There are bands that tour incessantly, release new music every two years, and still never really gain a following or make a mark. Then there are bands that hardly ever tour, hardly ever release new music, and yet capture the imaginations of musicians and music lovers around the world.
Son of Aurelius is definitely in that second group. Aside from 2010’s The Farthest Reaches (Good Fight) and a five-song EP released as an addendum to that release and aside from an epic full U.S. tour with Wretched and Last Chance to Reason featuring a legendary set at the 2011 New England Metal and Hardcore Fest, the tech death world has been begging for more SoA. Now it looks like we’re finally going to get it.
“We are hard at work on the new album,” lead guitarist Cary Geare says. Preliminary tracking has been going on all summer at Parade Outrageous Studios, the home of SoA bassist Max Zigman. (Check out Max’s production on the new record from Parasitic Ejaculation, perhaps some of the cleanest slam ever.) Time is also booked with longtime collaborator Zack Ohren at Castle Ultimate Studios in Oakland.
On The Farthest Reaches, Son of Aurelius showed it has a unique vision for technical music, one focused on songwriting.
“The old material was written in a way that vocals were an after thought, slapped on at the end,” Geare says. “This time we tried to write with the vocals in mind from the ground-up, and it made us realize certain things about how we write. It lead us to actually throw some finished songs away and start fresh.”
The first record also had a unique lyrical focus from the point of view of Commodus, a fictional son of Roman Emperor/Philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Now with original singer Josh Miller replaced by Riley McShane, SoA is prepared to explore another part of that family tree.
“This will keep the lyrics stuck in the realm of fiction, but will also address some of the real-life topics that Marcus Aurelius was known to dwell on heavily, such as modern society, politics, religious power, and philosophy,” McShane explains. “Considering how many parallels there are between the peak of Roman society and America as a world power, I feel that drawing attention to these parallels through a fictional narrative will encourage listeners to really bend their brains in an effort to compare these modern issues with their Roman counterparts. Commodus will be making a few return appearances throughout the lyrics, though he will be portrayed as more of an antagonist against his brother than the heroic conqueror of gods that he was in The Farthest Reaches.”
On the musical side original guitarist Chase Fraser (Animosity, Decrepit Birth) is gone replaced by Ezra Bettencourt. Geare’s unique tone and soaring leads, Zigman’s progressive bass lines, and drummer Spencer Edwards’ attention to detail have created a surprisingly large fan base. Many young tech death bands like Dawn of Dementia cite Son of Aurelius as significant influences. The members clearly see themselves as more than just another tech death band.
“Technical death metal is a tough genre,” Geare muses. “There are a thousand bands out there that wipe the floor with us in terms of straight technicality. We’ve always made it our goal to balance melody and structure with the technical stuff. All we can hope for is that the overall songwriting makes an impression.”
Although the current lineup has been stable for two years, the early personnel changes and lack of touring have clearly hurt. Even with the members in the studio recording new material, it remains unclear when and how it will be available for release.
“The band and I are still sorting our plans and anything I say could be premature,” Good Fight’s Carl Severson says. “As I’m sure you’re aware the band had some line up issues that impeded their touring on the first album (which, being GF1, is dear to me).”
The band members also appears to be keeping their options open.
“It’s definitely a ‘wait and see’ sort of situation,” Geare says. “I feel I should point out that Carl has always treated us pretty damn well all things considered. I told him, and I’ll tell you right now, he really does care about his bands, and that seems rare these days. It’s a tough business. We just need to figure out what will be best for the band.”
Son of Aurelius fans have waited a long time for new material but now see hope on the horizon. Despite the uncertainties of making music in today’s economic environment, Son of Aurelius is a solid unit of talented players who have a unique vision that is likely to continue inspiring new musicians for years to come.