This week’s featured Meet The Band artist is the British death/doom metal trio Coltsblood. Their sophomore studio album is Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness. Vocalist/bassist John McNulty introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Coltsblood.
John McNulty: Coltsblood began in 2010 when Jemma and myself decided to start writing together and see where it took us. We practiced as a two piece for years as we couldn’t find a drummer who was interested in playing in the style we were writing in. Finally, around 2013, we started practicing with our first drummer Steve in Sheffield and recorded a demo in an old warehouse practice space and released a split with Crypt Lurker at the end of that year.
We booked ourselves studio time with Chris Fielding and put together the rest of the songs that made up Into The Unfathomable Abyss, mostly from tracks written between 2010-2013. The distance between ourselves and Steve became too much and Jay Plested joined on drums at the beginning of 2014. Since then we’ve been touring and writing, self-releasing a split with Horse Latitudes and Ommadon and a live album recorded in Helsinki in 2015. We entered the studio again in 2016 to record Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness.
Describe the songwriting process for Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness.
Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness was written over the course of two years in-between touring and periods of rest. A couple of the songs – the title track and “The Legend Of Abhartach” – have been complete since early 2014, and have been part of our live set since then.
In terms of the writing process, Jemma and myself were inspired by many personal situations that lead to many of the songs being written from a darker place than from the first. Musically we’ve been able to explore the realms of death and black metal with the addition of Jay on drums, plus the additional of synths and keyboards in certain sections has allowed for more expansive song writing.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
We pushed ourselves as hard as possible to pay proper tribute to the themes on Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness. Recording over six days can be a hard process physically and mentally when you are draining yourself of everything in the hope that your efforts will become the best realization of the material you have written. Emotionally I find the process of recording vocals difficult, an exorcism of the personal feelings surrounding these songs, and this leaves the strongest memory.
How has your sound evolved/progressed from your debut?
We have become better musicians as a whole. We wrote Into The Unfathomable Abyss while still learning our roles musically, and Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness feels like it’s been written from a stronger place. The song writing has become more focused, and certain elements that were missing from the first record have been able to rear their ugly head. I think this is reflected in a shift towards more ‘extreme’ metal influences being displayed on this album compared to the first.
What inspired the album title?
The title was taken from the first track of the album and it was chosen as it represents the album’s themes of death, loss, grief, the ancient and the unseen.
What are you upcoming tour plans?
We are currently organizing a tour of Europe for October and further plans to tour the UK early next year. We also aim to play over in the US and further afield in 2018.
What has been your most memorable Coltsblood show or tour?
Most memorable was playing Roadburn in 2015, truly the greatest festival on Earth, which was an absolute honor. Other than that playing Stockholm in 2016 after an 18 hour drive from Berlin only for the venue lights and sound to be cut as we broke the Swedish decibel limit was great. The venue tried to get us to stop, but we had driven thousands of miles to get there and weren’t willing to compromise; plus getting strip searched at the Swedish border beforehand didn’t help brighten our mood.
How did you get started in music?
We’ve all played in various bands and been involved in heavy metal for a long time now, it’s difficult to say.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
We all listen to a huge array of bands and styles so we find a lot of unusual elements come to bare during writing. When we originally started writing our main influences were Autopsy, Cathedral, Celtic Frost, Evoken, Acid King and Darkthrone, to name a few.
Are you able to make a living in a band, or do you have a day job?
We all work full time jobs. Playing in a band of the nature of Coltsblood does not pay the bills and we struggle to cover costs most of the time. We still haven’t recovered from our last tour as almost all our gear is currently in need of repair or service and our practice room doesn’t even have a PA. We have always just made do with getting the best out of what we have.
Seen any good movies/DVDs lately?
Most recently watched The Void, a great tribute to John Carpenter’s early movies full of gore and eerie suspense. Recommended for anyone interested in sci-fi/horror and remembers the glory days of the VHS horror section in your local video store.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Currently we are preparing to go to Roadburn so we’ve been blasting Lycus, Unearthly Trance, Coven, Perturbator, Oranssi Pazuzu, Warning, Ahab, Carpenter Brut and Serpent Venom and checking out some of the bands we’re less familiar with. You never know what oddities you are going to stumble across!
(interview published April 17, 2017)