The last time we saw photographic evidence of what Hickory, NC doom troupe Hour of 13 get up to when taking care of official band business—heavy metal, viz. doom in the vein of St.Vitus et al—they were hanging out in a forest with a naked girl squatting in the foreground. Since then they've went off-radar. It's probably just a coincidence. Hell, we're not suggesting foul play; the girl was no doubt re-directed to the nearist nudist resort without much of a fuss, and Ho13 got on their way. No, there have some personnel issues to address since the release of 2010 album The Ritualist, with vocalist Philip Swanson rejoining the band, replacing Ben Hogg (Birds of Prey, etc). Chad Davis' role as band CEO remained the one constant. There's an argument to be made that he's overworked and underpayed here, handling all the guitars, bass and drums on Ho13's forthcoming record, 333, himself, plus laying down some vocals too. But Chad Davis, who also answers to Drathul in his other projects, isn't complaining. Anyway, pressing forth as a the archetypical doom power-duo, they've got 333 come out 21st May, and courtesy of Earache we've got "Who's to Blame" streaming below. "Who's to Blame" from 333 Hour of 13 "Who's To Blame" by Decibel Magazine
It doesn't seem that long ago that they were stemming nosebleeds from their eponymous debut's placing at No.22 in Decibel's Albums of the Year list 2008, our very own Greg Moffitt blowing his beans and smudging his replica King Diamond make-up, declaring: "If there was a better true heavy metal album released in 2008, we haven't heard it. Billed in some quarters as doom, Hour Of 13's self-titled debut is simply a masterful display of all the qualities that make metal the timeless, titanic art form that it is. Utterly unpretentious and unassuming, yet passionate and laden with atmosphere, it's an arcane journey back to a time before music became corrupted by a culture of instant gratification and disposable junk."
Anyway, here's Chad Davis' take on things.
You’re taking on nigh on 100 per cent of the responsibility for writing and heading up Hour of 13—do you foresee a time when the band will be more democratic, with a permanent line-up rounded out and others contributing to the music? The way Phil and I work seems to be having maximum effect, so I don't foresee a change in the structure of Ho13. We work really well this way and to change that would change the way everything organically emerges from us.
Obviously, there’s quite an aesthetic leap between your BM work and Hour of 13, but how much of your Drathrul alter ego goes into Hour of 13’s music? Is there any difference in mindset when writing? Not very much, honestly. I manage to keep my other bands apart from Ho13 very well. It's an entirely different entity to its own and must remain that way.
Indeed, do you see the Occult influence as being something that is bringing together very distinct and different metal subgenres under its ethos? Like The Devil’s Blood and Watain can share a message and a stage despite sounding completely different? Its a subject we are interested in but do not want to be solely regarded as an Occult band. Our subject matter is much more realistic in a human sense. Most Occult stories are just that—stories.
Do you think that underground metal is less divided now by subgenres? I think that is an awesome thing, too. Before it was really difficult to pair up bands that were of the same idea but different sounds. It's a good thing as such can happen today.
You’ve talked about a “ritual setting” when writing for Hour of 13, can you tell us a little bit more about that? All of the music is written during the night. 100 per cent, to be honest. I am usually up until the late hours and riffs tend to arise then.
To what degree is that a spiritual procedure rather than just seeking out a pragmatic moment of calm to see your ideas through to fruition? Well, sometimes that differs. A lot of the time the music just arrives in my head. Sometimes it takes a walk in nature. Sometimes it could be the scene in a movie. Many different factors are attributed to the creation of Ho13 music.
**You can buy Ho13 stuff HERE. 333 will be available for pre-order soon**