Q: Descending Death is the band’s fourth single release and marks yet another stylistic turning point. How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard you?
A: We try to be as heavy as we can while still retaining melody in the songs. At least at this point in time, there is no WTD template, so to speak: we write whatever comes to us and if we like it, it goes to the next stage and Ben (Pennifold, singer) will add his lyrical magic to it and it becomes a Where the Devil track. We don’t have a set list full of modern tech metal, or groove metal, or thrash or any one genre. I think for us, there are some touch points that you can find throughout all our songs, like certain chord types or chug techniques that might help tie it together, but it’s really Ben’s vocals that are the link between our different sounds.
Really, I think the fact all our songs have been a bit different has been more a plus than a possible negative.
Q: Descending… is definitely your fastest – perhaps even your heaviest – track yet. How did it come about?
A: We kind of perversely wanted this song to come out after ‘Misery’, which we thought was our most accessible track so far and sat at 90bpm with that driving slow groove. Descending Death sits at 185bpm and doesn’t let up.
It started as a demo I wrote and fleshed out in early 2020. It started with that descending intro/verse riff that I’d had on my PC for a while and built from there. I consciously tried to incorporate some guitar harmonies in the breakdown section. A lot of the time both guitars are playing the same thing in WTD. That gives us a big sound, but it’s nice to make good use of the two guitars where ever we can.
Descending Death was actually the working title, but it just stuck and Ben wrote lyrics that included the reference. That actually happens a lot with us. There are at least five songs in our set so far that have retained their working titles hahah.
Q: You finally got to make your live debut recently after your first shows got cancelled in the first wave of COVID lockdowns in 2020. How did it go? It must have felt good to get up there on stage.
A: It was amazing! It was a really cold, dismal night. We had purposely not told anyone about the show – treating it more like a dress rehearsal, I guess you could say. The other bands were nice enough to let us do that. Two of the other bands on the bill were having their first live gigs, too (Hatescape and Komodo Nightmare), so no one knew if anyone would show up.
As it turned out, the place was really busy, even for us as openers. We got a really good response and no one messed up too badly hahah. We can’t wait to do it again. We have a show booked for the launch of Descending Death on August 27 at The Hamilton Station Hotel with Plague Dweller, Scholar of Sin and Engraved. Fingers crossed restrictions don’t get too bad here in Newcastle before then.
Q: Your last single, ‘Misery’, saw the introduction of a new band member – guitarist ‘Remi’ Wilson. How has he fit in so far?
A: Remi has been great. He’s slipped right in, has a similar dry/crude sense of humour and started contributing song ideas right off the bat. He’s a quick study, too. We’ve been able to bounce ideas off of one another and I think as time goes on we’ll make a really good songwriting team.
Q: Your new music video looks mental! Such an epic location. Does your drummer, Rob still have his beard after all those fireballs?
A: Our singer Ben actually scored us those locations for the shoot. We did our new promo photos there at the same time. Man, I shoot cars for a living and could easily photograph cars there for weeks and not use the same spot twice. I was in heaven.
We used Kye Smith Creative again for this shoot. He did our first clip for ‘Moments of Tangency’ and did a great job and was easy to work with. He came along once again with a shot list in hand ready to go and just nailed it.
As for the fireballs, Rob had been wanting to get some fire into our videos from the get go. He even had a dummy drum kit ready to burn hahah. We would have had some in the ‘Moments…’ video, but there was a fire ban on at the time. Climate wise the two clips couldn’t have been further apart. ‘Moments…’ was a sweaty 30-something, humid night and the shoot for ‘Descending…’ was freezing.
Q: You guys put a lot of effort into each release. What have you got up your sleeves for next time?
A: We try to monitor what works better than other things, retain those strategies for next time and just keep brainstorming and researching new methods of delivery and marketing that we can feasibly accomplish and afford. We don’t have any more budget than the next band, but we’ve been blessed with members with different skill sets that can get a lot done in-house. Whatever else we can’t do but believe we need (like the videos), we pool our cash and invest.
As for the next single release, I really couldn’t tell you yet. We’re not up to that point! But I think we might go for another lyric video so at least there’s something for you to watch while you enjoy the listen hahah
Q: What are the biggest goals for Where the Devil over the next 12 months? What’s planned for after this batch of songs is unleashed?
A: We’re already hard at work writing new songs. We have three pretty much complete and ready to go with another three to five almost there musically. Once we’re happy with the batch we have complete we plan to record those and keep the train moving. I think it’s especially important at the moment with the way COVID continues to impact our ability to get out there and support any releases with live performance.
Q: Is it hard to keep motivated and optimistic about the scene with COVID never far from view and affecting gigs again?
A: You know, for me, being in a band was all about performing. Any recording we thought about doing in the early days was simply a means to an end: releasing songs to find an audience so we could play bigger and better shows. However, since COVID hit I’ve had to readjust my thoughts on that and over time I have.
I still want to play more than anything, but I’ve really come to enjoy both the recording and releasing/marketing element of the process. It’s been amazing watching the band grow a little more each time we release something – the word spreads further, the feedback gets better and better, we pick up some more followers… Nothing will substitute live performance, but this is certainly a good alternative for those times when we can’t just concentrate on playing live and spreading the word the old fashioned way.
Q: Newcastle seems to be a hot bed for metal bands right now. Who should our readers watch out for?
A: Oh for sure! There are a ton of great bands here and the surrounding areas. I can’t speak for all the guys in the band, but I personally follow bands like Hatescape, Komodo Nightmare, Russian Novel, Take My Soul, Chaosaint, Faith in Lies, Lycanthrope, The Wandering, Post Truth, Whatever, Plague Dweller… there are too many. But those are definitely a good place to start.
Q: What bands would Where the Devil most love to support, given the chance?
A: Who wouldn’t we want to play with?! Everyone! We each have our favourite Australian and international bands that we’d absolutely love to share a stage with, but I think some more universal faves would be bands like Parkway Drive, Thy Art is Murder, Circles, In Hearts Wake, COG, Northlane and Karnivool. Not sure we’re the right band for their audience but we love ’em!
As for international bands, how could you not want to play in front of rabid crowds like the ones Slipknot get? Even if they did give you the old ‘Slayer crowd’ routine, it’d still be an awesome experience. I think we all have a wish list of our favourite bands that we’d love to say we’d shared a stage with. Mine would be Helmet, Machine Head, Killer Be Killed, Code Orange, Deftones… you name it.