This is a first for this blog. I met this band a couple years ago via the web and had interviewed them on my old blog. This is all new stuff! Interview, bio and my album review; check it out.
Today we are very pleased to have A Flourishing Scourge on the blog. AFS is a homegrown metal band hailing from Washington State, that when I first heard them, I immediately thought of Opeth…one of my very favorite bands.
I was fortunate enough to meet AFS via Twitter awhile back, and have been following them since. Now, as they get ready to release their first full-length album, I’ve asked them to sit down and answer a few questions.
Please tell the blog who is here, and a little bit about yourselves?
Hi, Mike! This is Kevin, bass player for A Flourishing Scourge. As you mentioned, we’re a Seattle-based Extreme Prog Metal band that’s on the cusp of releasing our first full-length album, and we’re very excited! As you were one of the first people to take interest in us back when we began, we definitely wanted to make sure we started this new journey with you as well.
The core of the band has been around since 2013/4, first off, can you tell us the origin of the name A Flourishing Scourge, and what has kept you together so long in a highly competitive industry?
“A Flourishing Scourge” was originally the working title for our first EP, which ended up being called “As Beauty Fades Away”. The original band name, Begotten, was already in use by another European band, so we wanted to find something original. We adopted AFS as the band name and now use Begotten as the name of our label and production company.
That said, the name is open for interpretation. I think it means a little something different to each member of the band. Everyone has their own opinion of what the Scourge is in their own lives. That said, we weren’t just being lazy in choosing to release the album as a self-titled offering. There is a clear lyrical theme throughout the album, which almost takes the form of a linear concept. I think if you dig into the songs a bit, we paint a fairly clear picture of our worldview. I don’t want to sound too cryptic or pretentious, but we really want the listener to interpret the name and thematic content without bias or preconception.
As far as our longevity, I think it was really just luck of the draw. Joining a band is very similar to online dating. You place an ad, maybe chat a bit, hook up and see if there’s chemistry, then try to stick together through hard work and open communication. We’re fortunate that all our temperaments are very similar, everyone essentially knows and executes their “jobs” in the band, and egos are kind of checked at the door in the interest of the songs. We’re also a bit older too and have been doing this a long time. We’re more settled in our personal lives and don’t rely on music to pay the bills which gives us a little more flexibility. These days, it’s really about sticking with what you love. The market is so over-saturated now, it’s almost impossible to have your tiny voice heard above the thousands of other bands out there, but choosing to stick together and grind it out gives you a leg up by simply winning the war of attrition.
Can you tell us what and/or who has influenced you the most in your song writing?
For this album, similar to the EP, most of the songs were written by our singer/guitarist Tye Jones before the rest of the band had formed. Essentially he had arrangements for most of the songs 2-3 years ago, it’s just taken this long to flesh them out and get them cleaned up and recorded. Tye presented Andrew (Dennis, Lead Guitar) and me his riffs and arrangements, and he and I would add our own parts to compliment the structure Tye had created. The flexibility to infuse our own personalities, styles and tones into our own parts gives the band its unique sound while also remaining true to the original vision for the track. As far as influences, we all listen to a fairly broad spectrum of music, but seem to gravitate to aggressive music that is enhanced by dynamic shifts. We also feel that a song is a story, and have found that we best tell that story in about 7-8 minutes.
We’ve already begun to conceptualize the next album, but that will be a new situation for us as we’ll be collectively writing the songs as opposed to just sprinkling individual parts over existing arrangements. Should be interesting to see how that process works and how it impacts the sound.
Your EP, As Beauty Fades Away (which is out on Spotify folks…go give it a listen) blew me away when I first heard it. Now, two years later, you are getting ready to release your first full-length, self-titled album. What has been happening with the band in those two years? What can we expect with this new album?
We’ve really just spent that time playing live locally and on tour, and trying to get the album completed. When the EP was released, we already had 5 of the 8 songs for the full-length ready to go, so we spent about 6 months writing and learning the rest of the songs. Somewhere in there we had to make the choice to move on from our original drummer, so while there was a lull in live performances, we hired Samus Paulicelli from Decrepit Birth to track the album, and then took those to NYC to record at Gojira’s Silver Cord Studio in June of 2016. We had originally intended to release the album last fall, but were given the opportunity to have the album mixed by the Jamie Uertz and the Gojira team and then mastered by Jens Bogren. Working with those guys was invaluable, but we also had to wait our turn in line, so it took us almost a year to get the tracks ready for release. In the interim, we found a superb talent out of Portland, an up and coming drummer named Elijah Losch. He was able to seamlessly integrate into the band, and we were able to do a 14 date West Coast tour last October, which was an amazing experience.
As far as the new album, it’s the culmination of really 3-4 years of hard work. That time has really served the songs well, and I think you can hear the depth that has been created by those things sitting in the incubator for so long. How it is received has yet to be determined, but I know we’re very proud of the outcome, and I know it was completed without having to compromise on any aspect of its creation, which is very satisfying.
I feel fortunate to have been given an advance copy of the album. It is everything I expected it to be, coming from you guys. Is there any insight that can be given concerning the songs on the upcoming album? What was the inspiration? Is there an over-arching theme to this album?
I think the album is really just a collection of observations concerning the world around us. We all have a sort of dark, sardonic, and somewhat cynical view of the world, especially these days, and the album seemed to organically gravitate toward certain lyrical themes and elements of mood. Again, I don’t want to spoil the fun, so I’ll leave it to the listener to decide for themselves, but there is a bit of a message in there if you look for it hard enough. Its title, “A Flourishing Scourge” is definitely appropriate for the content. It’ll be interesting to see what, if any, themes others latch onto.
The song writing process for you; does the music come first, or is it the lyrics? Please walk us through that process.
Most of the riffs from this album were culled from jam sessions between Tye and our original drummer, Josh, back in 2013/2014. Tye would record the sessions, pick out cool riffs or other elements, arrange them, and then flesh them out with connective tissue resulting in a mostly formed framework. From there, he’d program drum parts in ProTools in order to convey what he was hearing for a particular riff. After that, the other members would get the song structures, learn the basic arrangement, then build their own parts on top of that structure, and that collaboration would take the song and make it the bands. We have a very unique sound, mostly because each member has the flexibility to apply their own twist to the songs as opposed to just playing a part that someone else has written. With very few exceptions, the parts that are written after the original foundation has been laid are really incorporated without a whole lot of debate; it seems we are fortunate enough to trust each other to bring exactly what the song needs to the table. The lyrics can come in anytime during the process. A lot of the older songs on the record started off as bits of poems written by Josh, then chopped into phrases for Tye to use lyrically. Several of the songs were written after the fact as well, but are often influenced by the general tone of the song.
You are all very talented musicians. Were any of you classically trained? How did you all get started?
I think we all started off learning Metallica riffs on guitar. I’m the elder of the tribe, and I’ve been playing in bands for almost 30 years. When you’ve been trying for that long, you have a tendency to hop around the instruments a bit, and we’re fortunate in that all of us can play all of the instruments to some extent, which has made the ability to communicate ideas so much easier. I think, for the most part, all of us are self-taught, with maybe a few lessons thrown in here and there. Other than that, it’s just been grinding away in garages around the country for most of our lives.
How long did the writing/arranging/mixing process take for this album?
Writing and arranging really took the better part of 2-3 years. We laid down the tracks in two weeks, then spent a few months sifting through the sessions to pull out the best takes and dialing in tones. We had to take a little bit of a break to wait for Silver Cord’s schedule to clear up, but chose to wait to use their equipment to mix on since that’s where it was recorded and, as you’d imagine, they’ve got some pretty cool gear. Mixing probably took about 6 weeks, and then mastering another two.
Are there any plans for a tour? What’s next for A Flourishing Scourge?
The album will be released on June 9th and, as soon as it comes out, we’re taking a couple months off! We’ve spent the last two years sequestered in our basement, so we wanted to spend this summer relaxing a bit and enjoying our friends and family. We’ll reconvene in August and September to begin rehearsals for another fall tour, which will probably kick off in late September or October.
Thank you very much for taking the time in your busy schedules to talk with us at the blog. We wish you the best and hope to see you on the touring circuit soon!
Thank you! We really appreciate your support and continued promotion of local, original music!
To follow A Flourishing Scourge, click on the links below.
Album Pre-Sale Link with Free Tidal Waves Download:
A Flourishing Scourge is an all-original extreme progressive metal outfit hailing from the gloomy metropolis of Seattle, Washington. Inspired by a degrading society and the destructive negligence of man, AFS is a pummeling force of misanthropic visions and apocalyptic consequences while still finding rare, intimate moments of solace and hope amidst the carnage. AFS began in 2013 under the original moniker Begotten, when Tye Jones and Josh Keifer discovered a shared taste in musical expression. They quickly began writing and recording demo material and were soon ready to seek out other members. Kevin Carbrey joined in 2014 and the band officially became A Flourishing Scourge. By 2015 Andrew Dennis completed the lineup and the band began establishing itself in the Seattle scene.
The band’s first EP, As Beauty Fades Away, was released in September 2015 on their own independent label, Begotten Records. The EP consists of the band’s four original demo tracks, re-recorded and performed by its full lineup. In June of 2016, following the departure of original drummer Josh Keifer, the band entered Gojira’s Silver Cord Studio to record their full-length, eponymous debut “A Flourishing Scourge.”
Engineered and mixed by Jamie Uertz (Gojira, Anthrax), the album features 8 original songs with drums recorded by Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Former Abigail
Williams). The album was mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Amon Amarth) of Fascination Street Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and will again be released on the band’s own imprint, Begotten Records, on June 9, 2017.
I first heard A Flourishing Scourge a couple years ago when they followed my Twitter feed. I frequently reviewed metal albums, and was always interested in new bands. As a result, I listened to their EP As Beauty Fades Away, and was immediately impressed. Labeling themselves as an extreme progressive metal band, I couldn’t disagree. I was reminded of Opeth from the start. Intricate musicianship and multi-layered songs drew me in.
Now, two years later, they have a new album coming out. The self-titled album was a pleasant surprised when Kevin contacted me to give it a listen. I immediately stopped what I was doing and put on my headphones. Eight tracks of pure genius.
This album clearly puts AFS into the ‘one to watch’ category of bands. There is talent here folks. The first song on the album, Tidal Wave is a hard hitting song that shows a different level of songwriting, compared to their EP. It moves. It has a different feel to it, but not in a bad way. To the Stench of a Rotting Corpse slows the pace of the album down a bit, but the brutality is still there. Insatiable hits you in the face; reminding me of some serious ‘old school’ death metal, while ending on a soft note…allowing you to pick yourself up off the floor.
The middle of the album, Onerous, Awakened and Vacant are just as brutal, but I gotta say, I like the way the album comes to a close. The Hedonist, an instrumental, is wickedly brutal; one of my favorites on the album. And the final song, Solace, is a multi-layered piece of genius. The many tempo changes show off this bands level of musicianship and leaves you wanting more.
Great songs, great musicians, great vocals…this is a great album.
5 of 5 Horns Up \m/