At SonicAbuse there is nothing we like more than being introduced to a new band who blow our heads clean off with their skill, attitude and proficiency. The reality of being on a site, however, is that no matter how many writers you have, there is always more music coming in than you can possibly process. One band that we did pick up on, however, was the mighty Gods Of War, a genre-straddling metal band who formed in Liverpool in 2009 and who have been releasing powerful music via Bandcamp ever since. Having reviewed the band’s most recent effort, ‘tales from the darklands’ and found it to be a stunningly mature and varied work we were keen to get hold of the band’s guitarist Matt Hughes, who was kind enough to answer our questions in great detail.
If you haven’t yet heard Gods of War then make sure you head on over to the band’s bandcamp page (linked below) as they are one of the best and most varied metal acts playing in Britain today. Read on and discover Gods of War:
First of all could you introduce Gods of war to us please?
We’re an extreme metal band from Liverpool, playing a mixture of black, death, thrash, power and folk metal. The band started in 2009 with a completely different lineup- myself and Jay only joined in summer 2012. We’ve played a lot of gigs since joining, including Out of the Ashes Festival in Ellesmere Port, a support slot for thrash band DAM alongside Bludvera, Ramraid and Exiled last year, and the Mosh Against Cancer charity event in Liverpool more recently, which Lawnmower Deth and Eastern Front headlined.
The most recent EP is very diverse and shows a lot of variety and interests – how long did it take you to find your sound and what would you say your chief influences are?
For me personally, some of my biggest influences on guitar include the standard metal greats such as Iron Maiden, Metallica etc, but I’m also a huge fan of bands such as Cradle of Filth, Hecate Enthroned, and other dark symphonic metal such as that, as well as straight up black metal such as Gorgoroth, atmospheric stuff like Agalloch and Woods of Desolation, folk inspired metal like Ensiferum and Windir, as well as movie and game soundtracks, and I like to think that I incorporate all of that into my playing. Wintersun in particular is a band that we all rate highly and cite as an inspiration. In terms of the other guys, Jay is a big fan of prog and jazz, and Kris’s drumming is very thrash metal and power metal inspired. I know Danny also takes a lot of influence from Cradle of Filth vocally, as well as black metal bands such as Darkthrone.
Where did you record the EP and how long did it take?
We did the EP at a place called The Recording Room in Birkenhead over two days; Kris did all the drums in one take, aside from ‘Operation Engage’, which took two, so those were done pretty quickly, then I took about 4 hours to do all the guitar for the EP. Jay and Danny then used the next day to get the bass and vocals down, and we were done by about 6 in the evening.
You’ve taken the decision to make your music available for free – has this been effective in helping to spread the word of your band? Have you noticed an impact, for example in live attendance or social media hits?
We encourage fans to leave a donation on a ‘pay what you want’ basis and have had some generous people do so, but I think making it available for free can help entice people to listen to it. In a world where music’s available at the click of a mouse on Youtube etc, I think people appreciate being able to get music for free, and I think it has meant that more people have listened to us and came to our shows. Now that the band’s getting bigger and it’s costing us more money to do, however, we are encouraging people to pay a bit more.
What are the challenges facing a modern independent band do you think?
I think over saturation of the market is a big one. With the advent of recording music on a computer and posting it online, it seems that almost everyone has a band. This can make it very difficult for promoters, venues etc to sift through and find the bands which are truly worth putting on, so I think it’s important for bands to showcase something a bit different in their sound to get noticed.
Money is another major factor. What a lot of people don’t realise is that it costs a lot to be in a band- you have to factor in gear, rehearsals, travel costs, recording costs, production of merch amongst other things, and with the recession meaning that the cost of living is high and jobs are scarce, it can make it difficult to keep an independent band as active as it should be.
Is there anywhere you can buy, or plans to create, physical media by the band?
We’re currently looking into sites which produce jewel case physical copies and then distributing them online; previously we did it the DIY way of burning our releases to blank cds, printing out EP covers and cutting them out by hand, sticking them in plastic wallets and handing them out to people, but as this is our first ‘big’ release so to speak, we’d rather get them done professionally. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for updates on physical copies!
Who did the artwork for the EP? How important is it to you to have your work presented in a certain way?
The artwork was done by Alice Biddau, who’s based in Lancaster, and has done artwork for other bands such as Illusions Play and Insurgency. We really liked her dark impressionist style and felt that it fitted the almost medieval sound of the songs on the EP. The artwork was edited by my good friend and bassist of my other band Project: Unicorn, Max Rock, who made the text stand out a lot more against the background.
What are your chief lyrical influences? How long does it take to develop lyrics for the record?
Lyrically, Danny takes influence from films, literature, video games, comics and other media, as well as from a lot of the bands mentioned earlier. Our songs ‘Angmar’ and ‘Fornost’ are both based around JRR Tolkien’s extended writings about Middle-Earth, and the song ‘Termination Program’ from the ‘We March For Metal’ demo is a tribute to the Terminator film series. ‘Pillage and Plunder’ is about the Viking conquests of the early medieval period, and ‘The Arrival’ is based on the crusades. As well as this, we have songs with original stories to them as well, such as ‘Gods of Old’ which is based around the concept of pagan sacrifice and ritualistic worship, as well as ‘Operation Engage’ which is influenced by zombie horror films. Danny will come up for a concept for the lyrics after hearing the music, then develop it into lyrics. He edits and changes lyrics all the time to see what works best before developing them into the final version which you hear on the recordings.
What can we expect from Gods of war next?
We’ve recently started work on new material which we should hopefully be playing live within the next few months, and are currently trying to get as many gigs in places we haven’t yet visited as possible, as well as trying to get support slots on bigger gigs. A short tour might also be on the cards!
Any final words for your fans?
You guys are all absolutely awesome and you make being in this band so much more worthwhile. Thank you so much for your support.