Heavy metal and horror make an impeccable pair. Menacing imagery and earsplitting guitar sweeps are as perfect together as peanut butter and jelly. Flowers and sunshine. Dirt and maggots. Refrigerators and severed body parts. They’re just made for each other.
The band Necromancing the Stone has entwined and cemented this morbid union of music and story-telling flawlessly with their first album JEWEL OF THE VILE. Metal veterans James Malone (Arsis), Ryan Williams (The Black Dahlia Murder), Jeramie Kling (The Absence), Justin Wood and John Williams (Brimstone Coven) have come together to create a metal record as fresh as the soil on top of a new grave.
Guitarists James and Justin were gracious enough to take some time away from their axe-wielding sorcery and answer some questions about the new album…
BLUMHOUSE.COM: What elements were you eager to explore in JEWEL OF THE VILE that you otherwise couldn’t on a traditional death metal record?
JAMES: Necromancing the Stone is a way to create music that “breathes” a bit more than the music I would write for a death metal record. We also have the advantage of having a great melodic vocalist. As a result, we are able to create hooks that would never be found on a straight death metal release. I think combining these solid hooks with a darker sense of melody and attitude makes our music stand on its own.
JUSTIN: It is an opportunity to make music that jams and is challenging, but doesn’t take itself so seriously. We have fun with it. Not that a traditional death metal record is not fun to make, but for me it has a lot to do with where my head is right now.
BH: What were some of your favorite musical devices to use on the album?
JUSTIN: A lot of it is loosely narrative based. We will sometimes switch perspectives in a song and that is reflected with aggressive vocals. It helps differentiate some of the “characters” in the songs.
JAMES: I try to channel Andy LaRocque and Jake E. Lee as much as possible… bar flutters, pinch harmonics, and tremolo picked guitar fills whenever possible on the album.
BH: Obviously, the name of the band and album title suggests an ’80s influence. Did any other films or music from the ’80s inspire the vibe of the album?
JUSTIN: Maybe not directly. As children of the ’80s, of course that stuff shaped us as far as what we watched and enjoyed as kids. That has a way of sticking with you until one day you are a grown man jamming in a metal band and drawing subconscious influence from CONAN THE BARBARIAN.
JAMES: I absolutely agree with Justin, but I must add that I do find myself drawing inspiration from ’80s horror movie soundtracks like VAMP and THE FOG. Sometimes the inspiration can be rather direct, other times I simply find myself trying to compose chord progressions that evoke the same feeling of simultaneous triumph and unease that horror movie soundtracks of the ’80s were marvelous at creating.
BH: There are some very creepy narratives in JEWEL OF THE VILE. What are the stories behind “Rotted Reunion” and “Bleed for the Night?”
JUSTIN: “Rotted Reunion” is a cool narrative. A Necromancer brings his wife back to life because even though “stillness has settled in, not within his heart” and he misses her. In the end she gets resurrected and is pissed. She hated his miserable ass and was enjoying her rest. Even in death, she’s not in the mood.
JAMES: “Bleed for the Night” is the tale of a woman who is obsessed with blood magic. Over time, she finds that using the blood of others no longer grants enough power for her greedy ambitions. As a result, she begins using her own blood and eventually bleeds to death. In trying to draw unnecessary parallels between the songs, one could say that the character in this song is the Necromancer’s ‘lady love.’ The same love that he tries to resurrect in “Rotted Reunion.”
BH: What do you hope listeners will take away from JEWEL OF THE VILE?
JUSTIN: If you listen to the songs “From Graves to Infamy” and “Crusher” backwards… at the same time… in mono… you will hear a lost, ancient transmission describe directions to some enchanted gauntlets. That’s what we hope people will take away from this album.
JAMES: Yep. The gauntlets have spikes on them.