Raider – Swirling in Chaos

Tuesday, 18th April 2023

Another potent entry from Ontario, Canada, Raider have been developing a killer blend of death/thrash with extreme and melodic nuances since their inception back in 2017. Featuring a dual riff assault beyond punishing rhythm section delivery and vocals that captivate from growls to screams, their latest album Trial by Chaos should delight a healthy cross-section of the underground metal legions – especially those into artists like Exmortus, Revocation, Demolition Hammer, Kreator, and Annihilator among others.

We reached out to vocalist Angelo Bonaccorso to fill us in on the style/songwriting development for the band, the attention to detail for production and lyrical content with the latest album, cover art and its importance, favorite personal metal albums, Immortal show memories, talk of climate control, and future touring/recording plans.

Dead Rhetoric: What are some of your earliest memories surrounding music growing up in childhood? At what point did you discover heavier forms of music – eventually leading to picking up an instrument and performing in bands?

Angelo Bonaccorso: I grew up listening to classic rock, Led Zeppelin and heavier stuff like Black Sabbath. I ended up learning to play the guitar at age twelve, I started hanging out at this guitar shop in my hometown, picking up the electric guitar and learning how to pick out songs. Eventually I moved on to the heavier stuff – wanting to play that literally into the old school stuff. I also listened to Protest the Hero, things like that. Eventually I started to discover Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Immortal, and other bands like that.

Dead Rhetoric: Raider started in 2017 and you released your first demo Urge to Kill the following year in 2018. What do you remember about that formative / initial period of the group – did you know right away the trademarks you wanted to incorporate into your style of death/thrash metal?

Bonaccorso: Oh yeah, definitely. We had a vision for the sound and what we wanted it to be. We had the sense of what elements of each form of extreme metal we wanted to incorporate from death, black, and thrash into the sound. And how this would make us sound original, and still be a polished, newer kind of band versus the old school production style. We knew then, we just didn’t have the tools to figure it out the way that we can now.

Dead Rhetoric: Trial by Chaos is the second full-length, and follow-up to Guardian of the Fire from 2020. Outside of the lineup changes, how do you feel the songwriting/recording sessions went for this set of material, and where do you see the greatest improvement or differences between the two releases?

Bonaccorso: In the production, we stepped it up. We really did produce this record, to having production eyes on this record from our friends and our colleagues. Essentially, they were able to give us the necessary feedback on the mixing, the recordings, the takes that we were incorporating. A big punchy sound that we were looking for, and that in turn took us a step up from the previous album Guardian of the Fire.

In terms of the songwriting, this album is another step up in terms of the compositions, making the songs catchier, hookier, and more melodic. Having better structure and catchier structures as well. We just found people who were more aligned with the sound and the direction that we wanted to go in as far as the sound – who were able to be a part of that overall sound vision.

Dead Rhetoric: The cover art from Mitchell Nolte is outstanding – how did the concept develop, and where do you see the importance of cover art these days in setting the right tone for what people can expect when listening to a record?

Bonaccorso: I think it’s super important. I think it totally sets the aesthetic for the record, sets up that tone. It’s a part of that mental journey of where music takes you. The collaboration with Mitchell Nolte was really easy. We gave him the lyrics, and told him a little bit about the record, and he was able to take our existing artwork and make the next evolution of what that would be to fit with the music and the lyrical content of the record. We think he nailed it.

I think it’s important to have outstanding artwork. It’s such a huge part of the experience, especially if you are picking up a vinyl record.

Dead Rhetoric: Where do you want to come across lyrically for the record? Are you a person that writes from personal experiences, or combine thoughts on social, political, fantasy type topics?

Bonaccorso: There is commentary on things that are taking place presently, and there are a lot of personal experiences as well. Several of the songs like “Fearless”, “Trial By Chaos”, and “Devour the Darkness” are mantras of endurance, and really getting through the tough times to move forward with your life and take on any challenges that may come your way and come out victorious in the end. There are other songs on the new record that are commentary on special dystopian futures. Like “Juggernaut Cerebrivore”, discussing the direction of technology and how it consumes all of our mental real estate so to speak. I have a few songs on there that talk about those topics as well.

Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe Raider when it comes to your live performances versus what people hear on the recordings? What have been some of the most memorable live shows you’ve done to date?

Bonaccorso: We have huge live energy. We are definitely right up in your face. It’s really about sounding true to the record, and getting as close to that as we can, consistently. It’s really riff-driven music, so the intensity of the double bass and the music, my vocals, drive home that continuous intensity that we want to have in our performances. There are a number of great performances to date. Our hometown shows at Maxwell’s would be some of our best performances because of our relationship with the sound person. It’s like having an actual sound person for the gig, so we are able to pull off more of the aesthetic of the performance we want to with the lighting and the sound.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve remained a DIY, independent group since your start. Where do you see the advantages in this – are you open to possibly signing with a record label, and if so, are there specific things you are looking for that you aren’t able to achieve currently yourselves?

Bonaccorso: Definitely we are open to signing with a label. We are just waiting for the right opportunity. In terms of DIY, we will always be DIY to the maximum extent in terms of the production and having that creative freedom with our music as well. We have a very specific vision and how we want our band to sound like. It’s definitely something we are always going to hold onto, but if we find someone who is able to give us an offer that aligns with that, we will definitely make a move with them.

Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the metal scene in your part of Canada – especially in terms of the thrash, death or extreme genres? Do you believe you have a fair amount of respect there or has your sound garnered more support/appreciation in other parts of the world?

Bonaccorso: We definitely have been picked up all over. We have listeners in the United States, the West Coast, and in Europe especially. A lot of Europeans have picked up the record, expressed interest and we have sent a lot of CDs over there over the past couple of years, especially with this newest release. We are starting to get picked up a little bit more and get more traction with this new release just because we think this is the best representation so far of this original vision.

Dead Rhetoric: What would you say are some of the biggest challenges facing Raider currently in making more of a footprint on the scene locally or globally with your music?

Bonaccorso: Definitely getting out there and playing more shows. We are working on it.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received when it comes to the music business? Also, if you were in a position to give younger musicians any advice based on what you’ve learned/experienced, what would you like to tell them?

Bonaccorso: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is… what’s the quote now? I was told one that stuck with me. Winners are losers that play until they win. That’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten. Not everyone is going to be making hits the first time around. You have to keep trying and doing what you feel is right in the art that you believe in. And that is something I would definitely pass on to the younger generation. Stick to that, stick to your guns, keep making the art that you believe in. To listen to the advice and counsel that you get from the people around you as well. Around your sound, not everyone is going to have it.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ll be embarking on a North American tour soon to support the new record – what are your expectations going into this? How do you think the response will be, especially considering we have come out of a pandemic where a lot of live entertainment opportunities were shut down for a couple of years?

Bonaccorso: We are hoping that it will be a great experience, that we will be able to connect with a lot of new fans. Be able to promote the record with it. Yes, it has been a crazy couple of past years. We are looking forward to a future of playing a lot of shows.

Dead Rhetoric: What are three records within the metal genre that you consider very important that shaped your outlook on the movement? And what’s the best live concert memory you have, attending the show as a fan?

Bonaccorso: Top three, that’s a tough one. The number one for me is Sons of Northern Darkness by Immortal. A huge formative record for me shaped my perception of extreme metal. The production as well. It was the first extreme metal show I ever went to when I was 16, I went to the All Shall Fall tour stop in Toronto. It happened to be all-ages, so I was able to get to it with my best friend. I would say Arise by Sepultura as well. That old school sound, thrash sensibility, that speed and aggression. This is so tough; you are really putting me on the spot here. I’d say there are other peripheral influences, Demolition Hammer – Epidemic of Violence, or Morbid Angel – Altars of Madness. At the top for me as well as Gabe the primary songwriter in the band, is Sons of Northern Darkness.

That Immortal show is my favorite. Seeing that extreme metal band with my best friend, it was the last time Immortal played as a full band with Abbath. You got to see that crazy front man energy from him in this original throne. One of my personal favorite memories, it was a wild show.

Dead Rhetoric: What worries or concerns you most about the current state of the world today? Where do you think the average person needs to put more focus or attention on to make things better for the greater good of their local community/country?

Bonaccorso: The continuing effect of climate change. Climate change and the potential for other future pandemics are definitely the most concerning things. The way things are going economically as well. The best thing that we can do is just stick together, have each other’s backs moving forward. Hopefully we are able in the long run to come together as a community and come through the other side.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon for Raider or any other side project/band activities for its members over the next twelve months?

Bonaccorso: No side projects for us – we are pretty much putting a single-minded focus on this band. We will continue writing another record that we are looking to release next year. We just want to continue writing music, we have a lot of material and a lot of inspiration. Just continue making art, we love what we do. And that will be our focus over the next twelve months.

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