Snow Burial on their musical beginnings, Chicago’s musical community, adding to the progressive movement and the important of a DIY Ethos.
Post-metal is a genre which seems to encompass an ever increasing amount of sounds and styles under its umbrella, often labelling a band in further ambiguity rather than accurately describing their sound. Chicago’s Snow Burial‘s take on the genre is defined by blending shifting time signatures with doom-like riffs and walking that fine line between aggression and melody. For those unfamiliar with the band, imagine the heavy riffage of Aseethe mixed with the driving force of Baroness and more than a sprinkle of early sludgy Mastodon, and you’ll be getting somewhere close.
Released this September, Ostrava is only the band’s second full-length release, their first signed to Prosthetic Records, but already the band have the confidence and swagger normally associated with a more weathered act. A change of personnel (Nick Delehanty is the new man on bass, replacing Andrew Thiermann) and a clear progression in songwriting has elevated this album several notches above their debut and as a result the band have started to truly make a name for themselves.
To find out a little bit more, Astral Noize spoke to the Illinois trio of Delehanty, Ben Bowman (guitar/vocals) and Brandon Seef (drums/vocals) to talk about the inspiration behind Ostrava, as well as the band’s musical beginnings and what may lay ahead for them in the future.
There’s clearly a varied array of influences that have informed Show Burial’s sound. Going right back, at what age did you first get into heavy music and what bands were you initially into?
Ben: Ministry. I got the album Psalm 69 as a birthday present at age eleven. That opened my eyes to a whole swath of new music I couldn’t even imagine existing.
Nick: I was probably about twelve when my dad introduced me to Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. My dad played me ‘Iron Man’ because I was really into comic books, and I remember thinking “no no no, play ‘Paranoid’ and ‘War Pigs’!” We listened to that record endlessly in my Dad’s ’85 Toyota 4Runner. We listened to a bunch of bullshit top 40 when we were kids, and my friend’s older sister was like “hey, we need to cut this shit out. Here’s Metallica’s Master of Puppets.”
Brandon: In middle school and junior high I got into grunge and alternative music. I was heavy into Rage Against The Machine in high school and college. In my early 20s I really got into Isis, Russian Circles and Mars Volta when I started playing in my first heavy band.
When did you all meet and did you all click immediately?
Ben: Brandon and I had known each other for several years, playing in different bands around Chicago and attending each other’s shows. In 2012, while sitting at the bar after a Shiner reunion show, we decided we should start jamming together. We realised we had the same frustrations and lack of progress in our bands at the time. We also realised we had a very similar vision for the type of music we wanted to create. Later, Nick and I met playing in another Chicago band, and when our good friend Andrew was no longer able to continue with Snow Burial, Nick joined the fold.
How have your musical tastes evolved over the years?
Ben: We all keep discovering new bands and new music we enjoy, and those discoveries become inspirations for our music. We can find amazing artists and bands in nearly every, if not all, genres. But if we’re being truthful, you could say our tastes have never changed. We have all always loved rock and roll. We still love rock and roll. Rock and roll forever!
For those that haven’t visited, how would you describe the current heavy music scene in Chicago?
Nick: In Chicago, you are literally surrounded by some of the best heavy bands of all time. Some of our these bands practice literally upstairs from us – we hear them rehearsing for the show we’re heading to. It is super inspiring and it sets the bar really high. Our good friend Fabio (of Varaha) called it a “community” rather than a scene because everyone in these bands tend to be incredibly nice people and wildly supportive of one another.
Ostrava is only your second full-length release but musically feels a huge leap on from 2016’s Victory In Ruin. To what extent was this a conscious progression?
Brandon: We try to learn from what we did before, be introspective and improve on what we thought was lacking previously. Between records Nick joined the band as Andrew left, which naturally changes the sound. New writer, new gear, new tricks, different studio, lessons learned… these all contribute (hopefully positively!) to the difference in the records.
With titles such as ‘Tyranny’ and ‘Burn Down The Crown’, Ostrava feels in part a reaction to the current political climate in the US. Was this intentional?
Ben: Nailed it!
To what extent do you think heavy music can influence, shape and encourage political engagement?
Ben: It’s difficult to draw a direct line from a piece of art to a political movement or action, but the goal is to add to a progressive movement – to add to the chorus. Without this kind of art, it’s harder for kids to grow up knowing there are other opinions.
Nick: The DIY, punk and hardcore ethos are as, if not more, important and influential than any philosophy degree.
Where do you hope to take the band’s sound in the future?
Nick: There are bands that we love that at some point changed the way we thought about music. Some of these are bands no one has ever heard of. Some of these bands we saw in garages at age thirteen with maybe ten other people, but they had a profound impact on us. If we can write a record that changes the way a kid thinks about music, then that is success. Also we want to tour in a bus. Okay maybe not a bus, but we’d like to sleep in places that don’t have animals crawling out of the sink.
Ben: Make it better? *shrugs* Seriously, though, we only aim at making music that moves us as musicians and that’s always evolving.
Brandon: Sorry, can’t answer that one. We got distracted in the van with a conversation about the science of farts.
Ostrava is out now on Prosthetic Records. Purchase here.
Words: Adam Pegg
Photo: Aaron Ehinger