Monday 18 July 2016

"Spiraling Into Oblivion with Milwaukee's Best Kept Secret": Interview with Joe Arenas & Exclusive Song Stream of "Lapse" from Asatta

By: Aaron Pickford
Formed in late 2011 by drummer Neil Pech and joined shortly after by guitarist Jay Denzer, vocalist Sean Anderson and bassist Joe Arenas, Asatta are arguably one of doom metal’s best-kept secrets.  With two EPs currently to their name, 2013’s self-titled “Asatta” EP and last year’s “Songs For A Blood Moon “, 2016 will see the release of their monstrous debut album “Spiraling Into Oblivion” via Burnout Planet Records. 

A new band to The Sludgelord, or certainly to my ears (Ed), Asatta’s brand of heavy is a heady mix of melody forged with the mightiest of mind bending riffs, resulting in a truly unique aural experience, further accentuated by layers of synths adding much needed texture to their apocalyptic brand of doom.  For me “Spiraling Into Oblivion” is one of the top doom releases of this year and for that reason I was thrilled to be asked to share some new music from the album, not only that, it is one of my favourite tunes from the record.

Before we get into the riffs, I sat down with bass player Joe Arenas for this short interview, to discuss the bands history, their views on their new record and plans for the future. Check it out. 


SL: Joe, can you give us a brief history of your playing career to date leading up to the formation of Asatta and release of your current record?

Joe: Neil, Jay, Kara and Sean have all been playing since high school where as I got a late start in my 30's. I was always a huge music fan but life just seemed to get in the way as far as picking up an instrument and doing my own thing. Obviously never too late though!

We've all played in various bands over the years as well and still do. Everything from cover bands, to pop rock, to metal. Neil (drums) plays in a grind band called Satan’s Dealer, Kara (Keys) sings in a Symphonic Metal band called Magma Dragon, Sean (vocals) also sings in a prog/stoner band called SIRE, Jay (guitar) is a DJ, and I do rock covers in a band called Drownin' Thirsty, on guitar instead of bass.


As you can see we're busy but nothing gets in the way of what we do with Asatta. With Asatta it may have taken us a bit of time to get here.  But we finally found the lineup to move into the future, we're all on the same page and want to bring our brand of Doom to a wider audience. The way we'll do that is with more shows and more new music starting with “Spiraling into Oblivion”. 

SL: What can you tell us about your upcoming record “Spiraling Into Oblivion” and where do you feel it sits within the context current doom scene?

Joe: We like to think we are firmly rooted in Doom but also think we push the boundaries of it with heaviness and melody. But we're also heavily influenced by many genres of music and dig bands like bands like Celtic Frost, Lacuna Coil, and The Jesus Lizard. To us nothing is off limits musically. If we like it we'll play it.

With “Spiraling into Oblivion” we think you get a peek into how wide that spectrum can be. We love the riff and want to get people's heads nodding. As far as Doom influences or where we fit in we love Cathedral, St. Vitus, Electric Wizard and Trouble. The list is endless really and after live performances we've had fans compare us to Acid Bath, Goatsnake, and even St. Vitus. So maybe that helps as far as finding us a place in the current scene. Ultimately we want the music to speak for us and have the listener see what they think. 

SL: What was the mood in the camp going into the recording of the record?

Joe: We were excited to get in with Shane at Howl Street recordings. He has great ideas and motivated us to make a great record. You're always anxious going into the studio but we were very prepared which helped alleviate any fears we may have had. And recording with Shane was killer since he had us playing at maximum volume. We also brought in John Liedtke to play Theramin on a couple songs and Maddie Frank to play cello as well on the song ‘She Died Long Ago’. Both are stellar local musicians that were into the songs and wanted to contribute to them. The overall process ended up taking about four months but we wanted to make absolutely sure the record was everything we wanted it to be. 

SL: What can fans look forward to from you over the next 12 months? How is your schedule shaping up?

Joe: Things are shaping up great. We're working on setting up a lot of shows. Right now everything is close to home in the Midwest but we're also working on a west coast tour for early 2017 as well. We're working on a video for the song ‘1678’ where the concept revolves around demonic possession. And new songs are in the works as well. We seem to be experimenting a lot more with these new songs focusing on multiple vocals and more predominant keyboards and noise mixed with heavy groove riffs. We've exorcised some demons with “Spiraling into Oblivion” but with the new songs we seem to be opening up to some of those other influences that were mentioned earlier. Come see us live and bring earplugs! 


Spiraling Into Oblivionwill be released on 2nd September 2016 via Burnout Planet Records and today at the The Sludgelord, you can check out the brilliant track “Lapse” and behold the might of Asatta