Apr 072023

(In this new interview Comrade Aleks talked with Jason Asberry, one of the two people behind the St. Louis-based melodic black band Stormruler, whose most recent album was released to considerable acclaim last fall.)

Stormruler from St. Louis got the contract with Napalm Records right from the start. Their first album Under the Burning Eclipse (2021) and the second one Sacred Rites & Black Magick (2022) were both released under the Napalm banner. I believe that made the way for their epic and melodic black metal to reach listeners remarkably easier.

Jason Asberry (vocals, guitars) and Jesse Schobel (drums), with the help of guest musicians, conquered European crowds in a grand tour that started in March, but somehow they found the time to answer a few of my questions and shed some light on their black metal art.


Hi Jason! How are you? What’s going on in your camp?

We’re excellent right now. Currently on tour with Cannibal Corpse, Dark Funeral, and Ingested here in Europe.


Stormruler is a relatively new band, but for example Jesse has played death metal with Cast the Stone since 2002. How does this experience of being in the underground help you today running Stormruler?

It’s helped streamline the band into being a professional unit. There wasn’t a whole lot of having to teach nor learn how a lot of essential things are done. It’s also helped that we’ve been writing music for so long, so starting this just felt natural.



Jason, you also played drums in the black/thrash band Bastard, which is pretty active – the Rotten Blood album was released in March 2022. How natural was it to switch from drums to guitar in Stormruler?

It was a pretty easy transition. I’ve been playing drums since I was a little child and started playing guitar in my early teen years. It’s benefited the band greatly I think, especially with the communication of riffs and structuring to each other. It helps a lot that we are both drummers.


All of the bands you played (or play) for were signed on different labels, and now you’re on Napalm Records. How big is the difference? Do you feel that you’re on a higher level now?

Definitely like we’ve reached the next level in certain aspects. I mean, being on Napalm has opened a lot of doors that were previously closed.


Cast the Stone, Legend, Oracle, Bastard… none of your other bands perform black metal, only Harkonin has its blackened influences. So why did you choose this genre to express your epic fantasy plots?

We really just wanted to write some black metal like it used to be back in the ’90s. There hasn’t been a whole lot of really good melodic black metal over the last couple of decades, not to say there hasn’t been any, just not much. Especially in the city of St. Louis.



How do you see the identity of US black metal? I read the USBM book by Daniel Lake, and it seems like the local scene absorbed influences from all over the world, giving birth only to a small branch of specific bands like those of the “Cascadian BM” tribe.

I don’t know about the “Cascadian BM” but I know that the US has lacked quality black metal for a long time. It’s been a fashion show for two decades. It’s either just been caveman black metal or blow-your-brains-out black metal for too long.


Do you see Stormruler as a part of a USBM scene? Do you stay in touch with others or do you see it in some other way?

In some fashion of course. I mean, we are American and we hail from St. Louis. I think if anything we have our own network of black metal bands and musicians that we stay in touch with and call homies. We have a strong bond with the Louisville metal scene, as well as the Chicago and Kansas City scenes. Along with many others all over the country really.


There was just a one-year break between Stormruler’s first album Under the Burning Eclipse and the following one, Sacred Rites & Black Magick. How did you manage to prepare 75 minutes of new material that fast?

We’re sitting on a grand archive of black metal material. We wrote that first record and then immediately went into writing for the next, and now the pattern is no different. We’re already writing and demoing new stuff.



Did you have on your mind some parts of the debut album that you wanted to improve in recording the newer songs? You know – both albums have similar concepts and structures, though Sacred Rites & Black Magick is a bigger work.

Absolutely. UTBE was just a quick record we wrote just to write it; we didn’t really plan on being a band, it just sort of happened. When it came time to do the next one we decided to take it a bit more seriously and take a little more time on it.


What’s your plot behind all these small interludes between songs on Sacred Rites & Black Magick? Do they bind all the tracks together into one epic story?

We don’t really have one underlying theme on the record, lyrically. Musically, I like to have an underlying tone throughout the whole thing to make it just feel a little more immersive and cohesive. Not to say we won’t stray from something conceptual in the future.


Well, and here comes that blunt question: what kind of influences did you transfer through your lyrics?

We have many many influences: Dimmu, Windir, Dissection, Allegiance, Dawn, Dark Funeral, and a million more.


How do you like all these modern things like Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings series? Can something like this inspire you as well?

Certainly. We love all of that stuff and it shows in our music and lyrics. We’re both GOT fans. I personally haven’t given Rings of Power a chance yet but I love LOTR so, I will. We draw inspiration from many places like that.


Stormruler is a duo, but you have your buddies Derek Engemann and Dave Palenske who help you with live shows. Did you see Stormruler as a live band from the very start? How tight is your gigs’ schedule for 2023?

Yes, it’s just the two of us but we really don’t have a permanent live lineup. Being a two-piece allows us to take out our homies and what not. Currently we’re on tour in Europe with Derek Engemann and Nick Burks helping us out. We have plans for a few more runs this year.


Under the Burning Eclipse was released in 2021, Sacred Rites & Black Magick saw the light in 2022, and so what do you prepare for in 2023?

We currently already have some songs demoed out for the next release. Still in the writing phase but definitely have some plans for next year.





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