Saidan’s three-song demo Onryō: Vengeful Spirits In The Eastern Night came out Halloween 2020 and the underground is still buzzing over this red-hot, highly energetic debut from a mysterious American solo musician. By the time we reached out to find out more about the artist behind Saidan and their unique almost-uplifting black metal, two tape pressings of Onryō had already sold out.
We were nonetheless pleased to find that Saidan receptive to the idea of going on record to discuss their incredible demo.
“I was raised in a family of musicians and grew up playing mostly Bluegrass Guitar,” begins Saidan. “My father and brother got me into metal, which is how I eventually discovered the more extreme styles of the genre. I’m currently based out of Nashville. And as for other bands or projects I’m involved with, I’d rather keep that to myself.”
As you’ll gather from the demo title and the band’s aesthetics, rather than retreading the same old Scandinavian forests or European battlegrounds, Saidan’s black metal pulls its inspiration and thematic impulses from Asian folklore.
“Ever since I can remember I’ve loved Japan and the older I got the more I started looking into their folklore, ghost stories, and horror. The way I go about writing my music is very much based on Eastern melodies and chord structures which gives it the triumphant melodic sound.” The artist continues to explain, “The name Saidan means ‘Altar’ in Japanese and ‘Sacrificial Altar’ in Chinese. An altar is used in many religions and serves different purposes in each one. But I look at it as a place for sacrifice. Not in the killing sense. More as a place to lay out your feelings, emotions, thoughts. And when you leave the altar you come away new and sacrifice a part of yourself.”
Saidan recorded the demo on their own, pulling influences from all over the place. Including, but not limited to, Saidan says, “Balzac, Slayer, Horde, Kreator, MCR, Children Of Bodom [and] Vampirska.” Saidan admits, “There’s a heavy punk and thrash influence on my music which I know some people might not like because it’s not ‘black metal’ but I don’t care.”
Saidan continues to explain these these three songs “were recorded over the course of a few months in the summer of 2020.” They continue, “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put them out but after showing some people the tracks I decided to contact Forgotten Sorcery and the owner really enjoyed the songs and wanted to release them.”
They say, “There’s not much meaning on tracks 1 and 2 as I wanted to write about the ghost stories. But track 3 ‘Eien no nemuri’ translates to “Eternal Sleep” [and] is about mental health and overcoming depression.”
Saidan says they were surprised by “the amount of messages and comments [they received] from people and peers [talking] about how much they enjoyed the music. It’s made me excited to put out more stuff.”
Recently Saidan upped their game and potential simultaneously by enlisting a drummer. Saidan says, “I’ve known the entity called Shadosai for a few years now. They have been a part of the black metal world for a while under different titles. After Onryō was released I asked if they would like to join me and luckily they said yes. Adding a drummer has helped me further develop my sound and let’s me focus more on my lyrics and melodies.”
For those of you who missed out on getting a physical, there’s bad news and goods news. As Saidan explains, “After the original release we did a repress a month later which sold out. I’m not sure about another cassette pressing at the moment but there will be a vinyl release early this year through Jems Label!”
Since releasing Onryō, Saidan says they’ve “been hard at work with new music.” They tell us they “have a split coming out in February with the wonderful artist Klanen. Tapes will be available through Crown and Throne Ltd, followed by a vinyl pressing through Jems Label / Corrupted Flesh shortly after.”
“I will have more announcements over the next few months that I’m very excited about too,” Saidan promises. “I will leave you with a message that is familiar to anyone who has been following me so far. 起死回生 ‘Wake from death and return to life.’ Hails!”