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Wretched Frontman Finds Inspiration in ‘Lord of the Rings’

Victory Records

One needn’t look any further than Swedish and Finnish metal bands for evidence of the influence J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling have on metal. So many acts are indeed influenced by the fantasy worlds of ‘Lord of the Ring’ and ‘Harry Potter.’

Wretched vocalist Billy Powers wrote the entire storyline behind ‘Beyond the Gate.’ The story is told through the course of the album, not only in lyrics but in chord progressions. The story is of an alchemist named Sylvester Alédoe who successfully opens a portal to which he thinks is the alternate world known as Shamballa. Ending up in the central realm of Uraitahn, consisting of a thick poisonous miasma that no mortal shell can withstand, his body is seized by the forces inside the gate while his soul is cast aside to wander throughout the lands eternally. It is not until Sylvester collects himself and beckons with the guardians of Uraitahn that he can return to his home, Xzorian. From there he can retrieve the last Talisman of Xzorian and either surrender it to the guardians or destroy Uraitahn with its extraordinary power.

Still with us? The band also wrote in different keys on the record, using musically challenging progressions previously untapped to create a dark sound. “Writing the concept for this album just, pretty much, poured out of my mind when I’d sit down with the intention of writing,” Powers told Noisecreep about the difficulty of writing around chords and keys, which might not readily translate to listeners. “I’m sure that a lot of people that get the album may not understand what’s going on lyrically, but the ones that know what the album is about will have a genuine understanding of what I’m going for with what I’ve written. An adventurous story of loss, attempts at re-correcting faults and personal sacrifice. The average listener will pick up that ‘Beyond the Gate’ isn’t the typical metal album to grace their collection of music in their bedroom or on their iPod. It is a fast, melodic and thought-provoking album that isn’t dependent on the best breakdown ever to keep their attention.”

Breakdowns be damned! Powers fashioned the concept from his fantasy fandom. He said, “I knew that I wanted to do something that revolved around sorcery/alchemy. I initially had no idea to create an entire story for the album, but to rather just have each song as its own story. As was previously done with our first album, ‘The Exodus of Autonomy,’ I started with writing the lyrics for ‘Birthing Sloth,’ which was heavily influenced by ‘Fullmetal Alchemist,’ then went on to writing the lyrics for the track ‘Cimmerian Shamballa,’ then the ‘Talisman,’ which I started writing last November and left unfinished until April of this year.

“As I finished those lyrics up, I noticed the connection between the different songs and realized that there was a lot more to the story that was floating around within my mind that could fill in the gaps and could be shared. Even while writing the lyrics for the last few tracks, I wasn’t sure how it was going to piece together. And even at the moment, I still have lots of gaps within the storyline, because no matter what, there is only so much explanation that can fit into a song. When it comes to coming up with the concept, I honestly have no idea.”

Powers theorizes as to why so many metal bands are influenced by fantasy, saying, “It’s because your capabilities in a world like those are almost endless. You have epic journeys, battles, the fight of good against evil, magic, mythical creatures, things to the likes of all of those. When it comes to the ‘Lord of the Rings,’ there is a peaceful feeling about the world in which all of the characters reside. There is no technology to distract them from living a simple and healthy day to day life. They grow all of their own food, take pride in beauty and take pride in loving the planet as a living being, which is how life on our planet should be. There are no man-made creations to taint and destroy their world. The idea of such a place is simply very beautiful to me. If the world were to go dark from technological loss, I would be one of a handful of people content with the situation.”

In fact, Powers — who says “facial hair reigns supreme and body modification is amazing” and that there is one herbivore among four carnivores in the band — doesn’t even have a Twitter account. Finally, someone who isn’t handcuffed to social networking.

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