I’m not much for fantastical lyrics – no matter how brutal the imagined scenery, it seems there’s enough ignorance and atrocity just outside my apartment door to nullify the impact of some invented horrors from galaxies long ago and far away. And I’ll be bumguzzled if I can predict when synth infestation will command my unholy allegiance or just piss me off. All that said, the new Where Fate Lies Unbound EP by Madison, WI band Warseid hits some pretty righteous notes. Their blend of black metal terrorist tropes, classical acoustic guitar, clean tenor singing, symphonic keyboard strokes, and occasional thrash chugging strikes that oft-neglected soft spot for Bronze Age war metal. While you could go to their Bandcamp page and stream or buy the whole EP, we here at the Deciblog know that your lazy clicker finger is more likely to twitch once than several times, so here we give you the song “Frost Upon the Embers.” Jam out to some folk war magic while you get a load of the Wisconsin quintet’s musings on the northern darkness.
What’s the Madison metal scene like?
In terms of audiences, the Madison metal scene is really good! There are a lot of metal fans here, especially downtown. I would say that we appeal more to the "purist" or "true" metalhead crowd. We best cater to fans of black and death metal, and there are a good number of those guys (yes, let's be real, most of them are guys) that come to our shows. In terms of the bands, we have a lot of great talent! Some bands in the Madison area are a little breakdown friendly for my taste, but whatever. You'll find that in any local scene.
What were the musical and lyrical influences for Where Fate Lies Unbound?
Musically we have influences all over the board. We really tried to separate ourselves from our influences and create our own sound. While listening you can probably guess what metal we are into, we didn't want to "sound" like any of those artists. We focus on folk metal, but we've noticed that a lot of folk metal bands draw upon influences from the folk musics of their own respective countries. In our music, we don't really make a distinction between different cultures, so you'll hear everything from European to American to Middle-Eastern folk on the record. Everyone in the band is into different things, and all of those things are also apparent in the music. Everything from the metal greats of black/folk/progressive metal to post-rock a la Godspeed You Black Emperor, to classical influences like Holst and Penderecki.
In terms of lyrics, we grew up reading a lot of fantasy and such, so that was a big influence while writing the story. We wanted to come up with a story that we thought could be told well through lyrics and music together.
How do the different band members’ interests effect the band’s sound?
Joe: Of course we're all into extreme metal and folk metal, but besides that I'm really into modern classical and ambient music, anything from Penderecki to Dead Can Dance. I also really like hardcore punk/powerviolence. While writing, one person might have an idea, and then the others will come together and add their own little ideas to it. It's really cool to see everyone's influences outside of the metal realm come together within our music.
Brandon: I definitely come from a thrash metal background. At the time I joined the band, my absolute favorites were Kreator, Demolition Hammer, Morbid Saint, bands like that. Nowadays, I listen to music all across the board. This would be my own page if I gave you the whole list of important music in my life, but I'll make it brief. My biggest guitar influences in recent years have been jazz guys like Allan Holdsworth, Ben Monder, and John Stowell. I tend to reference to the Holdsworth school of thought when thinking about solos. He uses legato a lot and rarely picks, which creates a lot more clarity in his lines. I have definitely incorporated those techniques into my playing. Another important influence to my playing is Chris Arp of Psyopus. He uses a lot of dissonant harmony. You can hear some of that ugliness in a few of the solos on this EP. Other than that, I really only contribute what would seem appropriate for Warseid. We have developed our own niche and we stay as true to it as we can. I don't think I'll be throwing in any James Brown rhythms in any future Warseid material. But then again, who knows?
What is the origin of the band’s name?
Back when the band was just a solo project of Logan's, the name was Varangian Guard. As the number of members grew, we wanted to change it to reflect that a new entity was forming. We chose the word seid (or seidr), because it refers to a form of old Norse Pagan magic. Then, we arbitrarily attached War to the front of it. We actually didn't really like the idea at first, but eventually it grew on us.
How long and in what contexts have you played music?
Joe's been playing piano since he was a toddler, and Brandon's been playing guitar for a long time. They're both in school for music right now and play other instruments as well as other styles with different ensembles and projects. Kellan's played in a jazz band at school, and Kyle and Andre have experience playing in other metal bands. The band's been playing together for about 4 years.
What was the first metal record you fell in love with?
Joe: I will admit I had my nu-metal phase in elementary/middle school, but I would say that the first "true" metal record I fell in love with was Opeth's Ghost Reveries. I remember I was in 7th grade when it came out, and I was debating between buying that and Marilyn Manson's Lest We Forget, haha. Luckily, I got Ghost Reveries. It took a while to grow on me, but I'd say it's still one of my favorite albums.
Brandon: My first metal record was Metallica's And Justice for All. Just before that record, I was listening to a lot of hardcore punk. I didn't even know that metal had the d-beat. When I first heard "Blackened", I was blown away! I didn't know you could have heavy and fast in the same package. From there my taste in extreme music escalated, and it hasn't stopped.
Andre: Iron Maiden's Powerslave for me, or maybe [Metallica’s] Ride the Lightning. Both are important to my roots as a musician.
Kyle: Mayhem's Dom Mysterris De Sathanas. Someone at high school showed me because it was "crazy", but I ended up falling in love with it. Before that, I was listening to Slipknot and bands like that, but that Mayhem album definitely marked my transition to extreme metal.
Kellan: I started with Mudvayne's LD 50, and Slipknot as well. The first extreme metal album I was really into was Arch Enemy's Doomsday Machine.
What was the first metal show you attended?
Joe: It took me a while to see a show besides a few local shows due to my parents, haha. The first real show I saw was during my sophomore year of high school. I saw Converge, a favorite of mine, in Milwaukee. They played with Dethklok for whatever reason. Everyone there seemed to hate them, but I absolutely loved it. I remember moshing with this one guy next to me while everyone else gave us weird looks.
Brandon: I don't quite remember which metal show was my first. My most memorable metal show was seeing Wolves in the Throne Room at Little Hamilton in Nashville. Little Hamilton was as minimal as you could get, but that's why it was so great. It was a DIY kind of place with no stage and a lot of amazing bands. When I saw Wolves, the room was packed with people. The main room was completely full, so people had to stand out in the lobby and just listen with the door open. Luckily, I worked my way up to the front of the crowd! It was undoubtedly the most memorable show I have experienced yet.
As you continue to play and record, what future achievements do you expect to pursue with your music?
We're not very specific about our musical goals with this band. We write music to fit the character that has become Warseid. More importantly, we want to play music that is exciting for us. I'm even surprised that we are still going. We thought it would be over once we went to different schools. But we're still going strong, and we haven't thought of a reason to call it quits yet. One thing we try not to do is repeat ourselves. We want all of our songs to have their own characters. We don't want any of our music to sound like what you just heard.