Monday, 14 May 2012


The UK has a lot to offer when it comes to Black Metal. One of those offerings is Old Corpse Road who have been making a real name for themselves over the last three years. I spoke to Steven Mills about how things are going with the band...

Hi Ste, how are you? How are things with the band?

Hi Matt. I'm great thanks. All is busy within the OCR camp as we are currently recording our debut album and preparing for its release this year. Over 2011, aside from playing numerous gigs around the country we crafted and perfected the tracks for the album and in November we began the recording process.
Everything is now recorded for the album with the exception of some acoustic guitar parts and a few more finishing touches. The mixing stage is getting very close indeed so hopefully we'll have some samples on line soon!

What is the history of Old Corpse Road?

There's a lot to tell, but I'll try to keep it brief!
In the autumn of 2007 myself and The Dreamer (Drums) were on a weekend break with another friend in the UK Lake District. We frequently visit the lakes to enjoy the outdoors and most importantly to listen to black metal. One day we visited Haweswater and came across a footpath named the Old Corpse Road. At the time we thought it sounded brilliant and after some research discovered what it was and decided it would be a great name for a band. I go into more detail about this later in the interview.
Anyway, we quickly began working on music in our practice room and also worked on a lyrical concept, choosing to write songs purely based on British folklore and legend. Over the following 6 months or so we drafted in the rest of the band, who are all friends and band mates from previous projects. The line-up has been consistent since.
We began work on the demo 'The Echoes of Tales Once Told' which we recorded at the back end of 2008 and released in March 2009. Receiving a great reaction we also secured a deal with Godreah Records to record a split album with the Worms of Sabnock (which contained 2 members of The Meads of Asphodel). Due to a number of reasons the split ended up changing to be with The Meads themselves which of course was great news to us.
We crafted and recorded 3 new hymns which we recorded during the latter half of 2009 and the split was then released in March of 2010, again receiving a great response. We also began our live crusade in late 2009, being invited to renowned folk metal festival Gathering of the Clans.
In 2010 we concentrated heavily on gigging around the UK and gained a slot on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival where we played to a near packed out tent.
In 2011 as well as gigging, we wrote the material for the debut album which is currently being recorded and will be released this year. We also recorded a cover of 'Equimanthorn' for a Bathory tribute album released in May via Godreah Records. This about brings us to date.

How do you feel about the UK Black Metal scene these days?

Difficult question. There are a vast number of great and very diverse bands in the UK at the moment. Unlike for example Sweden or Norway which has a typical style, the UK always produces a great range of weird and quirky bands as well as more classic styles.
Back to how I feel about the scene, personally I'm extremely passionate about it. I like to know about every band that emerges and where possible Old Corpse Road try to play live with as many as possible. With gigging, it's about more than just playing for the fans. It's about meeting the other bands, buying each-others merch and most importantly making friends.
Where I think the scene fails in the UK is in promotion. Sadly we are in a scene where too many people are in bands and there are not enough dedicated promoters and fans. Gig attendance is not as good as it could be and here I sympathise with UK promoters having hosted a number of gigs myself. Of course there are still plenty of gigs which are packed out and the feeling you get at these gigs makes up for the gigs with smaller crowds.
Overall though, I feel the scene has been getting stronger over the last few years, and as our own popularity has increased we've obviously seen the impact at our own gigs.

You have in the past been compared to Cradle Of Filth. Is this something you're all ok with?

Absolutely. Cradle are one of my all-time favourite bands and we would never deny or dismiss any comparison made between us and Cradle.
They get a lot of stick over their recent material by black metal purists but a lot of people either weren't around, or seem to forget what they did for the UK scene in the mid-nineties.
It's clear to anyone who listens to Old Corpse Road the influence their music had on us, especially the likes of 'Principle...' and 'Vempire'.

Your style of Black Metal is quite polished. Is this the style of Black Metal that you prefer when listening at home?

I listen to all forms of black metal and have no specific preference. It all comes down to the mood of the day, or hour! When it comes to black metal I'll listen to anything from early Bathory through to the most polished of Dimmu Borgir's albums. The whole scene, in all its forms is very special to me and something I adore and live for.
I'd say if I had to define my favourite style of black metal it would come down to a period in time and that would have to be early to mid-nineties when a lot of bands put out some classic albums such as Cradle's 'Principle...', Emperor's 'Nightside..', Mayhem's 'De Mysteriis..' etc. 1994 it seems was a brilliant year for black metal.

How did the split with Meads Of Asphodel come about Do you know the band well?

I knew the band since their first demo tape in 1998 when I saw a review of it in Kerrang! of all magazines. Since then I've kept up to date with every release. One of the UK's finest bands and legends of the experimental black metal scene worldwide.
We didn't know the band in person but JD Tait (guitarist) contacted us via MySpace after receiving the demo via his webzine The UK Legions of Black Metal. JD also plays in the Worms of Sabnock and he basically said himself and Crin (Godreah Records owner) were really impressed with our demo and would we like to do a split CD with them. As it transpired the split ended up being with the Meads of Asphodel which turned out great for us. Less than a year later, the split was released.

In 2009 you released the first Old Corpse Road demo 'The Echoes Of Tales Once Told'. How has the demo been selling? Do you have many left?

The demo has been shifting consistently over the last few years. We've only sold between 300 and 400 copies so far of the CD version, but in our eyes it's great news. We wanted to limit the demo, but not by such a small quantity that we'd run out any time soon. As it is limited to 1000 copies there's still a good 600 left.

Darkness Shade Records released a cassette version of your demo a couple of years ago. Can you tell me how this came to be?

We received an email from Darkness Shade asking if we'd like our next release to come out on tape via the label. At the time we had no new material to offer, aside from our ongoing album writing which had already worked out what we wanted to do release wise.
We did however have 2 unreleased tracks from the demo recording sessions which we always wanted to release at a later date. It seemed the perfect option to get those tracks available in a limited format. Something special for the fans. We agreed with Darkness Shade to re-release the demo with the additional 2 songs ('Hell's Kettles' and 'The Song of Amergin') limited to 100 copies and also with new artwork. The tape came out early 2011 and as far as I'm aware is now sold out.

How far do you think Black Metal has come since the glory days of Norway in the very early nineties?

Most of the darkness and mystery surrounding black metal has now gone. The days where you'd buy a release based on hear-say or a glimpse at a cool front cover are gone. Nowadays you can hear a full album before deciding if you're going to buy it and it will never be the way it was.
Still, for those of us who still care to look through the tiny cracks there's a really healthy worldwide underground scene with lots of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Black metal will always for me be a personal thing and as long as I respect it, it will respect me.
Musically black metal has gone from the simplistic and raw form it started out as, to a versatile beast. Nowadays there are so many varieties and blends with other genres and I think this is a great thing. Black metal has always been experimental and I look forward to hearing new incarnations in the future.

Where did you get the idea from for your band name?

As I mentioned before, we came across the band name in the lakes near Haweswater. This footpath as it is now travels over the hills from Haweswater to the town of Shap. The best way to sum up the meaning of a corpse road is with an extract taken from our most recent press release:

Corpse Roads provided a practical means of allowing the transport of corpses to cemeteries that had burial rights. In Britain, such routes can also be known by a number of other names: bier road, burial road, coffin road, coffin line, lyke or lych way, funeral road, procession way, etc. Such "church-ways" have developed a great deal of associated folklore regarding wraiths, spirits, ghosts, and such-like. Many of the corpse roads have long disappeared, while the original purposes of those that still survive as footpaths have been largely forgotten, especially if features such as coffin stones or crosses no longer exist.

Have you had much interest from any labels?

We've had interest from a few labels which I'm afraid we can't mention right now.

What's next from Old Corpse Road?

The Bathory tribute will be out in May which we are really excited about. The album will be finished and hopefully news regarding that will surface very soon. Aside from that we are looking to gig more this year to promote the album, with 4 shows already lined up in June and a few more for July, August and September so far.

Any last words?

Thanks for taking the time to ask us these questions. I hope you enjoy the read and please help spread the name of Old Corpse Road across the world!
Until then, farewell....

Thanks for the in-depth answers Ste. For those of you unfortunate enough not to have already checked Old Corpse Road out, you can visit them on Facebook, Reverbnation, and of course the bands own website.

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