While there is something to be said for banging out some high voltage tracks off the top of your creative head, it is also valuable when bands really take their time to craft a painstaking vision. Torrential Downpour from New Jersey fall into the latter category and have dug deep to manifest Truth Knowledge Vision, one of the more startling works of metal this year. Twists and turns abound, as the band showcases their “space metal” and progressive/extreme leanings with a self assurance that defies logic, while still being rooted in the empirical world.
You can and should buy the record HERE.
I am more thankful than ever for bands who follow their vision. Played a reunion show last night with my old emo band Pontius Pilate Sales Pitch with my buddy Nate Kelley (original drummer of Shabutie/Coheed and Cambria). It felt so good to play original and unique songs again that we had sweated and bled to create years ago, despite never being famous. The art was very nourishing to feel in my veins again as the music flowed through me on stage last night. Whether it is a band like Torrential Downpour or even something a little more well known like The Acacia Strain slaughtering ears on my fave album of theirs, the mighty Wormwood, every stand taken for music that is original in vision and execution is a stand for humanity against the carbon culture dealers of the world who would homogenize our souls. F that shit.
Torrential Downpour bassist Matt Cece filled me in on the time and effort that went into this evolutionary release, advice for 6 string bass players in the making, his opinions on Opeth, their head spinning track “Basilisk” plus why the occult is getting a little boring in metal.
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I was interested in the band name. You have been together for a while and the sound is certainly torrential, but doesn’t remind me of rain. More like giant chunks of hail crushing cars and people, ha-ha. But seriously, how do you guys title things or is that kind of an afterthought (not to imply it is haphazard)?
I wouldn’t call it an afterthought when it comes to track titles but it depends on the natural progression of the song. Sometimes the titles come after we’ve written the song and our singer/voice-manipulator-extraordinaire PrKr has written the lyrics – maybe even using an actual line from what he’s written as the title (Bring the Stars Down, Hyperion). Other times we’ll have a title or at least an idea for one and he’ll write the lyrics around that (TKV, Satan, Whatever). The band name is a different story altogether though – it actually pre-dates the current lineup so I don’t think any of us can answer the question of how it came about accurately!
“Basilisk” is such a distinctive opening that it lodges itself in the mind. How do you guys write something like that? “Ok, now I am gonna really spazz out here for 3.5 measures”. Obviously people will compare some music like this to Dillinger, but you are clearly on your own trip.
On the whole “Basilisk” was co-written by myself and our guitarist Jason Volpe but the intro was Jason’s doing – that being to start with the sample which leads into the first heavy section and then completely fall apart before returning to pummeling craziness. “Basilisk” is one of the oldest songs that appears on the record and I think, in a sense, exemplifies our sound – unpredictability, abrupt twists and turns,the juxtaposition of emotions the parts convey, etc.
It’s funny. I was just reading a good MetalSucks article on how bands seem afraid to take risks these days. Then I hear you guys! Is that a Theremin on the early section of “Helotry”? And how did you all become so versed in your instruments? Practice or is this a trick and you found magical instruments full of cosmic energy that play themselves and construct weird ass arrangements that still work?
Practice first and foremost. While it might be nice (and way easier) to have magical instruments it really comes down to how long we’ve been playing together, the rapport we’ve gained over the years and our shared passion to create something new and interesting. And where would the fun be if our instruments played themselves? The challenge is part of what keeps us all invigorated!
In terms of taking risks I think that’s something we’ve been striving for musically since the beginning. We all have very eclectic tastes (as well as guilty pleasures) and part of our philosophy has been to incorporate more than just our “metal” influences in what we write rather than just play it safe.A major goal of ours is to make things interesting both for ourselves and our listeners. We like to keep people guessing!
And that’s a synth sample at the beginning of Helotry; no Theremin on this release – maybe the next one!
I have been getting a little sick of all the occult stuff in metal lately. I mean, I love lots of those bands but some just jump on the bandwagon for lack of ideas. Oh, Satan. That’s nice. Next. Haha. But then I heard the new Allegaeon song “The Phylogenesis Stretch” and your album Truth Knowledge Vision. Is there going to be an empirical metal revolution? And you have a song called “Satan, Whatever…” hahaha. Were there certain themes ahead of time you knew you wanted to include on this record?
“Satan, Whatever” is, in a way, our take on the evolution of what you could call the “occult aspect” in metal music. Like you said – a lot of bands have pretty much pigeon-holed the genre when it comes to being as dark or as evil as possible and while we, as a band, appreciate theatrics, that take on it is a bit removed from our own philosophy. In terms of the track, the name and theme weren’t necessarily pre-planned when working on it – the title was donated by our pal Dan, the drummer for the band “DRX” while doing a short tour with his previous band “So Is the Tongue” back in 2012 and it gave us an interesting subject to help develop the lyrics.
The only “theme” we had pre-planned was the album title which translatesto many things, but I think most importantly to what we strive for when crafting music: keeping true to ourselves and using our combined knowledge to further our vision.
How much work went into this beast? Each song is very layered. I really want to go back and hear your older stuff. Do you feel you’ve grown a lot as a band? Also, do you think it is stupid people got mad that Opeth are more of a prog band now than metal? Haha.
A LOT of work and time went into this record. I started writing “Satan, Whatever” as a test-demo while messing around with EZDrummer when I got the first version back in 2008. It didn’t fully mature however until pre-production for “Truth Knowledge Vision”. Both “Hyperion” and “Basilisk” were works in progress when we recorded our last release “Connected Through” back in 2010-2011 so you could easily say this record is years in the making. We probably did about 6 months of pre-production and spent the better part of 2013 in the studio recording it. We’re very much perfectionists and pay a lot of attention to detail when putting things on tape – Torrential Downpour isn’t in and out of a studio in two weeks… We like to bleed, sweat and shed a few tears along the way!
We’ve definitely grown as a band without question in every aspect – writing, playing, our professional and inter-personal relationships have all developed greatly since “Connected Through” not to mention since 2000 when this lineup was solidified.
And although personally Heritage isn’t my favorite Opeth record, I still love and admire them – major praise to them for doing what they want to do and not falling into the same trap that a lot of bands find themselves in.
Any advice for bands looking to get into 6 string bass? With your band it is not just a gimmick. The low notes and fluid elements of “TKV” really have this awesome prog metal punch.
Use the extended range when necessary and/or convenient – find a good balance. Don’t try too hard or too little to incorporate all of those strings you have at your disposal. We all know it’s pointless to have a 6 string when all you’re doing is bearing down on the lowest 2 strings. In other words, use the range of your instrument to complement the song.
Before buying one make sure you are comfortable with the scale – jumping from a medium 4 or 5 string scale (30”-33”) to a longer scale (35”) will fatigue your fretting hand and will take time for you to adjust.
Also – get a good strap! Most 6 strings are significantly heavier than your average 4 or 5 string and it can take a toll on your shoulders and back – I recommend ComfortStrapp – definitely what the name implies!
Do you think some of this music stems from boredom at your home state or do you love New Jersey?
I wouldn’t say boredom – I actually love where we are in Jersey: only 20 minutes from New York City, an hour + drive to some beautiful beaches, and an even shorter trip to get to some nice country areas. Aside from certain television shows showcasing people with fake tans and obscene amounts of hair gel I really don’t understand all the hate the state gets. If you’re from New Jersey you know where to go to avoid the stigmas. However, our experiences growing up here, the people we’ve met and the environment itself has definitely shaped our music in one way or another.
Ahh I love that chunky break riff ten seconds into “The Offering”. How on Earth did you get such a nasty tone? That might be the heaviest song on the album.
That would all be owed to Jason Volpe and our friend, collaborator, audio guru, co-producer of the record, and all-around-awesome-guy Kevin Antreassian of Backroom Studios in Rockaway NJ. We first worked with Kevin on our last release “Connected Through” and there was no question about going anywhere else when ramping up to record “Truth Knowledge Vision”. He has a great understanding of what we’re going for both in terms of production and the tracks themselves.
I love how “Ride of Your Life”, which you’d expect to be a complete rollercoaster track, starts off with pretty bird sounds and kind of alien sampled voice. Are people afraid to try and find real joy in their lives or do you think most people end up at some point doing what they want?
I don’t think people are afraid to find happiness in their lives although I don’t think everyone does find it per se. There are a lot of outside factors and influences that can have an effect – your job, family, friends, what you read in the news and even how much traffic you had to sit through on any given day! At the same time I think there are some people who bask in their negativity and get comfortable not being happy. That’s something that should be avoided at all costs!
What was the hardest obstacle to tracking this record and is this going to be hard stuff to reproduce live?
I’d say the writing process for the track “TKV” was the most difficult part of making this record. Volpe had written the sections but we structured it out as a band over 2-3 months of rehearsals. It became a bit tedious getting the track to flow the way we envisioned it and there were countless nights of playing/discussing/arranging, re-arranging/re-discussing, etc. When we are working on new material we are always recording the sessions which helps a lot – we can listen in between rehearsals and come back with new ideas – but there was a lot of tweaking to get that track to where we wanted it.
In terms of reproducing the tracks live –I don’t think we’re really worried about it! We’ve been playing songs with some complex arrangements and instrumentation for a while now and I’d say we’ve gotten it down to a science.
Full band photo by Joseph Pelosi