Interview by Aaron Beer
"The way I sound and the way I write melodies is essentially rooted in classical music.."
Marianne is a classically trained vocalist and front woman for doom bands such as In Eden Slain and Ligeia Wept. Having worked with the Victorian Opera and mainly in classical repertoire, Pierce is now making a unique name for herself in the metal community.
For me, her two bands have provided the perfect backdrop to those frosty Melbourne mornings as I whittle away learning how the fuck to transition from slinging beers to slinging words.
While both projects have their roots in doom metal, the two couldn’t evoke further emotions from each other. Ligeia Wept, a supergroup of Melbourne musos which also features Xenoyr from Ne Obliviscaris, Hayley from Aquilis and guest vocals by Emily of Suldusk, is symphonic-funeral-doom that is as theatrical as it is guttural. The kind of band you would hear at a party in the Draculas Mansion. Thick red velvet curtains giving way to the silhouettes of the band clouded in smoke, it’s that kind of visceral drama.
In Eden Slain have a more folk / death doom sound. The soundtrack to ghost stories around the campfire, both earthy and ethereal as if the music is coming up over the hills and whistling through the trees while you’re roasting marshmallows and quietly shitting your pants.
So, how did this classical training turn into the doom projects we hear today?
I have always loved heavy music, but didn't think about actually singing it until 2015 or thereabouts, when I met the founder and composer of Ligeia Wept, and eventually met Chloe and Raf and we started In Eden Slain.
How did In Eden Slain come about?
In Eden Slain sort of started a few years back when our bass player and extreme vocalist, Chloe, made a post in a Facebook group. Raf (lead guitar) and I responded and what was originally going to be a symphonic, almost power metal recording project turned into In Eden Slain. The final lineup and sound you hear today wasn't formed until we met the missing pieces of the puzzle - Ryan joined us on drums last year, and Luke on guitar at the start of this year.
What are your personal influences?
The way I sound and the way I write melodies is essentially rooted in classical music, but I also come from a family of musicians and music lovers - my parents and grandparents definitely had the biggest influence on my musicality. I love big epic melodies and will always favour feeling over virtuosity – I focus a lot on how the melody fits the lyrics and how I want the listener to feel. I listen mostly to doom metal – everything from Electric Wizard to My Dying Bride and Pallbearer. I also listen to quite a lot of black metal / post black, melodic death metal and folk metal.
How would you describe the sound of In Eden Slain?
I would say we are heavily influenced by melodic death metal of the 90s, elements of black metal, doom metal and folk metal. Raf is also classically trained in guitar, so we have a lot of classical influences from the two of us as well. The resulting sound I would probably describe as folk infused melodic death / doom… But have a listen and decide for yourself.
With many months of shutdowns in Melbourne affecting our ability to see our friends and band mates, musicians are having to adapt. How are you as a band connecting and staying creative during all of this?
We had a couple of weeks in the middle there where we could catch up and rehearse, but otherwise we have just been working on demos. We catch up every week on video chat and spend time finalising the last couple of songs for our first album and recording demos / pre-production. This means we should be in a relatively good position to start recording the album at the end of this year. We have also used this time to release our first two singles which are available on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and streaming platforms.
The classic arc of quarantine impacts so many of us. We have these urges to use this time to be creative or better ourselves that’s undermined by feelings of isolation and helplessness. How are you staying productive during all of this?
I am not going to lie, I have had waves of productivity dispersed between Netflix, but setting small goals that are achievable in this environment has helped, and not forcing it. Sometimes you are just not feeling it and that’s completely ok.
There’s a strong sense of storytelling in your music, what themes are you most drawn to write about?
The lyrics for our first album are heavily influenced by folklore and fairytales woven through personal stories. Our songs and actually the album start to finish are very narrative – a lot of the themes in our first album are around this idea of a Pyrrhic victory – where a victory inflicts such a toll on the victor that it is equivalent to a defeat.
So when can we expect any future releases?
If you haven’t already, you can check out our first two singles, let us know what you think and follow us on socials. We had some tees printed by Squid Ink as well, so keep an eye out for those, they should go on sale in a few weeks on Bandcamp. We are also working on a little collaboration with Mike from EOL Studios during lockdown – we don’t have an ETA on that yet, but you can follow us and EOL for updates, and check out Mike’s The Overcoming Project which is amazing. Aside from that, our album will be coming out hopefully early in 2021.
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You can check out Marianne’s projects here.
In Eden Slain