BIOGRAPHY

Origin/Crucifire

Ahráyeph is not a new band. Its origins lie way back in the early summer of 1996, in a band called Crucifire, named after a misheard lyric from the Nefilim song 'Pazuzu (Black rain)', which later turned out to be a real word i.e. the stake witches were burnt on in the Middle Ages. Given the band's lyrical mystic leanings, this was, of course, an added bonus. The band's influences ranged from old school gothic rock to doom and gothic metal. Its driving force was Raf, a self taught musician and producer, formerly also active in metal band Ancient Rites, writing most of the music to their last album 'Rubicon'.

The Crucifire line up didn't last for that long, however, it managed to record a six song demo, which would prove to be essential in the continuation of Crucifire as Ahráyeph some years down the line. After the demo was recorded, several members left the band due to their every day commitments and even though the remaining members continued for some time, the band fell prey to drug abuse and eventually dissolved.

2000 - 2005

After a few botched attempts at changing his musical direction, Raf eventually returned to the Crucifire songs. This was in large part due to friends and fellow musicians who had heard the Crucifire demo and urged him to do something with it, as the quality of the music shone even through the less than decent production. Another catalyst for a return to the songs, was the recording of an adaptation of The Cure's 'A Forest' at the very end of Crucifire's existence, which laid the foundation of what later was to become the Ahráyeph signature sound.

Hence Raf got back to the old songs, taking them as a reference point rather than continuing in the same vein, as most songs had a metal influence and metal was not the direction he wanted the songs to follow, opting for a more open, organic sound with textures and soundscapes, marrying together the sounds of bands like Pink Floyd, The God Machine, Massive Attack and Portishead with his New Wave/Gothic past, as well as incorporating some industrial influences.

So by the turn of the century, Raf was back to writing Crucifire songs, but something seemed amiss. Due to the eviction of the metal influences, he felt that a name change was in order. Also, the band of yore was no more and Crucifire hence had become a one man project. So in 2001 he changed its name to Ahráyeph, a name invented through phonetic word play. With a new name and a new sound, Raf set to work on new songs for the next five years, while simultaneously working on the songs for 'Rubicon', after having returned to Ancient Rites in 2004. Although most of the old was omitted, some old Crucifire songs would prove to have longevity and would be revisited either in part or completely down the line.

2006 - 2008

By the end of 2006, most of the debut album's songs were finished, resulting in a succesful free giveaway campaign of the 'Heralding The Marooned' demo, which consisted of a selection of three of the album's songs. The demo's title already hinted at the imminent arrival of the album and its name : 'Marooned On Samsara', which alludes to the Jainist concept of 'Samsara', the worldly life between reincarnations. The project's momentum increased even more when local musicians, rallied by hearing the songs, spontaneously auditioned to join Ahráyeph and bring the project to full band status. In early 2007, Raf left Ancient Rites for the second time, not wanting to be associated with singer Gunther Theys' increasingly neo nazist leanings and wishing to concentrate on his own band. In September of that year, this band played the first ever Ahráyeph gig in Leuven, Belgium at a double bill concert with English Goth Rockers N.F.D.

In May 2008, 'Marooned On Samsara' was finally released through French label D-Monic. Unfortunately, the band did not manage to play gigs in support of the album in 2008. With all this free time on hand, Raf immediately started writing new songs.

2009 - 2012

At the start of 2009, the band decided to give a little sneak preview of some of the new songs, this time in the form of another free demo giveaway, consisting of the songs 'Maiden By The Sea' and 'Resolve (A Dirge). This time, though, this was done exclusively in digital format, as the band used the share-happy peer-to-peer networks to spread the new songs.

However, due to other commitments and priorities, the band fell apart over the course of 2009, prompting Raf to continue once again on his own while looking for new musicians to accompany him live. In May 2009 he released Ahráyeph's cover of fellow compatriots Hooverphonic's song 'Eden' exclusively on iTunes.

Things took a turn for the better in 2010 with a firm live date, filling the next to last spot on the first day of the Spain Gothic Festival in Madrid on September 17th. Several months before, guitar player Xavier Rossey had joined Ahráyeph in order to prepare for this festival gig and became a permanent fixture, taking the lead guitar spot. Sound- and videoscape artist Sam Devos of For Greater Good and Vomito Negro fame was also attracted to enhance the visual and aural experience during the band's attandance at the Spain Gothic Festival and was also elevated to full member. Later that year, Ahráyeph recruited classical trained keyboard player Ness to man the keyboards and soundscape sequences.

2011 brought a few surprises and a lot of activity on the part of this threesome. The last demo songs for the next album were written and with already three live dates confirmed and a lot more in the works, the band took to rehearsing intensely to be ready for both the gigs as well as the recording of the album at the start of 2012. Raf also found the time to record a cover of the Sophia song 'Leaving' with the blessing of Robin Proper-Sheppard himself. And if all this wasn't enough, Raf released an official video for the 'Samsara' song 'Distanced', consisting of live footage of the first line up. With an official studio shot clip of the previous 'threesome' line up scheduled for release in the final week of 2011 and at least one more clip featuring live images of the Mk.I era in the works, the band is steadily catching up on visual content as well.

2012 was Ahráyeph's most prolific year to date when it came to live gigs. With opening slots at the two Porta Nigra Festival dates in Belgium and Germany, a headline date in Bruges over the summer, but also a high profile appearance at the prestigious Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, Germany, Ahráyeph did indeed have their busiest live year. Unfortunately, playing live also has a tendency to separate the men from the boys and it turned out guitar player Xavier didn't prove to be up to the task of representing Ahráyeph's music on stage and was sacked. The latter half of 2012 brought more turmoil, as keyboard player Ness decided to bow out after careful deliberation, to focus on her private life. Raf decided to declare Ahráyeph's live incarnation to be on indefinite hiatus and went back to the one man project format Ahráyeph had been at its inception.

2013 - Present

In January 2013, Raf finished and released all the songs which were originally slated to appear on Ahráyeph's second album, 'AnimAElegy'. While three recording contract offers proved there was definitely industry interest in the project, all of them proved to be so inadequate that Raf had no other option than to turn them down and decided going digital was his only option, lacking the funds to finance the manufacture of a physical CD by himself. Given the adversity that had plagued Ahráyeph in the years before, Raf then decided to take a much needed break and took the next six months off. Six months turned into a year, in which he occupied himself with installing his new multimedia studio, and taking on various freelance assignments in the multimedia field.

Although music was far from his mind for most of this year, Raf did work on some odds and ends, releasing non-goth music under the 'Twisted Psyche Of ARF' banner and working on a few ideas for Ahráyeph. One of these was the finished version of an 'AnimAElegy' session demo called 'De Regum Ac Fures', which was re-recorded and finished for the eleventh birthday of online goth radio station Cathedral 13. Other than that, the extended break yielded no concrete new music, as Raf didn't feel ready to return to writing for Ahráyeph.

By the end of 2013, nothing indicated that Ahráyeph was active in any shape or form, until Raf announced a new live line up out of the blue. It turned out he and Nefilim/Fields of the Nephilim bass player John 'Capachino' Carter had been keeping in touch with each other over the past few years since Carter had exited Fields of the Nephilim on is own terms, and with the surprise hiatus of Carter's band XII in November, Raf asked him if he was interested in joining Ahráyeph for any future live gigs. John graciously took up the offer and suggested XII's Alex Martin take the drummer spot. Carter further suggested bringing former Rhombus and James Ray's Gang War guitar player Simon Cardwell on board as well. Cardwell and Raf had been close acquaintances for several years, making Carter's suggestion a rather logical one for the both of them, and Cardwell wasted little time getting on board.

Currently, this new live incarnation of Ahráyeph is rehearsing a set comprised of classic Ahráyeph songs as well as 'AnimAElegy' songs which have never been played live before, as negotiations with festival organisers and concert promoters are under way to make 2014 at least as prolific a gigging year for Ahráyeph as 2012 was, if not better. Raf also intends to start writing new songs in earnest from early 2014 onwards.

To be continued...