Group phone interviews aren’t the most enjoyable task to take on, but Edmonton’s Ides of Winter found a great deal of ways to make it bearable. The proud Canadian black metal quintet answered the phone while in the process of slugging back absinthe and watching Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Frontman Caesar Tiberius led a conversation that focused around creative pigeonholing, having fun within black metal and Minus Ten°, their debut full-length.

“This was our first kind of stab at it,” says Tiberius. “We’re still trying to find ourselves a little bit, but it feels pretty good to express ourselves and get some music out there. I’m really, really happy with the way it turned out.”

Tiberius – along with bandmates Lycaon Vollmond (guitars/vocals), Bolad Viscol (Guitars), Psychron Mithridate (bass) and Levatis Silvarum (drums) – recorded the album with Terry Paholek at The Physics Lab in Edmonton after doing pre-production on their own. The end result is a solid eight-song offering.

You’ll hear everything from Absu-esque blackened thrash, to raw, droning, classic blast-beat sections, to old school ‘90s symphonic black metal throughout. The best part though is that Minus Ten° encapsulates all these elements without ever sounding like a clone.

“We don’t really try to paint ourselves into a corner, so to speak. We’re all playing at our own inspirational levels,” explains Tiberius.

“We do put our own fun elements into it and we try not to be as cliquey as some of the other black metal and death metal bands and do just one type of music.”

This is also embodied by the band’s themes and imagery. Drawing from fantasy and general absurdity, they channel a distinct quantity of grimness into their lyrics, which draw inspiration from and directly reference the frost bitten frigidity of Canadian winter.

“A lot of bands claim that they’re proud to be Canadian but, in a sense, it seems like they are afraid to express how Canadian they really are through their music,” Vollmond muses.

In addition to being proud bearers of the maple leaf, Ides of Winter also takes great pride in having fun with their music and image, in direct contrast with the ideology of most grim black metal hordes. Solemnity is a key component in black metal and those who don’t align with this aspect often draw ire from their contemporaries.

“I think we do but we’re not preaching to the choir here,” counters Tiberius.
“At the end of the day, we go out onstage, we put on a show, and people pay money to see us. Our job is to entertain and put asses in the seats. That’s what entertainment is really about and I think a lot of people have kind of lost that.”

Unfortunately, much extreme metal has built up a reputation of being completely stone-faced and emotionless. Even the mighty Blasphemy stood around like a bunch of gargoyles when they came through for Noctis. War metal mongers are a unique breed and, comparatively speaking, it’s clear that Ides of Winter have far less in common with them than they do with Cradle of Filth, mixed with the costumed theatricality of GWAR.

“To take yourself that seriously is a joke in itself,” concurs Vollmond.

“Devin Townsend put it the best when he said, ‘We’re grown men screaming into a microphone. How serious can you be?’”

See Ides of Winter with Scythia, Loremaster, and Just Stay Fucking Dead on Saturday, December 14 at Lord Nelson’s Bar and Grill. 

By Brandon McNeil
Photo: Kylee Thompson

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