MYRAETH – Transcending The Norm
Australia is known for a lot of things. Their unique animal life, the Sydney Opera House, Steve Irwin, etc. Most important to yours truly, they’re also quickly becoming known for their extremely high quality metal.
Yes, that big continent is brimming with almost as many great bands as they are kangaroos. Myraeth is one that deserves special attention, as their brilliant approach to doom metal is a very progressive one in every sense of the word. Memorable riffs, interesting song structures and a high intensity only begin to define the complex web of quality that Myraeth weaves. In short, they’re awesome, and you need to give them a go.
In the midst of making their second full-length, vocalist/guitarist Ryan Casey and guitarist Max Van Dyke were generous enough to take time out of their busy schedules to answer a plethora of questions. From their musical influences, to the burgeoning metal scene in Australia, to native snack food, a very broad spectrum was covered.
Enjoy our chat, and be sure to check out their stuff. "In Glorious Death" is a mammoth album, and the upcoming follow-up will no doubt be just as potent.
How would you describe Myraeth to somebody who has never listened to you before?
Ryan Casey (Myraeth): "It’s heavy music with big guitars, keyboard, violin, angry growls and clean singing, crushing drums and smooth bass. We sit in the mid to down tempo."
What are some of the band’s primary musical influences?
Ryan: My personal influences range from rock to modern metal. I love Candlemass, Alice in Chains, Faith No More – more recently, I’ve been hooked on Agalloch, Mar De Grises, Katatonia, Mastodon, Esoteric etc.
Your first album, "In Glorious Death," is close to two-years-old. How happy are you with it overall?
Ryan: "As a band, you always want to develop your sound and progress as musicians and songwriters. At the time of IGD’s release, I was really happy with the outcome. And as time has passed, I have picked out creative and aesthetic elements that can be improved upon. I’m proud of IGD as the best album Myraeth could release two years ago."
The opening riff on "Monarch" is honestly one of the more memorable ones to grace my ears in the last few years. The album is full of memorable moments, too. It sticks with the listener. How important are impactful riffs like that to Myraeth’s music?
Ryan: "Thank you for your kind words! Myraeth loves a good impact. We don’t necessarily aim to have impactful moments – I think Max and I just gravitate towards them when we write. I love it when a song makes me sit there and go, "Holy Shit!" That’s the kind of effect I would like our new album to have."
Max Van Dyke: "I would say that impactful riffs are definitely a big part of our music. That being said, we don’t ever know what to expect when we initially sit down to write. It usually depends on mood (read: sad and angry). We’re all big fans of ambient music, too, but I guess when you’ve been into heavy music your whole life, it can be hard to resist the temptation of a big guitar riff."
You play a very unique mix of doom and death metal – truly befitting of the label "progressive," which gets thrown around far too easily these days. How did the band come to putting together such a one-of-a-kind sound?
Ryan: "In the beginning, Sam, Max and I had very different tastes in heavy music. When we initially wrote together, it was often a mishmash of genres and styles – sometimes good, and sometimes not so good. Often, what we settled on were the songs that felt the most cohesive, but still encapsulated the diverse influences within the band. As time has passed, I think we have grown into Myraeth, and developed in such a way that we can better utilize those influences on demand."
Max: "I would agree that developing a style as a band is something that takes time. It’s really a result of all of our personal influences, and the influence we’ve had on each other. I didn’t listen to a whole lot of pure doom metal bands until I met Sam, and now it’s my favorite kind of metal!"
There have been a lot of high quality bands coming out of Australia in the last few years – Ne Obliviscaris, Okera, Be’lakor, Orpheus Omega, Arbrynth, yourselves, etc. How do you view the progression of the metal scene in your country over the last couple of years? Do you see it continuing to grow?
Ryan: "It’s an exciting time for Australian Metal bands. They are definitely getting more positive attention, and in my mind, it is well deserved attention. The high-caliber of music coming from the bands you mentioned is inspiring to us and fills us with a sense of pride. I believe it will only get better.
Max:" Australian metal bands are producing some truly world-class stuff at the moment! Our local scene isn’t the biggest in the world, but I think that only makes it more impressive to see just how many great bands are around at the moment. We’re not really the most patriotic bunch of people, either, but it certainly makes us proud to see bands like Ne Obliviscaris and King Parrot killing it overseas – something we would love to do in the future. The metal scene in Australia has been steadily growing for years now. We have international artists touring here all the time, and the local scene is full of innovative bands."
What sort of unique challenges present themselves by being based in such a remote part of the world, and how difficult are these challenges to overcome?
Ryan: "With social media, it is actually not so bad to reach new people outside of Australia. The physical barriers only come into play when we want to perform overseas. That will be a difficult – but rewarding venture – and hopefully one that isn’t too far off the horizon."
Max: "The problem with Australia is that it’s a huge country, and our cities are very far apart. Perhaps we could shrink the continent, and then move it somewhere closer to some of our neighbors."
I’ve heard that the Australian government has given musical talent grants to help them succeed in a country where it’s difficult for musicians to do so. Is that still in practice, and is it something that could be an option to get Myraeth to play overseas?
Ryan: "Yes, I believe they are still providing grants. We are currently in the process of applying."
Max: "If we ever get a grant from the government, I promise we will build a boat so we can sail around the world – spreading our message of love!"
Any Australian bands that you believe need to be heard that many don’t know of?
Max: "Heaps! Portal, Mournful Congregation, Katabasis, The Veil, Murkrat."
What’s your favorite track on "In Glorious Death"?
Ryan: "Personally, my favorite is "The Tormented.""
Max: "Mine is probably "Transcendence.""
Album number two is currently in the works now. How is it shaping up so far? How would you compare and contrast it to your past work?
Ryan: "It’s going very well! We took the plunge and decided to record the entire thing ourselves. I would describe it as different. The difference between our Retribution EP and IGD album will be the same as the difference between IGD and album two. Like IGD, the new album will have lots of big moments (perhaps more) but will be more atmospheric. Max and I recently acquired a large array of new pedals for our guitars. It’s going to be fun!"
Is there a working title in place? How about a release date?
Ryan: "The working title is "Rituals and Tribunal." The release date is still up in the air, and will depend upon many factors."
When do you think we may get to hear a sample? Pushy, I know!
Ryan: "Hahaha! Well, we did release a video of Christian and I in the studio. It mainly consists of the back and forth between us whilst we record. It’s very tongue-in-cheek. There is a tiny sample, though, of one of the new riffs. That’s the best I can do, I’m afraid. There will be more samples closer to the release date."
Does the band have any touring plans after the album is complete, or is it all hands on deck with the record for now?
Ryan: "We definitely have intention to do a national tour upon the release of this album!"
What do members of the band like to do for fun?
Ryan: "I can’t speak for others. On the side, I have been slowly building a recording studio and recently recorded an indie band – also from Sydney – which was a real hoot! Also, Karate – I’m a yellow belt now, so my danger level would be approximately the same as a pair of safety scissors. When I hit Green belt, I’ll be at blunt butter knife. So watch out!"
Max: "Outside of Myraeth, I make synthesizer tunes and play Dark Souls. That’s it."
Australian snack food is some of the best around. What’s your opinion of Tam-Tams? We can’t get those in the United States easily, but they’re just delicious! And I have a friend who is all about Vegemite. So, which is it – Vegemite or Marmite? And why is a yeast paste something anybody would want to eat? Haha
RYAN: "Not a fan of Tim-Tams. I’m not much for sweets. As for your second question:
All of the mites! Promite, Mightymite, Vegemite, Marmite. They’re all good. Mightymite is smoother than the other mites. Promite has more bite. Vegemite is the middle man, and Marmite has a peppery aftertaste. Vegemite is like metal music. Upon first exposure you say to yourself "what the fuck was that!!??" But, after repeated tastes, you begin to crave it until finally you find yourself solely consuming said item. For the ultimate in savory satisfaction:
2 Pieces of Bread, toasted.
Small amount of butter (lightly spread)
A mite of your choosing (I recommend Mighty Mite or Aussie Mite for beginners)
A mild cheddar cheese
Pepper to taste
Combine in a sandwich maker and serve with a full bodied Pale Ale."
MAX: "I’m eating Tim-Tams right now, actually. Hot tip: take a small bite off each end and drink your coffee through it… Straya!"
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Ryan: "Maybe Tabasco sauce and some shallots.
Cheers for the interview mate!"