Brutal death metallers Drowning recently released their sophomore album Apocalypse Unsealed through French underground label Bones Brigade. I took the liberty to ask drummer and newest member Gael Barthelemy some questions about this and that. Gael was enthusiastic and quickly answered my carefully prepared questions.

Gael Barthelemy interviewed by PSL

How come it's taken nearly three years since the previous album?
Well, first Ridwan left shortly after the release of Age Old Nemesis which led the band to cancel all the shows that were coming. While they were searching for the new guy, they composed new material. They ended up finding Fred from Inborn Suffering for several shows until Dominique left the band too, a few weeks before recording the new album. However, Ridwan wrote all the lyrics except for one song written by Fabio from Nephasth and performed the vocals on the new album. I was not in the band during those years, so I can't really tell you more about it.

Where do you hear the biggest progression musically compared to past material?
I think the main difference on this album compared to the previous one is the intensity of the whole thing. The songs are really fast and sound more powerful, the vocals are deeper and stronger and finally, I think Georges gathered his better riffs for this one and everything sounds really evil which was obviously the main goal!

You used to play in Diabolic. How did you end up drumming for Drowning?
Diabolic broke up in 2004. I came back to France, thinking of what would be the next step. I have been friends with Drowning since 2000 and I even helped them for a few shows in the U.K the same year. They contacted me when Dominique left, so it was really natural for me to join them. We get along very well!

Is there any difference between playing in an American or French band?
When I was in Diabolic, we had our own rehearsal room and practiced every night. It's something that I really loved. With Drowning, we share a place with other bands so we can't play as much as we would and it's very frustrating. Diabolic was an exciting time for me; I was in the death metal realm! I really thought that it would be a long-time run and that we would tour a lot. I was certainly more naive and in a different state of mind, but I can't see real differences when I think about it.

Musically I hear some similarities with Diabolic which I guess aren't that odd, but I also hear references to Incantation, Krisiun and Nephasth just to mention three more. Which bands have had an impact on your music?
I would say Angel Corpse because they were so savage! They were incredibly brutal and evil with insane vocals. Immolation is also a huge influence for the blackness of their music. They have a strong identity and we respect them a lot. I could go on and on about our influences but I just wanted to mention those two bands.

Georges have written the majority of the music on Apocalypse Unsealed. How much input have the rest of you had on the music?
Even if Georges is the main writer, Stephane and Reggie brought also some ideas. Everything was ready when I joined them so I just added some elements here and there. My main concern was to give the intensity that the songs deserved!

You've recorded the album at Studio Midnight. Was this your first choice of studio?
Our label manager had worked with this studio for some other bands and the prices seemed to be ok. We had heard some work done here before and it sounded good. We didn't want the traditional "hyper clean" production that a lot of bands have today. We thought it wouldn't fit with the music.

The production appears a little muddy. A lot of the details seem hidden because of this. Are you happy with the outcome?
Not really. Even if we wanted a sound a little bit dirty, there are a lot of things that we would change in the mix if we could. To be honest, they are too many to mention! We really loved what we heard in the control room, but when received the final copy a few weeks later, a lot of details didn't come as clear as we wanted but we'll be sure to not let that happen in the future!

Ridwan Delarche have done the vocals on the album and written most of the lyrics as well how come he's not an active member of the band?
His work on this album is purely amazing! He's a great lyricist and singer and a great person as well, but he does have other concerns now. He has a kid and doesn't like to play live that much. We would have loved to keep him in the band, but we respect his decision and thank him for his brilliant work.

Live you use Fred from Inborn Suffering as vocalist. Are you going to continue this way or are you looking to recruit a permanent singer?

Fred is a cool guy and so far he's doing a great job. It's really up to him. But for now, he is the man!

Are you going to tour in support of Apocalypse Unsealed?
We would love to! To get some good tours is not easy and many times, money is the war nerve. We will play as much as possible and hope to do a real tour next year. I know that Nicolas, our label manager, who gives us a great support, is working on it. We'll see what happens!

Are any of you currently involved in other bands besides Drowning?
Georges put 100% of his energy into Drowning as he's already working on new material. Stephane has a doom metal project called Black Horror Museum. And as far as I'm concerned, I would love to develop some projects I have in mind as I listen many kinds of music. Right now, I'm working on my own website and I'm determined to go as far as possible with Drowning.

Anything you wish to add to conclude this interview?
Thanks for the interview. I found the questions very interesting and it's obvious that you really listened to the album as your review seems very fair to me. Also, Thanks to all the people that support us!



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