It takes a certain kind of zombie-like perseverance to make it anywhere in music. Fledgling acts and road veterans alike need to be chalk full of it to shuffle through the reality of financial hell coupled with long, arduous touring treks in a beat up van with half the seats torn out. Some musicians, like Toronto-based melodic death metal outfit Hallows Die, have grown so accustomed to this reality that their mere existence for an extended period of time has taken its place on an accomplishment list – for obvious reasons.
The band, consisting of Ryan Bovaird (vocals, guitar, keys), Pat Rogers (guitar), Gabe Bateman (bass) and Dylan Gowan (drums) has been plugging away since 2006. Chatting while taking a stroll through Niagara Falls, mainstay Ryan Bovaird puts a heavy emphasis on his band’s ability to stay afloat as one of his proudest achievements.
“It’s just surviving, really. Even on this last tour we broke down three times… four times? It’s just a matter of picking up and sailing on with it, right?” asks Bovaird jokingly.
The band has endured numerous line-up changes since its initial inception and only settled on the current incarnation midway through 2010. Now in a stable touring cycle with a solid foundation, the band is landing bigger and more notable gigs and are now planning the follow up to 2009’s debut World of Ruin. The future sophomore effort has no confirmed schedule planned but Bovaird and company are hoping for a fall release date.
“You’ve gotta be persistent. A lot of it, too, is how you present yourself. If you’re going to ask for a professional gig, you’ve gotta present yourself rather professionally, right?” explains Bovaird when asked about Hallows Die knack for securing killer opening slots. To date, their social networking sites list Atheist, Napalm Death and The Black Dahlia Murder as just a few of the groups they have shared the stage with.
The latter of those three should be of no surprise, as Hallows Die shares many musical traits with their Detroit brethren. There is a distinct love of the traditional Swedish melodic death sound in the vain of At the Gates or Carcass while mixing in a bit of off-tempo progressive flair. Their tendency to switch up from thrashy palm-muted guitar riffs to the clean channel driven key changes is one thing Bovaird believes sets them apart from their contemporaries.
“It’s actually really prominent right now to be heavier and faster than the last guy. Or you have to shred harder than the last guy or need to write more brutal riffs,” he says. “We’re not trying to one-up anybody.”
Nor will they ever try to. The band will no doubt continue to pick at the bones of opportunity like a flesh-starved desert vulture circling its meal. If you offered Bovaird and the boys, surely they would accept a free shower and a hot meal if you catch them coming through town. After all, you never know what crazy circumstances they might have to deal with next. As he points out several times in the interview, “It wouldn’t be fun if it all went to plan, right?”
Head down to Dickens Pub on Monday, August 6 to see Hallows Die with Chieftain, Dissentia, the Cadavor Dog, and Witchstone.
By Brandon McNeil