Finality – Overcoming ControlThursday, 4th May 2023
Michigan continues to be a fertile breeding ground of quality when it comes to the heavy metal landscape in the United States. It could be the nose to the grindstone work ethic or sheer tenacity to not give up for the cause – one thing is certain, it’s an exciting time for acts like Finality to hit the scene running. Consisting of members with ties to acts like Battlecross and Among These Ashes, the debut album Technocracy contains a mixture of power, thrash, and extreme metal, while the clean vocal melodies give the record that catchy element that could help the band capture a wider array of followers.
We reached out to guitarist Joe Cady and vocalist Tony Asta to give us the lowdown on the formation of the group, the longer development of this material through pandemic/personal struggles, the importance of cover art even in today’s changing landscape, thoughts on the local/global metal scenes, plus discussion on why Battlecross is on indefinite hiatus as well as future plans with Finality.
Dead Rhetoric: Finality came together as a downtime project between friends. Can you discuss the initial inception of the group, and how you came to arrive at the style of thrash/power metal that you’ve developed?
Joe Cady: I guess it happened after I started touring with Battlecross. I had signed off on playing in bands, it had failed, and I was done for. And then I got the opportunity to fill in for both Tony and Hiran in Battlecross tours consecutively, so it fired me up to do something in metal again. We’ve had a lot of people following us and around us – Dan Fayz our drummer, he was married to Battlecross’ manager at one point, I’ve known him for years. Finally, we pulled it together with Dan, JP from Among These Ashes, and another bass player from my old band. That’s how it started.
Right before the pandemic hit, we were having a hard time getting JP back and forth to rehearsals as he was living in Canada at the time. We made the decision after jamming with Tony once in another project, I had no idea he had the voice that he had. I knew he did the James Hetfield bark alright, but when I heard his voice in practice, I had to pull him into this band.
As far as the style is concerned, it’s how I write. I don’t really shoot for any kind of genre, that’s why I will throw some black metal riffs in. One of the big things about the project is everybody comes from a different background. Dan’s from a death metal background, he will have a lot of double bass, blast beats, things like that. I come from a power metal and melodic death side. Tony had free reign over vocals, he went with all cleans and it just kind of fell together.
Dead Rhetoric: Now Tony, when it comes to your voice it was a surprise as many know of your work as a guitarist in Battlecross. Has it always been a hidden aspect to your abilities as a musician, and this is finally a band where I can unleash this?
Tony Asta: I don’t know how to answer that. I’ve always wanted to sing in a band. In the early days of Battlecross we were actually a four-piece, and I sang and played guitar at the same time. It came to the point where we wanted a front man to just focus on that, instead of splitting duties. I have been jamming with some other friends, doing vocals because I gravitated to it. It’s nice not to have to pick up the guitar. I have been playing for a long time, I love guitar, but I felt the urge to do something different. I would not consider myself a professional vocalist, I basically do this for fun, the best I can. I’m always open to criticism. I knew Joe and the guys, it’s something fun to do. There is a drive, it’s not only for fun – whatever we put together, we want it to be good. We are putting this time into it.
Dead Rhetoric: The new album Technocracy finally hits the streets – although it’s been in the works for a few years. What can you tell us regarding the recording and songwriting sessions for this effort – and outside of the pandemic, what challenges, obstacles, or surprises took place during the development of this record?
Cady: (laughs). All the challenges, obstacles, and problems were me! We had to track the drums in January of 2020, right before the world ended. We were planning to get everything done by that summer. The world ended, couldn’t figure out how we were going to release it because we couldn’t play shows. We took that extra time to get things right, do a little bit more than we would have normally. It would have come out a lot different if we had rushed things. That being said, I was the problem. Tony did all of his vocals in his home studio, he sent them over to me within 2021. From there, we just brought a bass player Mike in, he was learning and recording at the same time. We all hammered out the solos with John, got him to track those. Then it was back into my hands to record my parts, and the mixing/mastering process. I had some mental breakdowns, with the pandemic, with life, I got divorced. It overwhelmed me, and there were months of time where I would touch nothing. The guys were patient, Tony was nudging me to find out where we were at, to keep me on track.
I’m happy with it. I always say this is the album that was twenty-five years in the making. My old band released one EP and we scraped two full album recordings; we could not get the sound I heard in my head. Being able to play this at the end, I was happy with everything the way it was sitting. It’s a snapshot of what we can do. It’s the best we can do at this time. I’ll still jam it, which is a good sign.
Asta: From my perspective I think it came out awesome. I’m not an engineer or producer, I share my opinions of what I think. Joe worked his butt off trying to make it sound as best as he could. If you were to say, where did you record this at? Joe did it – Joe did this? What big studio? It was Joe. I don’t want that to go unsaid.
Cady: Tony says he doesn’t know much about producing. He could have a career being a producer too. He kept this going. He could hear things and make suggestions that you don’t think of because you are so swamped in it. When he says it, most of the time it’s like wow. It works. Again, it was a group effort, all the guys in the band pushed to keep it going. Hiran lives with me here; he heard a lot of it as he moved in about halfway through I went through the divorce. He was my sounding board.
Dead Rhetoric: How did the cover art come about – was it a collaborative process between the band and artist, and where do you see the importance these days of cover art in shaping the initial impression or overall outlook of what listeners can expect from the band when pressing play?
Cady: Jayson Cessna is the one who did all the artwork for us. He’s able to take anything we tell him and come up with something we can’t visualize and boom – it’s on the screen.
Asta: The concept Technocracy – we said Jason, do with it what you will. What do you imagine, and go from there?
Cady: We gave him a little bit of a Blade Runner, futuristic type thing, dystopian. He ran with it from there.
Asta: The lyrics definitely add to the meaning. As far as artwork and its importance and significance to music today, I do think it’s still important. People collect vinyl, you can have this huge piece of artwork on your wall. For me, as a kid having cassettes and CD’s – reading along, looking at the artwork, it’s imprinted in your brain along with the music. That’s a fond memory for me, listening to the bands I was into at the time. If you are an avid fan or a collector, it’s essential – the artwork. For the everyday music listener who listens to a lot of different things, it may be a different story. I myself, I do a lot of streaming, and there is a picture that goes with it, or a video on YouTube that can be helpful. We did the music video for “Revelation” that also has a lot of symbolism in it. The visual things should add to the art.
Cady: It’s real easy to lose sight of art because you can record such good product sitting in your bedroom now. For me, over the last year and a half I’ve finally made the transition to collecting vinyl. I’m not collecting old stuff, but anything new I grab on vinyl. It’s forcing me to pick up the product the way it was intended to be delivered to you. You have the art, the lyrics, the thanks list, making listening to physical music an active product. Over the last ten years, I wasn’t doing that. When we started pulling things together, we really wanted to make the artwork important as a part of the package.
Dead Rhetoric: Employing a three-guitar lineup, do you believe this puts the band at an extra advantage in terms of replicating all the layers developed on the songs – especially in terms of live performances?
Cady: Yeah, it was an accidental thing. We had a rehearsal space we managed with Voyag3r. Hiran, it’s his room, we rented the other side of it. Hiran was coming out to more rehearsals, and we asked him to play third guitar. We had plenty of room for harmonies. It added a huge element to the sound, especially live. That being said, Hiran is stepping away from all music. He wants to finish up this one show for us. There is no replacing Hiran at all. Having him leave, I would feel bad for anybody who would have to come in after him because they are not going to live up to his quality of playing, personality, and his drive. When he is motivated, there is nothing that gets in his way.
We will probably play with some backing tracks with keyboards and other things live. But I don’t think we are going to be a six-piece after this.
Dead Rhetoric: You decided to go the DIY route for this album’s release. Do you believe that your knowledge and skill set as musicians (many of which with previous experience on other labels) allows you to properly promote this release the way you wish with the best resources available – ensuring a global reach in the process?
Cady: I think it was more a practical thing for us. If we take this to a label and say, here’s our product, you should put it out – we need to be able to do something on our end to go out and play. One of the reasons Battlecross is not running right now is because they aren’t able to do that now. We do want to play, but we aren’t going to be the road warriors we were in (Battlecross). Just from my mindset, I didn’t feel like I had a value to give a label for them to put that time and effort in. If someone would approach us and want to release the next one, we would probably discuss it. With DIY, you get into the people that actually want to have this.
Asta: We had a discussion, what do we want to do? We thought it would be best to do it ourselves to have more control. All the points Joe brought up are true. I’ve had experience with a label that was good and bad. It could go either way. With Finality we are not road dogs, we won’t be able to do big touring. We just want to play music, have fun, and write the best music that we can, play some shows and have a good time.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the state of heavy metal currently on a local level in Michigan as well as a national/international scale? What excites you most, and what changes (if any) do you think need to be put on the table for the greater good of all parties involved (musicians, promoters, venues, crew, fans)?
Asta: As far as the state of local metal, I would consider myself fairly out of the loop, unfortunately. I’ve been busy raising my kids and things like that. I’ve been to some shows, checked out some bands, and there are some really cool up and coming younger bands. I’m surprised – man I wish I was that good when I was that age. The tightness of the bands. There are other bands that are good, but a little cocky. That doesn’t go a long way. If you are hard to work with, you aren’t going to get very far as building those relationships that are essential.
What the metal world needs? Everybody just keep jamming, have fun, no pressure. Do what you love. I feel like everything has already been invented, and then the next thing you know, you hear something new a little bit.
Cady: I’ve been floating around the scene a bit more than in a long time. When I put this band together, I started networking with some other bands. The Michigan metal scene has some of the best bands in general. We have Imminent Sonic Destruction, Among These Ashes, Nethergate. So many bands I could list. They are putting out material that is on par, if not above what major labels are releasing. They have their nose to the ground. The people who have a chip on their shoulder, an ego, they fall to the wayside. If you aren’t working together, you aren’t going to move forward. You will get to a certain level, and then people aren’t just going to work with you. We had this in the 90’s, and lost it in the 2000’s, it became more of a competition locally. Now the quality has floated up to the top.
Which brings me to the worldwide thing. The genre barriers, that has to go. I don’t give a fuck if you are black metal, death metal, whatever is out there nowadays – you are a heavy metal band. Don’t try to lock things into a genre. I’m not a big fan of metalcore, but after touring with Killswitch Engage and seeing them bust their ass every night, I’m a huge fan now. That’s my little rant there. It’s like a gang mentality, it puts a line in the sand and it’s pointless.
Dead Rhetoric: If you had the opportunity to teach a high school or college level course of the subject matter of your choosing (away from music), what would you like to teach – and why do you think that course would be important to develop?
Asta: Maybe philosophy.
Cady: I would say anything that has to do with your hands. A lot of schools are getting away from your woodshops, auto shops, things like that because they’ve transitioned everything to being on a computer, online. Now we have a whole generation that will end up paying $300-$400 an hour for a plumber because there is no one to take his place. Anything that teaches you about how the government is screwing you, taxes. They don’t teach you about finances until you are blindsided by it in life.
Dead Rhetoric: Battlecross recently announced that you would be going on an indefinite hiatus last year -as the last studio album Rise to Power came out back in 2015. How did you finally arrive at this decision, and what are some of the greatest memories you have surrounding the band over the years?
Asta: How did we come to that? I would say that the hardest thing is to get everyone in the room at the same time, for an extended period of time to make progress. Because of that issue, each individual member has their own personal obligations, it was hard to do that. We came to the decision that we didn’t want to half-ass things. We didn’t want to just throw something together without actually being able to hash it out together. The best stuff we did was when we were together in the room and banging our heads against the wall. To get that chemistry going – and without that piece of the puzzle, we didn’t know what we would do. It’s not like we were getting big offers all the time. There was cool stuff coming up, but nothing that would motivate us enough to drop everything and get back at it full force. I have three kids; each guy has their own thing going on. It is what it is. But I also want to say, never say never. If the planets align, and everybody has the time and willingness to dedicate that time to doing something, I’m all for it. There is no bad blood, we all talk. It’s hard to jam when our drummer’s in New York – Brian. We have been through so many different drummers, and Brian is a gift from the heavens. He joined in 2015. If we found a drummer locally… we got Brian, or we are not doing it. I’m also not doing this without Hiran.
Cady: From the outside looking in on those guys, they went through the ringer. Between what we all went through, especially them – then having to start fresh again and figure out where their place is, they didn’t want to put out anything half-hearted. Hiran has no inspiration right now. They had a couple of songs, but it wasn’t Battlecross level. The best thing came out of that band – I am now closer to Tony, Hiran, Don and Brian than I am my own family, for the most part. The reason why is we went through something pretty extraordinary together and came out on the other side. The shit we pulled off to make shows happen, to never cancel, to make sure no one left a show getting at least a thank you for coming out. I’ve never seen a band talk to every single person in the venue – and not just one person, every person in the band. That was a Battlecross thing.
Asta: 2013 was the Orion Festival, we meet Robert Trujillo and James Hetfield, and did a press conference. That Saturday we opened up the Frantic stage, and James and Robert showed up backstage and told us they were going to introduce us. It was amazing. I could have got hit by a truck, I could have got struck by lightning, I would have had a smile on my face. Beyond my wildest dreams.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon for Finality over the next twelve months for shows, promotion, videos, etc.? Are there other side projects that we can expect to also hear from other members down the line?
Cady: Whatever we can do. We are not going to be road warriors, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t going to entertain places to play, weekend runs. Keep playing worthwhile shows. We want the shows to be something special. You pay your money to see an actual event.
Asta: We are friends with a lot of the bands locally. It’s like we are hanging out, and that’s the way it should be.