Only very recently has debut Bull-Riff Stampede album ‘Scatter the Ground’ appeared on my metal radar, although over the last few days, become an ever present on any available audio device. Initial listens suggest heads down, no nonsense thrash fest of absolutely incredible intensity and dexterity, but take time to breathe and digest fully, additional depth and layers arise. Whiplash sharp vocals are supplemented by warp speed riffage and shredding as the “Central Embodiment of Evil” and “Thrashing Machine” onslaught commences, before “Bled to Arena’s” elongated grinding intro takes precedent, pending speed flexing once more. “My Worst Nightmare” proves my album stand out track, initial velocity absolutely breathtaking prior more changes in tack than a pedalo adrift in the Bay of Biscay. Throughout, the rhythm section blitzkrieg manifests feelings of castrated bullock herds using craniums for kicking practice. Just a brief section of acoustic guitar providing temporary and surely, necessary respite. “Mask of Five Skulls” presents a chugging monolithic beast, “No Regrets” lays influence firmly At the Gates and “Ten” suggests Nu-Metal tendency, the only “Solace” from sheer brutality found in the final two minutes of recorded time.
Having experienced ‘Scatter the Ground’ to the full, only course of action, grab the West Country Bull-Riffers by the proverbial horns, find out who they are, where they’ve been, is the live experience soon to be witnessed up North, and ultimately when the fuck is more utter adrenalin rush extreme virtuosity, the epitome of metal at it’s very best, going to be available.
ANDY: I’d like to start guys by saying “Scatter the Ground” is one of the best metal albums I’ve heard in a long, long time and as a debut, absolutely the complete article. As a new band to me and I’m sure the majority of the Mudkiss readers, can you give us some background about previous bands you’ve played in and how Bull-Riff Stampede came together as a unit?
JAY: Thanks Andy, yeah, basically the previous band names that may be recognisable for people are Fourwaykill – Anger Management – Ted Maul – Plague – Celtic Jihad and Blaze Bayle. The coming together story of Bull-Riff …. It is a long one ….Me and Dave have been friends since about 2002, I was in ‘Fourwaykill’ and he was fronting south coast band called ‘Plague’ –. I’ve had the idea of doing a band called ‘Bull-Riff Stampede’ since around the time Fourwaykill was having problems in 2006/ 2007 but before BRS emerged at all, I was asked to join a new band called ‘Anger Management’ which the ex Murder One / Medule Nocte drummer had put together. So Bull-Riff got shelved.
To cut a long story a little shorter, ‘Anger Management’ were needing another guitarist on board so I suggested Dave came in (Plague had disbanded and he was after a good heavy band to join,) me and Dave then began our first writing period together. Some of this is now on ‘Scatter The Ground.’ Late 2007 I was asked to help out on some Blaze Bayley dates and as things transpired, the helping out with Blaze became more and more frequent, to the point where I was offered to come in write and tour with them. At this point Dave continued with ‘Anger Management’ for a while but we also continued writing with each other whenever possible and this material became the main block of stuff that went on the ‘Scatter The Ground’ album a couple years later.
James, our Drummer was asked initially just to help on the album recording, he was drumming with London Extreme Metal band ‘Ted Maul’ at the time, we’ve known him for many, many years and both of us had previously wanted to work with him but it never came about. As things have panned out, he did an amazing job on the album and following ‘Ted Maul’ has decided to come aboard full time with us. Rod Boston, Bass, has been with us since April 2012. Our Original Bassist, Gabry, runs the studio we record at in North Italy as well as a successful backline and sound company based there. This had to stay his priority as things have gotten busier this side of the channel so Rod, who’s previous efforts have been many underground UK metal/rock bands started on deputy duties for Gabry but as the number of shows increased and things became stable with the four of us live, he has now come on full time since August 2012.
ANDY: While there’s obviously a great deal of thrash in the album, many more styles arise, which bands have influenced you over the years.
JAY: For me…. my guitar listening went from Dire Straits/Queen to Maiden then to Metallica/Megadeth/Slayer/Overkill then to Pantera and Sepultura/Fear Factory/ MachineHead, these are my main influences, BUT…… also listen to a lot of other lighter and heavier stuff Soundgarden / Rage Against the Machine / Chilli Peppers /Dio / Death/Entombed/Obituary/Dark Angel / Love-Hate/Savatage/ GnR … ITS ALL MIXED UP …
Dave grew up with both parents into heavy rock and metal , his influences are also pretty much planted in the same way, although I think he had a lot more exposure to Deep purple / Zeppelin / Sabbath early on through his parents. He also, on saying that, has a lot more Black and Extreme Death Metal on his shelf than the rest of us.
ANDY: The West Country seems to be producing some phenomenal metal at present, more so than other genres, what is it about that part of England that induces the more extreme musical elements?
JAY: I’ve no idea why really, but it seems that various areas have their times of good solid output of Metal Music. Bristol has always had a scene thriving with musicians and a centre with clubs opening and closing and moving and changing, there has always been good bands in the south west. It maybe something to do with over the last few years mainstream media attention turning this way more often through West Country talent being recognised generally across the board – names like Justin Collins / TV Show - Skins / Time Team ? ;) / Aardmann Animations –maybe people don’t just think of ‘The Wurzels’ when relating to the west country anymore so maybe naturally the music interest followed.
ANDY: What’s the metal scene like in places like Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth, is there a strong following for the local bands?
JAY: There are more bands than ever popping up now and its reflecting in the number of shows and the number of people coming out to see them – like always though, there are very busy nights and there are ‘less busy’ nights.
ANDY: What’s the position with the second album due for release this year. Any idea of a date it will be available and what can we expect from the record?
JAY: We have the majority or the album demoed now, a few things to sort, by the end of April it will be in a ‘demos finished’ state ready to go and record it – were looking to have it all wrapped up and out and about in November This Year.- musically, it’s The Next Slab of Bull-Riff Stampede. As we are not contracted to anybody but ourselves right now, we will probably put out a couple of the finished demo tracks for tasters of the new album.
ANDY : Do you have a title and are you looking at a self-release or through a label?
JAY: The Title is ‘Enraging the Beast’ – were not opposed at all to talking with or talking about Label opportunities
ANDY: And how about gigs and festivals this year? Will you be heading, in particular for our benefit, further North even Manchester this year either on headline or support dates?
JAY: Manchester headline at Grand Central, it’s a Free Entry show with some local bands there, we have a day off in the Beholder dates schedule on the way to Bradford Gasworks May 17th – so were doing the stop in Manchester for a Headline night on the 16th – We hope we will see some good support up there as we haven’t been able to stretch that distance logistically from other dates until this year. The furthest North for us on the schedule is June 29th in Lanarkshire for Les Fest 2013 – Scotland’s Largest Metal Festival
ANDY: Where do you receive the most enthusiastic response and enjoy playing the most when away from home territory?
JAY: We’re lucky to have been playing consistently well promoted shows across south/midlands of the country for over a year and we have had an amazing response from people who listen to music right across All Genres at All of the shows so far.
ANDY: One final question, I think UK metal is really back on the map with a whole raft of incredible bands out there at the moment. Would you agree and do you feel the UK should be receiving more attention worldwide?
JAY: (Emphatically).........AGREE TOTALLY.
Now I'm aware I keep banging on about this, but until more people listen, I won't decease. The UK is producing, without question, some of the finest metal bands in the world.....fact. It really is time more music fans both inside, and outside our shores began taking note. We invented Metal and now the time we reclaimed our birth right, with the Bull-Riff Stampeding right up front.www.reverbnation.com/bullriffstampede
Interview by Andy Barnes