Cape Town, South Africa: local power metallers Strident released their debut full length album ‘Oath’ in 2010, and fans have waited with bated breath for a follow-up. Well, it’s finally here! The band will be celebrating the launch of When Gods Walked The Earth at M4A‘s WinterFest’16 this weekend.
“We started recording the album in 2012. From the start, we decided to take a zero-compromise, no-expenses-spared approach to the album. Our increasingly busy professional and personal schedules meant that months would often pass between sessions, but we were resolved to never do anything unless we had the time to do it right.” ~ Deon van Heerden (vocals/guitar/composer, Strident)
Deon tells us how individual songs took weeks to write and up to eight days to record since track counts typically exceeded 100 layers.
“Dozens of layers of backing vocals, orchestrations, guitar harmonies and percussion were painstakingly layered together to create a rich, full and powerful sound. We spent more time on some of the individual tracks – in terms of writing and recording – than we did on our entire first album.” ~ Deon van Heerden
There are other features on the album which made it not only a first for Strident, but a first for South African metal in the broader sense. For exmaple, the song ‘Above the Ashes’ was recorded with a live choir, Acastella, which comprised of two-dozen hand-picked members from the Stellenbosch Choir; and furthermore, the parts were arranged by world-renowned composer and orchestrator Antoni Schonken.
“The sprawling nine-minute epic, ‘Blood of the Sun’, was the result of more than two months of intensive songwriting and research into ancient Mesoamerican culture; specifically of the philosophies and rituals around human sacrifice and the afterlife. It features a chant in authentic Nahuatl – the language of the Aztecs – as well as a 40-piece percussion ensemble.” ~ Deon van Heerden
Another track, ‘Oblivion’, features Strident‘s first duet, recorded with acclaimed songwriter and performer Grethe van der Merwe. And then, of course, the album is topped off with a bonus track – none other than the Broforce video game’s theme song which was created by Strident frontman Deon van Heerden, along with the rest of the game’s soundtrack.
When Gods Walked The Earth was produced, mixed and mastered by long-time collaborator, Jo Ellis, who also guests on guitar and bass. Deon describes how the production of the album suffered almost every conceivable setback, but the band’s determination and resolve was set to give their fans the album they deserved.
“To celebrate the release of our album, we’ll be playing a special set at WinterFest’16, with a line-up consisting of three guitarists, including our producer Jo Ellis, and co-founding member George van der Riet.” ~ Deon van Heerden
Physical copies of the album will be available for the first time at WinterFest’16 this Saturday, featuring a deluxe 16-page booklet no less, which displays Strident‘s no-holds-barred attitude about their work. For those who wish to leap into the digital version, it will be available via itunes, bandcamp, and most other major digital outlets as from Sunday 31 July, giving WinterFest’16 attendees an opportunity for first dibs. For those not attending the Cape Town live launch this weekend, and who simply must get in early, pre-orders are currently live via Amazon.
This fifty-plus minutes of listening which makes up When Gods Walked The Earth consists of the following track listing:
‘Above the Ashes’ (feat. Acastella)
‘The Light in the Darkness’
‘Pro Patria Mori’
‘Blood of the Sun’
‘Lines in the Sand’
‘A Pirate’s Life For Me’
‘Oblivion’ (feat. Grethe van der Merwe)
‘Broforce Theme Song’ (Bonus Track)