Big Black Monsoon: Yyrkoon Unleashes a New Storm With Occult Medicine

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Yyrkoon[Yyrkoon]Coming from France’s Osmose Productions as well as Salt Lake City’s The End Records is French metal thrashers Yyrkoon. After humble beginnings in 1995, the band released their debut full-length album, Oniric Transition, in 1998 and Dying Sun in 2002. Progressing to a different sound, the band’s third release, Occult Medicine, is a steamroller of a record, crushing all refuse in its path, leaving wreckage and the battered and bruised listener in its wake. SLUG had the chance to catch up with guitarist and vocalist Stef to learn the band’s history, influences and talk about the French metal scene.

 

SLUG: So how did Yyrkoon get started?

 

STEF: Yyrkoon was formed in 1995. We began to play melodic death/black metal. Quickly we decided to record a demo tape and one year later, we’ve done Oath Obscure, Occult … This stuff allowed us to enter the underground metal world and to find a deal for our first album with the label VMI (Velvet Music International). In 1998, our debut album, Oniric Transition, got out.

 

In 2000 we made a two-song CD titled Forgotten Past to send out to labels again. We found a new deal with a very young label, Anvil Corp. Dying Sun, our second full-length, come with much better production. That brought to the label foreign distribution, especially in Japan and Russia, where we get a very good response. In November 2003 that we decided to move to Hansen Studios in Denmark to record our third album, Occult Medicine.

 

SLUG: You guys definitely have an interesting name, how did the name come about?

 

STEF: Yyrkoon is the name of a sorcerer from Elric Saga, a dark heroic fantasy novel wrote by an American writer named Michael Moorcock. We chose to call our band Yyrkoon in 1995 for its original sonority and ortograph … our concept is not based at all on Elric and this novel. This is the problem when you choose to take a proper name; a lot of people imagine that the band concept is linked to the name.G

 

SLUG: When and how did you and/or the other members start playing music?

 

STEF: We all have an education linked to music. For myself, since I was one year old I’ve been exposed to rock n’ roll and hard rock; my father was a guitarist and I think that was a motivation for me to begin music. Jeff, the second guitarist, took piano lessons and was really sensitive to hard rock; that’s why he learned guitar after. Victo (bass guitar) has played guitar since he was around 10, and was attracted to bass guitar when he discovered bands like Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Motörhead. Music is really important for us, for our own life’s balance. I think that we could never stop playing music; it’s too vital for us now.

 

SLUG: I don’t know much about the French metal scene. Can you describe what it’s like?

 

STEF: The French metal scene is evolving very quickly at this moment. Bands are working very hard to produce quality albums and good live shows. Five years before, except for Loudblast and Massacra, very few people knew about French bands. Today, other countries seem more open to the idea that France has a real potential with its metal bands, and they are right! Listen to Scarve, Gojira, Kronos, Trepalium, Benighted, Arkhon Infaustus, Phazm … and of course, Yyrkoon; hehe. You will not be disappointed!

 

SLUG: From what you know of the States’ metal scene, how would you compare it to Europe’s or France’s?

 

STEF: Well, the States were here from the beginning, Europe too … France, not really! Hehe. We suffer from a lack of support. People prefer to buy and to support stranger’s band, as if they are afraid of their country’s output. Things are changing slowly; it’s beginning to be more acceptable. You have killer and shitty bands everywhere … in the States, Europe and even in France. When the music is good, whether you are Polish or French, it’s good!

 

SLUG: I read in your bio that the band’s current sound now is different than it was in the past. Can you explain the style difference and why the change?

 

STEF: In the past, we used violins and flutes. Quickly, we saw that it was not at all the way to continue with our music. We were young and we were searching our balance and some tries like these were done. That was not so bad, but we wanted something more aggressive, more heavy, more metal, in fact! We left keyboards and clean vocals too after our second album. Those elements didn’t correspond to the feeling of Occult Medicine. With time, we have purified our music and songs. Good vocals, two guitars, drums and a bass are enough to bring to our music what we want. The balance between melody and brutality on this new album is perfect for us. One can say that we needed all this period to find ourselves totally; we don’t regret anything about our previous releases. One more important thing about this, people who discovered us before this new stuff, people who enjoyed us for our sense of melody, for our solos and catchy riffs, etc., those people will not discover another band with Occult Medicine, we are the same and all these components are still alive in our music … some things have changed but Yyrkoon’s characteristics are here! Listen to it!

 

SLUG: What would you say the band’s main influences are?

 

STEF: Influences? Well, I can cite you some of the bands or authors that we enjoy a lot and who have led us to our result, but we insist on the fact that there is no fun and no deep interest in copying music and contexts that exist already. We automatically bring our own point of view and “philosophy” to our music. Occult Medicine is based on our fascination for medicine in general and especially for all we can imagine through it. Forbidden formulas, hidden experiences, diverse and horrible creations … Lyrically, gore for gore does not interest us; we need something more, like a fantastic tension that gives a morbid tone to the whole. I can mention H.P. Lovecraft for his excellent novel Dr. Herbert West, Re-animator that influenced me on Occult Medicine’s concept. We are a fan of Lovecraft’s stories. Musically, we really like bands like Morbid Angel, Carcass, Death, Emperor, King Diamond, Decapitated, Coroner, Slayer, Aborted, Entombed, Testament, Immortal.

 

Above all, Yyrkoon was a pleasure to interview, and we hope you learned a bunch. Do not miss checking out the outstanding French metal assault that is Occult Medicine.