(Today we have a big and well-earned exception to the rule in our site’s title, as we present Comrade Aleks‘ new interview of Kat Gillham from the epic UK doom band Nine Altars. Their debut album The Eternal Penance will be released on CD tomorrow by Good Mourning Records, with vinyl coming later via Journey’s End Records.)
This traditional epic doom metal band was founded in Durkham not so long ago by Kat Gillham who performed this kind of music back in the mid-’90s with Blessed Realm. It seems that some of the other bands and projects where she’s involved, like Uncoffined (death-doom), Lucifer’s Chalice (heavy metal), and Winds of Genocide (crust / death metal), have been on temoprary hiatus — though Thronehammer (doom metal) remains very active — so this band has a new line-up:
Kat Gillham performs drums and vocals, Charlie Wesley and Nicolete Burbach play guitars, and Jamie Thomas is responsible for the bass’ low vibration.
Good Mourning Records seems to ready to release Nine Altars’ debut The Eternal Penance, and regarding the three tracks I’ve heard, that should be a truly notable exemplar of UK doom metal.
Hi Kat! How are you? What’s new on Nine Altars’ side? Was The Eternal Penance album finally released?
Hi Aleksey, things are OK here thanks!
The album is not out yet, the release is scheduled for March. The CD versions are with Good Mourning Records, who are releasing that format, but at the time of doing this interview we are still waiting for a release date from the German label Journey’s End Records, which is releasing the vinyl version.
First of all, you’re involved in five more bands or projects which weren’t officially closed yet. How many of them are active indeed?
All are active but each band is at different levels of activity. Thronehammer and Nine Altars are currently the two most active bands out of the six I am involved with.
And Uncoffined? What’s happened with it?
Well, we are currently writing our third album and hoping to start playing live again in the near future. This year is the 10-year anniversary of the debut album Ritual Death And Funeral Rites, so it would be an appropriate year to return to stages and play some songs from it live again.
What was your motivation behind creating Nine Altars? How do you distinguish this band from the others concept-wise?
I/we wanted to create pure old school style traditional and epic doom metal with 100 per cent clean-sung vocals, something that is definitely currently lacking in the British doom scene in my opinion.
We looked to bands such as Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Sorcerer, Revelation, Penance, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Trouble, The Obsessed, Internal Void, early Black Sabbath, Witchfinder General, and ’80s Iron Maiden for inspiration when writing the songs for the album.
Don’t you think that it’s unfair that the majority of new doom bands are doomed to be lost in the shadows of those Old Ones you mentioned? It seems that nothing can conquer people’s addiction to big names in any genre.
Yeah definitely, but eventually those older bands will stop playing live/touring and cease activities due to the members getting older, so the younger bands will eventually take their place at the forefront of the scene and carry the torch with the flame of doom burning bright for years to come.
Doom metal is not doomed to extinction just yet. Younger generations and new bands carrying on the tradition will come over the years and decades, hopefully keeping this style of metal well and truly alive even after the older bands have gone to the musical grave.
Do you feel that the interest in traditional doom drops down again?
Not in countries like Germany and Greece, from what I have seen. Especially in Germany, the doom metal scene and interest is VERY HEALTHY there with lots of passionate and dedicated fans. England was never the biggest market for such music but we don’t care, we play the style of doom we do because we love it and are very passionate about it.
You chose Carl Georg Adolph Hasenpflug, ‘Church Ruins In Snow’ for the EP’s cover, and I believe that I saw it before as a cover-art of another album. And it reminds me about Caspar David Friedrich’s popularity among bands. The Khthon band from Kent, who are forgotten and put to rest some years ago, used some of his arts too. So the question… Why did you choose this artwork? It’s a masterpiece, of course, but in the end it’s something like a “let’s find something fast” attitude.
Actually, as far as I am aware this particular Carl Georg Adolph Hasenpflug piece has never been used by another metal band, I came across 1 band that has used 1 of his pieces but it isn’t the same one.
I had actually been wanting to use one of his pieces for years and Nine Altars was the perfect opportunity to use it. So it definitely wasn’t a rushed idea to use one of his awesome art pieces. The label in Germany, Journey’s End Records, bought a print of it to use.
Our release is an album by the way, not an EP. The album clocks in at almost 35 minutes.
The Eternal Penance brings us pure epic / traditional doom metal as it should be. How do you see your chances to reach doom-heads with this release? Is it something people demand now when another wave of doom metal is on the wane?
We hope it reaches many ears of fans of the traditional and epic doom metal style. The response from fans of this music has been very positive so far, as well as from musicians involved in the doom scene who have gave us very positive feedback regarding our music thus far.
How long did you work over these three songs? When did you decide that this material was complete and it was time to stop?
We worked on the material over a period of 3 years before hitting the studio to start recording the material, which was in December 2021 when the drum tracking, bass, and initial guitar tracking was done, with the bass and guitar tracks refined in early 2022 followed by the vocal tracking in spring 2022.
How do you see the strong sides of The Eternal Penance? What differentiates it from other doom bands?
I think our songs are catchy and the songwriting is strong, with a good ear for melody and hooks, powerful clean-sung vocals in the old school style and memorable vocal lines, and just honest, pure, traditional doom metal with its influences firmly in the ’80s and early-mid ’90s. These are a few things that make us differ from quite a few modern doom bands. We don’t sound like a modern doom band, and that is definitely one of the biggest differences to many other doom bands out there right now. Our sound is a continuation of what was going on in the ’80s and ’90s.
What are your plans regarding live gigs? You performed with Thronehammer and Uncoffinned (correct me if I’m wrong). Do you search for more of the live doom experiences?
We do want to play live eventually. We are currently learning a drummer the songs so I can be a stand-alone vocalist live.
Uncoffined hasn’t played a live show since spring 2018.
Winds of Genocide. the crust punk death metal band that I am in, played our first live show in 4 years last October too, which was great, but Thronehammer is by far the most active live band currently. We did 2 tours last year in Germany and Austria as well as playing the 2022 edition of the Hammer Of Doom Festival in Würzburg, Germany last November with Candlemass, The Skull, Stygian Crown, Wheel, etc.
How do you see yjr prospects of Nine Altars regarding live shows in 2023? Do you see an opportunity to get out of the UK and play a few gigs abroad?
Hopefully we can eventually get out there on stages and play live. It is definitely something we all want to do, both here in the UK and abroad when the right opportunities present themselves.
The Eternal Penance sounds like a cool teaser before something bigger, so how do you see Nine Altars’ prospects regarding new material in 2023?
We have started working on new material but currently aren’t in a rush. The new material will slowly come together. The ways of doom are slow…
Okay, thanks for the interview Kat. Did we skip something?
Check out our album, on CD via Good Mourning Records and vinyl via Journey’s End Records, if you like epic and traditional DOOM METAL!
We are THE NEW WAVE OF BRITISH HEAVY DOOM METAL!