THE HORDE: "Reign of Terror"

By Dr. Abner Mality

The endless cornfields of Western Illinois only seem quiet. If you put your ear to the ground, you can hear a faint rumbling in the distance...the sound of thundering hooves coming closer and closer. The farmers and simple folk know that sound well and shudder when they hear it.  They know that their placid little community will soon be swarming with fire, steel and the roaring sound of heavy metal...all courtesy of those four deadly marauders known as THE HORDE!

The Horde is a new force of raw and manly metal springing from the fertile furrows of the Midwest. I first encountered them at Central Illinois Metalfest 2010, where they were one of the surprise hits of the festival with their barbaric power/thrash that holds hints of bands like High On Fire, Omen, Slayer and Manilla Road. Their debut album "From Empire To Ashes" promised much and the promise has been fulfilled with their new offering to the battle gods, "Thy Blackened Reign". Now signed to Stormspell Records, The Horde stands ready to plunder more than the local villages and towns...they're ready to attack the whole world!

I recently hooked up with Horde guitarist and mastermind Tim Matthews to see the history of this fierce unit. Here is the result of that confrontation...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First, give us a little history of The Horde. What backgrounds do you guys come from and how did you meet up?

TIM MATTHEWS:  The HORDE was conceived in the early Spring of 2006.  I had been wanting to start a metal band that encompassed everything that I loved about metal.  The power, the rawness, the speed and the crushing doom. I had sent an email to our original drummer (Paul DeSchepper) telling him what I was up to and asked him if he wanted to jam.  He said yes so I spent the next few months writing 5 songs.  Also at that time we were looking for a bassist that could sing and another guitarist as we wanted to stay a 4 piece plus be able to have dual guitar harmonies.  I had known Paul since grade school.  We ended up having to put a "bulletin"
out on Myspace and luckily Duncan saw the bulletin and responded.  Duncan had been in a band with Paul and I back in the late 80's called Unnatural Causes.  Original rhythm guitarist John Hopkins I had also played in a couple of bands so I contacted him and he was down for it and that is how the HORDE started.  Both
 Paul and John left the band at different times and were replaced by current drummer James and lead guitarist Derek.  Our debut album was released by Scenester Credentials in June of 2008 and Stormspell Records is releasing our 2nd album on August 23rd.         

WC: Was your musical style something you agreed on right away or did it take a while for it to evolve?

TM:  It was agreed on right away.  All of us were old school motherfuckers so playing this style of metal was a natural thing for us.  We all like new bands too so don't think we're stuck in the 80's because there's plenty of newer bands putting out great releases too. 

WC: I describe The Horde's style as being a combination of High On Fire with Manilla Road. What are some of the major influences on the band?

TM:  Celtic Frost, Destruction, Kreator, Old Metallica, Old Slayer, Cro-Mags, Iron Maiden, Bathory, etc.  I played in a stoner band back in the early 2000's so that was an influence too.  On the newest album I took that influence into a darker, doomier place.  The song "War God" is loaded with doom... 

WC: The lyrics are sword-and-sorcery based. Does one person write them or do you all contribute?

TM:  Pretty much at this time I write the lyrics and Duncan does rewrites and adjusts things that need fixed.  Derek did add some lyrics to the song "Odin's Blood".  So if anybody dislikes the lyrics it's on me... Haha! 

WC: What are some of the tales that inspire you? I take it Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock are favorite authors.

TM:  Robert E Howard for sure as well as George R R Martin and Bernard Cornwell.  What actually inspires this band though is Frank Frazetta.  He is my favorite artist of all time.  I could write whole songs based off each of his paintings. 
Wished I could have gotten to meet him before his passing.  I don't know if I could have formed sentences in his presence.  

WC:  Could you see yourselves doing an epic concept album where one huge story is being told?

TM:  Funny you should mention that,as our newest album "Thy Blackened Reign" is a concept album based off of a story I came up with.  That's why it took 3 years inbetween the 1st and 2nd album.  In short, a village is attacked and the villagers murdered and eaten at the command of an evil Sorcerer.  The King of the land fearing for his kingdom sends a messenger looking for brave men and finds 4 mercenaries to combat the evil wizard.  The wizard kidnaps the king's daughter and the 4 warriors pursue him to his lair and lead him to his doom... but not without a price!         

WC: What would you say the major difference between "From Empire To Ashes" and "Thy Blackened Reign" is?

TM:  Production.  The 1st one was done at Flat Black Studios in Iowa City for $500.  6 songs total.  Much more time and money was spent this time on the 2nd album.  Guitars are thicker.  This one was also done in Iowa City but with John Hopkins and John Svec at Minstrel Studios.  Also the addition of 2 new members have given us a different feel. 

WC: Could you see The Horde adding keyboards or orchestras to create a more epic sound?

TM:  If the keyboards were done right, sure.  I hear things like that when I write music.  Especially Orchestrated pieces.  For now ,though, It would be best to let bands like Dimmu Borgir handle things like that.  They have more resources at hand than we do but maybe someday we could do that.  

WC: Is there room for experimentation with your sound? It seems you're quite content with the barbaric power metal style.

TM:  I'm all for progression if it's something that happens naturally and not forced or at the hands of a record company.  We will progress as time goes on but don't expect that progression to be "going softer" like most bands do.   

WC:  The cover art on "Thy Blackened Reign" is amazing. What's the story behind this masterpiece and how you acquired it?

TM:  We commissioned Alan Lathwell to paint us a piece of art work that tied into the concept album's story.  We had used one of his finished pieces for our 1st album so he was the natural choice for us as we are all fans of his work.  Best thing is he's actually a really nice guy and great to work with.  We will continue to work with him on future albums as long as he will have us.

WC: Did Stormspell Records come looking for you or did you seek them out?

TM:  Actually we knew about each other through Alan Lathwell.  He had done some art work for them too.  I contacted them and asked if I could send them a promo pack and it just went from there...

WC:  You just played a great set at Central Illinois Metalfest. What was your take on the whole CIM experience?

TM:  CIM 2011 was the best.  I had the best time ever at a Metalfest.  Great people.  Great venue and great bands! Saturday had a killer lineup with bands like Gravehill, Exhumed, Internal Bleeding, Maax, etc...

WC:  What are some notable bands you've played with and who would you like to share the stage with that you haven't yet?

TM:  We've played with Exodus, COC, Black Dahlia Murder, Job for a Cowboy, The Red Chord, Warbringer, Soilent Green, Skeletonwitch, 3 Inches of Blood, Unearth, Lazarus AD, etc... I would love the chance to have the HORDE play the Wacken Open Air Fest in Europe.  I would like to open for Slayer as long as I could get a gift shirt afterwards that said "We opened for Slayer and all I got was this lousy shirt".  Haha. 

WC: How do you see The Horde evolving in the future?

TM:  I see us becoming more epic while still retaining our raw sound and feel.  I hope we never lose that rawness which I feel is what makes metal dangerous.  Hopefully we will always grow as a band... but not soften or lighten up.  It wouldn't be be metal then, would it?   

WC:  If you could ask any 3 people from history to dinner, who would they be?

TM:  Sam Kinison, Frank Frazetta and Christopher Lee!  Would that not be a bad ass table setting!?! 

WC:  If you could pick one favorite Horde track, what would it be?

TM:  "Vengeance for a King" off of the new album is a lot of fun to play.  It's all over the place with tempos!

WC:  What was the last CD/album you got just because you wanted to check the band out?

TM:  Just purchased the new SSS album "Problems to the Answer".  Great fuckin' crossover band!  Check em out!

WC: What was the last band you saw live just because you wanted to see them?

TM:  At the Gates back a couple of years ago when they got back together for a tour.  They were with Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour, I think.  Municipal Waste almost stole the show!  At the Gates was about the only band I loved out of the 90's. 

WC: Do you have any "Spinal Tap" moment where things went crazy that you could share with the fans?

TM:  The last time we played in Dubuque, IA, the crowd was so insane Duncan kept getting the microphone stand slammed in his face!  A lot of songs had missing vocals due to that. 

WC: Any final warnings for the mortals out there?

TM:  This fall the HORDE will be pillaging your village as we will be playing as many shows as we can afford between now and the end of the year so don't miss your chance to see us when we RAID YOUR TOWN, MOTHERFUCKERS!

(Dr. Mality here with a little tidbit for you Wormfiends and Hordies. Looks like The Horde is putting together a cool tour for next year with some other hot bands...and Wormwood may be strongly involved with it! Stay tuned!)