Given how difficult it is to stand out in a heavy scene replete with technicality and brutal music, the impossibly intense music of Edinburgh’s Sectioned is nevertheless an example of how to blast everyone aside in a swirling, pitiless shockwave of snotty punk and mathy hardcore. Coming out with the intent of powdering your skeleton with recent release Annihilated, Astral Noize sat down with the band’s Pedram Valiani to talk tech, terrifying riffs, and being Scottish.
What has the reaction been to the new album?
Your earlier works (Outlier/Shddrsctnd/Monotonne) are characterised by higher-register acrobatics and dense, obtuse sections. With Annihilated, was there a deliberate decision to write a more bottom-heavy record, or did it just come out that way?
All of the writing is a natural progression.
You’ve spoken openly about being honest about your influences, and not being ashamed of what you’re into. Why do you think musicians get so guarded about who inspires them?
I don’t think all of them do. It’s mostly metal fans. In my view, it’s likely a concern that the artist in question is going to get pinned and pigeonholed alongside the influential artist throughout their musical “career” as a point of reference.
Given that Frontierer and Sectioned both flow from the same source, what is it in Sectioned that can’t be contained within Frontierer? Does one band allow more freedom than the other?
I would leave that to the listener. That’s been the most interesting part of the album reaction. I am impressed when listeners can take any of the releases from both bands and not look at them at face value or compare them based on the knowledge of who wrote them. They are two entirely different releases that happen to share the same “engineer” as the common thread. In terms of pace, writing style and tool usage they are very far apart for me. I see the term “chaotic” thrown around frequently in relation to both bands’ output. It’s a lazy way of saying “incomprehensible” after a few listens because there hasn’t been a deep dive into the record and also because of a limited frame of reference.
Annihilated is being compared to Frontierer’s work. But rarely have I seen anyone draw comparisons between our earlier Sectioned work (more specifically the last two EPs) and ask “What’s different?”. There are a lot of techniques I haven’t used in Frontierer that I use in Sectioned and vice versa. In that sense, aspects of one band can be more limited than the other.
With such an involved style, writing for two bands and being fairly prolific over the last few years, how difficult do you find it to continue the evolution that’s been taking place since Monotonne? How do you keep your writing focus?
As I said, it’s all natural progression. When I’ve run out of ideas and permutations of what I want to achieve I’ll move onto something else. I don’t focus or apply any forceful activity to it because that creates a stressful environment and results in writer’s block. I have a loose set of processes that I use to write music in a stress-free way and often the best material I write comes from not considering the mix etc. A lot of musicians with home studios that I’ve seen examples of want to get their mix perfect before they start writing. They end up recording the same riff 100 times with various tones and forget that without the music it’s a waste of time. I know that because that was me.
Traditionally, Edinburgh has had a smaller heavy music scene in Scotland than places like Glasgow; how have other local musicians reacted to such relentlessly aggressive music?
I’ve made quite a few friends locally who’ve discovered the bands after seeing us on social media and have had very positive things to say. Edinburgh has had great bands come by and there are a handful of great promoters here working very hard who are allowing that to continue. Comparing the two cities constantly undermines each one. It’s perceived that Glasgow has a much more active and thriving musical community – I’m not disputing that. Personally, I’d rather have one piece of gold over ten bags of silver, and I mean that in terms of the quality of material and bands across Scotland. We haven’t played a show with the new Sectioned line-up yet so I cannot say from that point of view.
Do you think there’s a complacency present in the Scottish music scene as a whole? That for most bands it’s enough to be known in your city without going elsewhere?
Nope. Those views are under the very narrow spectrum of metal music which is a notoriously opinionated and entitled genre at times. We have a lot of “fans” of both bands involved in different musical scenes across Scotland who appreciate what we do. They buy merch and financially support us even if it’s not what they’d frequently listen to. On a base level, it demonstrates that there’s an appreciation for the musical, visual or logistical elements of what we do. For me, it actually starts online and rewinds back into local. That’s how it started initially for me and I believe that is the model a lot of bands are now working to across Scotland.
With such a definite, abrasive sound for Sectioned, what does the future hold, musically speaking? Are you looking to expand the electronic elements further?
I’m holding off writing for a while as I’ve already recorded additional back catalogue for a future release date. Last year was extremely productive for me so I’d like to focus on a lot of the live and other aspects and take a backseat on writing unless I’m bursting with ideas. Probably!
Annihilated is out now. Purchase here.
Words: John Tron Davidson