After your debut 'Of Frost and War' you recorded the EP 'Warsaw Rising' and within a year here is your second album 'On Divine Winds'. Did you have so much material that there is so little time between the releases?
Ed Warby: No, we're just very prolific! It's funny, to me it seems like we really took our time making this album, the original plan was to have it out before the summer but we didn't make it so the release was moved to October. We did the EP in April last year, after that I worked on the 11th Hour album until august and as soon as I was done with the promotion for that I started writing for On Divine Winds. By January we felt we had enough good material so we booked the studio for February to do drums. It's a pretty natural flow for me and I even found time to contribute to albums from Demiurg and Star one in between.
How is the writing process for a Hail of Bullets song?
Ed: A song usually starts with a strong riff or theme and I build it up from there. Some songs take a lot of work while other almost write themselves. Strategy Of Attrition for instance, which seems like a pretty intricate song, was written in one go and remained unchanged, whereas Unsung Heroes was the first song I wrote for the album but was the last I finished because of all the changes it went through. Whenever Paul or Steph has an idea for a song they usually come to my studio and we work it out together so I can make a demo for the other guys. Because of this way of working the entire album already exists in demo form before we start recording, so we already have a good idea of what the album will be like.
War is again the subject of the lyrics, why did you choose the war in the Pacific as subject?
Ed: The Eastern Front was such a perfect, brutal subject that we had a hard time finding a suitable follow-up. At one point Martin suggested the Pacific but it took a while before I was convinced. As soon as he started reading more and telling us stories it became clear that this would be a great subject for our next concept album.
Was is it difficult to find details and stories about this subject, did you go the library?
Ed: Martin buys a lot of books and literally devours them. He also watches documentaries and movies, and he even visited the US fleet when he was in the States.
The first song "Operation Z" is about the attack on Pearl Harbour, the second one "The Mukden Incident" is about the blowing up of a Japanese train rail, that took place in 1931. Why didn't you start with "The Mukden Incident", wouldn't that be more logical?
Ed: Sure, but I don't think that song would be a good album opener. There's more to be considered than the time line of the concept. Besides, movies don't always run in chronological order either, so we decided to begin with big action scene and then show the events leading up to it in flashback.
Besides the fast tracks there are also two slower ones, is that on purpose to keep some variation, or did it just come out this way?
Ed: We don't consciously write a fast or slow song, it's just what comes out. Near the end of the writing process we did feel we had quite a lot of slow stuff and because of this we almost cut the slow section out of Unsung Heroes. I'm glad we didn't as it's one of my favourite parts on the album. To Bear The Unbearable was of course written with the idea to make a slow doom track to close the album. I do think this album is more varied in general as far as tempo goes.
The songs are again very heavy and brutal, yet there is more melody too, was it the intention to put in more melody to prevent making a copy of the first record?
Ed: Again this wasn't planned, when I write I usually go where the song takes me. A lot of times very melodic parts came up and it felt right to go in that direction. On the first record I really liked the parts where we go from grey and bleak to an unexpected bit of melody so I tried to use that contrast some more this time. If used properly melody can be a powerful tool to create a certain mood, as long as it doesn't get in the way of brutality. We'll never turn into a melodeath band, rest assured!
Martin van Drunen also participated in Bolt Thrower a few years ago, is that the reason why there are lots of Bolt Thrower influences in some of the songs?
Ed: I don't think so, since Martin doesn't write the music. The reason for the Bolt Thrower influences is simple: we all adore this band. To me they're what good death metal is all about so it's natural that some of this admiration shines through in our songs, without sounding like a rip off.
Almost every member of HOB plays in another band, isn't it difficult to combine all this and go on tour for example?
Ed: We found a great solution for this: we don't tour! All bands we're involved with only do one-off shows and we keep a combined agenda for all bands so we don't get in trouble with bookings. Asphyx and HoB even do shows together regularly, which is much fun.
In Holland there are some popular female fronted bands, but in the thrash/death scene there is a lot going on too. Thanatos, Victimizer, Sinister, Deadhead, Legion of the Damned, God Dethroned, Asphyx and you of course are all bands that make music on a very high level and can compete easily with the other international acts. Any explanations for that?
Ed: Hmm, maybe there's something in the water? I honestly have no idea why Holland has more good death metal bands than for instance Belgium or Germany, there's no sensible explanation for this.
A very nice album-cover, was it created by the same person as your debut.?
Ed: Yes, Mick is our man! He did the first album and the EP and both are so striking that we had to have him back for this one. He really outdid himself here, the cover is so dynamic it almost seems to be moving! He also did the whole lay-out for the booklet as well as the design for the gatefold LP. Great guy, and with a great talent for visualising a concept. By the way, he also did the cover for the 11th Hour's Burden Of Grief and Asphyx's Death.. The Brutal Way.
What do you hope this album will bring for you, the first one was rather successful, what are your expectations on this one?
Ed: I'll be happy if we can continue the steady rise we've been having. Times are tough so it would be great if we can surpass the first one but you have to be realistic. The main reason for being in this band is making the kind of music we love and being able to do it at a comfortable level, so as long as we can keep doing that we're satisfied.
What are in your opinion the five best Dutch albums made in the last 10 years?
Ed: Hmm, that's a tough one..
- Asphyx - Death.. The Brutal Way
- Carach Angren - Death Came Through A Phantom ship
- Thanatos - Justified Genocide
- Cirrha Niva - For Moments Never Done
- God Dethroned - The Lair Of The White Worm
Ed: If I could include my own stuff the list would be slightly different ;-)
Anything else you want to share with our readers?
Ed: Thanks for reading, hope it inspires you to check out our new album or to come see us destroy a stage near you!