During late, drunken nights, musicians from different bands often talk about working together on a side project someday. Hatebreed singer Jamey Jasta and Crowbar frontman and Down guitarist Kirk Windstein are no exception. The two became good friends over the years, partying and hanging out on Ozzfest in 2002 and at European festivals in 2003, all the while talking about how cool it would be to get in the studio with one another. Then, during a U.K. tour for Hatebreed's The Rise of Brutality, Jasta and Windstein started taking the idea more seriously. They even bragged about it to the press, which meant by the time they got back to the U.S., news of their collaboration was all over the Internet.
"We kind of had to do it at that point," Jasta told Metal File. "So we decided, 'Dude, let's make this something really cool that's not like what we do in our other bands.' "
At first, that was easier said than done. Windstein flew to Connecticut, and during a studio session filled with heavy, heavy drinking, Jasta, Windstein and a couple of other musician friends recorded a batch of tunes initially intended to be their debut record. Then, after sobering up, they listened back to the tracks and decided that, while there were some good ideas and heavy riffs, the songs sounded too much like a hybrid of Hatebreed and Crowbar. So, they scrapped them, cobbled together some new songs and re-entered the studio with drummer Derek Kerswill and producer Zeuss, who redirected them when things got too familiar.
"Derek was great because he really brought this drum-heavy groovin', rockin' sound to it that really helped us rearrange the ideas and make the songs more cohesive," Jasta said. "The second time around, we spent a lot more time and methodically labored over them, and they really took on a life of their own."
While Kingdom of Sorrow (which came out February 19) features the hellacious howls of Hatebreed, the down-tuned sludge-riffs of Down and the insistent pound of Crowbar, the album also features elements foreign to all three bands. "It's a little of everything," Jasta said. "We have some straight choruses and singing parts, and then we have really slow, sludgy, doomy riffs and some fast, real hardcore songs like 'Lead the Ghost Astray' and 'Begging for the Truth.' "
As refreshing as the project is musically, Kingdom of Sorrow are even more of a reinvention lyrically for Jasta. In Hatebreed, he often writes about self-empowerment, betrayal and rage, never letting down his guard or getting too vulnerable; with Kingdom, he focuses more on loss, personal pain and, yes, sorrow.
"A lot of the songs are about coping with grief and moving on," he said. "I thought about losing different friends and family members that had committed suicide, and I really tapped into these feelings that I had always put a wall in front of. As a musician, you have to try to go to new places — otherwise you stagnate. It felt right. I didn't feel like anyone would say either of us were cheesing out. It's real, and as long as it's real, people will respect it."
One song he's especially proud of is "Screaming Into the Sky," which veers from clean guitar arpeggios and weary, melodic vocals to trudging rhythms, barbed, sludgy riffs and contemptuous screams. In addition to being a welcome diversion for Jasta, it provided an opportunity to finally put some closure on a painful situation.
"It's about losing someone and not having that chance to make amends," Jasta said. "I wrote it mostly about my Uncle Bobby, my mother's brother, who committed suicide many years ago. It's still a painful thing for a lot of people in my family. And I just thought, 'How can we learn from this? How can we move on, as a people, from suicide, and not place blame and not just see all the negativity in it?' It's a hard thing for people to try to see something positive in a very hurtful, negative, tragic situation, but if you can get one bit of positivity from it, you're in a better place mentally and you'll live a better life."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Between the Buried and Me, Giant and Lye by Mistake will be teaming up for a brief of run of shows starting March 30 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. That trek runs through April 11 in Charlotte, North Carolina. ... After releasing what was arguably one of the best records of 2005, From Mars to Sirius, French progressive metallers Gojira have announced that they'll soon begin recording their yet untitled new album. The band is eyeing a fall release for the effort. ...
All Shall Perish have revealed they'll be entering the studio in April to begin tracking their forthcoming LP; the album will be released on Nuclear Blast Records. According to a statement from the guys, they've been writing material for the last three months and have "probably created enough music and riffs to fill up two CDs." The band continued: "These new tracks are super-intense, crazy, melodic at times and are all played with extreme passion from our hearts." ... Legendary New York hardcore outfit H20 have finished tracking their upcoming, yet untitled record, which was produced by Chad Gilbert, formerly of Shai Hulud and currently the frontman for New Found Glory. The disc will feature a number of guest appearances, including those by Civ, Sick of It All's Lou Koller and Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba. Look for it in stores May 27. ...
Ozzfest '07 vets Daath have a new frontman in Sean Z; he replaces Sean Faber, who left the band following its Ozzfest run. Now Daath plan to hit the studio — this weekend, in fact — to record The Concealers, their sophomore effort for Roadrunner Records, with producer Jason Suecof (Trivium, Chimaira). ... Terror have wrapped the recording of their next LP, which should be in stores before year's end. According to bassist Jonathan Buske, "It's without a doubt the best and hardest Terror record to date." ... In other studio news, Cult of Luna are at it again, having entered Tonteknik Studios in Umea, Sweden, where they'll track their fifth full-length. According to the guys, they've assembled eight songs so far, and the yet untitled release should be available this June. ...
How's this for a lineup? Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity, Divine Heresy and Firewind, all on the same stage — well, it's happening in May. Starting in Philadelphia on May 9, the tour will coast across North America, at least through May 30 in West Hollywood, California. More dates will be revealed shortly. ... Starting April 24, one of the most hilariously named tours will get under way in Cleveland, Georgia. The Bring Your Own Beard Tour, featuring Becoming the Archetype, Inhale Exhale, Once Nothing and A Plea for Purging, runs through May 12 in Jacksonville, Florida. ... In honor of Carcass' forthcoming reunion gigs, Earache is reissuing the legendary metal band's back catalog May 27; each album will include a DVD containing 30 minutes of a total of two and a half hours of interviews dubbed "The Pathologist's Report." The first album to see re-release will be 1991's Necroticism — Descanting the Insalubrious. ...
Death-metal menaces Cryptopsy are putting the finishing touches on their sixth full-length studio release, which they've named The Unspoken King. Expect the disc to boast the tracks "Anoint the Dead," "Worship Your Demons" and "Bemoan the Martyr." ... Black-metal collective Sulphur continue to write material for their next album. According to the band's label, Osmose Productions, the band is "preparing to record pre-production [demos] of all [the] new songs. You can expect a pretty different album this time, more of those crazy synths and samples, much heavier, intense guitars and a more powerful production." Look for the disc to surface late this summer. ... New York metalcore band Merauder have been writing new stuff for their upcoming set. According to kitman Walter "Monsta" Ryan, the record won't be called Gangsta, as has been rumored. "It's just one track off the CD and may change," he wrote in an update. "When we are all finished with the music and the artwork, we will release it to you as soon as it's ready. We're working hard to make it real heavy for you."