Since the release of their debut EP Reverberations in 2018, the Montreal-based one-man black metal band Allelic has crafted idyllic and immersive black metal unlike the world has ever known. After finding ourselves simultaneously floored and uplifted by Simon “Principal Investigator” Lalonde’s sophomore full-length, À Contre Vent, we reached out to find out more about this fascinating project and the lone musician behind it.
À Contre Vent
First of all, what made you choose the name Allelic, pertaining to genes, for your black metal band?
What makes the sheer diversity of Earth-bound life that can be observed today is the outcome of the combined forces of genetics and the environment on all organisms. All life shares some genetic commonality, and also tons of variation, within and outside a singular species. The summation of all the unique alleles (a variant form of a gene) that we carry, coding or non-coding, will guide the expression patterns of our genes. This phenomenon, in combination with the environment, has guided evolution and explains the immense variety and beauty of the phenotypic outcome of all life forms of now or the ones that have been at any instances of time. This magnificent diversity is fascinating to me, and I wanted to honor that in trying to create music that was the singular expression of my inherent self. A celebration of this grandiose allelic landscape!
Where did you get the idea to make beautiful and uplifting black metal in the first place? What made you start Allelic?
As mentioned above, I wanted to write music that was unique, but also something that I would want to listen to, all within the limitation of my musical abilities. I also wanted to have a project where the narrative within an album is carried by all the dimensions possible: the artwork, lyrics, song titles, compositions, and instrumentation.
Like most one-man metal bands, I assume, it started by me buying the bare minimum to record music without any solid knowledge of how to do it. I initially just wanted to mess around with riffs and it slowly evolved into a vector for my musical ideas.
Are you a one-person band out of necessity?
I am not the most social creature there is, but I value my relationships and friendships. However, I am alone in this project mostly to be true to the vision I have for Allelic, which allows me to be free of any compromise.
On the other hand, I did vocals for another project’s debut EP and had such a blast doing it. It’s an awesome Americana/western BM band called Dark Watcher and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.
Where did the inspiration for À Contre Vent come from?
In reaction to The Smoke of Atavistic Fires [Allelic’s debut full-length], I craved to make an album entirely in my native tongue and to reflect a much more positive message. I wanted to tackle themes of self-growth, rejection of prejudices and expression of gratitude through a fictive parable with the Wolf protagonist.
What does the title mean to you and what do you hope it conveys to the listener?
“À Contre Vent” literally means “Against The Wind”, but it should be interpreted as the “against the grain” idiom. In the context of the story, the character of the Wolf goes through this rite of passage, a state of self-discovery that goes beyond what was expected of him. It now yearns to live true to Its deep-self, by steering the gene-environment interactions that shackled Its body in a direction set by Its heart and will. The Wolf ultimately succeeds in this awakening process, where It allows itself to be vulnerable, to be different from what was anticipated of It. From this point onward, the creature is grateful to what the universe has to offer and what It has to offer to it in exchange. Echoes from his celebration can be heard throughout the seasons. It ends with all beasts dancing together, seamlessly, with their souls bound together and to the Earth.
How has Allelic grown, in your eyes, across the three releases?
The first EP was only a demo of 2 tracks that eventually bookended the first LP. It was a major stepping stone for the scientific and Nature related themes tackled in Allelic. I was then able to realize a fully fledged concept release with TSoAF to the best of my capabilities, limited regarding the quality of compositions, technical abilities, and production skills. For À Contre Vent, I feel I have slightly improved in all those previously mentioned aspects, thus I am more satisfied with the end result. I think the latest album is more cohesive, yet diverse and more challenging, with a better mix and master in terms of sound production.
Your music reminds me of some bands but it is quite unique. Do you have a darker side to your music at all?
Thank you! I think listeners will be able to draw some comparisons to many bands leaning on the melodic and folk-infused side of BM. However, I listen to music that sits on a wide spectrum, from the most challenging disso-death to overblown Casio-laden BM, 70’s prog, hard/modal/post-bop/fusion jazz, dungeon synth, neofolk and many more. Anyways, my love for bands associated with the melodic/folk/atmo-BM scene (such as genre staples Panopticon, Windir, Bathory, Vintersorg, Agalloch, Saor and Enslaved just to name a few) can maybe seep through Allelic, but I tried to create a sound that was my own. The emphasis on acoustic guitar, the layers, the dynamic song structures, the language, the themes, and the sparse use of traditional French-Canadian folk are at the very core of Allelic.
There are darker moments throughout both albums. There is this almost funeral-doom part in the middle of ‘Fig. 2 – La Rupture des Chaînes’ on À Contre Vent, or the slight cacophony and mystical vibe of the first half of ‘Fig.4 – The Transformation’ on TSoAF. But I agree that a major portion of Allelic is bright, uplifting and melodic. However, it might be an emotion or imagery that I will tap on in future releases, who knows.
Your latest album seems to contain eco-conscious messages. Is conservation something you’re passionate about?
Yes. Preservation of the environment through sustainable development is a cause I have dear to my heart. I adhere to many eco-conscious practices in my daily life to the best of my capabilities, and with the tremendous help and ideas of my partner: vegetarianism, bike commuting, reducing energy consumption, zero-waste grocery, DIY ethics, etc. In my opinion, climate change and the ecological footprint of humans on the environment is the most important challenge we are facing and must address right now.
Several of your promo pictures show you hiking away into the woods, with your back turned to the camera. What is this saying, in your opinion, about who you are as a black metal musician and artist?
I know that the whole “walking in the woods” is a bit of a cliché in BM, but I chose those images very consciously. I want listeners to focus on the music, themes, and artwork. I think that is the main reason why I chose anonymity. However, I still had the desire to show a glimpse, a facet of myself that represents me and the project: my love of being in the wilderness and my gratitude to the beauty of Nature.
How did you go about recording À Contre Vent and how long did you spend working on the album total?
I started working on À Contre Vent not long after the release of TSoAF. I had the general concept worked out from the beginning. I took a bit of time to change my recording and mixing setup, then wrote and recorded the first 2 songs over a couple of months. Then, after a long pause, I finished Fig. 3 in late 2019 and Fig. 4 in early 2020. Recording at home allows me to take the time to record whenever I feel like it and have free time to do so. The only downside to this is being limited by my sparse knowledge in music theory, production and gear, but I am still extremely satisfied with the end result. My friend David Abbruscato has helped me tremendously with the mastering aspect, as well as the artwork layout and design of the Bandcamp page.
How does the finished product compare to what you originally had in mind when you first thought up the idea for this album?
I feel I have surpassed my expectations in all aspects. I love the diversity displayed in the instrumentation, atmospheres and emotions that can be found throughout the record. It feels like a complete journey. I think I have improved my songwriting skills and technical abilities, especially the drums, over the debut album. Overall, I am very satisfied how it turned out.
Where should interested parties go to purchase your music? How should interested labels contact you?
Allelic’s music can be purchased on a name your own price basis via my Bandcamp page, or if you prefer SoundCloud. It can also be listened to on a multitude of streaming platforms such as Spotify, Deezer or YouTube.
Anyone can contact me via my Bandcamp or SoundCloud page and I will be glad to answer any of your questions or requests!
What are your aspirations for this new record?
I already achieved my goals: to be satisfied and proud of the album. However, I would be thrilled to hear the insights and criticisms of more fellow disciples of the underground metal scene!