Songs for the Damned
CoC chats with Steve Asheim of Order of Ennead / Deicide
by: Jackie Smit
If Order of Ennead -- the latest project featuring Deicide's Steve Asheim and Council of the Fallen's Kevin Quiron -- has not yet etched itself firmly on your radar, you'd be well advised to check it out as soon as humanly possible. Recently hitting the streets thanks to the folks at Earache, their self-titled debut's brand of blackened death metal has "sleeper hit" scribbled all over it. It's fast, it's brutal, it boasts some dangerously infectious melodies and it sounds nothing like Asheim's day job, which as he explains during our midweek catch-up on a typically drizzly London evening, was the point. Kinda.

CoC: I know you've probably been asked this question a hundred times before, but for the sake of being complete, can you tell me how the Order of Ennead project came about?

Steve Asheim: It came about because of all the time off I had during the Deicide downtime. After the recording sessions for _Till Death Do Us Part_, which were already really broken up to begin with, there was an open end on the schedule. We couldn't tour because of Glen's situation and I didn't have anything to keep me busy. So, I had known Scott [Patrick, bass] who plays with Kevin [Quiron, guitars] in Council of the Fallen and he brought me some material that they had been working on and told me to check it out. I gave it a listen and there was definitely something to it, but there was also something missing.

CoC: Your drumming?

SA: <laughs> Exactly! Anyway, Scott also gave me a bunch of demos that just had guitar tracks on them -- no drums -- and so I was able to hear exactly what everything sounded like and what the potential was, and so I told him to bring Kevin over so that we could start doing something. Right off the bat there was a lot of chemistry, lots of productivity -- shit was always getting done, and I just loved that. No one was telling me to go fuck myself. No one was jacking off instead of coming to practice. Shit was just getting done and that was great.

CoC: After being with Deicide for such a long time, was it a strange or surreal feeling to finally branch out and do something by yourself?

SA: No, it wasn't at all. I think if it was earlier and under different circumstances, then maybe. But it was more a case of diving into something and getting something done, as opposed to experimenting and trying to find myself musically. I know who I am musically, and this was just something interesting to keep me active, because I'll tell you what: sitting around the house was not good. I was cracking up, my girl was cracking up. In fact, we broke up, and I don't know if it was because I was around too much or because the band wasn't around, but there you go.

CoC: I remember seeing you on the _Scars of the Crucifix_ DVD and you mentioned there that you write practically all the time.

SA: Well, what I ended up doing was, because there was no one around and because everyone was just sitting around, I bought myself a digital recorder -- the Boss VR1600, which is fucking awesome, and that thing made everything possible. I just started writing songs and I did the demos for a progressive death metal project, I did the demos for Council of the Fallen and for Order of Ennead. Then Scott and Kevin told me that they had another bunch of songs for Order of Ennead, so we recorded another ten. Basically the next album for Order of Ennead is already pre-produced. Then I realised that we wouldn't actually be able to properly record that for at least another year, so I started working on the next Deicide album -- I have eight new songs for that already pre-produced. The way it is now, the touring schedule is pretty skimpy, so I might just start writing again or do some session work because sitting around and doing nothing doesn't work for me.

CoC: How much of a hand did you have in putting the material together for the Order of Ennead album?

SA: Kevin has always written all the music and all the lyrics, and that's cool with me because I already write enough shit for Deicide that if I started writing for Order of Ennead it would all just end up sounding the same anyway. My riffs are my riffs, you know, and I think it's best to keep those bands separated because Kevin's writing style is very different to mine. Deicide is sinister and dreary and angry and just the nature of Kevin's riffs are not that at all. They may be heavy and they may have certain aspects in common with Deicide, but they're certainly not as grim or as bleak as anything Deicide does. The only area where I really added anything major was to help Kevin structure his riffs and arrange the songs, because if you listen to the original releases, as I said before, there were great ideas but they weren't coming together in the right way. For instance, I was listening to one of the songs one day and I telling him that it was great but I couldn't tell whether it was in 3-4 or 4-4. And he didn't know. So that was the problem right there, and I could help him pin down signatures, help with the flow, work on the cohesiveness and just organize the songs better.

CoC: So how do you feel about the album now that the reviews are starting to trickle in?

SA: Well, the reviews have been really positive so far and that feels good. The worry is that people will write it off as just another band with "that guy from Deicide", you know what I mean? We got enough bad press with Deicide over the years, that I'm paranoid that it's going to leak over into this band, and it's entirely possible -- and it wouldn't be completely wrong -- if that happened. But at the same time, I think it has the ability to stand alone and if we can keep the two separate then I think the band has a great future. That's not going to be easy, particularly since the two bands are starting to merge now that Kevin is playing guitar for us and Jack [Owen] is playing in Order of Ennead.

CoC: Wasn't there enough goodwill generated by _The Stench of Redemption_ and _Till Death Do Us Part_ that you shouldn't face too much of a backlash?

SA: I hope so. I mean, the fact that people know about Glen's problems and the reasons why we couldn't do as much touring as we would have liked helps define the situation a little better. Honestly though: at least as far as being a live band is concerned, our [Deicide] reputation is fucked. <laughs> We're box office poison. Promoters are afraid to book us because they just don't know what's going to happen, and when they do, fans are afraid to buy tickets. People know that about Deicide and I would really hope that we can avoid that with Order of Ennead. I mean, with Deicide it's really frustrating. We put out an album like _Till Death Do Us Part_ and people realise that we're not dead yet and that we still have it in us to do good records. Then we get booked to do shows and it's a fucking disaster, so what happens? We put out another album and it's the same thing all over again.

CoC: How did Kevin playing in Deicide come about?

SA: We had been trying to organize gigs for Deicide and Ralph [Santolla] had been pulling double duty with Obituary. So we went back and forth to make it happen, Ralph couldn't make it to practices and meanwhile we had already spoken to Kevin about doing a couple of the dates that Ralph had said previously he would definitely not be able to make. So it was a natural thing that we decided to ask Kevin to do all the shows with us, because we wanted to put on the best shows that we possibly could and we didn't want to be unfair to the fans and he had enough free time that he was able to put the work in with us.

CoC: Could you see him becoming a regular Deicide collaborator in the future?

SA: Probably not. I mean, when it comes to Deicide I write all the riffs and generally Glenn does all the lyrics. Besides that, the thing about Ralph is that he's a genius, so whether he's with Obituary or not, I would always try my absolute best to get him on every record possible because the leads that he does are so fucking amazing. He has this thing where he has skill, musical intuition and the ability to turn that into ideas and execute it properly and that's very rare.

CoC: What are the plans for Order of Ennead over the next twelve months?

SA: Well, when the record is out, we're hoping to book as many shows as possible -- ideally as a support act. Like I said earlier, we also have the second album written and ready, so we'd like to get that done fast, but not too fast. Ideally we want to build up a big catalogue fairly quickly that we can tour off of and see where we can take the band from there.

CoC: The final question I'd like to ask you goes back to something that Eric Rutan has said on these pages, and it's essentially a disappointment from his side that pure death metal is turning into a lost art form and is being replaced by a lot of genre-blending. As one of death metal's original ambassadors, what are your thoughts on this?

SA: I think it's inevitable that influences are drawn upon from one generation to the next. We did that when we started Deicide. The new bands are going to do it and they're going to bring a modern edge to it. I think it's an art and it's up to the artist to write what they want and leave it up to people to decide whether they like it or not. It's all the same fucking thing at the end of the day -- just branches on the metal tree. <laughs>

(article submitted 24/10/2008)

9/1/2008 J Smit 8 Order of Ennead - Order of Ennead
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