Interviews : As Hope Dies
As Hope Dies
With Dave Richardson
As Hope Dies is an up-and-coming band that plays melodic Swedish death metal similar to Dissection and At the Gates, but with a few hardcore overtones. The band's singer, Dave Richardson offered some insights about the band, yet as you will see, I was the one doing most of the talking.
Dave, if you don't mind, let's start with a few rhetorical questions. How and when did As Hope Dies from?
As Hope Dies started a few years back under a different name. We all meet through different friends and formed the band shortly after.
What was the previous name the band used and what caused the change to As Hope Dies?
We used to be called In Reply but we had so many member changes that the band needed to change its name because it didn't feel the same at all it was a totally different band. No one really liked the name In Reply either, so it was a good decision for the change.
Speaking of band's name, which is pretty cool in my opinion, was it a spur of the moment sort of thing or was it something that you carefully wanted to express?
It was something that I thought up. It's just a name for our band no real meaning behind its just a cool name.
Did the band release a few 7-inches or a demo before Birthplace and a Burial Site?
Yeah, we have done countless demo's, and In Reply actually released a split CD with a band called Who's to Blame who are now actually [called] From Autumn to Ashes.
That's neat. So did the band start out with the straight-ahead metal approach, or did you play more of the hardcore oriented music at first?
We eventually evolved into a full-blown metal band but our roots are in hardcore. When we first started the band we were covering Shai Hulud and shit like that. So the band started with a more melodic hardcore sound but then we woke up and realized metal is the way to go.
So would you say that it was intentional to try to stay astray from the typical metalcore sound because so many bands were doing pretty much the same thing?
Not intentional really. We just write whatever we think sounds awesome.
The first time I heard about the band was from some friends who saw you at the Orlando Magic Fest. Unfortunately, I could not make it to that show, but when I asked them what good bands I missed, all I heard was 'Dude, As Hope Dies was mind-blowing." So even before the disk came out, I was looking forward to hear the band.
That's so cool to hear.
When the disk arrived, I did not know what to expect. I was predicting Birthplace and a Burial Site to be metalcore with lots of breakdowns, something along the lines of End This Day or maybe something along the lines of Tribunal Records releases, but this is quite different. While I can still distinguish the band's so-called hardcore upbringing, the two biggest hardcore things about the band are the clean singing and the band's name. It's quite refreshing actually....
Well thanks a lot. We have actually cut all clean singing from our band, [so] our next release will be nothing but brutality.
You have quite interesting vocals. The way you mix the black metal shrieks with death metal growls and clean singing is quite impressive. But you already said that there would be no clean singing on the new album. Why is that?
I don't think my clean voice is very strong actually, and also there was no room for me to really do any clean vocals on the new stuff because its all really fast or really heavy, so doing clean vocals over stuff like that really doesn't work very well.
You said something about writing what you think is awesome. What strikes me about the band and your album is the love for metal. Where does the passion come from?
It comes from my influences: Swedish death metal.
So bands like At the Gates, old In Flames, Eucharist, Dissection, etc...?
Yes, bands like Dissection, At the Gates, Dark Funeral, [and] In Flames have been huge influences on our writing.
Ha, that's what I said.
Shit, is that obvious?
No, I don't think so. While I think comparing the band to the likes of At the Gates, in Falmes (only old shit), and Soilwork is fine, I tend to describe Birthplace Place and a Burial Site as Swedish riffs with Marduk drums to all my metal friends and as a more metal Prayer for Cleansing to some of the hardcore kids that I know.
The next record the Swedish riffs are taken to a new level. Our writing has gotten a lot better.
So you guys already started recording new stuff?
Just rehearsing. The whole record is written. Now we are just getting really tight. We begin recording February 21st.
So would you say that Birthplace and a Burial Site was more of an introduction of the band to the metal scene rather than the first full-length?
Yeah, it was an introduction, totally.
Going a bit off topic, your drummer is insane! I think it's a wise choice to write faster songs with more blastbeats, because you guys actually pull it off.
Thanks. Yeah, Adam's blasts have gotten a lot cleaner.
Yeah, there are still occasional mistakes heard on the album, but I actually like that little sloppiness.
Yeah, mistakes bug the shit out of me. [Also] bad fills.
Ha, there are a few there, but I think it is totally raw and passionate.
Our next record is gonna be recorded with a click track, so its should be a lot tighter. I'm really into perfect recordings. I think its so bad ass when a band records a record and there are no flaws, like In Flames Clayman record.
That's actually one of the problems I have with Slaughter of the Soul. It's arguably the best death metal album of all time, but I think a different, rawer production could have made it even more special.
Oh man, I have no problems with Slaughter of the Soul. It's fucking beautiful.
Oh, man, it's my favorite death metal album of all time, but I think the production could have been a bit livelier. How does the band work in the live environment?
We do well live. Lots of energy, especially locally when the kids are going off.
There is keyboard on some tracks that works effectively, adding some interesting ideas. Have you thought about using more of it on your future recordings or possible bringing in instruments like a cello or maybe even some female vocals like Purusam or Caliban?
Yeah, we are gonna do pianos on the next one, and would love to do a string section thing with violins and cellos, [but] I'm not a big fan of female vocals, especially for a more death metal sounding band. It's cool with black metal stuff. Like Mystic Circle has really cool female vocals on their newest record, but its just something we wouldn't do.
If I am not mistaken, the band's average age is 21?
I'm actually 19. Two other guys are 21[and] one guy is 20.
Wow. The only cool metal band with such young members is Poland's Decapitated. Are you familiar with them?
Yeah Decapitated is one of my favorite death metal bands out there. They are up there with Nile and Cryptopsy. Winds of Creation is a great death metal song.
Nile is definitely doing something new and original. And the scary thing is that they can really pull that shit off live.
Oh yeah, I know. They play to a click track and sample everything. It's so awesome to see that.
Any metal bands that you're currently fascinated with?
Old Mans Child has been in my CD player a lot. I really like the new Dark Tranquility and the newest Ablaze my Sorrow is pretty damn good. Eternal lies is amazing. [Also] I think the Black Dahlia Murder is fucking great.
How did the band hook up with Undecided records?
We were shopping around for a label , we sent them our stuff and they really liked it. So we started talking with them.
Well, you seem to be the top priority for them, with all the promotion for the new record?
We actually haven't seen a lot of promotion over here.
Well, I know the word is spreading rather quickly
But I guess it all depends on how much you really tour. Are you planning on doing extensive gigs after the new one comes out?
Of course, touring will make or break your band. We are actually planning a tour in April with our friends from Cast from Eden.
While the band might be an outlet for fun, is there some message or a theme that you like to introduce in your music, and especially in your lyrics?
Oh of course. The message that I want to spread through the lyrics I write is to be your own self and not someone's fucking mold. Ask questions and don't believe everything that is shoved down your throat. I write a lot about my feelings toward religion and how it is a disease that has this world by the throat. So many people waste there entire lives bowing to a God that they have never seen, touched, or felt, and its fucking sad that they would believe in a book based on lies and then live there lives according to these writings.
Hmm, to be honest with you, that's quite different than I was expecting. I think a lot of hardcore bands are very into spreading the religious message, so it is very refreshing to see the band that is at the different end of the spectrum. Are you the only one who feels that way or do the other band members agree with you?
We all agree.
What are you growling at the end of My Words to You? It sounds pretty sinister right before the end of the song.
To our lives over and over. Then it ends.
No man. There is like a sinister death metal growl.
Ooh, shit, right before it goes into the other song ?
Yes! This better be something evil!
What Beau [Burchell, who recorded Birthplace and Burial Site] did was he took vocals from the song and then made them sound all fucked up and evil. I'm not totally sure what is being said.
It actually sounds pretty impressive
Yeah, it came out cool.
So is there any meaning to the name of the album?
Birthplace and Burial Site was thought up by our guitar player Justin and he actually wrote the lyrics to that song. It's a freeway sign close to us [and] it's [also] Richard Nixon's birthplace and burial site.
That song is actually about a failed relationship. He wrote the words to letters of our existence as well.
But the rest of the songs deal with your inspirations?
I wrote My Words You, Awaken, and To Mend the Wounds of a Plagued Heart.
Ok man, that about wraps it up. Any final comments?
Thanks so much for the interview! Support your local metal and hardcore scenes as much as possible, and look for us on the road all summer.