Iron Void: Band Of The Day

By on 30 July 2014
ironvoid

Photo: Rob Benson

Back in the ’90s the UK had a very small but very passionate doom metal scene, with only a handful of bands at that time worshipping at the musical altar of bands such as Saint Vitus, Pentagram, early Trouble, Candlemass, The Obsessed, Count Raven, Penance, Revelation, Internal Void etc… Iron Void first emerged onto the scene during the latter period of this time in the late ’90s and started playing shows with other like-minded bands who were active at the time, generally only playing to a small number of die hard doomheads in dark dingy rooms above pubs.

The musical climate for a doom band back then was very different compared to more recent times, since doom has became much more popular and accessible thanks to the internet. Doom bands these days enjoy playing to much bigger crowds but it hasn’t always been that way, and hopefully now is the time for bands like Iron Void to finally start enjoying more widespread success¬† after more than paying their dues.

The band recently recorded their long awaited debut album which was recently released by German label Barbarian Wrath, which is a 100% traditional doom metal assault full of classic heavy riffage and clean sung vocals which will appeal to fans of the genres aforementioned godfathers and pioneers as well as the classic style bands that came later such as Reverend Bizarre and The Gates Of Slumber. The band collectively answered my questions:

WORDS: Kat Gillham

WHO ARE THEY: Iron Void
WHERE ARE THEY FROM: Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England
FOR FANS OF: Pentagram, Saint Vitus, early Trouble, Internal Void, Penance, Revelation, Solstice, Reverend Bizarre, The Gates Of Slumber
LATEST RELEASE: S/T Album (Barbarian Wrath 2014)
WEBSITE: Facebook, Twitter & Bandcamp

Hails! Please give the readers a quick history of the band? Please introduce the current line up.
Jonathan “Sealey” Seale (bass, vocals): “Iron Void was originally formed by myself and Andy Whittaker (current Solstice guitarist, ex-The Lamp of Thoth) way back in November 1998 in order to create an old-school Doom Metal band, worshipping at the altar of doom legends such as Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus and Pentagram. The original line-up only lasted a couple of years before splitting up (1999-2000). I decided to resurrect the moniker in July 2008 and we released our 1st official demo in October 2008, entitled ‘Live 2008’. This was followed in 2010 by the EP, ‘Spell Of Ruin’, released on Steve’s (current IV Guitar/ Vocals) label, Doomanoid Records. This was re-released in 2012 with 2 bonus tracks via Doomanoid once again and Barbarian Wrath recently released our self-titled debut full-length. The current lineup consists of myself (Bass / Vocals), Steve Wilson (Guitar / Vocals) and Damien Park (Drums).”

You have finally got around to having your first ever full length album released – please tell the readers what they can expect from your debut full length offering in your own words?
Sealey: “You can expect an old-school Doom Metal album with some NWOBHM influence. We’re influenced by bands like Sabbath, Vitus, Pentagram, Maryland Doom and classic Heavy Metal like Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The songs are quite varied in terms of lyrical content, pace and style, they don’t all sound the same or crawl along at a snail’s pace like a lot of Doom these days.”

How did you hook up with the German label Barbarian Wrath? Are you satisfied with the deal so far and how they have been to work with?
Sealey: “We were introduced to them by our good friends and touring partners, Arkham Witch. We’re pretty happy so far, Hart is a very easy going guy and a Metal fanatic, which is great!”

Damien (Park, drums): “Thanks to Hart from Barbarian Wrath, we finally released the album, and hope that everyone enjoys the album material.”

What format is the album currently available in? Just CD at the moment? Any plans for an other formats?
Sealey: “Yeah, just CD at the moment. We would like to release it on vinyl but Barbarian Wrath aren’t doing much in that respect at present, they may do in future. We’re open to any offers from other labels who would like to release the album, so any interested parties please feel free to get in touch. I’d also like to release ‘Spell Of Ruin’ on vinyl too at some point.”

Your debut EP ‘Spell Of Ruin’ was released a little while ago, is there any fundamental and significant changes/differences between that material and the new album material?
Sealey: “The main difference is the drummer. Diz (original IV drummer) played on ‘Spell Of Ruin’ and Damien is on the new one. Damien’s style is much looser and also just one kick drum rather than the double kick that Diz favoured. There’s not much difference in the style I don’t think, although I’m singing a bit cleaner on a couple of songs on the new one.”

Damien: “I prefer single kick rather to double kick. Plus I use a smaller layout to be more creative around the kit. Since I’ve joined Iron Void the band has locked in tight and communicate well, discussing different influences and inspirations.”

Where was the album recorded at?
Sealey: “It was recorded at Full Stack Studios, Great Harwood, Lancashire by Matt Richardson (Bastard of The Skies, Arkham Witch, Black Magician). It was mastered by James Plotkin.”

Please tell us about the artwork / cover concept and who designed it.
Sealey: “The cover artwork and layout was designed by Goatess Doomwych. I wanted a cover that summed up the band name as the album is self-titled. I read that dying stars emit iron oxide which is red in photos I’ve seen before they supernova and become black holes, or in other words, a void. I sent some images I had in mind to Goatess and she came up with the cover image. The naked woman on the cover reminded me of the 1st Black Sabbath album cover in a weird way and she kind of represents mother nature, death and rebirth if you like which is what happened to the band too!”

What inspires you to put pen to paper?
Sealey: “In terms of lyrics, I’m influenced by things that have happened to me personally, myths and legends, places I’ve visited or fantasy / Horror based lyrics. Necropolis (C.O.T.D), for example is loosely based on the Hammer classic, ‘Plague Of The Zombies’ and ‘Outlaw’ is based on the Robin Hood legend. Other songs such as ‘Those Who Went Before’ and ‘The Burden Of Regret’ are more personal.”

Steve (Wilson, guitar, vocals): “It’s much the same for me, but I have written a few songs themed around the idea of finding the truth. That could be in politics or everyday life, or just trying to communicate things through songs that people don’t usually talk about. Iron Maiden have done that a lot over the years (which could well be where I get it from) and most of the bands we’re into have in some way or another. I liked Sealey’s idea of writing about Robin Hood because it’s something English that we have some experience of instead of writing about Thor or Odin just because it sounds cool. There’s nothing wrong with that, though, if you know what you’re writing about. We’re all into the old Hammer films as well, of course. I remember Damien was watching an old VHS tape of To The Devil A Daughter in the other room while I was recording guitar tracks for the album. My song The Mad Monk is inspired by the Hammer film starring Christopher Lee. I chose that story because it’s a cool film and also because there was a real life Rasputin, so it’s not just a fantasy-themed song.”

Iron Void is very much a traditional doom metal band in the truest sense of the word, what bands made you want to play such a style of music in the first place and inspire and fuel/shape your overall sound?
Sealey: “The main influences are Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus and Pentagram mixed with classic Heavy Metal such as Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. We’re also very much influenced by the Maryland Doom scene. Bands such as Cathedral, Count Raven, Iron Man, Penance, Internal Void, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Revelation, Trouble and bands like Sleep and Electric Wizard are also an influence on our sound. We would also like to incorporate more acoustic and some psych influences too, moving forward.”

Damien: “Iron Monkey, Eyehategod, The Melvins, Crowbar. I also share influences such as Black Sabbath, Sleep and Electric Wizard.”

The band split up for a while or was lying dormant for a bit at least – please tell us about that and how you came about reforming the band and continuing where you basically left off.
Sealey: “Basically, the original lineup only lasted a couple of years, then we went our separate ways. I played in several bands over the next 7 years or so, including Black Maria (Sludge), Sermon Of Hypocrisy (Black Metal) and Scion (Death / Thrash Metal). I wanted to improve my playing and I was into Death Metal since I was a teenager. However, my heart lies in Doom Metal and I longed to play this style again. I joined Steve’s band, So Mortal Be in 2007 on bass initially. The lineup was unstable for a while but when Diz joined on Drums we started to play some old Iron Void songs again as well as a couple So Mortal Be ones and we just agreed to change the name to Iron Void.”

You guys formed and were first active when doom was quite an unpopular style of music, and still very much a small underground scene overall, but in more recent years doom has became much more popular and there is now all kinds of various “doom sub genres”. Some people would argue some of these offshots have nothing to do with the true original doom metal style, what is your opinion on the current doom scene overall and what are the major differences you see these days compared to the ’90s doom scene? Is there anything you particularly miss about the old days before the scene blew up so big?
Sealey: “I think there’s a load of bands these days playing Sludge Doom and the majority aren’t very good. Back in the ’90s, Sludge bands like Crowbar, Acid Bath, etc. actually wrote songs. These days there’s so many bands that can’t even write a song churning out boring, recycled Eyehategod and Iron Monkey riffs. I really don’t think there’s a lot of ‘Classic’ Doom Metal bands around any more, not the style we play anyway, there’s much more interest in Sludge and Psych bands at the moment. It is great that people actually turn out to our shows these days, back in the day we had 1 man and his dog there, literally! What I do miss about the ’90s when we started was the quality of the bands on the scene. Back then, there were a handful of bands, including Cathedral, Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin, Mourn, Solstice and Blessed Realm but they were all amazing bands and still an influence to this day. The great thing now is all the festivals that welcome Doom with open arms, that is a big difference and I’m very grateful for that. Doom shall rise!!”

Steve: “People have a rough idea what doom, or at least stoner doom is now thanks to Electric Wizard getting more attention lately. It’s helped us to find an audience and manage to fit in no matter who we’re playing alongside. I remember going to a few of the original Iron Void gigs in the late 1990s. I never thought I’d end up joining and taking things this far. I don’t really miss much about those days, though. Without internet, it was difficult to hear new bands. I didn’t discover classic doom bands like Pentagram and Saint Vitus until about fifteen years ago. I never heard anything by them in the ’90s. I just listened to Cathedral, Iron Monkey and Electric Wizard and moved on from there.”

Iron Void have been a very active live entity since you reformed, what shows have you got in the pipeline to support the album? I know you have a UK tour planned with Goatess from Sweden how did this come about? What can people expect from an Iron Void live show?
Sealey: “You can expect a full-on, heavy dose of Doom! We don’t mess around, we just play our songs and get on with it. We’re heavy but catchy at the same time. Yes, we have a full UK tour planned in November with Goatess (13/11 – The Snooty Fox, Wakefield, 14/11 – Scruffy Murphy’s, Birmingham, 15/11 – The Unicorn, Camden, 16/11 – Kraak, Manchester, 17/11 – Bannerman’s Bar, Edinburgh). I’ve been friends with Chritus (Linderson – ex – Saint Vitus, Count Raven, Terra Firma) since we played with Lord Vicar a few years ago and I’ve been a fan of his music for years. I booked the tour myself, with the help of some key UK promoters. It’s going to be killer!”

Steve: “We’re really looking forward to the Goatess Tour. We missed Lord Vicar at Doom Over Vienna last year because we played the day before them but we did get a chance to check out Goatess at this year’s Doom For The Doomed fest in Birmingham.”

Damien: “Looking forward to the 5 day UK tour with Goatess, after seeing them when we played/stayed for the Doom For The Doomed Festival.”

You have toured abroad in mainland Europe in the past, how was that experience? Any standout moments you care to share/ Any plans to do more touring abroad in support of the debut album?
Sealey: “It was awesome! We were really well looked after in mainland Europe, everyone was very friendly,we had more beer than we could drink, amazing food and we had some great after show parties. There were far too many good memories to go into detail here, but rest assured, a good time was had by all! We are hoping to play a couple of shows with Goatess in Ireland early next year then we’d like to tour mainland Europe again in support of the album. I’d like to do more shows in Germany and make it over to Holland in the later half of 2015.”

Steve: “They were the best gigs I’ve ever played, which I put down to the enthusiastic audiences and not wanting to disappoint our European fans. We really were looked after. I didn’t buy a drink for four days. There was no need! We met Hart and Cheryl from Barbarian Wrath Records in Germany. I knew we had to play well with them watching in case they decided to sign us. We were all really tired from drinking in Vienna the night before and not getting much sleep but it worked out well for us. The only minor downside was the last night of the tour. Tyrant’s Kall played quite early and we missed their set.”

Damien: “Touring the UK and in mainland Europe was one of the greatest experiences I have done so far. Very tiring and lack of sleep, but at the same time it has been great going on stage playing to crowds and meeting people that enjoy this genre of music.”

What’s your opinion on A/ the current UK Doom scene, and B/ the worldwide Doom scene? What bands from both scenes do you feel an “affinity” with?
Sealey: “In terms of contemporary Doom in the UK, I really respect Serpent Venom, Witchsorrow and Alunah. With regards to the worldwide scene, we definitely feel an affinity with our touring partners, Hooded Priest, Goatess, our Maltese brothers in Forsaken and Nomad Son, Pilgrim in the States and the Maryland Doom scene.
Steve: All of the above and Arkham Witch, too. They’ve got a similar sense of humour to us and being from Yorkshire, they understand why we always think everything is too expensive!”

How does a typical Iron Void song come together from birth to completion?
Sealey: “We usually come up with the riffs first. Me or Steve usually come up with a full song or a verse and chorus idea then we’ll just jam it out in the rehearsal room and come up with the vocal melody as we’re jamming. The lyrics come last in most cases. Once we know what subject we’re writing about, the lyrics become clearer, at least when I’m writing lyrics myself.”

Steve: “I’ve only put together rough versions of one or two full songs for our new material. I’ve just recorded single riffs for the rest. I want to try arranging some of them as a band and involving Damien more to see what new ideas we can come up with.”

Damien: “So far all the songs have already been written before I joined them back in 2012, but since then Sealey and Steve have new riffs in the works and so far I have been thinking where I come in on a certain parts, or what drum pattern would fit to make the song flow.”

Tell us about the band name – was it influenced by the old Hellhound/Maryland Doom bands/scene?! I am thinking a mix of Internal Void and Iron Man here! What does the band name represent to you?
Sealey: “It’s funny you say that, that’s exactly what Steve O’Malley said to me a few years ago! No, the band name is nothing to do with either Iron Man or Internal Void, although both bands are a musical influence. Ozzy Osbourne actually came up with the name! I’m from Birmingham and years ago my Uncle was having a drink at Xmas time and was playing his old Sabbath and Zeppelin vinyl. He told me he had visited the house in Aston where Ozzy grew up and scrawled on the wall outside was the name ‘Iron Void’. I immediately thought this would be a great name for a band and also thought that Sabbath might have considered this before deciding on Black Sabbath. Years later, I was reading Ozzy’s Autobiography, ‘I Am Ozzy’ and he mentioned the same thing! I couldn’t believe it! So there you go, that’s where the name originates.”

Future plans for rest of this year and beyond now that the album is release?
Sealey: “We are touring the UK with Goatess in November and are planning some shows for next year too at the moment. In the meantime, we’ve booked Skyhammer Studios (owned by Jon from Conan) in March next year to record the follow-up to our debut album. We hope to release this mid-2015 at the latest.”

Where can readers buy the album from?
Sealey: “You can order the album via these links –
http://www.witchesbrewthrashes.de/shop/en/barbarian-wrath/181-iron-void-iron-void-cd.html
http://ironvoid.bandcamp.com/album/iron-void
http://www.doomanoidrecords.bigcartel.com/

Thanks for answering this short interview! The last words are yours!
Sealey: “Many thanks for the support Kat, we really appreciate it. Please purchase a copy of the album if you dig our music or Doom Metal in general. All funds will be used to record new material and further promote our vision of Doom Metal. DOOM ON!!!”

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