Gorod Vocalist Julien Deyres Lists the Most Metal Pieces of Historic Art!


Gorod vocalist Julien Deyres is an expert in fine art. When he’s not giving full-throated screams on top of Gorod’s blistering, melodious technical death metal, Deyres is putting his master’s degree in art to good use as a tour guide at various historic sites throughout France. 

To celebrate the release of the band’s new album Aethra — the title track (embedded below) of which is directly inspired by one of Deyres’ favorite pieces — we asked Julien to list some of the most metal pieces of artwork he’s ever encountered, and his choices are quite brutal indeed. Take it away, Julien…

I work as a tour guide in France, working at many different monuments and sites belonging to our heritage throughout the whole country — cities, villages, museums, churches, caves — speaking in French, English and German.

I am an art historian. I graduated with a master’s degree in turn of the 20th century contemporary art — more specifically in Czech Pictorial Art around the year 1900. The most famous artists I’ve studied are Alfons Mucha, František Kupka and František Drtikol.

As I’ve always loved traveling, learning new things and exchanging ideas with others, I’ve been naturally interested in worldwide heritage and culture. Moreover, I fell directly in love with the Czech Republic when I traveled there for the first time in 2001, and eventually Prague turned out to be a second home in my heart. At that point it became the topic of my studies.

Jean Delville, The Treasures of Satan, 1895

It’s impossible for me not to mention this picture concerning the link between pictorial art and the metal scene. Known for being the first cover for Morbid Angel’s album Blessed are the Sick, I have had the opportunity to admire this large oil on canvas at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Brussels) in person many times. Jean Delville is known as an idealist painter and especially as a very Catholic character. He rubbed shoulders with a certain Joséphin Péladan (main character of our album A Maze Of Recycled Creeds) which testifies to his extreme religious fervor. This “satanic” image is in fact a reference to the classic representation of “Hercules at the crossroads of vice and virtue,” widely used by the Catholic Church to illustrate this crucial moment when one must choose between passion and reason.

Paul Gauguin, Mahna No Varua Ino (The Devil Speaks), 1891

Initially, I was not a huge fan of the work of Gauguin, but after being confronted with his paintings and drawings more and more in various temporary exhibitions, I learned to appreciate it, especially for its esoteric characteristics. The Paul Gauguin retrospective that took place last year at the Grand Palais museum in Paris was such a great experience that it gave me the idea of the concept album for Aethra. Here, we find an aspect of the initiation of the painter to the Polynesian rites. It is in Tahiti that he seems to have communicated with the devil for real. Far from the luminous and colorful representation that the occidental culture can sometimes epitomize from these islands, this engraving entitled “Mahna No Varua Ino” (“The Devil Speaks”) reveals a pretty dark aspect. What’s more metal than a devil’s speech in person?

Gustave Adolf Mossa, A Carrion (or A Carcass), 1906

This relatively unknown painter from Nice is one of the greatest artists of his time. One could very well perceive him as one of the most metal painters that exists. He sees evil everywhere, his subjects are often licentious, dark, bloody and his work excels in the attraction / repulsion relationship so characteristic of late-century black romanticism. This being so, his interpretations of the subjects abound of this extreme misogyny which inhabits the whole of the masculine intelligentsia of this time. Here, the woman becomes an allegory of the carrion, itself carved by scavengers while her eyes are glowing. This painting is accompanied by an expression of which it is difficult to see anything other than a vengeful interpretation: “So, oh my beauty! say to the vermin / Who will eat you of kisses / That I kept the form and the divine essence / Of my decomposed loves!” (Original version: “ Alors, ô ma beauté! dites à la vermine / Qui vous mangera de baisers, / Que j’ai gardé la forme et l’essence divine / De mes amours décomposés!”.)

Alfred Roll, Demonic, 1904

Here is an artist I did not know and I discovered during an exhibition at the Museum of the Petit Palais in Paris called “The art of pastel Degas in Redon.” This painting directly reminded me of the studies of Jean-Martin Charcot and its invention of female hysteria that we know through the photographic iconography of Salpêtrière. This one shows a demonic woman who was called a witch in the Middle Ages, hysterical in the late nineteenth century and… what about today? Is satan a woman in the end? I will let you meditate on that…

Thanongsak Pakwan, Phi Mè Nay (Ogress of Forest), 2015

This work was an incredible discovery for me. It was at the Musée du Quai Branly for an amazing exhibition entitled “Hells and Ghosts of Asia.” This young artist is still alive (he is only 34 years old this year), comes from Thailand and allowed me to discover a universe that I did not know well as I have still never had the opportunity to travel there. This image refers to demons from the Thai folk culture of “Phi” and this particular one is a spirit that lives in streams and forests. This representation of ogress immediately fascinated me with all the elements both luminous and mortuary, but especially by her penis necklace that she wears around her neck. I would not be surprised to see a black or death metal band use this picture as their cover artwork soon, in case it hasn’t already been done!

Michel Batlle, Guitarman, 2018

Last summer, I was working as a tour guide in a 16th century castle not far from my home, and every year they host a local artist who has the opportunity to exhibit his works in an absolutely beautiful setting. This year was Michel Batlle’s turn, who had such a love for the guitar that he made a “living-sculpture” on which visitors had the opportunity to play. It is a shaman-like metal sculpture in which he has inset a headless bass guitar that’s plugged into a small Fender amp. So, as a typical metalhead, you can imagine how much fun I had thanks to this piece of art during the long waiting hours without visitors!

Aubrey Beardsley, Salome, 1906

The myth of Salome was my master’s focus when I was still a student. This young dancer and “head cutter” turned out be an overused topic for many artists during the 1900s. The craziest work on this subject remains the one-act play theater piece written by Oscar Wilde, because his digressions went so far that he invented a true necrophiliac relationship between the Princess of Judea and the beheaded Saint John the Baptist. Aubrey Beardsley gave birth to a very typical art nouveau illustration of this bloody narration that pushed the end-of-the-century decadence to its climax. By such a perfect mingling of gore and romanticism, the history of art could hardly have offered us a more metal subject than this one, right?

Aethra comes out on Friday, October 19 via Overpowered Records. It’s available to pre-order digitally via AmazoniTunes and Google Play, and in several physical formats via Overpowered Records’ merchandise site.

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