The Jamie King-produced album Astrodrama by Dallas, Texas’ White Arms of Athena turned a lot of heads in the prog metal world. Now the band is back with its follow-up self-titled album which drops today. How this record is different from what came before after the jump.
Like several other well-known prog metal bands, White Arms of Athena is moving to a less metal-centric sound with this self-titled record, like Astrodrama out Tuesday on Prosthetic Records.
I chatted with the band’s founder bassist Thomas Aaron Sifuentes about the different approach for the new record.
“The vision for the band has changed from wanting to be a great prog-metal band to wanting to just be a great heavy band,” Tom says. “There were different emotions we wanted to reach within the listener that I don’t think we could do with the same tech-metal approach as Astrodrama. Our vision is just a broader one.”
Unlike some bands that see a move away from prog-metal as a reason to slow things down and become more introspective, the tempo and energy level on White Arms of Athena remains high or as I say to Tom, you can still rock out to this record.
“Balance is key. We feel the heavy passages we have are our most aggressive material to date and we still put a huge focus on melody. In this aspect, I feel we have really intergrated a rock feel to our metal inspired music so it’s cool you say you can rock out to it!. We have grown out of our old ways of thinking when it comes to what is ‘heavy’. While we still have some great intricate riffing and solo parts, we wanted to include the spacious, sludgy rock sounds we have come to appreciate over the past few years.”
The self-titled record is recorded not with King but with Kurt Ballou in Massachusetts and Travis Kammayer in Tennessee.
“From the start of recording, our focus was different from Astrodrama. The drums had a very organic feel and were not sound replaced. This is very important as we wanted to keep the dynamics of the drum performance intact. For guitars we got to explore different guitars and tones to cover the various styles and moods we were trying to portray. Just like drums, the guitars had to be dynamic so we got to really tweak tones and get the varied sounds we were looking for. For guitars and vocals, Travis really produced us and helped us realize where we were trying to go with this album. The experiences weren’t too different, the goals just changed with this one.”
Sifuentes admits the change means White Arms will appeal to a different audience than the previous record.
“With a big focus on rock and psychedelics this time around, we know we could reach a broader audience, as some of these people dont even nessecarily enjoy extreme metal. What sets us apart is our imagination. Time will tell which bands continue to push themselves and their art versus the ones that get comfortable and stick with a formula.”
White Arms has already produced one music video for the song “Heavy Sleep” and more are in the works. With several members now having families, touring plans remain up in the air for now.
“Thanks to Heavy Blog for the years of coverage and support. To anyone reading this, please consider supporting us in a big way by buying the album. If you know us or have met us through the years, please consider sharing the “Heavy Sleep” video and spreading the word on social sites. We have been around for eight years now and with all of our friends help, we can make this a huge album for us.”