Necromancing the Stone is the result when current members of Arsis and the Absence and The Black Dahlia Murder’s former bassist collaborate with two members of Brimstone Coven join forces to write traditional metal music.
The band’s first full-length record, Jewel of the Vile, is an exciting and fresh take on traditional heavy metal due out August 5 on Metal Blade Records, but you can check out the lyric video for “The Descent” now.
Once you’ve had your fill of shredding, check out comments from guitarist James Malone on Jewel of the Vile, which you can preorder here.
Necromancing the Stone is made up of members from some pretty heavy bands (The Black Dahlia Murder, Arsis, The Absence.) Necromancing the Stone is obviously still a metal band but maybe not what people expected to hear. What sort of reaction did you expect from extreme metal fans?
I can’t speak for everyone in the band, but I have been rather excited about Necromancing the Stone ever since we started putting our demo together and that’s been about 2 years now. After doing Arsis for well over 10 years, I was beyond enthusiastic about the idea of being able to throw a different spin on the metal genre. When the band was first announced I think a lot of metal fans thought to themselves “Shit!? Bart, Jeramie, and Malone in the same band?! This is gonna be brootal, bro!” Obviously, that isn’t the case. Necromancing the Stone is removed from our Death Metal backgrounds in a number of ways. The influence and attitude may be there, but it is a different beast. I think this shocked some people. For me personally, Arsis is still a band…Arsis is still signed…Arsis still tours… If I wanted to do a Death Metal record, I would simply write and record another Arsis album. The fact that Ryan (Bart), Jeramie, and myself were able to take our extreme metal backgrounds and experience, team up with Justin and John (who had the idea for Necromancing the Stone and even some of the songs for years before any of the rest of us got involved) and create something fresh is truly special.
What sort of album were you looking to create when you began to write Jewel of the Vile?
I wanted to create the kind of record that got me excited about metal in the first place. I wanted to created a record that had a ‘vibe’ about it. When I was 13 I heard ‘Don’t Break the Oath’ by Mercyful Fate for the first time and it was life changing. I had been a metal fan ever since I was 5 and heard Twisted Sister’s ‘Stay Hungry’. By the time I was 13 I had already been through my Thrash phase with bands like Kreator, DRI, Metallica, Megadeath, and Slayer…I was even into Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, and Morbid Angel by this time…but when I heard ‘Don’t Break the Oath’ it was like everything I loved about metal in one release. It was riffin’…it was eerie…it was catchy…it was even beautiful at times. The idea of having the ability to create a record like that has always appealed to me. I’m not suggesting that we came anywhere close with ‘Jewel of the Vile’ but we definitely tried to create a record that had a ‘vibe’ to it.
The lyrical themes on the album are pretty grandiose and reminiscent of classic heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden. Where do the ideas come from for the lyrics?
While Justin and I handle a lot of the duties when it comes to writing the music for Necromancing the Stone, we pretty much turn the creative control for the lyrics over to John. Typically, we’ll send him a near finished song, musically speaking, and let him throw his spin on the vocals. Sometimes Justin or myself may have a suggestion for a melody here or there, but John has such an interesting sense of melody and we want to let this shine. Once John has a skeleton of the vocals, the three of us will get together and hash the ideas or stories involved in the lyrics. To an outsider, it would probably sound like three middle school boys planning a D&D campaign…we try to make the stories and characters as ridiculous as possible. It’s a super fun way to hang out and be creative.
There’s some screaming on songs alongside the shredding and soaring vocals. Do you actively try to blend those elements of death metal in?
James: I can’t say we actively try to throw them in, but if the aggressive vocals fit with the music and the stories, then we certainly try to use them to see if they work or add a positive effect to the song. Sometimes the screaming is the voice of a particular character in the song; “Rotted Reunion” and “From Graves to Infamy” are examples of this. Other times the aggressive vocals simply serve to echo or accent the melodic vocals. Such is the case with “The Descent” and “The Old One”.
It seems that Necromancing the Stone has an arch enemy in Lord Breakdownicus Gratuitous and repetitious deathcore. How will a band like Necromancing the Stone affect the heavy music scene today?
I am not foolish enough to think that we will have an effect on the heavy music scene today. If we do, then that’s great. If not, that’s fine as well. I just wanted to be part of something that felt spontaneous and fresh. Perhaps the attitude of the band will have an effect on the scene if anything.
What is it like to create music so different from the other bands the members have been a part of? Do you find there are more or fewer expectations of the end result?
I absolutely feel as though there are less expectations and this is certainly a huge part of why this band is so attractive to me at this point in my life. When I start writing a song for Necromancing the Stone, I don’t have to worry about what BPM a song is at…is it fast enough?…how may blast sections does it have?…how intricate is the harmony? All I have to worry about is whether or not the riffs speak to me as a writer and maybe whether or not they leave enough space for the melodic vocals. That is very liberating to me at this point in my life.
What is the Earthen Stone that you are protecting, and what makes it so important? What makes a heavy metal band the best defenders of it?
I wish there was an elaborate story behind the ‘earthen stone’, but it really is something goofy Justin threw out one night when we involved in our D&D campaign/lyric writing session. We thought it was funny mostly because it is so redundant. We had Axl from Metalsucks.net write our initial bio and we urged him to throw the term in the bio just as an inside joke for us. I think we should come up with a better back story behind it because it’s likely to stick around for a while.