The "Plague" Year: Hate Unbound celebrates album debut at Ypsi's Maidstone Theatre
There’s a whole mess of influences on Hate Unbound’s debut album, Plague, which came out on the Finnish label Inverse Records. Reviewers have mentioned brutal bands (Lamb of God, Gojira, Hatebreed) along with thrashier groups (Exodus) and death metal pioneers (Death) -- but not enough have acknowledged Hate Unbound’s occasional laser-sharp deployment of twin-lead guitars, evoking classic Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy.
“I actually wanted to be KK Downing when I grew up,” said guitarist Daryl Mitchell, naming the ax partner of Glenn Tipton in Judas Priest. (Hate Unbound's other guitarist, William Cundiff, is Mitchell's Tipton.)
But don’t mistake Hate Unbound’s love of twin leads fool you: This southeastern Michigan group, which includes bassist Sean Demura and drummer Franklin "Foot" Hannah, is primarily about pummeling you with riffs, not tickling you with harmonized solos.
You'll be able to have your chest caved in by said riffs when Hate Unbound celebrates the release of Plague at the Maidstone Theatre in Ypsilanti on Saturday, February 18. We talked to Mitchell and vocalist Art Giammara about the Plague year, song meanings, and whether too many influences is too many.
While reading our chat, stream all of Plague at Zero Tolerance Magazine.
Q: Why are you having your CD release show at the Maidstone in Ypsilanti? Do you guys live more in the Washtenaw area than Detroit?
DM: When contemplating a venue to have this release show at, we immediately thought of the venues that try to work with the bands, since it should be a symbiotic relationship. And at the top of the list was the Maidstone Theater in Ypsilanti. The owner, Jon Archer, is a devout music fan and he really tries to accommodate artists in his venue. Plus, it has a great sound system and the drink prices are awesome.
AG: A couple of the guys are on the east side and the rest are on the west [of the city], so that's why settled in the middle with [saying we’re from] Detroit. We choose to do the release at the Maidstone because of how cool they have been to us since our start and it’s great for sound and lights. We have played some of our best sets there and every time it's been one big party. Our release is more of a thank you to our awesome fans and family who have supported us all along the way.
DM: And our drummer, Foot, is a Ypsi resident and his house is 2 minutes from the Maidstone.
Q: A friend commented how great the guitars sounded: "Zeuss-style guitar tones,” he said, referencing the influential metal producer's aggressive but articulate sound. Was there a direct influence from another artist or producer that informed your guitar tones?
DM: How cool of your friend. No, there aren't any direct influences on how we got the guitar tones on this album. But rather than imitate and use gear that others have recorded with in the past, Will and I just went in the studio with the gear we wanted to use and that we knew would work in the context of how Hate Unbound should sound. That was the most important goal.
Q: That twin-lead solo in the second song, “Cut,” morphs really fast from Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest tight harmonies to something epic, almost akin to Europe’s “Final Countdown” countdown riff played on guitars. Nice surprise! But it fits with how the rest of the song is all chopped up. Who are some of your favorite twin-lead tandems?
DM: It's great that you picked up on the harmony solo in "Cut.” We thought it would be nice to acknowledge some of our classic influences and go with a twin lead and flirt with a natural minor feel. And yes, Judas Priest was one of my biggest influences as a youth. I actually wanted to be KK Downing when I grew up.
Q: Art, I can’t really make out most of the lyrics you’re barking, but I’m going to guess they’re not about flowers and sunshine. But I do see a semi-religious theme emerging in the song titles -- true?
AG: Great question. That is true, I do write about semi-religious topics like “Baptized in Lies.” I wanted to write a song about the Catholic church. I grew up in a Catholic family and witnessed how important faith is. Also, I saw how the church manipulated its following to make money and how fake people are. You can shake hands on Sunday but if they see you on Monday they forget who you are. I always thought that was bullshit. With “Burn Your Idols,” that is more of a straight-forward song of how our media is destroying our youth. Idols today are made-up pop stars with little talent. The writing in Plague is more of a collection of my fears of how this world is going and the crumbling I hope I and my family never see. But you never know, our follow-up to Plague may be about flowers and sunshine. I'm kidding; we will keep it brutal.
Q: The number of times I read Lamb of God and Death being referenced in the reviews of Plague was numbing. I know the record label put those groups out there and I can hear why, but what do you think of being compared to them so much? I liked the reviews that acknowledged Exodus -- especially for the twin leads -- and I understand why one review mentioned Pantera. Any surprise influences on the band?
DM: We don't mind the comparisons at all. I love the Lamb of God comparisons because their guitarists are riff monsters. Art does have that Randy Blythe feel to his vocals sometimes. And as for Death ... Chuck Schuldiner was a fuckin' genius, so who wouldn't love being compared to them? OK, maybe Britney Spears might not like being compared to Death, but she's just another pop culture delivery mechanism anyway.
The Mighty Warrior [blog] reviewed our album and stated: "on tracks like ‘Suffering,’ which sounds like Chuck Schuldiner co-wrote a song with Gojira.” Dude, how incredibly flattering as I love both bands immensely. And it’s an acknowledgment of what we were trying to go for. The Exodus mention made me very happy as well. Thrash is a big part of what we are, along with the death metal, and I'm glad when people notice that we try to let several influences ooze out of our sound.
Q: Is this two-week April tour your first one as a headliner or are you going out with somebody? Any summer plans with one of the package tours?
DM: We'll be headlining the April run. We wanted to get out there and roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty and just rock out. We'll tour later in the year and hopefully be a part of a nice and brutal package. As for summer plans, we do have some great things coming up, but unfortunately, we aren't allowed to announce them yet.
Christopher Porter is a Library Technician and editor of Pulp.
Hate Unbound's album release party for "Plague" is on Saturday, February 18, at the Maidstone Theatre,
1425 Ecorse Rd., Ypsilanti. Cover is $5, doors open at 7 pm. Opening acts are Two Neck Noose, Past Tense, and Augres. Hate Unbound hits the road in April for its Spread the Plague Tour 2017:
4/13 New Haven, IN
4/14 Chicago, IL
4/15 Milwaukee, WI
4/16 Des Moines, IA
4/17 Peoria, IL
4/18 St. Louis, MO
4/19 Nashville, TN
4/20 Louisville, KY
4/21 Pittsburgh, PA
4/22 Cleveland, OH
4/23 Toledo, OH