Thursday, February 7, 2019

Interview with Ashen Horde done by Patrick posted on 2-7-19

Interview with Ashen Horde done by Patrick

1. Hails how are things going in California these days? Please introduce yourself to the readers?
 Hey! Things are going pretty well here. It’s been rainy for the last few days, which is the closest we get to proper winter here, haha. Certainly, nothing like most of the U.S. is experiencing, which reinforces why I’m happy that I moved to L.A.! Anyway, I’m Trevor Portz, writer and guitarist/bassist/clean vocalist for Ashen Horde. We play extreme progressive metal, and have a new album, Fallen Cathedrals, coming out March 22. It will be available on CD, LP and digitally via Extreme Metal Music/Rockshots Records.

2. When did you first discover black metal and who were the first bands that caught your attention? Who are some of your current favorite bands and artists?
My first taste of black metal came via the “World Domination II” sampler from Osmose Records in the late ‘90s. I don’t actually remember how I got my hands on it, but it blew my mind. The tracks that I remember leaving the biggest impression on me were Immortal’s “Nebular Ravens Winter” and Enslaved’s “Forgotten.” The songs were so grim and dark (which I believe is a song on the newest Immortal disc), and didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard. I had been into death metal for a while, but I was instantly hooked on the atmosphere and bigger focus on melody (particularly on the Enslaved track). Of course, that led me to Emperor, Mayhem, old Cradle of Filth, Ancient, Satyricon, Borknagar and all of the other amazing 90s BM bands. I have to admit that I’m pretty terrible at keeping up with current bands, and when I discover something new, it’s usually a band I somehow missed for many years… a good example would be Nocternity from Greece, who I believe has been around since the 90s, yet I only just got into. I’ve also really been digging the Slegest catalog; great black n’ roll. Cor Scorpii is another good example of a band I just got into (despite being a long-time Windir fan) but at least they’re only about 10 years old! Current favorites: Vreid, Tulus, Khonsu, Einherjer. Not new, but all still relevant and excellent, IMO.

3. When did you first get the idea to start Ashen Horde? How did you choose Ashen Horde as the name of the band and does it have a special meaning?
Ashen Horde became a reality at some point in 2013. I had moved to L.A. from New York, and after a failed attempt to get a band going, decided to try my hand at doing something by myself. My first go at it was a grindcore/punk album under the name Bite Wound, but that fizzled out quickly. It showed me, though, that I could make records on my own. I’d been writing songs that would become the first Ashen Horde album for many years (beginning in New York), and decided it was time to finish them and get them out. It was a lot of work, but the album (Sanguinum Vindicta) and accompanying EPs got a good response, which was enough for me to make Ashen Horde my main musical focus. Name-wise, it really doesn’t have any special meeting. Honestly, I don’t even remember where it came from—I just remember being on the subway in L.A. when it came to me, and I couldn’t wait to get out so I could Google it and make sure no one else had it, haha.

4. What is the current line up of the band and for the readers who have never heard Ashen Horde's music how would you best describe it? Who would you say are the bands biggest influences?
 For the upcoming album, Fallen Cathedrals, the lineup consists of myself on all instruments and clean vocals, and Stevie Boiser on harsh vocals. Having Stevie involved has been awesome, as I was never able to deliver the vocals I had in my head… I tried, but all I ended up with were vocal nodes and mild disappointment. While I was always happy with the music, this is the first release where I feel the vocals are on the same level. Genre labels can be difficult (and often limiting), but I suppose “progressive black/death metal” is probably pretty accurate. While Ashen Horde certainly has black metalcore, I like to bring in things I love from across the extreme metal spectrum. Thus, you’ll find elements of death metal (melodic and old school), thrash, grind, folk/pagan, and on and on. My goal with Ashen Horde is really just to put in whatever I think makes a song work. Hell, there’s a weird acoustic thing in the middle of “The Vanishing” that I’m even surprised by! As for specific influences, I’d say all of the bands mentioned above, plus a shitload of other stuff: Moonsorrow, Brutal Truth, Thyrfing, Arcturus, Vintersorg, Queensryche, Carach Angren, anything Devin Townsend, Opeth, Amorphis, Dark Tranquillity, Khold, Turisas, Finsterforst, Mithotyn, Testament, old Sepultura, etc. Everything is fair game!

5. I believe Ashen Horde is a two-man band would you like to add more members to form a full line up or do you prefer to work as a two-man band?
While I enjoyed doing things on my own, having Stevie involved has helped convince me that it’s time to expand. I’m already in talks with a bassist and drummer for the next record, so it seems that Ashen Horde may turn into a full band! Of course, everyone involved lives in different parts of the world, so playing live could be a different story, but I’m pretty sure we can make it happen.

6. If you two had the opportunity to work with any musicians{past or present} who are some musicians you would like to work with?
Top of my list would be Ihsahn—everything he does blows my mind. Obviously, his solo work is pretty far from what he did in Emperor, but he always seems to write exactly what I want to hear. I also love that he doesn’t seem to feel constrained by any style or genre, and does whatever he wants. Seriously, “Until I Too Dissolve” from Arktis could almost have fit on one of the most recent Dokken albums! (That’s not an insult, BTW.) I’m also really hoping I can work with Jens Bogren at some point; I’d love to have him mix our next record. That dude has magic ears. Others on my short list: Ivar Bjornson, Lars Nedland, Andreas Hedlund (aka, Vintersorg)… I’d love to have Alexi Laiho and Alex Skolnick lay down solos somewhere. Oh, and people say I look like Dave Grohl, and he seems to into every type of music, so I’d like to bring him into the Ashen Horde fold for something. Suspend reality for that one, haha.

7. Fallen Cathedrals is the bands newest full length how long did it take to write the music for the new release? How long does it usually take to complete one song?
 Top to bottom, I’d say it took about 2-3 months to write the music, and about that long to write lyrics. Once the music was written, I sat on the demos for a couple months, just to make sure I was happy with everything. Actual guitar tracking and drum programming took another few months, and vocals several more. (Stevie’s active in several other bands, so he had to slot things in as he had availability.) Then mixing took for-fucking-ever, since I could never settle on a mix (even more reason I want to hand the next record off to someone else for that part!) I don’t know if there’s a standard length of time for me to finish a song, but 2-3 months from beginning to end is probably pretty realistic.

8. Who usually handles writing the lyrics for the music? What are some topics you wrote about on the new release? Which usually comes first the music or the lyrics?
I do the majority of the lyric writing, though Stevie contributed to this album as well. The lyrics on Fallen Cathedrals tell the story of an economically divided city, with the two sides falling into an all-out class war. Each song details an element of the story, as the two sides become increasingly more brutal and vicious. It was inspired by the novel “High Rise” by J.G. Ballard, and examines close people are to pushing aside their humanity in favor of primal violence. I write music first almost exclusively, though tend to have an idea of what part of the story each song will tell, and try to write music that fits. While I’m adamant about keeping politics and religion out of Ashen Horde’s lyrics, I can’t say the stories aren’t influenced by what’s going on around me.

9. Besides the upcoming Fallen Cathedrals, release are the bands previous releases still available for the readers to buy? Other then physical music releases does the band have any other merchandise currently available if yes what is available and where can the readers buy it?
Yes! Everything is available at our Bandcamp site ( and through Big Cartel ( There are CDs available for the earlier albums (Sanguinum Vindicta and Nine Plagues), with the latter also available on gatefold double LP. We have two 7” singles, Echthros and The Alchemist, and I actually found a couple copies of the very first EP (Ab Initio) on pro-cdr, so jump on those before they’re gone! Of course, everything is also available digitally, not only on Bandcamp, but also on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. In addition to the music, we do have several shirt designs available, and there are shirt/vinyl combos for the new album.

10. Ashen Horde comes out of California's black metal scene what is your opinion of the metal scene in California?
This may make me sound like a dick, but I really don’t follow the CA metal scene very closely. Honestly, I only tend to go to shows for bands I’m already into, so I don’t really know what bands are out there, but I’m sure there are a lot of good ones. If I have a free night, my first priority is to work on my own music, but I should probably make more of an effort to see what’s going on in my own backyard!

11. Who are your all-time favorite bands coming out of California and are there any new bands you feel the readers should check out soon?
 We’ll have to step out of the extreme metal world for this one, haha. My top California bands are mostly the bands I got into when I was younger and first discovering metal. L.A. Guns, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Love/Hate, Testament, Megadeth, The Doors, Ratt… most are still active, too, which is awesome.As I said, I’m not too aware of killer new Cali bands. I know people are really into Deafheaven, but they don’t do much for me. My buddy Jay has a band called Catatonic Society that are pretty sweet—they have a bit of a stoner/Sabbath thing going on. Of course, the new John Garcia album is fucking great.

12.Besides working in Ashen Horde do either of you currently play in any other bands or solo projects? If yes please tell the readers a little about them?
 I actually just finished an album with some amazing musicians, but can’t share much about it just yet. I will say that it’s very inspired by the 90s black metal sound, so for those that aren’t as into the mix of styles I throw into Ashen Horde, this one is much more stylistically consistent. We’ll be shopping it soon, so hopefully, I’ll be able to formally announce it in the near future. Stevie is extremely busy, so there’s plenty to be on the lookout from him. The first Equipoise full length will be out March 8, and Inferi has a record coming out in Spring. Tethys are also working on their first album, so the shelves with be flooded with Boiser this year!

13. When you need to take a break from working on new music or band business what do you like to do in your free time?
 For the 11 months of the year that it’s not raining, I love to hike, bike and just enjoy the SoCal life. I’m very into travel, and my wife and I are working toward hitting all 7 continents by 2021 (with Antarctica being number 7, not surprisingly). I made my first trip to Japan last year, and loved it, and will be visiting Morocco this year, which will be my first time in Africa. Other than that, the usual: hang out with my wife and friends, chill with my dogs, watch Netflix (just finished “Maniac” which was really bizarre), and listen to music as often as possible!

14. Thank you for taking the time to fill this interview out do you have any final comments for the readers?
Thanks for your support! I hope people like the new record; Stevie and I are very pleased with it. Stay metal, and support the underground!
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