Ares Kingdom is a kind of an institution of American Metal scene. They are considered by many a cult band, playing in festivals for the truest headbangers in US and Europe and having a loyal fan base across the globe. Their sound differs from the other bands though: Their sound is warlike but in a sui generis manner. Here they assure they are going to play in Europe so European fans wait for the massacre! Read now the point of view of one of the most respected bands in the world wide underground!
DSU — Great to have Ares Kingdom featuring on DSU. I do believe it’s a universal doubt and I wish you could solve it for those who don’t know: in which moment did Ares Kingdom separated from Order From Chaos as a proper entity?
AK — There was about a year between the dissolution of Order From Chaos and the beginning of Ares Kingdom. Long before OFC split we had discussed coming back together and starting a new band, but in the end it was just Mike and I that did it.
DSU — Although Order From Chaos sound being very “Voivodian”, Ares Kingdom gets another direction and seems to focus in the universe of thrash, death and black metal underground… Was that process a natural thing or did you force yourselves like “okay, now it is a new band and we are going to make a different sound”?
AK — Truth is there is very little difference between the music of OFC and Ares Kingdom. I write in precisely the same manner, style, and habit as I did during OFC. You can make the argument that our additional experience gives AK a maturity that OFC always lacked, but the biggest difference is in production of our albums – OFC had terrible production. AK performs several Order From Chaos songs, including ‘Plateau of Invincibility’ and ‘The Edge of Forever,’ as part of our live set, and we’ve even rerecorded ‘Of Death and Dying’ and ‘The Scourge’ for releases, and those songs fit seamlessly alongside original AK material.
DSU — Your album Veneration brings totally unorthodox covers of Dokken, R.U. Dead? And the Aussies of Slaughter Lord… I believe the intention was to make a different album from the traditional stuff bands have been releasing… Am I right? Tell us more about the decision to put out a “cover” album…
AK — We’d always wanted to do our own Metallica-ish ‘Garage Days’ release, and ‘Veneration’ became that opportunity. We consider it a compilation of covers and not a real album, even though we recorded and packaged it like one of our own. We had been discovering that many fans were unfamiliar with the bands that inspired us originally, so we gathered songs from a few of our many favorite bands and recorded them.
DSU — Skipping to the present: You must be very happy with the result of The Unburiable Dead which I had the honor to review first-hand and the sound is marvelous. Are you methodic when you write your stuff? What was different this time around?
AK — Very methodical, yes. My composition process for individual songs remains the same as always, and just as with ‘Incendiary’ I had planned out the flow of songs for ‘The Unburiable Dead.’ The only change this time was that instead of being written randomly, the songs were written in the order they appear on the album. Looking back, I pleased that it worked so well, however I don’t feel like it needs to happen that way again.
DSU — The lyrics talk about the War to End all Wars… Normally bands tend to talk about the WW2. But do you consider The Unburiable Dead a proper conceptual album? Did you have the intention to bond the lyrical content track by track?
AK — I’m not sure how to define a ‘proper’ conceptual album, so I’m not prepared to say ‘The Unburiable Dead’ is one. If others want to call it ‘proper,’ that’s fine by me! I did indeed approach the lyrics episodically, each song selecting a certain aspect of the conflict and generally staying on topic. Think of it as some odd artful history lesson.
DSU — I’ve read elsewhere that the cover of the album was made by an actual WWI combatant and it turned out to be “The Pit” by George Grosz (correct me if I’m wrong). It seems obvious why you picked that. My question is: what does that paint mean to you? What do you see when you observe it: the blood, the pain, the stalemate?
AK — You have it correct. Doesn’t matter what it means to me particularly, just that it sums up the contents of the album with appropriate force, and pulls in new listeners!
DSU — Just out of curiosity had you read THE SLEEPWALKERS by Clark Christopher? I tried it last year but I’ve never finished, but I intend to return…
AK — I’ve never read it.
DSU — Is The Unburiable Dead going to receive a continuation? Maybe something like Treaty of Versailles and The Great Depression, I don’t know…
AK — No, I’ve selected a general direction to develop for the next album. While the central theme is going to be a bit vague compared to ‘The Unburiable Dead’s’ identifiable theme, the overall presentation will be suitably dark. It’s going to take a while, but will be worth it.
DSU — Ares Kingdom reigns supreme in the pantheon of Underground Metal alongside countless number of truest acts like Cianide, Impetous Ritual, Morbosidad and the likes… Thus you are entitled as the paradoxical underground “tip of the iceberg”, not being unknowns and not being palatable to pseudo-intellectual “extreme” modern metal fans either. Do you see yourselves in the heavy metal limbo or is it exactly where you wanted to be?
AK — Yeah, just as OFC was in its time, we exist in a strange limbo, as you called it. Certainly it’s not where we want to be – more recognition, bigger tours, more fans listening to our message would be great…but of course we remain for the few!
DSU — It seems you were billed to play in Berlin in NWN! VOL 5, am I right? As of September/October your name wasn’t on the bill anymore. What happened?
AK — Not sure where you saw that, but we’re still playing the fest and will be developing a European tour around it as well.
DSU — I can see that your influences range from Sadistik Exekution, Deströyer 666, Poison (Germany), Sabbat and the likes… is there any other bands that you like in the current underground scene and that you want to leave registered here?
AK — We’ve got many friends in the current scene whose music I enjoy, from Abigail and Barbatos to Cianide to Pentacle to Negative Vortex to Zuul, High Spirits, Destructor, etc. Lots of great bands!
DSU — To finalize: what is your fave song of The Unburiable Dead? Mine is Stultifera Navis (Armistice and League) because I like epic sounds…
AK — It’s too hard for me to say since each song has its own special personality. It’s interesting you picked ‘Stultifera Navis’ – it always seems like people really like our longer tracks, which is very cool to me!
(Daniel “Roderick” Death)