When one speaks of the pulse of the French hardcore scene, one cannot stray far from the decade-plus tenure of the Toulouse-based powerhouse Alea Jacta Est. Having distributed their seismic shockwaves of energy since 2006, this metal-hardcore amalgamation has etched their reputation in the annals of the genre’s elite.
Under the aegis of Useless Pride Records and with the auspices of booking through Voulez Vous Danser, their latest offering is an unyielding aural assault. There’s a tactile experience to this album that transcends mere listening; it’s a relentless, palpable charge forward.
From the very first listen, Alea Jacta Est ensnares you in their mesh of muscular hardcore blended with sharp metallic undertones. It’s incredible, a symphony of chants and rallying cries reminiscent of a band of brothers charging into battle. The very essence of their sound can metaphorically transport the listener to a war zone, with adrenaline coursing and hearts racing.
This isn’t merely an album; it’s a battle cry, a soundtrack to vigorous workouts, running sessions, and other adrenaline-charged activities. Dangerously potent, this album ignites a rush like no other.
The perfectly orchestrated riffs and breakdowns showcase a band whose synergy has only intensified over years. There’s a finesse in the chaos, a structured mayhem that only a band well-versed in their craft can manifest.
Today, we have the privilege of delving deep into a conversation with Alea Jacta Est, dissecting their new EP “AD AUGUSTA”, probing the hardcore scene in Toulouse, and much more.
You’re releasing your new EP “AD AUGUSTA” after a gap of seven years since “Dies Irae” (2016). How have the musical and thematic directions changed for Alea Jacta Est in this period?
Olivier: I’m going to be a bit disappointing, but I don’t think it changed a lot ahah!
We worked differently with the covid era and the fact that 3 of us became dads during this period, covid + kids took us more time to write & record our new effort.
We added a few new recipes in the songs, there are some metal tricks, Vincent the singer wrote many catchy punchlines, Laurent the other guitar player sings a lot more in this EP, Flo Landmvrks helped us a lot by upgrading our sound too.
One of your new singles features Florent Salfati, who has a diverse range of musical accomplishments. Can you talk about how this collaboration influenced the sound and message of “AS FAST AS I CAN”?
This guy is simply a music champion ahah, he’s good at studio recording, guitar, singing, songwriting, rap, graffiti, etc. He’s incredible.
As he told himself, that’s actually a lot of work and we are grateful to be a part of his work.
We know him since maybe 2008 or 2009, we always had a good feeling and we never lost contact even if that was a message once a year, we knew his projects and we are just incredibly surprised of the level he reached today. Not because we didn’t trust him, but because he did this so fast and so nicely, we didn’t notice the hard work he did back in the days, but it was just the beginning of what he became later. And he now reaches a level that we thought was impossible for a french metalcore band.
The sound was a topic quickly solved as we just talked maybe 2 or 3 times about the sound we were seeking and he did an excellent job, we didn’t change many things since his first mix submission.
Flo helped us to finish the writing of a song and also helped us with some little tricks on every song.
So I just replied totally NOT to the question ahahah so regarding AS FAST AS I CAN, Vincent our singer wrote the lyrics of the song and Flo wrote his own part following the topic of the song, the message behind the song is a double message: If you just read and take the lyrics as they come, it’s someone running in the dark for his life with dogs and people trying to catch him, obviously not for giving a hug.
The second reading of the song could be you, me, us, living everyday to move forward, living bad experiences in our lives as everyone on this planet and wishing, doing our best to not come back to these bad experiences. The destination doesn’t matter as long as we don’t decline. “turning my back to defeat”, so aiming and heading only to great things.
That could fit with the beginning of my answer, Flo worked hard to become what he is now, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to re-do this path again as it was an incredible journey, let’s keep the energy for new adventures.
The idea behind “Fight Fire With Fire” aligns with defense against aggression. How do you see this resonating in the global context of 2023, where old war rhetoric still prevails?
As I described it when we released the song: “Fight Fire With Fire is about defending yourself with the same strength as the aggressor has used to assault you”
We will never oppress or harm someone first, if we reply, it’s because we’ve been harmed or at least someone tried, that’s the main topic because people already wrote “what ? you promote violence ??”
No we don’t, but someone comes to kill people, you can’t receive him with flowers.
That could also be “Live by the sword, die by the sword”
Don’t be surprised to get a bullet if you tried to shoot someone.
We of course wrote this before the russian aggression of Ukraine, we began the writing of this song and capture some videos in 2020. Anyway as you say, this rhetoric still prevails.
That’s a pity because we thought that war was something that was gone in Europe, this is a global disappointment for every people living here, no one is fucking safe, never.
And the reasons for declaring wars are always bad ones.
Could you delve into how you achieved this intense mixture of metal and hardcore, perhaps talking about the technical and instrumental choices?
Waoh you think that we have such mental capacities? You honor us. Alea Jacta Est is something really natural, instinctive and spontaneous, 95% of our songs are really just “ok guys, someone has a riff ? Let’s play it and see what comes next naturally, 3, 2 , 1, go !”
Here you have our secret, how we write our songs. Or at least 95%.
Regarding the instruments, purely material, we work with Julien BLACK FLAG GUITARS, he made our guitars and bass and he did an incredible job, you can tag him wherever you want. Great guy, great gear.
Then coming to the musical topping, we tried to add some little things in our new songs and the people that listen to Alea since a while will find some differences, but that’s still an “intense mixture of metal and hardcore” as you said, that pretty well said !
Being based in Toulouse, how has the local hardcore scene impacted your music and ethos? Are there any local acts or movements that have been particularly influential?
I wouldn’t say that the local acts influenced us, we’re more influenced by the american scene and not only the United States as one of our main influence is Nueva Etica from Argentina.
We can quote Terror, Madball or First Blood in a more modern way.
BUT the local scene was our nest, we grew up by going to the shows, we met us at the local hardcore shows, almost the whole band, it would be a lie if we say that it didn’t help.
Going the shows, even when we were 20 in the venue, it obviously helped.
Back in the days it was Toulouse Hardcore Shows that set up many things, today it’s Noiser, both promoters helped a lot to give energy to the local acts.
We saw hundreds of bands live and that influenced us. Of Course. And we are really lucky to have this strong scene since 20 years. We also have many good local bands and everyone is in a good mood, no bad tricks between the people, Toulouse is really a cool city.
Given your roots in Toulouse, could you recommend some newer must-listen hardcore bands from the area?
The little brothers in ORDEM, kind of modern metalcore, sounds very good!
Ahasver if you’re into metal.
Aephanemer if you’re into symphonic stuff.
Plebeian Grandstand and Mourir if you’re more into black metal.
I would say Malhkebre too but they’re also from other cities ahah, best dark & violent metal in town.
Black Knives, metal hardcore, they’re coming back after some years of sleeping.
I know I didn’t talk only about hardcore but they aren’t so many hardcore bands here, maybe in a near future but right now it’s a bit light.
The collaboration extends “From Toulouse to Marseille.” How do these two cities and their respective music scenes interact or differ?
Marseille always had and still has a strong music scene, there were some downs but I remember listening to Marseille bands in the early 2000’s like Disturb that still exists today. Big up.
Right now we complete each other really well as both cities have different bands that are really active, I won’t talk again about Landmvrks but they fucking rock the whole world right now. In Toulouse we have Noiser that set up great shows, we founded Useless Pride which is a label and a merch printer, in Marseille they made a recording studio, together we have all the skills to run a band from the beginning to the highest tops.
The relationships between both cities are really good, again, no competition, pure positive mindset.
With Useless Pride we just added Aurore (Marseille freshest hardcore) to our roster, one former Landmvrks member from Marseille founded Affenpinshers (Massive metal hardcore) and moved to Bruxelles, they are on our label too, we print the merch for almost all the Marseille bands, all the Toulouse bands or almost all want to record with Flo or Nico (Landmvrks) in Marseille, the connections are real!
And on top of that we often share the stage with Marseille bands.
After “AD AUGUSTA,” what are your plans? Are there any projects or collaborations already in sight?
Many! I can’t say anything more right now but we are thinking about writing some new songs next year, some featurings are in our minds.