Hi! Congratulations on the release of ‘The Outer Ones’! Before we start off – how have you been?
I’ve been great thanks for asking!
With the new album out for a couple days now; is it meeting your expectations in terms of reception and are you happy with the final result?
It’s exceeded my expectations, the reaction from fans and critics has been overwhelming positive. We’re all very happy with the final product, I think this album stands out as our heaviest and boldest statement to date.
Personally, I heard a lot more death metal influences this time around and to me it resulted in a heavier album. How would you say ‘The Outer Ones’ is different from ‘Great is Our Sin’?
I think every record we put out is different in some way, I want to constantly evolve as a musician and song writer so each record will naturally have a different vibe. The main obvious is difference is that there’s no clean singing this time around, GIOS had more clean vocals than any other record so I thought it would be a cool curveball to go straight up death metal with the vocals this time around.
Now, there’s a lot of standout tracks on here that I’d like to go in-depth with, if you don’t mind. Starting with opener ‘Of Unworldly Origin’, which immediately sets the tone for how heavy this album is going to be. What was the reason you chose this as your opener?
It’s one of the most ripping songs on the album so we wanted to come out guns blazing. To me this song touches on a lot of the elements that make up our sound so I felt that it would be a good first track since it has a bit of a throwback to our earlier sound while still showcasing where the band is at in 2018.
I feel you guys keep stepping up the technicality of the music, whether it’s the blistering speeds Ash pounds the drums or whether it’s the insanity in the riffs. Does it become harder and harder to write this technical stuff, or do you feel it becomes more natural every time?
It can be a challenge but we enjoy pushing ourselves. Since we’re used to writing in this style I would say it comes naturally for us, Dan and I are always searching for new ways to push the envelope so it’s a labor of love.
’That Which Consumes All Things’ is probably one of my favorites on the album, partially because of the black metal influences in there. Last time we spoke, you said that you’re mostly influenced by greats like Pantera and Megadeth. In terms of the black metal side of things – what are some bands you prefer?
I’ve always been influenced by a variety of bands and genres and still continue to seek out new music to inspire me. For black metal I’m inspired by bands such as Immortal, Emperor, Mayhem, Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord just to name a few. There’s also some newer bands that came on the scene a few years ago that I really dig, Thantifaxath being one of my favorites. Their music is super creative while still maintaining the black metal aesthetic.
With the blistering speeds you guys seem to play at most of the time, a slower feel in a song like ‘Blood Atonement’ really breaks up the pace in a good way. It’s also one of the more melodic songs on the album. Do you find it hard to “inject” melodic motives in your music? I feel those are what sets you apart and those make the songs more memorable.
Dan wrote the music for ‘Blood Atonement’. He’s a great writer and definitely looks to write compelling melodies. In that song in particular he brings in a couple of really cool motifs that come back in different ways throughout the song, I think having strong melodic sensibilities along with clever motifs are what we both strive for in our songs.
The title track has one of the dirtiest riffs in the verses! I also can’t believe the kind of tone you guys got for this record. What can you tell me about the gear used, outside of your signature Jackson Warrior WR7? Are all of the songs written for 7-string?
Thanks! Yeah all the songs on the new album are written on 7 strings, however a lot of the songs will only use the low string here and there. Dan and I both like to write using the full range of the guitar rather than just relying on using the lowest notes constantly, I think that gives our music variation and makes the heavy parts sound that much more crushing when they kick in. We spent a lot of time getting the guitar sound just right on this album, we settled on an EVH 5150 for one side and a Peavey Triple X for the other. On solos we also used my Strymon sunset overdrive just to further shape the tone a bit differently so they cut through the mix better. Other than that Zeuss used some different pro tools plugins here and there to create some different delay effects and what not, all pretty standard stuff but it makes a difference when you listen for it.
You guys released a tab book for ‘Deathless’. Are there any plans of releasing ones for ‘Great is Our Sin’ and ‘The Outer Ones’?
Yeah we’re currently working on tab books for both those albums. It’s going to be a lot of hard work but it’ll be worth it in the end. People really seemed to appreciate the tab books for ‘Deathless’ I was seeing a bunch of covers for those songs online so I’m glad people are putting them to good use!
In terms of lyrics, we can all probably safely assume there’s some Lovecraftian themes on the album (just based on the title). Outside of that, what are some of the lyrical themes on the album and are there songs your particularly proud of from a lyrical point of view?
I’m proud of all the lyrics on this album, each one tells a different story and while there is a Lovecraftian theme running through the album there are also some songs where I diverge from that theme a bit. ‘Luciferous’ for example was inspired by the biblical story of the Garden Of Eden while ‘Blood Atonement’ was inspired by a now defunct tenet of Mormonism that states some sins are too heinous for Jesus Christ to forgive and therefore your blood must be spilled into the earth in order to atone. Another song that isn’t Lovecraftian in origin is the album closer ‘A Starless Darkness’ that song is about a theory hypothesized by physicists regarding the heat death of the universe. It basically states that the universe will not contract and renew again in another Big Bang but rather it will continue to expand until all energy is spent and every sun goes dark, basically turning the entire galaxy into a frozen lightless wasteland. Not the most uplifting notion but perfect fodder for a death metal song and a great way to cap of a very cosmic album.
’Ex Nihilo’ is the instrumental on this record, as you’ve stated in the past that every album gets one. Do you decide which song becomes the instrumental after they’ve been written or as you’re writing them? And if so, does the thought of being able to go all out technically feel liberating at all?
Yeah they usually reveal themselves as we’re writing for the album. During the writing process for this album I actually had a totally different instrumental written but it didn’t quite fit so I scrapped the whole thing entirely. I didn’t have any lyrics written for ‘Ex Nihilo’ at that point in time so I decided to make that song the one with a few tweaks here and there. It made much more sense in the context of the record to make that song the instrumental so I’m glad we made that decision.
You’re currently embarked on the first leg of your world tour. How’s life on the road been treating you now as opposed to when you guys just started out?
The tour has been awesome! We haven’t headlined in a while so it’s good to get out there and play a longer set, plus the lineup of Exhumed, Rivers Of Nihil and Yautja has been awesome to watch every night. Life on the road can still be grueling, haha. We’ve got a lot of production and since we’re headlining we’re the first to arrive and last to leave so we haven’t been getting a ton of rest on this one. However, the reactions have been amazing every night. People are really embracing the new material so it’s been making all the hard work worth it.
You guys are hitting up Holland on December 21st with Archspire and Rivers of Nihil. What can the fans expect this time around?
You can expect our set to have more production than you’ve ever seen before. We’re bringing a full lighting rig with us to really take the show to the next level. We’ll be playing a bunch of new material as well as some classics and deeper cuts as well. It’s going to be a night of proggy, tech death madness with Archspire, Soreption and Rivers Of Nihil rounding out the bill, don’t miss this one!
Are there any songs you particularly enjoy playing live?
We’ve been opening with ‘The Outer Ones’. That’s definitely an ass beater of a track and gets the crowd hyped so that’s one of my favorites. I also really enjoy playing ‘Blood Atonement’ and ‘Ex Nihilo’ as well. ‘Blood Atonement’ is one of Dan’s songs so it’s a fun challenge to play one of his songs since we write differently and ‘Ex Nihilo’ is just very proggy and keeps me on my toes with all the different sections.
Thanks so much for taking the time and answering some of our questions! Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Thanks so much for the interview, pick up a copy of the new record and come see us on tour in a city near you!