Monday 7 September 2015

Hivelords: An Interview with Extreme Metals Best Kept Secret

By: Chris Bull

'Cavern Apothecary' was a glimpse into the potential this band had at that point. On ‘Tapered Limbs of a Human Star’, they've smashed through the glass ceiling and surpassed the promise they showed. The fact that they're signed to Anthropic Records is both a blessing and a curse; it makes those who know about the band seem like part of a secret club and preserves their cult status. However, had this been released on a label like Relapse, Profound Lore or Candlelight, everyone would be losing their shit and proclaiming this as the best album they've heard this year. It’s simply stunning.’

Philadelphia's Hivelords are one of extreme metal's best kept secrets. Their second full length, the gloriously atmospheric 'Tapered Limbs Of A Human Star' was released this month and reviewed by yours truly. Definitely one of the highlights of this year! Having recently completed a  month long tour of the US, I decided to interrogate them.

SL) First of all, it's a pleasure to have you take time out of your schedule to answer these questions. I'm a big fan of yours so this is a big deal on a personal level.  Tell us a little about yourselves so that those unfamiliar with your work can get acquainted.

Hivelords) We play Dark Metal that draws on our favourite sub genres of metal.  We accentuate the psychedelic elements of our music in ways that we feel are tasteful and appropriate to our sonic aspirations.  We don't have many "rules" about what we should and shouldn't be doing.  We like to explore.

SL)  That’s cool, now made the decision to replace one guitarist with 2 and it seems to have paid off.   Was it planned that way to expand on the previous album's sound?

Hivelords) Thanks.  We decided to make the move to 2 guitars in 2013, but adding Lydia to our line-up and having Will move to drums has really opened up a lot of doors for us.  The possibilities are pretty limitless now, for which we are very grateful.  We can write as eccentrically as we want to and all of us are more than capable of executing the ideas at hand.  It's really a pleasure being in a band with such talented players who are down as fuck to make interesting music and go on tour.

SL)  Your latest album 'Tapered Limbs Of A Human Star' strayed slightly from the path tread on ‘Cavern Apothecary’. Although the slow parts remain in part, it veered off into black metal territory. Was this a conscious decision or did it occur naturally?  Explain your creative process, is there a chief songwriter or is it a 'jam out ideas' kind of thing?

Hivelords) The tracks on "Tapered Limbs..." Were composed by 3 different writers.  Usually a skeleton of ideas is presented to the group and we edit it together in sectional rehearsals and a computer-based demoing of material.  Jamming is fun, but we are not a jammy band.  Our song structures are very deliberate, and usually the melodic lines benefit from the happy accidents of rehearsing new ideas.  It's really about the riffs you DON'T write.

Club 66, Ashland, Oregon (c) Al Case

SL) The use of Atmosphere on 'Tapered Limbs...' is incredible. How did you create this and are you able to recreate this in a live setting?

Hivelords) Thank you.  We'd like to think that our live atmosphere tends to replicate that of the album, because there is no studio trickery on the record.  The record is just us playing the songs to a click.  All of the effects pedals we used are incorporated into the live show.

SL) Personally, 'Tapered Limbs...' feels like a descent into hell, almost like an audio version of Dante's journey into the inferno in the Divine Comedy, are there any parallels that can be drawn?

Hivelords) It is an interpretation we take, with the utmost degree of humility, as an extremely high complement. We expect parallels to be drawn by listeners not merely between our compositions and classic and contemporary texts, but between the songs and the beholder's own personal experiences. There's a smattering of everything in there. A lot of the lyrical and tone inspiration was drawn from myriad religions, belief systems, literary and visual artworks of our favourite writers and artists, all fusing subliminally and intentionally with personal interpretations of them. As a result, the mythos behind the music is manifested as a generalizable and relatable entity, all imagined, to represent something real. Which is pain. Pain through knowledge. Pain through love. Pain through sorrow. Pain through fleeting beauty. Nothing lasts except the struggle of life and humanity's ill-fated quests for meaning. This is all a dream, and we're living it.

SL)  Tell us about some of your influences during the writing/recording process.

Hivelords) Classical guitar is my biggest influence.  I think we are coming to realize that non-traditional melodies are our forte, and we’re excited to keep exploring this path.

SL) Your record label Anthropic Records seems like a great label to work with, who are some of the bands on their roster that need to be heard?

Hivelords) We love working with Anthropic and are ecstatic about the relationship we have.  Anthropic will be releasing a split featuring two philly bands, black metal legends Krieg and cinematic doom outfit Ominous Black later this year.  Homies Die Choking, Sadgiqacea, Occult 45, Godstopper, and many others have collaborated with Anthropic in the past.  We're creating our own world together and it feels awesome.

SL) You recently compeled on a lengthy tour, any road stories you'd care to share?

Hivelords) An individual in Fargo ND told us that it was the country's drunkest city, and that he was a testament to that.  Wal-Mart lets you return literally anything.  Designated Driver for when we leave a show is called Designated Dingus and has to wear the dingus hat and do the dingus song and dance before taking us to our domicile for the evening.  Touring is hard work, but it's also an unspoken contest to see who can laugh the hardest, and for that we are grateful.

SL) Do you have any pre gig rituals?

Hivelords) Each performance brings a new and unique kind of excitement.  The natural adrenaline supplied by the pre-show rituals of loading in, and talking about the events of the past 24 hours puts us all on the same page before show time.  We all have different routines of preparing to play, and we celebrate that.

Club 66, Ashland, Oregon (c) Al Case

SL) For the gear heads, could you give us a rig run down?

Hivelords) Our gear is largely irrelevant.  We all have pedals.  We tend to not treat effects as a crutch, but rather an accent, adding to our atmosphere.

SL) Let's say you find a book in a random location, you begin to read it and realise it's a book about your life. You get to the point where you are now, do you continue to read?

Hivelords) I think I'd be tempted to continue reading, yes.  That would be pretty trippy.  It could be like Back to the Future 2 when Biff finds the almanac.  Would knowing the future force one to change course?  What if it's the perfect future but you fuck it up because you know what happens?  It’s so abstract that it's difficult to say.  Maybe it's better not to know.

SL).  Hopefully 2015 will see you reach new heights, any plans for the remainder of the year and for 2016?

Hivelords) We’ve just completed a month-long tour of the US.  Playing a few regional festivals in the fall - Shadow Woods Fest, Detest Fest, and Grendel Fest.  

SL) Any final thoughts you'd like to share?

Hivelords) Thank you to everyone who supports us and makes it possible for us to do what were doing.  Writing, recording, and touring are privileges and we don't take them for granted. We all modify our lifestyles to make this possible and we are grateful for the individuals out there believing in us and rooting for us.  Cheers!

You can read our view of Hivelords latest record here

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