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Old Corpse Road

The British extreme metal scene has always been something of an oddity. While bands such as Carcass, Bolt Thrower and Napalm Death have been pivotal in shaping death metal and grindcore, black metal from the isles has rarely managed to get its foot stuck in the doorway. When a British black metal band does turn some heads away from staring eternally at Scandinavia, it is usually because of a strikingly different, uniquely British sound. Despite being a very new band, Old Corpse Road grabbed quite some attention with their 2009 demo and, especially, their refreshingly old-fashioned split with The Meads Of Asphodel. Band members/storytellers The Bearer (guitars/vocals) and The Dreamer (drums) explain.

By: Martin | Archive under black/pagan metal

Since Old Corpse Road is a relatively young band, it is probably a good idea to introduce the band. Could you please tell something about the band and its origins?
Yes, Old Corpse Road was conceived in late 2007 during an excursion to the UK lake district. We came across a footpath known as the Old Corpse Road and upon returning home decided it would be a great name for a black metal band. For reference, corpse roads were the pathways which used to be used to transport corpses between church and burial ground. These roads and paths were said to be haunted by the spirits of the deceased amongst other spectral entities. From this we (The Bearer – guitars/vocals and The Dreamer - drums) decided to look for a full band line up. This was soon established in early 2008 with the addition of The Revenant – guitars and vocals, The Wanderer – bass and spoken word and finally The Watcher – keyboards and vocals. We chose a lyrical approach basing our songs entirely on UK folklore and stories of legend which have been told throughout the countries history. We began rehearsing material for our first demo which was recorded in late 2008 and released in March 2009 entitled 'The Echoes of Tales Once Told'. After receiving many great reviews and excellent feedback from those that purchased it, we were honoured to receive a deal from Godreah Records to record the split cd with The Meads of Asphodel.

Old Corpse Road remind me a lot of how Cradle of Filth sounded during their very early days. Also, now I then your music brings to mind Skyclad and even Akercocke. I guess you can see where I'm going with this: Old Corpse Road are unmistakably British. You can recognise it from miles away, but still I find it somewhat difficult to pinpoint what it is. What is this 'British' sound, and is this something you aim for on purpose or not?
This is something we have also struggled to explain, but we agree. There is definitely an unmistakable British sound to some bands, as you mentioned, early Cradle of Filth and also bands like Bal-Sagoth. This is something we were aiming for and we think we achieved this quite well. As far as explaining exactly what it is that makes it British it's very hard to say. Maybe it's the occasional pomp, perhaps the spoken passages we're not sure, but it's there and it always will be.

One of the more salient features of this sound is the more or less unusual way of incorporating a predominantly death metal type of blasting, with snare and bass being hit simultaneously, in black metal, a genre that is more than often associated with blastbeats in which snare and bass drum are alternated. Again, is this a conscious effort?
You must be inside our heads! We have always preferred what we refer to as “proper” blast beats. As you have said, it is more commonly found in death metal and grindcore. A lot of inspiration has come from drummers such as Ken Owen and Nick Barker, who used a very similar blast approach on 'The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh'. I think the main reason is this is the most comfortable style for The Dreamer although ironically enough a slightly harder approach than the on/off approach!

Let's talk about your most recent release, a split with The Meads Of Asphodel. How did this joint release come to life?
As part of our press campaign for the demo, we sent a copy to a webzine called The UK Legions of Black Metal. This just happens to be run by the guitarist from The Meads of Asphodel, J.D. Tait. He enjoyed the demo so much he passed it onto Crin at Godreah Records. Both gave us a fantastic review and we were approached to record a split with J.D.'s other band the Worms of Sabnock. We began writing and recorded three brand new tracks for the split. After a few changes Crin at Godreah decided to release the split with The Meads of Asphodel, as they had their punk covers EP waiting to be released. We were of course very pleased with this change. The split was released in March this year.

Your part of the split, called 'The Bones Of This Land Are Not Speechless' shows a great deal of maturation in comparison to the 'The Echoes Of Tales Once Told' demo, which is pretty remarkable given that these releases where recorded within one year after each other. Can you explain this?
I'm not sure. The tracks were written and recorded very spontaneously given the offer from Godreah Records; however they were certainly not rushed. We used the same producer and by this time I think we had developed what we believe to be “our sound”. We have a process which we use on all our compositions which we have slowly evolved over many years of playing together. We think this reached maturity around the recording of “bones” although we accept it will evolve again. Songs tend to go through a three month writing cycle with constant editing and manipulation until they feel like nothing more can be done.

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The production of 'The Bones Of This Land Are Not Speechless' is relatively simple but very effective. Can you elaborate on the recording process?
We have a close friend who recorded the EP (and the demo) so we were always quite relaxed during the process. We didn't really incorporate any fancy frills during the recording. We used live drums and live guitars and the majority of the keyboards are live also. We like to try to keep an organic feel to the songs so the use of things like triggers, midi and effects were either not used or were kept to a minimum. We were very pleased with the result.

Although your music is firmly rooted in black metal, there appear to be strong folk influences throughout your work. Equally, despite not having any lyric sheets, I get the impression from the song titles that you draw lyrical inspiration from days long gone by. Please shed some light on this.
Correct. We want to remain predominantly black metal but there are the obvious folk elements. As I mentioned above briefly, our lyrics are entirely based on UK folklore and legend (If you would like to read some they are available on our website). We pick topics ranging from haunting ghost stories to witches, devil sightings and folk creatures such as goblins and fairies. Naturally all the lyrics have a dark aspect to them. We like to think of ourselves as story tellers rekindling these stories from the past.

The use of pseudonyms is hardly new to extreme metal, but in case of Old Corpse Road, the band members seem to take great pride in their anonymity. Is this correct?
We view our personal identities as irrelevant to the band. We want Old Corpse Road to be focused on as a single entity which is partly why the pseudonyms are used. There is a certain element of mystique involved also. However, if we meet someone at a gig for example we are quite open about our real names as you have to draw a line somewhere!

I was going to ask if, after a demo EP and a split, your next release is going to be your debut full length, but since your website states that a full album is in the works right now, it's a bit redundant to ask that now. Still, please provide us with some details about this forthcoming album. What can we expect in terms of music, lyrics, artwork, production, etcetera?
Yes, we are currently working on around five or six songs for the debut album. We have not yet made plans for the recording but this is something we will look at heavily towards to end of this year. Listening to practice recordings of the songs I would say that they are similar to that of the EP, but incorporating some of the more atmospheric moments on the demo. Lyrically we will stick to our theme and that's all we can say on that for the time being. We have a good working relationship with our producer so it is likely we will use him again for the album. As for artwork, we have a few ideas in the pipeline. To date nearly all Old Corpse Road artwork has been produced by the band.

Are there any live appearances in the planning, and if so, is there any chance that Old Corpse Road will play outside of the UK?
We have quite a few UK shows over the course of 2010 from club gigs and day gigs to festivals. All of our gig listings can be found on here. We would love to play outside of the UK if the opportunity arises so it is certainly something we will be looking into.

Any other future plans at the moment?
At the moment we are taking the opportunity to play as many gigs as we can and spreading the name throughout the UK and beyond. Aside from that, the writing of the debut album will continue throughout the year and we'll see where this takes us.

Thanks for the interview. Any closing comments/ famous last words? Perhaps some thoughts on the present state of British beer versus the rest of Europe?
Haha, indeed we do love our real ale! Yes, thanks very much for your questions. To reiterate, our current release is the split CD with The Meads of Asphodel and is out now via Godreah Records. Please try to come and see us on the (Old Corpse) road over the year. Thanks for your support!

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