Lifestream: The Toilet ov Hell Interview

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You may remember the coverage we did on Emanations, the sub label of French black metal label Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions. You may also remember the excellent album, Post Ecstatic Experience, from the band Lifestream. Offering a raw, heavy approach to black metal, this French quintet demonstrates a knack for pacing and delivery. It’s easy to lose yourself in the swirling, mid-range fullness and tasteful keyboard touches, but it’s just as easy to hang on to the nuance and depth displayed in the songwriting. Lifestream’s vocalist (identified as J) and bassist (identified as T) were kind enough to give me some insight to their creative process and mindset as a band.

I hate to start off with such a typical question, but many of our readers may not be familiar with Lifestream: can you tell us about the history of the band? Pictures of band members are always shadowy or obscured, do you prefer to keep names and identities out of the spotlight?

J : Lifestream is a French black metal project, started in 2012, by different members of the underground scene of Bordeaux. About our dark imagery; we prefer that people concentrated on our music and visuals instead of focus on musicians identities.

In a broad sense, where does Lifestream find inspiration? Other music, movies, books, philosophy, etc?

J : We all have different influences, some out of the metal scene. In my case, if the melody reaches me and makes me feel familiar emotions, no matter the kind of music, it’s fine. But more precisely, I would mention German, Norwegian and Swedish black metal scenes, rock music in a large sense, various soundtracks, but also cinema, myths and a lot of introspection, observation, and emotions.

T : Personally, I listen a lot of old Norwegian black metal and I think that is what inspired me the most for my bass lines. I’ve always been in the hardcore/crust scene too, and I like the challenge of mixing that kinds of riffs with something more mesmerizing. But when we are composing together, it’s a lot about the mood of the day, and feelings of each other. The best influence is the world and universe around us.

Narrowing that last question down a bit, can you tell us about the writing/creative process for the band? How do you turn that inspiration into a specific direction for your music, or how do one or two riffs grow into a whole song?

T : Guitar riffs are the base of a song most of the time. Then everyone works around it, trying different ideas.

J : In fact, it is rare for us to have a precise idea of a final song before its creation. Nevertheless, the album has an intentional unity. 

France has a history of producing not only a ton of great black metal bands, but also a distinctive French black metal sound that each band has a unique interpretation of. With all that in mind, do you find it intimidating or inspirational to be in the middle of it all?

J : Neither one nor the other. I admit to not being fond of the French black metal scene, even if th1472037_247804588708951_280017129_nere are some bands that I really respect. This is not what inspires me. By the way, I don’t think Lifestream offer a black metal “à la française”.

T : There are some bands that I really love in France, it’s a real prolific music in our country, but I’ve never look deeper in this scene to be inspired or intimidated by it. The label who released our tape, Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Production, only have French black metal bands that all are very invested and mature. It’s very encouraging for us. 

Let’s talk about your fantastic new album, Post Ecstatic Experience. As one would expect, there is a somber darkness to the music and lyrics, but both seem to have a distant, subtle hopefulness at times. Is this duality intentional, or am I just hearing things?

J : Yes, you’re right, and I’m happy you noticed it! This duality is the essence of our music, and reflects particularly our album whose theme is the correlation between rapture and collapse. Some triumphant moments, others depressing or dark.

Very interesting. I can see that there is a lot to unfold with repeated listens. Can you tell us about the overall direction of Post Ecstatic Experience? Can you elaborate on those themes that shape the album as a whole?

T : The name of the album, Post Ecstatic Experience, is implicit. Through our music, we explore the different sides of the apex of an instant in the ecstasy, or in the pain. And then come the fall, which can have many approaches. You can find this concept in a lot of very different situations in life. Each song describes various ways of this contrast.

From a production standpoint, there is a very heavy focus on raw, full tones that really emphasize each note and chord. What was the recording process like, as well as the process for deciding on sounds? 

T : I won’t hide that the mastering of the album was really hard. There are many tones and melodies that we wanted to highlight. We also work with samples that create a particular mood, the challenge was to homogenize all of this without deviating from our first ideas. But Nerik from the Darkened Studios worked hard and did a great job !

J : We retreated in countryside for one week to record the album. All was fixed, but we tried spontaneous ideas, and at last we kept some of them.

Who does your artwork?

J : The tape cover was made by our drummer, and the complete artwork by Rom from the label LADLO. There is a second artwork version for the CD format, which comes from an old italian engraving.

Perhaps more than any other sub genre, black metal has had a long history of competing ideologies, bitter opposition, and endless opinions. To you, what does it mean to be a black metal band in 2015? Along with that, what does it mean to exist in the underground?

J : Black Metal is a music born in blood and ashes, but it has evolved since its creation, and a lot of sub genres appeared, abandoning the aggressive side of primitive bands, musically and in mindset. Nowadays, there are a lot of bands which mix it with different styles and offer interesting results. I play Black Metal simply because it’s the most emotional metal style to my eyes, and in which I can express myself. Existing in the underground is being a part of it, to propose his own vision.

T : There are so many faces in this sub genre. The thing is, it’s just about the music. Lifestream handle existentialist and philosophical lyrics that should speak to everyone. Underground circles are really different now than when black metal was born, and there is many faces of the underground too. Being a part of this scene, is just believing in it, and support it each as his own level, each with his own competences.

When you guys aren’t in Lifestream mode, what do you do in your free time or in the real world?

T : We all have different occupations, and other bands. I personally play in a power violence band. Our drummer plays in two other metal projects as well. 

What’s next for Lifestream? Are there plans for touring or regional support shows?

J : Lifestream just played a gig in Bordeaux at the end of May with The Great Old Ones, and we’ll play other shows in France which we’re working on, but no tour is planned for this year. 

Thanks so much for your time! Any last thoughts? 

T : Thank you for being so much interested in our project ! Thanks to all the people who support us.

J : Keep the grey flame alive!

Thanks for Lifestream for their time, and thanks to Les Acteurs de L’Ombre for investing in the black metal underground. Buy Post Ecstatic Experience here, and follow Lifestream on Facebook!

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • I’m with “J” on the French BM scene: not too interesting for me personally. These guys seem pretty cool and I’m definitely going to check them out some more.

    Great interview.

    • Stockhausen

      Excellent, I hope you like. All the bands on their label are French, and there’s some really excellent variety. When you have some time, check it out yo.
      https://ladlo.bandcamp.com

    • Dagon

      Building up on what Stocky said, check out Regardes Les Hommes Tomber – it’s my favorite band on the LADLO roster. Not sure if it will be your cup of tea, but I know you’re open minded enough to give them a go. 🙂

      • Óðhinn

        Dagon, I second your like for Regarde Les Hommes Tomber. Fir Bolg is another French Black Metal band that I also enjoy.

    • Hubert

      But…. Blut Aus Nord.

      • EsusMoose

        I was gonna say the Great Old Ones but yeah BAN works.

      • Deathspell Bromega!!!

      • Óðhinn

        Fuck yeah!

  • Lots of good stuff coming out of France lately!

  • Dagon

    That first track… God damn!

    • I’m liking how they buildup the atmosphere with the blasty parts to explode those fadings in the guitars. Very good.

      • Dagon

        I’m with you. From the 6 minute mark on I had a huge boing. Yes, cue in the boing thread.

  • The guitars are very expansive, it’s feels very good how the notes fade in the more ambient sections. I’m digging this. Props to the band and for Stocky for running this.

  • Dagon

    “I play Black Metal simply because it’s the most emotional metal style to my eyes, and in which I can express myself.”

    I think I can agree with this. I’m not sure if it is the most emotional subgenre, but it’s definitely up there. Some of the greatest moments of drama and poignancy in metal that I’ve experienced came from good black metal songs.

    • Void Dweller

      I can confirm that it is.

      • Dagon

        There are some really heavy feels band in the sludge/post-metal spectrum, and a lot of them also have some blackened influences.

        Think Celeste, for example.

        • Tyree

          Post is to colorful and happy. Black metal is not. That’s why post should stay the fuck away from black metal.

          • Dagon

            Not always, dude. The post tag is actually too broad, really. You get bands like North (W wrote about them recently) and then you have something vile like Amenra that can be categorized as post.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cTLD3ywchE

          • Tyree

            That just sounds like hardcore to me.

          • Dagon

            Maybe it is and I’m just full of shit lol. I’ve seen people refer to Amenra and Celeste as “post-hardcore” as well. It gets to a point where IDK what the tags mean anymore.

            Let’s agree that this rips though

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU6EWqWYaGs

          • Tyree

            I’d say Celeste are more on the lines of POST black metal.

          • KJM

            Dammit, I want a bowl of Post Black Metal Flakes with sugar and 1% milk right fucking now.

          • Come up to 2%.

            2% is the Party.

          • J.R.

            This album is awesome. I was getting really down into some blackened abyss doing some work last night and this album was my guide

          • I am fond of so many of the albums that I listened to while doing intense HW sessions in undergrad.

            GL

          • J.R.

            It’s the sifting screen that separates the musical wheat from the chaff: can I do homework to it? Usually is a bunch of post/Progressive/black metal. Thick Atmospheric ambient slow, but uptempo enough to propel me through my tasks.

            Sadly this kind of music does not translate well to “belting out loud while I drive” so I don’t usually buy a lot of that stuff, which is annoying because I love that stuff but would never really listen to it besides one or two unique scenarios.

          • Tyree

            Yes, this album does rule.

        • Void Dweller

          You lost me at post.

    • Hubert

      Grim and frostbitten emotions

    • EsusMoose

      I’d agree, either the extreme distortion and/or tremolo riffs help make all instruments blur causing the raw melody to take over the entire mix. I am bias as I do only listen to so much black metal and that qualification really only works in situations where the artist really is writing it to be emotional.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Satan.

  • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan2

    Thank you so much for coming in France !

    Oh my god, that’s so cooooooooooool !

    -French_foReVer, Sep 3 2010

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Eww

    • M Shadows!

      FRANCE REALLY ENJOYED IT AND ORGASMED 5 TIMES, WHICH IN TURN GAVE ME AN IDEA FOR A RIFF!

      • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan2

        if you come in italy make me very very very very happy 🙂 When was christmas time i wished that you come in italy

        – Posted by Syn_96, May 12 2012

        • M Shadows!

          ITALY IS INFERTILE THERE IS NO POINT BECAUSE NO DEMON A7X BABIES CAN BE SPAWNED!

          • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan2

            come in Switzerland Please

            -Posted by killerix6594, Mar 29 2012

          • M Shadows!

            SWITZERLAND USES A DIAPHRAGM AND THEREFORE I CANNOT!

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Headlines: “M SHADOWS EJACULATES IN FRANCE”

      • Kevin Nash & Friends

        You’re back! Any hope of coming to Poughkeepsie Mr. Shadows?

        • M Shadows!

          STOP MAKING UP WORDS

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            It’s a town in New York. It’s where I live. It’s not fake.

          • M Shadows!

            I WONT FALL FOR IT

  • CyberneticOrganism

    This is supremely cool shit. Good find, Stock.

  • Hubert

    For a minute there I thought ToH was getting on the Twitch e-sport livestream train.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      “e-sports” is the goddamned nerdiest thing ever. Is that where they commentate on video game tournaments like a bunch of old sportscasters?

      • And it’s not nerd in a good way… It’s obnoxious how this “e-sport” thing became big and how intense are their followers x_x.

      • I have a friend who actually travels to watch people play these video game tournaments. He is the biggest goddamn nerd.

        • *travels to Indianapolis for e-tournament*
          *spends $275/night for a room**$15 on cheetos*
          *sits in the stands at the e-tournament*
          *watches the live stream of the e-tournament on his computer while sitting at the e-tournament*

          • Shrimp in a Pizza Box™

            To be fair, I think it’s more for the social aspect than the tournament itself, you go there and meet new people and stuff. I never did it personally because I ain’t got money coming out of my asshole, but I’d guess that’s the main appeal.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Shrimps don’t need money.

          • Óðhinn

            They do if they want to impress the ladies. 😉

            Bad joke. I know. *punches self in the face*

            https://thechive.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/rich-men-hot-women-1.jpg?w=500&h=721

          • CyberneticOrganism

            That appears to be a walking real doll.

          • EsusMoose

            You need to start eating money if you want it to come out of your ass.

          • Commander Shepard

            That’s almost as redundant as Kaidan’s face

        • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRsPheErBj8

          For srs Joe, re-evaluate your friendship with this nerdlinger.

        • J.R.

          I sat on the top row of my physics 2 lecture once. All the laptops I could see were tuned to some League world finals thing. It mystifies me. the guy next to me now in this study room is watching some DANK 2funny4u League rext compilation and that’s fine, but I wouldn’t watch real games on TV. Just odd. The game isn’t really formatted for it in he first place.

      • EsusMoose

        I’d say LARPing is still the nerdier activity.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Good point. HUZZAH, SIR MOUNTAIN DEW!

        • KJM

          At least back in the 80s, SCA people were expected to actually know how to fight with weapons.

          • EsusMoose

            They were educated nerds, now they just like to beat the shit out of each other

      • Dagon

        DotA tournaments can be pretty big. In 2014 the winning team took home 5 million dollars.

        Nerdillionaires.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          *reevaluates life*

        • *buys a quintuple raid solid state water cooled hard drive*

        • Yeah, but once you factor in the cost of travel, taxes, equipment, Jolt Cola expenses, and diabetes care it’s barely worth the time of day.

          • Dagon

            Diabetes care gave me a top kek

            Plus it’s a pain in the ass to get amputation

          • I lost my sides with the diabetes comment.

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            They don’t even sell Jolt Cola anymore. It’s really sad because that was a delicious energy drink.

      • J.R.

        I casually play me some League of Legends, but I can’t talk about it around my bud Ricky Bc he’ll start giving me “pro-builds” and “it’s what the Koreans do” advice that just does not make it fun anymore

        • Ugh… Every videogame when it came to a “competitive” status become more and more obnoxious.

          • KJM

            Many things get more obnoxious once money enters the equation.

      • Óðhinn

        I don’t follow sports that aren’t professional cycling. It’s just I roll.

  • Tyree

    Lifestream sounds like it would be a name of a rehab or self help center. Just an, overall do good to the world kinda company. And… it is.

    https://www.lifestreaminc.org/
    https://www.lstream.org/
    http://www.lifestreaminc.com/
    http://www.lsbc.net/home.aspx

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    —vive le france—-as music dwells–in the global art center–and their societies,absinthe cafes–and legends
    listen to LIFESTREAM-“an unfathomable dereliction”—in the op
    with both these vids drowned out—all at once

    -https://youtu.be/J1kVgCkBYts

    -https://youtu.be/eXDkdjHAVIU

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Good music, good interview.

  • Óðhinn

    The current French Black Metal scene is amazing. The true spirit on Metal is alive in France.

  • Manwich Of Doom (with cheese)

    Never heard them before, but damn these guys are good! Kinda lo-fi (as most black metal should be), but just the right amount of atmosphere, and the pace is perfect. 9/10 tendies, and good interview!