DAEVA is a Black Metal-Thrash band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The band is made up of guitarist Steve Jansson, vocalist Edward Gonet, bassist Frank Chin, and drummer Enrique Sagarnaga. They released their debut EP Pulsing Dark Absorptions in 2017, and in November of 2022, they released their debut full-length album titled, Through Sheer Will and Black Magic through 20 Buck Spin.
We caught up with Steve to chat about Through Sheer Will and Black Magic and find out more about their Black-Thrash style. Steve is a Darkthrone fan and remembers getting their A Blaze In The Northern Sky album as he was a teenager, “When that Music’s new to you, it is pretty abrasive to your ears, but there’s something there that you’re like, wait there’s something here, I’m just gonna listen to this a bunch, and then you wrap your head around it. I remember cleaning my shitty teenage bedroom with that in my discman for hours, just listening to it on loop. I miss those days. You get a CD, you buy it and it’s what you bought and you just listen to it over and over and over again and you digest Music.”
DAEVA’s sound is a culmination of 80’s Thrash, like Sodom, Slayer, and Dark Angel, and the early Norwegian Black Metal, which is accredited for a huge part of their style. Steve always had a Love for when the two genres mixed, like with Aura Noir when they released the Black Thrash Attack album, and bands like Niflheim. “I always Loved the sort of marriage of the two, and because it’s real pissed and aggressive and unhinged, but it has the feel of Black Metal. I always just Love the two.”
Through Sheer Will and Black Magic was produced, mixed, and mastered by Arthur Rizk, who has worked on Music for bands like Power Trip, Soulfly, Municipal Waste, Kreator, and many more. Steve has known Arthur for more than eight years and will sometimes go and play with one of his bands as a fill-in when they’re on tour. He’s also recorded albums for Steve’s other band, Crypt Sermon. “We’re very familiar and comfortable with each other. As far as the feeling and how the album sounded, there really wasn’t much to it at all. I didn’t twiddle a whole lot of knobs on the amps or anything, we sort of dialed out good sound. As far as like the atmosphere, even the first bounce back of the mix, it was like “all right, well you got the atmosphere now we just gotta tweak some other things.” Pretty much the first try, he nailed it. There wasn’t a lot of the stuff we did, was just little mixing things and fixing some shit up, little bells and whistles, just to make it pop. He nailed it right off the bat.”
“I’m really happy with the way it sounded. It has that very abysmal, kind of cavy-evil atmosphere, but the instruments are enough up front, and you can hear everything to the point where nothing gets lost. It’s like right where it needs to be.”
Fan Facts: Aside from being a producer and engineer, Arthur Rizk is in a few other bands, War Hungry, Sumerlands, and Eternal Champion.
The Artwork for Through Sheer Will and Black Magic was created by Karmazid, who does a lot of black and white style Art, and very few album covers… The band wanted to go in the direction to use a color template of ideas derived from Darkness Descends by Dark Angel and Agent Orange by Sodom to bring the colors back from that era and be something completely on its own. “I don’t think when you look at the cover you think of Darkness Descends by any stretch of the imagination, but that was the basis for what we used. He crushed our expectations. We knew he would do an amazing job because we really like his work in general and we liked his paint. It’s spot on and a lot of people are grabbed and drawn into the album cover which it’s hard not to be.”
The photography for the album cycle was done by Scott Kinkade, who met Steve around 2007 and has been photographing him throughout the years between his other bands. The photos were taken in their practice space, where they set up a background, and brought lights & cameras in so Scott was able to work his Magic. “We let him lead the way. We told him we wanted a lot of it to be more obscured and a little less color. I mean, obviously we have some color shots too. Scott’s a master what he does.”
All of the lyrics for DAEVA are written by Ed, who carries a lyric book of ideas around with him. He’s written down many phrases and lines that he’s connected with over the years. And when the band is creating Music, they piece them together. “A lot of times he’ll sit on the floor and kind of hear it, and visualize it, and write. It’s all very visual and fitting with the Music, but there’s a lot of underlying personal things within his lyrics too.”
When Steve was creating the riffs and solos for the record, he mainly came up with them at home. Sometimes he’d show up with a riff or two for the band, and then they’d find a flow and write a song from there. “We knew what kind of record we wanted. We didn’t see it right away, we just knew we wanted to do that was really, really dark, but also a little more proficient with sharper songwriting, which is something you don’t really see within the genre that we play. We knew that’s what we wanted, and we also wanted to make sure that it had the right atmosphere. The instruments are also a little more up front so you could hear we needed a nice middle ground.”
Luciferian Return is last track on the record and one of the deeper feeling songs they have for this album. “That one felt the most complete as far as feeling all around. They all do something different which was also what we wanted. We want all the songs to do something a little different that each the others don’t, to have a little bit more variety and so that you can remember it, but not lose anything either.