LEGENDRY’s lassic Epic Metal continues on The Wizard And The Tower Keep, their third album to be unleashed by High Roller Records soon. It is a concept album based on the novelette wrote by the man on command, Vidarr, whom we have talked. They are already compared to some of the main names in the epic metal and this new album seems to be the confirmation that they have their own path to follow, because they have their ideas very clear and focused.
Hello Vidarr, a debut album in 2015, the second one in 2017 and now The Wizard and the Tower Keep, your third album, it’s not a bad pace, an album every 2 years but I suppose it requires a big effort?
Yes, we certainly feel that there is no time to waste and that while the ideas are flowing, that we should capture them on tape. It has been quite a lot to work on, but the ideas for the next album are already taking form.
How you would describe The Wizard and the Tower Keep?
It would certainly be a difficult thing, to try and sum it all up, but I would describe it as an adventure: musically, lyrically, and visually.
How was the composition and recording process of the new album?
We wrote and recorded the entire album as demos over the Spring and Summer months of 2018, and pitched the album to several record labels. We chose the offer presented to us by High Roller Records, and moved forward with producer, Arthur Rizk (Eternal Champion, Sumerlands, etc.) to track the album at Creep Records Studio. The main parts of the album (rhythm guitar, bass, and drums) were tracked live, with all of us standing in the same room. We used only our vintage tube amplifiers for the sound, and no drum samples. Playing like this, and not to a click track, we were able to capture an organic quality to the music. What you hear are musicians reacting to one another, and not a metronome, as in so many modern recordings. We tracked the band in a day and a half, and I returned for another session to track vocals and acoustic instruments at a later date. The remainder of the album was tracked at my home studio (guitar solos, keyboards, violin, and sound effects/field recordings). My tracks were then added, mixed, and mastered by Arthur.
TWTK is a concept album, what is it all about?
“The Wizard and the Tower Keep” is based on a novelette by the same name which I wrote and had published in the sword and sorcery anthology, Fierce Tales: Savage Lands. The story deals with a protagonist, whose name is lost, and whose face is never described, so that the reader may place themselves into the world in his place. He was transported to the realm of Eyrn through an electrical mishap while on Earth listening to records as a youth. In this new world, he learns to thrive in the wilderness, and stumbles upon an ancient sword and armor in a forgotten tomb. From this time, he travels to different kingdoms and towns as a swordsman for hire. His adventures are referred to in the lyrics of some songs on both Mists of Time (Attack of the Necromancer and the title track) and Dungeon Crawler (The title track, Quest for Glory, The Conjurer, and The Edge of Time). In this adventure, a magick jewel found in the belly of a slain demon. As he leaves the ruinous catacombs with this treasure in his possession, he finds the city of Ardona (this discovery is the depiction on the album cover). He enters the city with the intention of selling off the treasure in exchange for supplies, and learns that it holds, potentially, the power to take him back to Earth. He is then attacked by demonic entities who arrive on horseback, sent by the wizard, Vael, from atop the Tower Keep, and there begins his pursuit of the evil wizard. His adventure takes him through haunted catacombs beneath the city, into ancient ritual chambers of the Tower itself, and beyond to yet more dangerous planes of existence, before arriving at its conclusion and final confrontation.
If someone has never listened to Legendry by watching the album cover they will get a good clue of what Legendry is musically about
Absolutely! The aesthetics of our imagery is meant to directly reflect the sound of the music. All of our album covers are large oil paintings which I create myself. This time around, our band logo and CD slipcase received their own oil paintings as well, to contribute to the design. As an artist, I am inspired by the works of Rembrandt and Caravaggio, but also the paintings of Frank Frazetta are a huge influence on what I am doing here.
By the way, it seems the warrior that appears in the cover has become part of Legendry’s family already…
Definitely, we like to think of him as our band mascot, at least for this stage of the band. There may be a time where he is not on the covers, or a time when that focus is given to another character, but I allow these things to develop naturally over time. I try not to plan too far ahead.
At this point we can say that TWTK is more epic than its predecessors or they are at the same level?
I feel that every aspect of the album is more epic than the ones that came before it. From the production, to the artwork, to the songwriting, instrumentation, and length of the tracks, it is more epic, in my opinion.
Are we exaggerating if we say that you are the mastermind behind the composition and the direction of the band?
Well, I am the mastermind behind the concept, but we take a democratic approach to the song writing and all share the writing credits for the music. Of course, if I come up with an idea that the band doesn’t like, we work to alter things until everyone is satisfied with the result.
In some parts of the album you use kind of an unusual instruments on a heavy metal album like mandolins, mellotron… Freak, cool or just the inspiration of the moment?
I have been a fan of King Crimson and Yes for many years, and they have included the Mellotron on many of their greatest albums (even Black Sabbath used it quite a bit). The real instrument is prohibitively expensive, and scarce to find, so since I was able to find a suitable VST instrument which replicated it well, I decided I wanted to use it. In the previous album, we used some string and harp sounds from a Yamaha Clavinova, but I wanted to use instruments that would be correct to the time period of the 1970s, so Mellotron fit that description for the orchestral sounds, and Hammond Organ was, of course, the choice to achieve that Deep Purple/Uriah Heep sound (this was also a VST instrument). While these were digital instruments, they were not programmed. I played the Mellotron parts, and my wife, Drea, played the Hammond Organ parts (as she has done on both Mists of Time and Dungeon Crawler).
I also learned to play mandolin for the album, just to give “The Bard’s Tale” a bit of something different, and Drea’s sister, Dee C. joined us to play violin on “Sorcery’s Bane”. In addition to odd instruments, I recorded/created all of the sword sound effects, fire sound effects, wind and thunderstorm sounds, so we have used only original material, rather than found samples, for those.
In my opinion it gives it a very cool touch. Your music is often compared to legendary bands like Pagan Altar, Manilla Road, Omen, Saracen… are you conscious of those influences?
Very much so, those are some of my favorite bands, to be sure. While these bands, Manowar, Warlord, Jethro Tull, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, and countless others are great inspirations to me, the band and I do our best to be ourselves. While Mists of Time had a lot of Manilla Road’s sound to it, we have moved on into wider territory. Manilla Road will always be the reason I wanted to play this kind of music, and will always be a core influence, but I think in order to take that in a meaningful way, we must change with each album as they did.
There are no fillers in your album, do you have any favorite song?
I think it is impossible to pick a favorite, but Earthwarrior comes close. I think Earthwarrior, as a song, as a kind of adventure in and of itself, in all its twists and turns.
Apart of the classic sound, I would underline that regarding the instrumentation you always deliver something especial, beyond what is the typical script you can expect in this kind of music
When we write a song, as a band, we always begin the normal process of constructing a verse and chorus, but after that we will see where else it can go. There are plenty of great songs that follow a standard structure, but there are also a great many that do not. I like to think that we work somewhere in between, where a song can have a familiar, structured portion, and a portion that provides contrast to it in a free-form fashion. Writing these surprising moments is one of my favorite parts of creating an album.
Fun 100%. In some songs you also are able to create a great atmosphere that again goes beyond the classical heavy metal tune
The bands you mentioned earlier: Manilla Road, Pagan Altar, and Saracen all have that similar attribute, which is one of the reasons I enjoy their work as I do. When a band goes to write a song, there is no telling if their message or intentions will be understood by the listeners, but as you point this out, it appears that our efforts are received as they we hoped they would. I think a great heavy or fast riff is a big part of our type of heavy metal, but creating atmospheric passages within that form draws just as much interest for me.
Amen. The album is distributed by High Roller Records, a bridge to reach Europe more smoothly?
In the future we hope that this will be the case. There are some great U.S. bands these days, but as I understand it from our friends who have traveled and toured in Europe, that is the place for heavy metal.
Any tour programmed?
At this time, no. We will be playing some shows soon locally to celebrate the album, and we hope to find ourselves on some festival lineups in 2020, but our personal lives do not leave much room for traditional touring.
Thank you very much Vidarr for the interesting chat and your music!
Thank your time and kind words regarding the album! I would like to add that the follow-up novelette, and continuation of the saga, “Beyond the Mirrors of Faellnoch” will be published in DMR Books’ Swords of Steel Omnibus. This anthology of sword and sorcery tales combines three previous editions, including stories by Mark Shelton among a great many others, and bears a dedication to him as well.
One more reason to follow and read it, long live Mark Shelton! Thanks Vidarr