Your first album got good criticism, which is not so bad for a debut.
What things do you agree with and what not?
Dave Buttner: It got some bad criticism too! haha. We have been really happy with the feedback from the reviews so far, we figured there would have been a lot more negatives but I guess that comes about from us being our own worst critics. We are very proud of the way 'What Stirs Within' turned out, there are a few production issues but you end up being so close to it during the writing/recording process that it becomes very hard to listen to it objectively. As long as the criticism is delivered in a constructive way we tend to take it on board. It's the only way to build on what you have and improve.
Tell me about the songs from your album “What Stirs Within”.
'What Stirs Within' was over two years in the making. It was a real labour of love for the four of us and we got to the point where we just wanted to get the bloody thing out on the shelves. The songs themselves with the exception of one or two had been tried and tested in a live capacity for a long time so we had a good idea of where we wanted to go with them.
Album opener 'Brittle' starts with the four of us thrashing out a riff that could have walked off a 90's death metal album, heavy and chunky and in your face. The dynamics of the band are obvious within a few minutes of listening as the track mutates from death growls and thrashy cymbals to clean vocals and restrained guitar interplay.
'Just Ask Yourself' is a pure groove number, with an instantly catchy guitar line, and a drum beat to match. The bridge section in this one is something we are all very proud of. Chris had this idea of a sort of neo - classical type solo and we wrote the rhythm around this, and the drum beat that brings the song back to familiar territory is just genius on the part of Chris Con!
'Mark It Zero' is a song that was knocking around for a while. It's one we kinda unfairly overlook on the album but the response from reviews has been very positive. It's the shortest track on the album, but has a lethal chorus hook and the bridge section is pure early Metallica.
'Limb From Limb' is our tribute to thrash. Nothing too strange here, just balls to the wall, beer in the air thrash metal, with many solos. Ya gotta have solos galore in a thrash song. haha.
'I Must Have Your Brain' is a straight up punky/hardcore number. There is only one guitar track throughout this one, very raw and jagged sounding compared to the rest of the album. The middle section? yeah, I dunno, we may have been smoking something other than tobacco when that whole idea came about!
'Fate Draws A Curtain' is one that gave us a lot of hassle structure wise. We wrestled with a lot of parts and melodies and kind of dragged it kicking and screaming through the recording process but I'm really happy with the song. I love the dynamics: harsh intro, catchy chorus, lethal solo hook, clean bridge, epic outro, it has a bit of everything!
'Harmonic Discontent' is definitely the fan favourite. This always goes down a storm live, it's got so much energy and again it has so much going on but it all came together really nicely especially the outro section which is very dark and doomy sounding.
From very early on, we knew we wanted an instrumental to close the album, and I must say, it turned out very well. 'Imram' is an old Gaelic word meaning 'journey' and we felt it suited the mood of the track very well. I wrote the first few riffs on the guitar and showed them to Jim and he just ran with it, once everybody had thrown in some bits and pieces it came together really nicely.
I would classify your album as a progressive metal album, what do you think? Is that a fair assessment of your style?
We don't really think about it to be honest with you! It has a lot of very progressive elements to it but then there is a healthy dose of thrash and classic rock in there too. The four of us have very wide musical influences, everything from old blues to classical and jazz and we see this come across a lot in our music. Obviously 'What Stirs Within' is very much grounded in the metal end of the spectrum but a keen listener will be able to hear all sorts of styles and genres contained within each song.
Lately similar bands like Dream Theater, Tool or Threshold also have new albums. Is it difficult to exist alongside such big names?
Not really, These are all great bands but we are hardly in the same league as them, stadium gigs and the like are a few years away for us yet! At the same time I think we are at a point where we could share a stage with any of these guys and hold our own. Playing live is where you find out who's worth there salt and I reckon we have a really solid live show.
I have the feeling prog metal is stronger than it has been for 10 years. How do you see the current prog metal scene?
Yeah, I'd agree with you on that one. I think that's thanks to the likes of Opeth, Zero Hour and Ephel Duath to name a few. These bands are making people realise that prog isn't just about bloated guitar solos and a 'look how good we can play' attitude. Prog was a dirty word for a long time and the sheer mention of it got peoples eyes rolling but nowadays the same people are listening to bands like the ones I've just mentioned and are realising that they have a lot to offer in the way of intriguing song structures and melody rather than fifteen minutes of guitar wankery.
How do you write your songs? One is only responsible for lyrics or are all members integrated?
That’s an interesting question. Generally speaking, someone will come up with a concept, a riff or an idea and we'll jam it out and see where it leads. We don't sit down and say: 'okay, this one will be x minutes long and there will be two solos and a breakdown, and then a bridge...' The four of us have been playing together for 3 years now and Chris (Robertson, Vocalist/guitarist) and myself have been in bands together since the dawn of time so we are very aware of each others playing style and what we can accomplish with a song. It's a really organic process and the four of us are very much involved with the song writing. there are no egos involved, Chris Con (drums) has written bass lines and I've written some guitar parts. We are very open as a band when it comes to song construction. We leave the lyric writing to Chris Rob because he has a big mouth and a lot to say! haha.
What is your plan for the future, are you already working on new material while also concentrating on the live shows?
The main focus for us now is to play as many gigs in as many places as we can. It's all well and good releasing an album, but you need to be relentless with promotion and the best way to do that is to get people to see you on the live circuit. I've seen a lot of bands release an album and think that the hard work is over but that couldn't be further from the truth, you need to get out there and play your ass's off. As for new material we're about half way through writing the next album, the songs so far are very complex and diverse, a kind of natural progression from 'What Stirs Within' without being too obvious. We've played a few of them live and the reaction to them has been very positive.
You hope in the autumn to come to Germany, where will this be and who will you play with?
I couldn't possibly say! But yes, there is plans for a European tour hopefully before the end of the year, we're still finalising details so watch this space. like I said, the plan is to play as many places as possible so you'll be sick of us before the year is out!
Where do you see the band going and to end tell me any last words.
Hopefully to a point were we can play our music to as many people as possible all around the world. the four of us are really eager to get out on the road. That's what being in a band is about after all. Last words? well, I'd like to thank everyone who has come to one of our shows or bought an album, without you guys there wouldn't be a band, we'd be four guys playing to an empty room! And a big thank you to Metalglory for doing this interview and reviewing the album and we hope to see you all in a venue near you very soon!
I thank Dave for this interview and wish the band all the best for the future.