Video Premiere: Mars Red Sky – ‘The Proving Grounds’

Stoner rockers Mars Red Sky will attempt to complete The Task Eternal this fall when they release their fourth album via Listenable Records. Before The Task Eternal releases in September, though, Mars Red Sky provide a teaser to the listener in the form of a new video for “The Proving Grounds.”

The spacey, brooding tune often has as much in common with dramatic post-metal as it does with stoner rock, trading off spacey foot stomping for slow-building theatrics. Hear it for yourself below, and keep reading for an interview with Mars Red Sky guitarist and vocalist Julien Pras.

The Task Eternal is out on September 27; pre-order the album through Listenable.

Your fourth album, The Task Eternal, is out in a little less than a month. What has changed in the band or in your lives in the three years since your previous album?
Well first of all, after Apex III was released we toured a lot to promote it. We played in many territories, in some countries or states we’d never visited before, shared the stage with a number of wonderful bands. We’ve also had time to pursue other projects aside; Mat [Gazeau] toured and recorded with several bands (Epiq, James Leg, Koonda Holaa), I did that too with my solo act as well as for a duo with my sweetheart, Queen Of The Meadow; Jimmy and I worked on a compilation and a brief reunion for Calc, a band I was fronting and Jimmy was managing before we started Mars Red Sky… All these experiences come into account in the development of the band.

What was the writing and recording process like for The Task Eternal? The press release for the album says it was written in a medieval castle.
We started by jamming around and trying out a couple of riffs I had in a rehearsal place in Bordeaux. After a while, when we had a few sketches of songs, we decided to try and find a remote place where we could develop those songs, write some more and maybe record a little if the place had a recording facility in order to be super ready when we stepped into the studio to actually record the tracks.

As it happened, we essentially composed, structured and rehearsed the material we had and skipped the pre-production stage, as a matter of saving time and energy! What we did instead was plan two recording sessions (one in December, a second one in March) with Benjamin Mandeau at Cryogene (Bordeaux, FR). This way, we’d have time to go back to the castle, where we felt comfortable and creative, and finish up composing the songs for the second session as the first batch was being mixed.

The entire process took over a year. It was hectic at times, but nevertheless a great experience, especially working with Benjamin who really brought a lot to the table, guiding us through the sessions, allowing us to experiment while building a wall of sound that took our songs further into new territories while staying true to the core of our basic sound. He’s a great producer. We’d thought of working with Gabriel Zander again (he produced Stranded In Arcadia and Apex III), but it seemed rather complicated, with him living—and touring a lot—in Brazil.

We also happened to work with Benjamin a year before on a cover for a Pink Floyd tribute and that went really well, we hit it off right away and the song (“Comfortably Numb”) sounded great, so we thought we should have him produce this new album.

Decibel is streaming the song “The Proving Grounds.” Do you feel that the song is representative of the sound we’ll hear throughout the album?
It is indeed a good representation of the album: heavy, fuzzy riffs, spacey soundscapes, generous low-end and ethereal highs. The singing here is slightly more in-your-face than on the rest of the album, even though I’m still far from growling and grunting and yelling my guts out.  Jimmy [Kinast bass, vocals] also sings back-ups on the choruses, like on a number of songs on the album.

The accompanying video is almost like a short film spliced with performance footage. Where did the idea for this video come from?
We wanted to do something in this peculiar location, and we intended to work again with Seb Antoine who’d made a couple of videos for us before (“Alien Grounds” and “The Light Beyond”). We knew he’d be excited to shoot in the castle, that he’d come up with crazy good ideas, which is what happened. We were thrilled also to have Gregory Dreyfus play in the video because he’s in the two previous ones, so there’s a kind of continuum there linking the videos and more generally the albums and their artworks. There’s a story behind the album and EP covers, and Seb picked up on that to write his scenario. He wanted us in there for the sake of the tale but we like the way it’s more focused on Greg and the general story, like it was with Alien Grounds. In this sense, even though The Proving Grounds is shorter, it has this short-movie feel to it.

Once The Task Eternal is released, Mars Red Sky will hit the road again for a combination of European shows and festivals. What comes after that?
We’re currently considering a little tour across the Atlantic… Wouldn’t it be nice ?