To paraphrase the iconic Phantasm tagline, If this one doesn’t thrill you, you’re already dead!
Name yourself the infamous 80s UK horror movie moral panic and you better bring the darkness, the extremity, the wildness, the ferality, the killer instinct, the viscera festooned riffs.
Happily this is precisely what Liverpudlian melodic death ‘n’ rollers Video Nasties do on their enlivening, hard-driving debut full-length debut Dominion — a record that seems destined to turn heads…before twisting them straight off.
Ahead of the March 13 release — preorder here — Decibel reached out to Nasties Rick Owen (bass), Damian Von Talbot (vocals), Dave Archer (drums), and Stu Taylor (guitar) for a little track-by-track action.
Taylor: “Stay Gold” was the first song we worked on for the album. We were still experimenting with styles at that time but had an idea of what kind of feel we wanted to go for. It’s one of two tracks on the album that has a stoner/swing type groove that’s quite melodic and draws a fair bit of influence from At The Gates and Entombed.
Von Talbot: They say you should write about what you know. So, as a keen sexy pervert, I decided to write about water sports — hence the name “Stay Gold.” Is the song autobiographical? Who can say?! This was the first song we wrote as a band and I think it was us finding our feet as a group and just having fun together.
Owen: I think one of the best things about “Stay Gold” is that the intro sets people up perfectly for what’s about to come on the album. A sense of unease and suspense that builds for the best part of 90 seconds before it finally kicks off. It’s a pretty relentless track once it gets going.
Taylor: “Hanging Tree” was a track that came together early on in the writing sessions and pushes further in the black n’ roll direction. It’s got a straight up mid/fast-pace rock groove and draws inspiration from the likes of Khold through to Iron Maiden. On hearing the track, Jeff Walker of Carcass likened it to Satyricon, which I guess is a good comparison. Because of how straight and simple the riffs are in this one we wanted to play around with time signatures, key changes and duel harmonies to give it some extra flavours.
Von Talbot: Once upon a time I was smashed and stuck on a rail replacement bus around Christmas time. I had a few hours to kill so started thinking about lyrical themes. For some reason I had the idea of a massive tree with hundreds of bodies hanging via piano wire but kind of like Christmas decorations. It doesn’t get much deeper than that to be honest. It had the working title of Iron Lizzy for reasons that are most obvious towards the end.
Taylor: There was more of a group effort with the writing of “Helvetica” and I think everyone contributed something. It’s a very dark and melodic track with a straight mid-pace feel. The verses switch back and forth from an ascending harmonic minor pattern to a crashing straight up punky drive before heading into a triplety feel and then a heavy slow-pace beat down for the chorus. The song takes a turn towards the end with a John Carpenter inspired upbeat melody being played over a dark harmonic progression, almost indie-esque. The track closes with a straight up death metal outro, a little nod to Florida.
Von Talbot: Lyrically it’s about a cult that reanimates corpses via a mummification process involving arcane parchments that their putrid bloated maggoty bodies are filled with. Musically, I feel it’s got a bit of everything. Think Tommy came up with a few of the riffs and Stu had the lovely Carpenter bit before it kicks off at the end. The song reminds me of night time driving which is odd as I don’t actually drive… But if it was on the car radio and I was driving a car I certainly wouldn’t turn this song off.
Taylor: We really found our feet with the style we wanted to go for when writing this track. It came about early on in the sessions and set the foundations for writing most of the other tracks. I had all of the riffs recorded on my phone but had not pieced them together at that point. The style was a step away from what we had been doing up to that stage but we had a good feeling about it once all the riffs came out. A static sounding sample from John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness plays out over the intro before it all kicks off. A dark and moody track that moves from an open punky feel to a heavy melodic groove that’s peppered with Carpenter inspired guitar passages. More samples over the bridge section with some dialogue from Donald Pleasence that plays over a harmonic rhythmic pattern to setup a change in direction. Damian shows off his wide range of vocal styles throughout the track and the rhythms were chosen well. There’s a heavy thrash-like chugged riff that takes the song to another level and even enters an almost hardcore realm. The song has a bit of everything and is definitely a favourite at the live shows.
Von Talbot: “Transvoltum” was definitely us finding our stride. We used to call it ‘the hit’ as we knew we had something special with it. There is quite an indie influence on the guitars and I love Dave’s drumming. I’d say Carpenters influence is pretty strong here. Especially on the lyrics as they were based on his film, Prince of Darkness.
“Red of Night”
Taylor: I’d describe this as Kvelertak meets Killing Joke. One of our more…’poppy’ tracks and one of my favorites. It is structurally simple and builds well with a good use of dynamics. This was the intention when writing the music. I felt the album needed something a little more accessible but without straying too far from our usual formula. The bridge section reaches the biggest dynamic change on the album and creates a grave sense of suspense with an almost complete drop-out. More use of samples builds to a climax where a duel guitar harmony lick à la Thin Lizzy takes hold.
Von Talbot: This is quite a sleazy sexy song… A little bit of leather and some light bondage. Suits you sir! Could almost get us on Top of the Pops if it was still a thing.
Taylor: We had the idea of mixing both a synth part with a guitar part that could also be triggered and played live. This is how the intro came together, I added harmonies to give it an uneasy sense of building towards something, it then kicks into a very simplistic straight chugged but heavy verse with screeching vocals. I kept the riffs simple but gave it an interesting time signature which works well when going into a straight measure. The song has quite a rock-type feel with a catchy chorus that usually brings audience participation with the vocals live. The track has a bit of everything, heavy mosh riffs, dueling guitar harmonies and a catchy hook.
Von Talbot: This is just a celebration of horror in general: The classic intruder trope. When it was being written, it had the working title of “Desert Danzig” as some of the riffs reminded me of the first Danzig and Queens of the Stone Age albums.
Taylor: This one started out with a completely different feel. I had recorded a version at home but it was a triplet version of what we ended up going with. We wanted to move away from that kind of feel as we felt it limited us with what we wanted the music to do. The track came together and became one of the singles from the album. Another crowd favourite live, a very dark and intense track. FFO; early Sepultura and Tribulation.
Von Talbot: I can barely remember how it was written — it just seemed to ‘be.’ It could quite possibly be my overall favorite song on the album. I love Dave’s cymbal grabs — very reminiscent of Queens Mustapha. Lyrically, we’re all totally fucked; going to hell in a hand basket of obliteration but at least let us have a wee dance prior, eh?
Taylor: The intro was something we had sitting about for a while, very much a Black Breath/Entombed kind of thing. The idea was to create a short and snappy mosh track which I think we achieved. This was the quickest track to come together and was written and demo’d at home by myself during the writing sessions. Like “Stay Gold,” it is the only other track to take a swing triplet feel throughout. There’s definitely a Swedish death metal vibe in there.
Von Talbot: Originally called Blade Artist but Rick was most insistent we had a song called “Stabbing Nightmare/Living Terror.” I managed to talk him into a compromise by deleting the “Living Terror” part when he wasn’t looking.
Owen: Yeah, I got the idea from the Italian film Eyeball. I came across the trailer on a Grindhouse DVD and it was the most ridiculous thing ever. The tagline for the film was “A Stabbing Nightmare Becomes A Living Terror” and it kept repeating EYEBALL every ten seconds or so. It just fit perfect with Damian’s subject matter for the lyrics.
Taylor: We felt that an interlude would work well on the album and something could be created to bridge the tracks together before the finale. The idea was to introduce the next track ‘They Rise’ and merge the two. I handed the intro to They Rise to Dave who then composed the track which culminated in the bridging of the two. A very fitting piece for the album.
Archer: Since high school I have been making music on Atari ST computers. (Showing my age now!) I love the fact the Atari ST has its own sound chip, but it also has midi ports, allowing synthesisers and other instruments to be connected. As my alias HorrorGob I have composed Avant-garde pieces leaning more towards chiptune/screamy/punky vibes. I thought given the age of this Computer (1985) that it would be fitting and fun to compose something for the album. Instead of using the YM sound chip within the Atari, I settled on two synthesisers connected via midi for Dominion. I made sure it was in the same key and tempo as “They Rise,” ensuring there would be a smooth transition between songs. I wanted it to have a menacing buzzing vibe with low bass. Simplicity was the key to sounding like a score from an 80’s horror flick. The synthesiser sounds are actually pretty lo-fi which I thought would be nicely suitable, as opposed to nasty crisp plug-in’s used in music production today.
Taylor: “They Rise” came together quite late on. I had the main riffs and harmonies already laid out but was a little hesitant with bringing them forward as I felt they were different to the rest of the album and quite a contrast between the first track “Stay Gold” and this being the last. The two tracks book-end the album and there’s definitely a story and journey in-between that connects the two. As it turned out it worked really well and it makes for a perfect closing track to the album. It has lots of duel guitar harmonies and lead parts with a massive thrash/hardcore bridge section. The track changes feel as it progresses and reaches an almost uplifting finale with the guitar solo that closes the track. The ring out brings in a sample which is looped alone creating an eerie end to the album. You can almost picture the credits rolling down on an old Hammer film.
Von Talbot:Lyrically it’s about a sexy zombie orgy — you’ve never been to one?! — but I’d like to think there’s an element of romance in some of the wording. This was the last song written for the album and we were kind of racing against the clock to get it done. Between recording the first two verses I had some particularly upsetting news and you can hear the difference in how fucked off I was on the second verse. It’s a great album closer and came out far better than any of us expected.
14th March, Sound – Liverpool (album launch)
8th July, Star & Garter – Manchester w/ Gatecreeper
11th July, Boston Music Room – London – w/Gatecreeper