Rick Scythe is no stranger to metalheads around the world and after his previous band the now legendary and sadly missed Usurper decided to call it a day after 15 years of existence they left on a high note but created a void in the metal world. To fans relief however Rick Scythe decided to carry on holding the torch up high and continue spreading the metal gospel with his band the amply named Scythe who do the job of filling the void left by Usurper and then some. With the release of their second album "Subterranean Steel" Rick took the time to answer some questions for us.
TPOTR - Congratulations on the new Scythe album it does a damn fine job of following the debut album which was a solid return and a welcome album to fans who thought they may have heard the last from you after the break up of Usurper. How do you feel about the album now it’s been released?
RS: Thank you! I am glad "Subterranean Steel" is finally out. Together with our debut album, "Beware The Scythe", I think we are filling the void left by Usurper.
TPOTR – How has the reaction to the album been so far?
RS: So far it's been very good. People seem to really like it. I honestly feel this might be the best album I ever wrote/recorded. I think it is an album that you crank to 11, and start headbanging and fist-banging to from the first note until the ending explosion.
TPOTR – The album seems to capture the pure raw spirit of heavy metal at it’s primal best, how important is heavy metal and what does it mean to you?
RS: It is everything to me and this band in general. Our base sound could generally be described as speed metal/thrash metal/death metal, but we also incorporate a lot of anthemic qualities of classic heavy metal and the dirtiness of 70's hard rock. We also have some elements of early doom, 80's black metal and NWOBHM. So where most "death metal" bands are simply guttural and extreme, Scythe has more in common with classic heavy metal as far as song structures, big chorus' and sing-a-long parts... only executed in a way that has more in common with death metal or thrash metal.
TPOTR - Do you feel the spirit of metal is still as strong as it was in the good old days of the 80's when all the classic sub-genres of metal first reared their metalheads?
RS: I can't speak for everyone. I don't really follow the scene too much these days. I will speak for myself only and say YES. I can only control what I do with this band, so I try to pay homage to the true spirit of heavy metal in all its' forms. I never want Scythe to be limited to what we do. Yes we will always execute our sound and style in true underground fashion, inspired by 80's underground metal. It will never sound mainstream or weak.
I have noticed that within underground metal a lot of times bands don't really pay homage to traditional metal. I am not sure why, but to me many traditional metal and hard rock elements seem to work well within the confines of underground metal. To me it sounds great to have complete rockin' parts played with full distortion and extreme vocals. To me it makes the songs even more headbangable.
TPOTR - How do you think the Internet has changed the metal scene for example can downloading of music be considered the same as tape trading which spread the music by word of mouth back in the 80's or has it just taken the magic away from it all?
RS: It is totally taking the magic away. I hate using the analogy of downloading being similar to tape trading. Tape trading took some serious effort and ended up costing time and money, so people had value in it. Anytime you invest time and money in something, there is automatically value in it; it is the way we are wired as human beings. So these tapes meant a lot. You listened to them until they wore out. So word of mouth actually meant something because it was coming from someone who logged a lot of hours listening to this band.
The cool thing about the Internet is the ability to reach a much broader audience and the ability to communicate directly with some die-hard fans much easier than writing a letter. The Internet used as a tool is great. Unfortunately most kids today just want to collect MP3's. It is always "shuffle", then "next" for them. Albums mean nothing to them. Artwork is secondary, Side A and Side B mean nothing... that is what the digital age has done. Everything has become free and disposable, so albums have no value.
For example, downloading metal (as opposed to having the actual CD or LP), is like drinking beer out of a plastic cup rather than a ceramic stein... yes, true at the end of the day, it is just a way of getting beer into your hole, but a ceramic stein is much more aesthetically pleasing than a disposable cup.
Don't get me wrong, I understand this is how the times are so there is no use fighting it. I think it is essential to reach fans digitally, but also essential to put our quality albums with quality artwork - create a great package for the die-hards.
TPOTR - It seems every genre of metal these days is making a come back where your previous band Usurper was doing this back in the 90's when the music was shone by the mainstream, What are your thoughts on the more modern metal bands out there?
RS: Back in the 90's it was much harder for Usurper. Many kids in the scene were either into Pantera style or Florida death metal style or grunge style. Usurper was looked upon as dinosaurs playing outdated music. Now a days kids are really into 80's underground metal, or at least they have the patches and shirts to prove it... I don't ever see Scythe as going mainstream. We will just continue doing what we are doing.
RS: There are some bands we are friends with like Stone Magnum and Hedlok that I like a lot. I hear quality bands when I am hanging out with friends, but to be honest, I really only listen to older bands because I don't want to get subconsciously influenced by anything modern.
TPOTR - The image of metal and dark lyrical topics are one of the things which have always attracted me to the genre and your previous album had great thought provoking lyrics all based on real life incidents or matters revolving around the occult like "The Iron Witch" which was based on the 1920's silent film called, "Haxan" to "Tyrannical Stranglehold" which was about the rise of the New World Order and that's not to mention the "Tunguska Death Ray" or "Opus Dei of the Dead" all great topics for metal and at the same time interesting subject matter. What did you use this time for inspiration?
RS: Thank you! Yes this time around, more obscure topics that's for sure. "Leather Aggressor" inspired by the sack of Rome and barbarian conquest. "Monarch" inspired by various mind control programs. "Subterranean Steel" inspired by a life dedicated to underground metal and living in the end times. "October Dies" inspired by pagan Halloween rituals. "The Grunting Dead" inspired by ghosts of the civil war. "The Bray Beast" inspired by an American werewolf tale. "Beyond the Northwoods" inspired by Operation Northwoods and other state sponsored, false flag terror attacks/New World Order. "Nights of Terror" inspired by the rise of the police state and occult powers of the global elite. "Thunder Hammer" inspired by Telsa's Earthquake Machine and HAARP weather warefare.
TPOTR - As the main song writer in the band do you ever feel the pressure to live up to your past?
RS: I wouldn't say pressure, more like an obligation to stay true to my past yet not be limited by it. I feel an obligation to the fans who have supported my career with Usurper to carry on the tradition of what they expect from me, but I also feel an obligation to forge our own path and to expand the sound of Scythe - to be genuine to the influences of all 3 guys in this band. Scythe might have roots planted in the past, but we are branching out and forging our own sound. I think this is something the die-hards enjoy as well as people who never heard Usurper before who just discovered Scythe. We are playing music from the heart, and sincerely not following current trends.
TPOTR - Do you ever think Usurper will reform?
RS: Perhaps some day. I am open to it if it were done at the right time, for the right reasons. If there was a demand for it and it felt right I would consider it. But for the foreseeable future, Scythe is my only priority.
TPOTR - What five metal albums would you take to a dessert Island with you?
1. Celtic Frost "Morbid Tales/Emperor's Return"
2. Venom "Welcome to Hell"
3. Mercyful Fate "Don't Break the Oath"
4. Black Sabbath "Master of Reality"
5. Ted Nugent "Intensities in 10 Cities"