WHERE SHEER DEATH METAL AND DOOM COLLIDE
PERHAPS STYGIAN CROWN IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF WHAT THE LOVE FOR TWO BANDS, CANDLEMASS AND BOLT THROWER, CAN TRIGGER IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. THAT, AND A LOT OF CHEMISTRY ARE THE IRONS ON WHICH STYGIAN CROWN WAS FORGED IN 2018. THEIR DEBUT ALBUM ‘STYGIAN CROWN’ IS STUFFED WITH A DEVASTATING COMBINATION OF DOOM AND DEATH METAL, TOPPED OFF BY A CLASSICALLY TRAINED VOCALIST BY THE NAME OF MELISSA PINION! IT WILL BE OUT VIA CRUZ DEL SUR MUSIC ON JUNE 26TH. WE RISKED OUR LIVES AND CROSSED THE RIVER STYX TO TALK TO MELISSA ABOUT THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM.
STYGIAN CROWN is a relatively young band, established in 2018 by current Gravehill drummer Rhett Davis with the help of some Gravehill bandmates. Obviously, the love for Candlemass and Bolt Thrower, ‘Candlethrower’ for short, pushed them in the right direction. Where does that love for doom and death metal come from for you?
MELISSA: My love of doom metal comes mainly from Black Sabbath, particularly the Dio-era. Thrash and traditional metal tended to dominate my attention as a kid, so my knowledge of death metal could be better. But the guys are showing me the way!
They found you after Davis’ wife saw you on YouTube, singing a cover of Iron Maiden’s ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’. Not really a song in the category death/doom metal. Was it as easy as that? You were hired for the job right away?
MELISSA: Rhett thinks strategically when he brings people on board for his projects. He seeks talent, but also people who can get along with others. I think he realized through our mutual friends that it would be a partnership that would work well. And despite the fact that my musical background is mainly in traditional metal and hard rock, I try to bring authenticity to any genre thrown my way. I think the guys saw this too, particularly since they haven’t fired me yet. Ha!
Did the boys in the band explain the name STYGIAN CROWN to you? Can you explain it to the readers?
MELISSA: The name STYGIAN CROWN is an homage to two of Rhett’s previous bands – Morgion and Keen Of The Crow. Two song titles from those bands contain both words. Additionally, Rhett credits Thulsa Doom from Conan the Barbarian as an inspiration for the band name.
Tell me something more about your very first demo, ‘Through Divine Rite’, that was released in the same year of formation, 2018. Who wrote those 3 songs and how was it for you to do the whole recording process?
MELISSA: The music for all three songs had been written prior to my arrival and lyrics had been written for ‘Flametongue’ and ‘Trampled Into The Earth’. The third song had a tentative title of ‘Divine Rite’, but no lyrics, so I turned this into a song about the Battle of Mount Vesuvius, which was a conflict between escaped slaves and Roman militia.
These 3 songs are also on your debut album ‘Stygian Crown’ that will be released on June 26th. Are the versions on the album different from those on the demo?
MELISSA: All three songs are basically the same, but I think they are tighter and sound better this time around.
‘Stygian Crown’ will be out on Italian label Cruz del Sur Music. These days, it is very difficult for new bands to sign a contract. So, how did you convince Cruz del Sur Music to ink a deal with you and will you do more albums for them?
MELISSA: We were initially approached by Skol Records, but Skol later decided we would be better served over at Cruz Del Sur, so they handed us over to them. We are honored to be representing Cruz because it is a top-shelf label with an impressive roster of bands. It’s going to be an honor sharing the stage with them out on the road. We hope to be represented by Cruz Del Sur in the future.
After the demo, did you immediately start to work on the debut album?
MELISSA: Yes. Nelson Miranda, one of our guitarists, is constantly writing riffs and he and Rhett bang out song structures in our rehearsal space. After the demo came out, the band asked me to begin sending rough ideas on piano, so I began that process. It feels like I haven’t stopped because all through the pandemic, I’ve been writing material for our follow-up album.
Most songs were written by guitarist Nelson Miranda and drummer Rhett Davis. You did the vocal lines and the lyrics, of which some handle about myths from ancient Egypt (‘Devour The Dead’) and the ferryman who brings the dead across the river Styx (‘Two Coins For The Ferryman’). Where does this fascination come from and do you read a lot about such myths?
MELISSA: I’ve been a huge fan of mythology since I was a kid, and since the name of the band includes the word STYGIAN, it made sense to focus on Greek mythology, but I’ve expanded it beyond that to include other cultures as well. My goal is to explore mythical creatures and deities from cultures around the world in future releases.
Why is ‘When Old Gods Die’ not on the vinyl version?
MELISSA: We were unable to fit ‘When Old Gods Die’ on the record, however, it is available in both the digital and CD versions of the album.
Who created the cover art for ‘Stygian Crown’ and can you tell us some more about it? The meaning of the drawing?
MELISSA: We commissioned Misanthropic Art to design our cover, as well as a T-shirt design featuring the boatman, Charon. We were stoked to have an artist who has designed for bands and labels from around the world. The illustration depicts a skull wearing a crown of serpents, which is definitely a nod to Conan the Barbarian, but also a great representation of the band.
When this whole COVID-19 situation is stabilizing and it is allowed to go to concerts again, will you tour in the United States to promote your debut album? How about Europe?
MELISSA: We are currently booked for a number of European festivals – Hammer Of Doom (DE), Hell Over Hammaburg (DE) and Up The Hammers (GR). We are also joining Exciter and a number of our labelmates at Legions Of Metal in Chicago (USA) in 2021. We are anxiously waiting for concert venues to reopen in California so we can begin promoting our release locally as well.
Thanks to Scott from ClawHammer PR for making this interview possible.