Gallia is a symphonic metal band from Belgium. Formed in 2014, they have one EP and one LP to their credit. Both tell the tale of a world of their own creation, Terra Nova. Ever Flame was first and Obscura is the new beast of a record. The tale is of an epic journey, detailing the protection of the Ever Flame and the trek from darkness to light. There is a cinematic feel to the whole endeavor, the songs are not just piece of music, they are part of the score. So far, the images must be completely of your own minds’ making, but soon that could change. When this is presented on stage, there will be videos helping the transitions to some songs, making this a multimedia experience, not just a concert. Read on for more details about Terra Nova and the future of Gallia!

Gallia members are:

  • Elyn Vandenwyngaert – Vocals
  • Yannick Maris – Guitars
  • Laurens Vandebroek – Bass
  • Ties Jehoul – Drums

Metal Zenith – What is the origin of the band name? What is the meaning?
Gallia – Our band name Gallia is derived from the Dutch word ‘Galliër’, which translates to Gauers or Gaul. These are old names for the Celtic tribes that lived West of the European Alps before the Roman invasion in 50 BC. This area would later become Belgium and France, and since we’re a Belgian band, we thought this would be a great way to honor our roots. Gaul people excelled in sword-making and fighting, and their name was derived from the Celtic word ‘Galno’, which means strength. We also love bringing a great deal of power, battle and victory into our music.

MZ – Who are some of your biggest influences?
Gallia – We are really inspired by film music, and great composers such as Hans Zimmer or Danny Elfman. We also look up to some great symphonic metal bands such as Nightwish, Epica, Xandria, Kamelot, Delain, Twilight Force, Blackbriar… There are so many elements to admire, from lyric writing to unique compositions and great orchestral work.

MZ – The band has existed for eight years and this is the debut full length record. Did it take that long to get the story just like you wanted it, or is now just the perfect time and it all came together?
Gallia – It took a while to find our sound and we had some member changes as well. We released our debut EP Everflame in 2019 with 6 of our first songs. Since 2019 we started working on Obscura, our first full length, which actually took the full 3 years to perfect. We worked a lot on getting the music and lyrics just right, to make a great cohesive album that is yet very varied to listen to.

MZ – Is there more to this story? Will there be Obscura Pt II?
Gallia – Absolutely! Obscura ends in a cliffhanger, which you will read about in the book we’re soon releasing: Obscura, the dark age of Terra Nova. This is a little project of our vocalist Elyn, who wrote out all the stories she had in her head when she was writing the lyrics for Obscura. It’s a short novel that will read like fantasy story set in our own created world of Terra Nova. The story is far from over, and we’re already brainstorming the next part of this story!

MZ – How did the pandemic affect the trajectory of the band? Did that stall the writing and recording process for Obscura?
Gallia – No, the extra time that was freed up with the lockdown was actually welcomed by Yannick so he could write the album. We didn’t have any shows, so we couldn’t really promote Gallia, but we spent all of our time preparing for the release of Obscura.

MZ – Are there any plans to try and perform this album as a single work on stage, possibly with media clips and an orchestra? Is there a chance this becomes a multimedia event?
Gallia – A full orchestra is not in the budget at the moment, though that would be an incredible experience! Our release show on the 8th of October in Club9 in Koersel (Belgium), will have some projected videos and other surprises for the public to really give people that dramatic cinematic experience.

MZ – Time seems to play a major part in Obscura since the ticking clock makes sporadic appearances. What message are you trying to pass along about time? Why is it so important to this story?
Gallia – The opening song is Return of Time (Aperture is the intro of this song), which is about realizing you’re in a toxic situation and trying to escape it. When you’re rebuilding your life, you realize how much time was ‘stolen’ from you, being stuck in that situation. So Return of Time sings about taking back that time that was stolen from you, rewinding the clock and taking back your life.

In the story of Obscura, Gallia leaves the Everflame Mountains after guarding the Everflame for 1000 years. They have spent so many years fighting in the dark, and they are now ready to start their lives again, pick up where they left off. Only to find the world is now covered in darkness… How will they make up for the time they have lost?

MZ – What is the songwriting process for the band? Does everyone bring ideas and they get worked out, or is there one primary creative person who drives the direction of the story?
Gallia – Yannick is our main creative genius, he writes the orchestral and guitar parts and works out the main direction for the song, after which Ties and Laurens write their parts to match the music. Elyn writes the lyrics and vocal melody as the last part of the process. On occasion, Elyn starts off with a vocal melody, which Yannick uses as a base to build to song around it.

MZ – What events drove this dystopian view of the world? What inspired the story?
Gallia – The story of Obscura was written backwards. First, we wrote the music and the lyrics without really a concept in mind, after which Elyn felt like we were creating a fantasy world, so she created a map to visualize this new world. We called it Terra Nova. Then Elyn started to see a story being weaved between the songs, and where the different songs take place in this world. So she started writing the story of Obscura in book form. Her love for fantasy worlds like The Lord of The Rings, Game of Thrones, or Harry Potter definitely inspired this story. But if you want to know what happened exactly, you’ll have to read the book…

MZ – You use a lot of sound effects along with the orchestration and regular instruments, including a ticking clock, a music box and a merry-go-round if I’m correct. What inspired the use of so many different sounds?
Gallia – This adds a layer of cinematic quality, because these sounds relate to the story that’s being told. It makes it very visual and helps bring the story alive. We indeed use a clock, music box, shattering mirror, and even battle sounds.

MZ – Why all the different musical styles, such as arabesque/tribal and sea shanty? What were you trying to portray with all of that? How do they fit into the story?
Gallia – We knew this would be a travel album, where we take the listener to different parts of a fantasy world. Each part of this world has its own history, culture and even different species. It only makes sense to give the songs different identities, because each song relates to a different part of the world. It really makes you feel like you’re traveling and each song brings you in a different part of Terra Nova.

MZ – Are those meant to indicate this was a journey fully around the world?
Gallia – Not a journey on Earth, but our created fantasy world: Terra Nova. We get to travel a lot and see a lot of this wonderful world, but don’t be mistaken, there are still places left to discover in next albums!

MZ – What are the key elements to the story from your point of view?
Gallia – There’s a lot of darkness in the story, literally and figuratively. You’ll notice there are a lot of songs with a heaviness to it, such as Reflection, Mirage, Chaos. They represent the world covered in darkness, and the people suffering because of this. But there’s also a lot of hopefulness, if you listen to Path of the Nomad or Euphoria, you’ll hear happiness, determination and hope shining through. That’s Gallia on their mission to bring light again to Terra Nova. This duality is inside all of us, and is being reflected in the music in a wonderful way.

MZ – What is the main moral/lesson of the story you want the listener to take with them?
Gallia – No matter how dark the situation may seem, how hopeless or alone you might feel – it is always worth trying to do what is right and chasing the light, and you’ll always find people who will support you on this journey.

MZ – What is the main lesson you learned, about the world and about yourself, that you learned while writing/recording this record?
Gallia – There is darkness and light in all of us. We all fight our own demons and we all feel lonely at times. There is power in embracing both, and you’re never as alone as you think you are. We have to keep believing in a better world, and we have to keep fighting for it. And kindness is the strongest weapon we have.

For those who have heard this album, these answers are great news. There is more to come and the story will continue. I, for one, hope Gallia takes this to a logical conclusion. Will it take three more years to get the next book? Maybe, but it is better to take the time and get it right, rather than rush and end up with an album that does not pack as big a punch as this one does. Obscura is so well thought out and executed, I will gladly wait the extra time to ensure the next phase is as amazing as this one.