The Bay Area duo offers a promising glimpse into the future of heavy music.
Turning heads with their succinct translation of a broad range of metal influences, Hatchets for Hands recently released their sophomore album, Cabaret of Decay. A fit for multiple categories, the album offers a proficient meld that ranges from thrash to death in a way that feels organic; authentic.
What makes the effort even more impressive is that the band creates such durable, dynamically dark tunes as a duo.
Brian Parks and Cullen Poythress champion the ethos of DIY without making a gimmick of it. Allowing the music to speak for itself, Cabaret of Decay is a testament to the creative chemistry the two musicians share and offers a glimpse at what the future of heavy music will deliver.
The band has debuted the latest visual for the single, “Bad Men.” The sleek, one take video is departure from the requisite metal offerings and indicative of the fresh approach Hatchet for Hands brings to the table. The band’s drummer/vocalist Cullen Poythress discussed the video, the record, and importance of finding a balance between the modern and the classic.
The Bad Men video feels very cinematic. It felt like Michael Haneke’s opening to Funny Games. What was the genesis of the video?
Poythress – The director Nicholas Woytuk is a friend of the band and called us after the new record dropped wanting to collaborate. Nick doesn’t come from the metal world, which we really like, because he brings a fresh cinematic point of view that’s different from what you might find in your typical metal video. He also has a team of extremely talented producers and crew around him with access to top notch camera equipment, rigging and lighting. Normally these guys are booked solid throughout the year, but with the boredom of COVID they were all itching to get involved with some type of project and were quick to jump on board.
Nick’s vision from the beginning was to shoot the entire video in one take with a high speed camera. After a few entertaining Zoom casting calls searching for the right talent to beat up we locked in and made it all come to life on an old logging road in the backwoods of Mount Hood National Forest.
Cabaret of Decay is the band’s sophomore record. How has Hatchets for Hands evolved since your 2018 debut?
Poythress – Writing records is one of those things you just get better at the more you do it—the approach, the process, the creative mindset and everything else just gets a little tighter every time. For us, it’s about the journey and not a final destination—we’re inspired by artists with deep catalogs that demonstrate growth, range, longevity and risk taking.
The album really fuses elements of different subgenera of metal in a tasteful way. Is there a conscious effort to keep the sound classic?
Poythress – We’re both lifelong fans of metal and are inspired as musicians across the board with all of its styles and subgenres. You’re going to hear a lot of stylistic diversity in our records—and that, as you point out, has become one of the signatures of our sound. We have a lot of respect for the pioneers responsible for forging the unique styles of metal we’re influenced by.
The cohesive theme of Cabaret of Decay seems to be the sort of cultural collapse of humanity. Is it weird that the record seems to be mirroring reality right now?
Poythress – That’s a thoughtful question and one that we’ve been asking ourselves a lot as the world continues to unravel around us. When you create dark heavy metal or any sort of meaningful art, it’s all too often that the spirit and subject-matter of your work becomes realized in the world around you. Art, in that sense, is a sort of mirror revealing things about reality in an abstract kind of way. We could have never imagined our vision for this record would become so suddenly realized in both a global deadly plague followed by revolt, civil unrest and a destabilization of society. The fallout we’re seeing now taps the very core of our creative intent with this record. There’s something very dark about the human condition and these are the times where that darkness reflects in profound and powerful ways through music. These are truly the moments where metal is at its most potent and relevant.
The wall of sound the band manages to create as a duo is really impressive. Does going at this as just a two-piece limit what you can do creatively or does it ensure a better working chemistry?
Poythress – Working as a duo has proven to be efficient and effective when it comes to writing and decision making. The two of us have been playing in metal bands since we were teenagers and our near identical creativity influences the vision for what we want the music to sound like. It’s allowed us to grow as we’ve both been tasked to expand our skills beyond our principle instruments. As a lifelong drummer, I never imagined being the front man on vocals and Brian has stepped up even more handling all guitars and bass as well as assuming the role of lead producer.
Watch the video for “Bad Men” from Hatchets for Hands