When members of Alestorm, Gloryhammer, Aether Realm and Nekrogoblikon join forces, hardly anything ordinary can come out of it. WIZARDTHRONE is the first „Extreme Wizard Metal“-band and their debut album „Hypercube Necrodimensions“ is totally bonkers. Guitarist Mike Barber talks the band’s concept, the diverse influences and the ultimate coffee.
Hi Mike! How are you doing this time around the release of “Hypercube Necrodimensions”?
I’m great, thanks! It’s a very wet summer here in the UK even by our standards, but maybe the sun will come out at some point. Actually, it just came out now!
Your wizard character is M. Archistrategos Barber. How did you come up with the name Archistrategos and what is the meaning of the other wizard names?
It’s the title of the Archangel Michael, so it seemed suitably obnoxious given the image of the band. All of the others are just made-up words, except for Eric – He usually goes by the artist name of Eric W. Brown so the opportunity was too good to pass up.
Archistrategos is entitled Keeper of the 17th Enochian Gate. Can you tell me about this title and his quest?
There’s no meaning past a superficial reference to the works of John Dee and Edward Kelley. The titles were a kind of reference to bands in the 90s/2000s who’d give themselves these incredible handles – ‚Transcendental Protagonist -Poesy of Spiritual Enlightenment/String Romanticism‘ for example.
WIZARDTHRONE is playing “extreme wizard metal”. How would you describe this genre to someone who hasn’t heard any song of the band?
The aggression and precision of black/technical death metal fused with the songwriting of melodic death/neoclassical power metal, with a creative approach to vocals and lyrics.
Please tell us about the origins of the very first extreme wizard metal band, how did you get together and how did the idea come about?
I’ve been playing in extreme metal bands for some time, but I always wanted to do something a little more melodic. Conversely Chris wanted to do something a lot heavier than his past output. We chatted about it a bit and when I was on tour with Eric I asked him if he’d be interested in drums. Once we’d settled on a name and general direction, Chris approached Jake and Matt – we’ve all worked or toured together previously and get along well so it was the perfect line-up.
Can you tell me something about the recordings? How did they go and were you limited due to Corona?
In a way yes – we had to record our parts at home or at friends’ studios because it wasn’t possible to meet and do it in the traditional manner. But the upside to working like that meant we weren’t bound by studio time and could work for longer.
Is there an overall story on „Hypercube Necrodimensions“ or do the songs stand for themself?
Not really, but the songs take place within the same universe. A couple of them mention parts of the others in passing, but the timeline isn’t linear, so it’s up to the listener to draw their own conclusions.
There is so many mathematical stuff in your songs, like the Riemann Zeta Function, flowing equations in the video for “Frozen Winds Of Thyraxia” or even forbidden equations. Why is mathematics so important for the band?
Chris was studying mathematics at university level, probably just finishing around the time I first met him. We really just wanted to add a slightly different element lyrically, because we felt that typical lyrics would feel disappointing next to such creative music.
What are the further lyrical inspirations for WIZARDTHRONE?
Chris studied maths when he was younger and that had a big impact, as he’d written some of the lyrics back then, even without music. I think he was quite into Sci-Fi authors like Arthur C. Clarke too. Mine are probably a little more Lovecraft, occult horror in style.
Let us talk about the cover artwork. What can you tell me about the area and this mountain?
We sent a couple of reference pics, lyrics and demos to Dan Goldsworthy, and he interpreted them artistically as what you see on the cover. The area itself is what’s described in the song ‚Forbidden Equations‘.
Are the wizards trying to open a portal within the Hypercube in the foreground of the cover artwork?
I think the original description may have been that they had summoned the hypercube through a portal in an attempt to use it as a weapon. Honestly, I can’t remember as we discussed so many potential scenarios!
What can you tell me about the Hypercube and its function?
We tried to take real-life concept and then apply fiction to it as well. It might be a spaceship, it might be a god, it might be a portal itself, it could be all of the above.
Do you have a personal favourite song or guitar part on the album?
Songwise probably the final track, “Beyond The Wizardthrone”. Guitarwise I’m quite proud of “Hypercube Necrodimensions”, it nicely straddles the line between being very challenging but also fun to play.
You are drawing influences from bands such as Bal-Sagoth and Wintersun. In which way did they inspire your work and are there more important influences?
Bal-Sagoth were a big influence on Chris lyrically, as well as on our choice to include narration in this style. Wintersun had a bit of influence on some of the keyboard sounds and melodies, although actually I think in turn they were also quite Bal-Sagoth-influenced, at least on the first record. For me personally the main influences were Emperor, early Children of Bodom, and the Swedish band Lost Horizon.
Gloryhammer is also thematically about space and wizards, but musically it is something quite different. In your opinion, are there any other similarities to WIZARDTHRONE?
Not really, other than Chris and I’s involvement. Maybe on face value we’re both metal bands with keyboards.
The evil dark wizard Zargothrax might finally be destroyed, but Zargothrax Alpha Clone 1 is still around. Would he be friend of foe to Archistrategos and his fellow wizards?
I feel the wizards of WIZARDTHRONE’s universe would not bother themselves with such temporal happenings.
Devin Townsend sent Ziltoid the Omniscient on its journey through hyperspace on its quest to find the best coffee in the universe. What would happen when the space wizards meet Ziltoid in outer space?
They’d probably ask him for a cup of coffee.
Have you found the ultimate coffee for yourself?
Actually yes, I have! Lost Highway, made by a company in East London called Dark Arts.
Can we hope for some earth-shattering live performances soon?
We hope so! We’re in talks with a booking agent about making it happen, but of course it’s difficult to find slots when everything has just been pushed back for so long, and we also need to catch up with postponed shows on our other projects.
Let us conclude this interview with a little brainstorming. What comes to your mind when you hear the following terms…
Einstein: The true originator of Extreme Wizard Metal.
Lovecraft: Boggot Globules.
Pirates: Shitting into Blackbeard.
Multiverse: The German band, Dark Fortress.
Meaning of infinity: The future record sales of Hypercube Necrodimensions.
Cats: The true originators of Extreme Cat Metal.
Nonsense: K’Tharos Ultimex Javaroth.
WIZARDTHRONE in 10 years: Wizardthrone of Thyraxia, Barber/Bell’s Wizardthrone, and The Chris Bowes Supreme Cinematic Wizarding Piratical Experience, featuring Evan Berry.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. The last words belong to you!
Thank you for your time and we look forward to ruining another metal subgenre soon!