akelei

One year later (1 november 2013)

It's true, we've neglected this page for too long. About time for an update.

The last gig we did with Akelei (with The Gathering in Utrecht, September 2012) was also Ward's last performance with us. He had grown unhappy with the heavier aspects of our music while the rest of the band still enjoy the distorted guitars and pounding drums too much to let go of that. We've gone separate ways now, as friends, and from around March we were looking for a new drummer.

That search came to an end last September, after Remco contacted us and auditioned for the spot. We liked the guy right away and his style fits the music so well that we welcomed him to the band there and then. We have since rehearsed songs from our live set as well as jammed on some new ideas.

We also decided that our focus now should be on completing the new songs we are writing. As anybody who has kept on eye on us these last couple of years knows, this is a slow process. One of these weeks, I will try to explain on this blog why it takes (me in particular) so much time to write. For now we can share that three new songs are finished (music, not lyrics) and three more are still under construction.

So, keep an eye on these pages, I will try to bring more regular updates on our progress! Signing off with a picture from the new line-up. L-R: Misha, Pascal, Remco, Harm, Merlijn

Bilde

Misha

Listening to: Hjálmar - Ég vil fá mér kærustu

 

Pics from Utrecht (1 november 2012)

Not much news here, or not much that we can talk about yet anyway. Merlijn is in China somewhere and Ward is working hard to graduate from uni so we're not jamming or doing any gigs at the moment. Instead, here are some pics from the gig at Tivoli (thank you Ron, Seth and RockHard for sharing), click to enlarge:

                                                                                 © Seth Matahelumual / Epicart.nl


                                                                                 © Seth Matahelumual / Epicart.nl


                                                                                                            http://rockhard.gr/


                                                                                                   photo by Ron van Schaik


                                                                                                             http://rockhard.gr/



Cheers, Misha

Listening to: Anna Calvi - The Wall

 

Next up: The Gathering '92 & The 11th Hour & Akelei (11 september 2012)

As announced before, this Sunday 16th we're opening for The Gathering in their 1992 reunion line-up and fellow doomsters The 11th Hour in a not-to-be-missed Dutch doom evening at Tivoli de Helling, Utrecht. Get tickets HERE. We're looking forward big time! It will be the second time we perform the song 'Heden' after its debut in Dordrecht a few months ago. It's still a work in progress and we've altered the ending somewhat during rehearsals. Maybe this will be one of those 'live-only' songs that never stay the same. There is a very different take on the song however that we will record later this year. And something else. Oh Winter will be creative times. Merlijn is going on a far East-Asia trip so we won't be able to do shows during that time anyway.

Meanwhile, Pascal and his other band Faal will tour Europe this fall together with Worship. See details HERE to find out if they are playing near you. They are a most excellent live band, second album 'The Clouds Are Burning' is highly recommended too if you prefer your funeral doom laced with black metal and post-rock.

That's all for now. I hope to bring you reviews, photos and video of the Tivoli show in the next update.

Misha

Listening to: Katatonia - The One You Are Looking for Is Not Here

 

Photo update (7 juli 2012)

We figured it's time for a new band portrait. The last one we had taken was a very impromptu affair, right after our first rehearsal session with Harm a year ago. This time around, Harm and I found some pretty locations for a shoot in Utrecht and decided that's where we would give it a go. Our dear friend Delphine was willing to take the pictures, which is awesome. Especially when you consider she had to drive all the way from Belgium for us. Merci beaucoup!

It was a successful afternoon and we are happy with the results. Here are our favourite picks, the first photo is our new 'official' band portrait:

Bilde

Akelei 2012, photos by Delphine

Bilde

From left: Merlijn, Pascal, Misha, Ward, Harm

See you next time, cheers

Misha

Listening to: Omit - Insolence

 

New gig and video (12 juni 2012)

We played a new song at our gig in Dordrecht last month. Our good friend Wouter caught everything on camera (dankjewel!) and together we edited a video for the as of yet untitled new track. We had a great time at the Popcentrale by the way. It was organised very well and it's a comfortable venue with quite good sound and facilities. A good number of people showed up right from the beginning and fun times were had by all. Cheers to Ben and Popcentrale for a great Doom Day! Also thank you Heavy Lord for being so ridiculously Heavy. Man, that show rocked.

Click on the picture to see the video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, for our second gig this year we will be supporting none other than The Gathering in their '92 line-up reunion! Also playing that evening are The 11th Hour, so it's a fantastic combination of bands that no doom lover can afford to miss. This will take place on Sunday 16 September at Tivoli de Helling, Utrecht. Yes, write it down. You can buy tickets here: http://www.tivoli.nl/agenda/informatie/atid/455194/datum/zo-16-sep-2012/titel/THE+GATHERING+%2792

This is such a nice opportunity for the band and me personally. The Gathering is my favourite Dutch band, I've been a fan since 'Mandylion' came out and their atmospheric sound has definitely influenced Akelei's music. I didn't really know the band at the time of their debut album 'Always...' but I remember seeing the video for 'King for a Day' on TV and thinking it looked very mysterious, hehe. They will be playing 'Always...' in its entirety. We're looking forward to this one a lot and hope to see you all there!

Cheers,

Misha

Watching Varúð by Sigur Rós

 

To Dordrecht (16 april 2012)

Our first gig for 2012 is at Dordrecht Doom Day II on May 12. We will play a new song so be there! The time schedule is as follows:

 

Misha

Reading: Doomboy by Tony Sandoval

 

Holiday greetings, end-of-year lists, plans (24 december 2011)

This year's last blogpost will serve no other purpose than to tell you what (at least in our humble opinions) are 2011's finest album releases. I asked everyone in the band to submit their own top-3 and the result of that is below. (There are actually 2 #1's on my list but I just can't choose one over the other. Tough.)

One more note though. In case you're wondering if we have recorded any new music. The answer is no. We're still writing and yes, it takes a lot of time. We will for sure record new songs in 2012 though. We will also do shows in the Spring where we will play some of that new stuff. More news when we have it! Now, the lists:

Misha

1. Omit - Repose
1. Carceri - The Good Must Suffer the Wicked
2. Anna Calvi - S/T
3. Other Lives - Tamer Animals

Ward

1. Spinvis - Tot Ziens Justine Keller
2. Tycho - Dive
3. The New Vultures - About Time

Pascal

1. Omega Massif - Karpatia
2. Mournful Congregation - The Book of Kings
3. True Widow - As High As the Highest Heavens and from the Center to the Circumference of the Earth

Harm

1. Black Stone Cherry - Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
2. Arctic Monkeys - Suck It and See
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You

Merlijn

1. Dustin O'Halloran - Lumiere
2. A Winged Victory for the Sullen - S/T
3. Nils Frahm - Felt

Oh OK then, one more thing before I go. Happy holidays! Merry Yule/Christmas/Solstice/Hanukkah etc. and best wishes for 2012!

Misha & Akelei

 

Video and images from Brainstorm (9 november 2011)

We have two videos from last week's gig for you. Thumbs up go out to Erhan and Ramona for filming and uploading their footage. You can find them on this improvised video page.

Also check out Peter's MetalRaid. He gave us a link to this photo gallery. Thank you Peter!

Got pictures or video you want to share? Get in touch!

Misha

Listening to Celestial Season - Decamerone 2011

 

Debut album's 1st year anniversary, Brainstorm fest (6 november 2011)

So today it is exactly one year ago that we released 'De Zwaarte van het Doorstane' at the Dutch Doom Days IX festival. The album has gotten only positive reviews and has sold a nice amount of copies. We would have played more gigs but physical injury and lack of a bass player meant that we had to turn down a few offers. Those annoyances proved temporary though and yesterday we finally had an opportunity to show ourselves on stage again, at the Brainstorm festival in Apeldoorn. It was a good experience and we enjoyed playing there. It was Harm's stage debut with Akelei and he did a great job. We sold and signed quite a few cd's after the gig. Thanks to everybody who came out to see us, talked to us and bought a cd! We also thank Raffi and co. as well as Gigant for creating such a premium event and for taking care of us and the other bands so well. We will share pictures and video of the gig when we get them.

Misha

P.S. If you're on Twitter, you can follow us at https://twitter.com/#!/Akelei_NL

Listening to Samaris - Hljóma þú (Muted remix)

 

New gig and Omit and stuff (5 oktober 2011)

Hey there! Finally back with some news. We're doing a gig again. We will play at the Brainstorm festival in Apeldoorn on Saturday the 5th of November. That's one day short of the first anniversary of our debut album. And it will be our first show with Harm on bass. Our set will be 30 minutes and we're the first band on that day so hopefully people show up early for some doom. Bands performing after us include Cirrha Niva and Becoming the Archetype. You'll find a flyer with the complete line-up below this post. Tickets can be ordered at http://www.brainstormfestival.bigcartel.com/

If you haven't heard already, Secret Quarters released Omit's debut double album last month and you should check it out. It features Cecilie Langlie (from our Duett) on vocals. Definitely much better news from Oslo than the tragic and shocking events that took place there in July… It's the best doom metal album I've heard all year and one of the best debuts in several years. The music is highly atmospheric and emotional with classical arrangements, including strings, piano and lengthy compositions. Hear samples here and order the double cd (5 songs, 85 minutes) here. Essential album, not to be missed!

So what has Akelei been up to in the last couple of months? The answer is quite simple and perhaps boring: writing. Just as I thought we had some promising songs nearing completion, I got tired with how they sounded and decided to rewrite and rearrange everything. The focus now lies on creating ever-developing segments instead of repeating the same parts over and over again. That's enough challenge as it is but we're also incorporating new instruments and vocal arrangements. I daresay the next album will sound rather different from the first! I can't give away much at all just yet, but I can tell you this is a passionate learning process, sometimes painful, often slow, but always deeply rewarding.

That's it for now. Let me close off with a nice quote on music:
...The history of mankind is the history of searching for distraction and justifying its purpose. From the birth of art on cave walls, to the creation of gods, from the invention of medieval love, to the philosophies of today’s existentialism and pursuit of happiness, mankind has desperately tried to live beyond the confines of the physics that shackle him. But no matter how hard you shout above those voices at the back of your head, you will eventually hear them. And this is reflected in music, the great spiller of our secrets...

Thank you, Beerman (and cheers)

Misha

Listening to Other Lives - Tamer Animals


 

What we are listening to (18 juli 2011)

Although there isn't much group activity to report on during the summer months, what with band members away on holiday and the rehearsal space closing for a month, we want to keep the blog updated anyway so here's an idea that might entertain/inform/inspire/annoy/confuse* you. I asked everyone in the band which song they currently have on heavy rotation, preferably something recent, and to explain what makes this band or song so great. It will give you an insight into our listening habits, which surprise surprise aren't always what one might expect from a bunch of doomsters.

*Select which applies

I'd much rather be enjoying outdoors activities but this Dutch summer has so far been a persistently rainy one and I've had my fair share of soaked adventures. So today I'm inside, working on music, writing this blog. We're finding a way to embed these video's on our site, by the way, but for now you'll have to just click the links and Enjoy the Music! (Alternatively, visit our Blog o Doom on WordPress, embedding does work over there.)

Merlijn: Goldmund (Keith Kennif) - Nihon

This song was written right after the earthquake that hit Japan in March 2011. The track is featured on an extensive compilation album in an effort to raise money for the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. The reason why I chose this particular song is the same reason why I like everything Keith puts out under his Goldmund moniker; the sound of a piano, played softly, with restrained and melancholic arrangements. There's a certain fragility present in his playing which I love, as he tends to leave all the creaking noises from the piano in the final mix. Music like this ends up in my headphones at least a few times a week.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEt4IveLA9o

Pascal: Agalloch - Into the Painted Grey

Agalloch is a band I fell in love with many years ago, shortly after the release of their second album 'The Mantle' in 2002. Musicwise it's a mixture of black metal, folk and some heavier (doomlike) stuff, yet filled with layers upon layers of melody. This song is from their latest effort 'Marrow of the Spirit', an album that amazed me from the first second I put it on (not counting the intro then of course hehe). The only bad thing about Agalloch is that it's really not a live band, because the songs are too layered to be played with the current setup of musicians, but on the other hand, the way in which they present their songs in a live situation adds some new and interesting stuff to the compositions. Definitely check them out when you have the chance!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7hYXER8x0s

Harm: Insomnium - In the Groves of Death

(In an email from Spain:) This song is long, epic and built up very well. It's about someone who experiences hard times, who has lost the will to carry on and screams out his despair. However, at the end of the song there is a sense of hope and encouragement in the words, giving strength to carry on. Today I was on a train with this song on my headphones as we were passing through a tunnel and all was dark. That just really seemed to suit the song, it somehow made sense. I really got a kick out of that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9QCK6l6gKg

Ward: The Gadsdens - The Sailor Song

There is a handful of recordings of this little-known English band on Youtube. As far as I can tell they are currently working on their debut album. Everything about this song moves me; the melody, the vocals, the lyrics. It is a very simple and pure composition, there are no odd transitions/rhythm shifts/sound effects here. The song precisely captures the feeling of not being enough for someone else, no matter what you do, and the feelings of powerlessness and restlessness that come with it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUcdobQxrRU

Misha: Foster the People - Helena Beat (live in Brisbane)

It's difficult to pick only one song from this album as they're all great in my opinion. 'Torches' is Foster the People's debut album but you can't tell from the quality of the songwriting nor from the clever arrangements. What I like so much about the music is that it feels airy and fresh yet warm and nostalgic. And above all: incredibly catchy. I don't play a lot of poppy music but I've been listening to 'Torches' pretty much daily since it came out, it really is rather addictive. If you like MGMT, you will enjoy FTP too. The video below shows the band performing in Brisbane, Australia. An official video for the song will be released soon. They're playing the Lowlands festival next month, which makes me wish I had a ticket. If you do, go see them!

http://vimeo.com/21927793

Cheers,

Misha & Akelei

Ramblings (8 juli 2011)

The lyrics mentioned in the last post are finished. For now. The song's almost done too, but it needs one more part to give it more edge. I did a recording of the vocals here at home to hear what it will sound like. It's still weird, listening to my own words, coming from my own mouth. These lyrics are more personal and direct than anything I've written before. I'm wondering if they're too personal, if that's possible. Or maybe it's just too soon. Maybe. Time mellows emotions however, and emotion makes powerful music so waiting is not always better. In fact, if you come out of a difficult situation and the first thing you do is to pick up an instrument and write a song about it, like right after, isn't that the most compelling piece of music you can think of? Confused, angry, unbalanced perhaps, but so powerful! Alas, it will take a while longer before we can start recording the new songs, this is a band effort after all, but I daresay the wait will be worthwhile.

Thank you for sticking around,

Misha

Listening to Anna Calvi - The Devil

Just watched: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

iTunes, strings and words (3 juli 2011)

Good news: our debut album is finally available on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/de-zwaarte-van-het-doorstane/id445699104

Last Friday we had another rehearsal session in Tilburg, our last before the summer holiday. Ward brought along his friend Merel, who plays violin very well. We jammed a bit and we all agreed it sounded sweet. So we're working on a new song together. If you love the warm, acoustic violin parts of old Celestial Season (especially the 'Solar Lovers' album) as much as we do, you definitely have something to look forward to!

I was penning lyrics for our new song yesterday. Still the most demanding part of the writing process. It literally takes me hours to produce 4 lines that I can live with. And I may still decide to rewrite those. (Un)fortunately, there is plenty of fresh inspiration, it's just a matter of finding the right words and setting them to music. It's all rather personal stuff, but I want everyone to hear something they can relate to.

Hope your summer is good (or winter, for you Southern Hemisphereans),

Misha

Line up news (26 juni 2011)

Last Friday we had the first rehearsal with our new bass player Harm. Our line up is complete again, at last! Harm's the youngest guy of Akelei, he's 20, but he has been playing bass for some years now and he was plucking along nicely during a run of our set. We're also going to share some vocal parts, background and harmonies and the like, and that's something we want to employ more in the new songs. Little choir parts like the one on 'Dwaaluur' and entwined vocal melodies. We're having one more band rehearsal before the summer break and we'll be back in Tilburg after August. We really want to do shows in the fall as it's been a quiet half year for us. So get in touch now if you want some Dutch doom on your stage.

Misha

P.S. Here's a photo we had taken right after Friday's rehearsal:



>Merlijn, Misha, Ward, Harm, Pascal

Akelei zoekt bassist (m/v) (7 februari 2011)

 
We zoeken een bassist(e). Josha krijgt het te druk met Carceri en een nieuwe Delftse band dus wij zoeken iemand die bij ons wil komen bassen. Repetities vinden doorgaans plaats in Tilburg op vrijdagavonden. We hebben wat voorkeuren:

Leeftijd: 20-35
Liefst iemand die 5-snarige bas speelt.
Moet kunnen zingen(!)

Geïnteresseerden kunnen reageren via info[at]akelei[punt]org

Update (31 januari 2011)

Welcome back music lovers, time for an update.

We played our first show since the album release in November, our eleventh in total by the way, two Saturdays ago at dB's in Utrecht. It was a DIY-deal, which basically means you rent the venue and get to organise your own show. We'd done it before in 2008, together with Machinist & Industrial Passage and Heavy Lord and really enjoyed that experience so we figured we'd try it again. Sharing the stage with us this time around was Hymir, a local group that specialises in performing an atmospheric blend of death- and black metal and slightly symphonic touches. They also released their first album in the previous year, you can check it out on their Bandcamp. The turn out was satisfactory, meaning: not crowded but still a sizeable group of people, not counting the bands. We broke even, also because we sold a couple of cd's after the gig. A last.fm-user that goes by the name of 'LastSilence' took some pictures with her "old and dying camera", as she explained later but it sure did capture the essence of an Akelei-show. I'll post the pictures below.

On a sad note: the Utrecht gig was Josha's last with us. He's getting ready with his long-time death metal compadres in Carceri to unleash their looong awaited debut album 'The Good Must Suffer the Wicked' and won't be able to combine this with playing bass for Akelei. We understand his decision of course and thank him for the good times. Josha is a friend (and my brother) so in no way does this mean we won't be seeing each other anymore.

Also, we did two interviews, our first. They're both in Dutch and can be found here and here. And we made the end-of-year list at Zware Metalen. We ended up on the 11th spot, just 5 points short of beating Immolation to a place in the top 10! I'll compile a list of reviews here:

Aardschok magazine (Dutch) had a positive review as well but it's not online. Here are some pictures from the gig with Hymir:











Misha

Downloading available again (8 december 2010)

Downloading temporarily unavailable (7 december 2010)

Due to an increased number of downloads, we've run out of the 200-free-per-month download credits provided by Bandcamp much faster than we had anticipated. That's 200 in 1 week, quite a lot for a band like us. Additional downloads are being ordered but this will take up to a few days so we ask for your patience. One solution would be to charge money for downloads but we don't like the idea so much. Check back later this week for updates on our Bandcamp status.

Other wordly developments have suddenly, and rather unexpectedly, called for a review of PayPal, a website for making international payments. Akelei will no longer use their services, that much is clear. Where we go from here is not. Bank transfers between European countries are not a problem but we will need an alternative for orders from other parts of the world. In any case, if you want to buy our album, please get in touch through info [at] akelei [dot] org and we'll find a way.

Stay true,

Misha

Review, stats and a broken bone (26 november 2010)

The album got a fantastic review at zwaremetalen.com. It's in Dutch, and for those of you who don't speak it, a short summary: 95/100  To show you the immediate impact of the review, here's an impression:

There's a review in English, but it discusses only the album's first song. The name of the blog was so unlikely that it made me laugh at first but it soon became clear the author takes the music he writes about very seriously. And well written it is. So here's a link to No Clean Singing!

In less fortunate news: Merlijn broke his collar bone shortly after the show in Rotterdam. He expects to be healed and able to play guitar again in January. We do have some shows in the pipeline for the next year but nothing definite yet, so check back for details. We'll install a gig list on the site as soon as we have more info to share. Or follow us on Twitter and be the first to know.

Misha

Après-doom (10 november 2010)

We had a good time at Dutch Doom Days IX last weekend. The gig went really well, we had some difficulties with the vocals and there wasn't any reverb on them but these are minor details. We played a 40-minute set consisting of four songs:

1.       Verlangen

2.       De Zwaarte

3.       Meer Dan Je Ziet

4.       De Zin (die ik verloor)

This was our first gig in a year's time and the first to have both Ward and Josha providing backing vocals. We could have used a few more rehearsal sessions for that but it's hard enough already to find time to practise as we all live in different cities. Still, we got much positive feedback from those who were at the concert, so we figure we did a good job. It felt good to be on stage again. We definitely enjoyed ourselves and are looking forward to the next show.

The cd sold quite well. We have a 'Pay-What-You-Want' policy at shows which allows people to do exactly that. It means no more having to choose between bus fare and cd. You'll have enough for both. Or the cd plus another beer. But the fact is, people were paying on average the amount we hoped they would pay for our cd, which is not so much a relief as it is reaffirmation of something we already knew: doom fans care about their bands. And we care right back The response we've been getting about the album has been very very positive so far and is reflected in the growing number of listeners on last.fm as well as the number of downloads on bandcamp.

I haven't seen any photos of our gig online yet but our friend Wouter did upload a video of 'De Zwaarte' to Youtube, so you can watch that if you weren't there. We'll have another video online shortly.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jzpbYLhS3s]

Bye for now and thanks for listening/watching!

Misha

Duett & Doom Days (1 november 2010)

There's a blog post from April that tells all about the album's 5th song, Duett. Scroll down to find it or click here.

Now that Duett is uploaded, the online album is complete. You can stream or download (in any desired format) the entire work or pick out seperate songs.



Or buy the actual cd from us! The cd comes in a 3-panel, full-colour digipak with the song lyrics and the band photo included. The front cover is from a painting by our friend Yara Jumelet, who also made the painting we used for Promo '08. Find more of her incredible works here.

To order the cd, send an email to info [at] akelei [dot] org

This past month we have been rehearsing for our first gig in a year: Dutch Doom Days IX, at the Baroeg in Rotterdam. That will be the official release for the album so we hope lots of people show up. We play at 17:20, on the Saturday. If you read this and you're coming over, have a chat with us at the merchandise table.

I hope to return here after the weekend with pictures, video, stories and more! See you then,

Misha

Your shipment of awesome has been delivered (27 oktober 2010)

To see that yellow DHL-truck appear down the street and come to a halt in front of the house was just lovely.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five hundred of these, no kidding. They look great, it's everything that we want. We had them made at DeCDperserij.nl and they did a fine job. Service was great and the work got done within the specified time frame.

They are available for ordering from the band:

info [at] akelei [dot] org

Misha

Een Droom in 6/8 (25 oktober 2010)

We'll let the music do the talking.

Song #3: De Zwaarte (18 oktober 2010)

This song is arguably the heaviest of the bunch. Electric Wizard's album 'We Live' inspired to write the main riff, 'nuff said. There's also a chorus of sorts, without singing. Maybe that doesn't make much sense but it feels like a chorus so that's what we call it. For this part I recycled a melody from my drone/doom project, adding more layers and rearranging it for three guitars + bass.

The fact that we have three guitar players in the band allows us to play many melodies simultaneously and we try to make the most use of it. So, for example, we can have double leads while keeping one guitar on the riff. Some people have asked us why we don't use keyboards instead. I think the answer is that we just love this sound more. I really can't imagine Akelei with keyboards. (Maybe a piano some day, but only a real piano will do.)

Lyrically, this song is a bit detached, not as personal as the others. I had this idea in my head that bad things will always happen in our lives, regardless. There are few warnings and there is no fairness in life. To worry about what may come is a waste of time. The only insight lies in hindsight: learn from the past to answer the questions of today. But first we must learn to accept the way things are. A brave 18-year old girl from Kristiansund put it this way:
"Face your fear. Accept your war. It is what it is."

Misha

Meer Dan Je Ziet (and a word of advice) (11 oktober 2010)

The idea for this song started with a melody from almost 10 years ago. There is a crappy recording of a jam session with it that sometimes resurfaced while reorganising cd's and files at home and it was always nice to hear again. There never was any real attempt to work it out into a song however. So it was left alone for the time being.

Much later, during a period when it came up every time I picked up a guitar or sat down at a piano, I decided that I wouldn't write another song if not this one first. Meanwhile in my head, the melody had evolved into a ¾ time for string orchestra, which was an entertaining thought but not very useful. It had to somehow work on electric guitar for Akelei.

Keeping the flow (1, 2, 3…), I wrote a part to fit the first one. The new part was interesting because it needs an extra bar to work well. It is also a riff that wants to go on and on, which is something we like in doom. It makes for intros that last longer than the average rock song and, in this case, it really ties the song together. The first half of it anyway.

In the rehearsal room we jammed on another new riff which felt so good that we immediately added it to 'Meer Dan Je Ziet', making it a lot heavier in the process. The heaviness felt good too, and allowed for the kind of finale where everything just kind of 'falls into place'. The end was definitely easy to write, although it may not sound it. It was as if the song pushed it into one direction.

Unfortunately, the lyrics didn't write themselves. As is the problem with all personal subjects, it is hard to decide on what to share and how. In a way, this very problem was what I started writing about. Lamenting the failure to speak one's heart when it matters most. The hurt to see the loss it causes. It wasn't easy. Then, I found truth in a friend's quote:
"Being careful kills the soul."

Misha

Verlangen means desire (7 oktober 2010)

The first song on our album isn't very new. We have played it on every show with Merlijn and Josha in the band. We figure it's a good opener because most of our fans know it, especially with a demo recording of the song online for over a year now. It's also very representative of our style, featuring all of the elements that are so typical of Akelei and introducing some new ones too.

I wrote 'Verlangen' at the end of 2006, although the final version came about in 2007. This version owes much to the band's rehearsal sessions. I wrote older songs like 'Pijnschrift' before Akelei even existed so there was no input from anyone else. That changed when we started to rehearse regularly and I got a lot of feedback from Ward, particularly regarding song dynamics and tempo shifts. For 'Verlangen' it resulted in restructuring the second half of the song. You can hear an increase in breaks as the song builds up toward the second verse, only to fall quiet again, but not for long. It's this contrast of heavy/light that keeps the style so interesting to play, certainly in a live setting.

This is also the first of two songs featuring Ward and me singing together. Singing harmonies is great. It adds so much warmth to the music that you can not create any other way. We're definitely going to have more of these vocal harmonies in our new songs.

As for the lyrics… Well, to put it in Sarah McLachlan's words: "I have the sense to recognise that I don't know how to let you go". That's just it, missing the person you love and being unable to let go. 'Verlangen' means desire and it does many things. Desire brings people together, breaks them apart, controls their thoughts. And I'm sure that desire can reunite people as well, if only they would allow it to happen. Mostly a matter of putting heart over mind, the mind being a terribly complicated thing that doesn't want to be understood anyway.

Right?

Misha

Album updates (1 oktober 2010)

Welcome back! There hasn't been much news from our side in the last months, but as the temperature drops and the days get shorter, we're getting back in the mood for doom. (I mean, more than usual.) We did finish the design and lay out this week and sent it to the printer along with the master. And as we wait for 500 cd's to arrive on the doorstep, I'm going to give you some updates.

First of all: the album's title is 'De Zwaarte van het Doorstane' (translation: the burden of the experience) and it will be released on the 6th of November at this year's Dutch Doom Days IX in Rotterdam. Yes, the guys from Baroeg offered us a spot on the bill, for which we are very grateful indeed! This will be the perfect opportunity for us to release the album as it is one of the biggest annual events in the scene with doom metal fans coming in from many different countries. We actually played our very first show at the DDD three years ago and got some very positive reactions then. One can only hope that the response will be even warmer this time around.

Second: the album's tracklisting:

1.       Verlangen

2.       Meer Dan Je Ziet

3.       De Zwaarte

4.       Een Droom in 6/8

5.       Duett

If you scroll down to a post from way back in February, you'll see that 'Dwaaluur' didn't make it to the final cut. The reason for this is that, after deep consideration, it just felt better as a stand-alone track. The new opener 'Verlangen' is more representative of the album and 'Dwaaluur' just didn't quite fit in anywhere else. We still love it though and it's on Bandcamp where you can download it for free. Demo recordings of 'Verlangen' and 'Meer Dan Je Ziet' have been online since September but will soon be replaced by the album versions. The changes in the songs are not big but the intro to 'Meer Dan Je Ziet', for example, is greatly improved.

And lastly: in the coming month we're going to upload the album to our music page one song at a time. Every week we'll publish another track for you to stream, download, share and get to know. Each submission will be accompanied by 'thoughts behind the music', reflecting on the writing process and lyrics. We're very aware that once the album is out, it will be freely available from various other sources anyway, but we hope people will bother to visit our site and get it from us first hand. After we release the physical album at the DDD, we will make it available from our website as well. Stay tuned for more information on that.

For now, we take our hat off to you and pass it around because we're crazy like that.

Be back soon!

Duett (8 april 2010)

A few years ago, I got the idea for writing a bilingual duet. The idea first popped up in my head when listening to Norwegian band Skumring, and the voice of Cecilie Langlie in particular. Her beautiful vocal work is one of the reasons why their debut album 'De Glemte Tider' is so deeply affecting. Other male/female duets gave me inspiration, like Bjørn Eidsvåg & Lisa Nilsson's song 'Mysteriet Deg', which has Norwegian and Swedish lyrics. Another example is Kent with 'FF', which is sung in Swedish and French.

In the case of Akelei, the duet would have to be in Dutch and Norwegian. Moreover, I wanted to construct lines that could be sung together, having words with same meanings and sounds in both languages. I asked Cecilie if she would like to participate in this project and luckily she agreed to record vocals for a song that had yet to be written! There were some suitable parts and ideas in my head at the time but it took me about 2 years to finish the final composition of music and lyrics. Other versions were written, demoed and trashed. The version that made it in the end is actually the third or fourth version, I'm not really sure about that number.

Although Dutch and Norwegian have many similarities, actually constructing sentences that would fit together and also made sense proved to be a real challenge. Grammar got in the way most of the time and there were also oddities such as Dutch 'jij' (meaning 'you') sounding exactly like Norwegian 'jeg' (meaning 'I') that were best avoided. I learned Norwegian while living in Oslo 8 years ago, so I got off to a good start, but still needed Cecilie's assistance in checking for mistakes. The whole thing had to sound as natural as possible, rather like streams of thought than the weighing of every word and syllable. I think I have succeeded in that the words flow together naturally and do not sound forced.

The lyrics deal with the experience of isolation due to an incapability of communicating with others. Initial silence between strangers can have a paralysing effect on their relationship when neither party has the guts or the wits to break that silence. This theme fits so well because the 2 singers stick to their own languages, their own worlds, and thereby stay 'out of reach' for each other. Even when their thoughts and feelings converge time and again, and even follow parallel lines, they may never know. And from all this thinking and worrying a melody arises and unites them in a duet...

So that's the story for this song, which was a long time in the making. Now that the recordings are behind us, and to see that the ideas actually work, well... it's very rewarding. Plus this is probably the first nedernorsk doomduet ever, so it even has the feel of a novelty ;) Can't wait for you to hear it.

Misha

Doom we can believe in (14 maart 2010)

There was another short entry about an additional vocal session together with Ward but somehow it never appeared on the blog and I didn't feel like re-typing it. So here's the final update on the recordings: it's done. It's been 95 hours of hard work and we're glad to say it's a wrap. The last visits to Independent were spent on adding vocals from Norway and re-recording mine to the duet, then mixing. After discussing the idea for the first time about 3 years ago, 'Duett' has really turned into something nice, I should add. Cecilie from Omit (recording their album as we speak) and Skumring surpassed our expectations of what she would do with the song. Not only did she use the melodies I proposed, she also added a few of her own, as well as harmonies and an elaboration at the ending of the song. Beautiful! I'll explain what the Dutch & Norwegian lyrics are about in a later post.

Now that the album is mixed and mastered, the next step will be designing artwork and packaging for the cd. More on that later.

Misha

Vocals (3 maart 2010)

Now that all the drums and guitars are recorded, we moved on to singing last weekend. For me, this is the hardest part of the recording process. I've never thought of myself as a good singer nor have I ever had any vocal training. Akelei has looked for someone with better skills before but never succeeded. So we've been 'stuck' with my voice and that can be frustrating at times. I don't think I sound particular in any way and try to compensate by injecting more emotion. This has helped me several times while playing live but these studio recordings prove to be another challenge.

We're actually using a very good microphone which is a world of difference from the crappy €30 mics we're used to working with at home for our demos. It's strange to hear everything so clearly, almost alarmingly so. You rub against your shirt, the mic catches it. You tap your shoe to the beat, it gets recorded. It takes some getting used to but I'm eager to get the job done without much further ado and so go right into the first 2 songs, which are 'Verlangen' and 'Meer Dan Je Ziet'. We've been playing these songs for a while now so I thought I'd get an easy start, singing the words I know best by now.

Even with hours and hours of rehearsals, preparations and demo-recordings behind me, I'm quick to realise my limitations as a singer. I can't hold a note very long, unless I sing at the top of my lungs and then the air runs out pretty fast. Moreover, I think my voice sounds too thin and lacks depth. We resort to double tracking the vocal lines to deal with that issue which means I have to sing everything twice. I love singing so it's not a problem, it just takes more time to get the job done. After finishing most of the parts for these 2 songs we call it a day. We keep the sessions shorter than usual so I don't wear out my voice too much.

The next day it's time to record the intro to the album's opening song. For this I've invited 3 friends/special guests; 2 girls and 1 guy, of whom I knew they could sing. We start by working on a melody that I had written but not elaborated on. Within the first hour we've added 2 counter-melodies and we rehearse the piece until it's ready to be recorded. We do 4 takes to stack up 16 voices and then listen to the result. It sounds amazing, like a real choir! We're very pleased with ourselves. After the thank-yous and good-byes, Q and I continue on the same track, this time to add my solo verses. I only finished the lyrics the night before but singing them goes according to plan and it turns out to be one of the easier takes so far.

On Sunday I have 2 more songs to sing: 'De Zwaarte' and 'Duett'. The first one goes really well. It doesn't need many takes to nail and so we experiment a little with the final chorus and add harmonies. 'De Zwaarte' means 'the weight' and it's a good title because I think this is the heaviest song I've written yet! No quiet parts, just full-on riffage. DOOM! 'Duett' however is not so easy for me. The verses contain long notes and don't offer much to hold on to, also because half of the words are to be sung by C, who lives in Norway and will send her recordings by email. We decide to pause on this song until we have C's parts.

And that wraps up another weekend at Independent Recordings. We're getting close to the mixing stage and I'm just so ready to hear the end result. It's been a month now and I want to let people hear what we've been up to. Also, I want to get busy with designing the album and launching a website to promote it. But as the Rules of Doom go:
86. Don't release any of your tracks on the internet, so people can't find out how you sound. And when you do finally release your album, release it on an obscure label from Australia that refuses to distribute any of the 500 printed copies.

92. Re-re-re-re-release your demo on tape or vinyl, but not on cd, and make sure no one ever will be able to buy it.

164. Make sure at least one member of your band owns a record label otherwise you'll never release anything other than CD-Rs.

...Sooo I guess it's all been for nothing.

Misha

Bass lines (20 februari 2010)

The previous week we didn't manage to record ALL the guitar parts so last Friday Pascal came back and we finally nailed those last bits. Whew. It took us 4 days in total to record the guitars for this album. That's 1 more day than I had thought beforehand, actually. Today I went in and recorded bass parts to 4 of the songs. I'm not a bassist, so most of the lines I play consist of ground notes of the guitar chords, but I do try to add something extra to these parts. Perhaps a bit of swing, if nothing else, haha. Anyway, it's Q's birthday and he had visitors coming over to celebrate so we quit early. Tomorrow we'll be back for the remaining 2 songs and bass re-amping.

Here's a list of the gear we use(d) for the recordings:

Drums: TAMA Starclassic Performer kit & Birch snare

Guitars: Ibanez RG 7-string for chords, leads and some clean picking, Gibson Les Paul standard for clean parts

Amps: ENGL Fireball + Peavey 5150 II for chords and leads, Orange AD140 for clean parts

Cabinet: Marshall cab loaded with Celestion V30's

Guitar effects: Digitech HardWire RV7 for reverb, and some delay box but I forgot which. + PlusEBow.

Bass: Ibanez Soundgear 5-string

Bass amp + cab: Aguilar

 

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="870" caption="guitar used on the recordings"][/caption]

 

 

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="720" caption="guitar used on the recordings"][/caption]

 

 

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="bass guitar used on the recordings"][/caption]

 

Misha

Guitar weekend (14 februari 2010)

So, last week we laid down all the drum tracks. This weekend we are recording guitars. Quintijn and I had a successful session on Friday and managed to record rhythm parts to 4 songs in 5 hours. Today we finished the other 2 and right on time too as Pascal walked in to record his leads and clean parts. Man, that turned out to be a hell of a job. But what did we expect with 3 guitar players in the band and 20+ different layers in every song? Leads and clean picking need more attention as small mistakes are much easier to hear. So there were parts that required quite a few takes before we were satisfied. All in all, we spent over 12 hours in the studio today, which is actually an old cellar and not a big place at all. But the work and patience will be worth it! Listening to some finished takes, we are confident that this album will be great and essential for all lovers of doom, melancholic and atmospheric metal, or music in general, hehe. Also, I must mention that Quintijn Verhoef is a fine producer to work with. He knows what sounds best and has ear for details. We are definitely at the right place for our project. There's still lots of recording to be done. Merlijn is now going to record his doomed chords (actually, he's running away from carnaval in Tilburg) and then we'll work on some intros, hopefully rounding up all the guitar recordings for this album before the weekend is over.

You know, this is really hard work.

But someone's got to do it.

Misha

First day of recordings (7 februari 2010)

Ladies and gentlemen, we are recording! We dedicate this weekend to laying down the drum tracks for our first album. The plan is to record 6 songs over the course of several weekends at  Independent Recordings, a small but professional studio in the historical center of Utrecht. If all goes well tomorrow, and I trust that it will, guitars are coming up next week.



The (working) titles of the songs are as follows:

  1. Het Dwaaluur

  2. Verlangen

  3. Meer Dan Je Ziet

  4. De Zwaarte

  5. Een Droom

  6. Duett


Average song length is 10 minutes so this will truly be a 'full-length'. And now, I have some sleep to catch before we continue tomorrow morning...

Misha

Welcome to Akeleiblog (28 januari 2010)

Here we'll keep you updated on our band and the upcoming album recordings.

Listen and download @ Bandcamp

<a href="http://akelei.bandcamp.com/album/de-zwaarte-van-het-doorstane">De Zwaarte van het Doorstane by Akelei</a>