Lebanese Extreme Metal band Kaoteon has been at it for 20 years, earning their stripes in the international Metal scene, which culminated in a Metal Hammer Global Metal Award in 2018. In Lebanon, the band is hailed as one of the scene’s all-time greats.
Interview with Anthony Kaoteon (Guitars, Founder – Music Composer)
First things first, congratulations on winning the Global Metal Award at the 2018 Metal Hammer Golden Gods! Was that the most important recognition you got in your 20-year career?
Thanks Patrick. Recognition from fans like a good message, or a band covering a Kaoteon song has always been the best. The global metal award was definitely the biggest recognition from the industry and to have friends like Adrian Erlandsson, Linus Klausenitzer, Simon Schilling, Baard Kolstad, Matthias Landes and more musicians that I listened to as a fan due to the music I composed through the years is a great recognition by itself.
Your third album “Damnatio Memoriae” exploded onto the International Metal scene with Fredrik Widigs (Marduk) on Drums and Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura) on Bass. The album title means “condemnation of memory”, how much is that fueled by Lebanon’s history?
I should mention that both musicians have left now the bands (Marduk & Obscura) . Linus is working with me on DEATH TRIBE new album as well as his new band OBSIDIOUS.
Every word that we do or say is fueled by Lebanese history and what made us who we are today. I cannot deny that KAOTEON has deep roots in Lebanon and this will always be heard in the riffs, the lyrics, the titles and sound.
How did you manage to get Fredrik and Linus on-board, operating from a troubled country with a small Metal scene in the Middle East? Were they involved in the songwriting at all, or was it more about adding their creative touches and signature sounds on already-finished tracks?
A country restricts you but does not bind you. Just like I was born with the same opportunity as many other Lebanese and worked very hard to leave through my day job by putting the time and effort. I did the same with my music. Today I have 5 albums with Linus (ex Obscura), 1 with Fredrik (ex Marduk), 1 with Matthias (Dark Fortress), 1 with Baard (Leprous), and the list continues. When you compose good music and have a history of tenacity and perseverance. People will stop, listen and appreciate.
In your interview with vice.com (here), you downplayed the narrative about Metal band’s difficulties in the Middle East, even though you describe yourself as originating from a “turbulent Beirut” in a “devastated Middle East”. We know by now that you are not based in Lebanon with members in UAE and Europe, does that make your narrative any less genuine now? It seems like you are capable of pursuing a “normal Metal career” in Europe without those past difficulties…
I live in the Netherlands since two years now. Do you think the struggle is over? Yes my hard work allowed me to leave Lebanon to Dubai then Netherlands but I lost friends, family. I lost all my life saving just like all Lebanese during this crisis. My parents are living there and I am trying to support them. My passport is still Lebanese and I need my day job sponsorship to stay here so I really cannot have the normal metal career because I need the career that allows me to travel. Do you think this is easy, no. Do you ever find me using it as a reason to deliver less quality music or blame it on time, money, or someone else, no. No one cares about anyone’s struggle. You got to hustle and grind to reach your goals. That’s how life is and unfortunately it is not fair and hence I will always struggle that I am in my mid 30s and i cannot tour because of my passport and my family’s need to my day job income as we all depend on this to keep going.
Your latest album “Kaoteon” was released back in January 17th 2020. In the album description on Bandcamp (here), you mention “reborn souls”; is it why the album is self-titled? What’s the fuel behind this one?
The album is self titled because it was the end of an era and the start of a new one.
Share with us some albums you’re listening to lately, anything from Lebanon in particular you’re enjoying?
I always follow bands from Lebanon and the Region. From Slave to Sirens, Kimaera, Phenomy, Khavar to Aramaic, When the World Burns, and Svengali among others.
I am listening to the new Ulcerate, Ulver, Ihshan, Igorrr, and Katsumi Horii Project.
Given that band members are in different countries, is Kaoteon transforming into an online project, or are you eyeing some festivals soon? Can we maybe have a “quarantine session”, similar to what Sepultura, Lamb of God, and others did recently.
KAOTEON was an online project since a very long time. Today, I meet with the new members often. I visit Adrian in England and speak to him regularly through the process especially now during the recording of the new album, Linus is a close friend with 5 albums together now, and I live one hour away from the jam room at the vocalist house.
When Kaoteon played live in small venues in Lebanon, there was a special atmosphere and a strong bond between the band and the crowd. Tell us what’s the difference between performing live in Lebanon and abroad? Do you feel a sense of freedom knowing you don’t need a narrative playing in front of Lebanese fans?
Performing for the passionate Lebanese will always be special like no other crowd. Our fans are scattered around the world but the highest concentration in one small area is definitely Lebanon which makes it all the more exciting.
Finally, what can we expect from your next album? You mentioned on social media that it will be EPIC!
In this album, I am focusing on rhythm guitars that stick to your brain like a staple and never leave, Adrian has managed to boost my guitars with 300bpm drumming and other slow paced amazing beats, Linus and I changed our gameplay as we are speaking much more and we understand each other a lot more. Last but not least I would like you to expect an epic elevated sound of something big. You will be surprised. It is a whole new dimension. It is definitely EPIC.
Article’s featured image credits: fb.com/Kaoteon