Blood Incantation are currently gearing up to release their new album Hidden History Of The Human Race. Prior to the release, we got the chance to have a chat with resident skin-smasher and founding member Issac in relation to the new release, his drum setup and whether he thinks aliens are real or not.
Blood Incantation are gearing up to release Hidden History Of The Human Race. How do you feel the response has been to the songs released so far?
“Inner Paths” was release a few weeks ago along with a video and from our perspective, it was the obvious choice but a lot of people might be surprised we released that. It’s an instrumental and is quite different from what we released in the past and we chose it purely for that reason. When it came out, it did exactly what we thought it would do and it was a bit controversial in the metal scene with some people saying “Wait, this isn’t the Blood Incantation I know” and other people really liking it. It’s created a lot more buzz about the record which is what we intended with releasing that which has been great.
The next single which came out just today, I’m not aware of what the response has been yet as I just woke up about 30 minutes ago. It’s 10am in Colorado where I live so it’s probably been out for a bit in Europe. But yes, we chose “Slave Species of the Gods” as it’s more of a ‘traditional’ Blood Incantation track and anyone who was maybe confused by the first track would be totally on-board with it. So yes, some people might be confused why we didn’t release this first, but we like surprising people. I do believe this video is going to do well. A friend of mine Gabe Gomez filmed this who’s been involved with us for a while. He filmed one of our first shows in 2015 at a tattoo shop in Salem, Oregon many years ago and we’ve remained in touch as I thought that video he did was killer and super cool. We chat every now and again and recently I asked him if we were interested in filming us at our show in Santa Ana. He thought that was a great idea and he’d just got this old VHS camcorder and edited it after the fact. The video has that mid-90’s vibe of videos filmed at shows back then which I love. I love watching bands like Dissection playing in the ’90s recorded in that way. Plus, our music is recorded analogue so it fits with the vibe of the band very well.
We actually split it into two main sections as it’s got the ambient bit in the middle which made it a bit easier to track. We didn’t do it one go, but when we play it live it’s done all in one go. That’s been a task to figure that out! Going into the recording, I initially thought that this one would be harder to track than the opening track on the album and “Giza” but it was actually the opposite. I took way less takes than I was expecting to do the last track and the first two took way more!
We’d heard from a few people that they thought we should split the track into a few shorter ones but we wanted to do the 18 minute long track and that it should be one long track. If you want to get to the good stuff, you’ve got to listen to it and not skip a track!
This is also your first release with Century Media records. How does working with them compared to previous releases?
This album is actually being joint released with Dark Descent who released our previous album and is doing the release in America with Century Media releasing it in other territories around the world. Going into recording this album, we wanted to expand and increase our reach with it. Our previous album did well, but we kept hearing from fans that it was really hard to get our merch and items outside the US. Dark Descent does a really good job, but he’s only one guy and only has a certain amount and level of reach. We were thinking about maybe licensing it to some other labels in Europe but then we were approached by Century Media about it. We were offered a pretty good deal and we decided it would make a lot of sense to us. So we’re licensing it through Dark Descent and Century Media so we retain the publishing rights to all the music. Century Media is a very well known label and I’ve been buying CDs with their logo on since I was a teenager so it’s awesome to be working with them. Century Media has given us the tools to help expand and get our music out there. In particular, the first video we released was an example of them being super helpful and putting us in touch with a guy who’d done work with them before and fitted perfectly with what we were after. So yeah, our partnership has been going really well.
Was the production process behind the album, writing/recording, any different to previous albums?
In some ways it was similar and in other ways different. We worked with Pete DeBoer again who produced our last album and recorded at his studio. He had moved since last time we recorded but it was all the same equipment. The recording itself was a bit different as we had a lot more time to work on the album in the studio and had more days to track. We did a lot more overdubs and got to add a lot of stuff including synthesisers, a gong and a few bongos which helped fill out the album some more. We also used a more predominant trigger on the kick drum which comes through more predominantly on the faster parts.
It was similar though in that we recorded analogue direct to tape with no click tracks. We tracked it live in the studio with the 4 of us all in there at the same time which contributes to the more live feeling of the album. The guitars would maybe get fixed up here and there but generally the songs that you hear is what we played in the studio. That made it a bit more difficult to fix something if one little thing gets messed up. The drums themselves can’t really be punched in much because if you punch in and out you can hear the tape doing that and recording over it. So, most things had to be done in one take which made it a bit more difficult due to the material being a bit more complicated.
In terms of the writing, we had about three years in between our previous albums and that was the case this time around as well. I don’t know if that’s going to become our pattern, but that’s how it’s been so far. We’ve been doing a lot of touring over the past three years so we’d occasionally soundcheck new riffs whilst touring and trying to fit in writing around that. Plus, we’re all in other bands as well with the other guys all being in Spectral Voice so when they’ve been touring with that band I’d be at home writing things and working on stuff. We write in a similar way but it depends on the song. “Inner Paths” was written by just improvising in the practice room whilst “Giza Power Plant” has been written for a while, even before Starspawn. Paul had written it beginning to end many years ago which was going to be used on a split which fell through sadly. We decided to bank that track and use it on a future album which leads to it being on this album. “Awakening” the final track, I wrote pretty much beginning to end without the ending acoustic section which was written by Morris. Those two songs were basically written out as a blueprint and we’d then work on them as a band in the practice space whilst “Inner Paths” and “Slave Species” were more organically written as band in the practice room.
What inspires you to write music?
That’s a big and interesting question!
I’ve been writing music since I was about 14, I’ve been playing drums and guitar since then, and I’ve always kind of just felt the need to be creating something. I’ve always wanted to be making something and if i’m not creating or writing music then I go a little crazy. In a lot of ways, it’s not even me that’s writing the music, I don’t necessarily feel that way, it’s as if the music already exists, I’m just tapping into it and trying to make it relate to this material world. I’ll often just sit in my room for hours playing guitar and seeing what comes out. Sometimes some good stuff comes out and sometimes nothing will and it’s a lot of garbage. Other times, I’ll be going about my day and I’ll have this melody come into my head and I’ll make a voice memo of it into my phone and then try and piece that together at home. The best stuff often comes out when I’m not thinking about it too much. I really enjoy the idea of the muse from Greek mythology as it sometimes feel like this entity coming through and creating this musical gateway. As a band, you kind of start getting into this mood as we’ve been playing music together for a number of years and can just sit in the room and just jam out anything. Before we start getting into the meat of a song, we’ll just kind of mess around with it being anything from Kraut Rock, 80’s stadium riffs or a black metal track and just get it out there. We’ll then hunker down and focus but there’s always influences from outside the genre which I think makes us more unique than some other bands.
What’s your current drum setup?
I have the same drum setup that I’ve had for a while with a few differences here and there but it’s primarily based around a Yamaha 5 piece Stage Custom set. What I like about is that the toms are bigger than others that I see out there with them being 12, 14 and 16 with a single 22″ kick drum and a double Iron Cobra pedal. I also use the stock snare as I like the sound of it. I break cymbals a lot and don’t really follow one manufacturer but I prefer using Zyldjian dark K crashes and Sabian Ice Bell along with my stack that’s made up of broken cymbals. I get a lot of comments on it as it’s quite unique and sounds pretty awesome. It’s one of my favourite pieces and I only use it with this band as kind of china but I just call it the “trash” cymbal. I typically keep it pretty simple and use a typical setup. I like to use Remo heads and have got an Aquarian head on my kick drum which sounds awesome as well.
Having toured with metal legends Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel amongst other bands, what would you say is one thing bands should learn to do whilst on the road?
I would say, make sure you never go over your set time. That’s the first one and one of the most important ones. Learn how to set up and get off the stage very quickly as that’s very important. Generally, it’s also good to know that you’re there to support the other bands and not to headline. There might be some people there to see you but the majority are there to see the headliner. So, know your place and be cool about it. We all came out of the DIY scene and played some pretty shitty venues where you’d be lucky if there was a bathroom for the band and you get drink tickets as payment. Doing that Decibel tour where there was a really nice backstage and all the other stuff was something we did not take for granted. So yeah, I’d say respect the environment you’re in. I’d say it’s good for bands to learn how to tour at the lower levels first before hitting the bigger stages. It actually makes a band better going through playing those shitty venues and shows that you are willing to do it no matter what. You can really push yourself to get further through doing that and when you get to the bigger stages you’ll have a lot more respect.
One big thing I’ll say is to dial in your stage sound for anywhere you might play and any possible scenario. We’ve got it so that even if there is no PA, we can still deliver the same as we would with a PA. I’ve seen a lot of bands that have like backing tracks and other bells and whistles which’ll work great if you’re at a level which can support it. If you’re not, then it’s not going to really work as the person working the sound system might not know what he’s doing. As a result, we’ve developed our stage sound so that when we’re playing we’ll sound the same everywhere. That helped on the recent Immolation tour we did where we used the house sound guys sometimes and had people come up to us saying that we sounded better than many bands sounded in those venues.
It’s changed over time and before the release of Starspawn, whoever booked the time got that time. That’s kind of still the case and we all work together to try and make sure those that aren’t in the band in our other projects are still treated fairly. I mean, obviously there’s going to be some offers for Blood Incantation which are amazing and we kinda can’t turn down but we plan very far in advance to ensure everyone is treated fairly. We’re already discussing 2020 and up to summer in 2021 in terms of scheduling the time out. It works out for us as the other three guys are in Spectral Voice and I play with Wayfarer which means that when they’re out touring, I can do some touring with Wayfarer.
What are the bands plans for the next 6 to 12 months?
We’ll be doing quite a bit of touring and are planning to hit Europe twice next summer. We’re going to come for about 3 or 4 weeks in June and then at the end of July and August with the plans to hit some festivals and dates in between. We’re going to try and hit all of Europe so I think we’re going to maybe go to some places we’ve never been before and places we’ve not been for a while which will be cool. After that, we’re going to be heading to Australia and Asia with another festival around the end of September which will be cool. There’s other things I can’t talk about which are being planned as well. We’ll not be really doing anything until May next year and then going super-hard for the next 9 months or so after that.
Are there any bands from your local area who you think people should check out?
The Denver scene has gotten a lot better in the last 5 years. When I was growing up, the metal scene was pretty dire with Cephalic Carnage the only real band from around there. In recent years though, there’s been some awesome bands coming out of the area. Primitive Man are a really cool band and we’re friends with those guys. We’ve toured with them in our other projects which was really fun. Their other band, Vermin Womb is going to be playing our album release show on November 23rd which will be cool. Along with them, Dreadnought are another good band who we’ve been friends with for a very long time. They’re kind of a band that plays a lot of different progressive metal which is really cool. Their drummer is one of my favourite drummers in Colorado. There’s been some bigger bands come out the area including Allegaeon who have been doing really well. There’s tons of good music here and you’re likely to get a great lineup if you’re heading to a show here. Chthonic Deity is another really awesome band that people should check out. Paul from our band plays with them and it’s really cool stuff.
What is one question you wish someone asked you?
I would say people ask me a lot of the same questions but I think people don’t know as much about the concepts behind the band. We have some extra-terrestrial themes in our music and I’m surprised people haven’t asked us whether we believe in aliens. I don’t know whether that’s something people really care about.
Do you believe in aliens?
It’s interesting as we have conversations about this kind of all the time in the band. We all have our own personal ideas and we don’t have one unified philosophy behind the band but we all agree that the chances of us being alone in the universe is almost impossible. I mean there is the chance, but it’s very very slim. Now, the chance that we have been visited by extra-terrestrials is totally debatable and a lot of people think it would take forever for people to get here. There’s the whole theme of thinking that the aliens built the pyramids which is conjecture and there’s no way to prove that stuff you know.
What I tend to think of more than physical aliens in there flying saucers, even though I love X-Files, is about multidimensional beings which would be very hard to prove or disprove that they exist. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that there may be beings in a different realm which we can’t perceive. This would explain anything like angels, aliens or demons or anything like that. It would be very possible to me that there are beings existing side by side with us who we can’t perceive in our current states of mind. The human mind is just so finite in its ability to comprehend it. There’s a lot of stuff that we don’t understand and can’t really experience. There’s countless tales of people having NDE’s or taking DMT and experiencing this communication with those beings outside our current realm. So, to me, that seems like a more likely scenario than some space travelling species from another planet and makes much more sense. I don’t believe either way and new evidence could come out to sway me either way.
So is Donald Trump an alien?
Well, if anyone is an alien, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was wearing a skin suit. He might just be dumbass but having that much fake tan applied over and over again might just make you look like that. If he is an alien, then he’s a shitty alien. The movie “They Live” kind of reminds me of what we’re talking about. Maybe there’s some nefarious beings who take over humans and maybe they are just a cattle species to these soul sucking extra-terrestrials.
Tea or Coffee?
Ah, Interesting. Well, I would say most of the time tea. I do like coffee but as I’ve gotten older the acidity is not great for me. I’ve always liked tea and I’m actually drinking a cup of chai tea now. When it’s becoming colder, I tend to make an Irish breakfast tea with soy milk and honey which is great for the mornings. We drink a lot of tea on the road as well which is great. I still love the taste of coffee and I prefer to have the really shitty diner coffee that’s watered down. The sort of one you’d find at a breakfast diner like Denny’s or some no-name diner which does free refills. I’m not into the super-dark roasted ones as they can be too strong for me and make me all jittery. That’s not what I want and with tea I know what I’m getting.