The music of Allfather is founded on what seems like a relatively simple premise: “Beards, Metal, Fuck You“. Theirs is metal that fully understands and appreciates the power of The Riff, moving with raw, irresistible power and purpose. Yet, as enjoyable as their music most definitely is, they are also an overtly political band – as Bless the Earth with Fire and new album And All Will be Desolation demonstrate. It’s unsurprising, then, that they are a band with a vast array of influences, with literature and film as much an influence as other bands. We asked the band about said influences, and here’s what each member came back with.
Andrew (bass guitar), Book/Author:
Lyrically we’re a fairly political band and a lot of that comes from what we read. For myself, I love reading for its own sake but I also enjoy books that give me insight and shape my thinking. George Orwell was the first author to show me the power of writing to convey a political message. I love his fiction, but Homage to Catalonia (Orwell’s memoir of fighting in the Spanish Civil War) is my favourite book of his, for its clarity and for the very honest way it shows his political idealism being chipped away at as Russian Communism takes over the republican cause. Beloved by Toni Morrison is a devastating portrayal of the emotional and mental toll that slavery took on African Americans in its immediate aftermath. It’s a book where any shred of hope comes at the cost of more pain and it still speaks powerfully for the fate of oppressed people in nations that have refused to deal with their own legacy as slave holders and colonial powers. James Baldwin’s Another Country has the same eye for the fine detail of racism and the interiority of people subjected to oppression, but he also writes very elegantly and with great humanity about the joys and failures of human relationships, across lines of class, race, gender and sexuality. Finally the book that gives me the most energy day-to-day to engage in political struggles is Sophie Scholl and the White Rose by Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn. It’s an account of the real life actions of the White Rose, a group of German students who were executed for publishing anti-nazi literature in Germany during World War Two. The book taught me that no matter the circumstances, you should always do something to fight oppression, however big or small.
Al (lead guitar), Musician :
Metallica’s Metallica came out a week before my 11th birthday. My parents were having the bathroom redecorated at the time. The guy doing the install had some obscene late 80s über bass blasting portable music system and spent the entire time he was there, pumping it out. I’d always been into guitar stuff, my parents were into Led Zep and Queen, the ‘Beat It’ solo was insane to a 5 year old me… but this was different. This was fierce! ‘Holier Than Thou’ was amazing and that intro to ‘Through The Never’. Wow!
Fast forward 2 years and I was ready to play the hallowed guitar. Metallica didn’t influence me to be the guitar player I am today, a part of Metallica helped me become the guitar player I am today. Specifically, James Hetfield’s right hand.
By 1993 I’d realised The Black Album was a bit weak, Chaos AD was in my collection, alongside Wolverine Blues and Vulgar Display Of Power. I was a 13 year old with them dream of playing but… fuck it was tough. What James’s hand taught me was a strict control of timing and palm-muting, triplets, down-picking like crazy, ghost-notes in the middle of riffs; fuck, that hand has it all. I got a shit Strat copy and a tab book of Ride The Lightning and sat in my room for hours, days, weeks, months. Kill Em All, still my favourite Metallica record, has ‘Seek And Destroy’, a lesson in down-picking. ‘Master Of Puppets’, jeez mooooore down-picking. ‘Battery’, triplets. ‘Damage Inc’…. fuck!!
By the time I recorded my first song in a pro studio at 16 I’d got timing so perfect my first ever take of anything ever made the final cut. I’d never heard a metronome before, I just knew thrash and James’s right hand. Thanks James.
Aaron (drummer), Band:
For me this was a tricky question, I’ve had different bands who have had big impacts on my influence as a musician and drummer, but I suppose I need to go right back to the beginning when I was a mere Clarinetist in Primary School. The thought of a career playing Clarinet filled me with fear, and boredom. At the time I was very single minded with my music and I only liked Queen, literally no other music even existed. I’d never even heard of Metallica. I had a liking for music but I desperately wanted to taste something that was fun and most importantly cool, so I looked at the Queen members and said to myself. “Who’s the coolest?” His laid back attitude, Ray Ban shades and Leather Jacket hit me in the face, and that was it. I was hooked, Roger was my idol, I wanted to him. Funnily enough as I had just moved into secondary school a Drum teacher rode into town, and that was it, I never looked back.
Tom (vocals), Film:
I remember seeing the trailer for The Crow on TV and at the time thought it was about black metal and church burnings. At the time I was just getting into Metallica, Rage Against The Machine and maybe a bit of grunge. Genuinely can’t remember if I saw it at the cinema or later on video but it knocked me for six. In terms of “metal movies” it was just something else. Bill & Ted and Wayne’s World had been fun to watch but this somehow took the darkness of the music I was starting to love and built a fucking great action film round it. The rooftop scene with The Cure’s ‘Burn’, the club shootout with My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult playing just blew me away. In terms of soundtracks, The Crow, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, Pulp Fiction, Judgement Night and Reservoir Dogs were always getting played back then. When the Spawn soundtrack came out I remember being a bit shit overall, apart from the Slayer/Atari Teenage Riot track, that was a blast.
Joe (rhythm guitar), Album:
I think an album that has really influenced me is probably Through Silver in Blood by Neurosis. When I was about 15 a friend of mine lent it to me and my first listed blew me away. I’d never heard anything like it before. It was so dark and atmospheric but was also so intense and heavy. Every song on that album has so many layers of guitars drums and samples and then Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till and Dave Edwardson all adding different vocal styles. Every time I listened to it I would find something new going on in each track. Even the artwork and the packaging for the album was dark and intriguing. It was also hearing Neurosis that led me to listening to bands like Godflesh and Sleep. I think Through Silver in Blood really made me want to start taking the idea of playing in a band seriously and Neurosis’s music still has a big influence on how I think about song structure.
Allfather’s new album, And All Will be Desolation, is set for release on on 7 September 2018. It can be pre-ordered on digital and CD via Bandcamp – our review will be published soon!