Beware of Gods emerges from Chicago with an excellent brand of Progressive Sludge/Post-Metal. The band’s debut album, Upon Whom the Last Light Descends, is the first of a trilogy of concept albums, each with five tracks, inspired by the “looming dread” that can only be overcome by turning to face it, according to their Bandcamp page.
The man known simply as The Archetype is the leader of this shadowy outfit, and his multiple vocal styles “hover like locusts within the atonal trudging combat between doom-laden guitars, fuzzed-out bass, and ditch-digging drums.” As you can see, this album isn’t for the faint of heart.
Upon Whom the Last Light Descends was released on August 26, 2022, and it’s garnered some good support on Bandcamp for a good reason. The album is darkly beautiful, described by some as “cosmic doom” and picking up some comparisons to The Deftones. It could perhaps fit into the nebulous Psychedelic Doom category, but we’ll let you listen yourself and make that judgment.
I got a chance to talk to The Archetype recently, and he shared with me the central theme of the trilogy concept album and more.
Interview with the Archetype of Beware of Gods
Third Eye: First of all, thanks for doing the interview! I really dig the album. From what I’ve read on your Bandcamp page, this is the first of a trilogy of 5-song albums that will delve into the same thematic elements. Can you tell me a bit about the trilogy’s central theme?
The Archetype: The central theme of the trilogy is a trope that we see in many different points/stories throughout history known as ‘The Hero’s Journey’. The main character, if you will, is I Nomad, which translates as I Am Named After Death. This character, in a sense, is the ‘Everyman’ trying to outrun a ‘Nameless, Looming Dread’ that he doesn’t understand is an outward projection & amalgamation of his own inner demons, traumas, etc. The ultimate point of what Jung referred to as ‘Individuation’ is the ‘I Nomad/Everyman’ turning to face this ‘Cosmic Terror’ & integrate It into the Self. The trilogy, which culminates in ‘Upon Whom the Last Light Descends Hath Known Hell and Called It Heaven,’ is an audio document of this journey.
Third Eye: I was really interested in this album because of how it was described as “cosmic doom.” I’m a big Lovecraft and cosmic horror fan, and the whole vibe of this album gave me that vibe. How would you describe the sounds and feelings you were trying to create with the album?
The Archetype: Honestly, I didn’t go into this with a pre-conceived intention in terms of a defined genre, theme, specific feelings, etc. This started in the middle of the lockdown & came to me in some type of fugue state. When I came out of it, I had demoed the first version of the song ‘It Sleeps.’ I must say I was excited & terrified at the same time. Firstly, because of the way this music happened & secondly, because I didn’t really fully, consciously manifest it, so I knew, from the jump, that I’d have to re-learn everything to properly track it.
I sent it off to veteran alt-space rock awesome dude Kellii Scott (Failure, Hole, Veruca Salt, QOTSA) & the process commenced. ‘It Sleeps’ laid the groundwork for the concept, the theme, sound, etc. Dark, heavy, slow burn, sludgy madness…lol. That said, Lovecraft has always been a big part of my literary life & the concepts of ‘Cosmic Terror’ & ‘Cosmic Nihilism’ present as tremendous metaphors for various neuroses or, better put, Neurotic Gods that plague humans.
The Gods of our own Design that we Worship to our own suffering, hence, the band name Beware of Gods. The idea of malignantly indifferent, almost totally ambiguously dangerous creatures manifesting from a Void of Grotesque Vastness fascinates me, especially in the context of thinking of the Grotesque Void as our psyche, as an inner place from which We all create, then project into the outer landscape, our monsters, our demons, our Nameless, Looming Dread. Jung would simply call this ‘the Shadow.’ I can say I definitely knew relatively quickly that I wanted to build off of ‘It Sleeps’ & carry these themes through not just lyrically but, more importantly, sonically, musically, and rhythmically.
Poetry, lyrics, and concepts
Third Eye: You told me you played most of the instruments yourself for the album, so I’m guessing you’ve been in bands before or recorded some stuff in the past. What has your music “career” been like before Beware of Gods?
The Archetype: I have been singing, playing guitar, bass, producing, arranging & performing music my entire life. I have had record deals, toured, opened for major label bands, met famous people, worked with musicians who became famous, etc., etc. My most genuine response here is to say that although I have a past or a history regarding music & other bands, in a broader, perhaps metaphysical sense, I don’t. I am not who ‘I used to be.’ I am not that which I have done or will do. I am who I am now, at the moment.
By the time this interview is published, read by others, etc., I will have already become a different version of the person answering these questions, which is why I personally adopt the title of ‘The Archetype’ as in, giving sole credit where it’s due, which is to my Muse, as in, this Archetype of energy, information & inspiration, for whose Creation I am simply a vessel. It’s to say, “I am not The Archetype nor The Archetype me, yet I ‘Become’ the Vessel & United, an Archetype of expression is made manifest.”
Third Eye: I saw on your Bandcamp page that you also consider yourself a poet. How long have you been writing poetry, and how does that inform your songwriting? I imagine because this is a concept album with some overarching themes and motifs, it has a significant influence, right?
The Archetype: So, it does mention being a poet on Instagram not sure what is clarified on Bandcamp at the moment. These titles, these words, these things that bring some sort of explanation to what ‘I’ am are limiting. “I Contain Multitudes,” as Walt Whitman wrote. Poetry in all its forms is absolutely something I do every day & it has for sure contributed to the ability to translate inspiration into lyrics, concepts, and/or themes. I actually plan to publish a book of my poetry in 2023 entitled ‘Fire at The Movies: Notes on Self Destruction.’ I don’t know if ‘I’ am a ‘poet,’ but The Archetype definitely has poetic skills.
‘Be authentic, genuine, and fearless’
Third Eye: Listening to the album, I also was reminded a lot of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails for some reason. Are you a NIN fan? And what other artists have been some of your biggest influences?
The Archetype: Ahhh, the question that can never be avoided. Lol. What are my influences? Well, firstly, I enjoyed the work Trent Reznor did with Atticus Ross. I enjoyed the Watchmen soundtrack. Beyond that, not a NIN fan per se & definitely not directly influenced by him/them. I am more influenced by the compositions of John Carpenter (Halloween, The Fog, The Thing). Ironically, as much as it sounds like Carpenter, the music for ‘The Thing’ was created by Ennio Morricone, not Carpenter. Influences? I like to think of ‘influences’ more as ‘signals.’ What I intend to say is when an artist creates something that resonates with another artist, that is ‘signaling’ a kinship actually & that kinship is a calling to honor that which already exists within you. Having said that, some kinships that were signaled for me are:
Deftones, Alice in Chains, Quicksand, Prong, YOB, Old Man Gloom, Unsane, COC, Black Sabbath, Conan, Rush, Cave In, SUNN O))), The Melvins, Ministry, Spotlights, Failure, Pelican, Skinny Puppy & Jane’s Addiction.
Third Eye: Last question: The world, obviously, is in the middle of several simultaneous catastrophes. It’s bleak out there. Do you feel Doom metal, like this album, is the perfect expression and outlet for our era?
The Archetype: I believe there is no ‘perfect’ outlet for expressing the ills of humanity, but I recognize what has the most value in terms of honoring reality, as in, what is actually happening & if it’s gloom & doom, tell the truth. If it’s pink clouds & lemonade, tell the truth. I mean to say, be authentic, be genuine, be fearless. Those characteristics are what matter most, now perhaps more than ever. The thing about dark, heavy music that works so well in terms of the current world situation is that it chooses to shed light on the parts of ourselves, individually and collectively, that most people would rather ignore. The truth may be uncomfortable & at times, horrific, but in & of itself, the truth won’t kill you. Denial will. Genres like Doom Metal & its subgenres provide light within the darkness. As Robert Frost said & Carl Jung repeated, “The only way out is through.”