At Hellfest 2019, I had the opportunity to meet the man and mind behind the French black metal band Hyrgal: Clément Flandrois. We were able to share a few words about his band. An interview where I could feel all the investment and all the passion of Clément. In addition to being the composer of an extremely successful project, he manages to give a deep and rich dimension to his black metal.

Let us start with a short presentation.

So, I’m Clement. I am guitarist, singer, songwriter, creator of the band and instigator of everything behind Hyrgal, the “thinking head”.

What does “Hyrgal” mean and how would you define the band in a few words?

So it’s the association of two runes. Because at the time I created the band I wanted an ancestral sound with very primitive things and at the time I was really focused on the use of runes and all the Nordic mythology . Fewer today, even though I still have a lot of connections and these runes really mean a lot to me. I used two runes that are “Tyr”, rune of the god Thor and “Hagal”, the main one. According to me it was a good mix, I made a kind of “Boggel” in there and I thought it was very primitive, that it sounded very brutal and I liked it.

And after I stopped the band for a few years but I decided to keep the same name because when I started the band again, it still spoke to me, I found it very fair.

Musically speaking, we play black metal, the simplest possible, as honest as possible, curious and primitive.

What are your sources of inspiration outside runes and Nordic mythology?

For this album, the main theme is my country, my French culture, my region of origin, Savoie, nature, mountains and all that. It’s also a family legacy  and I’ve done a mix of it all.

When I made Serpentine, it had nothing to do with Nordic mythology. There is only the name because these runes speak to me and are important to me so I kept them but there is nothing, I would say, viking behind all that. One could perhaps make more connections with Celtic culture, since it is also the culture of my country. It’s a French culture. The Celts were also present in the Alps, there was a big legacy at this level. So we are going to say Celtic and French, these are the main things that led me to compose that. And a sense of urgency and fury.

What are your musical inspirations?

To compose music I do not necessarily use my direct influences. I do not care, I take a guitar and I compose riffs that I want to do, that I want to listen to and especially that seem to me in line with what I want to say at this time.

I listen to a lot of different music. A lot of black metal obviously. It’s a style that has possessed me since my teenage years so that will never change.

I listen to a lot of baroque music, a lot of ambient, a lot of dark ambient. The work of Pauline Oliveros, who has been one of the pioneers of ambient music in San Francisco including an album called “Deep Listening” that I like very much. Atonal accordions, very special sounds.

I listen to a lot of folk, in the sense guitar and vocals, not biniou and bagpipe, it is not something that speaks to me a lot. I listen to many traditional music from different countries: traditional Mongolian music, traditional Viking music, traditional music of all countries. I like it very much precisely because of this honest and primitive approach.

I try to have an extended panel. As a music lover, we must have a diverse and varied panel. And above all, there are many things that I like so I do not limit myself, I do not want to limit myself, it bugs me those limits.

After two years, what are the feedbacks you received about “Serpentine”? Are you satisfied with the way the album was received?

The feedback is what it is. It’s not necessarily something that speaks to me a lot. I am very happy that people share the same vision. I think it was well received. Chronicles that I read, people have managed to capture a little essence of what I wanted to say. So it touched me a lot because that’s why I did that album. So yes, the feedback is good and I am very happy. Anyway, I do not look at that kind of thing.

How was your performance today at Hellfest?

It went well, a little hot, a little hard because these are very intense performances. We arrive, we are dropped in all this with a technique that goes very quickly: it is necessary to make the soundcheck very quickly, it is very fast for us and it is sometimes difficult to be in it. On the other hand, we especially tried to have a maximum of pleasure and to pay homage to the things we have in our guts. And I think that was done, especially for me. There are a lot of things going on when I’m playing a Hyrgal show. It’s not just playing music in front of the others, there is also a sort of catharsis behind all that and this is important for me, this is vital. This catharsis was done and the tributes I had to make were made too so I am very happy. And that’s the main thing.

What have you planned for the rest of the year 2019-2020?

There is the new album. There is no release date yet, there are no things planned yet. I finish it by myself. And there are still fewer people on it than before. So, we are only two this time with Nico, whom you saw on the drums today. He saw me in distress when I did not have any drummer and so on. So he has been integrated in the band and he gives me a serious hand. I do not know how to thank him. We’re going to do this album together and we’re going to put anger in it like never seen before.

So we hope to release it in the second quarter of 2020. We will see, for now, nothing is defined, nothing is fixed. For the moment the album ends, I arrive at the end and there will be only to work with “les Acteurs de l’ombre” to be able to release it in the best way.

I leave you the last words of this interview.

I will not pretend to shout a rant because, who am I to do it? Everyone sees noon at his door. I have especially one thing in mind, which is that those who love this music made with the guts do not get lost, that they remain faithful to what they like, to what they believe and that they continue to love this music there in the deepest of themselves, because that’s how this scene lives. She lives in the hearts of people and not on scenes.

Photos by Stephan Birlouez for


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