Philly blackened thrashers Wild Beyond are in the Meet The Band spotlight this week. The trio’s self-titled debut album has just been released. Vocalist/guitarist Ed Gonet, bassist/keyboardist/guitarist Jimmy Viola and drummer Evan Madden introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Wild Beyond.
Ed Gonet: In February 2020 I bought a Jackson Rhoads V with the intention of jamming when I found free time here and there and then lost my job a month later due to Covid. Quickly found myself writing songs and piecing together loose ideas and making demos in my basement. When the time came to reach out to find other musicians, Grzesiek from Sonja put me in contact with Jim and Evan. Wasn’t all that long after that that we went to a local studio(Permanent Hearing Damage with Steve Roche) and recorded the album.
Describe the songwriting process for your self-titled debut.
Ed: I isolate in my basement and riff until it makes sense. I mess around with programming drums and try to come up with a vaguely finished idea that I then share with the rest of the band. From there the ideas grow with everyone’s input.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Ed: Having put in a lot of solo effort into the project and having not played any shows or done anything else with the band up until that point, I was elated to see it come to life. Things we starting to feel more official.
Evan Madden: Going for a slightly different drum sound than what I usually aim for on other projects, mainly with using deeper toms tuned higher. Also really focusing on catching some nuanced accents within the riffs.
Jim Viola: I recall a manic rush to finish composing and recording the guitar scratches to “Frenzied At The Skull” the night before I left for my honeymoon to Puerto Rico. Got to strike when the inspiration is there!
What was the most challenging part of recording Wild Beyond?
Ed: Probably the vocals just because I hadn’t really attempted to sing them yet. We weren’t doing vocals at practice. Flying blind a little bit.
Did you struggle with track order at all?
Ed: Alex Nagle, who mastered the album, suggested the current track listing for optimal sonic torment. We just took his advice.
Jim: Some tracks stood out more than others in terms of placement. For example, “Radio Burst Dark Origins” was the last song we learned together. We all realized we shared a love for Metallica, and I think “Radio Burst” is like our black metal version of “Dyer’s Eve.” A hellish sprint to the finish line. I also composed the outro track “Exit Wounds” based on one of the motifs in “Radio Dark Burst Origins.” We all wanted a spooky instrumental track and “Exit Wounds” was fun to conjure.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
Ed: At the core of it all it’s a black thrash album. I’ve always been interested in melody and hooks though and tried to incorporate a little bit of that in there. I’m a sucker for big sounding emotional black metal parts. Abigor are the masters of it. They are a huge influence for me to do this project. Was also influenced by second wave black metal’s late ’90s foray into space. I figured my time has come to nut in the cosmos.
Jim: “Punishing. Journey.”
What lyrical topics do you address?
Ed: I was influenced by the story of Jack Parsons, who was the godfather of American rocketry and an occultist in correspondence with Aleister Crowley and would later be swindled by L Ron Hubbard. Some say his Babylon working resulted in mysterious lights flying over the capitol building in ’52. So, a few ideas from his life and some loose ideas or vibes from Lord of the Rings and my own general outlook I guess during these strange times. It’s a bit of a cosmic gumbo.
How did you come to sign with Gates Of Hell Records?
Jim: We sent them a cold email with a link to our master. Enrico and Bri took a chance on us, and we are so thankful they did! A strong record will open doors, despite a lack of industry connections.
Ed: The label has a solid foundation of Philly bands and American bands in general. We are happy to be a part of it.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Evan: We’d like to play it live in as many countries as possible.
Ed: The goal was to have it released…check! Thank you Gates of Hell Records! Looking to take this show on the road next. I expect blood.
Jim: I hope the metalheads play this record loud, light some candles, bang their heads, and lose their damned minds.
Do you have any plans to play live?
Jim: Our debut show and album release party is scheduled for June 22 at Saint Vitus Bar with our friends in Prostitution and Putrascension. No sleep till Brooklyn.
Evan: We’re booking a few East Coast shows for mid-summer, and looking to play some festivals this year and next. We definitely want to play Europe asap, West Coast U.S., and maybe some shows in Canada. Bands and promoters, hit us up.
How did you get started in music?
Ed: I got my first guitar in ’99 or 2000. Immediately started Infernal Stronghold with Grzesiek. I’m pretty sure I asked my parents for an instrument just to start the band because we had been plotting for a few weeks. He had a guitar and I would play drums on a keyboard. Those are the first few rehearsals.
Jim – Funny, even before I knew what heavy metal was, I knew I wanted to be a guitarist. I started guitar lessons when I was eight, and joined my school orchestra on stand-up bass when I was 10. I got into Metallica when I was 12, then Slayer, and the rest is heavy metal history.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Ed: Starting out, I got really into the obvious choices of Metallica and Megadeth. Then got obsessed with Iced Earth and Blind Guardian. Huge power metal freak. Then the harder stuff..Mayhem, Darkthrone, Vader, etc.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Evan: I had been to a few rock concerts in the early’ 90s, but my first metal show was Metallica in Camden, NJ in 1997.
Ed- Not entirely sure because I started going to just about anything heavy at The Trocadero at the time. Notable mention though, my dad was at a 76ers game and two guys sitting next to him randomly got selected to go to The Summer Sanitarium Tour in ’02. They didn’t want those tickets so he got them both for 20 bucks! So I saw Metallica, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, and some other nu-metal bands at the Vet. R.I.P. The Vet.
Jim: Slayer at Roseland Ballroom in NYC, 2002.
Are you able to make a living from music, or do you have day jobs?
Ed: No. I’m a chef at a fancy butcher shop and I do special things to meat all day.
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Evan: Typical metalhead shit: hiking, travelling, drinking beer, reading about history.
Jim: I enjoy being a cat dad and husband as of this last year. Also getting more into illustration, graphic design, video production and writing, and taking on more clients.
Ed: I cook a lot at home. More involved recipes. I also enjoy long distance bicycling.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Evan: Book us to play in your city. We travel light.
(interview published April 15, 2023)
Listen To Wild Beyond – “In The Footsteps Of Mars”