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Review Zoo catch up with Metal Masters "Shrapnel", as they set to release, Album, "In Gravity"

Photo credit: Andy Ford


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Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your upcoming album "In Gravity"? What themes and concepts are explored in this new release?

The whole idea of the disc was to orbit around the ideas of coping mechanisms and how they become the crutches they were made to beat, how they can become worse than the problems to begin with and mistakes that most of us are guilty of. Things like how innocent escapism can devolve into derealization, how incessant self-criticism can make you lose pieces of who you are, how fixations on building a future can turn into an obsession with an ideal version of it that can never really exist; it all becomes circular. The last three tracks in particular are effectively catching yourself in the cycle and learning that the only way to move forward is to accept that it's a part of life and no one route is ever going to be perfect. Being afraid to take that step forward is what keeps you in that cycle.

"Amber Screams" is one of the singles from your upcoming album. Can you delve into the creative process behind this particular track? What sets it apart from the rest of the album?

Nath dropped a demo in the folder and it was a no-brainer for the Disc; easily the heaviest thing he'd put forward. The eeriness of it makes it tonally the most grim song on the disc by a decent stretch too, especially when we decided to tackle substance abuse as the narrative theme for it. We wanted to really lean into the vibe of the track being crushing but equally floaty and eerie so the broken-sounding leads and the dragged vocals in the verses are all there to make the song sound like endlessly coming down. With the Gojira vibes right as their last album was about to drop and us looking to downtune, it just came together really easily.

The title track, "In Gravity," suggests a compelling theme. Could you share the story or concept behind this song and how it ties into the overall narrative of the album?

In Gravity was initially written about the fetishization of spirituality and using it as a means of escapism and can definitely still be seen that way. But oddly, it started to really tie the album together when it was read as almost a mission statement for the whole thing: sleepwalking your way into an endless cycle and having those who see you in that cycle try to drag you back to Earth. Particularly the line “nothing kills a strength like loss of sight” sticks when the latter tracks on the album come around.

How has the sound of Shrapnel evolved or matured since your last album, and what can fans expect in terms of musical progression on "In Gravity"?

This is the first album we've ever really taken influences from each person outside of mutual interests. It kind of came together in three parts: Nath and Chris W would bring in a bunch of ideas and songs, Chris M and Dan would build the vocal sections and lyrics, and then we'd all sit with the end product and chip away at it until it was in a good state for the four of us. Having us all sit there and push each other going “that one note there isnt it” or “the performance in this take could be much stronger” made it a really honest disc and got some of the most intense performances from any album we've ever done. Especially for poor Chris W who had to track drums for the bloody thing with violent food poisoning! We really pushed everything knowing it was going to be delivered to Jens Bogren to mix master to. That pressure was needed to get this to the level we were able to reach.

"In Gravity" appears to be a unique and intriguing album title. Could you shed light on the significance of the title and how it relates to the musical content and lyrical themes of the record?

On a musical level, it's predominantly because it's definitely focused on weight over speed. There are absolutely moments on the disc where it goes hell for leather but those moments are fast by nature, heavy by design. When you look at it thematically, you can kind of read it as where to find your answer. When you feel the gravity of something, it reminds you it's real and it's present. There's a line on So Below, the second to last track, that kind of represents the penny dropping - “the poison bleeds another failed antidote” - and ‘In Gravity’ kind of feels like the first sign that points in that direction.

The singles released so far showcase a powerful blend of aggression and melody. Can you discuss the balance between these elements and how it contributes to the overall sonic identity of Shrapnel?

Thank you! Especially with Guardian, that was the aim. We very much all enjoy something that goes for the gut. With this one we were conscious about time keeping to make sure both of those elements weren't lost in the classic “riff salad” problem. We didn't want to overstretch anything past where it needed to be and kept it as in your face and direct as possible.

Nath would often be pictured holding up his fingers pretending they were scissors, indicating he was wanting to give certain bits the chop,it was infuriating at times but I think we always came to the best outcome. Luckily we’ve worked with some of the best in Russ Russell and Scott Atkins so our production and song structure game is fairly well trained at this point.

"Amber Screams" has a distinctive sound. Were there any specific influences or experiences that shaped the musical direction of this track?

Definitely Gojira, Clutch, and bits of Slipknot from the music. Vocally the Duplantier gene found it's way in for sure in the verses but Dan was able to delve into his proggy little pockets and pull out some Devin Townsend and Dan Tompkins vibes too. There’s for sure a different pool of influences than our previous records but you would also be surprised how many of the influences present here were also present in our oldest releases, it’s all in the Shrapnel DNA, just very much closer to the surface on this one.

As a band, how do you approach the songwriting process for an album like "In Gravity"? Are there any rituals or collaborative methods that define the Shrapnel creative environment?

This one was particularly weird. A lot of the songs were penned without structural changes BEFORE Dan came into the picture, with Dark Age even being previously released with our old vocalist Aarran before being rerecorded. The only ones not previously written were the last three tracks and Judgement which was a 90th minute goal from Chris M. With us being scattered across the country, we had to make every minute together count. So we'd stay in Chris’s cabin and spend a 4-day-weekend every month or so over the course of a year grinding it to death. When we stepped into that room, we knew a back garden, takeaways, Guinness, and 10hr recording days. Worse ways to spend your 2022, to be fair!

How do you envision your fans connecting with the music on "In Gravity"? Are there specific emotions or experiences you hope to evoke through the album?

It is, for all it's darker connotations, quite a hopeful album. We really hope folks walk away feeling like they aren’t grinding away on their own. Whether it's grief or addiction or mental illness or fear; we want them to walk away knowing that they aren't the first, surely won't be the last, and that if you can SEE a way out, a way out must exist. It will definitely strike a chord with some, it’ll rattle the cage for others, either way if it’s made you feel anything we’ll count that as a win.

With the release of "In Gravity," what are Shrapnel's plans for the future? Are there any tours, collaborations, or other exciting projects on the horizon for the band?

We've had some really exciting offers come through which is certainly promising! The second an opportunity comes to tour this thing, we are going in all guns blazing. VERY excited for Barbeuk festival in in France this July and between that and the now cancelled Metal Days we hope to get some more European Dates confirmed. We will of course be doing a UK run and probably look to start work on Album 5 a bit more quickly this time too so there’s no slowing down here.

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