In just as many months, Pennsylvania metalcore prospects A Scent Like Wolves have dropped their third single as another emphatic showing from their third full-length LP Mystic Auras. Introducing the album with "Eastern Lights," the band followed with their melodically-balanced single, "Bloom".
The band's second single guested JT Cavey of Erra, and offered an emotive take on long-distance love, that coupled soaring melody with the crush of guitars from the band's Jeff Brown, Kyle Pettigrew, and Blake McClimon.
The initial pair of tracks also provided a glimpse into an album that pairs the band's brand of big room metalcore coupled together with highly personal themes of depression, social hierarchy, the stigma of mental illness, and the dynamics of personal relationships into an artistically cohesive concept record.
Understanding the emotional ebb and flow of a good record, A Scent Like Wolves has followed the release of melodically-forward "Eastern Lights" and "Bloom" with the premiere of their latest assault, 'Death Effect".
The pummeling 4-minute track features guest vocals from Currents' Brian Wille and presents a unique contrast to the two previous tracks that developed big crescendos explored the band's penchant for melody. "Death Effect" showcases the band's unrestrained aggression complete with potent vocals, driving guitars, and a relentless cadence - in short, it's one of the bangers on the album.
The tandem vocal attack of Al and Nick Boltz checked in to discuss the band's progression on album three and how the genesis of their concept album in Mystic Auras, is naturally rooted in the ups and downs of what happens in real life.
The band did some very extensive touring after Frigid Future and the Spirit Vessel EP. How did that kind of global perspective mold what resulted for Mystic Auras?
Al: That’s a great question. When we came home after touring China the first time, Nick and myself wrote all of the Spirit Vessel songs about politics and the current state of the environment. My brother and I are no strangers to traveling because we actually lived in the UK for a bit, but we have never been to a country like China before, it really opened our eyes in the sense that Americans have it better than they think. We absolutely love China, it’s a very fun place to tour! Shout out to our tour manager Stan! On Mystic Auras, we wanted to take a slice out of our personal lives for once and incorporate that raw emotion into our vocals. We’re all so ready for touring to come back though, we took a huge break before recording MA to ensure it would be our best effort yet.
JT Cavey of Erra, Booka Nile of Make Them Suffer, Brian Wille of Currents, and Mattéo Gelsomino of Novelists… that’s a hefty roster of guest features on the new album. Did the band have a wish list or did this collaborations come about organically in the songwriting process?
Al: One of our goals to compliment the feeling of the album was to get guest vocalists from around the world. They all came about organically for sure, this all happened way before that new ‘FeaturedX’ program as well. This was kind of a wish list, or actually, more of a checklist. We all look up to these bands and want to tour with them in the near future. Nick & I have been friends with JT for a minute now, and Erra actually just recorded with the same producers (Carson & Grant) that we’ve been working with the whole lifespan of ASLW. We played a show with Novelists a couple years back and I saw that Mattéo was sick on tour, so I bought him a bunch of cold medicine at Walmart and we’ve been good friends ever since! It’s the little things that matter.
Our guitarist Blake & I have been hanging out with Currents a lot when they come around on tour, Brian was sort of a no brainer. I’ve met Booka twice when MTS was touring and we had chatted for a bit before that just as internet friends. While we were recording “Dissolve” I was kind of saying to Blake “We should get Booka on this track”, he agreed, and one day during the studio I saw her make a post about doing a guest vocal, so I had messaged her about jumping on a new ASLW song and the planets aligned. We’re very stoked about all of these features. It makes for a great listening experience. Hopefully on our next release we can feature Nicolas Cage.
Mystic Auras has been described as a concert record. However, tracks like "Bloom” felt like it came from a very personal place. When addressing subjects like mental health, depression and relationship dynamics, how much of the album is concept and how much of it comes from a real place?
Al: Both. We were just intertwining our personal lives into the concepts themselves, coexisting with one another. “Bloom” is special to us, the song is essentially about how long distance relationships can complicate love. Nick’s girlfriend lives in Missouri currently and at the time my girlfriend moved into a new apartment without me, so I was living at home because I was spending mad money on the band, so you could say that hit home for a bit. Mystic Auras uncovers the things we desire and ‘why’ we are drawn to them. That could be money, tangible possessions, love and or something else. Human emotions play a role in all of that, I think the human mind is very fascinating.
Given the thematic elements of your third record, how did the shitshow that has been 2020 factor into the songwriting process? Did it give you a wealth of ideas or was it difficult to focus?
Nick: Pretty much all of the album was written and completed before the pandemic hit. We did have a studio session to tighten the record up back in July of this year, which went smoothly. I imagine it would have sounded a bit different if we wrote the album this year instead, but who knows.
As for “Death Effect” - was there any intent behind having this as the next showing from the album after “Bloom”?
Nick: We released “Eastern Lights” as the first single from the album, so “Death Effect” will be the third single released. It’s just a badass, heavy song that we think a lot of people will groove to. It has the potential to reach a lot of different audiences and demographics around the world. I sing and scream on the majority of the song as well. Brian from Currents adds the finishing touch on what we think is the album’s signature heavy jam.
Pennsylvania has been prolific in the landscape of heavy music. What is in the water in PA that produces so many solid bands?
Al: Haha, not sure. I think our area, Lancaster, PA, seems to be the hub for metalcore. ASLW have been going strong for a long time now, ten years to be exact, but we want to keep pushing on and tour as much of the world as possible! Bands like August Burns Red, Texas In July, and This Or The Apocalypse gave us hope that we can kind of do the same thing, breaking out of this area to do some touring, and that’s exactly what happened. I’m a firm believer that if you work hard, you can accomplish anything.
Mystic Auras drops on February 19th, 2021 via We Are Triumphant. The album is available for pre-order - HERE