Sunday, 20 July 2008

The Autumn Offering - interview with Matt McChesney (vocals) and album review

I’ve been lucky enough to get to speak with Matt, vocalist for The Autumn Offering, online using myspace. Later on I’m gonna put the review for their latest album in here, along with Matt’s thoughts and comments on each song. Scroll down to the album cover for the start of the review. Matt’s words are in green.

Before I begin, here’s a link to the band’s myspace, so you can listen while you read: CLICK HERE

What are your general feelings on the album? (Fear Will Cast No Shadow) Are you proud of it? Does it give off the vibe you wanted it to?

Very proud of it. I think it’s the best metal CD that came out that year. Listen to the hooks. The solos, most importantly, the songs. So few metal bands these days have actual songs. You can’t write a song around a breakdown.

Who are the fans you feel you are trying to reach?

I'm not trying to reach anyone. I write for myself. I love that people like it, I really do. I'm the most appreciative cat you'll meet. ..but if no one cared what I wrote, I’d still be doing it. It was never about money fame or women.

What's your favourite thing about being lead vocalist for TAO?

To play with 4 of the best musicians I’ve ever seen.

As an artist, what is your intended destination/goal, and the things you hope to achieve on the way there?

It changed so much. This industry has made me very bitter. It’s bulls*** you know. A lot of these bands, they are f***ing phonies. I don’t name names. I guess I just hope to create good art,..and if people like it I’m happy.

And some less open questions...
What made you get into metal in the first place?

One word. Metallica.

Your myspace says you're working out for the apocalypse...if it came, could you take it?

Haha good question. I can take anything. The s**t I’ve been through in my life would make you sick. Drug abuse, violence, prison. Finding God losing God. I'm ready for anything man. I've lived the lyrics I write.

And if you got to save one guy/girl, who would it be and why?

Hmmm...I'd save my mother, because I'm Italian, and that’s what a good son would do.

For me, as a UK fan, I'd love to see you guys over here. Is that something you're looking into or are you getting more established in the states first?

Soon I hope. I could get into a whole thing about why we haven’t been there yet, but it would just add fuel to an already bright fire. We will get there. And we appreciate all the emails and love from our UK fans!!

What's your dream line-up for a gig/festival? (It can include TAO or not)

I'd love to tour with Metallica, they are still the kings in my eyes.

If you died tomorrow and had to have a lyric on your headstone, what would it be? It can be either something you've written or not.

Alfred Lord Tennyson - "All things must die"

OK then, here goes with the review. Fear Will Cast No Shadow has been out since last October, and is TAO’s 3rd album, and the first with Matt on vocals. Here’s the track by track, and again scroll to the red writing for the conclusion.

The album kicks off with the harmonic guitars and clean vocals of From Atrophy to Obsession. “Atrophy was written about the deterioration of a certain relationship in my life. When things are at their worst, sometimes that's when we realize they were worth having. One tends to obsess about what they did wrong, what they could have changed etc. Hence the title of the song. It has a lot of cool guitar in this song, and a cool sweep solo. The chorus for the song is brilliantly catchy, driving the song forwards with skilled guitar work and Matt’s vocals. This song was the first video made from the album (see it HERE) and it's easy to see why - it's easy to get into the song without it being simple.

Next track, The Castawayis a metaphor for being cast out, rejected and unheard. The ocean has always fascinated me, it's so massive and ominous. I love the Meshuggah type breakdown in this song and the solo is a face-melter.” The intro is heavier and this song sees some brilliant drumming, especially in the fills. Another catchy chorus slots into the song nicely before the strong solo.

Crown Yourself Kingis very metaphorical as well. I tend to do that quite often. The song is a giant middle finger. The lyrics are pretty straight forward for me. The title basically means sometimes when you live for yourself, you hurt the ones around you. A roaring beginning to the song takes the short verse into the chorus. A piano interlude leads into a good break with another impressive solo, before finishing with piano again.

Silence And Goodbyeis basically part two of Atrophy. More of the healing process though. Saying goodbye, accepting things for what they are. The song is vocal-orientated, as most ballads are. Tons of vocal harmonies on this one. I believe the line "you walked away and left me to crawl" is 5 voices. This song is really the one for me that makes me think ‘how the f*** aren’t this band huge?’ The song sounds a bit like Dying In Your Arms, however this has intelligent lyrics (I think ‘you poisoned my life, now I take this knife’ is all I need to say – Heafy showing he can write like a primary school poet when he wants to), a better tune and better musicianship.


Following on is All That Falls Around Us, beginning with thrashier drums and a double-length verse before another sing-along chorus. Matt says it’s “the only postive thing I’ve ever written. It's an homage to my girlfriend for keeping me strong through tough times...pretty gay...hahaha. No, it’s a ripping track, very thrashy.

A Great Distance. “Best song on the record and in my opinion of 2007. Very catchy chorus. Little known fact: Jason Suecof and myself were listening to like r n b songs when I was writing this chorus. This song just flat out rules. Complex guitar work behind the verse leads onto a shorter ‘taster’ of a chorus, leaving you wanting more. The break comes, announced by some roaring savagery making for some great pit-fodder, and the listener is then treated to the chorus again.

The war-like intro of Your time is mine comes next. “Hmmm...I love love love this chorus. It’s like a straight outta 87 arena rock chorus. It sounds like the f***ing Scorpions or something. Some neat ride cymballing (has that phrase ever been used before?) in the chorus accents the brilliant vocal line, and the song finishes on the chorus, fitting together beautifully.

Fear Will Cast No Shadow begins with a grunt and a verse with some nice blast beating. The partly screamed and sung chorus leads into a very ‘thrash metal’ sounding solo. It’s “probably the heaviest track the band has ever done. Pretty much straight up death metal. Awesome whammy bar solo and blast beats a plenty. Best lyrical song on the album. It’s about a man’s struggle with life and death, God and Christ. The chorus is a conversation between the man and God. A lot of biblical references here. I was a catholic school boy, and they thrived on scaring us. So this is a f*** you to them, hence the title, fear will cast no shadow.

March Of The Clonesis about drug abuse. I love the line "I cant see the strings....yet I feel them pulling..." I did some falsetto vocal harmonies in this. Very cool stuff. The song sounds slower than the others, and has the same brutal roar before the sung chorus again. The slowdown in the tempo is a nice change before...

The bass intro of The Wolves At Your Door. The song ploughs on as strong as any other on the album, and ends on some savage roaring effects before fading out. Matt says it’s “another metaphorical song. The wolves at your door are the monkey on your back. Be it a woman, drugs, whatever. We all have them. A song that people can relate to.

Dystopiate Glorious bass tones lead from a marching intro into a song that’s all screaming and brutality. The song, and album, end on an interesting and odd solo. I combined two words dystopia and opiate. It’s about the downfall of our civilisation. The lyrics are very negative and looking back they disgust me. Great solos on the end from Tommy, Jason and Ralph Santolla.

This album is a very impressive piece of work, especially when you consider it being Matt’s first with the band, as well as there being a new drummer for this album (who has now been replaced again). It’s a lot different to their previous albums, with clean vocals making it more accessible but no less heavy. Matt's brutal roar fits perfectly over some skilled guitarwork, grunting bass and pounding drums, and when the singing starts the songs really come alive. With this collection of brilliant songs the band have proven that they have the talent and song writing ability to be extremely big, so it really is a mystery to me that they aren’t. More to come I’m sure, but for now give this a listen, it really was one of the best albums of 2007.


And a final word from Matt…

Anything more you want to add, or say to the guys/girls here who are listening?

"Be open to all music. Don't take life too seriously. Metal fans tend to be angry. It's a waste of time. Get it out in music, but take care of each other."

Cheers to Matt for answering the questions and tolerating the fact it was my first interview. Pictures are from TAO’s myspace.

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