Among heavy music's most prolific purveyors, Matthew K. Heafy has proven to be a lifer when it comes to the culture of outsider art.
While the Trivium architect has established a teflon body of work with his primary creative outfit, Heafy's versatility as songwriter was further reiterated with the recent introduction of his black metal exploration a decade in the making, Ibaraki.
The passion project serves as Heafy's ardent flex of artistry within the space of black metal. A personal testament to his own creative prowess and protean ability as a musician, the album Rashomon also bears the significance of Heafy's emphasis of his deeply-rooted connection to his rich Japanese ineage.
Even the project’s title in Ibaraki borrows from cultural lore. The moniker references a Japanese demon that remains prominent in feudal legend. Adopting the name asserts the kind of dark aesthetic synonymous with the genre, while further highlighting Heafy’s heritage throughout the ominous narrative showcased in the 10-track introductory epic, Rashomon.
Enlisting an ensemble cast of creative cohorts including some of the most respected names that continue to champion the sound, Ihsahn of the mighty Emperor cosigns as the project's producer. Heafy's well-established reputation for collaboration continues with Ibaraki - touting features that span the stylistic spectrum from Nergal of Behemoth of the track, "Akumu" to Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance with the track, "Rōnin".
To better illuminate the artistic foundation at the core of the debut album and the musician's personal nexus to black metal, Matthew K. Heafy has curated a list of some of his favorite genre-specific tracks, detailing why they resonated more than most. Offering his tribute to venerated pioneers like Dark Funeral, Naglfar, Satyricon, as well as his collaborative compatriots in Behemoth and Emperor, the list provides some compelling insight as to just what's piques the Heafy's multi-hyphenated interests and how the songs ultimately added to his creative DNA.
"Templars" - Mork Gryning
Heafy - When I was first introduced to this record by Mork Gryning known as Maelstrom Chaos, I was pretty blown away. There's some really intense, strange, diverse things on here. The song, "My Friends" is very weird, very amazing. This whole record, I love the production on it. It's raw but still being very tight. I feel like this is a black metal band that isn't spoken about enough and I absolutely love it.
"I Am Vengeance" - Naglfar
Heafy - This song, this record of Naglfar reminded me of the hot version of Dissection's Storm of the LIght's Bane. I know that sounds very descriptive, but that's always what I heard, felt and saw. So if you ever wanted to know what the fiery version of that Dissection classic sounds like, it's this.
"Hail Murder" - Dark Funeral
Heafy - My all-time favorite Dark Funeral song... with Dark Funeral I feel like you could pick one of the classic greats but there's something about this record, something about this song that really spoke to me. I've always felt this one of the most iconic song's they've ever done. I think the production is uncanny. It's just the right level of the black metal production I like. "Templars," "Hail Murder" both have this nice, tight, raw sound to it.
"My Demonic Figures" - Old Man's Child
Heafy - I love this riff. It has that neo-classical baroque thing that you see I am so in love with doing. What's different about this one is that it relies on sometimes simpler drumming which I think can be very nice. Again, feels cold, sounds cold. I've always preferred to sound and feel cold when I'm listening to music. I'd rather feel like I am in the frozen woods than the burning desert.
"Mourning Palace" - Dimmu Borgir
Heafy - I think Dimmu Borgir have done several of the best black metal records of all time with Enthrone Darkness Triumphant being one of them. But also Puritanical
"Ye Entrancemperium" - Emperor
Heafy - This was one of the most iconic pieces of black metal I heard. It was watching the Emperial Live Ceremony by Emperor. That was one of the first black metal moments I ever had in my life, introduced to me by Richard Brown of Mindscar, anotgher amazing black metal band from Florida. Ye Entrancemperium... it's amazing. I think it's very unique as well that he starts with almost that strange King Diamond high vocal that sounds so cool, so haunting, Emperor, as you all know, every single record was different and unique and innovative. And I feel like the same case with Ihsahn and everything Ihsahn has ever done.
"The Dawn of a New Age" - Satyricon
Heafy - Nemesis Divina just like Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, just like Enthroned Darkness Triumphant were one of greatest black metal records of all time - something highly influential in my formative years of black metal. Satyricon is amazing. Satyr has done so many amazing, different records spanning so many different styles and vibes.
"Roots of the Mountain" - Enslaved
Heafy - A much newer school song than you might expect. I've always been a big fan of Enslaved. RIITIIR i feel like is their swan song of a record. It's truly the best record in my opinion. Iy goes all over the place. It feels like a journey. It feels like a movie. It feels, viking and classic but at the same time it feels futuristic somehow.
"O Father O Satan O Sun!" - Behemoth
Heafy - I've said this before and I'll say it again, The Satanist by Behemoth is one of the greatest black metal records of all time. What's amazing is that Behemoth seems to constantly get bigger and constantly crossover into things. Nergal is one of the most amazing, unique, interesting people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. It's amazing having Nergal on this record (Ibaraki) because he is a huge influence on my musical journey of extreme metal.
Rashomon arrives May 6th via Nuclear Blast Records. Pre-order the album on various formats and bundle options- HERE.