by Jenn Carbaugh
– Senior Columnist —
Gloryful was formed in the summer of 2010, and they continue to catch the attention of head-bangers everywhere. Merely 10 months after the prominent release of their first album, The Warrior’s Code, the band is at it again with their second album. Ocean Blade is full of metal hymns that have a stomping speed metal sound. The lead front man and band’s main songwriter, Johnny La Bomba, helped to generate an album with lyrical concepts. A fictional adventure takes place throughout Ocean Blade, and it is presented in a somewhat classic heavy metal style. Gloryful is certainly more than just another early 80’s sounding power metal band. They have an intense ability to bring liveliness and create stories that are animated within the metal.
HRH: Welcome to Hardrock Haven. Let’s begin by discussing your new release, Ocean Blade. How did you come up with the title and concept?
Jens: Johnny came up with this whole story about this Cpt. McGurkin sailing the seven seas on a ship called ”Ocean Blade” on the hunt for the Sedna monster. I liked “Ocean Blade” as an album title from the first moment he told me about that idea and the fitting lyric and cover concept.
HRH: About how long did it take for such a concept to be formed? Tell us about the story writing process that is within each track.
Jens: It didn´t took so long due to the fact that there is a concept you can deal with. It is way more heavy to do all the lyrics for 10 tracks if you have to think about new ideas for each song. Johnny is always a fast creator, and that´s a main reason why I like to work with him in this band. In some way it´s a reason why this band exists and released two albums in 22 months. If you have a look inside the booklet and read the lyrics, you will see that there is no fixed story with one fixed starting point and one clear ending, but that there is a little more information of the story in each track.
HRH: Were there areas of the fictional adventure within the music that were easier to compose? How did the music and the story pair together in the creation process?
Jens: We don´t finish music and lyrics separately. We start always with recording the pre-production guitars, which can be very spontaneous, process with some beers, on Cubase-programmed drums. So the basic music of a song is finished before Johnny starts thinking about its vocal lines. He is doing most of the melodies and vocal arrangements by singing to the basic tracks in his car. The lyrics are coming along with or following shortly after the main vocal hook-line and strophe ideas are set. The only problems show up when we are close to the studio recording deadline and there´s a whole track without lyrics, ha-ha. By the way did you know we recorded one more track for “Ocean Blade” as you can find on its track-list now?
HRH: How do the song titles get created in relation to the story? Are the basic plot lines incorporated into the songs?
Jens: No, not really. As I said it´s always a spontaneous process in the order music, vocal arrangements, lyrics.
HRH: So many songs tell stories, but to create a comprehensive tale is a great feat as a musician. This seems to be a reoccurring action that you have mastered as a band, even this early. Why is the story important to the listeners?
Jens: I personally don´t like many albums that are real concept albums, maybe because those long and complex stories are nothing for me. You know I am not reading a lot of books, haha. I like Macabre´s “Dahmer” and King Diamond´s “The Graveyard.” But these are the only ones I know I own and like. But for our album Ocean Blade it feels right, it´s a more simple and entertaining story that´s full of heavy metal spirit.
HRH: What would be the key elements in the story, like the rising action, falling action, and climax? Are these areas important in the creation process?
Jens: “Hiring The Dead” was chosen as the album opening track, as it´s story deals about the crew-recruiting process. “Ocean Blade” and “Cradle Of Heroes” both deal very focussed with ship, captain and crew, so these songs lead into the story very well. “McGuerkin On The Bridge” is about the Captains´ special power, soul and his character generally, “Siren Song” is about navigation techniques and it´s problems, “Black Legacy” is about the calm before the fight, “All Men To The Arms” is about the final fight with the creature, a.s.o.. But we didn´t sort the tracks by storyboard. That´s not a good idea because you never know how good a song turns out until you hear the final mix and mastering.
HRH: Will there be any touring soon?
Jens: I don´t know if there will be a full support tour, but we play a few cool shows nearly every weekend. There are nice shows coming up just as the Out & Loud festival with Blind Guardian, some more open airs like the famous Dong Open Air (a.o. Arch Enemy, Grace Digger, Annihilator) and the Bäääm Festival (a.o. Bullet, Grave Digger, Cage) a club show with Powerwolf.
HRH: How will the story play into the performance?
Jens: Not so much as we play both tracks from our first and second album. But at some shows we will bring Cpt. Carl McGuerkin with us as merchandise-guy and helping hand. He will be dressed as on his portrait in the CD booklet, and he will be available for autographs of course.
HRH: With all of the members being skilled and experienced in playing for modern metal bands, why did you decide to become Gloryful and play traditional music?
Jens: As I did nearly every sort of Metal before, I felt that it´s now the right time to try the most important, the classic heavy metal stuff, and it feels damn right.
HRH: Your musical influences can be heard through the ‘80s heavy metal style. How have the metal giants like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden shaped your musical direction?
Jens: My elder brother (also guitar in Night In Gales) bought the classic vinyls like Number Of The Beast, Holy Diver or Battle Hymns in the mid 80ies, so I was in the age around 8 when it all started. He had a lot of metal tapes with acts like Anthrax, Slayer, Helloween and WASP already so I was fixed right from the start. In the fourth year in grounding school a got my Painkiller vinyl. The classic Metal releases are still my most important influence. Later I got back in history a lot when I found out that there was real heavy metal by Thin Lizzy and Rainbow even before it was called heavy metal.
HRH: You have a traditional style, but you still manage to bring something new to the table. The idea of originality is massive because you have animated a story with music with a style that isn’t new. Many albums are a musical story. How do you think this idea is important during the writing, recording, and performing process?
Jens: Well, that´s not the main idea to be original. We are a very spontaneous composing band. We love classic heavy metal and we know that we are a little different from the known standards. But regarding the concept-album idea: Johnny told my already he´s working on a nice one for album no. three!
HRH: Thank you so much for your time.
Jens: It´s always a pleasure to do interviews. Thanks for supporting Gloryful and heavy metal in general. All readers should check out our new album Ocean Blade and www.gloryful.net where you can find all info on the band members, videos and of course tons of merch-items in our official webstore. Don´t hesitate to get in touch on Facebook or via firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers & keep metal alive!
Johnny La Bomba – Lead Vocals, 12-String Acoustic Guitar
Jens “Shredmaster JB” Basten – Lead And Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Adrian Weiss – Lead And Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Daniel Perl – Bass, Backing Vocals
Hartmut Stoof – Drums