Sourvein is an extremely rare breed of band, one that should be a household name but somehow isn’t…yet.
Now having reached 23 years of existence, Sourvein is about to release one of their most important albums, Aquatic Occult, which will drop next week through Metal Blade Records.
Today, we present the exclusive premiere of the band's new music video for “Avian Dawn,” which you can check out below.
“The 'Avian Dawn' video is directed/edited by Randy Ada and features live footage of us recording at SSP Studios in Raleigh, North Carolina," says Sourvein vocalist T-Roy.
"You’ll see Mike Dean of C.O.C. on the production board, Reed Mullin of C.O.C. on drums, Kevin Rochelle of Sea of Tyrants on guitar, Lou Gorra on bass and me recording riffs and vocals. This video truly gives a behind-the-scenes look at the album’s core performers hard at work. Music wise, “Avian Dawn” is an upbeat song about positive thinking with an overall loose theme surrounding the sea birds of Pleasure Island, relayed as abstract wordplay in the lyrics throughout the song. We really dig this tune and it’s a lot of fun to play.”
With their unique approach of sludge and doom metal with a wholesome Southern injection, coupled with an overall pirate/outlaw aesthetic, one would think this is a recipe for true greatness. But, in the spirit of bands like Black Flag (who also serve as influences), T-Roy and his rugged band of cutthroats kept it true DIY, gaining the band respect among their peers by hitting the road as often as possible.
This is a band you need to experience for yourself, one that captures real pain through instrumentation and vocalization, a band that knows to not quit even when faced with overwhelming odds.
T-Roy discusses the making of this masterpiece.
Meant in the best way possible, this album is absolutely nasty. What is the overall concept of Aquatic Occult, and what does the title mean in relation to the band?
I tried to keep it heavy and to the point. Overall, the concept of Aquatic Occult is my way of saying “ocean mysterious." The ocean is very mysterious place. It’s a loose theme on sea creatures, sunken ships, piracy, hurricanes and castaways—all done in abstract word play and metaphors within the lyrics. It’s more fantasy this time around, less true life—it was fun for me to do something new and get lost in it. I am from a small island between the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Fear River, so I’ve been surrounded by the aquatic for a long time. That’s how it relates to the band.
I understand there was a lot of struggle you all went through before landing at Metal Blade Records. What experiences did you write about on Aquatic Occult? What problems arose after releasing your last album, Black Fangs, that kept you from releasing the new album?
Yeah, there’s been a lot of struggle and sacrifice throughout the last 20 years, but I never gave up and kept doing what I love and initially set out to do. Nothing good comes easy. The hard work paid off and Sourvein is on Metal Blade Records now! I couldn’t be more proud of that.
I wrote from a positive place with little themes of overcoming hard times, moving forward and living free of burdens. There were no problems that arose after the release of Black Fangs, but the story is as such—in 2010, I planned on making a record like the current one… with the concept and name and the positive path, but when I started writing it everything was coming out negative and full of angst. A few months earlier, I’d lost my mother who I was super close with and I was just brokenhearted, bummed out, and just not myself… it was hard. So I vented and got it off my chest. Screamed at the moon and that became the Black Fangs record. After I toured on that record, I changed my life and stopped hanging out at bars and took myself down the positive path I knew I wanted to go in—finally, we have Aquatic Occult coming out as a result.
Now that it’s about to be released, do you feel like more material will be coming soon after this five-year gap?
Yeah, very soon… I have five songs done already! I was writing a bunch of riffs and just got in a zone coming up with parts and lyrics. After we were done recording instruments and I was doing the vocals, I just started putting things together in the motel room and have been working on them since. These are some of my favorite riffs ever—I hope to re-enter the studio around this time next year and have it out as soon as possible.
Are there tentative touring plans for Sourvein coming up?
U.K. and Europe first. We are looking into booking now and then the U.S. west coast and all around. I hope to also hit some fests this summer and fall and make it over to Australia and Japan for the first time… promoters get in touch! We are ready to promote Aquatic Occult worldwide.
Tell me a bit about the guest musicians on the album. How did you guys get acquainted with them and decide to have them on the new album?
I got Stig Miller from Amebix to do the intro and outro for the album and Dean Berry from Iron Monkey to do an awesome lead guitar on one track. Kevin Rochelle of Sea of Tyrants plays all other leads and rhythm on all but five tracks, Randy Blythe of Lamb of God does dueling vocals and a spoken word and plays a bit of organ on the last track. Reed Mullin of Corrosion of Conformity did the drums for all but four tracks. Dave Capps of All Tore Up did a guest vocal on "Capsized," and the Subrig Destroyer guys help out on three tracks. Keko Kirkum played drums on an interlude. They are all friends of mine—some close friends, others I met on the road touring, and I just invited them to join in the fun on this album.
I noticed Sourvein isn’t active on social media lately. Is there a specific reason?
We only really use it as needed when there’s news or tours to promote, however there are always tweet updates. We are really busy people and our spare time is spent with music and writing. We're not the band that's going to be posting pictures every day. We are a “less is more” kind of band, but there will be more updates on Aquatic Occult and shows as we get them in.
What gear did you guys use to achieve that heavy, unrefined sound?
For starters, a 2-inch tape machine! Gear wise, we used Gibson guitars and Fender basses and an old Washburn acoustic, plus my old '77 Sunn head, a Laney AOR 100, an old Marshall and a Hiwatt on a lead. There’s also a late Sixties Simms on four songs. We used all Ampeg bass heads and cabs for bass, and Matamp, Laney and an old Mesa Boogie cab for guitars. We used some cool pedals—an old Cry Baby, some custom pedals from the guys at Black Arts Tone Works (check them out), an old Big Muff, an MXR Phase 90, a very old Echoplex and a Boss TU-2. That’s about all I can recall.
Your writing style is quite unique, it reminds me a bit more of raw black metal coupled with sludge. What other bands or artists inspire your guys’ style, especially for this album?
Yeah, it's that raw sound that I love and being a bit different is a good thing. I don’t listen to much music before or while recording, but if I think back… some things I was listening to before were Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4, Vista Chino, Bad Brains, I Against I, Bauhaus, Motorhead, On Paroles, Howling Wolf and Bob Marley’s Uprising.
What was it like recording with Mike Dean? How did he influence your playing style?
Awesome. It was a very enriching experience to be able to create with someone who is such a wealth of knowledge and has recorded on so many different levels. I learned a lot from him. He's hands on—he got right in the trenches with us and encouraged me and the band to do our best. His involvement was key to the solos and lead guitar lines.
What does it mean for you to be signed with Metal Blade?
Everything. Metal Blade is the only label I sent my new demo to… the label I’ve wanted to be on since high school. Now to be part of the Metal Blade family, it means everything to me. It’s such an honor and I couldn’t be more stoked.
Any last words for your fans and what to expect from Sourvein in the future?
Thanks to everyone who has helped the band in any way over the years, and thanks to the fans for the support. Thanks to everyone involved—all of our guests, Mike Dean, Metal Blade Records, Scott Harrington, Brad Boatright, Kevin Rochelle, and Nuge at Volume 4.
Sourvein’s Aquatic Occult is out April 8 via Metal Blade Records. Pre-orders are available now in CD, vinyl and digital formats via metalblade.com/sourvein.