One of the best dark/doom metal albums of the year is evidently The Prophecy’s debut CD Ashes. Ashes it’s not just the band’s debut, but it is also the first release of BlackDoom Records, a brand new label founded by the two guitar players of My Dying Bride, Andrew Craighan and Hamish Glencross. Guitarist Christian and vocalist Matt answered my questions.
Hi! How’s life in England? What are the members of The Prophecy doing these days?
Matt: How’ life in England? It’s pretty much life as normal at the moment - Working to earn enough money to go on tour again and enjoying the usual cold wet and windy English weather. It’s now December and we’ve finished everything we had planned for this year so were taking it easy for a month before going off to record the new album.
Christian: I’m just working at the moment and trying to replace some funds from touring the States in America really. I’m also enjoying spending some time with my new girlfriend who I met in London recently. Just chilling out really.
It’s unusual for a band to come out with such a strong debut like Ashes. How are the reactions until now? The songs from the Ashes CD are new songs or older songs and maybe that’s why they are so elaborate…? Now it has been a while since the CD is out and probably you can look more detached to it. Are you still satisfied with your debut? What kind of responses did you get so far?
Christian: Reactions until now have been extremely good, fantastic even! I’m quite overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback we have had. The songs from Ashes had a lot of work done to them over a period of time but I don’t think that made them more complex.
Rather, it just refined the complexity that was there naturally. I’m extremly satisfied with the debut. We’ve obviously progressed since then but I think it stands as a very accomplished first album from a young band.
Matt: ‘Ashes’ was received incredibly well by the metal press and it got some rave reviews - I think part of that is due to the diversity of the songs and the fact that we did put a lot of effort into getting as much right as possible. The other is that our producer Al Smith is fantastic at getting the best out of you, really getting into the music and overcoming any problems of recording .
The album was actually made up of three older songs that we reworked and three brand new songs. They seemed to fit together reasonably well and we were fairly pleased with the result although looking back now there are so many things we would change if we had the chance to redo the songs again.
The whole reason we recorded ‘Ashes’ when we did was because we needed an album out ready to do the Doomination Of Europe tour and in some respects that has made the album feel a little rushed. There’s definitely a lot better material to come, recording is a learning experience where you get better at each stage often with big leaps forward as it’s usually the first time you get to listen properly to the whole structure of the song and properly critique it.
I know nothing about your past. Maybe you can give us a few details. When did you started as a band, who/what were the influences and so on…
Matt: Well - we’ve been around for a while now forming in 2001. From then on we’ve just kept on learning and getting more well known, promoting the band all over the world and touring as much as possible.
I’ve read in an older interview that Greg find you while he was searching for some xxx hot stuff on the net. Then he entered a wrong web address and that’s how he found your website, where you were looking for a new band. It was just a joke, or that’s true?
Matt: Knowing Greg that’s probably true!
Do you consider The Prophecy a doom band?
Matt: It depends on your definition of Doom - We take influences from Doom-Metal that is for certain, but we tend to transcend genres quite a lot yet still keep that Doom-metal feeling. We occupy that middle ground where you don’t have to like doom metal to appreciate The Prophecy.
Christian: I quite agree. When people ask me what our music is I tend to say “Emotional Heavy Metal” It’s a bit of a nondescript description but it’s true. We don’t play doom, thrash, death, black but we do have elements of all these styles in our music. But the overall feeling is one of great atmosphere and melancholy.
I guess bands like My Dying Bride, Opeth and Anathema were a big influence for The Prophecy, at least these are the main influences I detect. Correct me if I am wrong.
Matt: They are some of our major influences especially vocals - there are loads more though. We’ve been on tour with Morgion and Mourning Beloveth recently and you can’t help but pick up a few things from such quality bands. Everything you come across in life influences you in some way. It will certainly be interesting to hear what influences our critics cite on our new album.
What kind of music/bands are listening the members of The Prophecy?
Matt: At the moment I’m having a little trek away from metal - I have my car radio tuned in to Classic FM for some smooth classics at 7 - I’m also listening to the soundtrack for The Lord Of The Rings along with Opeth’s Damnation album.
Christian: As for me I’m listening to a wide range of music all the time. Recent favourites include Soilwork, Dark Tranquillity, the new Anathema and always In The Woods…
You had a band, named Desolatre. What happened with that band? What kind of music did you played?
Matt: Absolutely nothing - That was a band I tried to get started before the Prophecy with little success!
You also released a demo: To End All Hope, where the violin was a part of your sound. Why did you drop the violin?
Matt: For Ashes it was a case of we didn’t have time to put violin down and really there wasn’t much space in the songs to make it worthwhile. We may include violin in future recordings but it makes it easier to play live without.
I noticed a strange thing: I’ve read on your website that The Prophecy is a 6 member band, but in the Ashes CD booklet you are only 4. Why is that so?
Matt: The Prophecy is a six member band however only four of us were available for the Photo shoot. At that time Carl Fairhurst had also left the band.
You made an American tour with bands like Morgion and Mourning Beloveth. How did this tour go for you? What do you think about the music of your tour mates? There were talks that you will do another US tour together with Evoken. Will you do this tour?
Christian: The tour of North America was unbelievable. I had never been there before and now I’ve seen more of it than most people who live there! Heh heh.
The first week was quite difficult, adjusting to driving between 8-12 hours each day and then having a gig at the end of it. We all settled down quite quickly though and it was a lot of fun. The audiences there were great. I can tell that this style of music is not so popular in the US, but still people made an effort to come and say hi and enjoy the shows. It was a great experience and one I’ll treasure.
Personally speaking some of the best memories are:
Stopping at Donner Lake on the way from San Francisco to Reno. It was beautiful and Greg, John and I went swimming in the crystal clear lake in essentially the middle of nowhere with a scorching sun overhead. Awesome.
Driving at night when everyone else except John was asleep. It was cool to be the only car on the road and I seem to recall we spent a lot of time drinking Red Bull and listening to Opeth’s Damnation album.
Damn dude, there are so many memories I can’t even get into them all otherwise we’d be here forever. Haha.
Playing with Morgion and Mourning Beloveth both in Europe and America was a great experience for me too. I loved to have a few beers after we had played and just stand in the crowd listening to their styles of doom. Very evocative and moving. You can’t compare the 2 bands and I can’t pick a favorite between them. Both excellent.
Matt: The America tour was a great experience. Playing with top quality bands such as Orodruin and Mourning Beloveth and meeting other great bands such as Vex from Texas. It was hard work too! And credit to everyone that helped us on the way be it a couch to sleep on or buying some merchandise to keep us on the road. I’m sure we’ll be back in the states before long to say hi to all the friends we met.
The tour with Evoken is news to me. The original Doomination of America tour was to have Evoken and Morgion co-headlining, however, Evoken couldn’t make all the tour dates so they were dropped from the tour.
It was unfortunate because The Prophecy would have loved to play some shows with them as they have created some great music and I personally would love to see them perform it live. Anyway at the moment the only thing were planning touring wise is another Doomination tour of Europe for next autumn. If anything else comes along of course it will be a bonus.
Adrian of Mourning Beloveth/Sentinel Ireland told me that you played only new and unreleased songs at a few gigs instead of playing songs from your last album. Why did you make this choice?
Christian: I think it was because we felt that as no-one out there really knew who we were they would not miss hearing songs they had never heard, haha. And to be honest I think our new songs work better live, as they were written during and after the initial tour of Europe.
Matt: One of the main reasons is that ‘The Killing Fields’ and ‘Till Light Enshrouds’ are both drop D songs whereas everything else is in E - The guitarists could only take one guitar each to the states and so we played all our songs in E so that we didn’t have to worry about the tunings.
Adrian has also told me that your newer stuff is much faster and that it seems that you are moving away from your doom roots. Is that true?
Matt: I wouldn’t say our new material is much faster although it is true that some of the material deviates from our Doom roots. However I think when you listen to one of the new songs we wrote for The Unholy Trinity tour with My Dying Bride provisionally entitled ‘A Shroud to Cover Me’ you’ll agree that were more doom metal than ever!
Christian: Like I’ve said before, our music contains elements of all styles of metal. This is still true.
How did you get hold of the contract with Blackdoom Records? Ashes it’s not just your debut, but also is their first release. Even if Blackdoom is a young label, I think they are making a good work with the promotion. Are you satisfied with them?
Matt: We’ve known Andy and Hamish for a fair while. They knew the potential in us and so a deal was offered. The advantages are that we know each other and if we want something sorting we’re not talking to some faceless voice half way around the world that doesn’t understand broad Yorkshire. So far everything is going smoothly and we ere happy with the deal. The idea is that the band and the label go from strength to strength supporting each other.
In the middle of the 90’s England was the home of the biggest death/doom bands. From the British trinity only My Dying Bride are still in the doom genre. What do you think about the style changing of bands like Anathema and Paradise Lost?
Matt: To be quite honest it doesn’t much bother me. I hope both these bands are enjoying what they play now and getting the most out of what they do. It’s important to remember that bands play music for themselves not for others - if you go to a gig then the band are sharing their music with you, not playing what you want to hear!
How’s the scene in your country these days? Are there any bands worth mentioning? Do you play often gigs in your area? What kind of people and how many came to your shows?
Christian: The English underground metal scene is pretty much as it has always been. Very busy. A lot of bands are out there playin’ some great music and puttin’ themselves on the road.
But whilst there is great underground fan support, the music industry does not want to know. Neither do the majority of people. They accept sugar-coated popstars with as much charisma as a lisping choirboy and turn their backs on real emotions and talent.
There are too many bands making effort to mention all of them, so I’ll be fair and mention none. The guys doing the work know who they are.
Matt: England has a reasonable metal scene. Unfortunately most people seem to be more interested in bands from the US and tend to overlook the homegrown talent but I suppose that’s true of everywhere.
We have had some really good gigs in England - Playing to 2000 people at the London Astoria with MDB was quite an amazing experience - and so far we’ve never played to a crowd of less than about 50 which I think is ok.
We do play a few gigs around Leeds and Bradford usually to warm up before a tour or just cos we feel the urge to play or else some band we like offers us a gig. We rarely turn down gigs unless we really can’t make it for some reason.
What do you think is the true essence of doom metal? Who was the first doom band in your opinion? Do you consider stuff like Down, Floodgate, C.O.C. and Crowbar to be doom? What are the best albums in the genre in your opinion?
Christian: Hmm the true Essence of Doom metal…. Inspirational and essential bands like Cathedral, My Dying Bride and Katatonia… all having different styles but emotional sounds that touch your soul.
Clear, Clean, Slow beats and rifts that create an atmospheric feeling that the audience can relate and drift away with. But we must not forget the band that set the record for doom… Black Sabbath if you are looking for the essence, there it is.
I don’t think Corrosion Of Conformity can really be called doom and I can’t comment on the other bands you mentioned as I’ve never heard them.
Matt: Doom Metal is just a convenient way of labeling up a big collection of bands that don’t quite fit into any other genre - that’s us - we don’t fit into the death metal or black metal or stoner or traditional or power etc.
Now if your talking about the true essence of doom - Think Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers - Awaiting the enemy at Helms Deep - 1000 men most of which have ‘seen too many winters... or too few’ facing 10000 Orks - It grows dark, then begins to rain, despair falls over the keep ‘ will we last the night’. Now translate that into metal music!!!
The first doom band has to be Black Sabbath - who else! And no I don’t really consider Down, Floodgate, C.O.C. and Crowbar to be doom, but there again I haven’t really spent much time listening to these bands.
The best albums in the genre is a hard one because there are many good albums Turn Loose the Swans - MDB, The Silent Enigma - Anathema, Martyr - Saturnus are definitely three top albums.
Christian: Best albums in the genre? Hmmm…I’m not a huge aficionado of the “Doom Scene” so I’ll just name my favorites: The Angel and the Dark River – MDB; I consider Pity Love by Beyond Dawn to be a very doomy album and I love that; Finally, Discouraged Ones – Katatonia.
What are the lyrics about and what inspires when you are writing them? Why didn’t you include the lyrics in the booklet?
Matt: Lyrics are a funny thing - You’ve got to be in the mood to write good lyrics. If your not, then there’s no point even trying. A song can be written in an hour and can be inspired by a single word or it can take months of rewriting until the lyrics are finally perfected. Usually the more I like the song the easier I find it to write good lyrics. If I don’t like the song then I find it an almost impossible task.
Lyrics weren’t included in the booklet because of time and expense originally - We were in a rush to get the album out in time for the Doomination of Europe tour and so had to prioritize things.
What do you think about death? Are you afraid of dying? Do you believe in life after death?
Matt: My personal opinion is that of an Atheist - You die! That’s it! No point being afraid of it but no point welcoming it either.
Christian: Heh, I’m a bit of a philosopher and I spend a lot of time thinking about subjects like this. However, I shall be brief. I think death is a time of renewal. I am afraid of dying but not afraid of death. I am not really afraid of dying, it’s just the manner in which my body expires which causes a certain consternation. I do believe in life after death but I’ll let you know if there is when I’m there, hehe.
What are you doing in your spare time? Do you enjoy watching movies, reading books? Do you have any favorites?
Matt: LOL! What spare time! Well I do get some - I’ve been reading Harry Turtledoves World War series for about 6 months (to be fair that’s about 4000 pages of book these are pretty heavy going). I should be on the last book of the colonization trilogy soon.
Christian: Spare time? Well…I guess I have a lot more than Matt. I read a lot. In fact, it’s unusual to see me without a book. I’m currently rereading some of my favorite books which are the Thomas Covenant series by Stephen Donaldson. I love all books by David Gemmell and Magician by Raymond E. Feist is a favorite too. I like to watch movies as well and I like a wide range. Movies? Mall Rats is great and obviously Blade is a favorite.
I’m sure you are not making a living from the band. What are the members of The Prophecy doing in order to survive?
Matt: Cheers for that vote of confidence :)
Greg is an Electrician.
John and Will are students.
Katie works in a clothing shop and also teaches music.
Christian works for energies. I have no idea what he does.
Christian: Basically I work in an office…that’s it, hehe.
Matt: I’m a supermarket manager.
I know that doom-metal.com helped you a lot. What do you think about webzines, internet and mp3s? Have you ever downloaded mp3s from the net?
Matt: Webzines are a fantastic way of getting your music out there. The Doomination tour would not have happened without the assistance of Doom- Metal.com and a certain metal loving Belgian called Heiko Isselee.
The internet makes finding and organizing gigs easier, makes communication between bands, band members, labels and fans easier and makes our music global. It really sad that mp3.com has shut down as this was a fun and legitimate way for people to find bands they like on the internet.
In 8 months we had 10000 downloads which is a lot of people who now know about The Prophecy. I hope a single MP3.com style site does appear soon to replace it as it’s closing has been a big loss to the internet.
Christian: As I’m sure anyone in the band will tell you, I love the internet. Haha. I find it incredibly useful to have such resources literally at your fingertips and I have spent a certain amount of time exploring and exploiting those resources.
How did you picked up this name – The Prophecy? There is also a band called Prophecy (without the "The"). Do you know them?
Matt: I came up with something like Dark Prophecy and then Greg said what about The Prophecy and everyone sort of went "errr... OK". As for Prophecy we know of them now. At the time when we picked the name we didn’t know about them but such is life.
What are the future plans for The Prophecy?
Matt: ALBUM then TOUR! Tour a lot!
Christian: Yup…that sounds about right. We love touring.
Well, that’s all for the moment. Thanks for doing this interview. Do you have any final words for the blackened hearts?
Christian: Just thanks for the interview opportunity and stick with us…it will be an interesting and edifying journey…an odyssey perhaps, hehe. Matt: See you on THE KILLING FIELDS!!!
by Robert Sun