This week the British duo Lethean are in the Meet The Band spotlight. Combining epic metal, NWOBHM and doom, the band’s debut is The Waters Of Death. Multi-instrumentalist James Ashbey introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Lethean.
James Ashbey: Born in Essex, UK in late 2012, jams with a friend resulted in two songs which were recorded as the first demo, released digitally in 2013. Some friends from Greece liked this demo, and offered to help re-record it in Athens, which was done in 2015. This also didn’t get a physical release, unfortunately.
Thumri Paavana joined as vocalist and co-writer in early 2017, and we started songwriting for the album. This was recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden in January 2018 and we were pleased to sign a deal with Cruz Del Sur for this album, with a release date of November 9th.
Describe the songwriting and recording process for The Waters Of Death.
The album largely came together during songwriting sessions with Thumri throughout 2017. I had a few existing riffs but the whole thing was very collaborative. It was recorded in Seven Gates Studio in Gothenburg by good friend Jamie Elton. I recorded the instrumental parts over the course of a week, then Thumri flew out for a long weekend of vocal recordings.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
Easiest just to say heavy metal. Some seem to place us within doom metal, others within epic metal. Our tastes span both and also incorporate quite different sounds like USPM, so it’s not surprising that there’s no easy classification.
What inspired your lyrics?
The main themes on The Waters Of Death are mortality, time and transition of various kinds: the passing of youth, the journey for meaning, the uncertainties of the future. We use recurring themes like water to express this, which also ties in with the band name. Much inspiration is drawn from writers such as John Keats, Lord Tennyson and Lord Dunsany.
How did you sign with Cruz Del Sur?
We sent Enrico the album to listen to and he kindly offered to work with us.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We didn’t have any goals except creating music we would enjoy listening to and hopefully adding some small footnote to the epic tale that is heavy metal. We’re not sure what to expect in terms of its reception, except that we will probably divide opinion starkly. It will be interesting to see what others make of it, but there was little thought given to this during its creation.
Do you have any plans to play live?
No active plans. It will take considerable work to find the right members to fill out a live lineup and become sufficiently rehearsed to perform, but it is something to aspire to once our life circumstances are a bit more permissive.
How did you get started in music?
I learned drums and guitar at school, and have been in various bands ever since.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Iron Maiden were my first gateway into heavy metal and I suppose Murray/Smith are still the most powerful shaping force in terms of guitar playing. I can’t claim to have any strong drum idols though, but no doubt I have absorbed and stolen the styles of lots of different players subconsciously.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
I think it was Iron Maiden in London, around 2003.
Seen any good movies/DVDs lately?
I don’t watch many films, though I sometimes like heavy metal DVDs, such as the Fates Warning Awaken the Guardian anniversary shows, or older quirkier things like Warlord’s And the Cannons of Destruction Have Begun… We also love watching classic ’80s heavy metal videos like Queensryche’s “Queen of the Reich” and Cloven Hoof’s “Highlander.”
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Manacle, Messiah Force, Solstice, Hell, Black Viper.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
(interview published November 10, 2018)