Corey Roth, Andrew D’Cagna & John Williams (Brimstone Coven) interviewed

** With a name like Brimstone Coven, it better be good. Hailing from West Virginia, Brimstone Coven take on throwback metal–the kind with real singing–and summon it full-throttle into the present. Rife with roving, mountain-sized riffs that are festooned in fuzz and cleverly populated with harmonious vocals–think vintage Ozzy meets John Lawton–, the group’s new album, Black Magic, represents the new era of ’70s-inspired metal. So, sit back, burn some incense, turn down the lights. It’s Brimstone Coven time.

Where’d the name Brimstone Coven come from?
Corey Roth: When the idea for this band crept into my thoughts, i knew that it needed to have that late ’60s/early ’70s sound mixed with a creepy/witchy vibe that those years had going on. The brimstone, sulfur or ‘leviathan cross’ was a symbol that had always stood out to me and i knew that at some point, i wanted to use it for a band or project. With all of those ingredients stirring around my mind, Brimstone Coven was born.

Introduce the band to people who’ve never heard of you.
Andrew D’Cagna: The band consists of vocalist John Williams, guitarist/main songwriter Corey Roth, myself on bass guitar and drummer Justin Wood. Though John is the primary vocalist, Corey and I also handle a lot of the vocal harmonies.

You have a dark ‘70s vibe musically and aesthetically. Where does that come from?
Corey Roth: Being born in the early ’70s has a lot to do with it. I remember that time period having a strange and creepy air about it. I still feel it when remembering parts of my childhood. Folklore and legends could live and breathe and imaginations ran wild. People were experimenting with witchcraft, black magic and killer drugs! Occult symbolism was being used heavily by lots of bands. I am drawn to that darker vibe and i wanted to recreate it, but dig a little deeper into the darkness.

How do you set Brimstone Coven apart from other bands mining ‘70s hard rock/heavy metal greats?
Andrew D’Cagna: I think we would all agree that what sets us apart from other bands right now is our use of three part harmonies. It’s definitely a bit of a lost art and not many artists are doing it nowadays, regardless of genre. We are very lucky in the respect that the band has three people with different vocal timbres that compliment one another. That is a pretty rare thing, and we try to use it as much as we can without it being overkill. Also, I’ve noticed that modern bands are playing retro sounding riffs on vintage gear but their tones sound more modern, or drowned in fuzz. To me that dilutes the whole concept of how music sounded back then. We use very little gain/overdrive on our tones, which to me sounds more genuine.

How would you compare your debut to new album, Black Magic?
John WilliamsBlack Magic has a nice mixture of tracks. Our self-titled debut on Metal Blade is actually our first two self-released recordings combined into one. Some tracks on the upcoming album reach back to our first album and have the feel of our early days. Some tracks sound like they could have been on our second album. Actually, a couple of tracks were supposed to be on either the first or second album, but we held onto them for one reason or another. We made some minor changes to them over time, and they ended up on the new album. We tried some new things on other tracks as well, but tried not to stray away from that Brimstone Coven sound. Overall, we are really excited about how Black Magic turned out.

Did you seek out to do anything different—musically speaking—from the debut?
John Williams: We felt the three-part harmonies were very important on this album. We receive a ton of comments on how awesome they were on the old tracks and how they are a staple of the band. We didn’t want to flood the album with harmonies, but wanted to give enough to satisfy the ears of the listeners. Those harmonies have always added a silky smooth edge to the rock n’ roll. A few of the tracks have a more retro feel than what we’ve done before, but to me still keep that Brimstone groove. I’m sure to a true “Brimstoner” this album will keep them very satisfied and hopefully pull in some more, adding to our fanbase.

How much of West Virginia is in Brimstone Coven?
Andrew D’Cagna:  Well, considering that we all hail from West Virginia, I would say a lot! The truth is, there is a ton of musical talent in the area we hail from, always has been. The music scene here rises and falls like any other area I suppose, but the quality of music that echoes off these old valley walls has always been above average in my opinion. And we all know that no matter how many bands are churning out good music in an area, it’s not really a “scene”  without a decent crowd to play in front of. The people around here love live music and have been very supportive of all our musical efforts we’ve done since day one. So here’s my shout out to all the bands and fans in the Ohio Valley area. You all rule and we couldn’t do any of this without you!

What were the songwriting sessions like?
Corey Roth: Solitude, the flicker of candles, the smell of incense, the smoke of herbs, riffs that felt right and the woes of our own dark souls.

Where did you record Black Magic and who produced it?
John Williams: We recorded Black Magic at Andrew’s studio in Ohio, Sacred Sound. That’s where we’ve went for the other albums. Professional atmosphere, but still has a “club house” type feel. Stress free. Andrew produced the albums and we all contributed ideas and changes. Andrew does great work on anything that rolls into the studio. Since he’s in the band, knows the flow/feel of the material, and has sixteen years of producing under his belt, it really makes the process come together quickly.

What do you want kids to think/feel after they hear Black Magic?
Corey Roth:  I would love for them to feel as if they’ve taken a journey to places unknown, within their own minds and a strong desire to return often. Behold. Believe.

** Brimstone Coven’s new album, Black Magic, is out January 26th on Metal Blade Records. The rocking album available HERE as a pre-order.