Today's guests literally came out of nowhere and impressed the hell out of me with their brilliant debut album – At The Left Hand Of The Sun.
With its bleak and brutal take on Sludge Metal but with vicious elements of Doom Metal, Psychedelic Metal, Black Metal and Hardcore, this album will leave you dazed for days. It's a brilliant album which is a very dark album indeed.
This is what I said about the album: - “Collapsian's debut album - At The Left Hand Of The Sun – is a volatile mix of Sludge, Doom, Black Metal and Hardcore for one uncompromising ride into the darker side of progressive metal.
The album is not an easy listen as its constant change in moods and atmospheres could be quite difficult for some people to follow. It dares to be different by not following one set musical style. It blends elements from different genres for one violent and hypnotic trippy ride.
The album has a slight Isis/Neurosis influence but it does not stop the fact that this album is a masterclass of progressive sludge metal. It is an intelligent and thought-provoking album that oozes sheer brutality with passion to match.”
Collapsian kindly agreed to do an interview with ourselves at Sludgelord HQ. So lets get started with Collapsian before they unleash more destruction upon the universe!!!
Q1 – Hi guys. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today.
Thank you Steve for asking us to do this. Things have been great. We released our debut record “At The Left Hand Of The Sun” on July 1st and the response thus far has been fantastic. People really seem to dig it.
Q2 – Can you tell our readers a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.
The history of our band is rooted in the ashes of a band named Sihr. We were active from around 2008 to 2012. We released a full length called “Beneath The Twelve Mile Zone” in 2009. We went through a period of inactivity and when we picked back up we enlisted a new vocalist. The music we wrote and recorded became the majority of “At The Left Hand Of The Sun”.
Q3 – How would yourselves describe your music as you have a lot of different sounds going on.
We have all been involved in music and different bands for years. There are a lot of different influences between the four of us, and that becomes apparent in our debut record. The music is probably categorized best as Sludge, but there are a lot of other elements baked into our sound. For this record we were aiming to make something that was unique, heavy as fuck, pretty and intricate, spacey and weird, but also methodical. Our sound is constantly evolving, and this record is a snapshot of where we were at when we recorded it.
Q4 – Why did you choose the name Collapsian.
When we initially started tracking this record, we were still under the moniker of Sihr. Right after we completed the primary tracking process our vocalist Garrett moved to Brazil to study international relations and slay hot Brazilian trim. We were looking for a rebirth of sorts, and we started collaborating with our current vocalist Tom. It was a perfect time to put a new label on what we were creating. I have a huge running list of potential band names, and Collapsian was one of them. It seemed to fit what we were doing, and it is unique and somewhat ambiguous.
Q5 – You're new album – At The Left Hand Of The Sun - has been released. Can you tell us what the album is all about.
We didn’t set out to have a particular type of sound or categorization. We worked on ideas and refined them over time, some a few years. Some of the riffs of one song used to be in another, with things moving around until everything fit properly. We didn’t want any of the song structures seem half-baked or unfinished. In the end we feel that everything congealed properly and naturally.
Q6 – Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for.
It’s basically a collection of ideas that we all contributed to. We wrote and arranged things without the thought that they should all fit on a particular album. When we had a decent amount of material, it was time to record everything. That made the whole process fairly easy, albeit time-consuming.
Q7 – Why did you call the album – At The Left Hand Of The Sun. Any particular meaning behind it.
The “left hand” or “left hand path” is considered the non-righteous path, often mentioned in reference to the occult. I read about how the Aztec culture had a deity that was their god of sun and war. They would sacrifice thousands of people during a worship session to appease this sun god atop a series of pyramids. The name of this god, Huitzilopochtli, was loosely translated to “the bird on the left hand of the sun (or universe)”. So their idea was that there was this blood-thirsty bird-god that sat at the left hand of the creator of the universe, who required bloodshed and sacrifice in order to appease him and not wipe their race off the face of the Earth. That probably worked for a few hundred years until the Spanish came and decimated their entire culture in the name of European conquest. We thought that was a pretty awesome story and would make a great subject to base an album on.
Q8 – What influenced you when creating the album as it's a very dark and mysterious album.
Because we have a fairly varied sound for the type of music that we play, we didn’t want to make an album that was just a sludge record, or a stoner-metal album, or a fuzzed-out drone record. There’s elements of all of that, along with touches of black-metal, thrash, prog and noise. At the heart of it, it’s fucking heavy. This record reflects the wide spectrum of ideas that we all have, and our desire to create something that is unique and not easily labelled.
Q9 – We have to talk about Psychoderek. Damn that is one fucked-up disturbing song. Especially the end sound-clips. What is that sound towards the end. Very horrific at times.
Our vocalist at the time Garrett had the idea of layering a few tracks of spoken word that he had at the beginning of the song. We added a bunch of effects and crazy panning to those tracks, and played that over the intro riff and a repeating polyrhythmic drum beat. The outro at the end is actually 3 of my cats. One of them makes this odd hi-pitched sound if you squeeze him a bit, which I’ve always wanted to record. I took him and 2 of my other kitties in one of my recording rooms and recorded them getting pissed off and annoyed at me holding and squeezing them in front of a mic. Add some weird delay over some faint guitar noise and those are the ominous sounds at the end of the track.*
* No kitties were harmed in the making of Psychoderek
Q10 – Was it your intention to create something brutal and almost primal for your debut album.
Mainly we wanted a record that was an honest reflection of how we intended the end result of each song to be. We were really happy with the finished product
and that resulted in a pretty brutal and somewhat primal outcome for the record as a whole.
Q11 – What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.
Ideas usually start with a riff or series of riffs. As the drummer I will hash out details like tempo, transitions and combining guitar riffs with Anton. From there Joe begins to write his bass parts and we all work together to fine-tune everything. Tom will write vocals parts as the last element to take shape, but some songs tend to have a different workflow than the others. Several songs we wrote in a couple days, others take years to find the right riffs to fit together.
Q12 – You managed to get Brad Boatright to become involved with the mixing of the album. How did that come about. Hugely talented guy.
After I wrapped up the final mix of the record I wanted to work with a mastering engineer that understood where we are coming from musically, and had experience with mastering our type of sound. I had been listening to a lot of APMD and Nails, and saw their last records were both mastered by Brad. I had also really liked his mix of the reissue of Sleep’s Dopesmoker, so I reached out to him to explain our project and see if he would be interested in working with us. We found some time for him to sit down with our tracks and what you hear are the results. Needless to say, we are very happy with his work on our record.
Q13 - What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.
We usually record all tracks separately, drums first to a scratch and build from there. We recorded almost everything at my house, and we took our time to make sure we were completely happy with the sounds we recorded. I feel we captured a very accurate, almost live sound with this recording.
Q14 – If you could change anything within the Hard Rock/Metal scene. What would it be and why.
This is not indicative of just heavy music scene, but it’s difficult to put out a record or project that truly stands out from all of the noise that we are exposed to on a daily basis that requests our attention. There is a ridiculous number of bands, movies, podcasts and a plethora of other media that is immediately available us. It’s hard to not get lost in that sea of data. This is one of the reasons we are so appreciative of the positive feedback and response we have gotten from this record, especially being our first record and not being a group that most people are immediately familiar with.
Q15 – We have to talk about the brilliant album cover. Who designed the cover and how much input did you have into it. As it reflects the mood of the entire album.
We wanted something that reflected the meaning behind the album title. We worked with a very talented and creative artist from Austria named Dr.Winter. He had designed the artwork for the last two Gigan records, and I loved his work on those. I had sent him some rough mixes of the majority of the music on the record and we went back and forth with ideas, refining each along the way. He explored some new and unfamiliar ways of bridging all of our ideas, which gave it a strange and ominous feel. I’d say he definitely nailed the vibe of the music with the album design.
Q16 – What is your favourite song off the album and why.
I really enjoy playing all the songs of this record. They all have their own panache and are a lot of fun to play through. As a drummer, Slew of Wounds is interesting because it’s pretty spacey and leaves a lot of room for changing and modifying parts on the fly. There’s almost a jazzy improv feel to it.
Q17 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.
Be dedicated and give proper time and energy to any project you are serious about. Stay persistent and welcome progress, change, and the unexpected. Remain true to your ideas, disregard people who don’t get what you are doing, and be persistent in your creativity.
Q18 – What are your thoughts of the entire crowd-funding scene. It seems to have it's defenders and people think it's a waste of time. Would yourselves ever participate in a crowd-funding project.
I think it’s a great way to leverage a whole new and organic way of funding new ideas and projects. In order for it to be effective you have to present it properly and not be unrealistic or greedy. Give the people that would be interested in helping you a worthwhile and unique incentive to be a part of your project. Bottom line is if you have a good idea and people want to check it out, they will help you if you allow them to.
Q19 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.
Thanks to everyone who checked out our new record! We will be playing shows around the Phoenix area. Come say Hi and keep an eye out for CDs, stickers, and shirts in the next few months.
I want to thank Collapsian for talking to us here at Sludgelord HQ. Check out their debut album as it's a stunning and brutal as hell experience you won't instantly forget.
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Written by Steve Howe