In the Meet The Band spotlight this week are the Illinois symphonic metal band Shield Of Wings. Their debut full-length is Unfinished. Guitarist/songwriter James Gregor introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Shield Of Wings.
James Gregor: We are a symphonic heavy metal band from the Chicago area. The band was started in 2005, played some cool shows like opening for Kamelot, Epica, and Edguy, and released an EP in 2011. Due to lineup changes and many other life ventures and pursuits, we have been on indefinite hiatus since 2012. But now, from the long silence, we are back with a full-length album.
Describe the songwriting process for Unfinished.
I started writing in 2012 just before our hiatus. Between 2012 and 2017 I wrote forty songs or partial songs, from which 10 were chosen to be on this album. There was much personal growth and new life experience during those years, which likely resulted in some variety of sound and emotion that can be heard when listening through the album.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Some of the memories from writing the core of the songs in solitude years ago are more faint, yet I can remember how exciting and therapeutic it was for me to express whatever was flowing through me at those times. Other than that, a strong recent memory was when Lara joined the band in 2020. It was so exciting to hear her and Aliyah demo the vocals and breathe life into the words that were written.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
I’ve been reading from reviews and reactions online that there are influences of many metal subgenres heard throughout the album including folk, power, death, and even black metal. I suppose I would just simplify it as symphonic and dynamic metal music. There is a wide spectrum of sound and emotion on display. From bombastic to ballad, there is anguish, encouragement and certainly hope present in this album.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
The topics are somewhat abstract but very personal. Some are about wrestling with the inner self, summoning courage and strength to endure reality, and being willing to let parts of the self be burned away to make way for new growth.
How was the video shoot for “Wetland,” and how did you develop the concept for it?
It was our first official music video and though it didn’t quite go according to plan, I would say it all turned out well. It was my first time writing, directing, and editing a music video and I would say the concept isn’t ‘too’ cryptic. To me, the aesthetic of the video essentially parallels the metaphor, story, and emotion of the song, and thus was the aim.
You did a Kickstarter for the album. What led you to go in that direction, and were you happy with the results?
We opted to run the pre-orders through Kickstarter, as a way to bring our community together, and so they could all see the progress we were making together. We are happy with how it went, especially considering our time away from the scene.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
The goal was simply to release something we loved and that we felt expressed the vision of the songs well. We feel we have accomplished that. Expectations, none, but we hope that some will find the record relatable and an aid in their lives as writing and recording it has been to ours.
Do you have plans to play live shows or tour?
Nothing specific as of this writing, but we do plan to play live when the time is right! We are looking at late spring or summer.
The Chicago area is known for its strong music scene. Are there many other symphonic bands based there?
Hopefully! There might be, but none we have heard yet.
How did you get started in music?
I played the trumpet for three of my younger school years.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
The earliest recollection of a visceral reaction to music was hearing Hanz Zimmer’s scores to The Rock and The Lion King as well as James Horner’s score for Braveheart. Even as a young kid, I recall being greatly gripped by hearing that music.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
As of the past couple months I’ve mostly been listening to Coherence by Be’lakor, Zerfall by Finsterforst, and some of the Children of Bodom discography.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Be sure to follow Shield of Wings on your preferred social media platforms, and to pick up your own copy of Unfinished or stream it on your favorite service. Thanks for your time and support!
(interview published February 12, 2022)
Watch Shield Of Wings – “Wetland” Video