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Over the past few years, the members of Immortal Dominion have undoubtedly experienced a gamut of emotions, from paralyzing grief spurred by a harrowing personal tragedy — the murder/suicide of former bassist Stephen Sherwood and his wife, Sara Elizabeth (guitarist/vocalist Brian Villers's sister-in-law, whose children Villers and his wife are raising and to whom the album is dedicated) — to gratifying professional triumphs, such as scoring the soundtrack of the breakout indie film Teeth and having the chance to work with lauded producer Sterling Winfield (Pantera, Mercyful Fate). Along the way, the band's punishing extreme-metal sound has changed slightly and become more melodic and accessible, as heard on its new record, Primortal. We recently spoke with Villers about the changes and about the potential reaction of fans.
Westword: The new record sounds a bit different from the last record, Awakening. I noticed it's more accessible, along the lines of "Sold My Soul," and less punishing than songs like "Something to Change." What prompted the change?
Brian Villers: Sterling, our producer, kind of came in, and he took a listen to what we had, and he just felt like getting in and tearing things apart and rearranging stuff and slowing some stuff down. It kind of happened by accident, too, because we decided to record the drums last instead of first, which we've never done before, but that's the way he wanted to do it. So the guitarist went in, and we laid down tempo maps with our guitar riffs, and that just naturally seemed to slow things down, because the tempos we wanted to play at, maybe the drums were playing faster or whatever. So we created tempo maps and recorded all the vocals, bass, guitars, solos and everything, and then the drums came last. So I don't think we made a conscious effort to slow things down; it just sort of happened naturally. And I think that was his plan in making us record backwards like that.
Were you guys happy with that?
It's quite a bit different. Parts of it even border on hard rock. Do you think that's going to alienate some of the hard-core extreme-metal fans?
Well, it may. You know, we did worry about that a lot in the past. This time I think we just decided not to try to be anything in particular — not to try to be death metal, not to try to be extreme — and just write the songs that we want to write. And it just kind of came out that way, you know, so it's almost the opposite of selling out. It's like we've always been scared to put our more commercial stuff out there, for that exact reason. We decided, you know what — we don't care. We're just going to put out the stuff we like, because we listen — just like anybody — we listen to a wide range of music, and I like things that are catchy. And hopefully, this will get us more radio play.
For more of our conversation with Brian Villers of Immortal Dominion, visit blogs.westword.com/backbeat.