In October 2021, we went on a little 6-date tour with our brothers in post metal arms and practice-room-room-mates, Gozer. We documented the whole thing and Chris put together a little tour diary of the whole thing, day by day, which you can find in the playlist on our YouTube channel below!
After months of talking about it, we’re finally launching our YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to us there to see rig rundowns, interviews, song playthroughs and more from us.
Ellipsism has now been out for a week and the response has been phenomenal. Thank you all for listening and buying it – we really appreciate your support. You can pick it up from https://cvltofbaal.bandcamp.com/album/ellipsism, or get it on any of your usual streaming/purchasing services.
Now that it is out in the world and available to your ears, we thought we’d take a more detailed look at each track and share some insights into the writing process. In Ba’al, each band member has full creative control over their own instrumental or vocal parts and we all have input into the writing of every song, but here we outline the genesis of some of the riff ideas and some of the challenges we faced in writing them.
This is the oldest song on the album; we actually started writing it with a very different lineup back in 2018, after the release of ‘Thy Sorrow’. We finalised it when Joe first joined the band, and we’ve been playing it live at almost every show since he started performing with us in the middle of that year.
The writing of this song was a real collaboration between Tom, Nick and Richard’s riffs. The opening black metal riff (which comes back later) is one that Tom had had kicking around for years before he joined Ba’al. The drone section and clean riff in the odd time signature was penned by Nick. The big groove riff was Richard’s. Of course we all layered our own parts of the top of each, and we fleshed out the riffs in between those three main ones all together in the room. It’s also the first song that Joe wrote lyrics for in Ba’al, and it’s metaphors about life after the death of a mad monarch are something we all relate to in one way or another.
An Orchestra of Flies
This track was an example of a song being brought to the practice room largely fully formed already, in this case by Richard who had all the main riffs and the general structure planned out at home. The exception to that is the big drum fill/bass slide and the little chordy bit right before them, which was an idea that came from Tom in the room. The drawn-out ending was originally conceived just as a slow, simple Amenra-like dirge, but the lead part that Tom layered on top adds a level of melody that we didn’t originally think could fit there.
On this one we get both doomier than we have been in some time and also play the fastest blast riff we’ve come up with to date – thanks in no small part to our insanely proficient drummer Luke, who joined the band as we were writing this track.
Joe’s lyrics here deal largely with suicidal thoughts and ideation.
XIV – I – MMXIX
The three interlude tracks on the album were known simply as “Richard’s interlude”, “Nick’s interlude” and “Tom’s interlude” up until after the recording was finished, when Joe devised the titles – this is Richard’s. The central, reverby bass motif was something Richard came up with whilst pissing about in between jams in an old practice room several years ago. He held onto it until it felt like it fitted somewhere, and realised that it could be shifted to match the key and intro of Jouska. The tremolo viola was an idea thrown out at random in the studio, and Nick’s reverse-delayed guitar parts were also pretty much devised by Nick and Richard on the spot.
The genesis of this one also came from Richard, who had written what we called ‘the Deftones riff’ back in about 2017; this became the ‘chorus’ riff for Jouska, if you can really call it that. It’s one of the most consistently melodic tracks on the album, with lots of interweaving harmonies amongst the guitar lines and plenty of post-rock/shoegaze vibes. That said, we tried to balance it out with some proper dirgy slow parts and a chunky riff in the middle.
Though the first two-thirds of the riffs came from Richard, he never had an ending in mind, so Nick stepped in and brought things to a conclusion with the last few riffs, which range from polyrhythmic head-nodders through tight chugging rhythms and out into a final emotive chord structure. We reshuffled all the sections quite a lot of times in the room before we finalised this one. This track also has some of the most shining examples of Tom penning both really textural guitar lines and also soaring leads which flesh out all the different sections.
The word ‘Jouska’ refers to hypothetical conversations that you play out in your own head of situations that have not happened. We debuted this track live at our one gig this year, in January supporting Wren.
III – II – MMIIII
This was “Nick’s interlude”, as the desolate central guitar line was all his. The idea of really distorted, distant drums also came from Nick very early on, and we worked with Joe Clayton in the studio to find just the right combination of effects. Again the viola was Richard semi-improvising on the fly in the studio, and ended up being more of a prominent feature than we had anticipated.
Tarred and Feathered
This was by far the hardest songwriting process we’ve had to date – we were very thankful that it ended up staying as comparatively short as it did. Nick had the long black metal section and the slower beatdown riff floating around the practice room for some time, and we tried many times to bolt various different ideas and riffs to them to make them into a full song and also make them fit together. We really struggled to find a tempo, too, with each one we tried working well for one riff and not another, and we also kept switching between having the track be in 6/8 time and 4/4 time. Several times we considered either scrapping the song entirely or splitting up the ideas into more than one track.
After lots of work with other ideas, Tom wrote the opening riff which really helped things. Then, in the end, we decided we’d attempt a full tempo change mid song, which we’ve never done in quite such a drastic way as this. It felt like the only way we could play all the riffs we wanted to at the speed they felt right at, and amazingly we think we pulled it off. Once we’d made that decision, we were able to fill in some gaps by teasing the slow riffs in the fast part and vice-versa. We finalised the arrangement only about 2 weeks before we entered the studio, with Tom and Nick adding and subtracting sections every week, much to the annoyance of Joe who had to keep changing his lyrics to fit.
We had a lot of fun making the end of this one as nasty as possible, with the bizarre counts between notes becoming a fun little maths puzzle we all had trouble remembering. There’s also an egg shaker in the mix somewhere around the middle of the track – listen out.
Father, the Sea, the Moon
This is another one we’ve played live a fair few times since probably early 2019. The genesis of this one came from Tom, who also came up with the title and general concept of lyrics about childhood memories and their links to specific important places in your life.
The very textural intro passage of Tom’s contrasts nicely with his lumbering, opening riff, which suddenly drops away to virtually nothing – this is another challenge we’ve never really taken on thus far. The myriad guitar harmonies that layer over this early slow riff were partially made up on the day in the studio.
The song progresses through more of Tom’s slow but chord-heavy riffs, through a black metal passage written in tandem with Nick, and finally into a typically post rockl build-up, whose chords were written by Nick with Tom floating his own leads over the top.
X – I – MCMXCII
This was devised as “Tom’s interlude”, as his purely ambient piece was not necessarily going to have vocals originally. All the music here comes from Tom’s guitar run through myriad effects pedals; of course there are plenty of delays and reverbs, but there’s also some magic going on via a bass synthesiser pedal and also the truly insane Earthquaker Devices Rainbow Machine (it’s also on various other songs on the album, believe it or not). There’s only a couple of different guitar tracks layered here to create this sparse but enveloping ambience.
The spoken word piece was written by Joe and done in a single emotional take late one night in the studio. He decided to give it a go pretty much on the fly, and it ended up bringing something really special to the track.
Nick’s long, slow introductory riff here is obviously something of a departure for us, but we’d been wanting to do something super sparse like this for a very long time. Working out just how much drums, bass, viola and extra guitar layers to put in here to add to the atmosphere without taking away from the sparse feel was a challenge we grappled with in the practice room for a long time. Funnily enough, the idea to introduce a distant distorted guitar track (which comes in at the same time as the snare drum) came from an early demo where Nick pressed his distortion pedal by mistake and quite liked it.
The transition from this passage into the first ‘big riff’ was one we deliberated over for a long time, auditioning lots of different ideas before we settled on this Alcest-y one as a way to move from one vibe to a very different one. That big, elephantine riff itself was one of Tom’s that we’d been gagging to fit in somewhere for months, so it was great to finally give it a home.
The very drawn out, emotive chord sequence that comprises most of the second half was also Nick’s, but all of us spent a long time working out which layers of which instruments to add, take away or change to make it the right length and also with just the right amount of variation. Similarly, when Richard wrote the viola parts in the studio, it was a fine line to tread between SubRosa and Pirates of the Caribbean. There’s so many layers going on in this section that it could easily have fallen apart – hopefully we got it right in the end.
The very dramatic end of the track was a fairly last minute additional riff from Tom, giving Joe the time to tie things up with a few final lyrics summarising the incredibly personally emotive lyrics of love and loss.
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.
Continuing the lead up to the release of Ellipsism on the 30th October, today we turn to our drummer Luke, who looks back over his biggest drumming inspirations and how they ultimately led to what he played on the album.
You’ll find a Spotify playlist at the end, now with Richard and Luke’s tracks within, and more to come in future posts.
Green Day – American Idiot
Avenged Sevenfold – Sidewinder
Slipknot – All Hope Is Gone
Lamb of God – Ruin
VOLA – Ruby Pool
Periphery – The Way the News Goes
Meshuggah – Behind the Sun
My drumming was initially influenced by the rock bands that I came across from the TV music channels. The first song which really caught my imagination was Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’, which was only enhanced by their live album Bullet in a Bible. The drums were fast and energetic and Tre Cool looked like he was having so much fun. I just wanted to be like him.
My second main influence was from Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil album, with Sidewinder being my favourite track from it. I considered this as my first intro to progressive metal, as it was a 7 minute song with a structure unlike anything I’d heard before and incredible drum parts.
Slipknot and Joey Jordison then introduced me through All Hope is Gone to ridiculous spinning drum risers, blast beats, and insanely fast drumming as you can hear me trying to imitate (to a lesser extent) early in our song ‘An Orchestra of Flies’.
Getting into Lamb of God and Chris Adler, songs such as ‘Ruin’ really showed incredible technical ability while driving the music, and enhancing the other parts which our song ‘Jouska’ particularly took advantage of.
More recently I’m influenced by bands such as VOLA, with songs like ‘Ruby Pool’ where the drums are more minimal, bringing space into the music and adding tasteful flourishes. This style of drumming isn’t so dominant in Ellipsism, but there are certainly some parts to listen out for.
Periphery, as one of my favourite bands, with songs like ‘The Way the News Goes’ has influenced my groove substantially, using syncopation and polyrhythm to add flavour like what’s found in the second part of our song ‘Long Live’, and various other parts throughout the album.
Meshuggah have been a big influence for the heavier, darker elements of my playing, with songs like ‘Behind the Sun’ influencing the end of our song ‘Tarred and Feathered’.
Generally though, my drumming is influenced by all sorts of external and internal forces, and while the specific mentions above have had a definite impact on me, there are countless other bands & drummers ranging through metal, jazz, funk, rock, & pop that I’ve heard and they’ve all played important roles. But when writing specifically for a band, I’d say the most important influence (for me at least) is listening to what the rest of the band is doing and creating parts which compliment that. This is only made easier by listening to as much music as possible to build a musical vocabulary which can be drawn from and expanded on.
As we approach the release of our debut album Ellipsism on the 30th October, we decided to think back to it’s writing process. Over the next few blog posts, we’ll be sharing some of the influences that we were inspired by individually whilst piecing together these songs, building up a Spotify playlist of them as we go.
Today, we start with our bass and viola player, Richard’s picks. You’ll find the playlist at the end.
Bast – Denizens
Deftones – Prince
Primitive Man – Inevitable
Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Unendlich
Steak Number Eight – Slumber
Archelon – Hollow Gloom
Amenra – .The Pain. It Is Shapeless. We Are Your Shapeless Pain.
Conjurer – Choke
A-Sun Amissa – Remembrancer
SubRosa – Killing Rapture
My influences, like my daily music listening are generally pretty varied, but when it comes to thinking about specific things that impacted my writing and playing on Ellipsism, it’s impossible to get away from the big riff masters. I’d like to think that my equal loves of electronic, ambient, hip-hop and classical music might come through in more subtle ways, whilst this bunch of heavies might be a bit more obvious.
Bast are a band who blend a similar set of genres to us – post metal, black metal, sludge – and do it nearly perfectly in my eyes. In that sense they are a general influence, but this song in particular had a role to play in our track ‘An Orchestra of Flies’, the basic riffs on which were largely mine. In particular, Bast’s crushing slow riff later giving way to more atmospheric territories is something I think works really well.
The melodic ‘chorus’ riff on ‘Jouska’ (the other song I would say I had the most individual input into) is one that I came up with in the very earliest days of Ba’al and has been kicking around as ‘the Deftones riff’ ever since, so it was great to finally put it to use. This Deftones track is a good example of how they cross over with our heavy territories, with the low-tuned large riffery mixed with the chord-heavy emotional parts.
There’s rarely a moment where I’m not trying to make Ba’al sound more like Primitive Man. This track is one of many showing their technique of having disgusting, tremolo-picked guitar lines sat atop super slow-motion filthy drums and bass, which is something else I employed in ‘An Orchestra of Flies’.
Der Weg Einer Freiheit have, in the past year or so, become one of my all-time favourite black metal bands. Their super-tight, clean and precise aggression mixed with a powerful atmosphere is something I always have in mind for our blastier moments, but their song ‘Unendlich’ also shows some great movements in the bassline which change the feel of the guitar chords above them, which is something I’m always trying to do with my bass playing.
Steak Number Eight are a rare band who combine huge Cult of Luna-esque post metal textures with groovy, melodic riffs, without losing the power of either. That’s a big inspiration in general, but the opening riff on this song of theirs typifies the catchy, hooky yet still heavy riff style I was aiming for with the groove in the middle and end of our song ‘Long Live’. Similarly, our close friends Archelon’s debut album (also recorded at No Studio where we recorded Ellipsism) is full of brilliant riffs and shifts in texture, and this song of theirs again inspired some of the changes in feel from open and washy to choppy and rhythmic that I aimed for in ‘An Orchestra of Flies’.
Amenra are – and always have been – a very obvious influence on us as a band in general and this is one of my all-time favourites from them. The unending sledgehammer to the face that is the second half of that song is the feeling I was trying to go for at the end of ‘An Orchestra of Flies’. I wanted to be just as unafraid as they are to let a note ring out during a crushing moment.
Nick and I both love Conjurer, so again they are a general riff influence, though the absolutely frenetic pace at which they unleash a tight blastbeat when they want to inspired me to write what is definitely our fastest blast riff to date on ‘An Orchestra of Flies’. There’s also a cheeky nod to them in a little gap of silence in ‘Tarred & Feathered’.
SubRosa and our friends A-Sun Amissa fit together in this list for me, as they have a lot to do with the vibes I was aiming for with my viola playing on this album, albeit to opposite extremes. A-SA’s experimental dark ambient tones (here featuring Jo Quail on cello too) create a layered atmosphere which really inspires me when I’m planning out viola harmonies on our soft tracks. The twin violins in SubRosa, on the other hand, go all out with two separate and powerful melodies, panned to the left and to the right, during big, heavy riffing from the guitars. This gives rise to exactly the grand feeling I wanted to create with my gratuitous viola layers during the climax of our closing track ‘Rosalia’.
There’s plenty more I could talk about here, including the likes of Obscure Sphinx, Isis, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, Earth, Gilmore Trail and Carbonscape. Needless to say, a lot of thought went into this album, not to mention a lifetime of listening as unintentional homework leading up to this point.
We’re back on our playlist business again, as a break from the incessant guitar chatter. Listen and read on to hear what four fifths of us have been listening to in the past month.
Nick – Guitar
The Cure – Plainsong
Saw some footage of their headline slot at Glastonbury and they opened with this track. To be honest that live version is probably even better than the studio version but it’s still great on record.
Alcest – Le Miroir
Really strong album (laughs exuberantly at the suggestion that they could release a bad album). Only had 2 listens through so far but this track is a highlight for me.
Sibiir – Guillotines
Mastodon riffs and hardcore tinged black metal all bundled up in a ball of thorns and emotion. Lovely.
MUNA – I Know A Place
Really great glossy synth pop track with big hooks. Not much else to say other than IT FUCKING SLAPS.
Kero Kero Bonito – Trampoline
Wish the key to happiness was as simple as the lyrical content of this song. Sadly it’s not, and even if it was, I don’t have a fucking trampoline anyway.
Tom – Guitar
Iggy Pop – Loves Missing
You can’t go wrong with Iggy, and the band he’s assembled for the free album are fantastic.
Russian Circles – Arluck
Love the simple yet pounding drum intro.
Johnny Cash – Ain’t No Grave
Can never go wrong with Johnny Cash.
Nine Inch Nails – We’re in This Together
Always liked the fuzzy filtered guitar sound in the middle of this.
A-Sun Amissa – Seagraves
Richard – Bass
Sumac – The Deal
For an avowed post metal worshipper, I realised recently that my Aaron Turner knowledge is woefully lacking outside of a couple of Isis albums, and checking this out was like a sledgehammer to the face. It’s like all Isis’ heaviest tones with a drummer on speed.
Ocean Wisdom – Don
Ocean Wisdom is just an insanely talented and reliably entertaining rapper and I’ve been really into his second album Wizville recently. Mad flows that’ll have you grinning.
Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Eiswanderer
One of a few brilliant black metal discoveries I’ve made recently. These guys have the sheen of modern post-black metal bands like Downfall of Gaia, but do not shy away from crushingly dense guitar layers.
Coil – The Last Amethyst Deceiver
After years, the Ape of Naples record has just recently properly clicked with me, for some reason, and the eerie avant-garde weirdness of this track really pulls you in (despite the vocals sometimes sounding like Bill Bailey…).
Fennesz – Rivers of Sand
If you like your ambient music to be constantly glitching, but also cut together with some humanizing real instruments, look no further than Fennesz. Somehow both sterile and deeply emotional, he’s a real master.
Joe – Vocals
Cult of Fire – Zavet Svetku
Absolutely sublime black metal in the vein of Mgla and Batushka, with some real earworm riffs and atmospheres.
Cairiss – Disgraced
Perhaps the best kep secret in UKBM. Stunning composition, eerily beautiful.
Forest Stream – Snowfall
The album Tears of Mortal Solitude is criminally underrated; awe inspiring synth driven blackened doom.
Oathbreaker – Being Able To Feel Nothing
Lyrically heartwrenching and one of the most emotive vocal performances in extreme metal.
Hecate Enthroned – Within The Ruins of Eden
Shouldn’t really be mentioning a band I’m in, but on our recent tour this track has been especially epic.
We’ve been doing monthly Spotify playlists for a while now, picking five tracks each that we’ve been listening to of late. Now we have this blog, we thought it’d be nice to share some thoughts about the tracks to go along with them, in the hopes that you all find some nice new sounds for your ears, perhaps even spot some threads into our own songs. Listen and read on below.
Nick – Guitar
Junius – Black Sarcophagus
Pretty bleak track this one. They have the miserable vibes of My Dying Bride and Katatonia with some really nice layers of guitars and synths. They’ve got some hard hitting moments as well
Herod – Fork Tongue
This band slaps and this album is in my top 10 for this year and it’ll take some beating. As opening tracks go, this one is like that bit from that film when the ship hits an iceberg, but in a good way.
Charli XCX – Blame It On Your Love
Hard to pick a track off this album but this is a contender. Really strong album and I can see many artists following in Charli’s footsteps in the coming years. Without doubt one of the most forward thinking and interesting pop acts around at the moment. Fucking catchy too.
Plini – Electric Sunrise
This one has grown on me actually, I’d heard a lot of hype around Plini for a while. At first I wasn’t particularly sold on him and I’m yet to determine where he shall sit on my list of favourite prog metal instrumentalists (we all have those right?). But this track is a banger and I’m looking forward to exploring more of his stuff.
Omega Massif – Im Karst
I have a weird habit of discovering german sludge bands that are no longer around, quite sad but at least I am discovering them. One of my less useful talents for sure but hey, it’s something right?
Tom – Guitar
Oathbreaker – Ease Me
The vocal loop at the start and that reappears through the song is what grabbed me. That, and that it’s not heavy at all.
Cult of Luna – The Silent Man
The new album is fantastic and ‘The Silent Man’ is a great collection of big riffs and interplay between guitars, synths and percussion, without sounding cluttered.
Deafheaven – Luna
Its just a good savage riff and my favourite track off the album.
Cave In – Stained Silver
I’ve always loved Cave In, but tend to forget the Antenna record – but the opening track is massive.
Portishead – Roads
My favourite Portishead track. It’s one of those songs that I can happily play any time or mood.
Richard – Bass
Torpor – Mourning the Real
I’ve been waiting for the new Torpor record since I first fell in love with them after seeing them in Sheffield in 2017. They’re are a top-3 underground UK band for me, and this does not disappoint in the longform-crushing department.
Daft Punk – Da Funk
I went to see the movie The Shock of the Future recently, and although they didn’t feature, the general concept of cool French dance music made me return to Daft Punk’s house roots and get my boogie on.
The Body – Nothing Stirs
I’ve been borderline obsessed with The Body this year after ignoring them before for no good reason, and this track is a double whammy because it also features a stunning performance from the inimitable Lingua Ignota. Raw, honest and savage.
Sikth – Sanguine Seas of Bigotry
Djent years before djent was even a word. I’ve always admired their scattershot and schizophrenic songwriting, but for some reason recently this song and album has properly hooked me more than ever before.
Fieldhead – 812 Keefer
Top tier glitchy ambient from our pals at Gizeh Records. I can’t believe it took me until recently to check out Fieldhead, because the a correction record is incredible if you like a mix of warm ambience and some Carbon-Based-Lifeforms-esque minimal grooves.
Joe – Vocals
Formicarius – May The Rats Eat Your Eyes
Played several shows with this brilliant black metal band who have just released an album. Interlacing keyboards and lead guitars, extremely old school vocals and an ability to keep things interesting in a genre that all too often treads water.
Violet Cold – She Spoke of Her Devastation
Exceptional black metal, awash with layers of noise and atmosphere that gradually builds to a fantastic crescendo. Essential listening for anyone who likes their black metal raw but beautiful.
Her Name Is Calla – Pour More Oil
I saw this band opening for Solstafir one time and they absolutely blew me away. This track in particular just oozes emotion from start to finish.
Rolo Tomassi – A Flood of Light
It’s coming up on the year anniversary of Ba’al opening for RT so I’ve been thinking about this track a fair bit. By far the best on the latest album with a second half that is laced with pure atmosphere.
Cairiss – Disgraced
The best black metal band in the UK by a country mile. Since finding out they are playing Winter Warhorns I’ve been spinning their EP Fall on repeat. Incredible musicianship and fantastic ranging vocals from delicate cleans to harsh black metal rasps. Absolute masterpiece.
In May 2019, we released our second EP Reverence. It’s our first release with Joe Stamps (of Hecate Enthroned and Child of Ash) on vocals, and it also shows some new experiments in our sound that we’ve been toying with for a while. It was recorded at Tie Dye Tapes in Sheffield by our friends Adam and Michael (also of the excellent band naisian). We’re really proud of it.
Just after the release, we thought back on the writing process of these three tracks and each put together a list of our influences that had the biggest impact on Reverence. Of course, all five of us have lists longer than several arms of musical inspirations, but here we’ve tried to narrow them down to just 5 tracks each that most directly impacted these songs.
We’ve each written a few words on our tracks, and you can listen to the whole lot as a Spotify playlist at the end. Enjoy.
Nick – Guitar
Mew – Special
Bossk – The Reverie
Deftones – Digital Bath
Ultar – Nyarlathotep
Cult of Luna – Echoes
My influences tend to evolve based on what I’ve been most recently listening to (which is often immediately obvious to the others when I show them a new idea). There’s a few that have stayed with me for much longer than others but I don’t really like to stick to playing the same sort of thing, so a lot of my ideas can be a fairly violent mashup of influences that often don’t particularly gel together.
My first choice is never immediately obvious, but Bo Madsen, previously of Mew, is absolutely one of the most interesting guitarists I regularly listen to and his inventive approach to what would normally be fairly simple ideas is something I’ve always wanted to emulate. There are plenty of unusually phrased riffs, unexpected guitar effects and off-kilter time signatures which make them such an engaging band to listen to. Nothing they release is straightforward. ‘Special’ is one of their darker tracks but I would recommend all their work, especially the album ‘Frengers’.
Regarding Deftones, I think what strikes me the most is the relative simplicity of much of what Stephen Carpenter does. That’s not a disparaging remark, it’s a very considerate way of creating music. Knowing when to be the loudest in the room and when to step back and let Chino do his thing. I think he really took all the strengths of the whole Nu-Metal/Alt-Metal thing and really experimented with it; as a result, they have a timeless aesthetic which is just so distinctively Deftones. I view Cult of Luna in a similar way in that they are masters of dynamism. They know how to do loud and they know how to do quiet and they will transport you from one to another seamlessly. I wish I could have written this track.
As for Ultar and Bossk; these are both bands that I’ve absolutely hammered since I discovered them and as much as I try to be totally original, it seems like a lot of the music I’ve written recently has sounded like one or both of these bands. Bossk’s ‘Audio Noir’ is a perfect marriage of crushing fuzzy riffs and delicate proggy clean sections. Ultar are a relatively new black metal band from Siberia and don’t be surprised to see them everywhere soon, they’ve got that sound nailed.
Tom – Guitar
MØL – Storm
Deafheaven – The Pecan Tree
Cult of Luna – And With Her Came the Birds
Will Haven – Carpe Diem
Mogwai – Music for a Forgotten Future
Plenty of other records could have been on this list, but the 5 listed here had more direct impacts on the sound, feel, texture or pacing of the record.
So first off, Møl. It could easily have been any track off ‘Jord’, as the guitar sounds are superb all the way through.
‘The Pecan Tree’; the immediacy and savagery mixed with the shoegaze elements crossed through the EP both as sounds styles and textures.
‘And With Her Came the Birds’ was more of an influence on the title track than anything else. That dark spacious yet almost claustrophobic feel with different instruments and layers flowing in and out of each other was the simple skeleton framework and idea behind the title track and some of the other layering on the rest of the EP.
‘Carpe Diem’: The riffs are huge. If you want big riffs that still retain space and texture with enough weight to stop a bull elephant you don’t have to look much further than this.
‘Music for a Forgotten Future’ is sparse and made from just a couple of simple repeating refrains spread over 20+ minutes. Nothing heavy or soaring to a crescendo like much of the Mogwai catalogue, yet it seemed to fit perfectly with the album it’s attached to (‘Hardcore Will Never Die… But You Will’). This feel fitted well between our tracks ‘Grief Tourist’ and ‘Sepia’, giving the record a different flow and almost an antidote to the frantic urgency of the introduction of ‘Grief Tourist’ to the long build and crescendo of ‘Sepia’.
Richard – Bass
Primitive Man – Victim
Conjurer – Behold the Swine
Ulver – Eos
Conan – Total Conquest
Pijn – Hazel
I often find that my new riff ideas for Ba’al tend to be reactive to whatever riffs we’ve recently written; we’d not come up with many simple, slow and bludgeoning riffs for a while (whilst we had blasting black metal riffs coming out of our ears), so my love of Conan and Primitive Man seeped into my brain.
The first full-on heavy riff on ‘Sepia’ was written on an acoustic guitar (!) when I got home from seeing Primitive Man on a Sunday night in Sheffield, and I quickly paired it with what became the ending “beatdown” riff in the same track, which was originally aping my favourite Conan track.
Although they’ve both now released cracking debut albums, it was the earlier work of both Conjurer and Pijn I had in mind when writing this EP. This Conjurer track has some lovely rhythmic playing in the bass, sitting snugly beneath the guitar work, which is something I’m always trying to do, in this instance in the latter part of ‘Grief Tourist’.
It’s the orchestral strings on the first Pijn EP that influenced the way I worked with the viola parts on the title track ‘Reverence’, and Ulver’s ‘Shadows of the Sun’ album is just a soft and atmospheric masterpiece that really covers the vibe I think we were aiming at for that track.
Joe – Vocals
ColdWorld – Void
Altar of Plagues – Neptune is Dead
Katatonia – Rainroom
Aluk Todolo – Disease
Gnaw Their Tongues – I Am the Spear
My main influences lyrically for Reverence came from personal experiences rather than that of other bands. I’ve always felt it important to have my own individual style of being descriptive without being too specific, creating an image or a story but keeping it open enough so that others can relate to it in their own way.
Vocally I was largely inspired by bands like ColdWorld and Altar of Plagues, atmospheric black metal bands I listen to on a regular basis who are fantastic at arranging vocals throughout tracks that have large open spaces.
I’ve always felt that annunciation is important with harsh vocals, Mikael Akerfeldt’s performance on the earlier Katatonia stuff (as well as Opeth, naturally) was always a strong example of this for me.
In terms of atmosphere I was largely inspired by the likes of Aluk Todolo and Gnaw Their Tongues who create positively nightmarish soundscapes. Gnaw Their Tongues in particular with such harrowing, terrified screams.
James – Drums
Strapping Young Lad – All Hail The New Flesh
Russian Circles- 309
Gojira – The Way Of All Flesh
Tool – 46 and 2
Primus – Jerry Was A Race Car Driver
For this EP, I took quite a broad appraoch for percussion. My influences have always been quite varied; which is handy when as a group we often bring very different tastes to the table, so having a large pallet can be pretty integral at times.
I definitely take influence from the likes of Gene Hoglan (Strapping Young Lad) and Mario Duplantier (Gojira) for the extreme sections of our music. While I could never compare myself to them in ability (or any of my influences), there is something about the mechanical styles of both of them that I can’t help gravitate towards, especially with their footwork.
Danny Carey (Tool); his very expressive approach around the kit I just find mesmerizing, and something I will always be influenced by. How he melodically builds to delicately compliment every other instrument, riff, and change; is something I try to do with any track, and definitely did my best to incorporate this approach into the EP.
Dan Turncrantz (Russian Circles) influenced me greatly for this EP, especially with his solid ghost notes and off beats. To me, his playing is like a hybrid of funk and military percussion which when added to post metal; just creates a brutal but also delicate smorgasbord of rolls, riffs, and intricate footwork that brings out every guitar and bass riff that sits on top of it.
Lastly, perhaps my biggest influence is Tim Alexander (Primus). His relaxed and playfully intricate funk approach is something that is a major part of my playing. Even when it’s not necessarily obvious, it’s pivotal to how I approach riffs both on the Reverence EP, and in general. Funk especially is the backbone of my playing with relaxed grooves and hooks, which for me Tim Alexander is my biggest inspiration when combining it with heavier music. There are plenty of drummers who take the same approach, but none that captivate me in the same way.
Check out all of the above tracks in a Spotify playlist via the link below, and if you fancy supporting us you can buy Reverence on CD or digitally on our BandCamp, along with various items of merch.