Updated: Nov 18, 2020
LOCATION: Devon, UK
GENRE: Atmospheric Black Metal
SIMILAR ARTISTS: Ghost Bath, Agalloch, Alcest
Today we are checking out Cistvaen, one of the few upcoming Atmospheric Black Metal bands from the south of England. Their masterful combination of slow paced crushing distortion and sombre melodies create an oddly calming soundscape that transports you away. Lyrically, their music draws great influence from the moody nature and folklore of Dartmoor.
FIVE QUESTIONS FOR CISTVAEN
This is the part where we get to ask the band a few questions. My questions today are for Lee Meade, lead guitarist of the band. Lets begin!
1. What inspired you to form Cistvaen?
ANSWER: At the time I decided I wanted to form Cistvaen, I was in another band called Edenfall. They're a superb gothic doom band from my hometown of Gloucester. I joined them soon after they released their second album 'Under Sultry Moons and Velvet Skies'. I joined them on a (very) mini UK tour and also played a show supporting Mortiis in Bristol with them. Absolutely recommend listening to them if you're a fan of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Draconian.
I really enjoyed my year in the band with them, they're really awesome guys and remain good friends of mine to this day. However, I learned that my passion for music is rooted in writing and composing my own songs and being more of a visionary. So I knew I wanted to form my own band, and in order to do this with my full focus, I decided to leave Edenfall. (I swear it was nothing to do with the fact that they made me wear make up!)
I was really getting into atmospheric black metal around this time, and so I wanted to form something that combined influences from gothic doom and atmospheric black metal with lyrical and aesthetic themes stemming from the area I used to live - Devon, and more specifically, Dartmoor.
2. What's the most unexpected influence you have for Cistvaen? (musical or otherwise)
ANSWER: Musically, I recently realised that I'm far more influenced by Nobuo Uematsu's compositions for the Final Fantasy game series than I ever cared to previously admit. The older games had no voice acting, so the music had to present all of the emotion and felling of the storytelling. The melodies I write may be simple, but I aim for them to be emotive and thought provoking.
Influences outside of music, I would say, quite unfortunately, my years I spent with depression. The headspace that I was in at the time certainly drove the more melancholic and doomier side of the music. A year has passed since I defeated depression and found happiness, and now I'm actually finding it harder to write songs with a similar, emotionally evocative nature!
3. Are there any plans in the near future for recorded material?
ANSWER: Yes! Finally! We had our first band practice since maybe February or March 2020 on Saturday, and we seriously discussed a plan to record music. We have a plan to enter the studio in December this year. It will be a 4 track EP of our older songs that people that have seen us live in the past will know.
4. Best Metal song to sing in the car?
ANSWER: Haha, great question! I loved singing along to Within Temptation's "What About Us?" in the car back in 2015 when they were due to headline Bloodstock. I was practicing for the day, and I nailed Tarja's part whilst they were performing, causing several people in the crowd to turn their heads as I was in full operatic mode.
Otherwise, I like to try and sing along to Dragonforce solos for as long as I can before getting out of breath.
5. What's the best live band you've seen?
ANSWER: really hard to choose one, although I do have one in mind.
First, though, please allow me to give a couple of honourable mentions:
Ghost Bath at Bloodstock 2016. I know a lot of people ended up laughing at them because of the vocal style, but I was there, down the front, 11am, hungover, and I fell in love with the band and also the genre that I love and play to this day. This performance is an important one to me personally, but not necessarily objectively the best.
Devin Townsend Bloodstock 2010 - everything went tits up for the band. None of their stuff arrived, everything was borrowed and they had a huge delay and a tonne of technical issues. However, Devin proved to be a God as he entertained the crowd before they started by joking with the crowd and goofing around. When they played, they played Deadhead, which I cried for. I have never been so emotionally thrown around as I had that show, and it started a 10 year long love affair with the man!
But the absolute best is a very obscure one. A band called The Canyon Observer played the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock 2014. They're a post-metal band from Slovenia and there was something about that set that took me to another dimension. I was just completely absorbed by the music, that when they finished playing, it was like I was waking up and returning to reality. I have never experienced that feeling before or since whilst watching a live band. Fucking incredible! Highly highly recommend their EP called "Chapter II: These Binds Will Set You Free"
Cistvaen have yet to released any recorded material, but several decent quality live recordings can be found online in the meantime.
Check them out on Facebook.