THE DARK HORDE – interview
Introduce your band, and describe your latest release:
The Dark Horde is a collective of internationally recognised musicians, vocalists and actors from Melbourne, Australia. Together they have created The Calling, a concept album written and directed by me, Brewin.
The Calling is a musical narrative experience featuring a supernatural horror story set to an “eighties heavy metal” soundtrack. It is the prequel to my award-winning horror novel The Dark Horde, set in south-eastern Australia in 1989.
The music is composed and performed by Hanny Mohamed (Black Majesty) and Logan Jacobs, with guest tracks composed and performed by Chris Kane (Eye of the Enemy) and James Lowe.
Vocals are performed by Danny Cecati (Wicked Smile, ex-Pegazus, ex-Eyefear) and Shaun Farrugia (In Malice’s Wake), with narration by Kevin Powe (international voice actor) and acting performances by Dexter Seamus, Jane Brewin and Andrew Carolane.
Featuring artwork by Aldo Requena (Hammerblaze, Argentina). Mixed by Ricardo Borges and mastered by Jens Bogren (both at Fascination Street Studios, Stockholm, Sweden).
What’s the hardest part about being a band in this day and age?
Even though I’m an author/game-designer by creative trade, I say the hardest thing for any artist remains the same thing it has ever been, and I suppose will ever be – and that’s not creating and performing the art itself, it’s promoting awareness of it. The battle for publicity is never-ending, and for some like me, at times exhausting and certainly takes you away from the thing that motivates you to do it in the first place – and that’s the art itself. Hence sites like yours are providing artists a great service, helping us to let others know about what we’ve created, so thank you!
When did you realise that your project had the potential to be much more than just a fun idea?
So The Dark Horde novel that The Calling album is a prequel to, is something I first began writing in 1989 and wasn’t to publish for the first time until 2012. But it was in 2000 that the idea of creating The Calling – that is to say the idea of setting a prologue to my book to music and sung lyrics – first came to me.
I worked with mates at the time on some tracks over the next few years, but it wasn’t until 2004 when I was working on the album with Lee Cheney in particular, that the ideas really began to take shape and I really came to be of the view that this could become something special, something unique and worthy of being shared with others.
It was of course, many more years before the album was completed with a lineup that really had only been working on it since 2019/2020 (mainly with the exception of Hanny who has been involved with it since 2006).
Tell us about your latest release, why should we check it out?
To create The Calling I have assembled some of the finest and most respected artists Australia has to offer – you have Hanny Mohamed, who helped form one of Australia’s most successful Power Metal exports Black Majesty creating the music with Logan Jacobs, and guest contributions including Chris Kane who founded one of Australia’s most successful Melodeath Metal exports Eye of the Enemy. Vocals come in the form of Danny Cecati, frontman for Wicked Smile and previously Eyefear and Pegazus, who is world-renown for his powerful voice (and having the longest hair haha). Danny teams up with Kevin Powe, international voice actor with decades of experience and accolades from the computer game industry, to tell the story of the main character, Henry. Shaun Farrugia, frontman and founder of one of Australia’s most successful Melodeath Metal exports In Malice’s Wake provides additional “demonic vocals”, and a cast of other actors make appearances too.
The Calling invites the listener to come on a journey, a journey of supernatural horror set against the backdrop of eighties heavy metal, reflecting the time period of when the story is set. And it’s a complete story, told via the main narrator and protagonist of the story, Henry, complete with soaring vocals, blazing guitar solos, appearances by different actors, and various soundscapes to convey the story. Others have made comparisons to things like the concept albums of King Diamond, Queensrÿche and others, but with music more like that of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. I’d describe it as what you get when you take Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of War of the Worlds, give it a supernatural horror story set in 1989, and set it to the music of Priest and Maiden (among others).
It’s certainly something different and continues to get consistently great reviews. Metal Temple called it a “masterpiece” and gave it a perfect score in all categories, Metal-Rules gave it a score of 90% and called said of it that it’s “one of the best concept albums I’ve heard in a long time”, and many others have said things like “so much to love about this”, “outstanding”, “epic”, “everyone deserves to hear this” and “the most brilliant hybrid (of metal and horror books) I have yet seen”.
How does a song typically come together for you?
When I sat down with Hanny and Logan in 2019 to make this album, I already had all the lyrics written. I would describe to Hanny and Logan the concept/story of each track, what sort of journey the music needed to reflect, and approaches that had been taken to the track in the past. And then from this Hanny and Logan, armed with guitars and keyboards would try out some ideas with me doing dummy vocals and recording the ideas we were to use on my phone. We did this for the entire album, except the two guest tracks, thus planning out the entire album before recording any of it.
Then when we’d planned out all the ideas for each track, (and this also included Logan and Hanny working on ideas separately and sending them through for feedback) we started the longer process of recording them, together with all the various vocal and acting parts. When that was finally completed, including the guest musician tracks that Hanny and I tweaked to fit the album, all tracks were submitted to the sound engineering studio (Fascination Street Studios), where I gave instruction and feedback to Ricardo doing the mix through a few more iterations until we achieved the final product. Start to finish the entire process took about two years.
How would you describe your sound to an unfamiliar reader?
As mentioned above, the music is very much inspired by the heavy metal sounds of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden in particular, with the eighties horror movie soundscapes of composers like John Carpenter and Giorgio Moroder. But elements of thrash, Iced Earth kinda power metal, and melodeath are present as well, particularly on the guest tracks by Chris Kane and James Lowe.
What do you want listeners to take away from listening to your band?
To be taken on a compelling journey of supernatural awe and heavy metal thrill. And if they’re inspired to know more, they can read the book that follows too…
Where would you really like to tour that you haven’t done so yet, and why?
The Calling is really just a studio project, with its members in different active bands of their own. We’ve yet to actually do a live performance (logistics for this are already challenging enough without covid making it even harder) but there are certainly plans to do so in the near future!
So really we’d love just to be able to put on a show in Melbourne and video it for overseas audiences. But hey wouldn’t it be great to tour the world haha.
How would you say that the sound of your band has progressed over the years?
Yes the sounds and polish of The Calling has certainly come a long way from 2000 when it was first conceived to 2021 to when it was finally released. Many different line-ups and versions of the tracks over the years (there’s at least eight different versions of the album I have recordings for), and each iteration felt to me like a further evolution and refinement of the ideas, to finally achieve what I think of as “the ultimate version” – which is the version released. It was always to be heavy metal and dark (the story itself being told never changed), but in more recent years I recruited “the experts” thus lifting the bar on the standard of the album and making it “the best it can be”.
How excited are you for 2022, and what can fans expect from you?
While I certainly have plenty of people in various parts asking when my next album/book/game is, making art, particularly good art, takes time. If it’s worth doing I think, it requires much pain, blood and tears, many changes, refinements and iterations, and probably takes years, even decades per project (particularly if it’s not your main source of income, and you need to work for a living etc).
So right now my creative focus is on my next main project, which also happens to be the biggest and most ambitious of all my projects, and the one I’ve been working on since 1985 would you believe. It’s a “game” that the design notes for which fill many drawers in my house. Many friends have asked me over the years too when I’m releasing this (having played one of the versions over the years) and yes, I think it is time. Before too long (maybe later this year or next) I’ll be talking about this a lot more, but for now I’m just enjoying the thrill of creating the things close to my heart.
Thank you for having me and for taking the time to read. If you want to know more on The Calling, including song links, videos, artwork, merch links and reviews (and indeed any of my other projects) I invite you to check out www.thebrewin.com
Cheers and stay metal!