by Mark Hensch
Dropping their first EP in 2006, Havre, Montana's Martriden instantly made their mark on the heavy metal underground. The quartet's brand of majestic yet brutal blackened death metal caught the attention of executives at Siege of Amida Records and Candlelight Records' USA division, leading to the 2008 release of Martriden's formidable full-length debut The Unsettling Dark. Two years later, the band has transcended its brief, meteoric history by self-releasing Encounter the Monolith, a challenging blackened death metal album based on Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. I spoke with guitarist Will Thackeray about artistic independence, cinema, and all the melodic blackened death metal we could fit in-between.
Mark Hensch of Thrashpit.com: First off, it is a pleasure talking with you today. I have enjoyed Martriden ever since I first heard you guys a few years ago.
Will Thackeray (guitar): Thank you very much! It's a pleasure here as well.
Thrashpit.com: Let's start at the beginning. How did all of you end up playing heavy metal in Montana?
Will: We all went to the same high school and met pretty early on. For some reason we all really clicked with bands like Metallica and Megadeth and we would get together for hours with our instruments and just try to play their songs. Later we got into various death and black metal bands and after that we decided we should be writing our own stuff. We weren't really crowd pleasers playing that stuff in high school though; most people didn't know quite what to think of us.
Thrashpit.com: After releasing your self-titled EP in 2006, how did Martriden end up with Siege of Amida and Candlelight Records USA?
Will: After the EP was self-released for some time, we started getting quite a bit of label attention. Some of the deals we got were kind of ridiculous so we just waited until the best offer came around, one that didn't involve changing our songs for radio or anything that would bind us to the same label forever. SOAR and Candlelight seemed like the best choice for us, not only because of the deal but also because of the types of bands that are typically on their rosters.
Thrashpit.com: It seems Martriden accomplished much in a short time once recordings started getting released. What do you think it is which has made people embrace your music so fast?
Will: Honestly, I don't really know. We do take a lot of care towards songwriting and I hope that's the reason why. We're trying, I think more than ever now, to experiment a little bit with the stuff we write and not be so formulaic. Hopefully that gives us a unique sound.
Thrashpit.com: What did you think of the response towards 2008's full-length The Unsettling Dark?
Will: It was positive overall. Obviously, some people didn't care for it as much as the EP. We wanted to try more things on The Unsettling Dark but we were kind of rushed and ended up not having time. Most of the reviews we read were mostly positive though.
Thrashpit.com: In writing Encounter the Monolith, what did Martriden want to do differently?
Will: Starting out writing, I think we just wanted to do something different from The Unsettling Dark. We wanted to steer away from standard death metal song structures and create a bit more space and changes in mood. We also had a lot more time to come up with keyboard parts and sounds and that added a huge amount to Encounter the Monolith. Overall, it was a more fun and relaxing atmosphere recording it because we didn't have a label deadline to meet. We took our time and made sure we were happy with every part of it before moving on.
Thrashpit.com: Musically speaking, how has Martriden changed on Encounter the Monolith since The Unsettling Dark?
Will: Most of the music on The Unsettling Dark was pretty fast and aggressive. We tried to add a bit more contrast and interest to the parts with Encounter the Monolith. I think we have progressed a lot in our songwriting in this one. We took some chances and I think it turned out a lot better because of it. The one thing we don't want to do is become stale by creating the same album over and over again.
Thrashpit.com: How does releasing an album like Encounter the Monolith independent of a record label change the way Martriden approaches their work as a band?
Will: Not too differently. There are certainly pros and cons to labels as well as releasing independently but I'd say we are happier at this time in our career without a label.
Thrashpit.com: Encounter the Monolith is heavily influenced by the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. How did the idea of using the film for the album come about?
Will: We didn't really use it as a starting point. We kind of came to it halfway through writing the album. I was really interested in the movie and how it tied into Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, mainly the evolution of mankind and what things will be like for us eventually.
Thrashpit.com: How did Martriden approach writing songs for Encounter the Monolith with 2001: A Space Odyssey as a driving concept?
Will: Well, we didn't approach all the songs with that concept in mind. The last song I wrote for the album, "Death and Transfiguration," was based on the last part of the movie. The main character has a somewhat chaotic trip into his final resting place and then into his rebirth as the Star Child. We also took Gyorgy Ligeti's "Requiem," which was the theme of the monolith, and attempted to write our own version. Basically, we got a ton of ideas from 2001. That film is just bursting with ideas and we tried to pay homage to it.
Thrashpit.com: Some people say a musician is his own best critic. What would you say is the best song on the new album and why?
Will: I think the song that turned out the best was the title track "Encounter the Monolith." It is kind of odd how it came about though – Kyle had written the basic outline for that song and we had one day before tracking drums to figure out what we were going to do with it. We sort of went through it and reworked a lot of the parts. It was just sort of a big mesh of ideas from the whole band. Interestingly, it was the song that took the least amount of time and effort. It just kind of came naturally and I think it turned out really great. We hope to do much more of that kind of writing in the future.
Thrashpit.com: What touring plans does Martriden have for supporting Encounter the Monolith?
Will: We are rehearsing our asses off right now for a little tour in the summer, probably July and August. No dates are up yet but they should be settled in the next week.
Thrashpit.com: Last question! What do you think the future holds for Martriden?
Will: Well, it will be different that's for sure. We have some new members coming in and I think they will add a lot both to our live shows and to our next album. We have some crazy ideas we want to try out so really we're not sure what the future holds exactly either! We'll still be writing some great music though.
Thrashpit.com: Thank you very much for your time today. Best of luck to you and Martriden in the future!
Will: Thanks a lot, we really appreciate it!
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