
It takes some imagination to take this kind of darksynth to a new place.
"Diabolus In Musica" might be the only track on this "The Living Will Envy The Dead" that brings us back to the '80s or the tone of that horror genre.
Here's the simple yet effective retro-vision of the We Are Magonia's single that captures that tone with ease.
These guys are composers in their own right as well as being credited as a film composer, at least one of them.
Another is a film director as well which no doubt has something to do with a production company associated with the band called Haunted Motion?
And then we get to something like "Lamento" when I'm reminded what makes We Are Magonia so unique.
TLWETD "Kills" When We Are Magonia Collaborates With Like-Minded Artists
Their love for the baroque is in full display once again with "Lamento" which features guitarist Alex Houngbo of the Paris tech metal band Atlantis Chronicles.
Clearly, I can't keep up with everything so checking out Atlantis Chronicles set me straight as to why these three don't fuck around when it comes to collaborating with others.
The speed, endurance, and confidence Atlantis has in their releases is courageous.
I read one comment that frowned at We Are Magonia's "satanic" themes but that they would go through with it 1,000 percent is fucking bold.
Such is the case with Houngbo's band where their themes are more sea oriented with albums and singles about the myths of the Earth's watery depths.
Take their most recent album which you can sample here:
More specifically though, our boys from Lyon also source themselves from the stories about aliens from Magonia who themselves are considered to be sailors of the skies.
The union is perfect where one dominates the air and while the other dominates the waters.
ZOE: Tell us about the collaborations you have on this album?
"We collaborated with Alex from Atlantis Chronicles. As some of you may know, a good part of We Are Magonia have been or still part of the In Arkadia crew. we have played quite some gigs together with AC. Alex was in Lyon for a few days and we had this track that we could not finish because something was missing to it. So we just offered him to go to the studio to record a guitar track. What is pleasant is that we share a taste for neoclassical music with him, I think he really liked the break, in that song with the singing diva. To write his part he relied on a harpsichord part that we had previously composed on the original track project, making it much more effective!"
In my opinion, the real peak of the trio's powers of collaboration comes with the great Dav Dralleon.
I first got into Dav Dralleon during his 2017 release D E P T H S.
Dav, another French composer, is in the same area as far as the darksynth / cyberpunk scene and fits in perfectly with "Slaughterhouse".
"Dav Dralleon sent us a sketch with quite some elements which gave the structure and the cyberpunk atmosphere to the track. Usually, we do not use those kinds of fast tempos, but in this case, the drums and bass section worked pretty well! We replaced the drum sounds, rewrote some bass parts to make them more melodic, write some arpeggios and changed the structure just a tiny bit, being careful not to get too far from the original idea."
You can even witness We Are Magonia kill synthwave in their aptly titled "Synthwave Is Dead".
In another favorite, they take it slow with "Cold Planet".
On the third collaboration with yet another synth fave, SeYSMIC, "Running With Scissors" takes us further into the void.
Here, they dandy us up again with the baroque harpsichords.
"Master of Horror" grinds...
In the official video for the track, we get to see the kind of energy this band brings to the stage.
Set to shuffle for a better experience!