Beyond Terror and Into the Abyss

Beyond Terror and Into the Abyss

 an Interview with Beyond Terror, Beyond Grace


Beyond Terror Beyond Grace has come a long way since their inception in 2004. In just a few short years, the Sydney quartet has evolved from pub-playing-grindcore-band to international show-casers of the Australian extreme metal niche, and are now on the verge of releasing their third studio effort, Nadir.

Having released two full length albums and performing alongside some of the world’s top international metal acts such as Carcass, Obituary and Behemoth, the band is refusing to cease its auditory onslaught on its now-global audience.

In an interview with Voltage Media, bass guitarist Alex Nicholson talks about the band’s highly anticipated, forthcoming release and why it is the living and breathing personification of human despair.

Nadir will be the third release for Beyond Terror Beyond Grace. How has the band developed on a personal and professional level since the beginning?

Alex Nicholson: Most bands start with no big ambitions and we were no different, but as the years have passed opportunities happened to come our way that I’m glad to say we’ve jumped at.

We’ve progressed with each release, and while it’s a typical new album cliché, our new album ‘Nadir’ is definitely by far the strongest thing the band has done thus far. The touring we’ve done this last 12 months has meant everyone in the band is very much on the same page with how we want the band to sound and where we want to go so I’m excited to see what the future holds.

What is the story behind the album title ‘Nadir’?

Alex Nicholson: Nadir was a word Blake [Simpson – Vocals] had wanted to use for a while. It first came up as a possible song title over drinks one night in Miami – just before the US tour started, and while in Melbourne it hit us as being a great album title that encapsulated the overall feel of the album perfectly.

Nadir represents the downward direction, following gravity, from any given point. Also, it can refer to the lowest point reached by a celestial body during its orbit. In psychological terms, the word refers to the lowest point of human despair.

We thought it was powerful to be used as a title as it allowed the listener to form their own sense of the word’s meaning within the context of the music. Its reference to a downward pull in a literal and metaphorical sense really appealed, and we attempted to tie that in with the overall aesthetic of the album and the “flow of time” motif found throughout.

You’ve been quoted as saying that new album “is much darker, more climactic, and suffocating than anything we have done before.” How did you achieve such a dystopian feel on the new album?

Alex Nicholson: The overall dense and claustrophobic feeling we’ve attempted to create on Nadir came from extensive pre-production. We demoed all the songs months before recording started, experimenting with song structures, guitar layering, samples etc, so when the time came to head down to Melbourne and record the album properly we were ready and clear with how we wanted the album to be, though there were still some spontaneous adjustments and layers added during the recording process. As we were no longer interested in writing short, sharp grind songs that freedom opened up a lot of options to make effective use of different dynamics and guitar effects we hadn’t explored before to create that overall ‘climactic and suffocating’ feel that we referred to in the first press release.

What unique sonic or lyrical elements are on the new album?Alex Nicholson: In terms of the music, many bands focus entirely on fast sections, or slow sections, and/or stick entirely to one genre. When it came time to get down to business writing the new album, we just did what came naturally and that turned out to be combining a lot of different elements; what we all consider the best aspects of death metal, black metal, doom, post-rock etc.

I don’t want to seem too hubristic about it, but I can’t think of many bands that have combined the different sounds and elements that are on Nadir. This may not be immediately apparent going by the recently released preview video which focused on the fast and more brutal parts, but once the album is out that synthesis of different sounds and genres across the whole album should definitely be clear to people who listen to it.

With the music being written in a manner that was more concerned with ambiance and flow, Blake found that the lyrics needed to be more reactionary to each individual song and lend themselves to the unique atmosphere and feel of each. Some of the songs are based more in the imaginary regarding their conceptual basis, while some read more like a rhetoric on the patterns of nature. There is always a certain degree of ambiguity in lyrics though, so come release time it’ll be up to the listener as to what they take from the songs in terms of their meaning!

Is there anything on Nadir that could surprise your fans?

Alex Nicholson: As Nadir as a whole is a pretty significant departure from our grindcore beginnings, I think the whole album will be a surprise in itself. There is still a lot of speed and brutality to satisfy people who liked that about us from before, but the fact the songs are much longer than anything we’ve previously done and that it’s not all about blast beats would probably be the first major thing that people notice.

Beyond that, the music is a lot more sonically complex and interesting than what we’ve done in the past, with quiet breaks in-between the more frenetic sections and more ‘lead’ type guitar parts scattered throughout the album, both things we hadn’t done before. The guys all out-did themselves in the recording; Scott’s [Heldorf] layered guitars created this wall of sound that was really cool and new for us, Blake’s phrasing and equally strong high and low vocals complimented the music really well, and Steve’s [Smith] unique drum parts, having being pretty much entirely influenced by non-metal music have made the overall sound of the album very strong, fresh and exciting in our opinion.

No release date has been set for the album. Are you anticipating a late 2011 release?

Alex Nicholson: I think late 2011 is a good estimate. We are negotiating with the label we will be releasing the album through at the moment as to the specific details. All I can say at the moment is that we are very happy to be working with this particular label and are extremely excited to be working with them to get Nadir out there.

There has been mention of a few guest vocalists appearing on the album. Can you shed a bit of light on who participated?

Alex Nicholson: Unfortunately not, there will be a lot of announcements coming soon to do with the track listing, the album artwork, the mastering, label and release date and guest vocalists, so until then people will just have to be patient!

Are you proud of what you have achieved?

Alex Nicholson: Definitely, we’ve had the privilege of doing a lot of cool things over the years, and especially in the last 12 months since we toured Europe with Cattle Decapitation and Gorod. I think it’s a big achievement for any band to be able to tour overseas, especially when you’re from Australia. We made some really great friends with the Cattle and Gorod guys and had some really killer times with them.

Similarly with the US tour earlier this year, we were very close with all the bands on the tour by the tours end. We played some great shows, had the pleasure of meeting and hanging with some heroes of ours we’d known about since we first got into metal as teenagers, and had a blast touring in a bus with Malevolent Creation and The Absence, getting drunk with them most nights, not seeing daylight for a month. If I went off into a tangent about anecdotes from both tours I would fill up the entire interview space!

And in particular with Nadir, I couldn’t be more proud of it and eager to get it out there so people can hear it. We worked hard on it, it sounds exactly how we wanted it to sound and it won’t be long before we can start sharing it with people.

What are the next steps following the release?

Alex Nicholson: We will hopefully do a couple of Australian tours as we feel we’ve neglected Australia a bit in the last 18 months, but we also have big plans to keep up the overseas touring we’ve enjoyed this last year. It’d be cool to cover some Eastern European countries that we weren’t able to get to on the Cattle tour, as well as the rest of Europe again and then head back to the US and Canada, plus a run of shows through Asia too. This is all in development at the moment, so for now I’m just extremely excited for people to hear Nadir, hopefully people like it!

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