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Monthly Archives: September 1996

Somnus
c.1996. I had the privilege of attending an excellent showcase of metal, both local and national, this August in Cleveland, called the World Series of Metal. Held at the Agora, a two-stage venue, the place was rabid with devoted metalhead fans. Highlights of the show included such national acts as Cannibal Corpse, Incantation, The Misfits, and Mortician, and such local acts as Hemdale, Blood Coven, and Somnus. These bands took respective stages at the twelve-hour marathon of bleeding. Somnus were one of the most interesting and original bands, so I tracked down a representative for a complete overview and interview. Currently in the process of promoting their new EP demo, Somnus took some time to fill us in on the band’s philosophy and inspiration, as Melanie interviewed Scott Hilberg and Lou Spencer.

MR: What are the origins of Somnus?

SH: Somnus was formed in July of 1994 by Erik Rueschman and Scott Hilberg. Lou Spencer was added around eight months later, followed by Scott Shetler and Rhiannon.

Describe your influences and the resulting unique blend of sound which you produce.

Everyone has different tastes and influences which range from classical, ambient, and gothic to death/black metal. As for blending influences, with five members in the band, everything is voted on with a “majority rules” democratic theme.

How are songs and lyrics composed – as a collaborative effort or the task of a few members?

Songwriting is a group effort with the above mentioned “majority rules” theme.

What does your band bring to the scene?

Hopefully something new and interesting.

What can fans look forward to hearing on your new album, and live in concert?

There will be four tracks of dark, atmospheric, powerful music. There are currently ideas being pursued to expand the visual elements of our live show as well.

What portions of your music do you consider to be completely unique and unlike the traditional fare?

Our extremely mood-altering tempo changes and the ability to lift emotions with calm melody, and then destroy all tranquility with blasting chaos.

Why is it so important for fans to see you live; what can fans expect from the studio recording and the live show?

These are two totally different elements and things. In the studio you can create anything and any sound. Live is all energy and only one shot. We will not be doing material in the studio that cannot be performed live.

Where does the band’s name stem from?

Somnus is the ancient Roman God of sleep and dreams.

Any funny/odd band stories to relate?

Whenever we play a show, we can hang out packing gear forever, but as soon as we start loading up, it always rains. (Typical Cleveland weather – shitty. -ed.)

How do you plan to market this new album?

Any way we can. ‘Zines, fliers, the Internet, word of mouth, at shows, and other avenues.

What are your expectations and goals for the empire of Somnus?

Our aim is to get signed to a decent label and/or distributor(s), both here in the States and abroad.

Is the metal scene alive, dead, fine but sadly underpublicized, or what? What do you think of the Cleveland scene?

Metal is alive and well. The attitude of each person is what really matters as to metal being alive or not. As far as Cleveland goes, everyone we talk to tells us that it has one of the best scenes around.

Any other pertinent words of wisdom to aspiring bands or struggling musicians?

Do not cater to others, stay true to yourselves and STRIVE FOR ORIGINALITY…

How does each member fit into the band? (Who plays what?)

Scott Hilberg – Lead vocals, guitar, synth
Erik Rueschman – Lead guitar
Lou Spencer – Bass guitar
Rhiannon – Keyboards, vocals
Scott Shetler – Drums, Percussion.

Describe the song/lyric writing process and a couple of your “signature” or favorite songs.

Our songs are based on our personal outlooks on the world, our collective spiritual beliefs, and some books and movies. “Envy of the Seraph”: This song is about a war in heaven amongst the angels, and an uprising where the dark angels stole the throne. “Beyond the Shores” is about a true warrior dying, only to be alive in the Underworld, awaiting passage from Charon at the River Styx.

Do you look forward to playing out more or touring?

We definitely look forward to touring, if it is advantageous to the band. Playing live gives you a chance to gain new fans and expand.

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