British revolutionaries Allfather write riot-sparking riffs for dire times. Against a backdrop of furious licks and inventive percussion, they encourage questioning any head that wears a crown. That’s no more evident than in “Citadels,” the newest crusher from their upcoming LP And All Will Be Desolation.
After the initial tom-rolls and surround-sound drumming, Allfather launch into the raucous conflict at the heart of “Citadels.” With a call to arms that challenges the complacent to raise their voices and pitchforks, Allfather’s record torches flags that no longer represent their people. Blending High on Fire’s incendiary might with Down’s greasy groove, they pull inspiration from the most furious factions of hardcore and metal. Once And All Will Be Desolation releases from Rotting Throne Records on September 6th, Allfather will be ready to sling Molotov cocktails directly into your ear tunnels.
Below, check out Allfather’s thoughtful responses regarding political action, paternity, equality, and toxic nationalism. But first, press play and get besieged by “Citadel.”
In another interview you referred to “Citadels” as “a call to arms, about changing that anger into something positive.” Apart from writing “riffs against fascism,” how else would you encourage others to fight against oppressive and divisive powers?
Andrew Day (bass): We’d say ‘do what you can, when you can.’ With the family and work responsibilities we have, it’s not like we can take to the streets every week, but the band is definitely an outlet for standing with oppressed people and speaking out against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. We enjoy writing heavy as fuck music, but for us it’s also an outlet for frustration. That’s not a negative, it’s more that we want the world to be a better place for everyone, and if some of the messages we send out change someone’s mind, or make someone who’s experienced oppression feel less alone within the scene, then that makes it worthwhile.
While I know the band’s name is a reference to Odin, you’ve mentioned elsewhere some members are parents. Did your political affiliations and beliefs become stronger as parents?
Andrew Day: Tom and I are parents. Alan Cordner (lead guitar) has three spaniel ‘fur babies’ if that counts, so maybe 3/5 of the band in that case. Becoming a parent changed me, but it also coincided with the 2008 financial crisis and the election of a right wing Conservative government in the UK, so I think my political consciousness would have developed anyway. I’ve got three boys and obviously I want them to be able to love themselves and to be respectful of and compassionate to others. But as three white males, they’re already free of the barriers that people of color and/or women face on a day to day basis. If any of my kids grow up as gay, trans, non-binary, etcetera, I’ll want them to know that they’re loved whatever they are. But beyond that the world needs to be a better place for everyone, as soon as possible. That’s why we’re using the small platform we’ve got to fight against hatred and hopefully the riffs are good enough to make people pay attention to our politics too.
“Citadels” references the burning of flags late in the song. In the states there’s a debate about disrespecting the flag by not rising during the national anthem. Those that kneel are protesting police violence and inequality, saying until the flag represents all equally it has not earned their respect. Is the idea of “dishonoring” the flag with protest taboo in the UK as well?
Tom Ballard (vocals): The full lyrics to that section are: “Instead of burning bridges and raising citadels, we should be burning flags and raising fucking hell.” It’s in reference to what’s been going on over here with our decision to leave the European Union. The bulk of the song is about how those in power lie to and manipulate people for their own gains, using fear to distract people from their corruption and push the blame to others. This is what happened to some extent with those campaigning to leave the E.U. It feels like a lot of the people who voted leave did so because fears had been raised around immigration and refugees and the risk of terrorism. Look at some of campaign material used by UKIP during it.
The outcome of the vote left us trying to cut ties with allies on the continent, ending free movement and the opportunities that brings for the youth in this country (in terms of working and traveling on the continent, whilst at the same time stopping immigration to this country and ignoring our responsibilities in terms of housing refugees fleeing wars).
In terms of burning flags, it’s about trying to care less about where people come from, what color they are, what god they do or don’t worship, and more about looking how we can treat people equally, no matter on what patch of land fate determined they should be born.
I think our attitude to flags in the UK is slightly different than in the US; I think we take it slightly less seriously. It doesn’t hang outside the same proportion of houses as it does in the US (although it is pretty prevalent at the moment because England [was] doing well in the World Cup). There would be some of the right that would make a huge issue about any real or imagined disrespect of flags, but probably to not quite the same extent as over there.
Your LP And All Will Be Desolation comes out on September 7th. Is there any anxiety as you wait months to fully release it?
Alan Cordner (guitars): I think anxiety would be the wrong terminology, some form of confirmation that we’ve created something decent would be nice. But anxiety? Nah, we just wrote a bunch of songs for us. By that I mean every song has to have the “grin factor” when composing. The moment when everyone is looking round the room in acknowledgment of “that bit.”
We throw demos around, work on them and have learned a ruthless self-edit button. Some tracks didn’t make the record because we figured they were shit after we tried them in a live setting, the grin wasn’t there. The track “By Sword, Black Famine, By Plague” had a really slow chugging section that rattled the rehearsal room when we wrote it but literally fucking killed the crowd when we played it live. So we self-edited, and now it’s brimming with so many rad parts it’s hard to tell what the problem was! We’re old enough to know what feels right. We all grew up in the ’90s when heavier metal was really taking shape, so we have plenty of things to inspire us and draw from, mixing that up with some modern playing. It feels like we’ve created a style out of all the genres without it just being a bunch of riffs thrown together to fill space. Whether anyone else likes it though… the proof is in the riffs.
You have a few shows coming up—what can those who haven’t seen you on stage expect from your set, and what’s your favorite song from And All Will Be Desolation to play live?
Alan Cordner: No frills. No fucks. A lot of energy. We’re fired up right now; Allfather is a great place to be. Our new drummer [Aaron Phillips] has brought a different feel to the band and stuff is fun, so we try and convey that. We try not to take ourselves too seriously, we always end up smiling on stage not matter how much we try and look moody and threatening, with our heads down, bleeding and sweating anger and riffs. Being in a band should be fun. We’re really enjoying playing and also really enjoying the new songs, probably most is “Citadels.” It’s relentless and has a really High on Fire meets Sepultura feel to it! We were only discussing the other day how we put it too early in the set for us as a band to sit back and enjoy it. However, as audience member, being so early on in the set is really gonna blow your head off and let you know straight away what you’re in for. Come check it out.