Friday 29 September 2017

INTERVIEW: "Descend into the Allure of Despair" - Amped & Doomed with Dan Alderson (Horrified)

As with all genres, the popularity of bands that are influential shifts as time goes on. Amongst the more underground death metal bands, the primary influential bands have been comprised of two main camps in recent years. On one side there is early Incantation and Autopsy and on the other is Dismember and Entombed. On the Incantation/Autopsy side, we have bands like Father Befouled, Ignivomous, and Dead Congregation. On the Dismember/Entombed side we have bands such as Black Breath, Miasmal, and Entrails. Those two camps have dominated the more old school-minded of the last several years.

A few years back, a new camp began to develop with a new set of influences. Specifically, Asphyx and Death, with the Death influence tending to come from the pre-‘Individual Thought Patterns’ era.  Two of the best albums of 2014 and featuring these influences were from Morbus Chron and Horrendous, along with several others. Indeed Horrified were one such band and they emerged with their debut album ‘Descent Into Putridity’ featuring similar influences, whilst also making use of the Sunlight Studios sound of Dismember. The focus of this debut album was on the uglier, simpler side of things as compared to Horrendous’ more melodic approach. It made for an enjoyable album but one that was not without its flaws, but with a nicely varied song writing style already in place, the future looked bright for Horrified

On their sophomore album ‘Of Despair’, they retained elements of what worked on their debut, but broadened their horizons considerably. Whilst they were very clearly still a death metal band, with a similar tempo to their previous material, the guitars on “Of Despair” took a more melodic turn and while the straightforward death metal moments on the album were  very good, it was  moments of downtempo grandiosity that separated Horrified from other modern day death metal bands.

Today will see the release of the highly anticipated third album from Horrified, “Allure of the Fallen” a work of towering, melodic death metal majesty.  To celebrate this release we offer this exclusive interview with main man Dan Alderson, who talks us through his influences and everything else in between, as we get AMPED & DOOMED with one of death metal’s rising stars. 

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

I actually started playing music by picking up the Bass guitar when I was still in high school. All of my friends were getting into rock and getting their first instruments so I kind of followed suite. The bass didn't last long and I acquired my first guitar from one of my close friends and started taking it seriously as a teenager. I ended up going on to study music at college after high school, in my second year of college I finally met other capable musicians playing metal and started playing in bands.

Can you remember who are what inspired you to pick up the guitar and are there any bands, guitarists, musicians currently on the scene that continue to inspire you and push you to try new things?

Well back in those formative pre metal days classic choices such as Hendrix and Jimmy Paige really did make me to pick up the guitar and try to get some good lead chops down. The first metal album I ever heard was Megadeth's "Rust In Peace" album, which I discovered by one of my best friends sending me "Holy Wars.." via MSN messenger around 11 years ago now. I think looking back in hindsight the reason why I loved Dave's playing so much was down to him taking those classic pentatonic licks / runs and playing them at pretty insane speeds. I would honestly say that I owe a lot of my lead chops down to Alexi from Children of Bodom, when I was becoming more advanced in college, I really did challenge myself to start learning his leads, which lead me on to search out lessons and advice from other players to actually learn how to sweep pick and such in order to progress.

Ultimately my favourite lead players of all time are Andres Rain and Olaf Thörsen from Labyrinth, the lead playing on "Return To Heaven Denied" for me is simply unmatched and I often still jam lead sections from tracks such as "Moonlight" and "Night of Dreams" in order to keep my lead playing up to scratch and inspiring me to still focus on lead playing, which really does have to come second to songwriting now.

Whilst we’re on the subject of inspiration or heroes, do you have 5 records that stand out as favourites, what influence did they have upon you and what is it about those record that particular resonates amongst others?

This is going to be a long answer, as I love talking about albums close to me, here goes:

Edge of Sanity – “Crimson II”

This for me is my ultimate album, my greatest inspiration. Not only does this album inspire me to write music the most out of any album I've heard, but it also helps me push on through life during hard times. The entire album is incredible from start to finish but those highly layered, intense melodic parts stand out the most and has really made me push my song writing to layer up a lot of sections and build on themes in order to strive for really epic and tight arrangements for Horrified. This album really does captivate my imagination and create an emotive response unlike anything else.

Caladan Brood – “Echoes of Battle

The album which made me read "The Malazan Book Of The Fallen" I wasn't prepared for the impact that series would have on my life in general and the inspiration it gives me. But back to the album itself, again, it's all about those dense, heavily layered sections which really do define the term "epic". This album manages to encapsulate the feeling of a 11k word plus series in a 70 minute run time and that is definitely a huge achievement and an inspiring feat in my opinion. Countless times this album has moved me and still does on every listen; I can assure you this has racked up a pretty insane play count since it was released in 2013.

Horrendous “Ecydsis”

Oh boy, this album really did follow me through the most difficult and demanding 2 years of my entire life. I have followed this band closely ever since “The Chill”s and started communicating with Damain online via discovering his studio work in the run up for the release of “Ecydsis”. This album was a huge step up from the debut in my opinion and added incredibly sombre, melodic sections to an already melodic, intense death metal style and at the time that was everything I wanted to achieve in music and given to me on a silver plate with this record. This album really did inspire me to improve my own song writing and push on through times of severe adversity in my personal life. For all those reasons stated, this album will always remain close to me.  

Sacramentum – “Far Away From The Sun”

This should be pretty obvious if you have heard "Allure Of The Fallen”. This is the ultimate black metal album for me. The overall intensity from start to finish and melodic atmosphere is unmatched by anything else. The Swedish, melodic black metal movement of the mid 90's is easily my favourite scene overall. But the icy, sombre and nihilistic atmosphere of the riffs, vocals and lyrics hits me the hardest out of the countless gems from that time period.

While Heaven Wept – “Of Empires Forlorn”

Probably one of the saddest albums ever made, it’s hard for me to go into detail what makes this such an important record for me without going into very personal details. Musically an inspiration and a very relatable record in every way for me.   

Can remember your first electric guitar?

Yeah, it was an entry level Washburn guitar included in one of those beginner packs to get you started. I mentioned it in an earlier question, but by that time it was a pretty beat up guitar with a very high action. I ended up getting my first decent guitar the Xmas of that year.

What guitar(s) are you using today and how did you gravitate towards the guitar you currently use?

I'm currently using an Ibanez ICT 700 or "The Iceman". I played one of these on a music trip to a gear convention in college, pretty expensive guitar at the time though. So my first guitar close to the high end spectrum was a Jackson DK2M, which I used for countless shows and tracked guitar parts for quite a few releases with. Both guitars are actually discontinued, around 9 months ago now I really, really wanted another guitar with a fixed bridge and also a little more high end than the Jackson. I ended up scoring my Iceman for around retail price used and it now serves as my main axe. I would always remember playing that iceman at the sounds live in college and knew I had to get one, one day.

What do you like about the guitars you currently use and has there been any specific modifications to it?

The Iceman” has a neck thru neck and a string thru bridge, the sustain is insane and the Dimarzio pick ups are incredibly high end. The action is very, very low and it’s an overall joy to play. The guitar has not been modded at all. 

What amps and pedals do you currently use? Do you use a combination of amps, or a full half stack? Talk us through your set up both in the studio and in the live environment?

I use an ENGL Powerball II - 100watt tube amp for live's, this will go into a 4x12 at any venue we play.. The tone is incredible and I just play it direct in with no pedals. Obviously Horrified had a history of being a HM2 using band and I have a Japanese model HM2 I used to use all the time, but it's currently out of action at the moment. I don't really have much of a studio set up (Oddly enough even though I have a music production degree) Guitars for releases I write and play on are tracked dry with my interface for reamping purposes later in the mix phase

What are your amp/ pedal settings?

On the ENGL I use something close to this:

Gain - 7
Bass - 6
Mid (boosted) - 5
Treble - 7/7.5
Presence - 6/7

What tunings do you use and why, and as a result is there a specific brand / gauge of string you prefer ?

I have been playing in D standard for years and using 10 gauge strings for a very long time. A lot of people poke fun at how light gauge strings I use but I much prefer playing a lighter gauge strings. I find it much better for phrases and legato runs in terms of lead playing, as for the reasons for playing in D standard. I just find that it’s a tuning that provides a perfect middle ground in terms of pitch and I also love writing in D Minor. Since Horrified is quite melodic going any lower would be out of the question.

Do you have any advice for up and coming guitars players, bands?

Be patient, put the work in and keep grinding out. 

Do feel there are deeply help misconceptions about being in a band?

A ton, haha. Being in a band isn't touring the road 24/7 and partying. Its hard work, its stressful, there are elongated periods of little to no activity on the live front, its lots of practice, it can be disheartening, frustrating, etc.

Moving on a little then, what can you tell us about any of your current projects, tours, CD's, etc you’re currently promoting, completed and anything else band related we should know about?

The new Horrified album "Allure Of The Fallen" is coming out on Shadow Kingdom Records on September 29th, a release I worked incredibly hard on and I'm very excited for it to be finally coming out! This is the best record Horrified have done to date, we are also working on getting back out on the live front to support the release. With at least one show planned and hopefully gaining interest again from promoters to book us for shows post release. I'm also playing live in Sojourner and our debut live appearance is currently being organised and that may progress into a touring band to. I've also been working on my funeral death side project called Enshroudment. Which I have wrote a three track EP for, we have been practising it in the shadows for around a year and we are about to record the EP and start playing live in the final 1/3 of 2017. So after a pretty tough year of inactivity and hard work in regards to making "Allure Of The Fallen" I'm pretty excited for what the music has in store in the future!  

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

Excitement and maybe some nervous anticipation. We are all very eager to push the new album hard and start playing again, it’s been a long and at times tough journey. But now things are finally coming to fruition... 

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

Hopefully a few decent shows for Horrified, it’s long overdue and deserved with this new record I feel. I'm also starting to write material for the fourth album. I want to try and out do “Allure…” and give Shadow Kingdom another epic!

Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?

Just a thanks for the continued support from THE SLUDGELORD and anyone else out there who has been with us, or will join us with this new record. A lot does go into Horrified and I greatly appreciate all forms of support for the band, cheers all!

The End

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