I recently caught up and spoke with Jason Asberry, guitarist and lead vocals for Stormruler, the black metal fantasy-themed act that’s been receiving much-deserved praise for their recent single releases, and now full album. The album, “”Under The Burning Eclipse,” was recently released on Napalm records and is available at the following link. Jason and I spoke about how the project came to be, what the inspiration for their songs were, and what we can expect for them in the future.
Thanks for speaking with me, how are you guys doing, and congratulations on a great release day.
Thanks! We’re gearing up for the stream here in about, I guess, 30, 40 minutes.
How have you felt about the feedback you’ve been receiving today? You’ve been getting nothing but positive responses since post your first tracks.
It’s been great. I mean, we’ve been getting a ton of new followers. Everybody’s been giving sending us their order pics from their shirts and all their pre-orders and we’ve been getting a lot of love off all the socials.
A lot of fresh follows.
How did this project first come to be? Can you give us a little bit of a backstory?
Jesse and I have known each other for quite a long time, but, we never really played music together. And then we both became hired guns in a buddy of ours local black metal band. We started jamming together there and we’re like, well, you know, we’ve known each other for a while, let’s go write our own records. So back in 2019, we just sat around for two months over his house and thrown around a bunch of riffs and everything, and decided we wanted to put them all together.
It took about a year just to slowly get everything recorded. And there wasn’t any real rush. Then we didn’t even have a name until probably a few months before we decided we wanted to release it. I didn’t even make the socials until two months before the record actually came out initially.
I think we made our socials in September, started promoting a little bit in October and then a black metal promotion decided to launch it on December 1st and a few days later, Napalm was in our inbox expressing interest.
So his thing has just sort of happened fairly quickly.
Yeah. I mean, we’ve both been playing music for years and play in other bands and everything, and he and I just decided to write a record together and it worked out.
I know when I heard the name of the project, I was like, I hope there’s a song referencing Yhorm!
We don’t have a Yhorm song yet, but we need one, especially with the name!
On the album,, you explore dark fantasy themes, which I’m a huge fan of. And the lighter side of me loves the power metal fantasy, which I’m loving the black metal fantasy themes. Obviously, you got some inspiration from Dark Souls but did you gather any from another type of media, such as film books, and other games?
Well, we have quite a few. You mentioned power metal and Jesse, the drummer, he’s a huge power metal fan. He actually plays in another power metal band called the Oracle, a killer band. But I mean we wrote the record, had the music done and we’re like, well, let’s sing about some stuff.
What are we into right now? We’ll sing them about some Dark Souls, let sing about the books we read. We both are into the Malazan book of the fallen. Stephen Erickson’s fantasy. A lot of Lord of the Rings and then even some history as far as like the Wallachian empire and the Nordic invasion of England and all that stuff.
Actually, the title track of the album “Under The Burning Eclipse”, a lot of people would probably think that’s a Dark Souls reference, but it’s not. It’s actually about the first invasion of England. So we touched on all kinds of different topics, a lot, a lot of different things.
You mentioned, Lord of the Rings. Are you guys a big Tolkien fan? There’s some really great black metal based on his projects.
We are. We don’t have any Lord of the Rings songs, although it’s not out of the question, I mean, Lord of the Rings, obviously when it comes to black metal has been a huge inspiration, especially in the nineties.
Did you take any influences for many other of black metal acts?
Oh, absolutely. I mean, that was kind of our thing, we wanted to get together and we’re like, let’s try to just combine everything we love about black metal. We were listening to a lot of Allegiance and Dawn at the time, but I mean, we took inspiration from Dissection and Emperor, obviously, and Marduk and the old Diabolical Masquerade stuff.
Just being a duo, I’m assuming the writing process must, I don’t know if that would make things more difficult or easier. But it seems like you guys have great chemistry.
Easier I would say. I also play drums and it helps to have another dude can drum. We have that drum language that we can talk and it just keeps it less cluttered. You know, it’s like having just two dudes to keep it organized. Go down, hang out, just flush stuff out. You don’t have to worry about having other people in the mix.
What’s it like writing music with having that, I guess, drummer mentality? Do you guys to go to keys or some other instrument first?
We both have a phone catalog full of a shitload of mouth rifts.(laughing) So him being a drummer, he also plays a little bit of keyboards and stuff. So he’ll flush out a riff on the keyboard, or he’ll just like hum into his phone. So we usually just go down to the house or over to his house and we’ll show up with a riff to try and then we just build off of that.
So it sometimes starts off just by humming say like a melody into your phone?
Yeah! It’s like, so I was driving today and I thought of this great melody and I don’t know how to flush it out. So let’s sit here and let’s try to think about it. Well, that melody is a goal and to try to put it to the board, you know? A lot of our stuff starts out as hums.
That’s a pretty rad and simple method. When you look at the album, you see it’s packed full of content and there are a number of interludes and what I really love about it, is it just makes it flows so well. Did you go in with the mindset of doing an album like that flow-wise?
We wanted an album to be cohesive and flow because we both love it when albums do that. We’re both huge Pink Floyd fans and they’re the Kings of that stuff. Allegiance was a big inspiration in that sense of let’s do some interludes and stuff for the songs to kind of tie together.
The interludes were a little bit of an afterthought after we wrote all the music and then we put it in the order that we want. We’re like, okay, now let’s, let’s take these songs and the topics of them, and then try to make some sounds that relate to the songs and try to piece it from this song to this song and see if we can do then.
So it’s not necessarily a concept album per se, but it sort of has some connection to that.
It runs together like a concept album where like there’s a filler here and there, but lyrically, there’s no real concept except for a few Dark Soul songs.
The pandemic was a huge issue for many bands. You probably did this entire project during that time as some sort of silver lining?
It started in 2019. We took two months to write the record. We wrote all the songs in February and March of 2019, but slowly put it to the record. And then, at the beginning of covid, we started talking about, you know, let’s actually try to finish this up and put it out of the way we can move on and write another record. In a sense, COVID has sort of been a blessing for us just because we’ve been able to hash out so much music.
Do you feel like you were able to focus more on the music itself? With no deadlines or anything as you finished the album in a few months, right?
Yeah. I mean, we initially wrote the whole thing in two months and then just sort of refined it here and there.
Did the pandemic have any sort of effect on the recording process or anything like that for video shoots?
Not entirely, except for when we actually started. When Napalm took notice, that’s, when everything started getting rushed, we’re like, okay, well, we kind of need to become a real band. Let’s, go get our band pictures, you know, let’s go get everything a real band needs. We had to finish out in two months because Napalm reached out in December when we started the process of all that stuff at that time. Then we had to go get the music video done, get the band photos done.
We had artwork already, but we didn’t have the booklet artwork and you know, all that stuff. So we, yeah, we got our good buddy to help us out with a design. And really, we had a small team that just busted ass to help us out. And it was awesome.
Video shoots have been a bit hard with the Covid-19 restrictions, but your video for ‘Reign Of The Winged Duke’ is really awesome. And I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about the video? Because usually there’s like a huge crew, and it’s kind of tricky in this day and age it seems.
That was actually one guy! A good buddy of ours, JT. He’s a local in St. Louis, but he’s been doing videography forever now. And he obviously kills it. We gave him this concept of, here’s the song, and here’s what it’s about, see what you can do with it.
Or like, we have a couple of ideas, but you know, we’ll let you hash it all out. He had one other guy who helped out, but he wasn’t there physically. He mostly helped out with the Graphic design. So he helped build the big castle that you see in there and like the alters and stuff. He built that he was actually a Dark Souls fan as well. So that helped out.
Yeah, that, that was just pretty amazing because it looks almost like something like you’d need a full crew to work on.
He killed it. We hashed it out in one day. We filmed the whole thing in one day. It was, it was incredible. The turnaround on that also played into the, Hey, we kind of got signed and have to get this stuff turned in and like a month let’s do this.
Do you have plans for any more videos this year?
We’ve had two lyric videos. I’m not sure about music videos yet. I know they’re obviously will be on future records. There might be on this one if Napalm decides they want to, but I’m not too sure yet.
Could you tell us more about the live stream you have coming up?
That’ll be coming up and I guess about 20, 40 minutes now, something like that. We filmed that a few weeks ago with our buddies. They crushed it as well, as far as time crunch. We had about four or five rehearsals before we filmed that thing. So, we had three practices before the stream shoot and then a couple before, like a month or so before.
When you go out on tour, will it just be you two, or will you have a full band?
We’ll have the full band. It’s going to continue to just be in Jesse and I, as far as writing and doing all the Stormruler stuff, but live-wise, those dudes are going to be helping out and it’s going to be a four-piece in this video or the stream today.
It seems like things are starting to get a little less hectic now and starting to open up. Do you think the pandemic has left a lasting mark on the music industry in terms of how we will view live shows. Do you think streaming will still be a thing?
Yeah. I think streams will carry over and I really think they should because it’s a, it’s a wonderful media outlet really. I mean, it’s a great way to introduce a band like we’re doing, and I think it sort of killed a lot of middle-class bands that relied on touring and everything. But at the same time, I think it’s going to be kind of like a refresher. It’s going to bottleneck everybody who had to be cooped up for so long and make them want to get out and actually go to shows.
So I think turnout will be a little bit better now and everybody’s going to be itching to see a real show.
Well, we for sure look forward to seeing you guys when you get out there. Thanks again for speaking with me, and again, congrats on an amazing release. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans?
Thanks to everybody who pre-ordered. Thanks, everybody who’s tuning into the stream. Thanks to everyone who’s been supporting us ever since day one of Black Metal Promotions.