When you haven’t seen or heard from someone in five years, you expect some change, but not always for the better. Luckily, the latest incarnation of Alabama metal band mychildren mybride finds the band emerging from their slumber a much more venomous animal and in their fiercest and most cunning form yet.
Vicious World—released back in October 2017 via the band’s new home, eOne Music—highlights how effective the group’s hibernation was. mychildren mybride’s brand of art metalcore takes influence from Meshuggah and Marilyn Manson, and despite a wonderfully eclectic listening experience, Vicious World is the band’s most cohesive and impressive album yet. By embracing the sonic and lyrical darkness that was always at the surface, mychildren mybride have become a wholly unique musical beast.
It seems odd to call a Christian metalcore record scary, but the duo of vocalist Matthew Hasting and guitarist and songwriter Robert Bloomfield have truly outdone themselves with an album that is equally harrowing, heavy, and just a joy to take in. Too often, Christian bands shy away from recognizing the darkness, while mychildren mybride revel in it.
Bloomfield explains that this darkness was something they wanted to embrace. “I think it’s just who we are, with the imagery all the way down to the clothing and the music we listen to,” he says. “For some reason, I’m always drawn to the dark, grimy, and scary, whether it’s a score to a movie or to a new wave goth band from Europe. [The darkness] is always an attractive thing for me, so Vicious World felt like a natural progression for us.”
“I think it worked because of the time we’re in,” he continues. “Even the idea we had for this world was that the world is crazy. I remember this shirt that mentioned, ‘Can you imagine having to pay for water and getting music for free?’ It just seems ass-backwards to us.”
Bloomfield has this to say for those who still wish to ignore the bleak world: “I would say you are very naïve and only see the world in one shade. I know there is the whole view of what you choose to see is how you can live your life, which is very true, but you can’t ignore that there is an overwhelming dark cloud over the world.”
“That’s what we decided to embrace and talk about it with this record,” Hasting adds.
The darkness that permeates Vicious World was very intentional. Bloomfield states, “Musically, there was a theme, for sure. I spent a lot of time writing it. Most of the time was [spent] brainstorming and listening to things over and over, referencing things, and finding that sound that we’ve been searching for. It’s almost as if we should have called this album the self-titled, because I feel like this is more of the rebirth than our last album, [2012’s mychildren mybride].”
Hasting expands on what the darkness—and how we deal with it—means lyrically, admitting, “There’s not an all-around theme, but there are four songs that tell a story of someone going through something really tragic and how dark a place it takes them internally. There’s a song called ‘CICVDVS’ that’s the most hopeful song on the record. It talks about how, in the midst of all of this that we’re going through, our hearts still cry out for togetherness.”
Why pick one of the most obnoxious insects in existence, cicadas, for this allusion? Hasting laughs and explains, “The song talks about crying out and how we cry out without knowing about it. That was the whole symbolism behind that. Also, the cicada goes underground for so many years, and when it finally emerges, it’s there, you know? It makes itself known.”
Considering the band’s five-year absence and the Roman numerals in the song’s title, it feels like there are several layers of meaning on “CICVDVS.” It also helps that it’s the most anthemic tune on Vicious World and puts Hasting’s new haunting vocals on full display.
When painting this musical darkness, the duo engage in an odd and dissonant creative process, and somehow, Hasting is like Jay-Z. Thankfully, Bloomfield explains. “It was more about giving Matthew the canvas, because it is stressful when we write records,” he says. “I know our processes are very different. I tried to get Matthew to demo every song, and I only got him to do three or four, and that was the hardest thing for me. I’m wondering how we’re going to do this, because, musically, [the record] is different. Now, we just needed Matthew’s vocals, and that was the purpose of my grinding for demos: we weren’t sure it was going to work, because we didn’t have the full picture yet. ‘What if we go in the studio, and all of it sounds like garbage?’ It’s weird, though, because that [process is] how it always has been, and every record just turns out great. He gets in there, does his thing, and surprises everyone.”
He stops and chuckles, “Not to give him too much credit, but because I have no other reference, he does it in a very Jay-Z way. There’s not a written way; Matthew just records it, and it just takes minimal work from there. The biggest hurdle was finding Matthew’s voice, because he’s a screamer, and we needed him to be intimate.”
Hasting laughs at the comparison and adds, “I personally get really into how each song is sounding and will nag Robert and whoever else is helping with the writing. I just love being a part of that creative process; I don’t sit there and have notebooks or files on my phone where I have all these lyrics or ready-to-go material. I’m not one of those people who writes stuff and tries to fit it onto something else. I wait for a song to be mostly done, and I’ll dig into it and write based on how it makes me feel. It’s a good and bad thing, because it makes the time in the studio pretty stressful.”
So, speaking of all things dark and spooky, do mychildren mybride have any favorite scary films, books, or art that influence their music? Bloomfield shares, “I really like ‘House of Leaves.’ It’s the most mind-bending read. You have to put it down after a while, because it makes you feel weird. I tend to like a lot of older movies and shows, like ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ or ‘Nosferatu.’”
“The movie that made me the most uneasy was ‘The Strangers,’” Hasting says. “I grew up in north Alabama, and there’s woods everywhere, so it’s not very crazy to think about some random people rolling up on you. The scenes where they are in the house with them, just behind them, but where they don’t know it yet—that movie made me very unnerved.”
Hasting also feels that “Stranger Things” was a notably successful retro-homage thrill-ride. “Something that’s really important that [the Duffer brothers] stumbled upon is the reason why all those movies back then had so much feeling and meaning—and why we’ve held onto them for so long,” he notes. “It’s because they have a soul to them that you can latch on to. Like ‘Halloween,’ the images and John Carpenter’s score work perfectly together. Now, too many horror movies are relying on jump scares and loud noises—nobody cares about that. There’s no meaning to a lot of the modern stories we’re seeing.”