Bassist Morgan Rider from Crimson Shadows takes the time out to fill in our email interview about the bands style, their new release, their future plans and more!
Hello there! How’re you? For our readers who don’t know, can you tell me about Crimson Shadows?
Morgan – Doing great, thank you! Crimson Shadows is a 5-man power/ death metal band from Toronto, Canada! We affectionately refer to our music as ‘Power Death’ for the sake of a simple description. We began in 2006 with the same musical standard in mind as we do now, with the lineup basically as it is now (with the exception of myself!) Crimson Shadows begun as a solution to us wanting to hear the type of music that was not very prevalent in North America in the mid-2000s. We began with very simplistic goals of playing a couple of shows, to recording to some demos and we eventually began to want more from the band and our goals, as a result began to climb as well.
I must admit, I don’t know a lot about Toronto, what’s the metal scene like out there? And did you find it hard breaking out of that scene and getting recognised by a label?
Morgan – Toronto is actually a massive city and there are so many different bands and subsequently, different metal scenes depending on what subgenre of metal you play. Each sub-scene is actually very healthy, with tons of bands and tons of dedicated fans. This does, however make breaking through especially difficult. You need to have a special sound or be exceptionally good to begin to get noticed (I realize that this may be universal to all bands around the world in 2014). We had a very special opportunity before us in 2013 that eventually led to us playing Wacken and becoming noticed on an international level, so we really lucked out.
There are a lot of interesting extreme metal hybrids out there but you’ve somehow been able to seamlessly mix two genres that don’t generally go together. What made you decide to mix death metal with epic metal and did you encounter any problems or difficulties when combining the two?
Morgan – We love to do what comes to us naturally – musically and thematically. We are huge fans of power metal, death metal and the many subgenres belonging to both. Melding these often-opposing genres seems like a wild idea, but we really struck gold with the balance our music creates in terms of speed, aggression, melody and atmosphere. In our earlier recordings, we were basically sounding a lot more like Dragonforce with harsh vocals, but we are really beginning to discover the potential of our sound and we are continuing to implement new elements and ideas that make our music more exciting for us and for our fans.
Are there any bands that influenced this direction?
Morgan – Again, we are very heavily influenced by power and death metal, and I cannot speak to everyone in the band’s personal influences… but in all, we love bands like Gamma Ray, Immortal, Blind Guardian, Dragonforce, Wintersun and so many, many more. We are not trying to emulate any particular group, but take our inspirations from their music and hopefully one day reach uncharted territory for our genre.
Your new album ‘Kings Among Men’ has just been released, can you tell us a bit about the writing process behind it?
Morgan – For Kings Among Men, we encountered the quickest turnaround in terms of writing and recording that we have ever accomplished in our musical careers. We knew coming home from Wacken our Canadian tour last year that we had gained international attention; that we would be needing a new album ready to be recorded should a label seek us out. Greg and Ryan (guitars) have had a process that goes back to the beginning of the band. They basically begin with some basic song structures and basic ideas for riffs and maybe some melodies and solo sections. We as a band determine what we would like to keep, to change or to put on the shelf for later use. After we have settled what we want to use, we all begin to work out our parts in each song, which leads to the song structures beginning to firm up. For lyrics, we all sit down around a table (or the rehearsal space) with pens, pads and beer and begin to toss ideas around for each individual song. For Kings Among Men, this was a very organic approach, as we had an idea what we wanted for the central theme of the album. After the songs were more or less complete musically and with studio time looming within 3-4 months, we immediately began to record pre-production tracks.
When listening to the album you can really visualise the tale of the rise and fall of a king, was this a conscious decision when writing?
Morgan – Yes and no. There certainly are songs on the album that deal with the rise and falls of kings and their realms, but there is a central theme circulating throughout the album that we wrote all of the lyrics from. We wanted to portray rising in the face of adversity and accomplishing great feats over insurmountable odds, that there can be kings among men in any age, country or circumstance.
Is the bands name based on the fantasy novels, the Crimson Shadows, Trilogy by R.A Salvatore? If so, why these particular ones and would you or have you ever covered any of the tales in your music? (oh, and if not, why?!)
Morgan – All of us are actually huge fans of science fiction and high-fantasy literature, movies, games and so on. R.A Salvatore is definitely a huge inspiration and yes the band name does stem from his work. We are definitely in the head space to pay tribute to tales from our favourite authors through our music and I am sure that is definitely something that will be seen and heard in our music in the coming years.
Could you tell us a bit about your experience last year taking part in the Wacken Metal Battle Canada, and then going on to compete and win in Germany? Would you say that this is amongst one of your highest achievements so far?
Morgan – We realized when we were presented with the opportunity to compete in the Wacken Battle that we were beginning to toy with a goal we had all dreamt of for years. This was a very special opportunity to prove our worth, network with the people we wanted to and make more fans in the process! We worked our asses off in the preliminary stages, promoting each show, going around handing out flyers in Toronto, selling tickets… Winning the opportunity to actually play Wacken was surreal, not to mentioned actually flying over and being there for the first time in person. Playing Wacken alone was a huge achievement for us as individuals as well as a band. After we played our set there, we put the entire international competition in the back of our heads and began to party and make friends. It turns out a lot of people like Canadians over there! When we found out we won, it felt like a dream. We are very lucky, as there were so many excellent bands we played with, not to mention some of the best musicians we have seen!
I’ve recently listened to your album quite a few times, and your songs (especially “Rise to Power”) really make me think about charging into battle on horses with giant swords, with bad-ass horns on my helmet. So, which one of your tracks would YOU want to be your ride-into-battle song and why?
Morgan – I’d have to agree that Rise to Power is our ‘battle-charge’ song! We actually opened with Rise to Power every single night on our recent European tour with Alestorm, and it totally felt exactly like that: pure, glorious and triumphant running into battle.
What does the rest of 2014 hold for you? And what can we expect to see in the future from Crimson Shadows?
Morgan – 2014 has been crazy for us already. We have toured over 50,000 km just from our past 2 tours alone. Right now, we are busy promoting Kings Among Men all over the world and honing our live set for the next tour we end up on. We are working on quite a few other things behind the scenes, but more importantly we are beginning to write for our next album! We are keeping ourselves available during the fall time in case any opportunities should arise, but extensive touring around the world is what we plan on doing, and we will not rest until we have played every continent!
Any final words for your fans or anything else you’d like to say?
Morgan – Thank you SO much for the continuous love and support and thank YOU for the interview! :)
Thank you for taking the time out to speak with us at Planetmosh!