Ashent wants to break the curtains

Hello Ashent, could you introduce the band to us?
ONOFRIO -  Hi guys! We're Ashent and we play a sort of aggressive prog metal with a lot of extreme elements.
The band has been founded by me and my brother Gianpaolo in the 2001.
In the 2003 we recorded our first demo, a 4 songs EP that showed an interesting mix of prog and an unusual uncompromising attitude.
After some good live performances and with the stabilization of the line-up we started to work on several songs: the result has been the signing of a deal with the Italian label Lucretia Records, that released our debut "Flaws of Elation", during the autumn of 2006. Subsequently, we spent a year and a half supporting the first album, which had an excellent response from critics and a good result about the amount of sold copies.
During 2008 we decided it was time to push ourselves to compose new material: the successor of"Flaws of Elation", entitled “Deconstructive”, has been released by the finnish Lion Music during the spring of 2009.

Ashent doesn't play a classic kind of prog-metal, there are a lot of other genres mixed in your sound. What are your main listenings and influences?
DAVIDE - Ashent's style is generated by a lot of different musical influences and genres.
We cannot say that we follow the path of specific bands. Our sound developed by a great bunch of suggestions that every bandmates receives almost daily, not only by music, even by literature, daily news, arts and life in general. However, concerning the music, we all admire the work made by bands/artists like Opeth, Arcturus, Pain Of Salvation, Dimmu Borgir, Devin Townsend, Cynic, Death throught the years and the band's very first roots could be found in the Thrash Metal scene of the eighties/nineties, in the classic metal-rock bands, in the prog of the seventies and all the free-minded music out there. We know that these bands are unique in their style and we also know that they reached that aim because of their open mind; for example Opeth consolidated their position year by year renewing themselves costantly, so as the other bands I told you before.

Your songs show a different use of some musical solutions expecially concerning the keyboards and the drums. What is the approach of every bandmates to his own instrument?
DAVIDE - Good question ! We think that a band can make cool and personal music only by breaking the curtain that separates a genre from another.
To be open-minded and versatile is the right way to approach to your instrument and music if you want to play it in your own way.
We always feel free to experiment with new solution. For example, when I write the drum parts, I feel free to put rythmic solutions taken from different genres into the same track. If I feel that a specific riff, passage or fill could sound good with a funky or reggae groove, I lay it down and I submit the result to the guys.
I think my technical limits (I'm a self-taught drummer) sometimes happen me more than if I were a professional drummer because I learnt to use what I know in my own way and to be always curious and alive to what I listen from other musicians. I can say that I feel a sort of drum-artisan. The same thing happens with the keyboard: our way of using keys is closer to the soundtracks or symphonic music that to classic prog-metal. We are still working on this direction and the new material sounds fresher song by song. The new members enjoyed immediately our work method and became soon an active part in the compositive process.

"Deconstructive" is a solid piece of music that combines melody, technical skill, and a handful of extreme metal all into the same box. It might be surprising to a new listeners that Ashent are a new band. How did you reach this aim and how do you procede when you compose your music? Is it hard to put all of these elements together?
DAVIDE - Usually Onofrio, the main composer of the band, submits the new material to the opinion of every bandmates.
He usually sends a draft of the song, with a defined structure and some suggestions for every instrument.
As soon as we receive the material we start working on our own parts, submitting the results to the other bandmates. We go on comparing our ideas until we realize that the new song is ready to be rehearsed together. We work a lot with midi and mp3 files at our home so as we already know the new songs when we decided starting rehearsing the new material during our sessions.
Every bandmates knows that he's free to purpose arrangements, changes and strange solutions. It happens that we completely upset the mood of a song while working on it: for example "Spectral Vanity" from "Deconstructive" was concepted as a mid-tempo track and finally it came out as the fastest and heaviest song of the album. We don't start working on a new song thinking about it has to sound in a specific way. We simply don't know exactly what will be the final result.

The new album sound very good: powerful and clear. Who has produced and mixed the album? How does the final result compare to the idea you had going into the studio?
ONOFRIO - The album has been produced by me and Gian, with the kind supervision of the veteran Luigi Stefanini (at the New Sin Studio) and the collaboration of Glenn Fricker: in his canadian Spectre-Sound studios we forged the Deconstructive's huge rhythmic guitar sound. It has been a hard work but the result has been really appreciated by everyone who listened to it. Following every step of the recording and producting process, we had the possibility to decide with our own taste all the specific details.
Since the beginning, we planned to show a very aggressive and modern sound built with the use of seven strings guitars and powerful drums, proper to bands like Nevermore or Arch Enemy, mixed with refined acoustic guitars, melancholic  pianos, vintage keyboards and complex clean vocal harmonies, more linked to the prog and prog-rock scene.

What's the meaning of "Deconstructive" and why did you choose this title?
DAVIDE – The meaning of the word is nothing more the word itself, but what we want to summarize with it is the costant process of refreshing and reinventing our sound by deconstructing and recomponing it with every new song.
As I told you before we feel always free of suggesting and trying new solutions, free from classic schemes and patterns.
Deconstructivism is an architectural movement based on the ideas of Focault and Derrida and its aim is to concept the space in a non-Cartesian, non-Euclidean way. Geometric elements are free to move in the space without being forced inside the box-shaped cartesian system. Our music is developed in the same way: free from boundaries and standard schemes.

The artwork is impressive and is an added value to the package. Who did it?
ONOFRIO – When we started to think about the artwork we wished for the new album, we told each other that it had to be an integral part of our compositions as a direct consequence of the music.
We began to search for an artist able to convert our songs and lyrics into visual art, maintaining the same mood throughout the whole work and giving the listener evocative sensations by images.
After a long search we crossed the web portfolio of Mario Sanchez Nevado, a young spanish guy. We immediately realized that his style fits perfectly with our proposal. So we decided to order him the whole artwork.
We realized the importance of the packaging today, in the peer-to-peer age, and we decided to achieve the best booklet possible in order to gift to our fans the opportunity of enjoying a great experience also concerning the graphic side.

Ashent's sound seems to be always in costant evolution. What are the main difference between this album and your first album ‘Flaws of Elation’?
DAVIDE – Basically the Ashent trademark is the same, but the second album is more refined and sounds like an evolution on our roots. We worked a lot searching for the right sound and trying to combine a lot of influences without changing our way of making and concepting music.
The first album is a sort of recollection of the band's first years material, so the music is the result of different line-ups. Moreover it was a little heavier and faster that the new one, more Thrashy.
When we started composing and rehearsing "Deconstructive" we told each other that we didn't want to make a copy of "Flaws of Elation". We checked all the weak points of the first release and we worked on the new music trying to avoid to walk on the same steps. Before starting writing the material for "Deconstructive" we "promised" to our self not to lock our musical feeling in a cage so as to let our creativity fly free during all the compositive process (the song "To develop self-creativity" is a sort of little manifesto of this approach).

What do we have to expect in the next album and in the band's future?
ONOFRIO - Our sound is in constant evolution and I can assure that in future we will change further. The immobility irritates us and it makes sterile the creative process of making music. I think it is essential to evolve but I believe that it is equally important not to lose the own identity in this development.
So in the next album we will surely introduce a lot of new elements and some strange experimentation, balancing everything with our recognized taste for aggressive riffs and extreme arrangements.
Of course, it's scheduled the recording session of a new album: the composition is already at a good point.
We hope to go into the studio during this new year.

Has the band planned any tours, or performed much live up to this point?
ONOFRIO – To be honest, we had an interesting tour as supporter band, planned to be ready a couple of months after the release of Deconstructive, but unfortunately
the tour has been cancelled due to reasons out of our direct control.
So, we only made few single shows but anyway we hope to announce something concrete in the coming weeks-months.

If you could choose some bands to go out with on the road who would they be?
DAVIDE - Personally I can say I'd like to go on tour with Opeth, Arcturus (if they regroup), Frost*, Cynic, Dark Suns and Orphaned Land. Probably we'll look out of place beside such great bands, but I think we could learn a lot from them. I'd like to tour even with italian Novembre.

ONOFRIO – I can add bands like Pain of Salvation, Textures, To-mera, Atheist and that brilliant artist called Devin Townsend.
It could be very interesting also to share the stage with some extreme combos, because we are devoted death metal listeners, a genre that strongly influenced our way to play guitars and drums: so I can say Decrepit Birth, Origin, Vader, Nile, Behemoth, Job For A Cowboy and dozens of other great bands.

Finally, any messages for our readers?
ONOFRIO – Thanks for your support and greetings to all the readers of BRUTALISM. 
See you soon on stage. If you're curious, you can visit our site or our myspace page you will find a lot of music to listen to and lots of info about the band.
Guys, never forget to support the underground scene!
Stay metal!
Interviewer: Jacopo
Jan 18, 2010

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