Progressive Death Metal est. 2017
Progressive death metal project Theoptia is gearing up for sophomore record “UNDEAD GODS.” What was once the purely solo effort of multi-instrumentalist Emanuel Strebel now welcomes collaboration from several guests for the assembly of this complex new concept piece.
Four years after he released his debut album “Horeb,” Strebel worked tirelessly to marry his sophisticated brand of metal with deep and provocative theological inquiries. Enlisting artists such as Raphael Brunner from Frank Needs Help, Taanak of Demoniciduth, and Wolf from Sacrificium helped Theoptia synthesize a broad array of heavy soundscapes and tackle the conquest of one’s spirituality, critical imagination, and existential rumination. He does so through harmonic riffage, odd-meter rhythm, razor-sharp shrieks, and blistering breakdowns.
“Lyrically it’s an invitation for questioning thoughts and trying out a new perspective on life,” Strebel says. “I hope that the nerds of the genre can philosophize about the strangeness of our behaviors in society.”
The eight tracks featured on “UNDEAD GODS” thematically connect modern phenomena with ancient deities, reflecting on the idol worship that exists prevalent today among people that claim they are free-thinkers and secular beings. In reality many remain dependent on personal spiritual forces in pursuit of life’s answers, and there is no fundamental difference between that and religion. Everything adds up cohesively into a socially-commentative whole, which wickedly challenges these convictions with a demonic and devilish prog-metal epic.
- Benjamin Slowey - firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch how it was made:
I am a slave, bound to worship
I am a soul, thirsty and starving
This torture I bear to give praise to an unknown god
I hit myself, blood is dripping
I cut myself, the marks are burning
This child I carry to give blood to an unknown god
His majesty dwells on a pile of tiny limbs
But on this throne I see myself in a broken scattered mirror
How many lives must we sacrifice
To know we have lived ourselves
How many tears must fill our eyes
To know we have gained our wealth
I am a god, bound to rule
I am a judge, terrible and shameful
This life I take to give praise to my very known Ego
I eat myself, greedy and hungry
I throw up, enough is not enough
This child I kill to give blood to my very known Ego
And the unborn scream
Molech, Molech, Molech
Sweat is dripping on the floor as the violent hammering continues. With heavy breathing and intense pushing, at an unbearable volume, mind-dazzling complexities of sound unravel. In complete isolation from the civilized world, in a cramped man cave, a dark and forgotten hole, it sees the light of day for the very first time. Some call it noise, he calls it music. The year is 2017, and the record called Horeb, the brainchild of Emanuel Strebel, has just been fathered through a marathon of unassisted one-man sessions. And with his novel creation the solo-act came into existence and found himself in an imaginary band of his own clones called Theoptia.
A band of one person, limitless, creative, and uncompromised. “The advantages of a solo career were obvious, and being given the talent to play all the instruments needed myself, I came to a point when I could no longer make excuses. It had to be done.” When musicians were hard to find for a style that was utterly specific, in an area that did not shine with a wealth of talent, his strong creative urge had to find an outlet. So Emanuel from Switzerland started this studio project by himself, and finally his ideas had a place to thrive and find a form that was presentable to a larger public.
The nerdy progressive death metal with exotic elements is truly a unique creation. Influences from big bands like Gojira, Meshuggah and Lamb of God found their way into the groovy blend, without compromising its originality. Soundscapes that carry you to a different place and a different time (likely somewhere in the east) mark his artistry. His works are complete narratives and connect to each other, while they ponder the deep questions of human existence and the dark corners of man’s soul. Inspired by his Christian faith, Theoptia, meaning seeing God in Greek, aims to open up people to seek spirituality and meaning beyond religion. “I would not dare to market my music as ‘Christian’, since it’s so much more than just that. It is meant for everybody, especially the ones that feel lost in life, regardless of their beliefs.” Not only are his pieces deeply meaningful, but they also challenge the listener on a musical level. Odd-meters are a more frequent appearance and add to the dissonant yet harmonic riffing, which is driven by a strong sense of rhythm. The latter makes a great deal of sense, since the drums were the first instrument that multi-instrumentalist Emanuel picked up as a kid. And although he exclusively performs in a guttural style, the vocals have a remarkable range from growls to screams.
Four years later, after perfecting his skills through studying theology and music, Theoptia dared to write and assemble another complex concept album. Just as heavy, only more matured. Just as profound, only more researched. The project remains independent and still largely self-produced. But the act finally breaks its one-man vow. “This time there were a bunch of musicians helping me out in the studio which allowed me to raise the quality to a whole new level.” Namely Raphael Brunner from deathcore act Frank Needs Help, who took on the challenge of drumming on the record. Other guest appearances include Taanak from Demoniciduth as well as Wolf from Sacrificium, and more. Although more people contributed to the new record, Theoptia remains a studio project at this point. “Depending on how the new record is received and how my career develops, I might actually be performing these songs with a band on a stage sometime. But that is all speculation.” One can be curious what the future holds for Theoptia as more records are planned and the creative spirit seems not to have faded.