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The French black metal band Seth has returned after many years of absence to the scene with a new album called 'The Howling Spirit'. A successful endeavour into the waters of eerie black metal with a slight melodic inclination. Or shortly: French black metal done right. A good comeback album indeed. Such an event calls for an interview and guitarist/ keyboard player Heimoth was found willing to answer some questions.

By: Roel de Haan | Archive under black metal

Greetings! To start things properly: How are you doing?
Well, pretty good, though a bit stressed due to our Hellfest performance that is getting closer!!

Congratulations on your latest album 'The Howling Spirit', I enjoyed it very much. How have the reactions toward it been up till now?
Very enthusiastic. Most people seem to have figured the way we musically wanted to drive the band and this is most appreciated as SETH have this singularity not to deliver another same album. Our 5 full length are all different I believe. You though have as usual a few band's very first period nostalgic die-hard fans still in dire need of another 'Les Blessures de l'Ame' album being slightly disappointed – but all in all the reaction is significantly positive!

It has been a long time since your previous album 'Era-Decay' came out. The obvious question is of course: what were you guys up to during all those years?
The band had taken a significant part of my life for years now to such an extent that I felt I had to let off steam and do something else which led to an eight-year break with SETH. I think its always good to be committed at best in what you do want to achieve but at some point it also needs to fit in the right timing. In 2004 the band was heading to no real direction and therefore was not consistent with my beliefs of the time. Things have now changed and Im more than proud to set out for a thriving path with this new album born from much obvious benefit of a long break. I personally got involved in many bands raging from metal to electronic music, playing as live guitarist for Reverence, and launching a new project in 2006 called Decrepit Spectre with ex members of Dodheimsgard and . I also formed an electronic project called Toxic Engine with Stephan Holweck ex member of the mighty Juno Reactor. So all in all I didn't rest that much as you can see. During these years I had left to England for a while, once back in France I had in mind to try to get the band back together. I was well aware the other members were more than willing to get the band back on track. Then we had this German gig opportunity in Speyer headlining together with Bethlehem two years ago. We played a few live dates again to promote the first album reissue and decided to enter the studio for a 5th album as we had some serious material to suggest.

'The Howling Spirit' is stylistically very different from its predecessor. Less futuristic sounding and more focussed on the establishment of atmosphere. From where did this different approach originate?
Possibly from the ashes of Decrepit Spectre. Actually a lot of the material had been written during the last ten years. All tracks had been thought over, worked and reworked like a hundred times together with Cyriex, whom I played in Decrepit Spectre, without the basic idea of releasing them under the SETH label. We were aware of the fact that some of this material sounded potentially really good and we just reworked these tracks again to a more SETH style to eventually record them. The Howling Spirit is actually the result of a painfully huge song-writing process that we are all very proud of.

Is there a specific way in how a Seth song and album comes into being?
Basically, we don't throw some of our work that much. When writing some songs we mostly keep them and try to make the most out of them. That means that every single piece has to me some potential to sound good enough provided you eventually find the right mindblowing thing, the moment when your ear start whispering “you got it here man”.

What are the subjects you deal with, lyrically speaking? Is there perhaps a concept to the album?
The main concept being nature's destruction, the lyrics borrow a lot from authors such as Thoreau or Steinbeck for who themes such as morality, sin and guilt do only exist for those who believe in them, acting negatively as a burden. We welcomed some guests on this album and also lyric writers such as Kvohst (Hexvessel, ex DHG, ex ), or Steph Buriez from Loudblast, then our singer Black Messiah and I also wrote lyrics. The main concept is illustrated by the cover: human prints left by strings hanging eyeless hawks' heads about to fall in the void and despair. It's been made by Abrakadabra studio and our first bassplayer Faucun Noir who also did most illustrations for 'Les Blessures de L'Ame' and the recent reissue. 'The Howling Spirit' is the cohesive spiritual voice haunting the whole album from beginning to end. It is a desperate cry that binds all the tracks altogether. It is more directly alluded to on the two acts called 'Howling Prayers' which are both acoustic guitar interludes. I also wanted to give back SETH some kind of oldschool touch using such an instrument the way we used to do on the first album in the nineties or like At The Gates or Dissection did at the time and i guess it helps create this feeling that makes your bones howling, almost like wild hawks do in the nest.

band image

The production of the album is excellent: tight, powerful and befitting the musical style. How did the recording-process go and are you satisfied with the result?
The idea was to find the most appropriate sound guy to convey our music at best so we went to record in Drudenhaus in Northern France (Alcest, Vorkreist, Anorexia Nervosa, Ultra Vomit etc..) for about a month spread from September to December 2012. We needed to find the right guy that would help us create what we had in mind: a genuine production, an authentic record far from the artificial sound we had on Divine X album in 2002 or Era Decay, 2004. Today too many bands find it extremely difficult to know what they really need, leaving the whole work to the sound guy, which explains why so many do have the exact same sound these days (ie. the Swedish BM scene). I believe recording at Drudenhaus Studios was the best option in terms of getting someone patient enough to understand what the band really wants. It took some time but it was definitely for the best. To me the album captures what BM is supposed to be: a music with atmospheres and actual metal parts. Sadly today metal elements tend to be overlooked by BM bands. We have kind of returned to some old elements such as the omnipresence of classical guitars and the epic aspect of the whole album with longer tracks and interludes – still, I think this new record sounds very fresh and brandnew as to both the band's discography and the BM scene in general.

Black metal from France seems to be quite on the rise for a long while now. How do you see Seth's role in this development?
Being from France as a BM band had always been extremely difficult in the past. Only quite recently the genre has gained strong identity focused on common values that must have to do with a certain purity as to the involvement we give to our music. The French scene has grown quite rapidly these days with very interesting bands, yet I've always somehow felt SETH stands quite differently from this scene possibly due to the utmost sense of creativity and versatility that our music has long been endowed with. Still, when people say we are the French BM pioneers it might be due to the fact that we were the very first BM band, possibly with Blut Aus Nord, to accept being featured in 1997 in non-too underground magazines of the time. Back then magazines BM featurings were quite rare but still triggered widespread controversies amongst the BM underground which was quite significant here in France. While criticism rose, today's bands common attitudes regarding the media has now widely changed...

Can we expect to see you guys playing live in support of the new album?
We were not used to playing live until we just decided to in 2000. Our first live show was with Aura Noir and Nocturnal Breed in Paris in 1998. Playing live was not shared by everyone in the band and this led to major crises to the point where we had to get another singer. It wasn't until 2002 or something that we finally started playing more regular shows and I don't regret it. Today playing live even for BM bands is somewhat inevitable unless you call yourself Burzum. We are ready to hit the road much more than what we used to in the past. We played a series of shows here in France with Glorior Belli and Belenos and are planning a European Tour. Can't say anything more at the moment but hopefully we will get to play Belgium, Netherlands and Germany soon. Please contact for any booking. We also played in Canada last November and it was really great!

With a long history and this new album under your belt, what are your ambitions and future plans for Seth?
I guess this album is good enough to pave the way for another one again. We'll have to be a little faster in the writing process though! Writing music like this takes time and I'd rather not rush and release average albums like most bands around do these days to remain under the media spotlights – which is I think today's metal music industry major issue : quantity over quality bands !

Thank you very much for your time answering these questions and I wish you the best of luck in the future. I hereby offer you the traditional final words to our readers.
I hope this new album will show people that's its still possible to forge a real musical identity in BM, a music style that is today in desperate need of rejuvenation. Not that we play original BM, but something at least truly personal and emotional. While death metal comes from your guts, BM should come from your soul and I think this is all what SETH is about now with The Howling Spirit : creative, atmospheric and dark.

For any enquiry here is my email: We are looking for live shows in Benelux.

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