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In Carrion Dreams Interviews

All Interviews conducted by Kevin

 reprinted with permission

Recently I was able to conduct an interview with Rhiannon of Somnus.




1.       What can you tell me about the origins of the name “Somnus?”

 Somnus was the Roman God of Sleep and the father of Morpheus, God of Dreams.  It was believed that Somnus would put people into their slumber each night and determine whether or not they should have a pleasant dream or a disturbing one.  Then he would send his son Morpheus the Shape-Shifter to appear in different forms in people’s dreams depending on what was decided.  Some people may have heard of Hypnos, who is simply the Greek name for Somnus.  For our band, the name was chosen to portray the somber, dark, and dreamlike feel we try to convey through our music and lyrics.


 2.       You worked on the Avernus album “Of the Fallen.”  What brought that about?  Are you friends with the band?  Any future (or past) guest vocal/keys spots (for any band)?

I became a fan of Avernus upon hearing the “Sadness” demo, and I ended up becoming friends with them.  When their original female singer left, they searched in Chicago but had trouble finding a suitable replacement.  I was half-kidding around with them when I offered to do vocals, but that’s how it ended up!  I was pretty excited so I didn’t have a problem driving 6-7 hours to rehearse with them a few times and then record.  I performed with them at Milwaukee Metalfests 1996 and 1997, and sang on their demo “East of Eden” and then on their full-length “Of the Fallen”.  I had a good time, and I also thought that the experience might help get Somnus’ name out there too.  Last I saw, Avernus is playing gigs without any female vocals.

I also did some vocals on a Celtic Frost tribute called “Nordic Mist” which has never been released but I hope it sees the light of day sometime (bug Jim Konya of Nunslaughter about that).  I also played keyboards for a band called Noctuary from Cleveland, then some of its members formed Sanctorum, and I played bass with them for awhile until they could find a permanent member.  Since then I have done keyboard intros for a female death metal project out of Pittsburgh called Derketa (for a 7” record), and in the near future I will be doing studio vocals for an amazing dark gothic metal project called Ater Draconis.  I’m pretty excited about that since the songwriter is quite talented.

 3.       What are some of your (personal) influences?

  Growing up I loved power metal and thrash like old Queensryche, Testament, Fates Warning, Savatage, Annihilator, Megadeth, Overkill, Solitude Aeturnus, Manowar, King Diamond/Fate, etc.  Way back when, I used to think that metal with “clean” vocals was superior, but fortunately I branched out and began to love bands like Morbid Angel, Candlemass, Slayer, My Dying Bride, Samael, Edge of Sanity, Bal Sagoth, Dimmu Borgir, Nightingale, and Emperor to name a few.  I’d have to say that the group that really made me want to be in a metal band (I was 12 and just learning guitar) was Queensryche. 

  4.       What are some of the band’s influences?

  We all have completely different favorites which makes it a tough question for me to answer, so I’ll just say that elements of power, death, thrash, black, and doom all creep into our music somehow.  But some common elements that inspire our music and lyrics are Paganism, Eastern philosophies, ancient societies, fantasy, old legends, and just metal in general.


5.       Looking up Somnus on UBL (Ultimate Band List) turns up another band, now called “Insomnis.”   Did you know of their existence?  Was there any discussion on who got to use the name Somnus?

 Haha, you did your homework!  Yeah, we became aware of that Somnus I think in early 1998, but I don’t remember exactly when.  Anyway, the band now known as Insomnis is a monotonous ambient project formed by Eric Lyman.  According to what I can gather from his web site, we used the name Somnus first (our printed use of the name on copyrighted material dates back to early 1994).  We never actually contacted him about a name change though because we weren’t experiencing many problems over the situation.  For one, that Somnus wasn’t a metal band, and two, it’s pretty much a one-man band so no shows or tours either.   But after releasing our CD in 2000, we thought that potential fans and ‘zines just might mistake the two Somnus’, so we were preparing to contact him, but by then the name was changed to Insomnis.  So thanks, Eric, for changing your project’s name with no arguments or bullshit! 


 6.       What are some CD’s that you are currently listening to?

Bal Sagoth—Atlantis Ascendant, The Sins of Thy Beloved’s latest CD, Soilwork—A Predator’s Portrait (which is AMAZING, buy it!), and Richthofen (German industrial death).  Last year’s Crest of Darkness and Crematory CD’s are also awesome.   I also have been listening to Iron Maiden, Helloween and Testament just to change things up.


7.       What can we expect from the new material?  Any recording plans?

You can expect the best Somnus material to date, and no less!  The newer stuff tends to be a bit heavier with more technical playing.  Since the CD, we acquired a new lead guitarist and new bassist, both of whom are more aggressive players.  This puts a new and more “metal” twist on our material, with the introduction of more complex riffs, harmonies, and guitar solos.  But it’s unmistakably Somnus, there’s still the dark atmosphere and doom influence found in our older music.

You’ll hear exactly what I’m talking about very soon since we’re recording in early August!  At that time, we’ll also get new band photos, and have new art created by the same fantasy artist who painted the “Awakening the Crown” cover.  It’s going to be a 6-track EP to be entitled “Through Creation’s End”, featuring all new tunes.  That will be released sometime this fall, so be on the lookout! The new recording is going quite well, as of now we are just about 3 weeks into the process. We look to be done by the end of this month, with mixdown to follow. Artwork and pix still need to be done though...since our artist was booked solid.  But not to worry it will all come together in due time, we do not want to cut any corners. Updates on our progress will be regularly put in the news section of our website.


8.       If it’s ok to ask, what prompted the departure of bassist Lou Spencer?

Well, there’s no juicy argument to speak of!  Mainly, Lou left Somnus because he wasn’t really into our music enough to keep him fulfilled and dedicated to the project.  Before he left, he formed a band called Manticore, and he really seemed to be into that, so we weren’t surprised by his departure.  He’s always been more into simplistic, raw, blasphemous stuff (which is what Manticore is like) and less into melodic metal, so it was only a matter of time until he either grew to like melodic stuff or decided to quit Somnus.  If he stuck with us despite being unhappy, the band would have suffered from the resulting negative energy, so it ended for the best.  Don’t get me wrong though, it was not easy to see a founding member depart, he was actually in the band before I was!  But now we have Steve Rolf, a very dedicated musician and person, and it’s kickass to have someone whose heart is completely into our dark and melodic ways.

9.       Any comments on the “Great Napster Controversy?”

 Well I’ve never used Napster and I’m not totally against it, but I have a bit of proof that it has hurt our CD sales.  I’ve had people come RIGHT UP TO ME and say, “Somnus kicks ass, but I don’t have the CD because I got all your songs off Napster”.  That’s depressing, I mean I appreciate that new people are hearing us, but I really dislike the attitude of “I already got all your songs for free so screw your merchandise”.  We all put tons of money into this band, most of which we haven’t seen in return.  Local bands never become national acts unless they can sell, so Napster has the power to really hurt up-and-coming acts.  But if you did download Somnus and eventually got the CD, that kicks ass!  I’ve discovered a lot of bands by checking out 1 or 2 songs online and then buying their CDs (like Soilwork, one of my new favorites).  I’ve never downloaded a whole album, if a song or two really impresses me, I break down and buy it.  If everyone did that, then stuff like Napster and would be the best promotion around.  This is just a dream I’m sure, but if Napster were somehow able to prevent people from getting an entire CD of any one band, then it would be great for musicians and labels.


10.   Who handles the lyrics, or is it a group effort?

Well one thing about Lou was that he wrote some very good lyrics!  He and Scott used to collaborate and pretty much compose them all.  Now it is a group effort, with all five of us contributing.  I even wrote lyrics for one of our new songs, and I never wrote lyrics before.  On the new EP, we are recording songs with lyrics by all 5 members, which I believe is rather unique for a band a good way to avoid redundancy.


 11.   I noticed some Nordic mythology influences lyrics (Lair of the Wendol specifically).  What are some other sources of inspiration are there for the lyrics?

We blend all types of mythologies and have even adopted their symbols, animals, colors, peoples, deities, and legends into our own sort of “Somnus” Theology.  We’ve sat down and exchanged ideas that we thought were cool, and then we base our lyrical ideas on this fictional theology.  We’ve used everything from Celtic, Roman, and Greek mythology to South American and Far Eastern civilizations and ideals, all in efforts to create our own type of fantastical world, to which we hope to transport our listeners, whether it be through dreams or nightmares!


Thank you for the great interview!

It was my pleasure!  In closing, I would like to tell people to check out our website at for news, pictures, and show dates or email me at for more information, or write:


 P.O. Box 81379

 Cleveland, OH 44181 USA.


All photos are property of Somnus

Used by permission



Kevin Gasner.
Copyright 2001© [Overlord Music]. All rights reserved.
Revised: September 02, 2001 .