There are so many subgenres of metal these days but at the moment we’re a little preoccupied with Stormtide’s fusion of symphonic metal and folk. The Melbourne band’s debut album, Wrath Of An Empire, was released in early August, and it’s an epic fantasy story full of orchestral symphonies, deep growling vocals and powerful guitar melodies.

There are six men behind the music: Taylor Stirrat (vocals), Nic Woodhouse (guitar), Reuben Stone (keyboard), Jake Pickering (drums), Simon Fragiotta (bass) and Tyson Richens (guitar). TEO had a chat to Reuben about the three years of putting the album together, learning how to write music with oriental themes and playing video games for inspiration.

TEO: Your debut album Wrath Of An Empire is out, congratulations! I imagine hundreds of hours went into putting it all together.
Reuben:
Oh, roughly three years of constant effort, yeah! We released an EP six months after we started, but we’ve been working on the songs for three years.

Is that because it’s a high fantasy story?
We based it on a story where there’s an invading empire and it’s told from the perspective of the prince, a warrior and magician—the three characters we’ve created as the protagonists. There are a lot of elements in it; composing all the orchestra parts and refining everything took a long time.

The album artwork is so detailed it could be the cover of a book!
We’re very impressed by the album cover! It was designed by a Russian artist, Lena Figarova. We typed into google images ‘cool fantasy pictures’ and we saw one that she drew and we were like ‘holy crap, that’s amazing! Can she do something for us?’ And so we tracked her down and she was happy to!

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Where do you find inspiration to put together something like this? Do you read fantasy novels?
Definitely, and play video games as well. My favourite books are probably The Lord Of The Rings series, and I love The Rift War Saga by Raymond E. Heist—which for anyone who’s read it: you can see the parallel between his story and the story we’re crafting.

Musically, your album is super interesting; you’ve got metal, symphonic sounds and Asian themes.
Yeah, the Asian themes sort of came from the story. So as we were writing the music, the story developed because we envisioned the invading army to be eastern style; samurai warriors and that sort of thing. But figuring out how to write with more oriental influences just took so much time.

We didn’t try to create something unique, it sort of just happened. We have such varied musical influences that it was impossible not to throw them all in and start hitting things until they sound good.

Who do you listen to?
My guitarist and I are very heavily influenced by bands like Equilibrium and folk metal bands, but also more atmospheric black metal bands. But you know, just before we were listening to S Club 7! So, a bit of everything really.

What’s it going to be like recreating the songs live?
What we do is have backing tracks that play a fair bit of the orchestral stuff. We’ve been playing these songs live for a year—otherwise we wouldn’t be able to play any shows—and it’s been well received!

Plans for the rest of the year?
We’re playing with Anna Murphy, an ex-member of Eluveitie, who we recently toured with as well. And we’re doing a headline tour—details coming soon! But we have lots of stuff planned, so watch this space!

Now, the next album, are you going to spend another three years on it, or try to pump it out a bit earlier?
With the next album, we actually wrote the songs concurrently with this album. So we already have half an album ready to go! But you know, it’ll probably take another three years to refine it into something we’re happy with!

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