Next up, we take a look at our guitarist Nick’s playing and writing influences, in the lead up to the release of Ellipsism on the 30th October.
You’ll find a Spotify playlist at the end which now contains tracks from Richard, Luke and Nick.
Deafheaven – Worthless Animal
Alcest – Ecailles de Lune, Pt. 2
Mew – Comforting Sounds
Mew – Snow Brigade
Pallbearer – Foundations
Bossk – The Reverie II
The Elijah – I Loved
Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
Conjurer – The Mire
Letlive – Muther
Falls of Rauros – White Granite
It’s interesting to consider how varied this band’s influences are, and especially how a lot of that reflects the age gap. Around the time we first started Ba’al, I was 19, at university, and looking to start a melodic post-hardcore band. I listened to a very wide range of genres and styles casually, but in terms of what I wanted to do creatively, I was mostly interested in bands like Architects, Letlive, Gallows, and The Elijah. I’ve actually found that a lot of these types of bands actually crossed over into what Ba’al are doing today.
As far as doom went I was into plenty of the bigger names like My Dying Bride and Candlemass but joining Ba’al really prompted me to dig a lot further down into that quagmire of dank misery. Before long I discovered Bossk, and lo my love affair with post-metal did begin. As the youngest member by several years, at first I felt somewhat out of my depth. Hearing bands I’d never heard of getting name dropped frequently was a little intimidating at first but also provided such a wealth of new stuff I wanted to listen to and take inspiration from. We’re also a band that massively supports having varied ideas and not rejecting something because it’s not typical of the genre, which is nice because it allows us to pull all our respective tastes into the creative process.
My first track is ‘Foundations’ by Pallbearer which, in my opinion, comes from one of the best doom albums this decade. I love harmonies, no matter how obvious or predictable a second guitar line playing a harmony of the first is, I just think it pretty much always sounds amazing. Pallbearer do massive, melodic doom with killer dual guitar parts so brilliantly that I often find myself writing second-rate knock offs of their riffs without even realising it. One of them sneaked into Ellipsism.
I first discovered Mew many years ago, my dad had a copy of Frengers and I just remember being blown away by the crazy mix of sounds and oddball musicality. Bo Madsen undoubtedly one of the most under appreciated guitarists around. Everything he contributed to the band was so inventive in his technique, musicality and the kaleidoscope of sounds he created. I constantly strive to approach songwriting in the same way this band does. They’re wonderfully off the wall and constantly catch you off guard. Their influence on me probably isn’t obvious just from listening to Ba’al because we’re musically extremely different, it’s more the approach to writing that influences me. Although it’s probably the most straightforward track on the album, I consider ‘Comforting Sounds’ to be one of the finest songs ever written. As far as melancholy tracks that start quiet and build into a huge crescendo go, this is just a perfect example of how to do it. I’ve also included Snow Brigade as it’s a zany little masterpiece of a track. It probably illustrates my aforementioned points a little better.
As I mentioned previously, few bands have had as much impact on me as Bossk. They were my gateway to such a broad array of artists and I suppose every time I’ve written anything for Ba’al, I’ve subconsciously thought “what would Bossk do here?”. For me, they are a benchmark of what post-metal can be, in particular Audio Noir which was such a revelation for me when I first heard it. The track ‘Atom Smasher’ carries so much energy, I wish I could write something as groovy as that.
Perhaps the most obvious and immediate influence you’ll hear on the album is Bell Witch’s Mirror Reaper. The whole album is amazing but the haunting clean introduction is so compelling that I wanted to try something similar. This gave me a starting point for our song ‘Rosalia’, which evolved a lot, but I think you’ll hear the influence there.
Deafheaven are such a vital band that it’s almost impossible to find a band like us that doesn’t take at least some influence from them. I think they’re actually one of the closest bands to a middle ground between black metal and the more emo post-hardcore bands I mentioned earlier. Pretty much every blasty riff I come up with comes from Deafheaven. The same goes for Alcest who were the first blackgaze band I ever heard (it’s always one or the other isn’t it). As much as I like nasty, evil sounding BM, I’m always striving to come up with more plaintive and melancholy parts like what these two bands have mastered over the years.
As already covered by Richard, Conjurer are one of the most relevant underground bands around at the moment. We have a white board which we use to help structure songs and generally each riff or section is named after whatever band it sounds the most similar to. It says Conjurer several times on there. There’s lots of interesting nuances to their music that often slip into Ba’al tracks without us even realising. But often it’s completely intended.
I actually want to mention Letlive and The Elijah as they potentially carry the most impact out of all the bands I listened to as a teenager. They might not necessarily come through in our music in an immediate sense but I think these kinds of band informed a lot of the music I listen to today and what I generally gravitate towards more. They’re both exceptionally emotive bands which is one of the main aspects I’m continually drawn to in atmospheric black metal, doom, post-metal etc.
My final pick, after a lot of deliberation and cutting down, is ‘White Granite’ by Falls of Rauros which is just a mesmerising, illustrative journey of a track. It’s another case of being a 10+ minute that you can get completely lost in, as I have done countless times. This extended, flexible structure lends itself to this style of music so well. The ebb and flow of energy gives the experience of an expertly crafted story that is truly gripping. One of the best post-metal albums from one of the best post-metal bands around.