Cell :: Conceptual Cosmic Metal

by Chris Bryson

Winnipeg’s Cell are a band fully immersed in their sonic world of cosmic black metal. Cell’s vocalist and guitarist, who prefers to go by Hyperion when it comes to the band, has always been a fan of concept albums and their potential for emotional and narrative depth, and his eye for artistic detail and dedication to craft shows in the intricacies of his work.

“Growing up I know I personally floated towards the concept albums a lot. Because I found a lot of artists would put out more cathartic feelings in concept albums,” says Hyperion, who played in Inverted Serenity and Entity before Cell. “They make it look like it’s this big thing like it’s all made up but really if you look deep, there’s a lot of things that probably happened in their life that was relevant. You can break out of that shell and let go and that’s what I like doing with Cell, and what we do is we can be that alternate version of ourselves.”

The band’s upcoming sophomore release, Ancient Incantations of Xarbos, is a concept album that takes place in the same universe as Cell’s first record, The Frozen Moon of Erebath. Hyperion, a sci-fi guy, says it’s trippy, spacey, otherworldly stuff, leading from one planet on the last record to a new one on the next, with the world of Ancient Incantations of Xarbos being less techy, more primal and occult.

For the new album Hyperion wanted bigger, more modern sound, and says although there’s similarities between their first album and the new one, the production is night and day. “A lot of time was spent perfecting the drum sound, getting like a big sound,” says Hyperion. “I didn’t want anything sounding papery. The toms sound big. That was the biggest thing was we wanted the drums to sound big and stand out.”

The band worked with Jamie Sitar from Outta Town Sound for mastering the album. Sitar’s experience lies outside of Cell’s black metal realm, but Hyperion provided him with references like Goatwhore’s Constricting Rage of the Merciless and Watain’s Sworn to the Dark for mastering, and he’s super happy with how it turned out.

Cell’s sound is given a twist from the conventions of black metal by Hyperion’s love for hardcore and doom. “It kind of comes out a lot with my writing when I want to go midtempo or slower, I’ll just straight up jump into almost like an Electric Wizard, Conan riff, something in that realm,” says Hyperion. “You don’t hear that much in black metal, so we’re trying to shoot for something different I guess in that realm, and I love the way it sounds. I’m a pedal nerd. So getting the stacked fuzzes and distortions and like, really honing your tone, it’s really fun. We had a good time doing that.”

Hyperion is a fan of literature, physics, and comic books, and loves spending time incorporating elements of these along with personal experiences into in his lyrics. “Look hard into the lyrics,” says Hyperion. “There’s a lot of metaphors for what we do as humans to this planet. You’ll see it within the lyrics.”

Cell will be releasing Ancient Incantations of Xarbos on March 8 at The Park Theatre in their live performance corpse paint on a five-band bill with supporting acts Archagathus, Altars of Grief, Ossific, and Nocturnal Departure, and a limited run of a hundred CDs available.

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