Recorded at the foot of an Italian mountain while wolves howled outside, Book of Job’s debut album Hamartia is not the work of a band who prefer the road well-travelled, writes Gig Scene Editor Graham Chalmers.
Throw in a snow storm which left them stranded and a language barrier which meant they had to have a translator in the studio, and this Harrogate metal group are already threatening to be the stuff of legends.
But it’s been that way ever since this set of self-managed, self-financed set of 21-year-olds won the AMP Awards in 2009 while students at St John Fisher’s School.
Lead vocalist Kaya Tarsus said: “We don’t all wear black and have long hair just because we’re in a metal band. Image is the last thing on our mind. We’d rather give a good show in our pyjamas. In fact, I think we did do that one time. In a perfect world, we’d like to revolutionise metal music”
Fans will be able to see the results of their first efforts on Italian metal label Wormhole Death at a special Bottom of the Bottle rock night at Rehab nightclub on December 16.
Not that being signed made it easy for this four-piece band who also include Luke Nelson (drums), Mike Liburd (guitar) and Chris Norris (bass).
After a producer on the label heard one of the band’s songs on YouTube in June 2011 and helped get them signed, the exciting news was tempered by original guitarist Joe Kerry’s decision to leave the band to pursue his university studies.
In reply, they recuited a new member, Chris on bass, switched instruments a bit and proceeded to write a whiole batch of new songs in Luke’s basement apartment on Station Parade.
And this wasn’t the end of the story for this determined band who play aggressive, progressive metal.
Having paid for their own flights to Parma, via Rome, the band spent four weeks recording in a studio Italy earlier in the year, again at their own expense.
Luke Nelson said: “We stayed in a villa on top of the mountain. You could hear the wolves howling all night. The studio was awesome, it was so hi-tech and everyone was so professional, the hardest thing was the language barrier. No one could speak English well enough when we were recording. We had to get an interpretor in the studio .”
To make matters even more tricky, halfway through the recording sessions, the label liked what they heard so far from the band that they started to tell the outside world it was going to be the best album ever. No pressure, then?
Luckily, this powerful band who started life as a a Red Hot Chill Peppers covers band in their early teens, like a challenge.
Kaya said: “We wanted the album to create the sense of the listener undergoing a journey so we decided to create a concept album. It’s about a guy who runs away from his life and joins a cult who worship the stars in the sky. Eventually he murders everyone in the cult to become its leader. It’s really about learning not to put your own ego above everything else.”
And that album title? What exactly does Hamartia mean?
“I think it’s Greek,” says Kaya, “ to do with a character flaw and tragedy. There’s a bit of a debate.”
Although definitely a ‘heavy’ band, Book of Job’s influences are broader than you might expect, ranging from Mastodon to Every Time I Die to The Dillinger Escape Plan to the Beatles. Yes, The Beatles.
Luke said: “Each member of the band likes different things and we realised that can make tracks sound disjointed, so we looked to The Beatles to see how they structured songs and how harmonies can bring melody to metal.”
Asides from the launch night in December at Bottom of the Bottle, the band intend to maintain the steady progress they’ve made in the last year while gigging everywhere from Harrogate to London.
If weather permits.
Kaya said: “Once we’d finished recording we were supposed to fly back but we got hit by terrible snowstorms which meant we were stuck in Rome. We didn’t have much money by this time but they are worse places to get stranded in.”