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The Brvtalist Interviews M.O.R.
Anthems to the Disembodied

An interview with Geneviève & S. of Menace Ruine

 By The Brvtalist

 

For the past 10 years, Montreal’s Menace Ruine has defied genre boundaries and ripped through black metal constructs with their powerful, atmospheric output that touches on influences ranging from dark ambient, power electronics and primitive black metal. What many don’t know, is the long history between founding members Geneviève and S. The two have made music together for over 20 years, and with that naturally comes a whole host of projects, many of which have not seen a proper release.

This changes with the new cassette and digital album, M.O.R. – Anthems to the Disembodied (Union Finale). Originally recorded in 2006, these tracks have remained a mystery to most but the duo has now unleashed them into the world and it gives us an even greater insight to the creative dynamic of the pair. The band calls this their “Vegan-synth-trash-metal” project and that is the perfect summary. Thrash percussion and noisy distorted synths are aggressively fueled by Veganism and the killing of animals. M.O.R. is the acronym of “Menace of Ruine”, which is also meaningful because of the French word ‘mort’, meaning death, which is essentially the main theme of the album.

Anthems to the Disembodied starts fast and it instantly infects with its raw vocals and 80’s trash metal-inspired electronics riffs. It’s a proto-punk version of Menace Ruine with a strong message and the lyrics are not meant to be ambiguous. At the time, singer Geneviève was driven by an obsession that the whole world was not already vegan and the slaughter of animals was still an accepted practice in society. This inspiration translates musically as it’s surprisingly great to hear the beauty of her vocals in a trash metal context and have it hitting different speeds and ranges. We immediately fell for the doom-laden “Metampsychosis” and chaotic brutality of “Bios Orphikos II The Bacchants”. From top to bottom it’s a relentless record that is seething with disgust and anger. You can definitely hear the early Menace Ruine sound and transition into more electronics.

Being a longtime fan of the band and the duo’s label, Union Finale, I wanted to find out more on the history of M.O.R., what Geneviève thinks now, and are there any more secret projects? Please find our Q&A below:

 

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Even as a long time fan of Menace Ruine, I was unfamiliar with the MOR project. What sparked the decision to release this cassette 10 years later?

Geneviève: We did not talk about our musical past very often, so it is normal to be unfamiliar with this project. S. and I are definitely not nostalgic people and it tends to be the other extreme most of the time: throw everything away in order to move forward. But sometimes we look back and appreciate some of the things we did, as it is the case with the M.O.R. album we love and are proud of, so we decided to release it on our own label to mark its tenth anniversary. It was made out of complete freedom; it is certainly a bit destabilizing and can also bring a smile, but the results are quite unique and imaginative, in our opinion. The main reason we chose to release it now is for the animals. The lyrical content was inspired by a book I read a few years back, The Heretic’s Feast: A History of Vegetarianism by Colin Spencer, in which he explores the voluntary abstention from meat throughout history. It goes back as far as Pythagoras, in the 6th century BC, which is not that surprising, given it is pretty easy to know intuitively, by simple observation, that non-human animals are sentient beings who want to live their life as they will and that they share all the fundamental needs of human animals. Furthermore, it is easy to notice their distress, fear and suffering when we harm them, but also to see when they are happy, grateful and bonding with their family and friends. Now that science has proven all of this, as well as the fact that it is unnecessary to use them in any way now (given the multitude of alternatives available), plus the knowledge we have about the health and environmental benefits of Veganism, how can we still deny the animals their right to live, and go on living such an unethical life? It is so wrong to treat sentient creatures as manufactured products, or to consider wildlife as a natural resource. It scares me to death. Of course, animal rights have made some progress, but the global destruction has also accelerated and the massacre is not about to stop. What an arrogant species we are.

 

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You describe the material as “Vegan Synth Trash Metal.” As we know, at the time you were extremely passionate about Veganism and used that energy to create visual art as well as music. Do you still have the same feelings about the subject? Has anything changed since then? 

Geneviève: Lots of things have changed, and I will do my best to summarize: to use that energy to create is great, but since this album was never released, that energy did not raise any awareness, therefore it didn’t save any animals, which would have been the ultimate goal of the album. Similarly, in our everyday life, we were more silent about Veganism; not that we were shy about it, but we thought that giving the example would inspire some people around us, but it didn’t – and there were not many people around us, anyway. A few years ago, we became activists. The horror, sadness, anger and helplessness that grows with the knowledge of animals’ misery can be self-destructive, and this energy had to be turned into something more concrete in order to help. Music seemed so useless by comparison, and the music world so vain and narcissistic, that I revolted against my “useless artistic nature” and tried to deny the necessity of music in my life.

Also, we were disappointed to witness so much indifference, resistance and even hostility around us.: I’ve never met anyone who deserves to have another sentient creature be their slave, suffer a life of misery and die violently for them. It is difficult to feel a sense of community with humans who contribute to this massacre, or show no intention to change despite the knowledge they have of the situation. But as fighting in vain is also destructive, it’s better keep our energy for actions that we know will actually bring positive changes. It would be useless to generate more negativity than there is already in the world, or to expose ourselves to it on purpose when we know there is nothing we can do, as well as focusing only on this waking nightmare we live in… I did that a lot, and lost so many days while paralyzed by it. Leaving the city was the best decision of our lives. Nature is so soothing and healing. I only have to go outside now and feel grounded again. The desire to make music returned slowly, and hopefully we will be able to use it to contribute to the animal rights movement in some way.

That said, we feel that nowadays more and more people are concerned with institutional violence, social injustices and oppressions. Hopefully they will begin to include the non-human animals in their circle of compassion, as they are certainly different, but not inferior nor less worthy of living. On the contrary, they do not destroy everything around them, nor take more than they need. I hope values like empathy, compassion and love will take over someday soon.

 

I would love to hear about the transition from MOR to Menace Ruine, your most well-known project and one typically associated with black metal. You can obviously hear the electronic and droning elements in Menace Ruine that are also present on ‘Anthems to the Disembodied.’ Earlier Menace Ruine releases like ‘The Die is Cast’ is a good example as well. Would you say that Menace Ruine grew directly out of MOR, or was it something that happened parallel or separately?

Geneviève: It is important to mention that M.O.R. was a really quick transition from a previous project to Menace Ruine, and that in fact, we named it Menace Ruine at first. We were really fond of this name and so we kept it for our upcoming music, and simply replaced it afterwards by the acronym of its English translation, which turned out to be strangely meaningful. So, yeah, Menace Ruine directly came from it, but did not really have time to ‘grow’ from it. We did this album and played a show in the spring of 2006, and it is precisely that show that led to Menace Ruine as you know it. I hated this live experience, as I felt really weird singing without any instrument to play, but it was the only brief moment I played synth at the end of a song – and it was probably totally cacophonous, as I was not really prepared nor hearing what I was doing – through a similar gear set up to what we use now, that was a revelation for me. It was like playing guitar, but with a synth. I had to do music like this! It was just completely inspiring, like a whole new universe of sounds to explore. Not long after, somebody else invited us to play another show in the fall, and I said to Steve that I would only accept on the condition that we play brand new material. We had a couple of months ahead and completely reinvented ourselves, not because we did not like the vegan trash metal material, but because I had this calling to MR already, something quite dark, but hopefully redeeming that I was willing to jump into. After this show, we started the writing/recording process of In Vulva Infernum, the CDR version including “Bonded By Wyrd.”

 

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I enjoy hearing your vocals in a more trash metal context. Much different than the classical inspired beauty of Menace Ruine. Both certainly have their places. What do you think about it listening back now? Are you always looking to challenge what you can do vocally? Push it in new or different directions? 

Geneviève: I am glad you enjoyed the M.O.R. vocals, and of course, I would never pretend to be a trash metal singer. It was done only half seriously to suit Steve’s music, but I must admit that I was really into it!! It was a very creative period. Exodus singer Paul Baloff was my biggest influence, hehe. Listening to it now, I still have a smile from time to time, but am quite impressed by my performance. I LOVE to challenge myself vocally. Singing is my favorite instrument, the one that allows me the more freedom.

 

Now that MOR is unleashed back in to the world, are there any other post, pre or side-Menace Ruine projects we should know about that we don’t already? 

Geneviève: Steve and I have a long history together, and since the very beginning, over twenty years ago, music and creative projects have been an essential aspect of our partnership. Our musical projects are quite different from each other’s, and I guess this was also a reason why we thought at first that people who like MR would have no interest in our musical past. But MR has also transmuted itself over the course of our career and some people have followed us, so we are willing now to share more of our past – but not everything of course. That is the idea behind Union Finale, having a home and sharing the music we want, not forcing anything on people, because this we cannot do and we feel a bit uncomfortable in the “music world,” even if it is an independent one. Not every musician wants to be under the spotlight, having a thousand pictures of themselves and constantly doing promotion, touring, and so on. It is hard to make a living out of music, and we certainly don’t, so why bother about what we don’t like about it anyway, and why not just do what we like: play and compose, record albums as they come and feel free to share it without pressure. And if some people are interested in our music, they can follow us here. Steve created the label in order to release the second album of my now defunct project Preterite, as nobody else was interested in doing so. Since then, it became obvious that we would eventually gather all our projects here and release the future ones in the most peacefully way possible, sharing some artefacts from our past from time to time.

 

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What’s coming up next for you?

Geneviève: We are slowly getting ready for the winter by accumulating materials, both musical and physical, to work and play with while hibernating here with our cats. We plan to have a really creative white season. We have a new Menace Ruine album in progress and I also have some solo projects in the work. Steve just released a new SVR compilation of two mini-albums called 3e Libido / Autres Gestes, and now he is about to focus on the new Menace Ruine. If some of this music is worth sharing, we will!

Best wishes, and many thanks to you, and Cvlt Nation for this interview!

 

 

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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