Burdens of Grief

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As former drummer for the legendary Gorefest, Ed Warby went through his shares of ups and downs; breakups, reunions, classic album, reviled albums and more breakups. But nothing compares to the emotions that he conveys on his doom side project, The 11th Hour. While playing on Hail of Bullets keeps his death metal steel wet, it’s doom metal that remains Eds deepest love. With his second effort, Lacrimosa Mortis, his emotions and influences are not just worn on his sleeve, they are exposed by a gaping, tearstained hole in his chest showcasing the pulsing heart underneath. I visited with Ed to dig a little further into his more doom laden music and finally lay to rest any Gorefest rumors.

Ed, tell me a little about the formation of The 11th Hour. It looks like this may have been a project that started during Gorefest’s down time?

Sort of. I taught myself to play guitar a little so I could contribute to La Muerte and I enjoyed it so much I kept writing music, not only for Gorefest but also for Hail Of Bullets and what would turn into The 11th Hour. I wouldn’t say there was any down time though. Between the three bands/projects, I was extremely busy and it was more of an unstoppable flood that kept coming.

On Burden on Grief, you enlisted Rogga Johanssen (Revolting, Paganizer, Ribspreader etc) a more death metal based vocalist, but on the new album you went with a more doom based and homeland based guy in Pim Blankenstein of Officium Triste. Was there any reasoning for this change?

The main reason was Rogga’s health, he was sick for a while when I worked on the album and when the time came to record his parts he didn’t feel up to it so with his blessing I looked for an alternative. Pim was already a member of the live band for two years so he was an obvious choice. He has a truly massive roar that I really like. Rogga’s growl is equally impressive but more suitable for death metal.

How happy are you with Pim’s performance on Lacrimosa Mortis?- it seems likea perfect fit when contrasting to your vocals.

Couldn’t be happier! I knew he had a great voice for doom already, but his performance really blew me away. The contrast between the two voices works really well and I also imagine he’s happy to be performing his own parts on stage now.

Let’s touch on your vocals a little more. They seem pretty divisive. What was your vision for the vocals when you started The 11th Hour and what are your main influences in your clean vocals? Was there any though about having someone else do the vocals?

People erroneously think I only started singing for this project but I’ve sung as long as I played drums, just not as “the singer”. I would do vocals on demo’s for Valkyrie or Elegy when the real vocalist wasn’t available, and I even sang in a doom metal band called Tempter (guess what they sounded like) for a while. When The 11th Hour came up I briefly thought about getting another vocalist on board but Rogga liked my vocals–or “ululations” as he likes to call them–on the demo’s and convinced me to do it myself. I don’t really try to sound like anyone else, I just sing the way I like. Apparently not everybody likes my voice but that’s not something I can do much about… my performance on the debut was still a bit tentative, but I’m very satisfied with the vocals on Lacrima Mortis.

Have you ever given any thought to some female vocals on any material?

No, mainly because that seems like an obvious thing to do and I want to stay as far away from gothic/female fronted metal as I possibly can. There’s a small bit of female vocals in “In The Silent Grave” but that’s more of an effect really. I like female vocals in country, soul, classic, rock, etc but hardly ever in metal.

As with a lot of side projects from more renowned acts, it’s a completely different style from Gorefest, Hail of Bullets, Ayreon etc. Was that the plan? To do something completely different from your more famous acts?

Yes, I think I raised some eyebrows when Hail Of Bullets started as it was another death metal band — although to me HoB is very different from Gorefest. With this [The 11th Hour] I wanted to go in a totally different direction. I love heavy guitars, so that remained, but I really wanted to see if I could do a whole album, almost, on my own. Scary as fuck, but extremely satisfying!

How did fellow Gorefest-er Frank Harthoon get involved on this release after not being on Burden of Grief?

Actually he’s not on this one either, I played every single note on the album by myself. He is of course a permanent member of the live band, and I’m very grateful for that as he’s the only thing–not that he’s a thing mind you–I really missed about Gorefest. The first few shows were done with a slightly different line-up but when I ran into him at a Hail Of Bullets gig he made it quite clear that he’d like to be involved with The 11th Hour. A few months later I needed a guitarist and that was that.

As with a lot of doom records, the lyrics and themes seem very cathartic and personal (“We all Die Alone”, “Tears of the Bereaved”, “Nothing But Pain”), are those lyrics based on personal experiences or just fitting in with doom metal mantra?

Burden Of Grief was largely based on my own experiences, the story frame was fictional but all the details in it are real. I lost both my parents to lung emphysema in the ’90s, a source of hurt that I carry with me always. On the new album, the lyrics are slightly less up close and personal, but still many details are straight from memory. It deals mostly with the repercussions of losing a loved one, like in “The Death Of Life”. When my father passed away I realized that nothing would ever be the same again, and I had to change my personality in certain ways to cope with that. One of my defence mechanisms is “locking up” painful memories, but for The 11th Hour I felt I needed to go back to those. Not an easy or pleasant thing sometimes, but I think it lends a certain value to the music, to me at least.

You seem to have really grasped what the genre is about with some truly rending, emotional riffs especially on “Tears of the Bereaved” and “Bury Me”. How did you tap into this style with such a deep back ground in other styles, mainly death metal?

I was into doom before death metal even existed, so unlike what some seem to think I’m not a death metal guy venturing into a “new” genre here. Back then everything was just “metal” anyway, from Savatage to Slayer. The first albums by Trouble and Candlemass got me hooked on the doomy stuff, and the spark that made me want to do my own doom project was seeing Krux live for the first time. Apart from that I’ve always liked dark, melancholy music, and those sad melodies come pouring out as soon as I pick up a guitar, much to the chagrin of my fellow Bullet Stephan when he wants to hear a more aggressive riff from me [laughs]

On “Tears of The Bereaved”, there’s a lady weeping, that really gets me. Who performed those soul crushing wails?

I’d prefer no to answer that for fear of ruining the magic… speaking of divisive, a lot of people feel this was a bad move but I think it’s a very powerful moment on the album. Glad you feel the same!

Do you foresee the same line-up for future releases or is the plan to continue having different guest perform on each The 11th Hour releases?

The plan is to make the next album a full band effort. The live band sounds even heavier than the albums so that should be interesting! It’ll be weird for me not to play drums this time, but since I’ll still compose everything, there won’t be any drastic changes. I don’t think there’ll be any guests, but who knows?

Napalm Records seems to be pushing this release much more than the Burden of Grief. It seems like a perfect label/band combo. Are you happy with Napalm Records? What bands on their roster are you a fan of?

When I started thinking about a follow-up I sent them a demo with a few tracks, fully expecting them to turn it down, but they absolutely loved the new songs. They’re realistic about the commercial chances of a project/band like this, but they really wanted to do it nevertheless and like you say, they’ve put a big effort into promoting the album. Napalm has some great bands like Isole, Draconian, Hollenthon, Stream Of Passion and of course Candlemass, so it’s a good home for us!

Are there plans tour? I imagine it’s hard with a line-up comprised of members from other bands?

No touring plans. We don’t even tour with Hail Of Bullets for logistic reasons and this would be even harder. But we do play live as much as we can, festivals mostly. It’s a great experience to stand on stage with a guitar around my neck and such a mighty band behind me. Very different from playing drums!

Any chance of coming to the US ever?

Never say never, but with the expenses in mind it’s not very likely. The flights alone cost more than a small scale doom show would generate in sales, but if we ever get an offer, we’d be there in a heartbeat of course.

OK, one last question I have do ask–and you don’t have to answer–is Gorefest completely and utterly done?

I don’t mind answering that one, it’s an easy answer. We’re completely and utterly done. The closest thing to a Gorefest reunion you’ll see is me and Frank playing the doom.





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