Nearly 31 months ago (how has it been that long?) we introduced you to a promising new quartet out of News York and Jersey called Black Table. It’s possible that some people couldn’t get excited about the band’s loaded EP Sentinel, but those people probably also listen to Rick Astley unironically. If you were anything like us, Sentinel provided a few of your favorite songs that year.
Now these metal mercenaries are coming back with new material, some of which you can hear below in the video they’ve put together, excerpting the new song “CroMagñon” from their forthcoming album Obelisk. Again, we wanted to hear about where this music was coming from and what the members of Black Table have been up to since we last spoke. Check out the music below, then continue reading to find out more about your new favorite band.
Last time we talked, you described Black Table as an experimental metal band. What are the elements of your process or your music that feel experimental to you, or do you have a different view on that now?
Mike Kadnar (drums): We have a very unusual and unorthodox way of writing. Ryan [Fleming, guitars] and Mers [Sumida, guitars/vocals] will work on song skeletons for months until they are satisfied with the melodic and harmonic core of a song. We will all work on the arrangements via internet. Ryan will program some drum ideas on the demos, and then I’ll come in and edit and expand on some of his drum concepts. It’s really exciting and challenging to work with a guitarist’s view of drumming, because he will write and hear things that I would otherwise never discover. The real magic happens when I try to find a middle ground between the drum programming and my own style of drumming.
In addition to this, our arrangements and riffs are unusual. We don’t cater to anyone, and we don’t write music for a certain scene or crowd. We write these songs for us. I think that’s why the experimental music moniker emerges. We never said “let’s write some weird shit,” All these songs came naturally to us. It takes us a long time to write songs because we have such high standards of what we create. We aren’t happy with basic songs and structures, we want to challenge ourselves creatively and musically.
Mike, you’ve been drumming for Downfall of Gaia also… how did that happen, and what was life in BT like during that time?
Mike: Black Table did a full US tour with Downfall of Gaia two years ago. Both bands got along really well, and we all stayed in touch after the tour. When Downfall of Gaia’s drummer Hannes decided to leave the band, I jokingly offered to be their touring drummer. Our talks quickly became serious when they couldn’t find anyone that fit the role in Europe, so I joined as a full time touring and recording member. Fortunately, all of the members of BT were transitioning through different things at this time. We also got a new bassist, DJ [Scully] of Dead Empires. So we got him up to speed with the old songs and starting writing the new record. After this big hiatus, we are all ready and excited to record and perform again.
You had mentioned that a couple BT members are involved in graphic design, as well as Mers being a student of cultural anthropology. How do you think these perspectives impact your approach to music?
Mers: Ryan and I are both designers and it allows us to talk visually about our music. It also allows us to represent ourselves exactly the way we want to. Mythology, ancient culture, rituals and the artifacts, language, and music of those times are the main inspiration in all my creative expressions. Narrative was important then. Most concepts would be abstracted with symbolism, colors or melody. You had to understand the visual language, and that meant, you had to have lived in that culture – which makes every culture’s art so unique and wonderful. Different expressions for the same things. An image can hold much more data than a single sentence can – so it’s more powerful and faceted. Music holds the emotional story and ambient environment with in it and the lyrics tell a story that is amorphous. That’s how I write music for Black Table.
Mers, you said you had an idea for a concept album… Is that the direction you have taken with the new music?
Mers: I had two ideas, but the second one won out. My first concept was to tell a story from a person’s perspective, one song was their story first person, the next was the emotions they were feeling, the third was the environment they were treading..it was really very complex and it’s something I would still like to try. The concept for Obelisk was based off of an art installation I saw called “The Way We Were” by Matthew Day Johnson. The sculpture starts with a three-sided triangle, then goes through evolutions to become a polygonal human skull. A story from carbon to early man basically is what I took from that. And I wanted to tell that story somehow.
What was the impact of Sentinel’s release on the life of the band? Were there changes in your audience or their reactions?
Mers: When we first started we were like “no one is going to care, but I’m so happy with what we are doing”…and now we get the opportunity to work with talented artists and people on different projects and that’s an amazing place to be. We owe that to our supporters and that’s a part of the drive that we have now, to create better and more interesting experiences for listeners.
Mike: The release and impact of Sentinel was definitely unexpected. We got a lot of positive feedback and support really quickly. It’s been very humbling and it’s even more humbling that our supporters have waited patiently for our debut full length. I think everyone is going to be pleasantly surprised with what we are working on now.
What would you say drove you in the creation of your new BT material?
Mike:. We have all been through a lot since our last show two years ago. Some of the members moved to new cities, got new jobs, lost family members, etc. Everyone is at a different point in their lives, but no matter what, when we get together, all the problems go away and we create something we all genuinely believe in. Nothing compares to the feeling of playing your own music with some of your closest friends.
Can you each name five records you’ve been spinning a lot in recent weeks/months?
Ryan: Thisquietarmy – Anthems for Catharsis, Sundrugs – Hidden Scenes, Cober Ord – Le Revers du soliel, Bell Witch – Four Phantoms, AUN – Fiat Lux
DJ: Lazer/Wulf – The Beast of Left and Right, Pond – Man, it Feels like space again, Thundercat – Apocalypse, Dead Unicorn – Yellowstone Supervolcano, St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Mers: Stomach Earth – Stomach Earth, Nails – Unsilent Death, Sound Garden – Super Unknown, Inter Arma – Sky Burial, Eric Dolphy – Out to Lunch
Mike: Hope Drone – Cloaks of Ash, Thantifaxath – Thantifaxath EP, Nine Covens – On The Dawning of Night, Altar of Plagues – White Tomb, Tempel – The Moon Lit Our Path