A Talk With
ROSS OLIVER (Guitar)/JAMES CHARLTON (Drums)/Dan Tyrens (Vocals)/BEN OILVER (Bass)
Questionnaire by Stefan
Metal On Metal Records is always on the hunt for bands that are worthy to be offered a deal, just take a look at their releases so far at: http://metal-on-metal.com/releases, and you’ll know what I mean. For several years, I've been spreading the word about this label with pleasure, it’s nice working with both owners Jowita and Simone because they are so damn passionate about Metal, a fact that really fascinates me. Also in 2015 Metal On Metal Records will take us by surprise, a few albums have already been released, and more will see daylight later on this year, so you better stay tuned!
For now, I’d like to have a talk with a band from England I’m totally hooked on. Risen Prophecy unleashed their second full length effort a few weeks ago. “Into The Valley Of Hinnom” has many similarities with the almighty Bay Area Thrash/Power Metal movement... to me it's the best album at the moment, and surely a candidate to end up real high in my favourite albums list of 2015! I want to know more about the origin of the band, ambitions, new album, future plans and stuff, so let’s start firing some questions.
Q: Most welcome here at Metal To Infinity webzine. First and foremost, congratulations on the magnificent release of “Into The Valley Of Hinnom”, but before we ttalk about it, I’d like you to take us back to the beginnings of Risen Prophecy. Please, give me the background history concerning the establishing of the band and the first few months which followed.
James: Thank you! Me and Ross back in 2003 were in a school band together which very quickly fell apart. After that me, Ross and our good school mate Dan got together every weekend and just played covers for our own enjoyment. In (about) late 2004 we started taking things a lot more seriously and decided to be an actual band and write original material, the only thing that was missing was a bassist.
Ross: I always look back at that time with very fond memories, not only because it was our first band experience, but because we were discovering so much music between ourselves. I still vividly remember James showing me bands like Iced Earth, Bathory and Dream Theater for the first time.
Q: How were the band members found? Were there any requirements that a candidate had to meet?
Ross: James, Dan and I all went to the same school, so we met there - actually Dan and I even went to the same nursery, so we’ve known each other for a long time, haha. Ben is my brother and he joined up when he saw that we needed a bassist.
I think we have been very lucky that we’ve always had the same out-look from a musical point of view, so there was never need for requirements. The only thing that we still stress on each other is to keep on-top of our playing, but this is something that goes unsaid, because we all desire to constantly improve and develop.
James: To be honest, we’re all good friends and started getting into the same bands, so candidates weren’t necessary. We’re very fortunate that since we’ve been friends for such a long time, the band has a very strong and stable foundation, since 2005 the line-up has remained the same to this day.
Q: Each band has its ambitions... what are yours?
Ross: In the broad sense, I think our biggest ambition is to keep developing in all aspects: writing, recording and performing and to create music that is original and a true expression of us as a band of people. In the present sense, we would like to tour and perform more.
James: My ambition for Risen Prophecy is to be a consistent band and to take ourselves and our music as far and wide as possible.
Q: Risen Prophecy comes from Sunderland, UK. How strong is the Metal scene in that area? Feel free to introduce us to a few good bands, possibly to be contacted by Metal To Infinity to spread the word about them as well.
James: When we first started, the scene in Sunderland between 2005 and 2009 was really strong and diverse. From that period only two bands from Sunderland are still active and that’s us and Wodensthrone. We were the band that represented the more traditional and thrashier side of Metal, but without being a Judas Priest or an Exodus clone, so to speak.
Dan: In more recent years, the north-east of England has seen a real revival of bands. It’s a good spectrum of metal too, because there’s the more extreme side of metal such as: Plague Rider, Vacivus and Live Burial, the power metal side such as: Starborn, and also a lot of reformed bands associated the NWOBHM such as: Spartan Warrior, Battleaxe, Avenger and Tysondog.
Q: What can you tell us about your demo recording and the response you got for it?
Ben: We did the demo in 2007; a couple of our friends recorded it for us in our practice room at the time. It helped us establish ourselves locally as a metal band, but the best thing it did for us was tighten us up as players, because the session was incredibly difficult and it forced us to get better. I think it’s good for every band to go through this.
Q: I’m not familiar with first full-length effort at all, so please, tell me something about it, too.
Ross: It was a massive step-up from what we had done with the demo since it was over 60 minutes of music. The first album is very much a compilation of our early years and what we would consider our strongest material up until 2010. I remember some of the songs on there were written when we were just 14! Haha. There are some musically naïve parts on it, but I feel that at the time we needed to get that out of our system to progress. I still love playing the material off that album live, because now we can do the songs more justice compared to when they were recorded. Recently we re-recorded the song “Risen Prophecy” for Metal on Metal Records’ Compendium of Metal Vol. 8 CD, and it was so cool to go back to the song, improve it and capture the intensity it has live.
Q: Around that time, you started playing live, right? Which bands have you shared the stage with so far? Any special memories or anecdotes that you could share with us?
Dan: We’ve got some great memories from playing live but one of the more standout moments was when we played with Cauldron and set the PA system on fire! I remember the promoter thinking we’d brought a smoke machine until he realised the smoke was coming from the speakers! Haha.
Ross: Even though we’ve been going for quite a while, we haven’t really had the chance to play with many other bands that’ve influenced us, but yeah, playing with Cauldron was great! Especially given that we used to listen to “Chained to the Nite” every time we were travelling back from a gig.
Q: The recordings of your second album, “Into The Valley Of Hinnom”, started back in the winter of 2013 and went on for several months. How was the co-operation with Greg Chandler (singer/guitarist of Doom/Death Metal band Esoteric) who produced your record?
Ross: It was amazing working with Greg; I’d previously worked on another album with him prior to “Into the Valley of Hinnom”, so I knew he was the right guy for the job. The main reason we went to Greg was that we wanted to capture the “vibe” of the music and have someone produce the sound of the band individually - not just produce us like every other thrash or power metal band. Anyone familiar with Greg’s own music will know how well he creates and captures the vibe. I don’t think we could be any happier with the outcome. I think it’s important to have a producer who “gets” your musi,c but also has a great personality and you get on with personally.
Q: When the album was ready, you got in touch with Jowita and Simone from Metal On Metal Records, two individuals who know what outstanding Metal is all about. How did you find out about this label and why did you decide to contact them?
James: We came across Metal On Metal Records while we were searching through labels. Their approach and outlook on metal was completely in-line with our own views, so it just sense to contact them after we’d recorded “Into the Valley of Hinnom”.
Q: Metal On Metal offered you a deal, and finally “Into The Valley Of Hinnom” was unleashed in April 2015, at the Keep It True festival. Are you satisfied with the end result?
James: Most definitely. Everything from the songs we wrote, Greg’s production, to Simone’s design of the booklet and Jowita’s cover painting.
Dan: Yeah, I’m really satisfied with the outcome of the album; I think it has really raised the bar for the next album!
Q: As I wrote in my review, it's my favourite album at the moment, hands down! I've been into US Power/Thrash Metal for a couple of decades, and “ITVOH”, being influenced by that style, gives me thrills right from the start to the very last moment. Have I guessed some of your influences correctly? And did the American or British Thrash Metal have a bigger impact on you?
James: Thank you! It’s much appreciated! You’re definitely on the right track there! For me personally, Traditional Heavy Metal and Thrash are my two favourite types of Metal to listen to, and I get huge buzz from bands that are right in the centre of the two styles. The American Thrash Metal bands definitely had the bigger impact when I was getting into Metal but the old school British bands also had something unique to offer me. Between the four of us, Sabbat’s “Dreamweaver (Reflections of Our Yesterdays)” and Onslaught’s “In Search of Sanity” have been a HUGE inspiration and influence on us.
Q: The boss of MOM Records, Jowita Kaminska-Peruzzi, painted the fantastic cover art. Can you give us some details about the image and the story behind the concept?
Ben: The concept is based on the biblical account of the when the people stopped worshipping their God and starting worshipping pagan gods. Part of this worship included sacrificing their children by burning them alive to these idols. This took place in the Valley of Hinnom which still exists on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
It’s also interesting that Hinnom later in history became a metaphor for Hell. We gave Jowita the lyrics for the song and she came up with the artwork based on them and the overall concept. The artwork fitted perfectly and it was exactly what the album needed.
Q: The title track really speaks to my imagination. What a fantastic song which has everything on board to grab me by the throat! It's my personal favourite piece. What about yours?
Ross: Cheers man! It’s hard to choose, I really enjoy playing Brood of Vipers live though!
James: I really enjoy the title track due to the combination of epic song-writing with the thrash element and creative lyrics.
Dan: Brood of Vipers, mainly because when we play it live I get to use a good range of vocal styles.
Ben: I think Hinnom and Brood are my favourites, because for me they have the most atomsphere.
Q: Maybe it's too early to talk about it, but I have a hunch that there is a sequel to it on the way... Am I right? Are you working on the next album already?
Ross: Haha, yeah you're right! We’ve already starting working on the third album, we’ve got the overall concept and we’re currently in the middle of writing both the lyrics and music. There’s already one song completely finished and another is on its way - it just needs lyrics. It’s been a very creative time for us at the moment, and we’re hoping to get a lot of it done by Christmas.
Q: What are your plans for the near future and beyond?
Dan: Our main focus is to get more gigs at the moment; we really want to get across to mainland Europe. Also, we want to get a good chunk of the new album done and start playing some of the new material live.
Q: Do you guys have any knowledge about the Belgian Metal scene?
James: Both Ostrogoth and Acid are essential bands for Belgian Metal in my opinion. I’ve also had the pleasure to play the Ages of Metal Festival in Oostrozebeke, the legendary Heavy Sound Festival in Poperinge and a birthday party in Roeselare, all gigs playing for Spartan Warrior. Playing in Belgium is something I hope Risen Prophecy can do in the very near future.
Q: You’ve conquered my heart and soul with “Into The Valley Of Hinnom” and I will keep on spreading the word about Risen Prophecy as much as possible here at Metal To Infinity! Keep up the great work, guys, and say some final words to our readers. Thanks for your time!
Everyone: Cheers! We really appreciate all your support and all the kind words you’ve said about us, it very humbling. We hope to catch you in Belgium sometime soon!