Evolution is a painstaking process. The gap between ape and man took a bit longer than some cack montage, and the advancement of some species may never appear. So it is with bands, with some choosing to deepen a single furrow rather than cultivate a field; not so with these feral cats. New Zealand crusty doom grinders Bridge Burner have come a long way since their 2015 debut EP Mantras Of Self Loathing.
Now signed to Australian powerhouse Art As Catharsis, they’ve delivered a brand new full-length in the shape of Null Apostle. So, Astral Noize took time out of having its face broken to sit down with the team for a good rattle about the new album, siding with the Aussies, and the story behind this new record.
Congrats on the new record, it’s a big step up from Mantras. What was different about the process this time around?
Thank you! I think it was the time we were able to put into crafting these songs and this record, and a drive to pull influence from different realms of heavy music. For our first release, Mantras Of Self Loathing, we just wanted to write some filthy d-beat and put out a record asap. With Null Apostle, we wanted to write more interesting songs, as long as the vibe was right. I think the vibe-comes-first approach for us is working well, and we will continue to explore that.
The artwork is quite striking, especially when coupled with that title. What’s the story behind Null Apostle?
Null Apostle is a title I have had kicking around for years, and as the material for this release started to coalesce, I knew it had to be the title for this record. It holds several meanings for me, but primarily how worthless I generally feel, and how mental health issues taint different aspects of my life. As for the artwork, we worked with artist Alex Ecklan-Lawn, who I have been working with for almost a decade. I love Alex’s aesthetics, and how he applies them to varying styles and mediums. I gave him the title, lyrics and a loose concept of what I envisioned, and he knocked it out of the park with this gorgeous cutting.
A lot of the lyrics seem to refer to one’s personal nature, and the confrontation and assessment thereof. The music carries a greater reflection than on Mantras – was this a conscious decision?
Not conscious at all. To be honest, a lot of this record was written during a period of my life when I was particularly unwell. The majority of the lyrics document what was going on in my head at the time; trying to make sense of my self-loathing, trying to explain to someone – anyone – how I feel/felt. It is cathartic and frustrating at the same time. I feel that the progression of our songwriting worked in parallel to what I was trying to convey lyrically – an emphasis on the mood of the music, which for the most part is bleak and furious, provided a perfect vehicle for expressing the misery I was feeling.
While you guys can blast all day long, the slower, more spartan tracks really stick out, along with some deliberately jarring passages. Is this something you’re looking to explore further?
Absolutely. I think you will see us explore this much more in the future. Again, our mantra is “vibe over everything”. I think it is easier to express upsetting vibes when you aren’t constantly blasting at 250bpm. We are very aware of wanting to make records full of dynamics, because they generally make for the most interesting listens.
There’s a lot of influences floating around in there that you’ve shaped into an amorphous whole, and the press release mentioned Botch, Gorguts and Godflesh. What do you listen to when you’re not working on Bridge Burner?
We have somewhat varied musical tastes, but we also share a lot of common ground, particularly when it comes to heavy music. It is awful having to try and categorise your own music, but we all look up to those three bands for taking heavy music to uncharted places. Personally, I listen to pretty wide range of stuff, from 90s hip-hop and emo to post-rock to the most ugly and upsetting metal I can find. Primitive Man are my number one right now, a band that explores the murky depths that aural misery can plunge to.
You’ve signed to Art As Catharsis, a label known for taking on bands pushing the nature of extremity in all directions. How does it feel signing to an Aussie label?
We are extremely happy to be working with Lachlan and Art As Catharsis. They are a progressive label that really curate their roster, regardless of genre, which is great. It can be tough for bands from New Zealand to get exposure, and AAC know our corner of the world really well, so are perfect for getting our horrible music out to the rest of the world.
Now that you’ve got some caring top cats behind you, are we going to get some Bridge Burner in Europe?
We would love to, but again touring Europe from NZ presents a lot of additional challenges, most of which are financial. That being said, if anyone wants to take us on tour, please get in touch!
Null Apostle is out May 31st on Art As Catharsis. Purchase here.
Words: John Tron Davidson