(In this new interview Comrade Aleks spoke with the members of Kansas-based Parthian, whose debut album was released at the beginning of this month.)
Progressive rock and metal seem to be among the most popular instruments used by musicians to describe Cosmic and Lovecraftian Horror. Other musical genres work too, for this Horror is multifaceted and each of its forms could be revealed in different ways. However this Wichita-based progressive / melodic death metal band, Parthian, walks another direction, creating its own mythology on H.P.’s fundament.
Parthian released their concept album Desolation of a Ceaseless Dawn on the first of July, six years after they managed to release their debut EP Perpetual Deconstruction, and we had a talk with the guys. The current line-up consists of Adam Faris (guitars, vocals), D.J.Dixon (drums), and Jacky Patrick (bass), but most of the time it’s Parthian‘s collective mind who answers my questions.
Hail Parthian! Thanks for your time guys. Let’s start with the regular question about the band’s origin. How did you gather in the name of metal? What was your motivation?
Thank you for the opportunity, we are very excited that you approached us about this! As far as origin, we have to start with how Adam (Guitar/Vocals) and DJ (Drums) met, and boy is it a romantic story…. They met on Craigslist…
In the Summer of 2013 Adam and a guitar player friend of his almost jokingly posted to Craigslist looking for a metal drummer to start a band with. We are from Kansas so there isn’t a giant pool of musicians to choose from, but somehow DJ found the ad, responded, and invited us to his house for a jam. The rest is history! Adam and DJ continued hanging out, playing random metal covers, but mainly playing Video Games and watching horror movies. In 2016 we finally decided to start writing music and we wrote, self-produced, and self-recorded our Demo EP Perpetual Deconstruction.
During all of these years, Adam kept trying and trying to get Jacky (Bass) to join the band, as he knew that the guy absolutely shredded, but alas he kept turning us down to focus on other projects. While Jacky did not record on the Demo EP, he did join us not long after its release and finally started to play live shows with us.
Motivationally we all wanted to originally just play live shows and make people headbang, a common goal for most bands that have teenagers, but after the release of that Demo EP, we took quite a bit of time to reevaluate what our motivation was, and came to the conclusion that all that matters is being true to the music, and writing from a place of honesty – though getting people to headbang is still a driving force.
Did you have any musical experience before starting Parthian?
All three of us had been in local bands throughout the years, but nothing serious. We all spent several years just jamming alone in our houses and developing our craft. We were luckily fortunate enough to find each other and be able to mesh our sounds together to create Desolation of a Ceaseless Dawn.
You started with the EP Perpetual Deconstruction (2016), what kind of sound did you want to get for this recording?
Our EP was Adam and DJ’s first attempt at writing and recording music together. At that time we had 2 other members in the band and we did our best to gather some affordable recording equipment and create what became our Demo EP, Perpetual Deconstruction. As far as sound, we really didn’t have a clear direction. To be honest, we just started writing and stringing together riffs and hoped for the best. That is in clear contrast to our method for the new album. We went into the writing process with a very clear mission in mind and a detailed vision of how we wanted the album to sound and look.
Why did it take so long to finish the debut full-length Desolation of a Ceaseless Dawn? Six years is a long time, what slowed you?
After recording our Demo EP and playing a few shows to support it, DJ and the second guitar player in the band had to move to other parts of the country for work, so we took a three-year hiatus. As you can hear throughout the new album DJ is a very creative and unique drummer and it didn’t feel right to take the next steps in the band without him. In 2019, we decided to write and plan for a full-length debut release, which became Desolation of a Ceaseless Dawn, and we announced DJ’s return to the band and the end to our hiatus in late 2019 with the YouTube release of our song “Illusions of Grandeur”. We spent the first year of the pandemic writing a true “debut album” that we could be proud to release and promote.
And what makes you proud of Desolation of a Ceaseless Dawn?
Desolation of a Ceaseless Dawn was an opportunity for us to be true to our vision, not in making music for anybody other than ourselves. We poured so much blood, sweat, and beer into the entirety of the process, crafting it into exactly what we wanted to be, and in our eyes, there’s nothing more interesting than that. We couldn’t be more proud of the final product we were able to deliver.
How long did it really take to record the entire album? The material is varied though you keep its main theme pretty recognizable and clear.
Due to the nature of the pandemic, we had to write most of the album remotely, sending files and midi back and forth. It took us the better part of the year 2020 to write the bones of the album and we spent the next several months expanding the songs and adding layers and atmospheres to enhance the sound we were going for.
Once we had finished pre-production demos we were happy with, and went into the studio, we were luckily able to knock out probably 80% of the recording in a single week, thanks to having a brilliant producer here in Kansas named Scott, who really was able to tap into our madness in the studio and bring out our best performances.
It’s said that Desolation of a Ceaseless Dawn is a concept album, so what’s the story behind it?
Desolation of a Ceaseless Dawn is a Lovecraftian Horror Concept album centered around a Scientist, who is left unfulfilled by his current line of work and begins the search for a “higher knowledge” and a new direction. It was written during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the feeling of unfulfillment in one’s work is really a metaphor for the loneliness and isolation that COVID created for many people, including ourselves.
The story dives into themes of madness, past mistakes, prophecy, and many others. The Scientist, after being warned of the consequences of seeking knowledge of this nature, inevitably succumbs to madness and summons an otherworldly entity that was sent to absorb the Earth’s life force to save its own world. The album cover depicts the final showdown in the penultimate song “Call of the Void” where the Scientist sacrifices his life to save the Earth and finally puts an end to his unfulfillment.
How are these themes connected with the Lovecraftian legacy? Did you keep some certain story on your mind?
Adam and DJ are both huge fans of the Lovecraftian mythos, and we tried our best to keep the theme consistent with that. We definitely drew heavy inspiration from several different Lovecraft short stories in the development of the original concept, but when it was all said and done our goal was always to tell a story of unfulfilled promise, madness, and despair.
Lovecraft never shied away from the protagonist losing, and we knew we couldn’t either. Depending on how you view it though, it can be considered a victory for our protagonist in the end, a very bittersweet victory, which felt fitting.
How do you think your choice of the genre helped you to support this concept?
We were very specifically looking for a more “Death Metal” inspired sound overall but didn’t want to lose the fun, Progressive elements that make our band a little strange and different. We settled on calling what we created “Progressive Death Metal” but it’s truly a lot deeper than that. We are a culmination of so many influences between the three of us that we were able to just write what came naturally and didn’t have to stress so much about keeping it in a specific box. All three members knew what the end goal was and were able to write a natural sounding record that sort of exists in a universe of its own both musically and conceptually.
By the way, which bands forme your taste towards progressive and death metal stuff?
Adam: My number one influence musically has always been Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was the guy that inspired me to pick up a guitar and do vocals at the same time, I was mainly a “classic rock” guy back then, so along with Hendrix, I took a lot of influence from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Whitesnake, and Toto. As a late teenager I was super into the 2000s wave of heavy metal and metalcore: bands like Avenged Sevenfold, All That Remains, Killswitch Engage, and Parkway Drive. Over the last 5-10 years I started taking influence from bands like Between The Buried and Me, Death, Nekrogoblikon, Revocation, and many more. Basically any band that pushes the boundaries of what is possible in a metal band.
DJ: My dad is a drummer of the classic rock and hair metal variety, so I always grew up listening to bands like KISS, Motley Crue, Rush, Kansas, Styx, Metallica, etc… Those helped open me up to listening to heavier music when Metalcore originally started to get popular in the mid 2000s, which led to me heavily getting into almost all of the core bands of that era. But by the late 2000s I had started to listen to a lot more progressive metal, including Between the Buried and Me and Dream Theater. By the 2010s I was listening almost exclusively to progressive metal, death metal, and melodic death metal, and it was during that time that I started to come into my own style when it came to drumming. These days tech death is everywhere, and I absolutely love it! I would say the most influential bands over the long run ended up being Rush, Kiss, Avenged Sevenfold, Trivium, Between the Buried and Me, Death, and In Flames.
Jacky: I didn’t listen to a ton of newer metal, until I was turned on to Killswitch Engage, which ignited my love for heavier music in general. From the standpoint of helping shape my sound and thought process when it comes to writing, Troy Sanders, the bass player from Mastodon, and the band System of a Down were definitely the most influential on me. I love Troy’s playstyle when it comes to holding down the rhythm, and then popping out with a cool bass run before slipping back into the rhythmic background.
Are there plans to release Desolation of a Ceaseless Dawn CD or do you already have a label who’s ready to support you?
We ran a limited first run of CDs currently only available locally or at a show, but we do have some additional plans for the future regarding CDs, Vinyl, and other merch that we are working out logistics for now. Right now we are completely independent and we are comfortable continuing that way. However, if the right label opportunity came along we would definitely reconsider that position.
Did you already play these songs live and what’s your gigs’ schedule for the rest of 2022?
At the time of writing this response we have an album release show on 7/15/22 at The Backbeat in Wichita, KS where we will be playing the full album from start to finish with support from our friends in Externus and Galdrar. We will also be playing at a BMX event in eastern Kansas 9/3/22, and there are many more in the works that we haven’t announced yet. We are just hoping to play these songs anywhere and everywhere that will have us!
So as this show is already performed, what are your impressions? How was it?
It was absolutely amazing! We couldn’t be happier with the amount of support we received from our local scene, and the receptiveness to this kind of music. This was the first time we got to play the album in its entirety live, and we don’t know who was having more fun, us or the crowd.
What are your plans for the rest of 2022? Do you aim to write new stuff in the vein of this album?
We’ve started booking shows out of state to spread the Parthian love, and are excited to share the madness with the masses. Besides a show we have on September 10th in Colorado (details to come soon on our Social Media), we are also already hard at work brainstorming what comes next for Parthian. Being as we are all massive fans of horror, there’s a good chance it leans that way, and there are other Parthian-related projects in the works as well for release some time this year potentially, so stay tuned!
Okay, thanks for the interview guys, I guess that we’ve covered all vital topics…besides one! Why “Parthian”?
When Parthian was originally conceptualized, Adam and DJ spent a lot of time sifting through name ideas, and one that kept cropping up was Parthian. Adam had taken an interest in the history that surrounded the Parthian empire, and eventually in the search of finding the right identity for the band, we came to an agreement on the name Parthian.
I like what I’m hearing. Melodic, heavy, progressive. From the interview it seems that’s what they were going for? If so you hit the target. Nice job. Do I hear a bit of influence from The Faceless?