Bands like Norwegian outfit Atena are still pushing the boundaries of the metalcore scene as can be heard on their new album, Drowning Regret and Lungs Filled With Water. Recently, we spoke to the band about the album, how open-minded fans of heavy music are in 2020, and what the metalcore scene is like in Norway a country more commonly associated with black metal.

Thanks for your time, the album is finally out, what can metalcore fans expect from the end result and how close is it to your vision for the album?

Atena: “They can expect a very emotional, dark and cinematic feel to the album and it’s very close to what we envisioned for the end of the concept-trilogy.”

In 2020, a lot of people think the metalcore genre has run its course but, clearly not with bands like Atena. What would you say you offer fans of heavy music in 2020?

“It hasn’t run its course, it really feels like it’s growing and evolving still with all the countless bands we could write a book about. We offer something more experimental and diverse in each song, so if you like to explore and cross genres, then we’re a perfect fit for you.”

Furthermore, you’re a Norwegian band at that, a country where heavy music is synonymous with black metal. What is the metalcore scene like out there in terms of bands?

“It was extremely small but it’s been growing a lot the last two years and we take great pride in pushing that train hard. It’s very “lonely” to play the genre we do and there aren’t many opportunities for us here, so we have to work harder for less, but we really love playing metalcore so it’s worth it in the end.”

As you dig into the album, there is some much more than just your average collection of breakdowns and screams. Which albums and musicians inspire you when you’re writing?

“There really isn’t any particular bands or albums that are inspiring us, we mostly just try to make something simple/catchy to make room for lyrics and samples/layers etc. to make it interesting to us.”

Was there one particular album or band that turned you on to heavy music?

“Rammstein, Slipknot, System Of a Down.”

In terms of touring though you’ve gigged with everyone from Atreyu to Mayhem. Do you think your sound has that crossover appeal that it can appeal to a black metal fan as much as it can a metalcore fan or do you think the average music fan in 2020 is more open-minded than just listening to one specific genre?

“We toured with the black metal band 1349 once and we got a lot of shit thrown at us, so I don’t think so. But I really hope people are more open-minded now than they were 5 years ago.”

Artwork for ‘Drowning Regret and Lungs Filled With Water’ by Atena

What are your views on the heavy music scene in 2020?

“I love it. Things are only getting better and better and I love that everyone is pushing the boundaries so hard compared to what people did around 2010.”

There is a lighter side to the band in the video for “Domestic Abuse.” Can you talk us through the thought process behind that video given the dark connotations of the song title?

“We wanted to make something ‘fun’ with the money we had left from our budget (200 euros) so we just hired a friend, got together and just tried to put something together in a day. It doesn’t have any deep meaning, just wanted to something different.”

Onto the album title then, Drowning Regret and Lungs Filled With Water. How do you feel that title encapsulates the body of work that goes with it ?

“Drowning is something that is a part of the story in the album, and it’s also a ‘metaphor’ for leaving regret behind and moving on (you’re drowning the regret basically). Lungs filled with water is just an awful state to be in, like going through grief/pain and it fits with the whole drowning-part.”

What about regrets? Are you the kind of person who holds regrets? If so, what is your biggest?

“No, I would like to think I’m pretty okay with where I am and the choices I’ve made. But the regret-part is more something that is to the story rather than my life.”

Okay, the album is out and you’ve got the rest of 2020 ahead of you. What are the band plans?

“We’re working on doing more shows and just be a better live-band. It would also be sick to get on more tours because it’s what we mainly want to do in life.”

Thanks for your time and good luck with the album. Just to finish, do you have any message to heavy music fans who might be reading this?

“Check out our album, been trying our best to not make it sound like shit, so give it a try and hope all good things comes your way.”

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.