Coming three years after the release of their debut release, Lost Ages, Bereft deliver one of the more devastating doom albums of 2017 with Lands. These Wisconsinites deliver 45 minutes of massive blackened doom that sprawls across four towering tracks. Lumbering riffs, stampedes of blackened malevolence and suffocating, dismal atmospheres make for an intense and unyielding listen. Fans of all things slow and low should not miss out on this gargantuan piece of work.
Svbterranean recently caught up with the band to briefly discuss the new record, the band’s sound, among other things.
Could you please introduce yourselves and your roles in Bereft?
Jerry McDougal – Drums and Gear Tech
Cade Gentry – Bass
Alex Linden – Guitar/vocals
How did Bereft come to be?
Alex and Zach had been friends for a while and their old bands had played numerous shows together in the past. They went and saw Thou and The Body play in Madison and after that, they decided to start a project together.
When the band first formed, was there a certain sound you were striving for initially, or do you feel things evolved naturally as you began to play with one another?
We just wanted to do something heavy. The idea of adding elements of black metal came a little later, mainly after we put our first demo out. We all wanted to do something that wasn’t super one dimensional and that had elements of different genres added together.
How do you feel playing with Bereft has pushed you as a musician/songwriter?
Cade: Playing in this band has certainly taught me how to be a better musician. Not only with my technique and playstyle, but learning when to play more bass and when to hold back has been interesting. Riffs need room to breathe, so knowing when not to play is huge for me.
Jerry, since you are the new one in the group, how has performing with Bereft challenged you as a drummer?
Jerry: When I joined Bereft, I was coming off a few year hiatus from drums, so I definitely had to get back in “shape”. I had previously dabbled in blast beats, but had to step up my blast game, which has been really fun. Trying to fill Michael’s [Kadnar] shoes is a daunting task for any drummer, no doubt. Dude’s got some serious chops! I’m kind of addicting to learning new things though, so it works out. Skill-building is never over, there’s always something further to learn. Bereft’s sound required some new drum gear as well, so I got to put together a new kit, which is always fun.
The band’s sound is a mixture of characteristics derived from post-metal, black and doom metal. How do you feel these styles complement each other and what do you think this sound/style accomplishes that others do not?
Zach: We all really enjoy all of those genres, and writing together, so each piece brought to the table can blend a lot of different sounds. I think the combination of styles is a very exciting way to write, it’s often difficult to nail things down right away with transitions, but its a worthwhile process for us.
What can you tell us about the writing process behind your newest record, Lands?
Cade: Writing for this album began around the fall of 2015 and didn’t end until we tracked the parts in the studio in May of 2016. It was fun, challenging, and exhausting. Having lost our drummer, we wrote most of the songs to a click track. We’d record riffs one at a time and piece them together in software, mapping out the songs as we went. It was really cool visualizing the album that way.
When we left for New Jersey to record with Kevin[Antreassian], we thought we had a pretty good idea of what we’d be tracking. A lot of that changed once we met with Michael Kadnar and jammed the songs. He had tons of great ideas that we implemented one day before recording started.
Compared to Lost Ages, Lands features a sound more rooted in doom metal, with the more black metal elements of its predecessor taking a back seat. Was this a deliberate change or did this happen organically during the writing process?
It was somewhat deliberate; we wanted this record to be heavier and we wanted to focus on making a more cohesive album than Lost Ages. A lot of the black metal elements on Lands was added when we collaborated with Michael Kadnar.
What do you think Lands’ sound accomplishes that Lost Ages could not?
Cade: More riffs! Haha, but seriously. We think it’s a much more cohesive and thought out album that our previous record.
What are some of the lyrical themes presented on this new record?
Zach: The album is a loose concept lyrically focused on the various issues tearing apart our world, and told from a perspective of our society collapsing entirely.
What inspired the album’s title? Is it any relation to lyrical content?
Zach: Lands was chosen as a title because it fit very well with the lyrical themes of environmental devastation, and fit succinctly with our vision for the albums artwork. We also liked the way it fits with our name. Bereft Lands is almost a title in its own way.
Prior to Jerry’s inclusion, Michael Kadnar (Downfall of Gaia, Black Table, The Number 12 Looks Like You) played drums on the record. How do you think his playing contributed to the sound of the album?
Cade: Michael had a lot of fantastic ideas and the songs changed a lot once he got his hands on them.
What is next for Bereft in the near future?
Cade: We’ve already started writing for the next record and are so excited to write and record the make an album as a cohesive unit.
Final question: HUSH. vocalist and Svbterranean contributor Charles Cure would like to ask if Kadnar got any of you pregnant during the recording sessions?
Haha, Mike tried, but his true love is Kevin.
Any final words of thoughts?
Thanks so much for the interview! Long live SVBT!
Follow Bereft on Facebook.
Read our review of Lands here.