Ryan Fairfield Of Hallowed Butchery Talks New Split And More
Melding many different aspects of extreme metal together from doom to black metal, solo act Hallowed Butchery recently saw the release of a split album with Batillus, and is also currently working on a split with Falls of Rauros. Sole member Ryan Scott Fairfield took out some time to discuss the band with Metalunderground, as well as the other projects he is working with.
While discussing the themes of the song "Coffin Life," which appeared on the Batillus split, Fairfield commented, "I wanted to write this song to myself, in hopes that it would allow me to see that there is only one life, and that at any time, it could all be over. I want to follow my dreams, and that requires me to live every day of my life like it is my last day on earth. That's what this song is really about: taking control over your life, and making your dreams a reality." He also discusses how the band changed from Hallowed Butchery of the Son to just Hallowed Butchery and what's on the horizon for this rising solo act.
xFiruath: Can you give me a little history on Hallowed Butchery? When did the project start and what has it done so far?
Ryan: I started Hallowed Butchery back in 2004. I wanted to start a metal band, but wasn't having any luck finding other members, and therefore decided to go it alone. It began as an electronic grindcore project; inhuman drum speeds, loads of movie samples, and extremely short song lengths. I played live, added a member, and did a mini-tour of Canada. When it came time to write new material, I found myself bored with grindcore, and began exploring other forms of metal, specifically black and doom metal. I recorded a few black metal demos, and ceased performing live. I also recorded a split EP with fellow Maine black metaller Bothildir, but all of the songs were lost in a hard-drive crash. Rather than spend any more time on the split, I began writing and recording my debut album; the result being "Funeral Rites for the Living."
xFiruath: Is there a story behind the name Hallowed Butchery?
Ryan: It used to have a different meaning. In the beginning, when I still clung to the religion of my family and of my past, the project was called "Hallowed Butchery of the Son." When I came to my senses, I rid myself of the "of the Son." Now its meaning has changed. Hallowed Butchery; Holy Slaughter; Blessed Annihilation. It brings to mind all of the bloodshed that has ensued over the years in the name of a God or of a religion.
xFiruath: Are you working with any other projects right now?
Ryan: When Hallowed Butchery started to explore the realms of doom metal, I started a melodic black metal side project called Sarlinov. I believe some demos are still floating around on the internet. Time doesn't permit me to continue writing under this moniker, but it's something that I hope to be able to do in the future. However, I do sing in a melodic death/thrash band called Terrible Old Man. We are currently recording our debut full-length, which should be available next summer. Our demo is available to stream on both our MySpace and Facebook pages.
I also recently joined a new act called Vail Astronomer. Dustin Fairbanks (ex-Hallowed Butchery of the Son) is the guitarist and Mike Levenseller (ex-Last Chance to Reason) is the drummer. They're writing/recording some doomy post-metal in the vein of Neurosis and Isis, but with a more massive approach, like that of Crowbar. My main role will be as vocalist, but I've been given free-reign to play other instruments as well. They just finished recording a demo. A professional release and upcoming shows are in the works.
xFiruath: How did you end up doing a split with Batillus?
Ryan: Stefan at Vendetta Records recommended that I release a few splits this year, in hopes that it would generate more interest in the project. He mentioned Batillus and I thought they were great, so he made it happen.
xFiruath: Tell me about the songs on the split – how are they different from anything else you’ve recorded?
Ryan: Much more time and attention to detail went into the writing and recording of the songs on the split. With "Funeral Rites for the Living," I wrote as I recorded and the result was a bit ill-defined and undeveloped. With "Coffin Life," I was much more focused. I knew what I wanted to achieve and I made it happen.
xFiruath: What do the lyrics deal with?
Ryan: The song tells the fictional story of a man named John Dabiers, whom was born and raised in small town New England. When he becomes a young man, he leaves, but soon returns as his connection to small town living is inseparable. He lives his life, working at a mill for many years, marrying, and having a few children. All the while, he dreams of quitting the 9-to-5 and running his own farm, with his wife. He nears retirement, and his wife and him begin planning the farm, however his wife dies in the process. On her death bed, she asks John to "do it for me." However, he is so grief-stricken from her death, and weak from old age, and doubtful (yet somewhat hopeful) that there is a God, let alone an afterlife... and he decides, either he's just killing time, or he is killing himself. He chooses the latter, and puts a bullet in his head, hoping that maybe, just maybe he will be reunited with his dead wife. In death, he finds that there is no heaven, nor a hell. He is dead, but what is torturous is that he is fully aware that he is dead, and that his wife is literally in the next grave over. She speaks to him, but he cannot hear. And time goes on, and those that are living are unaware that these two ever lived. There is no trace of them left behind on earth. Nothing, but "dormant ashes in a rust urn." That is their legacy.
Much of this song is about me personally, and my desire to follow my dreams with my wife and family by my side. However, the rat race is a hard one to run away from, so it is also about my struggle. I wanted to write this song to myself, in hopes that it would allow me to see that there is only one life, and that at any time, it could all be over. I want to follow my dreams, and that requires me to live every day of my life like it is my last day on earth. That's what this song is really about: taking control over your life, and making your dreams a reality.
xFiruath: Where were the tracks for the split recorded?
Ryan: Everything was recorded on my PC at my home in Hinckley, Maine. I have no plans of ever entering a studio. I love having full control over every aspect of my music, from the writing and recording, to the artwork.
xFiruath: Has Hallowed Butchery performed live at this point, and do you use session musicians for live shows?
Ryan: I have never performed live with Hallowed Butchery in its current state. However, that will be changing soon. I have been working on putting together a mini-tour next year. Andrew/Velnias has shown interest in playing drums for a live Hallowed Butchery, so that is definitely a possibility, though the distance between us may prove to be problematic. But live performances are definitely a priority for next year. I'd love to make my way across seas to Europe at some point.
xFiruath: What is your local metal scene like and have you caught any good shows lately?
Ryan: Maine's metal scene is fairly small. If you're not living in Portland (Maine's largest city), you're lucky to catch a few great metal shows a year. Terrible Old Man did play with Goatwhore this summer, and that was a hell of a time. I had a neck ache for weeks after. As far as local acts go, I do recommend checking out Falls of Rauros. They are a fantastic black/neo-folk metal band from Southern Maine. We are currently recording a split together.
xFiruath: What’s on the horizon for Hallowed Butchery?
Ryan: As mentioned earlier, I am working on a split with Falls of Rauros. We've actually confirmed two other bands for the split, making it a four-way. The other bands are Velnias and Gallowbraid. Both are amazing in their own right. Velnias play superb blackened doom metal. If you haven't heard their debut "Sovereign Nocturnal," you are missing out. Vendetta Records has a vinyl release of it planned for early next year. Do yourself a favor and order a copy as soon as it is available.
I'm new to Gallowbraid, but from what I have heard, he has brought the post-black metal of Agalloch to whole new levels. He recently released his debut EP "Ashen Eidolon," and it seems to be making quite a bit of buzz in the metal underground. It's going to be really great for the four of us to be able to share a vinyl record, as we all are avid nature-lovers, all firm followers in the DIY-lifestyle, and all fond of both black and doom metal. There's no confirmed record label as of yet, but you can expect some gorgeous artwork, featuring a series of nature photography, courtesy of my wife Brittney Fairfield. Other than the split, I have also begun writing my second full-length. It's heavier and darker than my past work, with a sound more akin to old-school death/doom and black metal. Lyrically, I've been working to ensure a seamless concept. One can expect blasphemous story-telling taken to whole new levels.
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