Thirsty Thursday: Reviving the pulse of life, art, and doom with Aseethe’s Brian Barr

From No Funeral to Wretch, there’s something truly special going on right now in the Midwest. Aseethe, hailing from Iowa City, IA is just another underrated example. Packing a considerably heavy punch for a three piece recently turned two, Aseethe asserts a clear point of view on doom in their second full-length Hopes of Failure (2017). It’s a ride that’s oppressively pulsing, like when you lay down after a run and your blood is still rattling around while the rest of your body is spent. Whether you’re listening high as a kite or all too sober on a Tuesday morning, lesser-skilled doom outfits are defined by seemingly endless interludes of mindlessness with little to offer. But with Aseethe, no matter the context, you can always find the heartbeat, highlighting the beauty of having something to hold on to, to savor, instead of falling blind to what’s around you in pursuit of climax.

With Aseethe’s US leg with Bereft (WI) wrapped, guitarist/vocalist Brian Barr was kind enough to expand on the band’s influence and influencers.

DIAG – I see Aseethe as a distinct culmination of a lot of really interesting stuff happening in metal right now. There are central doom elements, of course, drawn out post-metal style interludes, and clean lines and minimalism in times of visual aesthetic, if the Sever the Head video is any indication. Are there any bands, or anything in particular, that really played a role in inspiring the sound on Hopes of Failure?

BB – Bands like Khanate, SunnO))), Neurosis, and Godflesh are probably the biggest influences on our sound. They are all bleak, and can be very minimal at times, sans Neurosis. Sonically we like to be crushing, and we think the minimalist approach works best.

DIAG – You know what I really appreciate? Bands who still put the time and effort into making videos. What’s the story behind Sever the Head, if you’re willing to share?

BB – Our label Thrill Jockey were the ones who approached us about doing a music video. I asked Josh Ford at Ford Photography about making the video. I really respect Josh’s work, and I knew he would do a fantastic job. I also have worked with Josh in the past doing a live score for one of his short films. So, I was comfortable working with him. The story line for the video was Josh’s idea, with a little input on our end. It’s very cinematic, and even though it has a horrific story line, it’s beautifully done. Josh and his wife Aimee did a fantastic job, along with a few other friends of ours. They shot the whole video in one day, and it was freezing outside.

DIAG – Your cover of Sabbath’s Rat Salad that you did for the Cvlt Nation Paranoid Sessions left me pretty shook. It’s funny — I’m so young that I really connect more with Sabbath covers, like yours or System of a Down’s cover of Snowblind, than I do with actual Sabbath (I acknowledge that statement might rustle jimmies out there, but oh well). What was your favorite aspect of taking on the song? Do you have any more covers planned for the future?

BB – That cover was weird, because how was a band like us supposed to cover Rat Salad, which is just a drum solo with some riffs on top of it. So, I decided to take all the single guitar notes and just write new riffs, with Black Sabbath’s bluesy swing in mind. I think in the end we are happy with how it turned out. We turned the shortest song on the album into the longest song. There is always talk of doing a cover, but no plans right now.

DIAG – I read a thought-provoking review of Hopes over on Heathen Harvest that recognizes Aseethe diverges from other post-metal in that drawn out periods aren’t “rewarded” with a peak. Is this a metaphor for a disbelief in happy endings, as the author suggests? Do things work out in the end?

BB – From a writing stand point we try not to fall into the usual trappings of post-metal, with the quiet-crescendo-heavy formula. Musically we attempt to create discomfort in the listener. Once again, we stick to a minimalist “less is more” approach to our music. It is meant to be crushing and heavy with little room for resolve.

DIAG – I’m having a quarter life crisis and could use your guidance. What do you think the relationship is between hope and failure? Is failure inherently negative and oppressive, or do you think it could be used a motivator that keeps us from growing too complacent or comfortable?

BB – Both, but within the context of the album, especially the art, failure is self-destructive. Humankind is knowingly on the wrong path, but lacks the will to do anything about it. At least the very powerful minority seems to not care about it. I do agree that fear of failure can hold a person back from achievements, and that if a person does fail, if they can learn from it there can be positives. I tend to embrace the struggle, rather than holding on to accomplishments. I am very proud of Hopes of Failure, but all I can do is think of what could be better, and enjoy the work in doing making it better. Nothing will ever be perfect, so embrace the struggle and imperfections of art and life.

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