INTRODUCING Zhora: Irish barbarian metal

Tell us a bit about yourselves! How did the band come together? What inspired the name?

We are a rag tag group of four drunken barbarians that care about one thing and one thing only… putting riffs inside the riffs! We came together with the urge to stretch the fabric of the metal world. It’s about amplifying all the emotion, creativity and the absolute madness of our souls and sharing it with others. The name hit me one day while watching Ridley Scott’s “Bladerunner”. A character called “Zhora” get’s annihilated by Harrison Ford and the feelings I felt whilst watching her crash through glass in slow motion were the exact feelings I felt our music could stir in others. All kinds of beautiful chaos.

You have a new album coming out. Tell us a bit about it, including recording the album – who was in charge of sound, production, mastering?

Over the last 3 years our new album “Ethos, Pathos, Logos” has become this living breathing entity in our lives. All of our good and all of our bad has been poured into it and we are super proud of what we have created. It’s a full blown concept album with doom ridden landscapes, alien visitation, cannibalism, frozen tundras… the works! Underneath the aesthetic of a cinematic story we tackle the question of belief. Do you believe the things you believe, or have you just been convinced of someone else’s point of view. Think for yourself, question authority, don’t be a dickhead. We are always yearning for truth. It’s a slippery concept but writing a story and externalising your hopes, fears and questions into writing music with weird pummelling drums and odd slimy guitars is a whole load of fun and becomes truly cathartic. We hope people can get that same release as us when they listen.

The production was an team effort and a drawn out affair. We recorded the drums in an old theatre close to our home town. It has big old stone walls that were part of a mill. The natural reverb is particularly sweet up on the balcony where I got to sit and watch our drummer Tom setting the bar for us all early in the recording process. Drums were recorded by longtime friend and mad scientist Dave O’ Brien and friendly Druid Ciaran Culhane. Dave also recorded vocals while Ciaran tracked guitars and bass. We really afforded ourselves the time to explore these songs deeply and extremely critically. it was frustrating and rewarding in equal measure. Aidan Cunningham mixed and mastered it and did an amazing job. He is on top in his respective world and constantly produces quality records. He also plays in Irish band Murdock.

How would you compare in your own words the evolution from your debut album to your latest one?

We started out with an EP titled “Feet Nailed to the Ground”. We had so much fun writing and recording those 3 songs and really figuring out how to be a team of musicians. By the time we recorded our first album “Almaz” we had spent far more time writing the songs and developing as musicians. We had grown to know each others strengths and we still do to this day. “Ethos, Pathos, Logos” has been a long and learned journey. We have grown so much as people and collectively been through the highest highs and lowest lows. We just pour it all into the zhOra blender and keep on churning it up until it tastes good. Our blender has developed very sharp blades. A big development for us has been in the vocal department. Lyric and performance have come on leaps and bounds in everybody and we are all full on singers and lyric contributors. We use everything at our disposal.

What bands would you consider to be some of your main influences or inspirations?

We collectively appreciate a broad spectrum of music but our main metal influences and bands I feel we emulate in our own way are Mastodon, Gojira, Pantera and Tool. We each have a deep respect for the music these artists produce and feel that they laid down groundwork on how to be an honest, hard working, original band. Other bands that have definitely left deep musical marks on us are Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Sepultura, At The Gates, Decapitated, Baroness, Cattle Decapitation, Neurosis to name but a few.

What bands would you consider to be the originators of the whole Progressive Sludge genre, if someone was wanting to get into it, where should they start?

I’m not even sure I know what progressive sludge is ha ha. It certainly has a nice ring to it but what it is is a mystery to me. I reckon Mastodon are one of those bands that blended the edges of a few genres together while holding onto their weird, fuzzy, sludgy core. High on Fire, Baroness, Melvins, Neurosis, Yob and Intronaut also spring to mind too. As for originators, possibly Alice in Chains and Kyuss. While not being true cvlt both bands offer up some progressively sludgy goodness that has influenced pretty much all the previous bands mentioned. Yummy!

How has Ireland, your home, contributed to your sound and what other bands from Ireland should people be watching out for?

Like any environment we have been affected both positively and negatively by our beautifully melancholic, yet vividly wild homeland. Our rich ancient heritage still boils inside us and we clamour for the space and freedom to truly express it. That can be hard in a modern society that is propped up on the backs of good people and fueled by greed, lust, blood and gold. There’s a tone of hopelessness in Ireland that just always hangs around. If it wasn’t for the sheer madness, loving hearts and gritty determination of the people we would have all been washed away in that dreaded hopelessness long ago. So far it has only proved to steel us. Bands to watch out for and people we are honoured to share the stage with are Soothsayer, Bailer, Parttholón, Shardborne, Jenova, Aponym, Ilenkus, Zhi Ren, Ten Ton Slug, Na Cruithne. I could list Irish bands for days. Check out Irish Metal Archive which has all Irish bands past and present. We have an amazingly diverse pool of metal talent worth checking out.

What are the band’s plans for the next 12 months?

While we are just releasing our new album we have already made great progress on the follow up. We have a title and a few songs in the works. We have learned so much recording the last three releases and we feel this new one will be a real culmination of all our strengths and get us a little closer to our own collective truth. We are hitting the UK for Facebarmageddon in December and have some new music videos coming out in the next 2-3 months. Next year we want to put on a new tour which we are currently labelling our “Sludge Opera”. Just like we do with our music, we want to push our live show to it’s extremes and bring it on the road around Ireland, the U.K. and eventually through Europe. We’re pretty much going to keep pushing the limits, confusing foot tappers and conquering new lands.

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