BEYOND THE BARRICADE: Unusual and Experimental

Oslo's BEYOND THE BARRICADE Speak Up About Income Inequality on "S I C K N E S S"

Norwegian metalcore band Beyond the Barricade has just put out their new single entitled “S I C K N E S S,” which will also be made available as a music video. The Oslo-based group answered our questionnaire about their work, the creative phase for the single, and more.

Define the mission of Beyond the Barricade.

Originally the band started as any band tends to start, with no real mission other than to make awesome music and play awesome shows. However, as time has passed it has become clear that we have an intent to make somewhat unusual or experimental music. We all come from different backgrounds with different inspirations and we’re trying to blend it all together. The result is songs that are clearly rooted in modern metalcore, but with pieces of indie, pop music, 70s prog, and the inevitable touch of black metal because of our Norwegian roots. We’re quite happy with the direction the band is going in, because sometimes you just want a heavy breakdown to mosh to whilst other times you want to change time signature and style several times in the same song.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your new single “S I C K N E S S” and the themes it captures.

The creative process for “S I C K N E S S” started the way most of our songs start, with guitarist Vincent Older writing the instrumentals for it and presenting it to the rest of the band. He usually comes up with a title which vocalist Michael Enger will use as the foundation to write some lyrics. Our songs evolve over time as we rehearse them and will usually only feel finished once we’ve played them live a few times. However, since the pandemic hit and all shows were cancelled we didn’t have a chance to refine the song like we usually do. We’ve only played the song live once, but we felt that it was good enough to take into the studio.

The song was really aggressive and punchy, so the lyrics had to match. The current pandemic has given us lots to be angry about, so the song was rewritten from its original subject to be about greed and selfishness.

Vincent had gotten to know Martin Wennberg through his band Hångemeng and we thought that his vocals, which are really raw and desperate, would work well with the song. Martin was keen to join us, so the lyrics were written to accommodate a second voice who would come in when the song takes a turn towards being more aggressive. The final lyrics were finished a week before the song was recorded and only finalised in the studio as we were recording it.

What is the message you are trying to give with “S I C K N E S S”?

The song is about how the wealthy are willing to exploit and harm to keep themselves rich and powerful. The message is a lot more overt and angry than any other song we’ve released before and is partially inspired by events occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency situations tend to show people’s true colours and the behaviour of the politicians and the upper class shows that they are willing to let people suffer and die as long as it means that they keep making as much money as they can. We think this is absolutely disgusting and the song was written to capture the feeling of desperation and anger that people all over the world feel.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

When our songs are written Vincent will create a small instrumental demo along with programming the tabs using Guitar Pro. To make it easier to write the lyrics Vincent usually creates a structure file which details the BPM and when the different sections of the song start and end. Michael then writes some angsty lyrics and makes a vocal demo. All our songs are shared over Dropbox so we end up with a shared folder containing the tabs, the structure, lyrics, and a series of demos as the song is worked on. Keeping track of the BPM and any rhythm/time changes is also helpful to have when we go into the studio.

Is the dynamic flow of the piece carefully architected?

Songs usually start with riffs that Vincent has laying around which he’ll record and program drums for. When he’s sitting there with his guitar he’ll usually just feel it out as he goes along, and the rest of the band can come with their input later. There are no rules for how the songs are arranged, so a lot of it is based on the flow during the demo recording session. Some of the songs are restructured or modified by the other band members, but “S I C K N E S S” was written in one sitting and basically hasn’t changed at all. We’ve gone through the demo many times and it just felt right, so the lyrics were written to reflect the way the song changes over time. Since Martin was going to join us it made sense for him to come in when the song shifts into overdrive, and the lyrics that come in during the outro are somewhat hateful to match the intensity of the instrumentation.

Describe the approach to recording the single.

The single, as well as the other two singles we released earlier in the year, were mostly recorded at Vincent’s place using Cubase. The drums were programmed together with Fredrik Westby and the guitars and bass recorded directly into the DAW using Guitar Rig. Michael then used a raw mix of the tracks to write the lyrics and record a vocal demo of the track. The stems for the guitars, bass, and drums were taken to Marius Melleby at Red Line Studio in Oslo, where we recorded the final vocals. Marius was also going to mix the songs he gave us some input during the recording process.

Beyond the Barricade

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the song?

For the most part we’re inspired by modern metalcore acts like Parkway Drive and Architects, but there are bits and pieces of inspirations from many sources. Michael has a lot of love for bands like Dance Gavin Dance and Coheed And Cambria, so the vocals have a bit of an emo feel to them. Vincent gets inspired by the craziness of Slipknot, the atmosphere of Khold and the beautiful mix of melody and brutality of Scar Symmetry.

What is your view on technology in music?

Technology has made it so much easier to make and release music, meaning we’re seeing more music now than ever before. New music is also coming from people and places which before didn’t have the chance to be heard. It’s a good thing that more people, especially ones who aren’t being muzzled by the major labels, are out there expressing themselves and telling their stories. The world is saturated in music, which makes it harder for individual bands to be heard, but the result is that niches are easier to form and survive for longer. Technology has freed us from the gatekeepers who dictated what music was allowed to be released, and it allows people to be more experimental and true to themselves.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

We would like to think so, but it’s hard to say if anything will come from the release of this song. Music tends to become more politically charged in times of turmoil, especially under right-leaning governments, but it’s a different world than the one which spawned the punk movement in the 70s. The same flood of music made possible by technology also means that individual voices are harder to hear, and it feels like bands are more isolated and doing their own thing rather than being a part of a scene. We would love it if someone heard our song and was inspired to pick up a sign and join a protest, but without the camaraderie of other bands or a championing the same message our angry screams will most likely just fade into the wind. We’ll keep pushing the message though, and this is not the last angry political song you’ll hear from us.

What are your plans for the future?

We want to get out and play shows again. Live shows are the foundation of the band and it’s difficult to keep any momentum going without the ability to go out and meet our audience. However, seeing as the world is the way it is, we want to take the chance to finalise other songs that we’ve been working on for the past few years. We have a tentative plan to release our first full-length album in 2021, but gigs come first so once we get the chance you’ll find us on stage.

Make sure to check “S I C K N E S S” on your favorite streaming service here.

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