Coming together in 2007, progressive/extreme metal quintet, Hybrid Nightmares, have marked their tenth anniversary with a bang, releasing their hungrily-awaited debut LP, ‘Almagest’. I sat down with vocalist, Loki, to talk about the album, the tour, and what the new year holds for Hybrid Nightmares.
“It was a bit different for us,” he started, “The approach was similar in that we always knew we wanted to do a concept album, and I think our writing style will always lend itself to more concept-heavy releases, rather than track after track after track but kinda unrelated. I think the story-driven approach in our writing is very much ingrained in what we do. This time it was a bit different in that, instead of releasing CD after CD after CD in such a short period of time, we took a considerable amount of time off the circuit to complete the album. We found that to be good in the sense that it was a lot more developed musically, but we missed playing live a lot. So this album cycle will be a bit longer than the Ages (2015 quadruple-EP set) album cycle before we release the next one.”
Being a concept album, I wanted to get a detail on what the story was behind ‘Almagest’. “The record itself follows the story of The Pilgrim, who is like this mechanical or clockwork figure that is created by a tinkerer of sorts. The maker finds his work interrupted by an inquisition, so it’s like the oppression of knowledge and freedom of creation. The Pilgrim is – by way of the listener’s interpretation – separated from his creator and finds himself going on a journey. Whether that’s a spiritual journey or a physical journey or metaphysical journey is up to the listener. We certainly have a story in mind of how we think it goes, but then we always like to leave things open to interpretation. I think that you get more out of a record, if – instead of someone saying ‘this is how the record should be, this is what the album’s about’ – you create a structure or idea and let people make their own minds up, it’s more rewarding for the listener. And it’s more rewarding for us too, because we like hearing ‘oh this means this’ or ‘i interpreted it this way’ – there’s no right or wrong answer.”
In early October, the band embarked on a national headline tour to share the new record with the masses, kicking it off at Adelaide’s ‘New Dead VIII’ metal festival (headlined by Napalm Death & Brujeria). “We were gobsmacked by the level of talent that Australian artists continue to show on stage, as well as on record. It was a shock for a lot of the guys that we’ve never met that we do actually play fully kitted out in our armour, I think that throws people off a bit. Being involved on a line-up like that, with the help of (Truth Corroded vocalist) Jason North, giving us the opportunity to go to Adelaide for the first time on such a massive bill was a really good gesture of his. It was a great line-up to be a part of. The Adelaide scene is fantastic – we played at 3pm and the place was already packed out, so that’s a testament to Adelaide’s scene and the quality of Adelaide’s punters and bands.”
With a new album & a new story came a new look, which was important for the band. “We wanted to invest a lot more time in the live element of our show. Music’s at a point now where any talented musician can buy the right equipment and record a pretty good-sounding album from their own home, but then translating that to an environment where you have to engage people face-to-face and keep them entertained for 45 minutes, that is a massive part of being a successful musician. So we said: We need to further show that we are very much live musicians, we can play our instruments live, we can do it under duress, under the weight of the armour, and do it without batting an eyelid. That’s part of it and the other part of it is that we are traditionally very concept-driven, and the armour ties in a lot to the science-fiction themes in our persona and our music.”
2018 is looking to be off to a solid start for Hybrid Nightmares, with the boys joining some of their Swiss friends for a jaunt around Japan in February. “We went to Japan a little while ago to support Finntroll and we got a bit of attention there, then this Eluveitie opportunity came up and another band on that bill – Hypocras – are mates of ours, so we said we’d pop over. The last shows we did were two headlines and two supports, but this is four shows with Eluveitie, Hypocras & Abinchova, so that’ll be a real cracker of a tour. We’ve got some fans coming with us this time that we made over there the first time, so we’ve got a bit of a party crew going. I think it’s going to be a really fucked up couple of days to be honest. We’re looking forward to getting back there and seeing all our fantastic Japanese friends again.”