Satan: The true father of mankind
East Anglia’s monolithic metallers The King is Blind have been summoned to carry the torch for a new generation of extreme music. Emerging from the deepest black as the first signing in over a decade from the resurrected, genre-defining coven that is Cacophonous Records, today sees the band announce their monstrously ambitious debut full-length album ‘Our Father’ for release 29th January. The King Is Blind boast an impressive heritage, with members drawing from a wealth of experience in Cradle of Filth, New Model Army, Extreme Noise Terror and Entwined.
HMA: Thanks for joining me in this interview and for your interest in Heavy Music Artwork. We have a brand new release from The King is Blind. So who is ‘Our Father’?
Stephen John Tovey (Vocals): Satan. Genuinely. Ha, that’s how you start a metal interview, by proudly proclaiming “Satan!”
HMA: I believe ‘Our Father’ was adapted from various literary sources including Paradise Lost and The Book of Revelation. Can you tell us about the stories and narrative?
SJT: We knew very early on, before we even had any music written, that we were going to write a concept album. I studied Milton’s Paradise Lost in depth at university and had always had it in mind to tell the “life story” of Satan as a literary character, adapting tenets of Book of Revelation and other works, such as Holy Blood and Holy Grail, to tell the story of one of the strongest and most well-known literary characters. Our story acts as an allegory and an angle to discuss the failings and lack of development of mankind. We talked at length about what type of concept we wanted it to be. We felt that it had to consist of songs that would make sense as stand-alone tracks, so it felt right for it to follow the lines of something like a ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’; something truly epic in scope, that wasn’t constrained by any barriers that would stop either the music or lyrics telling a complex story.
HMA: Also described to be a “dark and involved concept album discussing the true genesis of man and the origin of our multitude of deficiencies”. What are the deficiencies and genesis?
SJT: ‘Our Father’ sees Satan as the true father of mankind. In our interpretation, he creates Adam as a gift for God, and at the point of the Fall of Man, claims the bloodline of mankind for his own. The album also highlights and discusses the fact that each of us is drawn to particular vices, or flaws, that are often categorized as the “seven deadly sins”. Satan is also the father of Sin and Death, the only two constants in life, as well as free will. His starting point in challenging God is to overthrow oppression and let the man be free.
‘Our Father’ isn’t about Satan vs God, or about taking sides – everything is grey, there is no black or white. Let’s be clear. It is not anti-Christian. It is not anti-religion and it is definitely not anti-faith. Where it does discuss religion, though, it is in the context of being against how people use religion as a banner and a mask to commit atrocities.
HMA: How did the record develop in terms of production, songwriting and direction?
SJT: Sonically, we were very conscious of wanting a production sound that was powerful and modern without being too clinical; that maintained warmth, energy and alive feeling without being sloppy, and we definitely achieved that. A lot of thought went into every stage, and it was completely worth it all. When you create something as fulfilling as ‘Our Father’, when you’re trying to produce an album that will stand up to the legacy of British Metal, the whole point of doing this, doing music, being in a band, is validated. We were meticulous and thorough. We analysed the flow and dynamics of some of our favourite albums and mapped out the whole of our album right at the start of the process with that in mind. We knew, then, which parts of the story we’re going to be told in which songs and in what order, and again in terms of the narrative, what the moods and actions of the characters that we would need to represent musically, and, in turn, the atmosphere the music would need to portray at which point.
HMA: What were the main challenges?
SJT: Tying it together, really. The feel of each part of each song had to match the story of the lyrics, and the narrative had to work in order, so there was an awareness of running order and that lyrics, and to a large extent, vocals, couldn’t be written until we had agreed on the track-listing and the music was “signed off”. It wasn’t clinical though… when you’re writing songs, the riffs and the dynamics and structure go where they need to go and you have to let them do that. For example, ‘Mourning Light’ took on a life of its own during the writing process and ended up mutating and deforming compared to where it was “supposed” to go… and all the better for it, with Natalia Francesca providing horrifically perfect improvised guest vocals that gave the song an unexpected slant. We play HEAVY metal, the roots of which come from the death metal of the earlier ’90s. Beyond that, and an acknowledgement we want to play dark, aggressive HEAVY music, there is no self-imposed restriction.
HMA: Kieran Wakeman (Divine Chaos Art) is the artist for ‘Our Father’, did you give any creative direction?
Lee James Appleton (Lead & Rhythm Guitars): The cover was created prior to us meeting Kieran so it was not the result of any direction or input on our behalf whatsoever. It’s all from Kieran’s twisted soul!! He sent me various examples of his work, across a vast array of artistic styles so I could see that not only was he really talented but also extremely versatile with a lot of ideas. A lot of the images were pretty appropriate, but ‘Goatlord’ (as we refer to him) really jumped out and had the wow factor.
HMA: What is the story behind the artwork and how it relates to the album?
LJA: The album artwork depicts Kieran’s interpretation of Eliphas Levi’s sabbatic goat (or Baphomet) and the universal elements of good, evil, man and woman. Considering the subject matter of the lyrics, we felt it was a perfect marriage. The overall atmosphere of the picture is dreamlike and surreal but also dark and menacing which matches the vibe of the music on the album.
HMA: On your previous release ‘The Deficiencies of Man’ we have a different feel, would you say that the music also holds the same qualities?
LJA: On ‘The Deficiencies Of Man’ we really wanted to go for that classic, Thomas Cole feels to the artwork, which bands like Candlemass had used to great effect in their 80s heyday. A friend saw the Hans Memling triptych in Strasbourg and reminded me about it. We all immediately recognised the perfect mix of the sacred and profane in this 15th Century masterpiece of oil-on-wood, which suited the music superbly. I personally wanted the Eve panel to be the cover as I felt it was far more unique and surreal, but I got outvoted! Never mind…
HMA: Given the right time and budget, who would be the right graphic artist that deserves to work on your sleeves?
LJA: Kieran’s work suits us perfectly and I wouldn’t currently use anyone else. He captures a perfect mix of the recognisable and the obscure which suits us down to the ground. I like having a team of relative unknowns working with us as it gives us a unique vibe. It was suggested we contact Paolo Girardi about a cover, and I absolutely love Paolo’s work, but he wouldn’t be unique to us, and he’s working with other bands out there which we don’t necessarily want to be associated with.
HMA: On your Facebook profile under genre we read “Monolithic Metal”. Can you elaborate?
LJA: ‘Monolithic Metal’ is basically a joke aimed at genres, subgenres, sub-subgenres that people try to tie you down to. No band worth its salt spends any amount of time thinking about that nonsense – labels are for tins of beans! Was Celtic Frost a thrash, death, doom or black metal band? The answer is: ‘yes’, ‘no’ and also ‘don’t be so fucking stupid’. I don’t think what we do is particularly Extreme anyway, really. Extreme compared to what? We’re music addicts, we can never get enough. Bands like Celtic Frost, Candlemass and the classic Earache and Peaceville roster are our main influences but there’s a lot of other stuff going on.
You can view Kieran Wakeman’s work at www.divinechaosart.com
The King Is Blind unleash ‘Our Father’ via Cacophonous Records on 29th January 2016, and exclusively present the full concept album live at The Black Heart, Camden, London on 31st January 2016.
The King Is Blind have released a short art film to accompany the track.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2016 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.