Cosmic Canadian Black Metallers CELL have returned from inter planetary annihilation to deliver their second offering “Ancient Incantations Of Xarbos” due for release 4th of October. Ancient Incantations Of Xarbos continues the concepts,themes and space tales of doom from Hyperion which Cell first started in their musical inter stellar space odyssey of story telling and metal on the first album “The Frozen Moon Of Erebath‘ released in 2016.Cell have toured Canada multiple times and are about to embark on a huge US/Canadian tour CELL have a busy few months ahead of them and Hyperion the lead singer and guitarist graciously took some time out to answer a few questions for Crannk about all things CELL.
Jai Q; First off who are CELL and how would you describe the sound?
Hyperion;Greetings! My name is Hyperion and I’m the singer and guitarist of Cell. Cell is a conceptual three piece Black Metal band from Winnipeg, MB. All of our music is based on a comic book idea that I came up with a few years ago that didn’t end up happening. The albums are heavily sci fi/fantasy based(A constancy we carry on through every album, connecting them all together) but a lot of the songs are metaphors for some of the things I experience in my life. I like to call our sound “Cosmic Black Metal” since its extremely chaotic in sections, then breaks everything down to slow crushing Doom sections and finally heavily modulated cleans like you’re shifting through a wormhole to another dimension. With Black Metal being our roots we tend to combine other subgenres within our albums including Old School Death Metal, Doom, Thrash and even some hardcore.
Q: How did CELL form ?
Hyperion;Cell formed in October 2014. It was originally a two piece with my original drummer Void from the first album. We jammed like crazy for a good 5 months and then Deimos ended up joining the band on bass in early 2015. I pitched the concept to them after I explained that it as a comic book idea I had for a few years and they were really into it. Writing lyrics is extremely fun for me considering it’s all within our concept it makes it easy for me to be really creative!
Q:When and How did you first start playing music ?
Hyperion;I started playing music when I was 6 years old. The reason I wanted to play guitar was actually because my father showed me Santana playing Woodstock back in 1969. He and his band looked like they were having the time of their life and it seemed like nothing could break that special connection on stage. I knew right then and there that this is what I wanted to do, so I started learning guitar. Little did I know after watching an interview with Santana online, he said that they all dropped some tabs of acid and they were totally in a different dimension. He said his guitar neck and headstock turned into a snake so he tried really hard not to look at it while he battled through all the songs.
Q:What was the first Instrument you bought for yourself?
Hyperion;The first instrument I actually bought for myself was a Schecter Gary Holt flying v FR signature from the music store I currently work at(Quest Musique in Winnipeg, MB). I was walking up the guitar aisle and saw it hanging on the wall, I instantly had the gut feeling that I was going to get that guitar. It was $1450 and I only had $500(I worked as a delivery driver at dominos in highschool). The guys at the store made it work where I got to put it on layaway for a few months and make a few payments. I played that thing for years until 2016 and then, unfortunately, had to sell it to get another guitar.
Q:When and how did you get into heavy metal?
Hyperion;My father brought me up listening to all the classic rock, heavy metal and psychedelic bands like Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Judas Priest, Queen, Motorhead, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Rush, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Etc… So I instantly got a taste for that sound as a kid. The first song I ever remember being played is actually Welcome to the machine by Pink Floyd off of their Wish you were here album. That song completely changed my life!
Q:What was the first metal album you got?
Hyperion;The first metal album I ever got was the thrash metal classic Slayer – Reign In Blood. An older friend of mine who already was very into metal showed me the song Altar of Sacrifice and my eyes instantly lit up. I was 12 years old and never even thought I’d hear something like that in my life. The pure speed, ferocity, satanic lyrics, shredding solos and tone absolutely captivated me. The next day I scrounged whatever change I could find lying around the house and asked my family to take me to a local record/cd store called Into the music to purchase it!
Q:Who or what do you feel has helped and inspire you as a musician?
Hyperion;Oh man… This one is a hard one! I’d say that David Gilmour, Jeff Loomis of Nevermore, Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth and Abbath are all bigger musicians that I’ve looked up too and have changed how I view music. They each are amazing at what they do and are true masters of their craft! David Gilmour will always be hands down one of my favorite guitar players, there’s no way anyone could replicate what he does(tone and style). Jeff Loomis is who pushed me into wanting to expand on leads and knowing my guitar better. Jon Shaffer is a powerhouse of a human, just doesn’t stop doing what he loves. He’s the only original member of Iced Earth left and just keeps going even after all the lineup changes(While keeping the consistency of the band!). He is also a big reason why I love triplets and gallop riffs so much. Abbath is pure energy live, aside from the fantastic song structure and riffs he comes up with… He’s just so much fun on stage! Being a fan of theatre and acting I think that’s why I had such a liking for Black Metal. It’s just pure energy, emotion, rawness, and absolutely fantastic live performances that take you to another place. Last but not least… I love all forms of art so I tend to pull inspiration from so many sources. Comic books being the most crucial one in my life.
Q:So I read a funny story about a sketchy promoter and a show you guys put on in Abbotsford, BC back in July 2017 can you tell us about that show?
Hyperion;MAN! That was one of the weirdest things that has happened to us! So the promoter who I won’t name was stringing us on and being super vague with the show the whole time we were trying to book and promote it. Luckily the local band on the bill Heavy Lies The Crown helped with putting the show together since this guy was being pretty useless. We were coming from Vancouver Island after a string of shows out there and the guys in the local band told us to load in at a specific time. We got there a little earlier and walked into the venue to check it out and one of the owner/bartenders were working so we struck up a conversation.
Me:”Hey guys so we’re Cell and Ossific… the bands that are playing tonight. Should we just load our stuff in now?”
Her:”Who are you guys? We’re not booked to have a show here today?”
Me: I look at her with shock and confusion”We booked with (blank) and he actually hasn’t responded to us in the last day… He said that he booked this show quite a while ago and that you guys were completely aware.”
Her:”(blank) said nothing about doing a show here today so there’s nothing set up and no sound guy… you guys are welcome to play since you’re already here? We won’t charge you for the room as well.”
She then continued on to tell me that this dude was a good person and that he normally doesn’t do this. Until I talk to a few locals and find out that it was normal for him. We ended up cleaning up all the broken glass from the night before, set up the pa system, moved all the tables and chairs around, went outside and literally grabbed people off the street to come to see our show and then called the local bands friend to do sound for us while we played. The promoter then continued to ghost us and I’ve never heard anything about him since. What a weird day haha.
Q:What was the recording and production process like this time around,and can you tell us a little about that?
Hyperion;The first album we were going for more of a raw Black Metal sound. This time around we wanted to have a more polished and massive sound. We put so much time and effort into the production process this time and Ryan Forsyth of Grimfrykt Media Productions KILLED it on the mixing and producing of Ancient Incantations Of Xarbos. Me and Deimos tracked and edited the guitars and bass at my house and then we tracked the drums and vocals at Ryan Forsyth’s studio. We finished everything up within the month and sent it off to be mastered by Jamie Sitar of Outta Town Sound.
Q: Can we talk a little about the concept and songwriting approach for CELL and your second and latest release “Ancient Incantations Of Xarbos”?
Hyperion;So again the concept is consistent within each album but this album is specific to the one planet called Xarbos and its inhabitants. The planet is very old and has had many things happen to it over the years. There are two races that have been living on Xarbos for many millennia. One being very peaceful, living off the land, very well versed in their own black magic and doing what they can to live in harmony with the beautiful planet they were given. The other race is very cruel and greedy, they do anything in the power to further their technology and become richer. They go to the extent of wiping out complete tribes of the peaceful race and going to war with them just so they can put another city there or whatever they need to increase currency flow. Over thousands of years they have brought this planet to the brink of destruction with pollution, genocide, clear cutting and lack of care for their own home. The peaceful race at this point has grown sick and tired of this and are done seeing their beautiful home be slowly suffocated by these warmongering, hate filled beings. They then gather together and plan multiple ways to take them out and overthrow their rule. Throughout the album they perform an incantation to awaken their great god Gorthar who is an interdimensional demon that can easily eradicate anything in its way. Using their god to lead the war, they realize that it still isn’t enough… They then travel through a wormhole to the frozen realm of the Frost King to obtain the great orb that he uses to terraform planets at his will. They enter this realm with a select handful of elite Xarbonian warriors and thieves to steal the orb from him and they realize that this realm is no place for a normal being… While some of the warriors distract The Frost King and give their life to the cause, one of the thieves end up snatching the orb and travel through a wormhole back to Xarbos to defeat the armies of the race that has taken everything from them.
When we write songs I usually have the story already there and do my best to create a synergy with the song structure I came up with and the lyrics/concept. I’ll come up with the structure and most of the song and bring it to jam to see what everyone thinks about it, usually, there are some riffs we change, new riffs and sections we add in and then we finalize the song.
Q:The first single CELL has released off the album is the track “Gods Of The NetherRealm” what does this track mean for you?
Hyperion;This song is extremely important to me because it was written for a close friend of mine that passed away a few years ago. He was a big influence for me being such a strong part of our music scene and such an amazing friend. He pushed me and a lot of musicians to be ourselves and to be as original as we can be with ANYTHING we do, it drove me to go very hard with Cell and to keep bringing our live show to the next level any chance we could get. In June 2017 he, unfortunately, took his life and was in the ICU for a few days. I went to go visit him in the ICU and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to see… Your friend lying there attached to multiple machines keeping his body alive but his consciousness and soul were completely gone. That night I wrote God Of The NetherRealm for him since it was the only way I could let out my emotion in a healthy and cathartic way. In the concept he is trapped between worlds since his body is still active but consciousness and soul are not. He then scours this new realm to find a way back to his own but in the end, he realizes he’s not coming back and that he has to take this realm for himself, otherwise he’ll be a prisoner here in purgatory. He then challenges the one who sits on the throne of this dimension.. The God Of The NetherRealm. Many days and nights pass while they battle for the throne and in the end… my friend becomes victorious and takes the throne from him. He then becomes the new God and happily sits on the throne for the rest of time protecting any souls he can from the horrors of the multiverse.
Q:CELL are set for interplanetary domination with a whole heap of US dates which you must be looking forward to,but so far where is the most memorable place you have played?
Hyperion;The most memorable place we have played is honestly every time we play a new city. The feeling and experience of playing in front of people you’ve NEVER met before and not knowing the city your in is pretty special.
Q:If you could pick any show or country to play in and why?
Hyperion; Europe is a given but honestly… Japan! I really want to tour Japan! Hopefully it’s in our cards for the future!
Q:Which for you would be the track you are most proud of on “Ancient Incantations Of Xarbos” and why?
Hyperion;All of them really, we’ve worked so hard putting this album together and bringing it to life that I’m proud of the whole damn album. I might pick God Of The NetherRealm just because of what it means to me.
CELL thank you so much again for taking the time to go through these for myself and Crannk I really appreciate your time and congratulations on your amazing second album “Ancient Incantations Of Xarbos” a really great listen keep cranking that metal LOUD.\m/And PS if you get the time check out Hybrid Nightmares they have the same kinda brutal metal space theme going on as well.Both you and them do it really well.
Hyperion;No problem, it was my pleasure! Thank you so much and I will definitely check them out!
Cell – Ancient Incantations Of Xarbos USA/Canada Tour
09/26/19 – Fargo @ Red Raven Espresso Parlour
09/27/19 – Minneapolis @ Mortimer’s Bar
09/28/19 – Milwaukee @ Quarters
09/29/19 – Chicago @ Live Wire Lounge
09/30/19 – Pittsburgh @ Black Forge Coffee House
10/01/19 – Cleveland @ Now That’s Class
10/02/19 – Detroit @ Kelly’s Bar
10/04/19 – Nashville @ Nash Vegas Bar and Grill
10/05/19 – Charlotte @ Skylark Social Club
10/07/19 – Raleigh @ Slim’s Downtown
10/08/19 – Baltimore @ The Sidebar
10/09/19 – Albany TBA
10/10/19 – Brooklyn @ Brooklyn Bazaar
10/11/19 – Montreal @ The Pirahna
10/12/19 – Toronto TBA
10/13/19 – Ottawa @ Avante-Garde Bar
10/14/19 – Sudbury @ The Asylum
10/19/19 – Winnipeg @ The Goodwill Social Club
CELL are Hyperion – Vocals, Gutiars
Deimos – Bass
Hypnos – Drums
Check out CELL on spotify and if you like what you hear and you want to keep this scene strong head over to bandcamp and buy their music or catch them on the road at a show and buy some sick merch\m/