A band I checked out because they were supporting TANITH at the Dev in London, November 2019, Austrians MOLTEN CHAINS play a kind of cohesively eerie, hyperactive and probably-on-some-kind-of-spectrum technical / avant-garde heavy metal, and after checking out their Bandcamp page I was very much looking forward to seeing them live. Alas, my accident-prone son had other ideas that day, so we spent twelve hours in Accident and Emergency instead. ‘Such is life’, or as they say in Austria, ‘Now we have the salad’.
The band’s first release is Into the Antechamber. The music is self-described as traditional heavy metal, but sounds far more exotic than that to my ears – with tons of thrash embellishments, a unique vocal style, and chromatic decorations that use all sorts of unexpected intervals. How do they get away with it? Well, a broad musical palette is a sign of intelligence I say, so curious as to what is going on in the mind of the creator – I sent some questions to Brenton, guitarist and singer, and he answered right away.
Hi Brenton, maybe you can give readers a quick run-down on the band…how you started etc?
I started the band with our former bassist Peter on halloween 2017. At that point I was pretty new to Vienna and the ´scene´ having only moved there in February 2017. I wanted to start a new band in the traditional heavy metal vein and Peter was also really inspired to play traditional Heavy metal. I shortly thereafter wrote ´The Fall´ which we first recorded for our Demo and then later recorded for ´In the Antechamber Below´.
It sounds like you know the way around your instruments. How did the three of you learn to play?
I´ve been playing guitar for around 15 years and the bassist and drummer who played on the album had both been playing their intruments for a long time. I think for me, just listening to music helps my playing more so than playing scales or something, being inspired is the main thing.
How did you record In the Antechamber Below? Did you achieve your vision? It has a very unique sound.
I recorded everything except the drums myelf, I also mixed everything. To be honest it was loads of work and I pretty much learnt while doing. It was mainly because I had to, we had no budget and there were a lot of internal problems with the band during the recording. I felt that if we didn´t put something out the band would break up. I am more or less happy with the result as I feel for that those particular songs it worked out okay. What I like is the oppressive feel of the production, it sounds like a black metal album and less like a retro 80s album to me. I would however never do it again, the next album will be recorded in a proper studio, the whole process will be handled by people who actually know what they´re doing.
‘A Mist In The Night’ sounds different to the other tracks – was it perhaps written earlier or later than the others?
That song is the only song that someone else helped me write, which was Peter our old bass player. He came up with the main riff and some verse parts but played a little differently. That song is also on our Demo. People seem to like it; we have played it at every live show to date and it always goes down well. I suppose because it’s the only slower song on the album it stands out a bit.
Where do you get inspiration for those lyrical themes?
Well no song on the album is ripped off from some other story or a summary of a pre exsiting story. During the writing of the album and the Demo I was reading a lot of Shakespeare so that has been a theme throughout the band’s history. The lyrics are pretty much all short tragic or dramatic story ideas. I never write lyrics before the music though; the music really guides me as to the story I feel. Some parts are also connected like ´Crucifier`, `Reverence Knifed` and ` A Mist in the Night´ are all one story, even though I wrote them out of order. Some songs are different though like ´The Fall´, that’s more politically critical.
When you have to shout your name in noisy rock clubs, do people call you Glen a lot? I’m not saying I’m hearing any in your music, but are you a death metal fan?
No, they dont haha. I´m a massive death metal fan, which I suppose people can hear in the riffing. I have probably been listening to death metal longer than any other style of metal.
What would you say are your metal influences? And are there any non-metal bands that have inspired you? ( In the guitars I’m hearing Tom Warrior, then bits of Kerry King, then bits of Dan Mongrain, and then maybe some Chuck Berry, I mean…..what’s going on? 😉 ).
I listen to a ton of metal and am inspired by a lot of bands. I´d say my main influences today are Cynic (mainly the Focus album), Death, Gorguts, old Opeth, Timeghoul, Toxik, the first 2 Psycroptic albums, Candlemass, Absu, Nevermore, Vektor, Dissection, Judas Priest, Martyr, Adramelch, (everyone should listen to their album ´Irae melanox, the best Italian heavy metal Album ever.) etc. [yes!}
I also love a lot of newer bands like Magister Templi, Funeral Presence, Demon Bitch, Ophis, Anicon, Morbus Chron, Nightfell, The Spirit, Blood Incantation, Spite, Sacral Rage, Trial, Ascension, Deathhammer, Condor, In Obscurity Revealed, Ulcerate, Visigoth…. The list goes on.
In terms of non metal, I like some modern Jazz guitarist like Ben Monder and Lade Lund. Also I’ve been listening lately to the composer György Ligeti who created much more horrifying music than any metal band ever has.
It’s funny though that you should say that about Dan Mongrain, I had a skype guitar lesson with him a couple of weeks ago because I needed help with the soloing section of a new song, fantastic player, Martyr are one of my favourite bands.
Did you have anything in mind when you settled on your vocal style? I really like the way the vocals ride above the shape of the music.
Not really, I just wanted to have clean vocals. I used to do growls in my old death metal band and wanted a change. I´m glad you like them, we´ve taken a good bit of shit from people who don’t like them but to me I love bands where the singer sounds different and just goes for it, it sets bands apart particularly in the traditional heavy metal scene which is often boring and unimaginative in my opinion.
How have gigs gone so far? The show with Tanith at the Dev in London?
I´m not sure, maybe 12 or so. We have had a fair few line up changes though, so it feels like more. This summer we wanted to do a whole European tour with Demon Bitch, which now of course is cancelled. The Dev gig was good, stressful though because we borrowed all the instruments. Literally we flew to London with just a bag of homemade tapes of the album to sell. Shortly before the gig there was a problem with the guitar I was supposed to play, another one was found somehow and the show went on. Chris who manages The Dev organised that for us, I put on shows here and I put on his band Dungeon in 2018 which was our first show actually. I also was at that show as a fan in a way because I love Tanith, it was a real dream gig for me personally to play with Tanith, Parish were also great.
Best and worst things about being in a band so far?
The duality of being in a band is hard to manage and hard to describe for people who don’t play in bands. Writing songs and being creative has nothing to do with playing live, for me anyway. It is hard to juggle the various aspects of the band sometimes like managing when we jam, writing the songs, playing live at the same time the personal problems that can arise. I do enjoy most parts though. Playing live is always a hassle, but when you play a great show its really rewarding.
Are you a ‘music nerd’? Do you experiment with different signal chains for your guitars, or maybe just stick to a couple of sounds for rhythm and lead?
I am a bit but I´ve decided I want to simplify everything now, I found that trying to sing and play the songs and also mess about with pedals in a live scenario is too stressful. Now live I use an Orange Dark Terror head and just overdrive pretty much. Recording is a different story though.
Do you have a ‘customer avatar’ of your fanbase yet? Basically – who is buying ( and selling ) your music?
We sell our music privately through bandcamp and both Alone Records and Unborn Productions also released the album which they sell through their labels websites. I´m lazy when it comes to figuring out the best way to sell music and create ´hype´ or something.
And lastly – you are working on a new album?
Yeah, we are recording a new album in August. We will be recording in a proper studio this time in Lower Austria and working with a producer. Obviously, it depends on many factors, but the album may be out at the end of the year or the beginning of 2021. It will be fairly different from the first album I think.
Thanks a lot for your time and interest in the band!