Hi! The Black Country has a rich history in metal music. How has the region influenced MASTER’S CALL‘s sound and style, especially considering it’s the birthplace of Heavy Metal?
Yes it’s actually a big inspiration for us- whilst we primarily are an extreme metal band we are proud of our heavy metal heritage, the old-school spirit of which flows into our music and attitude.
“A Journey For The Damned” faced several challenges during its creation, including lineup changes and vocalists. How did these hurdles shape the album’s overall theme and tone?
It’s certainly been a chaotic ride particularly with changing vocalists throughout the writing, and even midway through the recording. Each vocalist had their own character and delivery and it makes a difference when you are writing for a particular voice tone, and of course the final recorded sound. The album theme has remained on the same path throughout, even the album title has actually been with us since the very beginning- but today it carries significantly more personal weight to us after going through all those hurdles.
Can you elaborate on the meaning behind the album title “A Journey For The Damned”? What story or concept does the album aim to convey?
So the first EP touches upon the rising manifestation of the ugliness and oppression that exists in the dark corners of the world. The album essentially continues in that direction by dealing with the evolving dark and turbulent path through life- the atrocities, struggles and victories that will be encountered along the way, as well as the spirituality and beliefs that influence us as we journey toward the inevitability of death.
The band’s music is often described as a blend of extreme metal genres with recognizable melodies. How do you strike a balance between brutality and melody in your compositions?
It comes quite naturally, almost instinctively rather than consciously planned now, but there was an evolution that lead to that; at the very very beginning before anything was ever written we went in thinking we were gonna be full on gnarly black or death metal, but then we wrote ‘The Spire Cranes’ from the first EP. At first we were like “this song has a catchy chorus in it, surely this is not allowed, not extreme enough?” but we were vibing off it and decided that those preconceived “rules” didn’t matter, so pretty much from then on we decided that’s our thing and from there we evolved the melodic and chorusy transitions whilst staying extreme and brutal at the core.
The loss of vocalists led to guitarist John Wilcox taking on vocal duties. How did this unexpected change impact the band’s dynamics and creative process?
The album was already written by John and I before John took on the vocal duties and Bear joined on guitar. That initial core is still there but the creative process may change a little going forward with additional ideas coming from Bear (guitar) and our most recent new member Lewis (bass). John will still continue to write on guitar despite being the vocalist, but we technically have 4 guitarists in the band now so it will be interesting to see what flavours might come into our future material.
How do you collaborate and bring together diverse musical influences within the band?
Once we decided early on to not limit ourselves to one specific subgenre and break any preconceived rules we had, we allowed ourselves to take inspiration from some perhaps unexpected places- and going into the future I expect we may find ourselves individually pushing the boundaries even wider. But in the end, it’s all brought together by a united vision, so it usually works out our individual influences and styles are complimentary to each other.
What specific events or beliefs inspired the lyrical content of the album, and how do these themes resonate with the band personally?
It’s more of an overall picture of how the world struggles both physically and spiritually that inspires our themes, rather than any specific events: The brutality and savage nature of mankind, the oppression and conflicts of faith – it’s not necessarily always about simply rejecting these concepts but defeating or defying them on the turbulent path of life. This concept of struggling through a journey and overcoming many opposing forces for something we believe in very much resonates with our own experience of the creation of this album!
How did Kristian “Kohle” Bonifer’s unique approach to mixing and mastering enhance the album’s sound, and what did you learn from the collaboration?
We didn’t want to stray too far from the sound of our first EP, but sound more like a high-def evolution of it, especially with the added factor of a change in vocalists. It could have potentially sounded like it was a different band but I do believe Kohle nailed just the right tone and feel for this album in relation to the EP. We certainly learned some production aspects that we would approach differently or more efficiently next time, so hopefully the evolution will continue to advance!
How do you translate the intensity of your music into a live setting, and what can fans expect from your live shows?
We hit it with old-school heavy metal attitude and delivery, you’ll typically see a decent amount of studded leather, chains and sweat! The visual intensity goes hand in hand with the musical intensity.
How do you pay homage to classic heavy metal while still creating a sound that is fresh and innovative?
We always try to keep a little bit of old-school scattered within our extreme core, whether it’s a riff or a guitar solo, or just the attitude. Being from the area where heavy metal was born we have a healthy respect for those roots, and we want to keep that flag flying within our music. We’re not claiming the resulting sound is a totally unique genre or anything like that- but it is our sound. And the interesting thing we’ve noticed is that people don’t seem to really agree on what bands to compare us to- not that anyone is wrong in their opinion- but it’s interesting to hear comparisons to such different bands, for sure many of them have inspired us to some degree, but sometimes we get compared to bands we don’t even listen to or have ever thought of. Whether those comparisons are intended positively or negatively, we like the fact that overall there isn’t too much of one specific influence shining through, even if an individual listener might hear otherwise!
MASTER’S CALL has been praised for creating “black hymns.” Could you delve into the thematic elements that define your music and how these themes connect with your audience?
Under all the extremity and aggression there’s a certain level of structure and accessibility to our songs, from memorable guitar melodies to darkly catchy choruses that the audience can recognize and defiantly chant along with.
With the debut album completed, what do you envision as the next step for MASTER’S CALL? Are there specific goals or milestones you are aiming for in the near future?
Our next step is to get on the road. And we do in fact have a European tour coming in February 2024, so not too long after the album launches. We would love to hit some of the bigger festivals as well which for sure is a goal we will continually work toward. And of course we want to work on more music and this time get it out in significantly less time!
In the context of the pandemic and its impact on the music industry, how did MASTER’S CALL navigate the challenges, and how did it affect your creative process and outlook as a band?
We did pretty much finish the album writing remotely in lockdown. The last song we wrote “Into The Abyss Once More” was in fact fully written during lockdown. That song ended up being the most grotesque and death metal track of the album, maybe we were getting a bit pissed off. It certainly felt like we were trapped in an abyss. Obviously all booked live shows were cancelled, and our first show in Germany got postponed twice to late 2022. And right as restrictions started lifting our (3rd) vocalist at the time was forced to depart due to health issues that basically killed his voice. That part in itself was at least a year of waiting and hoping he would recover, but eventually he determined it was not looking realistic and he didn’t want to hold us back indefinitely. It felt pretty grim to be honest, and the negative feelings of the lockdown followed by that probably hit us individually in different ways- the frustration got a bit much and there was some feelings of despair- but we continued to drive ourselves onward.
The band’s journey through various obstacles is reflected in your music. How do you think these challenges have contributed to your growth, both as individuals and as a band?
Enduring such serious patience and hard effort to see things through to the end has at least strengthened our resilience and determination. It surely shows that at our core we aren’t the type of band that gives up easily and that we will come through! In the long run it’s probably better that we have gone through such experiences and learnt from them at the relatively earlier stages or the band.
Lastly, could you share a memorable moment from the making of “A Journey For The Damned” that captures the essence of the album’s creation process? Thank you for your time!
I suppose what probably sums it up the most is having to retire a vocalist due to health issues midway through recording him, but then preserving some of those “last” recorded vocals as backings. There’s something quite symbolic about having that unfortunately grim part of the journey actually engraved into the music.
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