Old Corpse Road – Interview with The Bearer
Interview by Demitri Levantis
The British black metal institution have returned with their third album: “On Ghastly Shores Lay the Wreckage of our Lore”, and to find out more on this new release, Metal-Rules caught up with the band to find out what the record is all about and what things might be on the road ahead for the band.
Thank you for dropping by Old Corpse Road. So, let’s start with the new album, does it have a running theme or a concept?
Hi Demitri, thanks for taking the time to interview us! The new album has an underlying theme, which is that all of the songs are based on the coastal folklore of Britain, but with a specific focus on Northumbria near our hometown in the North East of England. The Dreamer (drums) came up with the concept of the “Waterlore” theme which then became the working basis for the album.
What folklore or myths and legends inspired the album most?
Continuing on from the above, the album deals purely with coastal folklore, from tales about phantom ships, haunted coastal ruins and all manner of demonic creatures that live in the waters surrounding our Isles.
We took a heavy inspiration from our more local areas such as Northumberland and further north to the barrenness of the Scottish/Northumbrian coastline including the legendary Lindisfarne and collective Farne Isles.
This connected perfectly with the album’s artwork, ‘The Flight of the Wylde Swan’, by local artist Kate Van Suddese, which perfectly encapsulated the atmosphere of the album!
None of the stories told in the songs are new, they are all based on stories told long ago?
As with all of our songs, these tales are considered “old”, but generally they range from anywhere between the dark ages and the Victorian era.
Perhaps the problem with more modern folklore tales is that they lack a sense of history or location and instead are more internet led conspiracies which frankly are uninteresting to us.
Is this the kind of album you’ve wanted to write for a while or is it a whole new route for the band?
The answer is kind of both. We’ve always followed the same theme of telling stories of British folklore, so from that aspect, it’s just what we do, so lyrically, whilst all the stories have an underlying theme as discussed above, they all still very much follow the format from our previous releases.
Musically, the album encompasses everything that we have been known for previously, only this time we took our 90’s black metal influences to the forefront, especially in terms of the production and grimness of the overall sound when compared to our previous album for example. 90’s black metal was a key inspiration for the band from day one, but with this album we wanted to hearken back to those days in sound as well as songwriting, whilst at the same time creating something innovative and fresh, which, I believe we achieved here.
How would you say this album is different to other British black metal today?
One thing about the British black metal scene since day one is that no two bands really sound the same. There’s no specific sound or style one could assign to British black metal really. Obviously some bands have similarities, but as a whole, it’s a very different mix from these shores.
I’d say one thing that we are doing that most are not, is keeping the old 90’s spirit alive whilst adding so many different elements to that classic framework. We’re not afraid to insert a traditional metal, doom or death metal section in between classic black metal blasting and atmosphere, and somehow, make it work (at least in our opinion!). I’m not suggesting that we are the only people crossing styles, but the way we do things is a little different and less orthodox than some perhaps.
Have you used any new types of music or experimentation that you haven’t done before?
As with each album, we try to tread new ground musically, whilst retaining the core elements that make Old Corpse Road’s defining sound. You’ll always get blast beats, black metal screaming, vocal harmonies and epic atmospheres, but we also like to keep things fresh and interesting with each release.
One thing that springs to mind on this album is that we have an entire piece in the centre of the album, which is an ambient/orchestral piece written by our friend Marc Hoyland (Heathen Deity / 13 Candles and many more) which we then added our layers of vocals to.
What bands influenced Old Corpse Road’s sound most of all?
In terms of black metal, some are perhaps more obvious than others. Emperor, early Cradle of Filth, Abigor, Bal-Sagoth and even Burzum always spring to mind. But add to that doom bands like My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, a bit of classic Maiden influence and also early grind such as Carcass and Napalm Death even find their way into the mix.
Aside from the metal influences, we took great inspiration from the ambient / world music genres, with acts such as Arcana and Dead Can Dance playing a role in our compositions, as well as classical and film score pieces.
What do you all enjoy most about folklore and the mythologies you sing about?
We feel a great sense of purpose breathing life into these old tales, via the medium of black metal. The two concepts, lyrically and musically seem to blend perfectly. As the stories unfold, as does our music, which leads the songs to have an epic and dramatic theme, whilst retaining the darkness and evil found within the core of the tales.
Are there any periods of history that fascinate you, in terms of legends and myths?
We don’t tend to hone in on any particular period in history, it’s generally completely open to whichever story fits the music best, but as I said earlier, we tend to find many of our tales originate from the dark ages, medieval and Victorian eras.
The whole folklore of our country fascinates us greatly, spanning a thousand years! We find that these folk stories are timeless and in being able to retell these tales through our musical medium, we manage to breathe new life into them.
Do you have anything performance-wise lined up for your fans in the current situation, like any livestream gigs or social media gatherings?
All of the band are isolated from each other and the majority of our rehearsal gear and recording equipment is in our lock up where we cannot access it easily. It would be great to get creative during the lockdown, but for us it’s not as simple which is a real shame…. but who knows….
What do you make of the UK black metal scene today?
When I think back to the early 2000’s there was very little scene. There have always been good bands, but very few. These days there are so many talented bands from the UK, that I feel get very little attention worldwide. We have a unique scene here, unlike many in for example Europe that tend to thrive from a particular style, here we have a complete mixture of styles. There is a great unity in the UK black metal scene amongst touring buddies and fans alike. I personally think it’s the healthiest it’s ever been.
There are also generally more black metal gigs from other touring bands than I’ve ever seen before with countless promoters doing their bit across the country to bring us the best bands they can.
What are your favourite places to play, here and abroad?
Old Corpse Road haven’t made our headway into Europe and beyond yet, however, here in the UK I’d have to say our favourite haunts would be Nottingham/Birmingham, York, London and the festivals held in Cumbria. We’ve had generally great experiences wherever we play but those spring to mind as some of my favourites.
Are there any bands you would recommend to anyone seeking new metal today?
It seems only fitting to recommend some of our peers in the UK scene, especially those we feel deserve your attention:
Abduction, Wolvencrown, Ninkharsag, White Medal, Burial, Vegard, Aklash, Shadowflag, Deadwood Lake, Necronautical, Devastator, And Now the Owls are Smiling to name a few.
What advice would you give to your fans who want to start their own bands?
My advice would be to just get out there and do it. Ultimately every person has a creative spark inside them, and unless you try to put that into music, you’ll never know. It’s also important to be true to yourself when composing, and only write the music that you enjoy and that inspires you, rather than forcing music that isn’t truly your own.
Are you guys involved in any other bands or projects and are they releasing any new material if so?
I myself have many projects, some of which are solo projects, some are bands and some are session work. Here’s a little list for you of the bands/projects that are all in some way currently playing or making new material:
Arcane North, Peasant, Blood Countess, Wynter Myst, Thy Dying Light
We’ve all been involved in other projects over the years, some more serious than others, but at the core, our main focus has always been with Old Corpse Road, and it certainly gets the majority of my own creative input.
And finally, what do you enjoy most about being in a band?
For me it is a release and an escape from the real world. Within the band I can be creative, I can let out aggression, and generally have a good time with long-time friends. Seeing music created, transformed and then finally released is a process that is very rewarding. We always write music for ourselves primarily, but witnessing the fans enjoying our music, buying our merch and coming to our shows is a feeling like no other.
Thank you so much, this has been awesome having you. We wish you best of luck for the future.
Thanks Demitri. It’s been a pleasure answering your questions. All the best to you!
Old Corpse Road are:
The Bearer – Guitars and Vocals
The Revenant – Guitars and Vocals
The Wanderer – Bass and Spoken Word
The Dreamer – Percussion and Ambience
The Watcher – Keyboards and Vocals
Old Corpse Road will release their third full-length album “On Ghastly Shores Lays The Wreckage Of Our Lore” on the 15th of May 2020. This act is known for binding multiple elements of folk black metal, epic singing and vast vocal ranges.
1. On Ghastly Shores Lays the Wreckage of Our Lore
2. Harbingers of Death (Voices in the Tempest)
3. Black Ship
4. Sea Fire
5. As Waves Devour Their Carcasses
6. Demons of the Farne
7. The Ghosts of the Ruinous Dunstanburgh Castle