With comparisons to Sabaton, and subject matter to match, Forlorn Hope definitely grabbed our attention…
How did you meet?
Danny (drums) and John (bass) are the oldest friends in the band. They started playing in bands together about a decade ago and were still doing so when Chris (lead vocals & rhythm guitar) and Alex (lead guitar) met in high school.
Later Alex started playing in a local thrash band called Manufracture and Chris got into amateur music journalism, so the four lads got to know each other through the local music scene.
In 2014 when Chris finished university, he and Danny (whose band, Ensorrowed, which he had formed four years earlier with John, had just come to an end) got together and formed the short-lived symphonic project Cathar. Alex was brought in to play guitar and Jade (keyboards) – the final piece of the puzzle, who none of us had met before but was friends with Cathar’s bass player – joined as keyboard player.
Cathar split up in 2015 and, after a few other musical projects between us, the five of us came together in 2017 to play covers for a bit of fun and Forlorn Hope emerged out of that.
How long have you been playing as a band?
Since November 2017 as Forlorn Hope, but before that we spent a few months casually playing covers under the name Fatal Disappointment. Right from the start we knew we had something special. The atmosphere in the practice room was great; there was no clash of egos and the five of us had a very natural chemistry.
This prompted Danny to suggest that we try doing something original. Chris immediately dusted off a concept he’d been working on with a little help from Alex for a historical heavy metal band and pitched it to the band. We could see his passion for this idea and agreed that it would make a great foundation for the new band. We gave our unanimous approval and haven’t looked back since.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
The band name comes from siege warfare in the Napoleonic era, which was a bloody business. After blowing a gap or “breach” in the walls of an enemy fortress, the attacking force would have to storm the breach with foot soldiers to capture the fortress, but this was incredibly dangerous.
The defenders would have every available gun trained on the breach and would have laid all manner of traps and obstacles in the attackers’ way. The men that went first would almost certainly be annihilated, but someone always has to go first.
The men who went first – often volunteers attracted by the promise of promotion and fame should they survive – were known as the Forlorn Hope. We couldn’t think of an image more perfectly evocative of the stories and themes that we write about.
What are your influences?
Sabaton are definitely our most significant influence. They’ve proved what an appetite there is out there for historical heavy metal and they’re outstanding songwriters, so the bar has been set very high indeed. We certainly don’t seek to mimic them – we have a distinct sound and tend to focus on different periods in history – but it’s fair to say without Sabaton there would be no Forlorn Hope.
Beyond that our influences are a blend of the classics – Iron Maiden, Judas Priest etc. – and other contemporary power metal bands like Kamelot, Powerwolf and Avantasia.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
We play heavy metal devoted to the theme of military history. Our sound is a blend of traditional heavy metal and power metal; powerful, clean vocals, classic heavy metal riff work and soaring keyboards for that extra touch of epicness. We combine that with vivid, meticulously researched lyrics to retell some of the most dramatic (and often overlooked) stories in military history with the scale and intensity they deserve.
Plenty of metal bands write songs about historical events, but there are very few who bring the same passion for their subject matter and dedication to properly-researched, accurate storytelling to their songwriting as we do while still maintaining an uncompromising commitment to producing catchy, accessible songs.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
We may have jumped the gun a little with our last answer, but yes; the whole concept of Forlorn Hope is founded on themes of military history and the horror and heroism of war.
Our upcoming debut album Over the Hills is a collection of stories from the Peninsular War of 1807-1914, when Napoleonic France and the allied powers of Britain, Spain and Portugal fought for control of the Iberian Peninsula. It’s a fascinating conflict which receives very little attention in popular culture and, as far as we’re aware, nobody has ever written an album about it. It really allowed us to stretch our songwriting muscles and explore a wide range of stories, from full, sweeping battle accounts through to individual moments and men. We hope that anyone who comes to our album with no prior knowledge of the period will gain some appreciation for why it excited us enough to devote an album to it.
This isn’t an attempt to found the new genre of “Napoleonic Metal” though. In future releases we’d like to tackle a variety of different historical subjects, especially those which have received less mainstream attention in the past. Research for album two is already underway, but we’ll keep the specifics of that to ourselves for now.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Our live show always has a terrific sense of fun. We may write about serious subjects, but we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously and in our experience one of the best ways to engage an audience is to make them laugh, so we try and inject as much humour into our set as possible.
It’s also a pretty energetic experience. Our music is big, bombastic and intense; it’s served best when you really get into it and work up a sweat and we find that audiences really feed off that energy.
We started gigging in February 2018 and played around fifteen shows that year. So far this year we’ve only played two shows, having spent the best part of three months shut away working on our debut album, but we’ve just started gigging again and have a ton of shows lined up for the rest of 2019.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
Sadly we don’t really have any wild, rock‘n’roll stories of the type you’re probably looking for, but if you wanted to stretch the question to weirdest thing we’ve ever seen at a live show…
One of our very first gigs was at a little bar in Stockport. The crowd was pretty relaxed and we were about three songs into a 45 minute set when out of nowhere this old bloke appeared, came right to the front, completely alone, and started dancing like we were playing the funkiest pop music you can imagine, rather than blazing, historical heavy metal! He danced on, solo, for nearly the whole set. What a legend.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Alex plays a Schecter Hellraiser C-7 FR and uses an Engl Powerball amp head with a Marshall cab and a Boss ME-70 effects pedal.
Chris plays an Epiphone 1984 Explorer and uses a Line 6 Spider combo. No pedals; he likes to keep things simple.
John likes to keep things even simpler and just runs his trusty Dean Demonator bass through the nearest DI box.
Jade plays a reliable, old Korg keyboard which is still going strong despite its age.
Finally, Danny plays a Pearl kit with Sabian cymbals and a Tama Iron Cobra double bass pedal.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
Our aforementioned debut album Over the Hills is due to be released on 26th July 2019. The idea for this album predates this band’s existence and the final product represents the culmination of countless hours of hard work. We could not be more proud of what we’ve produced and can’t wait to share it with the public.
We definitely recommend purchasing a hard-copy so that you can savour not only Mitchell Nolte’s stunning artwork, but also the detailed, historical background notes accompanying each track.
Pre-orders will open soon on our official webstore, and for an early taste of what to expect from the album the first single, “Rifles”, is currently available to stream and/or purchase on our official website, bandcamp, Youtube and Spotify.
What are your plans for 2019?
We will be gigging extensively to promote the new album. Our album launch party will be at EBGBS, Liverpool on 27th July 2019 where we’ll be playing the album in its entirety and generally having loads of fun in our hometown.
We also have festival appearances lined up at Power Metal Quest Fest 2019 in Birmingham (28th September 2019) and Ragnarök Metal Fest 2019 in Norwich (17th November 2019) for which we’re tremendously excited.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
An obvious choice perhaps, but for the reasons mentioned above, it has to be Sabaton for the headliner. It’d be a historical heavy metal extravaganza.
For the opener, we’d like Wolf 359; a symphonic rock seven piece from Keighley, West Yorkshire whom we’ve had the pleasure of gigging with a couple of times in the fast. They have a fantastic strings section and a nice, vicious edge to their sound and are just a lovely bunch of people. Definitely worth a minute of anyone’s time to check out.