“Many centuries ago, when the world was slightly younger and a little less ravaged by time’s unrelenting grasp, there existed a sprawling empire of unrivalled power. Yet, whilst its might and influence stretched across great oceans and through vast mountain ranges, its immense dominion was born not out of prosperity and industry, but from rampant fear and blind obedience…”
So begins the arcane tale behind The Colony Slain, the second full-length album from doom metal diehards Age Of Taurus.
Nearly five years on from the release of acclaimed debut Desperate Souls Of Tortured Times, singer/guitarist and conceptual mastermind Toby W. Wright is ready to unveil a new, ultra-dramatic chapter in the turbulent saga of the Taurean Empire. Showcasing a new line-up featuring new bassist Leo Smee (With The Dead/ex-Cathedral) alongside Wright, drummer Darius Claydon and most recent recruit, guitarist Daniel Knight, The Colony Slain is the sound of a great band reborn in heavy metal glory.
“This record has probably been constructed a little differently this time around,” Toby explains. “Leo, in particular, has brought a huge amount of expertise where arrangements are concerned, as well as some next-level musicianship. His style of playing alone has allowed us to expand what we were doing before and to experiment a lot more with ideas that we maybe hadn’t considered. He’s also helped us to start introducing synths into the material, which is something I can see evolving further down the line. Daniel actually joined during the recording process but, again, his style of playing has been a fresh injection into our sound.”
Formed in 2009, Age Of Taurus have already established themselves as a doggedly unique force within the modern world of doom. Ever the stubborn mavericks, they have once again conjured a collection of songs that defy lazy notions of doom metal as a one-dimensional creative cul-de-sac. Still rooted in the rumbling sonic bedrock of Trouble, Candlemass and Sabbath but increasingly steeped in the gritty swagger of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and in thrall to numerous left-field, progressive ideas, songs like fiery opener Taken To The Tower and the rampaging In Dreams We Die eschew the languorous repetition of much modern doom in favour of subtly elaborate song structures that proudly salute the spirit of old school heavy metal. With nods to everything from radio-friendly hard rock to gritty crossover thrash, The Colony Slain is a flat-out celebration of the metal code.
“I guess we’ll always fit the doom metal tag in some sense but we’ve always taken influence from a lot of different places and we were never really a slow doom metal band,” Toby notes. “Much of Trouble’s material is faster, or at least mid-paced, and it’s their sound that I feel best represents doom metal. This new album will almost certainly cement some of that sentiment, while also taking us away into different pastures. We’ve even created our own ‘Great Gig In The Sky’ moment, with some fantastic female guest vocals… Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, it ain’t! Musically we’ve really cast off the shackles this time.”
Lyrically, too, The Colony Slain represents a bold forward step, as Toby’s tale of a malevolent empires, bloody uprisings and fearless heroes unfolds across 47 minutes of imperious bombast. Citing inspirations as diverse as prog gods Genesis, fantasy author Terry Pratchett and director John Carpenter’s The Thing, the frontman’s immersive and obsessive approach to new Age Of Taurus music has led to an album with great depth and substance to back up the songs’ muscular bravado.
As with their debut, The Colony Slain was pieced together in collaboration with esteemed studio guru Jaime ‘Gomez’ Arellano at his Orgone Mk. 2 Studio in Bedfordshire, with vocals recorded at Supervillain HQ in Wright’s hometown of Oslo, Norway, with Yusaf Parvez (Dødheimsgard) at the controls. The result is towering, riff-driven mini-epics like Beyond The Westward Path and To Seal A Mountain: refined but unstoppable bursts of authentic epic doom, delivered with phenomenal sonic heft and yet always sounding thrillingly raw, live and untamed.
“We chose Gomez, as we knew his new set-up was going to be killer and we shared the mindset that we could progress together,” Wright recalls. “Ultimately we wanted to make a heavy metal record that focused on weight of the songs, rather than just a very thick, bottom-heavy sound. Yusaf is a good friend and an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist and it was a pleasure to work with him, too. He takes wild leaps of faith when making music and he encouraged me to try everything that came into my head during the session.”
Rejuvenated and refocused, Age Of Taurus have returned from the wilderness bearing the most potent of gifts. Living, breathing, thunderous proof of doom’s timeless allure and the inspirational power of the riff, The Colony Slain brings past, present and future together in a riot of heartfelt heaviness and, as the story says, unrivalled power. A new age is dawning and this story never ends…
“Hopefully this album will strike a chord with those that are already familiar with Age of Taurus and, if we’re lucky, it’ll allow us to reach those that had maybe written us off as ‘just another doom metal band!’” Wright laughs. “This is a hard rock/heavy metal record and, in all honesty, some of the purists may struggle with parts of it but we’re very proud of it. With this record, I’d say that we’ve gained a greater understanding of what we want to achieve as a band.”