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Interview

Auditory Armory Talks New Album "Dark Matter"

Florida alternative metal group Auditory Armory just dropped eclectic sophomore album "Dark Matter" this month.

Last week we premiered the entire album online to coincide with the release date, and now we've had the pleasure of picking vocalist April Rose's brain to discuss everything from the term "female fronted metal" to covering Type O Negative and even the shock and awe of opening for genre giants.

Check out the full Auditory Armory interview below, along with a sampling of tracks from the freshly released "Dark Matter."

xFiruath: Let's get the basics out of the way about the history of Auditory Armory for anyone not familiar with the group.

Auditory Armory first started as a two-piece in 2010 with me (April Rose) on vocals and guitar and Oscar Garcia on drums. Dennis and Justice joined the band in 2012, giving the band a fuller sound. We have all known each other for years and were all also involved in another band together - an 8-piece symphonic metal band called Fields of Glass - until it dissolved a few years ago.

xFiruath: What do you think of the term “female-fronted” being used to describe your music? It seems like its falling out of favor these days, as many feel it relegates women to second class status, since it makes it seem like a woman in the vocalist position is so out-of-the-ordinary that it needs to be highlighted. On the other hand, others think of it as another genre tag to let listeners know what kind of sound will be heard. As a joke and to really throw a wrench in the works, we've started referring to bands as “male-backed” just to confuse everyone.

Hahaha, I like the “male-backed” touché you guys did there! We sometimes tag ourselves on social media as “female-fronted” just to let listeners know what sound will be heard, but I don’t like that label for us as a genre. It’s a double-edged sword – we don’t want to be pigeonholed, but being female-fronted also does draw more attention to us because it’s still kind of a unique aspect in rock music to date. We just hope people like our music in general, no matter what gender we are fronted by! I will say, however, that we do hope to break boundaries and stereotypes because we are a band that chooses to have the music speak for itself. I definitely have my own “style” as far as how I dress on stage, but I’m not going to be running around half-naked dancing sexily at a show anytime soon. That’s just not me. The quality of the music is first and foremost to us.

xFiruath: Were there any bumps along the way in getting “Dark Matter” finished and ready to go?

In all honesty, we had a lot of difficulties with the recording process, but I think all the unlucky situations and heartache that happened along the way fused itself into the album and created an even more emotive quality in the recordings. Situational circumstances pushed us to have to work with multiple engineers. At one point, we became very disheartened because we thought we would never finish this album.

Three different engineers worked on "Dark Matter" -- we tracked the guitars, drums, and bass with Alex Spradling at Alpaca Ranch Recording in Altamonte Springs, Florida; the vocals and keyboard parts were recorded at 8ArmsAudio in Winter Park, Florida, and the entire album was mixed and mastered by Rob Caldwell. Our friend, Richie Brown from Mindscar introduced us to Rob and we are so thankful because he has been so professional and a joy to work with. It was kind of cool, because he has worked with really heavy acts such as Cannibal Corpse, Municipal Waste, Goatwhore, etc - but he was really excited to work on this record, even though we're more along the lines of alternative metal. "Dark Matter" would have never seen the light of day if it weren't for Richie and Rob.

xFiruath: What sort of specific sound or sub-genre is the band going after?

We're not necessarily aiming for a particular genre, per se - we really just try to create music that moves the listener. We are influenced by many musical styles, such as rock, thrash metal, new age, jazz, gothic, progressive - and I think that blend is well represented in our music. We do definitely, however, aim to have substance and an emotive quality in our music that paints a soundscape or a "musical mood."

xFiruath: Tell me a bit about the themes and tone of "Dark Matter."

As the title of the album suggests, the lyrics are dark. hat is why the title track and album is called "Dark Matter" -- it's a play on words -- we're not talking about dark matter in space, but rather dark matter as far as dark thoughts and emotions. From what I feel personally and from what others who have heard the record have told me, the album creates a landscape of moods that range from sadness, dark romance, to euphoria -- but underneath it all is a foundation of calm. Knowing that no matter the fate of the listener, he/she has made peace with it.

xFiruath: How does this release differ from “The Awakening?”

“The Awakening” was lyrically more personal and to the point, whereas “Dark Matter” is lyrically more metaphorical and could have various meanings depending on the listener. This release is also evident of the evolution we have gone through as a band -- the compositions are tighter, more technical, and more progressive sounding. “The Awakening” was more of an alternative/hard rock album, whereas “Dark Matter,” we believe, could appeal also to fans of metal, ambient music, and progressive rock.

xFiruath: Tell me a bit about the artwork for "Dark Matter."

Mark Cooper of Mindrape Art illustrated the cover art. When our engineer Rob saw the album artwork for the first time his first words were, “Wow, the cover matches the mood of the album.” s one of my friends described it, this album is a “musical sojourn.” In the artwork, the small figure in the bottom right of the artwork could represent the listener. There seems to be a light in the distance, but in order to get to it, he/she must go through a long, dark, and unknown path (our track “A Path Unknown”).

xFiruath: Our site actually released a Peter Steele tribute album a few years back that had “Love You To Death” on it (in our case, Autumns Eyes tackled that cover track), so I was interested to hear your interpretation of the song. How did you approach the cover, and what led you to pick that particular song?

Yes, that’s right! That cover track by Autumns Eyes is great. We first covered this song for a live Halloween performance about 2 years ago. Honestly, the rest of the band was afraid to attempt it at first, since we love Type O Negative and didn’t want to commit an act of sacrilege if we screwed something up, haha. But I’ve always loved this song so I said, “You know what? Let’s just do it for this show and see how it goes.” The response was overwhelming; I mean, I knew a lot of people liked Type O Negative but to see physical verification of that was awesome.

People who have heard our version seem to really appreciate that we’ve paid tribute to such an influential band and to Peter Steele, who was really an incredibly brilliant artist. Because of that response, we decided to record our version and now that has been getting a really good reception. I never thought about it before we recorded it, but I’ve never heard a version of this song with female vocals. I think it’s kind of interesting to listen to this track sung from a female perspective.

xFiruath: What's the one band you've shared the stage with that really made you think “wow, I never expected to be doing this”?

That would probably have to be when we played Kink Festival at the end of 2016, with other acts such as Evanescence, In Flames, and Hellyeah. I mean, when I told my older sister who primarily listens to mainstream pop music, even she was freaking out, haha. We also gained new fans from playing that gig, and our drummer Oscar (who has an In Flames tattoo) was beaming from ear to ear. In addition, the first real rock concert I went to was Full Devil Jacket at the House of Blues back in 2000. Then years later, we got the opportunity to open up for them – that was a real coming-round-full-circle moment for me too.

xFiruath: Does the band have any upcoming one-off shows, tour dates, or festival appearances to support the album?

We have a couple dates throughout Florida through the end of 2017 (with more to be announced); we plan on touring at the beginning of next year on the East Coast (and hopefully beyond). People can check our tour dates on our website or via Bandsintown.com.

xFiruath: What's going on in your local rock/metal scene and what venues would you recommend that are really championing heavy music?

Central Florida has a really great rock/metal scene. We happen to be lucky in that we actually have a lot of awesome female-fronted rock bands here too. We have a little bit of everything in the Florida musical scene – rock, heavy metal, thrash metal, death metal, progressive rock, technical progressive metal, doom metal, etc! The rock scene here isn’t as publicized as the ones in more metropolitan cities like New York, Chicago, LA, Seattle, and so forth – but rock music definitely thrives here. Maniacal Mojo Records is one of the promoters who have always helped us get on the scene since the band’s beginning. The venues in Central Florida that are really championing heavy music are The Haven Lounge, Will’s Pub, Backbooth, State Theatre, The Brass Mug, The Orpheum, and Venom’s.

xFiruath: Anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks for the interview! People can follow us on Instagram @auditoryarmoryapril and Twitter @auditoryarmory. Our official merch store is found here and our music is available on all major online media sites such as Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, iheartRadio, etc.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur splits his time between writing dark fiction, spreading the word about underground metal bands, and bringing you the latest gaming news. His sci-fi, grimdark fantasy, and horror novels can be found at Amazon.

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