Black Anvil was forged in the melting pot of New York City, a crucible whose flood of influences engulf their new album. As Was is an intoxicating potion that never boasts the same dark hue. Black Anvil's grimy, blackened thrash is more nuanced this round, creating the band's most potent brew yet.
The record - which is out now after a January release - offers such unexpected ingredients as haunting group vocals, arena-ready guitar harmonies and whispers of psychedelia.
Bassist and vocalist Paul "P.D." Delaney revealed how Black Anvil wrought its most daring release yet during a stop during his group's latest tour in Washington, D.C.
Mark Hensch of Thrashpit.com: You're traveling with Inquisition and Mayhem. Are there any crazy stories from the road?
Paul "P.D." Delaney (vocals/bass): We flipped our trailer in Wyoming. It's about as crazy as it got. [It was] s----y weather, ice. The van went off the road and the trailer flipped. Luckily we didn't because we hit some snow and the van stopped and the trailer kept going. The trailer got
totaled, we didn't know what the f-k we were going to do.
We ended up assessing everything, packing everything we could into the van and leaving the trailer behind - which we owned - and renting a new one and making it to Salt Lake City before sound check and everything.
It didn't stop us when I was thinking, "Maybe we'll drive home, maybe we'll miss a few shows." It worked out somehow.
It could have been bad. The trailer was totaled. The little things - the hitches were mangled and the bottom was chewed out - so to repair it would not have been worth it. It wasn't torn to sh-t, but it was f---d up.
Thrashpit.com: Mayhem is performing their 1994 album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas during their sets on this tour. What impact has that record had on you?
Paul: They're one of the bands that, you know, flipping through the metal mags and seeing like the T-shirt page and sh-t, that was one of the band logos [you'd see].
Bathory, Venom, [and them] - It wasn't the typical Metallica and Slayer metal, the mainstream. I grew up on KISS and that was the gateway into the heavier sh-t, and Metallica, you know?
Seeing like Dissection shirts and the darker imagery is what grabbed me. At first listening to stuff like that - like "Deathcrush" - I didn't get it right away. The production threw me off and I just didn't understand it. It took a while.
And then I got to punk and hardcore and being able to like accept like a lower-fi production sort of made me realize a couple of years after the fact how the production is.
Thrashpit.com: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is a landmark release in black metal history. What albums have impacted you that profoundly?
Paul: I love both KISS and Metallica. With KISS, it's just everything. There's clunkers and there's some great sh-t in there.
Music >From 'The Elder' is a record that always stuck out to me - I always loved it more than anyone should.
A lot of the unmasked stuff later on [too]. I like Asylum. I like everything. I'll find a way to like everything. [It's] the same with Metallica. I love everything for what it is at times.
I would say Mayhem as a whole was a pretty impactful band. I wouldn't say De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas necessarily changed my life, no disrespect. As a whole they're important to this genre of music and to heavy metal.
Thrashpit.com: What's on your most recent playlist?
Paul: There's so many things in the van. We've been doing a lot of hip-hop this trip. And talk radio.
Nothing on heavy rotation but we've sort of been digging up the punk
and hardcore vault. Stuff like A.F., Cro-Mags, that's been the kick lately.
Thrashpit.com: Black Anvil released its fourth full-length album As Was in January. What does that title mean?
Paul: The last record was called Hail Death. It wasn't necessarily a concept album, but the concept was there. It is obvious what the concept was [that] we were singing about.
Hail Death was [our] last record [in 2014] and we started writing this one and we were just having a real casual conversation of like, "What comes after death? What are we going to call this next record?"
[Our drummer] Raeph [Glicken] just shot at me "As Was" and we were sold before we had anything even written.
It was like, "That's perfect, I get it, I know exactly what you mean, and if not, I don't care. I think I know what you mean."
It really worked out in a way. It was sort of like the idea was, "What happens after death?" That's sort of the concept of this [album].
Thrashpit.com: As Was has cover art comprised of cryptic symbols in an intricate design. How did it originate and what does it represent?
Paul: There was a lot of back and forth with the guy who does our art work. He's done all of our releases and he's a close friend.
We had a bunch of things, the typical back and forth between band and artist. Nothing crazy, but there was this sigil he created. And we just kept going back to that.
That was the cover. [It's] something striking and simple and to the point. And I liked that he created a sigil for us for this album cycle and we went with it.
We put the writing on the cover and we're like, "This is bold." It's very powerful. It was the way the album was meant to be. Less is more.
I feel like that's how the whole album is sort of very stripped down. And yet, in trimming the fat and toning it don we were sort of able to go further with what we were doing.
I feel like we grew a little from the last one just from learning what works and what doesn't work, what we like and what we don't like.
Thrashpit.com: What songs from As Was resonate the most with you?
Paul: I'm completely happy with the whole thing. I feel like it'd be easier if I had kids to pick one. This I had a little time to nitpick and the whole thing really flows and tells the whole story so I'm really married to the whole thing.
Thrashpit.com: What message do you hope listeners take away from As Was lyrically?
Paul: We like to keep it up for interpretation. I feel it's pretty obvious if you dig in and you have a lyric sheet, some of the themes on the album.
There's some spiritual sh-t going on, but it's pretty relatable to anyone that wants to dig into it if they wanted to.
You could get dumped or you could hate someone or you could apply it to all sorts of stuff. That's the cool stuff about the lyrics of this band.
It's the duality - the real meaning behind is also the motivation behind it.
Sometimes it is someone or something that triggers it in that sense and we just find a way to blend all these worlds together.
Thrashpit.com: How has making As Was changed Black Anvil?
Paul: Our past bands have been sort of monotonous, in a way. I have no regrets or have no ill feelings towards our older sh-t, but we spent a lot of time in [another] band together, three of us, this hardcore band you can only push so far and it's just, you write hardcore songs.
It's nice to just to do a little bit more and push yourself and not have limitations. We did a lot more singing and a lot more melody [this time].
There's a lot more and I don't know where it's going to lead. Maybe the next one there won't be any. We'll see in two years when we starve.
Some of the music here gets a little calmer and it's just easy to hear stuff like that, it's easy to hear melody and we're fans of a lot of different music across the board.
We'd catch ourselves hearing a lot of some Peter Steele, Type O Negative type music. I love how he was never afraid to sing and just do sh-t.
They're one of the best bands out of New York [City] and a real inspiration to us just growing up there. Other bands too - like Agnostic Front and Carnivore and Type O Negative.
Thrashpit.com: Black Anvil hails from New York City. How does home compare with Washington, D.C.?
Paul: We've had a lot of friends in bands from Washington, D.C. Bad Brains is sort of the first thing when I think of bands from D.C. D.C. has cornered everything on hardcore from the beginning.
It's a completely different city than New York. I feel like I'm in a movie somewhere. This is the weirdest sh-t. It's a weird town. I never know if I'm in a safe area or if I'm not or what's going on. I'm also just comfortable in New York. I know my way around.
Baltimore was the same way for me. It was pretty confusing. We made a record in Baltimore - we spent a month there - and it was like "OK, I'm starting to get it a little bit."
Thrashpit.com: What's next for Black Anvil?
Paul: I don't know. So far this tour has been really successful. We're at the end of it and there's a lot of stuff coming up, a lot of offers coming up.
Nothing set in stone yet. We're doing a festival in Las Vegas this summer - Psychofest. I feel like they just announced King Diamond and Neurosis as their headliners. I think last year they had Alice Cooper and Blue Oyster Cult. We've got that planned, Europe, some more U.S. stuff.
We're just going to roll it and do with it whatever we can. Take it as it comes and enjoy it. It's going to end. Everything's going to end.
Check 'em out at https://blackanvil.bandcamp.com/