Interview with Bloodrust

Interview with Bloodrust

- in Written interviews

Hi Richard! “At Glory’s End” is your third album as Bloodrust. How do you feel this record represents your growth and evolution as a musician compared to your previous releases?
Hi Stanley, thanks for the interview and to start off with a good question. At Glory’s End is closer to the sound I had in my head if that makes sense. When I started I was just writing songs that ended up becoming Burning of Aeons I was just throwing riffs together and very much within what I was capable of as a guitar player. Same with Legacy but my skill had improved and I was thinking more of how the songs were able to flow. With Glory it was very much I knew I had to step it up in terms of song writing as I wanted the heavy parts, I wanted the melodic parts and I wanted some parts that challenged me as a guitarist as I have to make myself happy first and foremost. On this album I wanted that big wall of guitars, I wanted an older style of guitar tones and I wanted more blast beats so in my head I knew what the bedrock was going to be. Im a massive Priest and Accept fan and I wanted those guitar melodies and Harmonies in there but without sacrificing the Death Metal parts, I didn’t want to write a melodeath album which I the previous album had a few elements of. Nothing wrong with Melodeath and I still listen to bands form the Genre but it isn’t me. I also made a conscious decision to not tory to steal so heavy from the font of Bolt Thrower, not sure I managed that but and I know there is a big glut of BT influenced bands out there which is so cool as at school I was the only BT fan out there. It was all Nirvana and Soundgarden and I still can’t really get my head around Grunge so I’m happy to be part of the greater Bolt Thrower appreciation team, or is it now a cult, the cult of Bolt Thrower.

The album was recorded/mixed/mastered in different locations, including the Falkland Islands, Bristol, and Germany. How did these diverse environments influence the recording process and overall sound of the album?
I had the idea of how I wanted the album to sound in terms of less polished than my previous 2 albums, less of a slap and more a bludgeon to the back of the head. I wanted to go back to that sound and feeling when I first heard The End Complete or Realm of Chaos that very heavy wall of guitars. Bristol and Bass wise I got Phil onboard very late into the recording process and with 2 songs left to write and he saved the record in terms of not only laying down such killer bass lines but also agreeing to do the bass with a tight deadline. Germany wise is where Dome is based and as you can imagine there are limited to 0 options in the Falklands.

The album was produced, mixed, and mastered by Dominik Hellmuth. How did his involvement contribute to achieving the desired sonic vision for the record?
Dome is a massive HM-2 nut in terms of guitar tones and that alongside those scooped 90s DM tones are at the top of my nasty guitar tone tree, so when Dome mentioned that he would be interested in working with me I was interested to see what we could come up with. Once we’d had a chat about what I was after and if the songs I’d written would suit that guitar tone then it was all go from there. He has created a very heavy guitar tone and I couldn’t be happier. I wanted that slightly looser feeling as well in terms of not so tight, not messy but not edited to perfection. Again going back to the 90s when I got into metal it wasn’t all perfect and that is something that for me gives the songs life and movement even if it isn’t a real drummer playing behind me.
Can you tell us more about the cover art for “At Glory’s End” and how it ties into the album’s themes and concepts? The artwork was done by the talented Timon Kokott from Germany, there seems to be a connection here. He had a Facebook post up with Artwork for sale before I seriously started writing the album and the instant I saw it I knew it was right for me but as I wasn’t at the point of song titles or album titles I didn’t get in touch. Fast forward a few more months and up when another post and there was the picture, it was very much I had to get in touch and get the cover there is something about it just fits the style of Bloodrust. After a while I also got him to redo the band font and logo. There was something about the songs that had more of a cohesive feel and the font and logo I had I didn’t think for the music. I even toyed with changing the band name but soon gave up on that idea. The only problem I had was that I couldn’t come up with an album title, the cover fits the song themes, war, destruction the usual Death Metal lyrical fodder. But nothing fit within the lyrics I’d written, no song titles jumped out and it wasn’t until I came across some pictures of bombed out cities I realised that at the end of war when people come home for the parades and the medals all that’s left is destruction. At Glory’s End for me it fits the lyrical theme and it looked so good plus I didn’t want anyone else to have it.

You mentioned wanting to create a sound that is less polished and nastier than your previous recordings. What were some specific techniques or approaches you used to achieve this sonic aesthetic?
Lots of guitar tracks, each song has 2 guitar tracks each side. Both recorded at the same time one was a DI track for Dome to reamp with the chainsaw and the other was a supporting tone and more of a standard guitar tone. The Di tracks have different guitar tones on the left compared to the right. For certain parts of the song I did another set of guitar tracks using the same method so it’s a wall of guitars. A massively distorted bass really adds weight. I’d also tuned lower on this album and that adds to that lower, weighty tone. I love those early Swedish Death Metal albums but I wanted that low end weight of a low tuned distorted guitar and that Is often missing from HM-2 guitars which is why we blended tones. It worked and it sounds nasty. Not sure I will ever be able to recreate those tones ina. Live environment but that’s a good problem to have as it means I’ll be playing live.

Lyrically, the album explores themes of war, both on the battlefield and the mental toll it takes on humanity. Can you delve deeper into the inspiration behind these themes and how they are conveyed throughout the album?
I always enjoyed war films as a kid, read countless books and with my Dad being in the Army I was surrounded by the instruments of war. When you then add in Warhammer 40k which I played as a teenager and still really enjoy reading the books and the influence of Bolt Thrower musically and lyrically it seemed a natural progression plus I found it easy to write lyrics about war over the more personal. The battlefield style of lyrics is easier as it’s story telling in many ways. Hellwinters Gate is very much in that style the story from start to finish with those 2 lyrical parts as If from someone involved. Whereas Humanity’s last Breath I tried to write from the perspective of someone who only feels alive when the killing starts. Someone who yearns for death to make it all stop but is either far too good at killing or far to lucky and it’s always out of reach. I tried to more creative in the lyrics and not so straight forward, not so obvious almost leave it up to the listener but it had to make sense and I’m not too into making the lyrics so ambiguous that it’s just a collection of sentences. I really look unto guys like Dave Ingram from the mighty Benediction for writing superb lyrics with a great turn of phrase and interesting phrases. Martin from Asphyx and Karl from BT both do war lyrics at the tip tier of war lyrics so it was seeing how they constructed sentences and where they would put lyrics within the song. I’m still learning and lyrics are such an important part of the song I don’t want to throw any old word or phrase in.

How does the experience of war challenge our understanding of morality and ethics?
That’s an interesting one as war never solves things it creates more issues not necessarily immediately but further down the line. No one wants to go to war certainly not those who get sent to the front by the will of their politicians. War though at times is necessary, imagine where the world could be if we remained silent when Hitler was running rampant across Europe. I will say though I’m certainly not educated enough for an enlighten response but I good for a rambling one. No matter how we advance as a society and how we become desensitised to the horrors of war we still got to war, we still find reasons to go to war. Some are more genuine than others and some would argue that we have a moral obligation to go to war in support of others. I often wonder that we go to war for long term political aims, often disguised in numerous layers of political debates, let’s all remember the Weapons of mass destruction reason for invading Iraq for the second time and the complete cluster that happened after that.

“Vermin” is described as a political track or social commentary. Could you elaborate on the message you aimed to convey with this song and why you felt it was important to include it on the album?
It was the song that started it all, I was struggling with writing anything new and that didn’t sound like a copy of what I’d done before, I wanted to evolve the sound organically a natural step and this was the track that got me started. Lyrically it’s a dig at the Right wing that seem to think that their ideals and visions of the world are right and not filled with hate and bile which we all know is the real truth of it. It all started when I called out a radio DJ and label boss for playing Black metal bands on his radio show which were right wing or plain old Nazis. I told him I didn’t care what he listened to in his free time but don’t spread the hate and that in my opinion he was endorsing their views by playing it. Needless to say our opinions differ and whilst I agree free speech is important we have to draw the line somewhere and that was a line for me. He tried to argue his point with its art debate as opposed to hate which it was and well I took to spamming every post he put up advertising he show and bands he was playing, it became a game and I enjoyed playing that game of Whack a. Nazi… I kept Pointing out which bands were NS bands and how much of an idiot he was for giving them airtime. At that point he was close with the label boss of the label I was on at that time so I very much got put into the position of shut up as the guy is only playing music or leave the label. I told them to take my music down off the label, don’t attempt to sell my stuff and I’ll have the album back as I won’t work with Nazi’s or people that are happy to defend Nazis or right wing idiots under the its only music banner. I’m happy to say his label has gone under and I think his radio show went the same way so some sort of Karmic circle there.

Bloodrust initially started as a one-man band. How has the experience of being a solo artist influenced your songwriting process and overall musical direction?
It’s given me the confidence that I can write music worth listening to and something that has value. The first album was more of an experiment to see if I could do it, could I write an album and it was all some sort of big adventure. The 2nd was could I do it again without repeating myself but as an album it is a tad disjointed and rushed. This one I knew I wanted those melodic guitar parts, those harmony sections that I had experimented on Legacy but keep it heavy and not go off into melodeath territory. I only have myself to please which at times hinders the process as it’s only my perspective and my very limited vision which hasn’t changed. My vision is to write metal pure and simple, the fact it comes out as OSDM is fantastic, I’m not forcing it, I pick up the guitar and out comes Death metal, I’ve tried to write other things and it shows it not natural, comes out as forced and generic. Not having anyone to really bounce creative ideas off to add a riff or give you a way out of a situation does cause headaches and at times scrapping of a song but its all part of the process and the sense of achievement when you’ve finished a song when you thought it was for the bin is pretty cool.

What are your plans and aspirations for Bloodrust now that you’re returning to the UK? How do you envision the band’s future and its place within the metal scene?
I’d love to turn Bloodrust into a fully fledged band and play shows and develop the band and move onto bigger and beater things. I can only take the band so far and I want that creative push and pull, having other people wanting to invest their time into a collaborative project.

With the desire to turn Bloodrust into a full band upon your return to the UK, what qualities or characteristics are you looking for in potential bandmates to ensure a cohesive and unified musical vision?
The main thing is to have people dedicated to playing metal, ideally fans of OSDM but that’s not essential otherwise the band wouldn’t evolve. Initially it would be finding people who will happily play the songs I’ve already written so there is a baseline of songs to play live and then keep writing more songs really and try and write better songs. See where a fresh injection of ideas and other people’s abilities can take the band. Even down to vocals whilst I’ve done vocals up until this point it was more necessity than design and I think my range as a vocalist isnt the best. The thing is if it stays a one-man project and I get to write music with different people and do something slightly different that’s not a problem. It’s not like I’m saying come join this successful band with this established fan base and these are the songs you have to play. I want to play metal if it’s Bloodrust, that’s great if it’s something else that’s also great.

How has the geographical isolation of the Falkland Islands impacted your ability to collaborate with other musicians and participate in the metal music scene?
In all fairness apart from the last album with Phil playing bass and the guest solos I’ve not really approached anyone in terms of collaboration mostly through fear of people not wanting to work with a one-man band at the bottom of the world. It’s been hard enough sending files back and forth with producers as we have flakey and limited internet that caused me enough stress. Plus I don’t think anyone would be interested. So when I sent an SOS to Phil I was very surprised he said yes. I also feel very uneasy with spamming groups and pages with my music so from that perspective I’ve not played an active part in any scene. I’m not good at the hey here is my music on thousands of Facebook pages it feels forced and rude.

Your debut album, “Burning of Aeons,” was released in 2020, followed by “A Legacy of Vengeance” in 2021. What lessons did you learn from those releases that you applied to the creation and release of “At Glory’s End”?
Practice, practice and practice. Becoming a better guitarist helped me get those ideas out of my head, adding new ideas into the mix. I would say giving myself a deadline helped but it didn’t as I was. 2 songs short fairly close to when Dome had the time to work on the record. I think the main one was to take a break before starting writing new songs and also to enjoy the album I’d just made. That few months break enabled me to draw a line under Legacy as well work out what I liked about the album and worked out how to improve those parts.

What drew you to the Bolt Thrower style of death metal, and how do you incorporate elements of that sound while still maintaining your unique identity as Bloodrust?
It just felt right, if that makes sense. That style of Death metal is what got me into the more extreme metal and it’s what comes naturally to me as a songwriter. I love the sound of bass drums rolling away underneath a Trem picked riff, that makes me smile then If you add in a melodic harmonised guitar run it’s an even bigger smile. The only real issues are that all the best riffs have been taken by Baz and Gavin and the rest of us are picking over the bones of the riffs they left behind. But that’s just me, getting others involved may change that or I may change it, I’m going to keep an open mind and not constrain myself to the past and what I’ve done previously. The day I got Realm of Chaos from my mate he gave me 2 other albums, For Whose Advantage by Xentrix and Chaos AD by Sepultura. It could well have been one of those bands who I naturally followed musically. That was a very good day for me getting those albums it’s certainly snapped my listening and helped me break out of the narrow Maiden and Metallica confines I was in.

How do you typically approach creating new material, and has your process evolved since the earlier days of Bloodrust?
I normally just sit down and start playing just playing around. Sometimes I’ll hunt round for drum ideas and play with drum loops and see if that sparks some inspiration. I tend to write the music first and then the lyrics as it makes sense in my mind to do it that way. I have fragments of sentences on my phone that once I’ve written part of the music I go looking through seeing if anything fits and if I can expand on that. Sea of Souls I had the music written and I was walking to work minding my own business and I came up with a line that was good so I stopped and started typing on my phone and I think I was there for about 15 minutes as more lyrics were coming to me and I knew that If I walked away I would forget them. Both Exiles and Airborne Terror had completely different lyrics pretty much until I was ready to record them and there was something that didn’t ring true about them so I wrote both the lyrics for those whilst tracking. It’s not unusual for me to change things as I’m tracking, miss a word out or add a word and Im not even sure if the words in the booklet are correct. I think the worst but is listening to a Song and going why didn’t I say this instead of that especially when it’s too late.

Are there any specific tracks on the album that hold special significance to you personally? If so, what makes them stand out?
Airborne Terror as it has Ol Drake from Evile on lead guitar, that makes any track special. Hades Fire as it was one of those tracks that wrote itself, even though I had to check I hadn’t stolen the lyrics from Vader as the first few lines felt so familiar. I don’t think I did but I wanted to check.

As a one-man band, how do you balance the various roles and responsibilities of writing, recording, and promoting your music? What are some of the challenges you face in managing these aspects of the musical process?
How do I balance it all, badly is the word I’d use, I suck at promoting the band and releases and would rather write new music than try and promote as it’s easier and more rewarding in a mental level. Writing is more enjoyable and the satisfaction of having created something that I think fantastic is great. I do enjoy the recording part, the challenge of playing a part to the best of my ability, pushing myself is rewarding on a different level. The only part I don’t like is recording vocals, I hate it mostly as I don’t like my vocals so it’s almost a that will do attitude when I’ve got an ok take. I leave vocals to the end and try to get them smashed out in as short a time as possible.

How do you perceive the role of death metal in expressing societal and political issues? What do you believe makes the genre an effective platform for addressing such topics?
Death metal is no bullshit and the songs can be about anything, yes it tends to go towards the Gore, Death or war lyrical area but look at Death. Chuck soon moved away and onto more social and political lyrics. It’s effective at any message you want to put within it as for me those that write DM do it because they love it and that comes out in any message in the lyrics. You’re not going to reach a massive audience but doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say what you feel and get your message out. I’ve been slagging off Putin since the first album and no one listened, now look where we are. Where we go back to in the UK is Salisbury where they had the Novichok poisonings back in 2018 so that was very surreal, seeing the comments from friends of social media and then seeing it all over the news. Weirdest thing is where they found them on the park bench I used to sit on that bench and feed the ducks with my eldest kid. I am more interested in maybe branching out of my current war theme and expressing what’s annoying me in the world.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a musician and releasing your music as Bloodrust?
The fact that people want to listen to the music, that people want to invest their time in me and help push my music out there. I only thought about doing one album just so I could say I did it. I was able to write an album of music I wrote that I recorded. Something to put on a shelf amongst my CD collection. I realised that writing was good for my head and whilst I’ve always enjoyed playing music the creating element seemed almost to be the missing piece in my guitar playing.

From your point of view, how does our contemplation of death influence the way we live and find meaning in life?
To be fair it’s been a long time since I thought about Death and despite writing about the dead or dying I tend to look at enjoying life as the end will come soon enough. We’re not here for a long time so no point looking too closely at the end, acknowledge it but don’t go looking for it.

In what ways can the experience of oppression shape an individual’s identity and their perspective on society?
I think it can have a massive impact. We often think of oppression as a government thing but in reality we’re all oppressed in one way or another, it’s not always in massive obvious things. Everything we experience in life impacts our identity. If you have had a bad experience with the police chances are it’s going to shape how you interact with them and society as a whole.

What is the relationship between madness and creativity? Can madness be a source of inspiration or a hindrance to artistic expression?
I’ll avoid the you’ve got to be mad to be in the music biz part but I think creative people are wired up differently to varying degrees. By that I mean the time it takes, the dedication to something that others may not understand or be interested in but is essential to you as a person that you feel the need to create. If you don’t create then the world seems to get on top of you or you feel something is missing. Thats the link I draw. Others will have a different opinion or perspective.

How does the experience of betrayal impact our ability to trust others and form meaningful relationships?
I guess I’ve been lucky and never been in that situation to any great form in my life so I’ll pass on that one.

Looking back at your musical journey with Bloodrust, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are pursuing their own creative projects in the metal genre? Thank you for your time!
Thanks for the interview and taking the time to chat to me, first thing is Don’t rush it, enjoy it. Music is supposed to be fun and the pressure is good but if it’s not fun then maybe you need to step back and see what it is that makes it fun for you. You need to have a thick skin as there will always be critics and whilst you think you have recorded the best album out there others won’t think that or what hear what you hear in the music and there but most importantly be you, don’t fake it as people will know if your faking it. Finally to quote Chuck Let the Metal Flow.

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