Wizardthrone Interview

Napalm Records

Wizardthrone are an all-star project that includes members of Alestorm, Gloryhammer, Aether Realm, Forlorn Citadel, Nekrogoblin and more. Their sci-fi themed, multi-genre debut is Hypercube Necrodimensions. Guitarist Mike Barber (Gloryhammer), who goes by the moniker M. Archistrategos Barber on this album, gives us the scoop on the band and album.

Chad Bowar: How did the band form?
Mike Barber: Eric (Brown, Nekrogoblikon/Vale Of Pnath) and I discussed doing some kind of extreme metal project together at the beginning of last year. I wrote a song then reached out the Chris (Bowes, Alestorm) as he’d been wanting to be involved in something in this style for a while and it turned out he’d simultaneously been talking with Matt (Bell, Forlorn Citadel) and Jake (Jones, Aether Realm) also. We’ve all toured or worked together in some capacity before so it was a natural choice to choose this lineup. We settled on the name Wizardthrone, which was something Chris and I had come up with almost 10 years ago, and then got to work with writing the rest of the album.

Describe the songwriting process for Hypercube Necrodimensions.
We’d basically submit demos of ideas to a Dropbox and once we’d gathered enough, we began to arrange them into songs and composing new material around them. There were a couple of exceptions – I composed “Black Hole Quantum Mechanics” before contacting Chris, and “Of Tesseractual Gateways…” was an unused song from a band I was playing in back in 2009.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Mostly just how focused it was. The UK was in lockdown for most of 2020, so seeing anyone socially was pretty much out of the question. Most of my contact was with the other guys discussing the album, and as I was forced to record the guitars and deal with a lot of the production aspects at home, it felt like a beacon of hope amongst everything else that was happening at the time.

How was it working with Nino Laurenne?
Really great – unfortunately my plans to travel to Helsinki to oversee the mix were skewed by the travel bans in effect at the time, but through the marvels of technology he was able to stream his mixing to me in real time, and we’d work through tracks almost as if I was there. Of course it’s not quite the same as being in his studio and hearing the mix through his speakers, but I don’t think there was much of a sacrifice in quality, and I have to praise his patience and professionalism throughout.

Did the pandemic affect the process?
Yes, but in a positive way as well as the negative ones that I’ve mentioned previously. I don’t think the album would have come together so quickly if we’d been busy touring.

How would you characterize its style/sound?
Certainly rooted in extreme metal but without confining ourselves to any boundaries – the kind of bands I loved growing up were definitely ones that were bold enough to step out of what their peers might have deemed to be the norm. So as well as black/death metal there are neoclassical influences, a couple of more progressive parts, some electronic production elements, and we really tried to maintain a sense of melody throughout.

How did Aleksi Munter (Swallow The Sun/Insomnium), Florian Magnus Maier (Dark Fortress) and Evan Berry (Wilderun)’s guest appearances come about, and how did they impact the album?
I’ve known both Aleksi and Florian for some time. Aleksi stepped in to help me with some orchestration for the final track’s intro towards the end of the production process as I was working against the clock. I approached Florian as his vocal style in Dark Fortress was kind of what I’d had in mind anyway when writing those lyrics, he delivered above and beyond what I’d expected. Evan is a friend of our frontman Jake’s, and when he’d learned we were forming a band in this style he was eager to get involved – not only did he lend his vocals to our choir recordings but he also composed a couple of riffs for the final track.

What lyrical topics do you cover?
There’s an overall sci-fi theme throughout, with Chris’s lyrics leaning towards mathematics and mine coming from a more typical “occult metal” background. Both of us were heavily influenced by Bal-Sagoth in trying to take the lyrics completely over the top to suit the music, but really the music is the focal point. A few people have inquired as to whether there’s any crossover with the “lore” of our other bands, but there’s nothing like that to be found.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Personally I’m a bit nostalgic for a time when playing this style of fast and brash music was a little more commonplace. There are still bands such as The Black Dahlia Murder, Nightbringer and others who are keeping the torch burning, but it seems that extreme metal has become pretty introverted recently and in my eyes that’s completely at odds with the style. The best possible outcome for me would be for a new generation to be inspired enough to pick up their instruments and start writing some great music that I can listen to in turn!

With the band members’ other obligations, will you be able to play live shows?
Yeah, we have some catching up to do with our other acts, but we have a booking agent and we’re in discussions about how best to begin live performances, probably beginning some time next year.

The album will be available on vinyl. Are you a vinyl collector?
I was quite into it, but I have to confess I’ve not bought one in a while. I think the last was the box set of Down Below by Tribulation, and that must be at least a couple of years old now. My interest in motorcycles kind of took over around that time and it doesn’t leave much spare capital for anything else!

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
When it comes to metal the latest releases by Gaerea, Akhlys and Seth have all impressed me and shown there’s life in the underground yet. I also really enjoy a few metal/electronic crossover acts too – Igorrr and Pertubator, but also a project called Keygen Church which Chris introduced me to which has completely blown my mind.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I also play guitar and write in a band called Deathcode Society, and we’re gearing up to record and release our second album on Osmose Productions. If you enjoyed the heavier parts of Hypercube Necrodimensions then I recommend you check out our current release! Other than that we all look forward to hearing people’s reactions to Wizardthrone and can’t wait to begin playing shows.

(interview published July 15, 2021)

Watch Wizardthrone – “Frozen Winds Of Thyraxia” Video


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