ThrOes started in December 2003. She has been fighting against time and tide ever since. I often refer to ThrOes in the female tense. She’s a Venusian whore and sardonic Crone in equal parts. She is a vessel. I process my preoccupation with sex, death, pain and all energies belonging to the underworld through the catharsis of song writing. She is a cruel mistress. She dictates to me exactly how, when and where she will give birth to a new song, and NEVER is it the other way around. If I try to control her she becomes hostile and will lash out, raining down on me all manner of earthly misfortunes that would seem unrelated on the face of it to the uninitiated, but I always know it is her doing. It’s happened too many times to ignore, and ignorance is for ignorants. I simply never ignore the kind of things I’m talking about here. I will take a stance and make a decision on the spot based on whether I just saw a hawk circling in my proximity, or if everytime I look at a clock it’s 11.11 or 3.33, if there were electrical storms happening or strong unrelenting winds, words of importance jumping out of seemingly benign and irrelevant haunts like some rank t.v advertisement, a pamphlet in a waiting room or a newspaper. What I’m trying to say is I operate and organise my whole life around occult navigation systems. Synchronicity, sigils, symbols and archetypes. Numbers, weather patterns, oracle systems, personal omens. I go through times of feeling so in tune with these energies it’s laughably effortless, and then other times where none of them have much to say to me at all, or me to them. And that is just as it should be. Sometimes the taps are turned on full blast and other times it’s just a trickle. There seems some cellular inclination exists for me to view the world in this way. Something that was obviously always there, but something I didn’t discover and act on until I’d reached my mid twenties, this was when I started bringing ThrOes into existence.
I have such long periods of complete inactivity when it comes to writing ThrOes material that when a period of writing or other work starts up it’s impossible for me to see myself as anything other than a stylus, a scribe or a scryer for whatever this is coming through me. Let me divert momentarily back to my first paragraph where I mentioned electrical storms among other things. This would be funny if it weren’t completely expected and right on time. As I write this thunder has just erupted out of the sky and rain has begun to fall for the first time in weeks in Tasmania which has been stricken by drought and there are 80 bush fires currently ablaze around the state. Lightning and thunder is rolling in right now. See what I mean? I’m not making one bit of this up. It’s been this way since 2009. I’ve just stepped out on to my back deck. Sheet lightning everywhere and it’s pissing down. The sky’s are pitch black! I feel energized! I digress though, what was I saying? The periods of artistic inactivity far outweigh the periods of activity. But I say “artistic” inactivity because there is always something influential going on in my life that ends up in ThrOes songs regardless of whether I am actively working on them or not. In fact I would say the periods of “artistic” inactivity were so “psychologically” active that I’d have no meaningful material without them. It’s almost like she needs me to feel pain and struggle before she will even think of letting me pick up a guitar yet alone turn on all the studio equipment and hit record. Like it’s not going to be honest unless the abyss has been faced and it’s crossing attempted. It’s 3.33pm now and the thunder, lightning and rain has all doubled in intensity. She knows I’m talking about her.
It’s not hard to understand why I chose the name ThrOes for this project. Everything about it and my life reflects the moniker. And as I see it as my life’s work, where I bring my experience of life into artistic form, it’s been essential to experience life in order for ThrOes to even exist. My experience of life is the only reason it exists. The lyrics may be cloaked in metaphors and cipher but unlike most metal bands none of it is image and none of it is made up. ThrOes is who I am. There are songs about specific experiences with specefic people at turning points in my life, there are songs where I predicted the future, staked my claim and watched my predictions come true, and when the songs are not that introspective, which only 2 out of the 10 on the album are, they are global in message, reflecting my world view and disdain for the weakness and destructive apathy of mankind and the willingness to swallow cultural values and dogmas, marketing and fakery. People’s willingness to wear uniforms and say “me too”. Even if what they are signing up for is meaningless, people just seem to want to belong and fit in with the majority.
It was my honeymoon on January 15, 2012 and as far as the album was concerned I had 5 song’s demo’d. One was the track “Feed It” which was demo’d in 2006 and was the song responsible for me making this album. The energy of the song embodied so successfully everything I was wanting to achieve when I started ThrOes on a sonic and emotional level that I knew I had to make a full length album just to do that track justice. I wrote the first half of the title track “This Viper Womb” in 2007 and try as I might I was unable to write the second half for another 5 years. I also wrote the first half of the 8th track “Lavish The Anguish” around the same time. The second half again wouldn’t come out of me till 5 years later on my honeymoon. That’s what I meant when I said anytime I try to control ThrOes she usually blocks me. She works on her schedule and my schedule doesn’t matter at all, and this is often inconvenient to me. The last thing I wanted to do on my honeymoon was deal with the pain of drudging up all this old ThrOes material and get it all locked down and organised. But that’s exactly when I could feel the energy and knew I had to. It actually ended up being a pretty good experience, the remote location with mountain back drop and hawks circling the property seemed to bring it out of me easier than expected. It wasn’t the fight I thought it would be. The opening sequence of the 4th track “Conscience Makes Cowards” was written in 2004, the middle part was written in 2007, and the outro theme was written on my honeymoon. In 2009 I wrote and demo’d the tracks “Shock to the Guts”, “Dead Lights”, “Nothing Left for the Vultures” and “Nowhere Else”. These all had to be re learned on my honeymoon which sucked as I don’t write anything down and I NEVER play a song once it is written. I hadn’t touched a guitar for three years so remembering them was very hard. I got them all back, wrote down all the chords for every song so I wouldn’t forget and finalized the whole album in 2 weeks. I returned home and recorded all my scratch tracks to send to Kevin Talley in Texas so he could track my drum sessions. I spontaneously wrote and demo’d the opening track “Permanent Midnight” during this process. The 10th and final track, D.N.A corruption was written and recorded December 2004 and featured on the 2005 promotional e.p “The Drowning Rituals” which was limited to 50 copies. So I finalized and stiched together a 65+ minute album in 2 weeks. I hit it real hard and once Kevin delivered the drum tracks in March 2012 it was non stop work for me until the mix started in September 2014 and ended in the beginning of October. So whilst the seeds were blowing around and sowing themselves for 9 years it was really only 2 and a half years of real work on the whole production process which started in January 2012. I took 2015 off to get some distance from it, process the trauma of it all and to reflect on some heavy things that happened in my personal life during the making of the album. My family and I also relocated and I enjoyed the arrival of my first son Dorian. All of which has been incredible and exactly what was needed in order to get any meaningful perspective on the songs and the mix, and to finish off the last details of the album like post production, finalising the art, mastering, social media bullshit and contacting labels and press. All that’s happening now and work has been non stop since January 1st 2016.
This is not like any metal album you will hear in 2016 or have heard before. It sounds completely unique. Clearly this album is made up of work that was written at different times in my life. I’m not the first to do this. It seems a common thing with one man bands. But something that also seems common to all of them is that you can absolutely hear and feel the material was written over many different periods of time. You won’t feel that with this album. It sounds and feels like every note of it was written at the same time and recorded at the same time in a great recording studio. My recording equipment is all pro quality, industry standard but as far as the room? I tracked all of it silently with headphones on in the corner of my old family living room with kids running around my feet while I was in the middle of takes. I re-amped and mic’d the guitars 2 years after the performances were tracked in as D.I’s. Everything about recording this album was restricting and terribly hard to overcome the limitations of not having the space or isolation needed to produce it in a more typical fashion. The restrictions and limitations made it traumatic, but the trauma is deeply woven into all those songs and they’re all really strong because the vibe is so dark, hectic and tense. I made sure I was convinced in myself that there was no filler on the album. That every song deserved and needed to be on it and that the album itself should exist and be out in the world. I question whether these are things that most metal bands ask themselves when making an album? I would wager the answer is no more often than not.
The drumming on this album is technical in feel, heaviness and groove. There is no preoccupation with speed. I stopped caring about that when I was 21. I gave Kevin a brief of what I was after and he delivered better than I could have hoped. The drums sound huge and I owe that to Chris Townend’s veteran mix production.
The vocals are extreme in a way I haven’t heard before. They kick your head off, but they are legit. You can feel the pain in them because the pain in them is real. Vocals were traumatic for me and Jamie both. Jamie lifted the calibre of the vocals once he was on board and had delivered his parts. He is so good it forced me to get my vocal good enough to hang with his. As the primary vocalist it was ambitious to think I could pull this off considering the only metal singing I’d done before were a couple of back up lines on someone elses album that were nothing to write home about. I was a complete novice, inexperienced in every sense. Jamie’s parts slayed. No surprise there. So I had to figure out how to sing so our two vocals would create that unified grenade I was always planning. I sang the whole album once in 2012 so Jamie could work off it and know where to sing his parts. He’s the best at that style, no one can touch him. His parts were great. Mine sucked in comparison. But it was only the first time I’d done it and I was singing next to one of the most uniquely extreme vocalists of any country. You hear a lot of metal singers on albums and you can tell straight away it’s bullshit. It’s all just silly shit they are doing inside their mouth and pumping it into a juiced mic preamp. Jamie calls them “Whispering Jack’s”, and if you have been paying attention you would know that is the second time John Farnham has been referenced in one of these blog posts. Of course you don’t, no one reads this shit. The point is Jamie is no “Whispering Jack” and neither am I. “Whispering Jack’s” can go curl up and die. Anyway, I got on with everything else over the next two years and left replacing my vocals till last. I studied Jamie’s vocals for two weeks when it came time to replace my vocal, practicing, moulding, completely changing the texture of my voice and once I found I had those harmonic complexities happening I knew it was time to do my master tracks. That’s why Jamie’s vocal is better than everyone elses, harmonics that come from the throat. It was only the second time ever I’d attempted to sing metal seriously. I found my new voice. The savagery, the pain, the harmonics were there and I tracked 8 songs one after the other in one take in a week until I blew my voice out on the track “Feed It”. My chords were fucked. I waited a week hoping I would still be able to nail those tones after the time off. After you stop there is always some element of having to force and shape your throat into submission, where as if you’re having a good crack at it smashing track after track your throat shapes start taking care of themselves. It doesn’t need to be manipulated as much, it just goes there. So I had “Feed It” left to track, it was a week after my voice fucked out trying to get it down the first time. I hit the tones fine and did it in one take. I’m pretty proud of my vocal since I developed it out of sheer stubborness and will, and the fact that it is not lacking in power and vibe next to someone as seasoned as Jamie is an achievement for me. I really bring the cold hardline with my vocal where Jamie brings his freakshow range and ability to find the pain and emotional intent in a word and pull it up from depths like no other, and physically hurt his body to get it out of him. After he finished both his vocal sessions he was sore like he’d been in a fight. That’s because he was in one. Seeing this in person, in my studio I’m even more awed by what he does than when I was freaking out over his singing in Damaged when I was 18. The physicality he uses to make those vocal tones, it’s all automatic, all subconscious. He’s responsible for the vocals turning out as nasty, viscious, chaotic and unique as they did on this album. If it were anyone else I was singing with there would be no reason to push myself as hard as I did with my own vocal.
The bass tracks were really important to me. They were the only element I found enjoyable during the whole process. Kevin gave me such amazing groove and fills in the drum tracks that I was able to write really powerful, active bass lines that lock right onto the drums and create a really thick, deep sinister groove. The bass is not buried in ThrOes. It’s a high point. The bottom end on the album is big, defined and is constantly moving. I hate buried root note bass tracks.
I wrote at least 80% of everything in the studio while tracking the songs. I start with just two tracks of rhythm guitar then I write all the second guitar parts and bass on the fly in reaction to the rhythm guitars and the drums until a full song is constructed. No practice. I’m practicing while recording which is why I record myself and why I take a long time. ThrOes songs are put together like a painting which is why after a song is complete I never play it again. Why would I? ThrOes is the artistic will of one man. It is me. It’s not a band. It’s how I paint. A painter doesn’t keep painting the same EXACT painting over and over. He’s concerned with painting a series that all work together to make a larger collective. That’s what this album is. It’s my series. Every song deliberately fits together to make an “album”. Something it seems that isn’t even a decisive factor for a lot of bands. Not in this “mp3 playlist ” age we are in now. I don’t give a fuck about that. I only ever wanted to make a real album. A true album experience like albums used to be. “This Viper Womb” isn’t a thrown together collection of songs. It’s a series, a legitimate body of work. The track order is deliberate. It should be experienced as a trip through the 1st track right through to the 10th. People that still care about experiencing albums in this way will be rewarded with this album. It’s so dense, so sonically full, so heavy in sound, theme, vibe and intent, so atmospheric, so laboured on and thought out to every last conceivable detail that it will continue to reward the discerning listener for years. I am confident of this and can’t wait to set it amongst the true believers and unknowing disciples.
Not long now….
For the record I started writing this on the 28th, when I picked it up the next day as if on cue the thunder and lightning started up again without warning and out of nowhere, a bolt of lightning struck so close it lit the house up like strobe lights and cut off the power. It returned in a few minutes but the storms did not. I do love it when electrical storms get involved in this.
Do What Thou Wilt
The Black Falconer. 28/29.1.2016