Exclusive: After The Burial Talks "Wolves Within", Influences, and More
Wed, 18 Dec 2013 08:42:41
After The Burial carve out their own genre on Wolves Within. The only applicable term to describe it is "Mindfuck metal", and we mean that in the most loving way possible. The Minnesota outfit's latest elevates heavy music to the next level. With the succinct, slick, and smart bomb-precise eight-string assault, grooves, electronic textures, and bludgeoning hooks, Wolves Within transfixes with a glorious guttural stomp. There's no disputing it. This is one of the best metal records of 2013.
In this exclusive interview, Justin Lowe of After The Burial discusses Wolves Within, his influences, and so much more.
What ties Wolves Within together? It flows like one piece you have to listen to from start to finish.
Actually, even picking a tracklisting was really a bit of a challenge for this record. Going in, we knew the songs were a lot different from each other. After a while, it was starting to sound like a big metal mixtape to me. When we got that tracklisting, we were vibing on it, and it felt right so we rolled with it. If you prefer to listen to it from beginning to end, that's awesome, because it was tough to figure out what order to put these songs in.
What artists inspired you to play eight-string guitars?
There have been plenty. When I got into seven-string guitars, I was into Korn. I was into Dream Theater. I was into Meshuggah. There are quite a few bands I listened to growing up that got me into playing seven-string. Deftones are another one. There are also more bands emerging with the eight-string guitars besides for us. As soon as we could get our hands on an eight-string, we did. Actually, Trent Hafdahl and I got two of the first five eight-string guitars Ibanez manufactured that got shipped to America from Japan. We were extremely stoked! We started writing with them right away. I think that was some time in 2007. I can't remember who was specifically using them around that time, but the big names that come to my mind are Deftones and Meshuggah. We were so excited to start writing on them. We just couldn't wait so we pre-ordered them, waited, and waited for them to finally arrive. When they did, we were stoked.
What's the story behind "A Wolf Amongst Ravens"?
That was actually the first song we did in the C-sharp tuning. It was written, and we actually recorded it a couple of years ago. It's just coming out now. Trent had a demo for the song which had the intro. It was just played on a clean guitar, and it went into this riff he created with this low tuning. I had never heard anything like it before. He shot it over to me. I re-orchestrated the beginning intro from his clean guitar, and I actually incorporated the electronic instruments you hear in the beginning. This was the first song we could showcase that tuning in. We focused in on the groove element of the song. The sound of the C-sharp note is a sort of percussive sound. It's an abrasive tone. The song is really built around a percussive guitar sound that's all following the drums on pretty much the entire song. It's a cool style so we went for it, especially on the outro. We wanted the outro to have a little bit of a cinematic feel to it. We tried to get that across as much as possible. We took a little focus off the guitars and shifted it over to the melodic orchestration we have at the end. The guitars and drums are doing the same thing most of the time. I think it's pretty cool how it turned out. It's definitely got a darker feel. It's one of the darkest songs we've ever written. A lot of our stuff is pretty uplifting here and there. There was a darker feel, but it sounded cool so we went for it.
Did you know it would end the album when you first wrote it?
Not at all! I had no idea. That's actually a song we did for an EP a couple of years ago. The EP never really happened. That was recorded around the time we tracked the This Life Is All We Have EP. We didn't know what we would do with the track. Since it wasn't on the EP, we just started playing it live. We've been playing it live for about a year now. We weren't sure if it would make the album or not, but we were playing it live so much we were like, "Yeah, let's throw it on there!" It doesn't really sound like the rest of the tracks on the record so we put it last, and we hoped it would be a good closer.
What track are you the most proud of at the moment?
Right now, I'd say my favorite song on the record is "Pennyweight" because that was the first song we wrote after "A Wolf Amongst Ravens" in the new low tuning. It has a really positive vibe to it, but it's tuned very low. It turned out great. Trent has a great solo section in it that I was a big fan of. Rhythmically, it has "After The Burial" written all over it. Hopefully, when our listeners hear it, they'll recognize it's us and it'll have some identifiability. It was a really fun song to write. It was definitely really challenging for sure. It's a five- or six-minute song, and it ends with a really low note that was really fun to record because it was one of the easier riffs on the record to lay down. Hopefully, we can get into the set soon.
How did "Disconnect" come together?
That song came together in the studio actually. We had a demo for that track for a while. It was only about half as long as the actual song is now. We kept trying to figure out where we were going with the song because we had a vibe everybody was digging. It turned out to be one of the most melodic tracks we've put together. I think it's the most challenging song to play guitar-wise out of all the songs we've written together so far. That's definitely the top. I'm like, "I have to get home and start practicing so I can play that one!" [Laughs] There are like six or seven harmony layers going on at the end. The outro is crazy. I can't even explain how that one came together. We were sitting there in the studio tracking guitars, and it started coming out. I didn't have a chance to look back at it yet. It took the longest to record.
What artists shaped you?
I listen to pretty much the same groups now as I did when I was little. The main heavier bands are Metallica, Dream Theater, and Pantera. I'll say Machine Head and Meshuggah. These are all bands I grew up listening to at an extremely young age, and I still listen to them. I don't have a ton of music. I'm into a lot of other things too. Tears For Fears is one of my favorite bands. As far as shaping me as a musician, I drew a lot of influence from early Metallica and Pantera records and especially Dream Theater. I think my friend gave me the Images and Words cassette in like third grade or something. Up until then, I had no idea music could be played at that high of a level of technicality. Playing drums back then, I was like, "Wow, it's time to step my game up". I started practicing all sorts of Dream Theater songs. Eventually, I switched over to guitar and got Dream Theater tab books. I sat there and tried to play the stuff. I still can't play it! Even though I'll get a little close to playing one of his solos, I can't do it, but I feel like it'll help me improve as a guitarist all around.
What's your favorite After The Burial song?
Take a listen!