Friday 22 September 2017

INTERVIEW AND TRACK PREMIERE Occult tinged riff dealers Elder Druid conjure up "Blue Dream Black Death"

Elder Druid are a 5-piece sludge/doom band formed in early 2015 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Five lovers of heavy riffs and molten fuzz came together to add their stamp to the world of stoner rock and doom metal and with heavy influences from Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Kyuss and Sleep, the riffs began to take shape and all the elements started to fuse.

With two guitarists, Jake Wallace on lead and Mikey Scott on rhythm, a wall of sound is generated from the slow, rhythmic riffs. The coarse vocals of Gregg McDowell are gutteral warcries with enchanting, occult lyrics to tell the stories of warlocks and wizards. The low end is also ferocious with Dale Hughes providing a deep level of twang which lays the foundations to the riffs, complementing the reserved sense of calm from Brien 'Grizz' Gillen delivering a very soft but heavy canvas to the songs.

After gigging through the summer of 2016 across Northern Ireland, the band went into the studio with Andy Shields (Hornets) and recorded a 5-track EP entitled ‘Magicka’. After being picked up by Jon Davis from Conan, it was released digitally on all major platforms on October 15th 2016 on Black Bow Records. The band would continue to gig into early 2017 and In May 2017 they played the album launch for Hornets' 'Witch Hunt' alongside doom legends Slomatics and 7.5 Tonnes of Beard. Following a successful UK tour  these occult-laced riff dealers from Belfast, Northern Ireland  are set to release their debut album “Carmina Satanae” which roughly translates to Songs of Satan. Containing 8 of their heaviest  tracks to date and recorded with Niall Doran in Start Together Studios, the album is set for release on October 6, 2017 and today you can stream the opening track from the album entitled, “Blue Dream Black Death” below. 

You can also check out a short interview with Mikey Scott, who gives us the low down on the inception of the band, what we can expect from the forthcoming album and what the future holds for this talented doom progeny. 

Can you give us an insight into how you started playing music, leading up to the formation of Elder Druid?

Mikey (guitar): I actually started playing bass guitar first at a fairly young age, probably about 11 years old, with dreams of becoming the next Linkin Park, writing terrible songs with a couple of friends and planning our world domination. After that didn’t pan out as we imagined, guitar and bass was more of a hobby for me during my teens. I played in a band in my late-teens, giving me some good stage experience before connecting with the ‘Druid guys after Jake got in touch to write some seriously heavy riffs.

For those of us unfamiliar with your band, is there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point bands to describe your band, and who or what continues to inspire you and push you to try new things?

Being perfectly honest, I was a bit of a doom novice before joining Elder Druid. I’ve always been a heavy metal man but my major influences would be bands like Metallica, Deftones and Machine Head. Spending time with the guys really introduced me to the world of low and slow music, which I fell in love with pretty quickly.

Jake turned me onto bands like Sleep, Electric Wizard and Bongzilla, to name just a few – I think you can definitely identify influences in our style from those bands. I’m currently listening to a lot of Beastmaker and Monolord. Two absolute titans of modern doom.

I think you can take inspiration from almost anywhere when it comes to writing music – different genres, movies, locations or even the atmosphere you find yourself in. I’ll get riff ideas or little bits of melody for a lead guitar part at the most inopportune times, almost completely randomly, and have to take myself off to whistle or hum the idea into my phone and hope it comes back to me later. Sometimes they’re great and sometimes they’re trash, but you have to have that creative energy to consistently bring ideas to the table.

What can you tell us about your upcoming record and where do you feel it sits within the context of current metal scene?

Our upcoming record, “Carmina Satanae”, is a collection of our 8 heaviest tracks to date. We brought back 2 old favourites in ‘Reigning Hell’ and ‘Rogue Mystic’ for re-recording to give them the treatment they deserve. The other 6 tracks will be brand new to everyone’s ears, unless you’ve seen us play live over the last few months. We’ve been crafting these songs together for a while now, playing them on-stage as much as possible to truly let them develop and breathe as pieces of music. We’ve taken time to arrange the songs in such a way that a full album play through makes sense to whoever’s listening and takes them on a journey.

Make no bones about it, this album is heavy. We have a lot of groove all over it, and a few lighter moments in there but this album is for fans of sludge, doom and anything loud.

Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of your upcoming record and how is the mood in the camp at present?

I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re excited. It’s a good feeling to put a lot of work into something, especially something that’s creative, and be happy with the results. Niall Doran from Start Together Studios, who recorded and mixed the album, really got what we were looking for in terms of sound – a lot of credit has to go to this man for taking our live sound and being able to recreate that for the album. For me, the excitement just builds with every new track or video that we put out leading up to the release. I just want as many heavy doom and sludge fans worldwide to hear the album and hopefully dig it.

What stands out as your overarching memory from the recording sessions?

As far as one particular memory goes, I’d have to say standing on the roof of the studios, looking over Belfast, after we’d finished recording the record was a bit of a triumphant moment for myself. We’ve put a lot of work into writing songs, gigging and getting shit done this year – so to finally have a full length album in the bag made me proud. That was a cool moment to reflect on everything we’ve achieved since we formed in 2015 and how far we’ve come.

I’d also say the vibe in the room that whole weekend was amazing. We decided early on that we wanted to record the album live to get that feeling of you’re listening to us, not a cleaned up unnatural version of us. If you want to come see Elder Druid live, this is how we sound. We wanted to try and replicate the energy we have on stage in the studio and everyone showed up and delivered. It’s hard to recreate energy, or a particular vibe, especially when you’re on the clock, but we all knew how big of a deal this was and magic happened that weekend.

With your new record in the bag, how is your schedule shaping up over the next 12 months?

Right now, we’re looking to the album launch in Belfast on October 6th with local heft merchants Nomadic Rituals and Molarbear, as well Manchester’s Voodoo Blood who we met on tour earlier this year. We wanted to bring anyone who’s supported us this far an unbelievable night of music, start to finish and I don’t think there’ll be any disappointments with that line-up.

Looking further ahead, we have big gigs coming up south of the border – Siege of Limerick and Zhora’s album launch in October, as well as a couple more trips across the pond to England later this year and early 2018.

Finally, do you have any last words?

To anyone who’s supported us by coming to the gigs, buying music/merch, watching our stuff online etc. major thanks from all of us. Playing in a band is a lot of fun on a personal level, but when other people can get a kick out of it, that’s one of the best feelings you can get.  If you’re not already, get on the Elder Druid Bandcamp, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram for new material and upcoming gig information!

It’s been a good year so far, we won’t be taking it easy after this new record drops so stay tuned for more good stuff in the not-so-distant future. Peace!

Band info: facebook || bandcamp