There are concept albums and then there are great concept albums and with “Pillars of Faith“, Melbourne Australian based Escarion have delivered a jaw dropping piece of work, an investigation of the human psyche, contrasted with the idea of the ‘The Seven Deadly Sins‘. For us, their sophomore record happens to be the album of 2021 so far and already a real contender for one of our coveted top #5 albums of the year awards. So we had a conversation with the band about their inner workings and they gave us this exclusive interview!
You dropped your debut record “Pinnacle of Neglect” in 2017 and it has a very old school vibe to it; with the line up changes and water under the bridge, do you see “Pillars of Faith” almost like a new beginning? “A band is a life force and entity. Thus, alike our own personal lives we walk on different pathways and we evolve along the way. “Pinnacle of Neglect” was the early stages, where the band was still finding itself, discovering what we are capable of and where we’d like to go. However, a band has multiple personalities within itself, all with individual goals and world views, individual pathways. “Pinnacle of Neglect” was also born out of pure anger and hardship, as the original lineup had a shared vision and hatred towards a particular event that had occurred to all of us. As V said in V for Vendetta; every action causes an opposing reaction. Escarion and our first EP release was that reaction. However we found it in ourselves to grow and evolve, through shared and personal experiences, light and dark. Therefore, our album “Pillars of the Faith”, is an evolution of sound, vision, prowess, spirit. And we are continuing to evolve. When you stop growing you start dying and we have so much more to give.“
What was it like working on the album as a concept release based on “The Seven Deadly Sins“? Did you find that it gave you more focus and helped keep writers block away? “The first few songs were difficult, having to not only write about the sin itself, but relate them to your own life, the world, religion/ western conventions of morality all whilst fitting lyrics and music into the overall theme of the album, being about humanity. It’s like when you first start planning for a project, you brainstorm on a large canvas. The lines, colours and words are sporadic and to the outside viewer; messy. However you, the artist, can see how it all connects to the middle, the main goal. The next phase is sharpening the mess, honing it like sharpening a knife. There were many drafts of “Pillars of the Faith”, with many songs being discarded for either not fitting the theme or being sonically inconsistent. The process was continual, even up until being in the studio. I re-wrote the lyrics to ‘Wrath’ a week before I recorded them. Writers block still appeared, as we spent two years writing this album. Perfectionism is often the death of creativity, yet if you can harness certain aspects of perfectionism (such as hard work, wanting to be the best version of yourself) you can use it as a tool to craft your abilities. Writers block is something most or all people have to deal with when creating an extensive artistic piece. When it appears, we tend to focus on other things (practicing, perfecting what’s already written) until that creativity sparks again. “
The sheer volume of brilliant solos on “Pillars of Faith” is jaw dropping; How did you go about getting the balance right for those in terms of duration and positioning on each track? “First of all; thank you. My personal opinion is that solos very much do belong in metal (and music in general). Also, I know what you’re thinking. Just another guitarist defending his childlike need for attention in the spotlight. And that’s exactly what it is *winks*. But in all seriousness, solos create atmosphere and add an emotional component that often needs an instrument other than vocals to express. Finding the positioning and duration of solos was a matter of trial and error, as well as using your ear to feel what sounds right. The solo is ‘Pride’ is meant to be longer (going all-in with that theme of being proud), while the others are shorter and chiseled into being what they are on the record. “
What was it like working with Chris Themelco (Recording, Mixing) and Thomas Plec Johannson (Mastering) on the new album? How did you come to choose and put your faith into them for their tasks?“Chris Themelco of Monolith Studios (also in bands Orpheus Omega and Eye of the Enemy) is a local metal legend. He’s worked with the best metal acts in Melbourne and interstate and his dedication to sound and quality is fantastic. He’s also just a lovely dude. We chose Chris to record the single, so we could get music out there with the new lineup as well as giving Monolith Studios a trial run to see how things would work for the album. We were blown away. Chris is extremely patient and always full of enthusiasm when recording the album, it made him a pleasure to work with and we all consider him a great friend, in our professional and personal lives. Chris suggested Thomas Plec Johannson to master us and we trust his judgement. The end result, speaks for itself. We’re extremely proud of the sound we’ve created. “
We’ve often said in the past few years that Australia has been something of a hotbed of talent for Metal acts. How have you found the local scene has helped you as a band? Are there any bands that you might have shared a stage with or have friends in that you can recommend which might have gone under the radar? “The local scene just inspires us to be better. Personally, when I see a great band it just motivates me to go home and practice. The scene is known to have many good bands, therefore there is a certain expectation of standard to uphold. However further than that, we mainly keep to our own. Our art is very personal to us and we try let it manifest from a place of the internal rather than the external. Great Australian bands you shouldn’t sleep on: Vexation, Orpheus Omega, Scaphis, Werewolves, Lunar Deity, Shredder.“
In a post great plague World, what does the future hold for Escarion? “We have not been dormant during this pandemic. The album has been ready since August, so since then we have been writing the new record during lockdown. It’s still in the early phases of its conception, so we don’t have much to add yet, just that we have started and are enthusiastic about the new direction the sound is taking. It will be an evolution from “Pinnacle” and “Pillars”, with new artistic direction while still maintaining everything that makes Escarion what we are. We also plan to gig as much as we can to support “Pillars of the Faith”. This may or may not include interstate, however that’s dependent on the pandemic.“
“Pillars of Faith” by Escarion is out now and available over at bandcamp.