Review Fix chats with Black Thorn Halo’s Craig Leach, who discusses the band’s new album, The Horde.
Review Fix: How did you guys get together?
Craig Leach: We were all sort of scattered around the scene here in Austin Texas. Ralph (vocalist) really wanted to do something new so he started putting it together. The initial lineup was:
We did two albums with that lineup but we were really still trying to figure out our sound. After the second album Jack and Ralph had some disagreements so Jack left the band. He was replaced with Rafa from Costa Rica. His sound made us instantly heavier. Then I had always wanted to add a second guitar player for more of a Judas Priest or Kreator vibe so we brought in Derek as second guitarist. This was in late 2017. We played a bunch of local shows with that lineup to make sure it felt right. Then we wrote and recorded the new album THE HORDE. It is a much better example of where we want to be as a band. Heavy and thrashy yet melodic. Hints of Testament and Slayer but a unique and modern sound.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Leach: I usually initiates the writing process and works with either Derek or Eric to flesh out the song. (Although a few of the songs started with Derek or Eric this time with me helping to build them up) The writing is done AWAY from the rehearsal room with just one or two people. The two people involved will demo out the song in its rough form, with fake drums and everything. This is then emailed to everyone in the band (usually with tablature) so they can begin learning their parts and adding their ‘spark’. Rafa will write his own bass part around the guitar parts. We then show up at the rehearsal room with a solid foundation. We jam the song and begin making edits. Move parts around, drop parts, maybe add a part. Ralph usually rights the lyrics (80%) but not always. Both me and Eric have contributed lyrics to a few songs.
That is how this new album was created and we think it is an efficient process that really reduces conflict. Standing around the rehearsal room trying to write a song from one guys single riff is great if you have all the time in the world but it is inefficient and often results in dumbed down songs. .
Review Fix: What do you think makes this band special?
Leach: I think it is the classic thrash vibe we have mixed with a very modern guitar attack and very modern songs. We also know how to write aa song that has a real hook you can remember without the song sounding like pop bullshit.
Review Fix: How would you describe your style?
Leach: Heavy thrash like Testament, Kreator but with hints of neo-classical. We like a BIG sound. Some band lately have been trying to record in a lo-fi way. I guess that’s cool, but we prefer a big layered and heavy sound.
Review Fix: What are your goals for this album?
Leach: Well obviously we would like to sell as many copies as possible, tour the world, do huge quantities of drugs and alcohol, bang chicks on six of the seven continents (No way am I going to Antarctica) and make fat stacks of cash (to buy more drugs). But, if that doesn’t happen, we would be happy if we sold enough to finance the next record, get some airplay around the world, and perhaps do some international touring.
Review Fix: What’s the standout song? Is there a story behind it?
Leach: Well the title track is The Horde which is about the character from the M. Night Shyamalan SPLIT and GLASS. It is a heavy fast song with a ripping triplet rhythm.
The first video off the album is for the The Rising which has a very fast tempo and gorgeous tapping melody that repeats three times in the song. It has been described as our Holy Wars because of all the parts in it.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Leach: We plan to play a tons of shows here in the US and hope to get on some of the small to mid size festivals this summer. From there, who knows. Maybe a trip to Antarctica. (J/K, fuck that place.)