Things in the Infanteria camp appear to have quietened down somewhat since 2014’s monumental RAMfest Cape Town appearance, opening for Trivum and Killswitch Engage; quiet on the surface, at least. So metal4africa‘s Darkfiend pinned down frontman Chris Hall with a beer to briefly reflect on the bands history, and particularly the post-Isolated Existence Infanteria, but mostly to hear what the band has been up to since taking a bit of a step back from the live scene.
In 2006, this handful of school-going teens slapped together a thrash metal band led by brothers Chris and Rob Hall. At metal4africa‘s first ever live event, titled A Showcase Of African Metal (which in the following year would become the bi-annual SummerFest and WinterFest branded series of live events), Infanteria introduced themselves to Cape Town’s greater heavy metal fraternity to humble reception as the opening act. Years later, these boys-turned-men and longtime protagonists of thrash returned to co-headline at SummerFest’13 to raucous crowds and launched their debut album Isolated Existence. Something here had definitely been triggered that would in short succession be further proven during Infanteria‘s participation in the 2013 South African Wacken Metal Battle where the band went on to represent their country at the finals in Germany, finishing in eighth place among the best from thirty countries. We asked Chris what he thought it was that had made 2013 their year.
“We definitely noticed more public interest once songs from Isolated Existence started being previewed. When we eventually launched the album, something at that show and those afterwards was different. People had begun singing along with the songs and really connecting with shows; it’s like, before, people had seen us live, but there wasn’t anything tangible.” ~ Chris Hall (vocals, guitar, Infanteria)
Having delivered a debut album with great production value and a fantastic collection of varied songs, we challenged Chris on what the band was going to do to not only maintain, but improve on, for the next album. Chris admits that Infanteria‘s original co-guitarist, Barry, had contributed a lot to Isolated Existence, and that he felt daunted by the task of having to write the next album alone. However, he decided that there was nothing for it but to embrace the task.
“Writing for a follow-up album began almost immediately after the launch of Isolated Exisitence; even before the Wacken Metal Battle. We’ll be doing this one through the Burning Tone Records label, like with the first, because of a great team. I’ll be doing all of the guitar tracking myself, with Rob taking basic drum ideas with what I’ve written and developing them. Then Louis Henn at Burning Tone Studio will handle the mixing and mastering. Whilst I was actually quite scared of having to go forward with writing an album, Adriano has proven to be a great help in terms of having somebody to reflect ideas off of since filling Barry’s position in 2011.” ~ Chris
Of course, being the vocalist as well, the task of songwriting is one which would fall more squarely on Chris’ shoulders even with a co-writer. We wanted to hear more about what one should expect from the next album, with the title already revealed as Where Serpents Conquer. Chris attests to have taken the ‘concept album’ approach to this next work.
“I wanted to write about issues with which I can relate on a more personal level, but I’m not really that kind of writer; so I took what I felt and put it into a story with more of a fantasy approach. The concept, or setting, which formed in my head is this arctic land which is under the complete control of these serpentine beings, and all of mankind is oppressed. The album concentrates on a series of struggles and battles, where the serpents always prevail, until in the final song when a prophesy comes to light and one man discovers how to destroy all the serpents in one last battle. The lyrics are highly metaphorical, and with the personal experiences I’ve related them to brings a great amount of emotion into the vocals.” ~ Chris
Something we at metal4africa thoroughly enjoyed about the 2013 debut was the high level of dynamism throughout the album as compared with many other local releases. With the original line-up now changed since the writing that went into Isolated Existence, we wanted to know if this style towards widely varied tones and temperaments would be preserved in Where Serpents Conquer.
“I feel almost as if Isolated Existence was not dynamic enough! I have a wide palette that needs satisfying. Maybe I’ve matured enough to be able to write the kind of songs I’d like to write, but Where Serpents Conquer has expanded on those aspects of our songwriting. There will also be a lot of focus vocally; I’ve always tried pushing outside of my comfort zone to try and give more of what the song is asking for as it takes form.” ~ Chris
The album will showcase only eight songs, but in true Infanteria style which is fashioned very much along the lines of the great pioneers of the genre, those promise to be eight songs of epic and intricate proportions.
“I’m not a fan of ‘filler’ tracks. I feel a need to provide for distinct variation in each song so that each one makes up a whole and essential part of the overall album.” ~ Chris
With that, we at M4A feel satisfied that Chris and his clan will be delivering an album every little bit as juicy as the debut and more! We’ve been told to expect release close to mid-way through 2015, and we’re hoping for May. In the meantime, with writing completed, Infanteria promise to begin with final tracking in January and an album artwork is already in the making with Burning Tone Records ally, Monique Cowley of Vinci Illustration & Design.
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