Killswitch Engage bassist Mike D’Antonio remembers the exact moment when Overcast — his influential, erstwhile Massachusetts metal band that counted among its members Shadows Fall frontman Brian Fair — ended. It was a week or so after the band’s first U.S. tour (with Disembodied and Shai Hulud) had concluded, and the guys in the band returned from a six-week road trip with about $500 to their names.
“We were all just kind of beaten to death,” D’Antonio recalled. “We had worked so incredibly hard to get the band to where it was, with little or nothing to show for it besides just fans coming out and seeing us and being really into the band. We just needed to cut our losses and go home, and unfortunately, that was the way most of the people felt in the band. We had gotten done with a practice, and everyone told me how they were feeling. [That band] was my baby — something I cared about more than almost anything else in the world at that point. So when people were telling me they didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to face reality. It really bothered me.”
He said the bandmembers sold off the remaining Overcast merchandise, split the proceeds and that was that. D’Antonio, in time, assembled Killswitch, while Fair was asked to join Shadows Fall — two bands that’ve amassed more than 1 million in combined album sales in the U.S. alone. Years later, in 2003, both bands would hit the road together (along with Lamb of God) for the Headbangers Ball Tour.
“I started talking to John Dudeck,” who released Overcast’s LPs on his Edison Recordings label, “and we were talking about doing a box set,” D’Antonio explained. “During that tour, it just seemed to make sense to put something out of Overcast, knowing that it would actually be a little bit more in the public eye.”
Then last summer, when Killswitch and the Shad played the 10th installment of Sharon Osbourne’s Ozzfest, D’Antonio and Fair discussed re-releasing Overcast’s material. “We didn’t really want those recordings re-released, though,” he said. “They’re not the greatest recordings in the world. They’re not tight. They were done with no budget at all.”
In fact, 1994’s Expectational Dilution was recorded and mixed in just four days, and Fair had just three hours to nail all his vocals for the disc. “Needless to say, not the best we could have done,” D’Antonio said. “So we thought it would be cool to get back into the studio and throw everything down again and get it right the right way, with no pressure. So we started calling around to all the other guys” — current Seemless guitarist Pete Cortese, guitarist Scott McCooe and drummer Jay “Hurricane Jake” Fitzgerald — “and they were really excited to do it.”
Before year’s end, D’Antonio said he hopes to release Reborn to Kill Again, an album featuring more than 10 classic, revisited Overcast tunes and two previously unreleased cuts the band wrote before disbanding but never recorded. Neither song has a title, D’Antonio said, and for one of them, Fair “actually took the lyrics and used them for a Shadows Fall song” called “Root Bound Apollo,” from the 2000 album Of One Blood; Killswitch guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz (Unearth, Underoath) will helm the new Overcast project. The band’s recorded all the drum tracks so far and will start working on the guitar parts next week. The plan’s to finish the LP by the end of May. D’Antonio said several labels are vying for the disc, but not Killswitch’s label, Roadrunner — they’ve passed on it.
“We’re so stoked that Adam could do it because I hold that guy in high regard as far as being able to produce things and take turds and shine them up real nice and make diamonds out of them,” D’Antonio said. “In his hands we can make this Overcast record something bigger and better. It’s awesome to be able to mend the different things that happened throughout the years and have fun. We knew we could go into the studio and pull it off, and everyone’s head is in the right spot. We’re just having a blast.”
Overcast will perform this weekend in Worcester, Massachusetts, during the New England Hardcore and Metal Festival. The band’s also booked a gig at Club Hipnotic in New London, Connecticut, for June 3 and is in talks to take the stage inside New York’s CBGB next month.
In addition, Killswitch Engage will begin writing fresh material in July for the follow-up to 2004’s The End of Heartache — an album Roadrunner hopes to be able to release in November, D’Antonio said. He added that the band’s also just recorded a cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver” for a forthcoming Kerrang! magazine-commissioned compilation. That disc is going to feature some of today’s heaviest metal acts tackling a number of genre classics.
“[Frontman] Howard [Jones] sang in falsetto,” he said. “It came out super good. Everyone’s really excited about it. The guitar riffs are definitely modified to sound way, way heavier.”
The rest of the week’s metal news:
Black Dahlia Murder have started practicing new material with their recently revamped lineup. The band’s new bassist is Bart Williams, who worked with the band on its first album, 2003’s Unhallowed. Williams replaces David Lock, who was fired in November because he “couldn’t actually play our material,” frontman Trevor Strnad said at the time. In addition, Canadian drummer Pierre Langlois has sorted out his immigration paperwork and is now a full-time member of the band. He replaces Zach Gibson, who was also let go in November because of “playing issues.” “Pierre’s unbelievable,” Strnad said. “Zach was more into groove stuff, so we had chunkier guitar parts that would go along with that. Pierre’s more about sheer speed, so we’ll probably be doing stuff that’s a little bit more black metal.” The band is filming the creation of its next album and plans to use the footage on a behind-the-scenes DVD that will come out at the same time as the release. “It’ll be mostly us hanging out rather than show footage,” Strnad said. “There’s a lot to this band that people don’t really know that we’d like them to see. We’re kind of like a brotherhood and we have a blast on the road.” … Nevermore bassist and founding member Jim Sheppard is taking a few weeks away from the band to undergo a medical procedure for Crohn’s disease, which he has been battling for 15 years. Ex-Megadeth/ Iced Earth bassist James MacDonough will fill in for 10 shows, starting May 5 in Buffalo, New York, and running through May 18 in Spokane, Washington. Nevermore’s tour with In Flames, Throwdown and Evergrey runs through May 28 in Tallahassee, Florida. … Shatter Messiah, which features former Nevermore guitarist Curran Murphy and Annihilator drummer Robert Falzano, will issue their debut album, Never to Play the Servant, in late August. Look for the disc to include “Your God’s Demise.” …
Going forward, Shai Hulud will be known as … um, Shai Halud. The revived hardcore band had been toying with the idea of adopting the new moniker the Warmth of Red Blood, what with the departure of singer Geert Van der Velde a few years back. But they’ve abandoned the name and added new singer Eric Dellon, who’s done time with both Zombie Apocalypse and Shallow Water Grave. Look for the band to hit the road next month with the Red Chord. … Thrash legends D.R.I. have been forced to cancel their upcoming U.S. tour with Subzero, as guitarist Spike Cassidy’s been diagnosed with colon cancer and was operated on three weeks ago, according to a statement from the band’s manager. “Sadly, the concern is that [the cancer] spread and the medical treatment is [required immediately] and it prohibits any touring for the remainder of the year at least.” The trek was expected to launch in Seattle May 22. … The Esoteric are back in work mode. The innovative metallers have begun writing their next release, Subverter, and plan to hit Black Lodge Recording in Eudora, Kansas, on May 8 with producer and engineer Paul Malinowski (The Life and Times, Open Hand). The record’s set for a tentative fall release and will include “Science Is Sexy,” “Clone Culture and the Cut-Up Method” and “We Will Not Be Convinced That Now Is Not Our Time.” …
You smell that? It’s some delicious metal beef — being served up by Opeth frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt. The singer has clarified statements he made during an interview with an Australian magazine — but hasn’t gone out of his way to patch up the wounds. When asked about the current state of metal, he told the magazine that he didn’t care for most of today’s bands, and that “when I grew up it was like heresy to compare [labelmates] Killswitch Engage and whatever you got going with [Iron] Maiden and [Judas] Priest. The bands feel manufactured, almost like boy bands with guitars. I don’t want my bands to be f—ing pretty.” On Opeth’s official forum, Åkerfeldt said the article was “a bit misleading,” and that while he doesn’t “particularly like Killswitch,” he has nothing “against them really. All I was saying [is] that I don’t see the same quality in them as I do in Priest or Maiden. [Killswitch] to me sounds like a rehashed version of what’s been going on in Sweden for 16 years or more. The boy-band comment … was not addressed to [Killswitch] but an observation of the overall ’nu’ or whatever metalcore scene [there is] in the U.S. All of you gotta understand that out of the zillion interviews I do, some will take the so-called ’good stuff’ and put it forward and make me seem like a pr—.” …
Springfield, Massachusetts, metalcore band Ligeia have shot a video for “Household Stereotypes” from their new album Your Ghost Is a Gift. The clip was helmed by “Law & Order” director Frank Nasso in New York. “We are playing in an empty apartment with light bulbs swinging all around us,” the band said in a press statement. Ligeia will headline a North American tour with Flee the Scene, Across Five Aprils and A Perfect Kill starting May 9 in Miami and ending May 28 in Nashville. … Hugh Mingay, the bassist for Norwegian black-metal band Arcturus, was in a motorcycle accident last week and damaged his vertebrae. He is expected to recover fully but will have to rest for three weeks before picking up his instrument again. … Chicago power-metal band Twelfth Gate have announced Brent “Red” Erickson as their new singer. He replaces Scott Huffman, who quit the band due to musical differences and will continue with his new group, Mindwarp Chamber. … Grindcore band Agathocles will release Mincer, their first CD in almost five years, May 2. The album was recorded at Soundshape Studios in Arendonk, Belgium, and includes “Yuppie Career Freak,” “Diary of White Trash,” “Carved Face Fashion” and “Forced to Masturbate.” … Terror and Death Before Dishonor will tour together in June. Just 11 dates have been firmed up so far, but more should be announced in the coming weeks. The run kicks off June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and, at this point, runs through July 5 in Buffalo, New York. … Swedish death-metal outfit Godhate have lost founding member and drummer Roger Sundquist. “Roger has left the band for good,” reads the band’s official statement on his departure. “It’s not an easy thing to find a good drummer who can replace such a good musician as Roger. And as he was the one who formed the band, it’s even harder to just say goodbye like that. He has meant a lot to the band and each member, even though we have had different opinions on how to run the band.”