-- Ãter gets shredded! --
In spring 2016 I was at the Rock Kappaert festival where I saw the Belgian symphonic/folk/black metal act Lemuria. I quickly built up a friendship with their vocalist at that time, Wesley Beernaert, especially after I had shredded him and Lemuria later that year (read that vintage shred here: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/interviews/58) A few years later Wesley told me he was restarting his old solo project Ãter and in 2019 he released his long-lost debut EP “Vullighied” (and Glenn “Terra Shredder” had plenty of fun shredding that: http://belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/168).
And during a cold Tuesday night (November 19, 2019) I was invited into Wesley’s house to get him shredded (again, in a way). We talked about stuff like Ãter’s origins and the meaning behind the Ãter name, the ideas behind the “Vullighied” EP, Wesley’s departure from Lemuria and he offers advice to all aspiring vocalists out there! It’s a lengthy shred, so sit back with a cold drink and let the darkness flow all over you!
BMS: Hello Wesley! Thanks for inviting me over to your home! Tell me, how did your Ãter project begin?
Wesley: Welcome to my humble home, Metal Shredder! So, to begin Ãter’s story I have to go way back! My musical journey began when I was 9 years old and began practicing keyboards and when I turned 12 I bought an Aria Pro 2 guitar (an entry-level instrument that many other beginning guitar shredders buy) and taught myself, through much trial and error, how to play. I also trained myself to play bass and it didn’t take long before I began writing my own songs. I started attending singing classes in my local conservatorium and I especially learned a lot from the American rock vocal coach Ken Tamplin (I still use his techniques to this day).
Wesley: During my teens I did guitar and vocals in a few local acts but the Ãter project really came into fruition in 2004 because around that time I was noticing that people genuinely liked my vocal skills a lot more than my guitar skills. Eventually I dropped the guitar, bass and keyboard stuff and solely focused on becoming as competent a vocalist as I could be!
BMS: Ah yes, I read that it was in 2004 you began working on your debut EP, “Vullighied.”
Wesley: Indeed. And my friend Mantorok’s impressive guitar skills were a huge asset for Ãter’s fledging style. However, just after we had finished recording some tracks both of Mantorok’s main bands Mortuum and Slumber in Darkness disbanded and he decided to retire as a musician. Not only that, but around that same period my home got flooded and it caused massive damage to my hard drive which had over 12 written Ãter songs. However, I did not have a lot of time to grief, since I had found a job as vocalist for the bands Blood Raven, September Sin, Satyrius and finally Lemuria. Lemuria was the band in which I spent the most time and had the most success with. I’m still very grateful for the time I was able to spend with them despite my sudden departure from the band.
BMS: Why did you leave Lemuria?
Wesley: Around late 2017 we decided to release a new album within one year’s time (which eventually became “The Hysterical Hunt”). All went well until I suffered a serious car crash which left me with a concussion, double whiplash and several bruised and broken ribs. Not only that, but 3 months later I began suffering from even more severe health issues shortly before I was scheduled to do my part for the album. I had a minor brain hemorrhage which went unnoticed for a while but caused me to suffer from seizures, sudden losses of consciousness and mood swings.
Wesley: But Lemuria wanted to move on and asked me to get into the studio and do vocals. I knew I wasn’t up for the task because of all those aforementioned health issues but I soldiered on for one day. As I had expected, my performance on that single day was disastrous and that was enough for Lemuria to decide to let go of me. A decision that caused much heartbreak on both sides but a decision I fully agreed with. My departure happened with mutual respect and continued friendship. Both parties realised this couldn’t work on short term in those circumstances and the band really couldn’t postpone the album much longer.
Wesley: And after recovering from all those injuries I’ve finally decided to restart Ãter, now with many more years of wisdom and experience under my belt. Now, you and your fellow Shredders would probably like to know what the name Ãter means?
BMS: Yes, please!
Wesley: All right! Originally my solo project was going to be called Atrocious but a quick look at the database on www.metal-archives.com showed me that there were already plenty of extreme metal bands called Atrocious. But I did feel the name Atrocious had a good context for the material I was about to write and I’ve noticed that the word atrocious was based off the Latin words ãter and atrõx, which respectively mean dark and frightening. I saw that there was not a single band on Metal Archives that had the name Ãter with the accent on the A so I decided to take it as my own.
BMS: I quite like the name. It’s short, easy to write and remember and is quite to the point since your style is old-school black metal. How do you pronounce it correctly?
Wesley: The correct way to pronounce Ãter is with a long A like alpha and TER like terrace.
BMS: I see. So, this year you’ve finally released the long-awaited “Vullighied” EP.
Wesley: Indeed. As I said earlier, around 2004 my home got flooded and the hard drive which had several Ãter songs on it was severely damaged by the water. Fortunately, I did manage to recuperate 4 songs from the drive and I remastered the original vocal and guitar parts and combined them with newly recorded bass and drum lines and yes, “Vullighied” became the end result.
Wesley: All lyrics on the EP are based off an old West-Flemish dialect that dates back over 1000 years. I decided to use this folklore speech because the EP’s setting is the medieval Flemish countryside and the horrendous working conditions the poverty-stricken peasants were forced to work in, with an everlasting stench of disease, vermin and death in the air. Just like the EP’s cover art, it was a world full of filth or, as the peasants called it back then, “Vullighied.”
BMS: So, tell me you’ve currently got a full live Ãter lineup. How did you get in touch with the other members?
Wesley: Let’s start with Graaf Nevel, guitarist of Gotmoor, another Flemish black metal act. When he heard the news about Ãter’s revival he contacted me and asked me if he could join in, we quickly clicked with each other. On bass we’ve got Roger Romain, who previously played bass in the hard rock band Mr. Myst. Then our other guitarist Jeroen Lagae, from brutal death metal act Putrid Inbred, successfully auditioned for the role of second guitarist and finally on drums we have my longtime friend Jerry Winkelmans from folk metalcore band Ithilien. So yeah, all experienced Belgian musicians from a variety of rock & metal subgenres.
BMS: Impressive! So, what are your future plans for Ãter?
Wesley: We’re planning on making a music video for one of the tracks on the “Vullighied” EP, it’s going to be either “’d Oere” or “De strontroaper van Abjille.” Also we’ve got about 7 new songs written for an upcoming new Ãter release and we’re planning on doing several mini-tours. The reason why we won’t be doing lengthy tours is because we all got families and children to love and care and doing smaller tours takes much less money and preparation.
BMS: Good strategy. What other activities do you do aside from Ãter?
Wesley: Recently I’ve joined the black/death metal act Hudi?. You may remember them from the WOA Metal Battle Belgium contest this year.
BMS: Indeed! They’ve reached the finals and it was a very dark and atmospheric performance.
Wesley: And aside from that I still do occasional vocal work for other friendly Belgian metal bands like Fabulae Dramatis, Spankraght and others. Yeah, I’m a very active vocalist!
BMS: Keep up the good work! This has been a lengthy but very enjoyable shred! So, you got anything else to add before we wrap this up?
Wesley: One thing I’ve learned in my vocalist career is that singing consists of a lot more than just learning the words. There are many techniques involved to make your voice reach the necessary notes and therefore I highly recommend you to get vocal coaching as well as consistent practice.
Wesley: And finally, the “Vullighied” is now also physically available thanks to the good folks at Sliptrick Records and we’ve got patches, stickers and double-sided custom plectrums. All that good stuff is available by mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org or via PM on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AterMadness/