End-Time Illusion – Deities Dealing DeathFriday, 14th August 2015
If you look hard enough, the New England scene possesses one of the most versatile metal pools to draw from in terms of the sub-genres. Be it heavy or melodic, black to power, thrash to death, technical or symphonic, doom or gothic, or anything in between, there is plenty to take in week to week from these six states. Hailing from Hartford, CT – End-Time Illusion is not a newcomer by any stretch, having the great pleasure of watching the growth of Hatebreed, Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall and others during their early beginnings.
Deities of War is their third full-length and first since 2008’s Eminent Profane. Drummer Ioannis ‘Yanni’ Sofianos and vocalist Adam Sloan are the newest members to the band, and this album is a sonic explosion in a semi-technical death manner. Unafraid to incorporate a number of harmonic elements and groove parts when necessary, End-Time Illusion are not content to blow you away through mere intricacy – their intent is to create and deliver killer, dynamic songs.
Firing off some questions about the band, guitarist Dave Sharpe and vocalist Adam Sloan took the time to discuss the long layoff between recordings, a deeper look at the lyrical content, and their surprising love for everything from Origin and Dimmu Borgir to 80’s pop/rock icons Huey Lewis and the News.
Dead Rhetoric: End-Time Illusion began in 2002 – can you give us a little bit of insight into those early days, how the original lineup developed and did you know right away the type of metal you wanted to play?
Dave Sharpe: Original drummer Jay and I were filling in for a death metal band called Demonseed at the time and after playing photographer Jeremy Safers’ high school graduation party we decided to form something unique and serious, getting back into the clubs. Our original intent was something more in the mainstream metal vein. Bass and vocals were filled a bit haphazardly. It’s not a knock on the guys but more or less that we wanted to hit the scene running and not become basement dwellers hoping that the right musicians would fall into our lap. It became evident to us after our demo release the following February while opening for Shadows Fall that we were suppressing our need to play technical riffs and express our own brand of metal. The spark for that sound can be heard on So Below which was released 2 years later on Spare Change Records.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe your previous catalog of demo and album material in terms of highlights, recording sessions, and any particular growth angles or struggles that you noticed?
Sharpe: The demo was recorded by Zeus in several hours. I still like the tracks but looking back it is evident that we were in the infancy of something that had potential. With a few hundred dollars and several hours you get what you pay for. I am convinced however that if we re-recorded a couple of the tunes with today’s lineup and production technology they would hold up.
Interestingly So Below was a bit rushed in the beginning in order to obtain drum tracks before Jay moved to Bulgaria. Looking back I’m surprised my hands didn’t disintegrate as I tracked live with Jay for 12 hours on a Saturday to lay down the drum tracks and then recorded the remainder of the guitars in a 9 hour super session the next day with hardly a break. We recorded in the full room at Zing where Killswitch Engage had done their masterpieces so it was good vibes. We were able to get Jim Morris of Morrisound to master the album which was exciting being that I grew up on the Florida death metal scene where he pretty much touched everything from 1990-95.
A decade ago was a killer time in the New England heavy music scene. It was like a resurgence from the early 90’s when attendance at local shows was great regardless of the night of the week. We sold more CDs of So Below than our follow-up as this was right before digital downloading ruined the business.
Eminent Profane marked the peak of that era for us. We were playing out almost every week regionally and were tight as a nun’s ass. This was the first recording with the full 5 piece lineup and we challenged each other’s technical aptitude. The album is really just riff city yet we worked to make it cohesive rather than just a hodgepodge of parts. To get a massive guitar tone I tracked 6 rhythm tracks which was ridiculous. The struggle for perfection in the studio is always a chore but satisfying in the end as most bands recognize. Everyone was on-point and our tours were good times.
Dead Rhetoric: You recently had the good fortune of opening for Hatebreed on their 20th anniversary show, tell us how that went for the band? Does their tenacity and love for the scene rub off on End-Time Illusion?
Adam Sloan: The Hatebreed fans welcomed End-Time Illusion. It was a great show.
Sharpe: Jasta has remained a supporter of the local scene. The show was dope. People were still pitting in between our songs!
Dead Rhetoric: Deities At War is the latest studio full-length – and first in seven years for the band. Outside of the additions of Ioannis ‘Yanni’ Sofianos on drums and Adam A. Sloan on vocals, what circumstances took place that caused such a long gap between new material?
Sharpe: Where to begin? Just a lot of unfortunate and fortunate twists and turns. We did not have a solid rehearsal spot for several years. In fact one caught fire (while we were luckily not there) and was later condemned. We actually didn’t practice for several months following that. We went almost a year and a half without a singer because we refused to settle on mediocrity. Also integrating 2 new drummers in the band takes time, i.e. learning the back catalog, booking shows again, and of course the hazing. Deities at War was ready to go almost a year and half ago but we sat on it while contemplating distribution opportunities. Nothing favorable in terms of retaining copyrights and publishing materialized however. Regardless of what transpired during that odd time span, 2015 has been a beast of a year for us!
Dead Rhetoric: There is so much heaviness and progressive intricacies, especially in terms of the tempo shifts and dazzling guitar harmony interplay – how did the songwriting and recording sessions go for the record, anything surprising come up? Are things mapped out ahead of time or are there times when band members go for spontaneity in terms of their parts?
Sharpe: Typically I will write the basic structure of the song and hand out demos of the material to the guys. As we work on the music as a group parts are refined and or altered. Yanni’s style and spontaneity help define the dynamics.
Overall more riffs are thrown in the dumpster than used. Rather than writing one song where the next part written is for that one song, 6 songs might be in flux at once until the proper sections crystallize.
The recording process was pretty chill this go round. Sonic Environments was a short drive away for most of us so we were able to record tracks in many short sessions. Jeff Weed is a stellar engineer.
One surprise (that shouldn’t have been) is that it’s a lot tougher than first thought to rip out a track at 10% higher BPM than you usually play which we did on a couple of songs.
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