Posted on by Oran

German extreme metallers Alkaloid are up to their odd tricks again; blending insane riffs, inhuman vocals, and complicated polyrhythms over out-of-this-world concepts and a generous sprinkle of Eldritch horror.

The group released their third and long-awaited new album, ‘Numen’, on September 15th, 2023, which brings the listener into a monstrous and chaotic world of sentient fungi, physics nerdery, and a super interesting musical depiction of what happens when being sucked into a black hole.

Frontman and guitarist of Alkaloid, Florian Magnus Maier (Morean), who is also an established classical composer in The Netherlands, sat down for a chat with Overdrive to give an overview of the album and its creation and concept, his old band Noneuclid, past shows on the Emerald Isle, and what other musicians he would like to cross paths with.

ODAlkaloid has released their third album, Numen, after a five-year wait. How has the feedback been?

MOREAN – So far, it’s really good. It’s quite a monolithic thing – 70 minutes long. We tend to handle a big density in our ideas in an album – we just have too much to say. Since there are years between albums a lot accumulates, so when it does drop, it tends to be a lot for some people, and other people are happy about exactly that.

We’ve learned that you have to give people a bit of time. It takes a few spins. I think it’s a bit too much to take in, all in one go, and expect to absorb it all, but it’s made for eternity so, hopefully, it’s something that will bring people pleasure for a long time. We have fans who couldn’t wait for it to drop, and we are also absolutely relieved – it’s now three years since we started working on the album. I still haven’t got my copy, so I haven’t seen it! I haven’t held it in my hands, and I only believe it when I have it in my hands.

ODNumen – it’s extremely weird and varied. Was that intentional for you all to push yourself as far as you could, or just what came naturally?

MOREAN – I think that’s just how we are at this point. Some of us also play more traditional styles – Christian (Muenzner, guitar) has a whole power metal thing going on, and Linus (Klausenitzer, bass) plays with straighter bands. In the context of Alkaloid, it is definitely about variety, but that just comes from what interests us. It’s not that we sit down to write something crazy; it’s just we write the most awesome things we can come up with, and because of who we are, they tend to turn out a little bit different. It’s never about the weirdness, complexity, or technical virtuosity, it’s just that we are searching for something to say that we feel is worthy. We only know how an album will turn out when all the songs are there and recorded – that’s how it goes, it’s all very organic and natural… we just follow our intuition and this time this came out

OD – Is it true that it took 60 days to mix and master?

MOREAN – No, that was the previous album, Liquid Anatomy. It was a bit of a struggle for Hannes (Grossmann, drums) in the beginning – to find a good basic sound that works for Death Metal parts, as well as for the clean parts because we cover quite a wide palette of sounds and styles.

That was actually a huge achievement because he managed to give Liquid Anatomy a really nice organic sound, where it doesn’t sound like a contradiction – that you go from a Yes part into a Morbid Angel part. This time around it went a little bit faster. It was still of course a lot of work. I didn’t want to know what kind of rabbit holes Hannes got into and found his way out of until it sounded like this! I don’t think it was 60 days – I would have to lie and say maybe 40. We don’t stop until we ensure this is the best.

ODKatharina Wagner, the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner, has had an involvement in funding some of your work. Can you tell us about that?

MOREAN – You’re referring to a Noneuclid project from.. oh God, 13 years ago. It was a live concert with an orchestra. There’s a trailer online, but the recorded music with videos has been sitting on my computer for twelve years ready to release. One day I hope we have the time to release the Noneuclid orchestra album. It’s not our proudest moment. The songs for the Wagner project are mixed and ready, but we had another big orchestral piece, sort of a symphonic piece of 23 minutes, which got played only once – and badly so.

There’s so much work that needs to happen to the recording before we can release it, and that’s what blocked the release of all the other Wagner stuff so far. Life has just continued and never stopped. I had a week in the first year of Corona that I thought “Okay, so I’ve lost all my work; maybe now is the time to do it”, but by the time I could sit down and we were ready to do overdubs, I had got more work – new work – which I had to do in order to fill the fridge. And that’s been happening for basically 13 years.

OD – I spotted on your Facebook page during the pandemic that you had asked people to contribute lyrics to a fun little lockdown song project. Tell us more about this…

MOREAN – Yes! That was just a bit of fun during the pandemic. My wife and I have made a couple of spontaneous, silly little films with whatever is lying around. We do these things for birthday celebrations, stuff like that for the family just to have some fun. As we were sitting around I thought; “why not do something with it?”. A friend of mine, the viola player that I wrote it with, Van Geel, sent me some riffs on viola that he thought were metal riffs – he’s not a metal guy. He said; “Do you want to do something with this?”, so I did, and since we needed lyrics I thought; “maybe we ask Facebook to contribute a line each”, it was really fun.

OD – The Alkaloid album, The Malkuth Grimoire, has four songs about a Dyson sphere and Numen once again touches base with the Dyson concept. Alpha Aur on Numen has some audible tributes to the songs Liquid Anatomy and Funeral for a Continent – is the intention to keep the albums all within the same universe?

MOREAN – Exactly! When I wrote the lyrics and concept for the first album,  I had a couple of subjects that I wanted to cover independently of each other. The Dyson Sphere saga honestly was one of the main reasons for me to be open to founding yet another band, and starting from zero – besides the obvious pleasure of making music with these awesome guys of course.

I do remember feeling for years before we started that I would actually need a different vehicle because what I wanted to write didn’t fit with any of the bands that I was in.

The Dyson saga started on the first album – I got fascinated by the concept so I thought “Okay, if with what we know nowadays we set out to actually build the Dyson sphere, how would that look?”. It was only like that in the beginning, but then having created the music, I was getting so deeply into it. I was almost sad to finish writing those first four songs because I wanted to continue it.

This is something that is always going on in my mind. The music is very important – I put a lot of time into writing the music for those songs, but I put a lot more time into the story and the concepts because it’s just something I entertain myself with. I spent many a night on YouTube or Wikipedia trying to develop the story further.

There was a natural next step, and there is actually a scale called the Kardashev Scale which is used to determine at what level a galactic civilization is, and it has to do with energy consumption. If you control all the energy of your planets, you’re Type 1.

If you control all the energy of your solar system, Type 2. Control all the energy of your galaxy; Type 3… and this is where my guys (in the concept) have arrived now. Type 4 you control all the energy in the universe, the Multiverse, and so on. There are a few chapters left where I need to write this thing in full circle, and it happens with the other subjects I chose as well.

For example, Funeral for a Continent came out of my fascination for Antarctica. I’m a complete ice junky, and I love nothing more than putting on crampons and walking over glaciers. This is the most beautiful thing in the world to me, and I’ve always had a soft spot for those blank spots on the map where it looks like there’s nothing there.

As a kid I thought; “What is there?! I want to see that”. I went into this whole Antarctica thing and then I was fortunate enough to go there and see it for myself. However, before that, I was stuck with the question in my mind – “All this ice is going to go away; 24 million billion tonnes of ice, but what is underneath it?” Or, “When the ice goes away, what will emerge?

That filled the space I had for my lyrics in Funeral for a Continent. I left it sort of hanging in the air, what happens once the ice is gone, and then Hannes came with a 20-minute song that called for an epic, monolithic, big long story. Since there were certain musical hints back to Funeral for a Continent in the song, it seemed natural that I continue the story on the second album (Liquid Anatomy), and the same thing happened again now with Alpha Aur, which is just the next chapter in an ongoing story.

In a certain sense, the same is true for the Lovecraft songs – we are building our own little Lovecraft pantheon, and the whole biology, chemistry, and genetic subjects that I use on all three albums… it’s a bit looser, but still, it’s something that continues. It’s always about a way for evolution, and taking the most interesting concepts in science right now and trying to see where that could be taken.

There is a loose subject for every album, but what is happening is that there are several threads or concepts, and all of them are being developed. If two, or three, albums from now you were to re-issue all our music you could actually put the songs together and you would have a couple of concept albums that go from A to Z in a quite linear way, but spread over a couple of albums. This is something I noticed on the last album – on Numen I started consciously braiding those threads together so that everything I’m talking about happens within the same universe.

There are the first little cross-feeds happening, for example, this time it’s a lot about fungi. There’s a sentient fungi species living on Pluto, and they are seeing how the Cephalopods were shooting their balls of ice into the sky because they understood “Okay, the Earth will burn at some point and life will not be possible on Earth, so we have to migrate space”. These fungi are sitting on Pluto, and seeing the first machines that are going to build the Dyson sphere over millions and millions of years. I created this kind of connection between my world so that it’s one world, and of course, this world is very big and it extends from the beginning of time till the end of time and maybe beyond it.

That’s something that has really grown out of the sheer need to continue stories that I thought were already finished before. As long as it makes sense, and as long as I have a feeling there’s still substance that can be told in those songs I will continue with them until my band stops me.

OD – Did you have to consult somebody to write about the physics part of Alkaloid songs? Not only do you want the concept to be believable, but surely you want it to be precise too?

MOREAN – Yes, exactly. I am a lot more fascinated by the actual existing universe than by the worlds we create in our imagination. I’ve always been an escapist, but funny enough I’ve also come full circle. I arrived back here in our world but with a completely new look at how complex the natural world is, how unbelievable the variety of objects in the universe is, how complex life is, and how complex evolution is, and of course that feeds my fantasy.

How is it going to look in 200 million years? Maybe octopuses will be the next dominant species because they’re already pretty clever right now. It’s something that I’m cooking up in my own head. As far as the Dyson saga is concerned, I did arrive at a point where I needed help – those last instalments are all about black holes.

Physicists say they are simple objects but what they do to spacetime is highly complex. Miraculously, we now have our first photos of accretion disks – two black holes – from the last couple of years. It’s such an extreme object and region in spacetime, that distorts space and time itself. In order to be able to answer the absurd question: if you were a galactic civilization and if you had all the energy in the Milky Way at your disposal, what would you do with it?

This massively involves black holes as a thing to harvest, and as a thing to use for your galactic civilisation, and because things really do get a little bit too complicated for my stupid little musician brain, I actually asked a friend for help. He is a high-energy physicist – he’s doing his doctorate in Edinburgh right now, his name is Mile Vrbica, and he happens to also be an Alkaloid fan. I met him at a show we played and he said “Oh by the way, I like your lyrics, I’m a physicist”, and I said; “Hey man, I’ve been waiting for you!”. We’ve had this really wonderful exchange going on. I just flat out asked him; “Hey man, do you mind if I share my concepts with you so you can look at my ideas like a scientist and tell me is this even remotely possible or is this complete bullshit?”.

It’s all my ideas, my story, my music, and my words, but I did go through a couple of versions of the story. It’s really hard for a non-professional to judge certain things, a lot of sci-fi stories use wormholes as a kind of tunnel in spacetime that you can go through, and you end up in a region very far away, that you could never reach going less than light speed.

It’s a device used in many stories because there is a mathematical possibility that these things could exist, however in reality we are so far away from actually using something like this because it requires a lot of antimatter, and we don’t have any antimatter. Yeah, it could exist, but we still don’t have any meaningful way to try and actually build that, so I have to rule it out for my story because I found it too cheap.

Mile had to tell me so many times, you know, I would find an article like; “Oh yeah, maybe this works, maybe that works, and how about this, naked singularity that?”, and he was like; “Yeah, in theory, yes, but practically.. no”’. With the patience of an angel, he would explain to me why something didn’t work, and this was so awesome for me because he gave me new ideas. In the end, he also did help me with the sound design. The thing about these Dyson songs is that whatever happens in the story, I want it to be reflected in the music so that the music is composed a little bit according to what is happening in the story.

Now I’m screwing around with timelines, with space and time coordinates changing function when you get close to the black hole, time being distorted and becoming multi-dimensional, and space is reduced to one direction because the only direction available is into the black hole. It’s very complex, so I wanted to give the supermassive black hole in the heart of our galaxy a sort of voice if you will.

I wanted it to be reflected in the music. It’s a pointless endeavor because it’s just a bunch of guitars and stuff, but still, I wanted to see how far I can go with this. Mile wrote a simple little program that allows you to take out the timeline from music, which is really quite fascinating.

OD – What type of program?

MOREAN – So, imagine it’s a fader and on this end (the beginning) you have the track as it is with note after note, on the other end you have all the frequencies that sound in the span of this song – at the same time, kind of like an extreme reverb. The echo stays and then it fills up until you hear everything at the same time. He built me a fader where I can find the sweet spot, putting an audio file into there with how much of the timeline is still in it. So, by making all the frequencies of the song heard at the same time, it’s like you take out the timeline, because everything is there at the same time.

By playing with this fader that he created for me, I was able to create exactly this black hole sound which is in the song ‘The Folding‘. The whole sort of electronic-sounding middle part of that song – what that actually is is the guitars from the previous Dyson parts. I just took the guitar files and created new material from the old stuff, because what happens in the story is that light and sound can not escape the black hole, it pulls them back, so it becomes a churning mass of space-time where the same light and the same stuff is coming round again and again, which of course is my concept.

If I want this to be reflected in the music, it means that I cannot add new material, because there’s no new material; at some point, it’s just the old stuff going around and around and getting churned up more and more. Still, I want to continue in the story, and I want to write new songs, so this was one way of doing it. I used a lot of other things which I hope to be able to put into a video to explain what I did in detail with the music because many hours went into it. Mile was absolutely essential in getting the story to a point where I felt good about it, where I felt that I’m not just talking out of my ass, and some concrete help also with the sound design. I think we will definitely continue this collaboration in the future because it was so much fun.

In return, I gave him composition lessons. That there was really a present from the universe to meet this guy.

OD – That all sounds.. Insanely complex. Speaking of which, what was the most complex song on the album to get through?

MOREAN – Phwoar, that’s hard to say. The traditional songs are easier because, well, you know what a song is. For example, The Fungi from Yuggoth, which Christian wrote, has its innovations; it’s not just another song, but the style is very much like a slow Morbid Angel song, which we all adore. In a certain sense, it is a little bit of a tribute or at least the verse and chorus parts are pretty obvious. In Clusterfuck it was a little bit easier also because Hannes provided me with guide vocals and the song is also ironically like; “okay this is clean, so there should be singing, and this brutal, so there should be growls”.

It’s much more difficult once you leave the pre-existing mold – like what kind of vocals should go with which kind of music? My own songs were the hardest because I explicitly wanted to create a new sound. I didn’t want to write songs that sound like every other song because it wouldn’t do justice to how far out the concept is; the music also has to be far out, and that was a lot of trial and error.

I spent more time than on any other songs I’ve ever written on these three new Dyson songs, with a big thanks to the pandemic; I did work straight through the pandemic, but I could take a little bit more time than usual for these songs because there were no concerts or travels. In Numan, there are two-time signatures at the same time; 12/16 and 7/16, and I knew I wanted this because the timeline is going to be fucked-up. Time does not work in the same way we know it, and also in the music. I remember just sitting for days and days, putting different lengths of rhythmical patterns over each other to see if I could find two that still have a groove, that’s still recognizable as music, and that work for an extended period of time.

With Recursion, the second Dyson song, it’s a fractal. I wanted the music to be a fractal, meaning you tell a story and you create new material but it’s actually all old material that comes back. This I will explain more in detail in the future hopefully, but basically, you have a verse, and then the second verse continues the story but the second verse is built out of fragments and parts of words from the first verse, and in the third verse comes which is again built from bits and pieces from the second verse – and the music; the first phrase is long, and then comes back shorter, and comes back even shorter, because you’re getting closer to the black hole.

So, time and space are twisting and constricting so that’s reflected in the song as well. In The Folding, the characters get so close to the black hole that once they go in nothing comes out, but I wanted to show my imagination of the feeling when you are so close to the end of space and time, and when everything is coming forwards and backward and you’re actually not moving anywhere, and at the same time you are moving faster than ever through space. Your inner clock changes. It’s all very complicated. The song starts, then there’s the black hole in the middle. and then the end of the song – so the conclusion of the new stuff has to be the first half, but in reverse. I had to find music that plays forward and backward. This was the most complicated thing of the whole album – I needed to find words that tell my story which when I record them and then reverse the audio file it still remain as an intelligible text that continues the story.

I want to create a background analysis video to demonstrate, okay; part one, I reverse it, you get part three but not in a way that that the voice just does some unintelligible backwards zaps and zips.

The story has to continue, and that was bloody complicated. For Hannes, this particular thing was probably a potential nail in his coffin because it was the last thing he mixed. I built the demo, and the new stuff is created from what came before, so I had to rebuild the whole track – it is an ‘echo’ of what came before, I just had my demo version but of course, you want to build it from the actual recording. I went to his studio and spent many, many hours and many, many tracks to rebuild my demo with what we had recorded, and – the poor guy – it’s complicated enough to have to mix such an album in a regular way and then you have this insane idiot of a singer that wants to tie the timeline into a pretzel.

I knew exactly what had to happen, so I just said; “okay, don’t worry, let’s put this here, correct, and now put this here, and I’ll put this here, and I’ll throw this away, and then let’s play it – yeah, okay – it works!”. There are a few things that are harder than writing a fantastic song out of two simple riffs, it’s a big art to do this. I’m not saying that’s anything less than convoluted stuff, I was trying but the excitement is to try and see if can I actually pull this off – can I write a song for a metal band that does bloody impossible physics things? This is what came out, and I’m very happy and very proud that it exists now.

OD – Who in Alkaloid is the Lovecraft fan?

MOREAN – That’s Christian and me, mainly. I’m not sure what Hannes’ and Linus’ opinion of Lovecraft is, but Chris and I have been fans all our lives, since childhood. It’s a very thankful subject because Lovecraft’s worlds are also really crazy, abstract, beyond, and sort of indescribable or multi-dimensional. They’re not regular monsters.

He created the pantheon where things have names and vague descriptions that could have been anything, but it’s alive in our culture. I can write a song about multi-dimensional intelligent fungi from space, which, I mean, I do anyway, but in the first moment, it is a little bit abstract. Lovecraft has a deity called ‘Shub-Niggurath‘ which is sort of an embodiment of that principle – I can link that to my idea respecting the original material in parallels to my idea and what the master did with it. But also, we’re fans and it’s nice to have proper songs that go with all his names.

I know that there are dozens of bands out there who do this as well, we’re hardly the only ones. It’s like a pet thing we started with our song Cthulhu, like; “there should be a song called Cthulhu, and that riff sounds exactly like Cthulhu”. It was our first taste of trying this and we thought “Well, why not continue this”.

OD – There has been a rotation of members between Alkaloid, Noneuclid, Dark Fortress, Obscura, Triptykon, and even Hannes Grossmann’s solo project. I picked up somewhere that Steffen Kummerer from Obscura was originally supposed to be the bass player for Alkaloid.

MOREAN – Correct – though this was not Alkaloid as we know it now. Back in 2010, there was Steffen, V Santura (Triptykon, Dark Fortress), Hannes and myself sitting around Santura’s kitchen table when they said; “Hey, should we start a new band?”. At that point, Santura had a moment of being fed up with Dark Fortress and he is a huge fan of Hannes, so he wanted to be in a band with Hannes. He said Hannes would love to play in a band with me. Hannes was still in Obscura, Santura was producing Obscura, and Steffen was a bit fed up with the complicated guitar parts of Obscura, so he was dreaming of being the bass player of a band.

We talked about it and nothing ever came out of it. Two years later Hannes actually picked up the thread and said; “Hey, should we actually do this thing?”. He sent me demos of two or three songs and we thought – this is interesting, there’s a lot we’d like to do with this. Hannes proposed the other members which was very easy because we all know and appreciate each other, which is of course true for all our other bands – why do we work together time and time again?

It’s because we found each other; we are kindred spirits as musicians and as people as well, and in this case most of us happen to be from the south of Germany, and of course, this incest pool has expanded a bit by now. We are all very good friends and like to work together, and if not identical visions, compatible visions of what we would like to do, and interest in each other’s work – all that kind of answers the question for good. Hannes has played all apart from one Dark Fortress show since 2019 because our original drummer, Seraph, quit. Shortly before the tour happened, the Dark Fortress keyboardist, Phoenix, said he couldn’t take part so we needed a keyboard player.

As a joke, I asked Linus and he said; “Huh, why not?” in his imitable coolness he always has. So, Linus played the keyboard for Dark Fortress’ last tour, and I had to sometimes suppress a smile on stage because he is this amazing bass monster, while with Dark Fortress, he just had to press two keys over and over or play nothing at all. On the last Dark Fortress tour, you had three original members of the band, and three replacements; what you saw was half of Dark Fortress, but you did see three-quarters of Alkaloid, three-quarters of Noneuclid, half of Triptykon, half of Eternity’s End, and so forth. It’s just because we know it works, we’ve done a million things together; it does not mean that we’re not open to working with other people as well but we just know who to ask and it stays in the family.

OD – You trust each other musically and in other ways.

MOREAN – Yes, it’s one thing to find someone who is musically compatible and good enough on their instrument, but there’s the whole other question if you get along with each other socially on a human level and that’s really important. If you spend a day together somewhere, and then an hour together on stage, but the other 23 hours you’re forced to hang out with each other so if it happens to be some of your dear, very close friends you’re hanging out with, it turns it into a pleasure.

OD – Speaking of being open to working with others – is there anyone you would like to get in touch with whom you haven’t crossed paths with yet?

MOREAN – Oof! Plenty. Well, Jan from Panzerballett would definitely be someone I would like to at least once go partying with to see what we end up talking about. That’s somebody who I find super interesting. I did have the good fortune to work with Devin Townsend on one of his albums – Deconstruction – so that was also a dream come true.

I’m fortunate that I’ve already fulfilled a lot of my dreams that I’ve been carrying around with me. My favorite growler is Karsten Jager from a German band called Disbelief – he has my favourite extreme metal voice. If ever there was a chance to do something together with him I would absolutely love it; when he opens his strange, tortured throat I get super happy. Another one of my favourite bands ever is The Fields of the Nephilim, so if there was ever any collaboration on the horizon in whatever form with those guys, then I’d get nervous and over-excited.

For the rest, there are tons of amazing people out there. As a composer, I continuously work with new people and new ensembles and musicians, literally in the thousands or even tens of thousands – in the sense of musicians who have played what I wrote, because I am constantly writing for other people; orchestras who would have 100 here, 80 there, 5 there, so forth, as this is my day job. I know there is so much talent out there and every person is an infinite universe, in a way, and I think every person has the potential to shine and be amazing, and I happen to live in The Netherlands where the level of playing is insanely high.

I don’t have to run around like; “If only I could work with this person or that person...”, because the people who want my stuff are often so incredibly good. It’s incredibly rewarding to get to know them. From my heroes, I would name the people I’ve named, and Ihsahn from Emperor, because, in my opinion, he is one of the best musicians to have ever done black metal. I would really love to at least meet the guy and have a conversation.

For the rest, I’m just really open to working with awesome people, no matter who they are, where they’re from, or what they do, because it’s always great to discover more awesomeness.

OD –  Back to Alkaloid – you guys haven’t done many live shows which is obviously down to conflicting schedules from being in fifty million bands. With Dark Fortress having called it a day and three-quarters of Alkaloid having already done a DF tour, where does this leave that void for Alkaloid to fill?

MOREAN – In general, it’s not that easy getting shows. If you’re not well known it’s kind of impossible. Even at our level, we’re not that well known but we’re not beginners either.

The whole live market still has to recover from the damage that Corona has done to it and let’s not forget it wasn’t that great even before Corona. It’s a struggle to even get the basics covered to play. We’ve been professional musicians for decades and of course, we need to pay the rent but our demands for a concert aren’t anything extraordinary – we want to be able to sleep, eat and take a shower, but since so many festivals and venues are still recovering from this catastrophe which took out concerts for two years, it is harder than you would think convincing venues that we know like us and are interested in us to somehow to get it rolling.

Is really quite a big job these days, but we are busy with that right now. We definitely want to go out there and play a lot more than we did, because we belong on stage and we want Alkaloid to be a proper band and not some weird studio project thing. We’re doing our best right now and we are looking into options – we’re looking for a booker, and we’re in contact with festivals, but I cannot, unfortunately, promise anything, because it’s not that easy anymore. As soon as something is acceptable and makes sense for us, we’re going to do it. So, here’s hoping that very soon we will actually be back in Ireland.

OD – Some of the first Alkaloid shows were actually part of a little tour of Ireland. How was that?

MOREAN -I wouldn’t call it a proper tour – it was Galway, Limerick, and Dublin, and it was a package of four bands that did all three shows. On paper, you could call it a very mini-tour. The thing is, these were our first shows ever. First of all, I’ve never been so embarrassed.  When the first Alkaloid show ever was supposed to start, I think it was in Galway.. those shows were very small.

I think if we had all together 80 people in the audience for the three shows combined then it was a lot. They were gigs in bars and there was almost nobody there. It was shocking. In the underground that’s how things go sometimes, and we still had fun but it was not what any of us had hoped for. I don’t know what happened.

OD – Those shows happened after the release of the first album (The Malkuth Grimoire, 2015) so perhaps it was just a case of falling under the radar. It would likely be a different story now.

MOREAN – Exactly! I think so. It was a completely self-organised tour by some friends in Dublin, who had their own band too. We thank them that they invited us over and paid for our tickets. Unfortunately, they must have lost a lot of money on this, with these shows. Hopefully, next time we can do it in a bigger way.

OD – Is Noneuclid still an active band? It has been around 8 years since the last album.

MOREAN – I would say no. The chances that we actually get together again in that constellation are pretty much zero. We never officially disbanded, and honestly, we also quit because it was just so heavy to do anything with this band. Ironically we had very little response from the metal world, except for musicians – musicians loved it, but the general public and labels weren’t really interested.

What little success we did have came from the classical world. In my world, as a composer, we got offers to with orchestras so we did two or three shows, absurdly. We did play on Roadburn but for the rest, we didn’t play any metal stages, but we did a couple of these classical crossover projects. As I said before, there is a whole orchestra album lying around which needs some work and we’ve never managed to actually find the time to do this work.

If it were up to me, I would see this album released because that as Noneuclid might be the most epic thing we have actually made. I hope that still happens and if somebody offers a way to breathe new life into it we would certainly listen to the proposal, but for myself, I have moved on a little bit. Somehow, Alkaloid is a little bit what I was hoping Noneuclid to become – I mean, not as direct as that, but let’s say Alkaloid is also a vehicle where I can write whatever I want to write as a metal dude. Alkaloid very much took over that function. With Noneuclid, it’s not that we really fell apart, but it would be quite an effort to pump new life into the band, to get everybody back together, and to find the motivation. Maybe we could release something in the future under Alkaloid; Alkaloid could take over the function of Noneuclid, but Noneuclid could not take over the function of Alkaloid.

ODAlkaloid appeared on Dutch TV in a show called Top 2000 a Go-Go, where the band played three cover songs – one of which was Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye. This cover needs to be expanded and recorded – it was hilarious and brilliant.

MOREAN – Thank you! This was another curiosity that just landed on my lap. This show is something that happens here every year, which is for I think ten nights before Christmas, or it’s between Christmas and New Year’s or something. There’s a broadcast every night that takes a couple of hours where the viewers choose their top 2000 songs that they can vote for, then they have a list, and then they present songs from that list during the Christmas holidays.

You always have music but there’s a little bit of a live thing happening – for every show they invite some musicians to play their own versions of songs from that list and then they have other guests that have to guess the song that they’re playing. One friend who works for the radio called me and she said; “I finally want to do something with metal this time around, do you have any ideas about what to do?”. I said; “Yes of course! I have a band and if they’re crazy enough to do it then we’re going to do it”. So, we had our five minutes of fame on Dutch TV a few years back! I don’t know who chose Sexual Healing, but I think I chose the songs from the list. It was just too funny not to do it, you know?

The other songs were Riders on the Storm by The Doors and, La Tortura by Shakira. It was honestly for fun, but my colleagues are such good musicians – they can basically play anything. I also arranged the guitar solo from We Will Rock You in a metal version – because, you know, it has to be familiar but also sound different from usual. I made a metal version of that, and then there was another.. some super famous techno hit that I can’t remember the name of that we tried, but yeah, at the end they chose those songs. To growl the lyrics to Sexual Healing was really fun!

For those interested in finding out more about Morean’s classical composition, click here for the Metal Dude in a Concert Hall documentary.

Numen full album stream can be accessed here.

Visit Alkaloid’s website (click here) for more information.

Words – Nora Kivlehan

Photo credits: Christian Martin Weiss 2023