Since the winter of 2014, Left Cross have not so quietly been making a name for themselves in Richmond’s metal scene, resurrecting the sounds of old-school death metal and putting their own vicious spin on that particular brand of brutality.
Since the winter of 2014, Left Cross have not so quietly been making a name for themselves in Richmond’s metal scene, resurrecting the sounds of old-school death metal and putting their own vicious spin on that particular brand of brutality. With their second release, Servants of Death, a four-song tape released earlier this year, this five-piece is already sounding masterful. They wield a sound that manages to be both cavernous and immediate in the same instant, all the while conjuring the physical and psychological terrors of war. Drummer Scott Bartley (also of black metal trio Unsacred) and vocalist Adam Warren recently sat down with us and discussed the overpowering sound of their new release as well as their intense lyrical content.
Left Cross is definitely a war-themed band. Is that direction at all inspired by the current geopolitical climate? We do have a bit of a war monger running for president after all.
Scott Bartley: Our music and lyrics do not have any reference to the current political climate. While it might be an exciting and intense time to be alive, our songs are much more influenced by earlier wars. We draw inspiration from World War I, World War II, and fantasy. Also, our singer Adam is very into the Warhammer games and takes lyrical inspiration from a lot of their stories.
This story was featured in RVAMag #26 which hit the streets this month. Head over here to read the whole mag online or check with your favorite local shops and hangouts to see if they still have copies.
You guys like quoting classic war literature — so far I’ve seen A Farewell To Arms and All Quiet On The Western Front from you all online. Do Hemingway and other writers like him inspire some of the lyrical content?
SB: Hemingway has been one of my favorite authors since I was young and while I don’t write much of the lyrics for Left Cross, I try to throw some quotes into our internet presence. I greatly admire the way he focuses on the post-war effects on those who had participated, their thoughts and regrets. Tolkien is also a huge inspiration for our songs for obvious reasons!
Adam Warren: Absolutely. Orwell is also a huge inspiration for lyrics. There is no glorification of war in the lyrics, but history has made it a very interesting subject write about. Most of the lyrics are more of a first person narrative. Imposing yourself in that situation.
The band’s sound is a nice mix of classic death metal sounds with a bit of a punk or hardcore element added in. Is that more or less a result of each band member’s combined influences? Do you think more musicians in metal bands should be listening to punk?
SB: We are all committed to being a death metal band, but we agreed early on that we did not want to fall prey to writing songs to glorify our own individual skills. Instead, we chose to write songs that are concise without the filler that is rampant within the metal community. I guess that’s the punk influence that I have. I hate writing songs longer than three minutes. What else do you need to say in a song? I think many metal musicians write off punk songs as being “beneath them.” To me, I love the raw aggression contained within. Some of our favorite bands, including Bolt Thrower and Repulsion, draw much influence from punk music. There is much to absorb from any genre.
The songs on your new release Servants Of Death are brutal and somewhat simplistic, but manage to still be catchy. How do you manage that mix of elements?
SB: We try to catch ourselves from making songs too complex and wandering down paths that don’t need to be pursued. We want our music to be simple and hard-hitting. We’re big classic rock fans as well and a catchy hook is superior to an indulgent solo.
AW: Focusing on songwriting. The best songs are often the simplest.
I really like the intro to “Savage Instinct.” Where did that come from?
SB: I was inspired by Motörhead’s “Overkill.” I guess you could consider it an homage to Philthy Animal!
Servants Of Death sounds great, and a bit different from Infernal Assault. What did you do differently in the studio this time? The reverberated but punchy drum sound stands out as something new. Was it hard to get that sound just right?
SB: We recorded in the same studio as before with Bob Quirk at the helm. We fiddled with the snare drum for quite a while and ended up taping a sheet of printer paper with the lyrics to “Call Me Maybe” on the top of the snare head to get that sound. Dan Randall at Mammoth Sound did an incredible job on the mastering for the record as well.
How did you end up working with Anthems Of The Undesirable?
SB: Ryan has been a very old friend of mine since my first band, Unsacred, began. He has always supported what we have done. When the idea was being bounced around about us doing a new EP, he was more than willing to put it out. His label is full of very talented bands and he works hard to keep his distro so well curated.
What’s next for Left Cross? Can we expect to see a full-length from you all anytime soon?
SB: We are releasing a 7″ through Vinyl Conflict/Anthems in September and hope to be touring a small amount through the winter and into spring time. We are currently writing for a full length.