Hailing from the Croydon nebula is the almighty Hybrid Nightmares who have been making a name for themselves in Australian metal for quite some time. The blackened progressive metal quintet have just recently toured with a handful of international names across the Japanese and Aussie shores including English extremists Anaal Nathrakh and Sweden’s very own Watain. Now, with 2019 leaning into the second quarter of the year, the band are about to show to the world their latest full-length record known as “Obelisk”. We spoke with frontman and founder Loki about the cosmos of the new record along, as well as touring across Japan; how it’s influenced the band and how it was for them to support such favoured acts within the underground music scene of Europe.
“It was brilliant” he begins. “We had a great time with the Anaal Nathrakh and Watain guys. They were lovely, and the crowds in Japan have always loved us; they say things like “gee, their lead singer has lost weight” or “wow, their new guitarist is handsome”, that sort of stuff. We’ve got a lot of love for the Japanese crowd, and it was the first time we ever toured there with black metal bands as opposed to folk bands – because in the past, we toured with Finntroll and Eluveitie. I think particularly because of the way the new album is going, it gave us a chance to expose heavier music to our heavier sound. Touring with Anaal and Watain really is a good lesson for us, because we’ve never had a co-heading support either. I think we’ll be going back to Japan at least once a year because we’ve got a lot of love for that country.”
Having visited Japan multiple times in his personal life, Loki admits that the country’s culture has served as one of his many influences within the mythos of Hybrid Nightmares. At length, the increase in the Japanese fanbase has also given hints of there being a remix of their upcoming album “Obelisk” with Japanese-interpreted vocals to come in the future.
“Japan’s definitely had an impact on me; I’ve travelled there at length multiple times, I’ve assisted business over there with some things, and I have a lot of friends over there. For me personally, it’s a really important place in my mythos or life. As for the band, Japan has always had an influence on us. Funnily enough, with this release — the “Obelisk” record that’s coming out in April, we thought about doing a Japanese vocal version, because I have access to interpreters over there. But unfortunately, the timeline ran out on that, but that might be something we’ll do as a re-release down the track. Our experiences in Japan have shaped the band in many ways. It’s a special place, and we’ve given a lot of time to our fans over there, so we’re very fortunate to be accepted there almost like hometown heroes.”
Moving towards the next, and biggest piece to fall into the spectrum of Hybrid Nightmares’ world, the band are set to release the follow-up to 2017’s “Almagest” in the midst of April known as “Obelisk”. The group turned to Chris Themelco of Orpheus Omega to help with creating this record, and together, they earned the sound and approach that they were looking for in the final stage of recording.
“It was our first time working with Chris and his methodology is very different. He helped produce a different result – it was the result we were looking for, and we’re really proud with how the record sound. But certainly, the experience we had with Chris was a good one, and I think the way the record has come out has shown an evolution in our sound and style, so it’s a much refined idea. We didn’t try to do anything new on this album, we just refined ideas and concepts that have been present in the band for a while, and Chris was really good at honing in on what we want out of it, so we’re very happy with how it came out.”
With two new members recruited into the band, Loki mentions that their new guitarist and bassist both got to have their say in the making of “Obelisk” when it was in the process of it being conceived. Most of the album had been worked on by the primary songwriters being guitarist Ben Plant and drummer Adam Chapman, while Loki had been away due to business trips, but he still had opportunities to work with the rest of the band on the album.
“Ben and Adam did a lot – if not, most of the writing on “Obelisk” in terms of the music, and we definitely went to Zacharie (Dunks) and Johnny (Chammas) for their advice and opinions, asking them what they thought on what we had done. Most of it was done by the three Hybrid guys being myself, Ben and Adam. Even then during the writing process, I had very little to do with it this time, because I have been travelling a lot as well as building opportunities for us elsewhere. So Ben and Adam worked at it really, really hard together on this release. I think having two primary songwriters instead of everybody having their say and dipping in together really shows the product – it’s more redefined, the ideas are more centralised, it’s more deliberate, and it shows in the writing that we’ve thought a lot more about what we’re doing and how we wanna come across and sound.”
In mid-February, Hybrid Nightmares released Star Fortress on YouTube which served as the introduction to “Obelisk”. Loki and the group made the decision to choose Star Fortress to represent what’s to be expected of the new LP due to it having the very elements that made the album feel complete. Whilst talking about the track, Loki also mentions how “Obelisk” doesn’t serve as a concept record much like “Almagest” or “The Ages” tetralogy EP. However, he reassures that the album itself does fit within in the cosmos that is the Hybrid Nightmares universe, and that it’s their most exciting effort to date.
“Star Fortress came about three months after Almagest was finished; the chorus was Ben’s idea, and when he came to us with that early, raw and heavy demo, I remember going “Yep, this is the album I wanna release” – an album of this hard-hitting, blackened, progressive stuff. When it goes from that first riff into the tech riff right at the start, I remember hearing it for the first time and just dropping to the floor like “Oh my god”. The reason we chose Star Fortress is because the ideas, themes (lyrically and musically), and the motifs expressed throughout the song explain most of what’s behind the rest of the album. Unlike our previous two releases, this is not a concept release. It is tied in with the rest of the Hybrid Nightmares mythos, but it does not have a concept. In terms of the overall Hybrid Nightmares universe, “Obelisk” well and truly ties into every other single thing we’ve released. It’s not high-concept, complicated stuff but it does exist within that same storyline or timelines that “Obelisk” does anyway. It’s a good length, it’s got good parts and catchy parts, and we came to the conclusion of Star Fortress being the single, because it was the one where all of us were like “this is the one, this is it”. It’s the first time I’ve felt that way since Ashes of an Astral Winter, which a lot of people agree is one of our best songs in our catalogue. And this is the first time I’ve felt a song like this has reached the same level as Ashes has in many years.”
Pre-Order the Album Here: https://hybridnightmares.com/store