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Interview

Visigoth Comments on "The Revenant King" And Tour

If the members of Visigoth were born during the Iron Age, they definitely would have proved their worth on the battle field where cold steel talks and words are for the dying. There were not, however, born in that age, but rather into a time that still recognizes the power of great fantasy literature depicting barbarian hordes in battle, monsters, and sorcery.

The band’s first full-length recording “The Revenant King” contains nine epic length tracks that realize the band’s epic tales, put to traditional and power metal like Agent Steel, Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol and Manowar.

One of the complaints, as you’ll see in the following interview, about their album is that it’s too long, clocking in at over an hour in length. The length of these songs seem warranted, though, considering the stories Jake Rogers tells. When I reviewed the album at the beginning of 2015, I had few complaints. In fact, I listed it as an early contender for power metal album of the year, a boast that stayed with me throughout the entire year as I put the album in my top twenty list of 2015.

Sixteen months have passed since the release of “The Revenant King,” but fans haven’t forgotten. The group has released a video for the title track right before the end of 2015 and is currently on tour with NWOBHM strong hearts Night Demon. I caught up with guitarist Jamison Palmer and vocalist Jake Rogers before their performance in Austin, Texas to discuss their album, video and tour.

Rex_84: Your tour with Night Demon just started. This is your first North American takeover tour? Have you toured before?

Jake Rogers: We’ve toured before, but this is the longest one. It’s also the furthest east we’ve ever gone.

Jamison Palmer: We’ve never made it further east than Chicago, so this is new ground for us.

Rex_84: When did you start the tour?

Rogers: Thursday. We drove all night on Thursday to Albuquerque on the 9th. We played our first show on the ninth in Albuquerque.

Palmer: This is only our third show.

Rex_84: How is the tour going so far?

Rogers: (laughs) Well, pretty much everyone with the exception of Jamison got really sick. We’ve all been breaking fevers and have had stuffy noises and sore throats, but the cool thing is we’re all starting to get over it, so hopefully in a week we’ll have very bolstered immune systems for the tour and be able to rock without worrying about it.

Rex_84: Do you play many shows in Salt Lake City? What’s the scene like there?

Rogers: We’ve played countless shows in Salt Lake. That’s how we cut our teeth as a band, obviously. The scene there is really awesome. There are a lot of really high-quality bands. We can call our friends because everyone knows each other. It’s just great. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a big party. We have a lot of really strong bands. It’s a little bit stronger in death metal, black metal and thrash, not so much for this style that we’re playing, but we’re all friends and we play shows with all of those bands anyway, so it’s always fun.

Rex_84: Your style, which recalls Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol and some Manowar seems perfect for Brian Slagel’s Metal Blade. How did you sign with them?

Palmer: It’s kind of a weird route. We put out our first demo and EP on a cassette label in Chicago called Swords and Chains Records. This dude from Ireland heard it, wanted to put it out. He did a joint release with Cruz Del Sur Records on vinyl. Then that made its way into the hands of Alan Averill who does A & R for Metal Blade. He’s also the singer for Primordial. He recommended us to the Metal Blade office and they dug it and signed us.

Rex_84: He seems like someone who would like it.

Palmer: Yeah, it’s definitely up his alley. He’s a traditional metal head. Primordial is great.

Rex_84: “The Revenant King” has been out for over a year. How has the feedback been?

Rogers: It’s been mostly pretty good.

Palmer: There are a lot of valid criticisms on the length. We did realize it came out a little long on that hour mark. We’re shooting for the perfect forty-five-minute, single-side LP kind of length on our follow up.

Rex_84: But you guys are going for an epic length on your songs, though, right?

Palmer: Those were songs we had laying around. When we got signed then we said we’ll have to do an album, so we written every song individually. We had not written every song to fit on an album. That’s kind of why it turned out so long. Now that we have to write for a new record, we’re writing for a solid release instead of going song-by-song.

Rex_84: Can you release a single like the old days?

Palmer: I wish we could. We have a bunch of singles ready to go. We have a lot of songs. We’ll have a lot left over when we cut them.

Rex_84: What was the recording process like?

Rogers: We just practiced a bunch leading up to it and went in and recorded.

Palmer: I lost a lot of weight in the studio just from the tracking schedule. Jake had problems with his voice because we have a lot pollution in Salt Lake City. It was really messing him up in the winter time.

Rogers: I was dealing with some health issues at the time that were directly affecting my larynx, so singing was a huge chore. It was kind of a difficult record to get through. I mitigated those health problems, some pretty successfully, so the next record should be smoother sailing for all of us.

Rex_84: You made a video for “The Revenant King.” It has Hollywood-like production values (film). How did you make this video? Who made the storyline?

Rogers: The video was done on a shoe-string budget of not even $70.

Palmer: It was like seventy-four dollars on costumes or something like that.

Rogers: Most of the stuff in the video we had laying around. I have a couple suits of chain mail and my friends all have medieval weapons that we just borrowed. The famous “Burger King” crown was just a plastic crown that we had laying around. I story boarded the video because it’s just based on the lyrics in the song. It’s a very small version of what’s going on in the lyrics. Jason Tarpey, the singer of Eternal Champion, plays the king. Eternal Champion is one of our favorite newer American bands. We were buddies with those guys before hand, so we asked Jason if he wanted to come out and do that, so he did and it was fun. It was mostly a DIY video with the exception of David Brodsky, the guy that Metal Blade flew out to film it, knows what he’s doing behind the camera. All the props and everything, the blood in that video was al beat juice that we bought in the grocery store. It was no-budget but fun to make and also freezing cold.

Palmer: It was very cold that day. Poor Jason was wearing nothing but chain mail.

Rex_84: What’s this song’s story?

Rogers: It’s pretty straight forward about a king whose bloodline was via ancient magic ensorcelled to the throne from which he rules the kingdom over which he presides. These magics have created an arcane bond between his bloodline and the throne. A usurper gets it into his head to ignore the ancient tales told of this sorceress bond, and slays the king on the throne, takes it over and goes and buries him and his men out in the woods. A couple of weeks later, they return from the grave because the magic animates them to come and retake their throne as an army of revenants—people who have returned from beyond the grave—and they retake their throne through blood, steel and cold vengeance.

Rex_84: “Mammoth Rider” is another good story. You mention Hyborea. Is this based on an R.E. Howard story?

Rogers: It’s inspired by that universe, but it isn’t directly culled from any specific Hyborian or Hyperborean franchise. It’s directly inspired by that universe.

Rex_84: Who is the mammoth rider? Is he a Conan-like character?

Rogers: Conan-esque.

Rex_84: Who created the cover art for the album?

Rogers: That was Kris Verwimp who is an artist that since high school I’ve had a dream of being involved in anything that had his art on the cover. I spent a lot of time listening to and buying CDs and eventually records with his artwork on them. They were always really inspiring. I love the worlds he creates with his art. So when it came time for us to have an album cover done, I added him on Facebook and sent him a message. He told me he was too busy because he was working on Realms of Odoric. I told him it was cool, no worries and sent him the album so he could check it out. I sent him a download of the album because at that point we had finished it. He listened to it and a week later he messaged me back: “I’ll make time to do this because I actually really like this.” I was like, “Ok, cool. Just take the title track and paint something based on it.” A couple of weeks later he sent the painting we ended up using as the album cover.

Rex_84: Who are some of the other bands he’s worked with?

Rogers: He’s done Absu “Tara,” “The Sun Of The Tiphareth” and “The Third Storm of Cythráu” and the self-titled. Pretty much everything after “Barathrum: V.I.T.R.I.O.L.” He’s done Seer Bliss. He’s done Horna. He’s done Nocturnal. It could really go on and on. He did a Moonsorrow release, “Tulimyrsky.” Lots of different genres of metal, but always fantastic art is the point, so had to go with him.

Rex_84: Visigoth derives it’s name from the Germanic Tribe that sacked Rome in 410 AD, leading to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Why did you chose this name? How did you come up with the band name?

Palmer: It was in a greasy-spoon diner while we were doing vocal tracking for our first demo. I didn’t play on that but I was in the band, so I was around for the vocal tracking. We made a list of names and we wanted one word that sounded cool.

Rogers: We had some two-word names on that list, too. Basically, we compiled a huge list and started crossing them off as we found which ones had already been used. I think Visigoth was the first one that hadn’t been used.

Palmer: I think it turned out there was a band from San Antonio called Visigoth.

Rogers: There were some Myspace-only bands and there was a punk band from the ‘70s called The Visigoths.

Palmer: I came across a pretty bitchin EP from a metal band from San Antonio called Visigoth. They didn’t do much with it.

Rogers: They couldn’t have because they aren’t on Metal Archives.

Palmer: That was our master list.

Rogers: We basically just wrote a list of names and started plugging them into Metal Archives.

Rex_84: What do you have planned for after this tour? Since “The Revenant King” is over a year old, will you be writing new material?

Palmer: We’re going to be hitting the studio this summer for the follow up, which will hopefully be out next year. We already have a lot of material ready to go, so it’s just a matter of finishing it up and getting it recorded.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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