Let’s embark on a fun interview with vocalist and guitarist Victor Rosewrath of Doom Metal outfit Vale of Amonition, where he talks about his band, their new album, the metal scene in Kenya and Uganda, and more.
The Headbanging Moose: Let’s kick off the interview with a very easy and direct question. Can you please introduce yourselves to our readers in case they have no idea of who you are, how you guys started, and what type of music you play?
Victor Rosewrath: We are Vale of Amonition, a doom metal band from Uganda in East Africa with myself, Victor Rosewrath on vocals, sharing guitar duties with Solomon Dust and new members Mordecai Ogayo on bass and Jude Bulinda on drums.
THM: In my opinion, Vale of Amonition seems to be the perfect name for a Doom Metal band. Can you please explain in more detail how you came up with that name, and what it means to you as a band?
VR: The name was supposed to evoke simultaneous moods of calm and dread. A “valley of ammunition”, a sanctuary but also a hub of violence – said violence can be historic or omnipresent; emotional/personal or actual and relevant, we explore all through our rather deliberate lyrics that sometimes read like prose because the band was formed by failed writers haha.
THM: You’ve recently released your new album Immortalizing the Lugubrious, or Those Of Evolving Despair, an amazing step forward in your career I might say. How do you feel about the album? Is it exactly what you guys wanted to accomplish with it? How does it compare to your previous efforts, and how has the feedback from your fans been so far?
VR: We are immensely proud of how the record sounds. It’s the best-produced we’ve ever been. There’s a conciseness to it that was lacking in our previous efforts. The songs are sharper and heavier while still maintaining the epic and bombastic character of the sort of dark metal we gravitate towards. Our fans were floored by how much we’ve developed and we seem to be gaining new fans which as far as we’re concerned, this is the best place to begin to get to know the band.
THM: In the amazing song Drink The Poetry Of The African Wretch, you guys had the support from vocalist Nelecc, of bands like Euphoric Decay, Nelecc, Krummholz and Void of Sorrow. How was it to work with him, and why did you decide to have him in the album?
VR: Nelecc, or rather Nelson, is a longtime friend with whom I’ve worked before in the Krummholz black metal project. I had him in mind once Solomon Dust sent me the music and thought his voice would suit some of the sections in that song. We speak fairly often so I proposed it to him and true to his nature, he was enthusiastic and quickly jumped on board. Since he was in the loop already with how the album was developing, he also came up with the guitar solo in Sons Of The Moribund and gave that song the right melodic-folky touch it needed. Nelson’s always such fun to collaborate with and we’ll be working together more in the future.
THM: What were the biggest issues you faced during the recording of the album? Is there anything you guys did that right after the album was finalized you thought “this could have been done differently”?
VR: In the past, we’ve always recorded together in person and this album required a lot of remote recording and sending files because we are in entirely different countries now. We were also working with producers we’ve never worked with before – it was all a bit too much to maneuver but we managed to make it happen. There isn’t anything we’d change about the album, it feels right the way it is.
THM: How’s the metal scene in your homeland Uganda and Kenya? Are there any new bands form those countries you would recommend to our readers, and how do you see the African metal scene in general?
VR: The East African metal scene is alive and well. A lot of those bands down there are friends of ours and we’ve shared stages. Mordecai used to play with The Seeds of Datura and Dead Skin Remedy so that’s already two names I’d recommend. Duma is doing exciting things at the moment. Irony Destroyed just released an album last year, Crystal Axis are these amazing punk rockers with their finger on the pulse of African issues. There’s the legendary Last Year’s Tragedy and Threatening, the extreme metal of Absence of Light, Chovu and of course Nelecc. Such a vibrant scene we’re proud to call our community.
THM: I believe you guys have relocated to Canada a while ago, or at least one of you, correct? Why did you decide to move here to Canada, and what are the main differences you see between the metal communities here and in your home countries?
VR: I’m the one who moved to Canada but I hadn’t called Uganda home for a long time so the move wasn’t particularly strange for me. I’ve been fortunate to have friends and community here that I’ve known for a long time and what I’ve noticed is that metal scenes tend to all be driven by that tribal, communal spirit. There’s that same giddy rush and palpable energy in the air when metalheads are gathered in a single space; it feels like anything could happen, like something otherworldly is available to all. Really the biggest difference is that the scene in East Africa is smaller but the same ethos prevail.
THM: Why do you think there are so few black people in heavy music? I’m seeing more and more black musicians, as well as black fans on the shows at least here in Toronto, but it’s still a very small percentage compared to your regular “white guys”. What needs to change in our culture to attract more black folks to metal?
VR: There’s gatekeeping in metal as in all subcultures and that needs to break down if you wanna attract groups of people that normally wouldn’t gravitate towards this music. I feel that is already happening to some degree. The African metal scenes started with similar stereotypes about this being “white folks’ music” and with bands being treated as novelty acts but the perseverance required to be taken seriously has won out for us in the end, I think.
THM: How about your touring plans? Do you already have some concerts scheduled in the coming months to promote your new album? And how difficult is it for you guys to book concerts?
VR: Nothing booked yet. We’re having a few conversations at the moment to figure all that out and in the event of something happening soon, all will be shared.
THM: Who are your biggest idols and influences not only in music, but in life in general, and how exactly have they helped Vale of Amonition shape your music and style?
VR: Solomon Dust likes William Blake while I like John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” above all. We like to read. These things will not always show up in our music of course but the more epic literary stuff still feeds how I approach lyrics for sure. As far as bands go; Black Sabbath was a foundational influence for our riffing styles and King Crimson was how we learned to be “prog” without belaboring the point. Then there’s Swans and Neurosis to thank for that incantatory tribal aesthetic, Solitude Aeturnus, Fates Warning and Candlemass for adding flourish and pizzaz but in a highly effective moody sense, Katatonia, Novembers Doom and Nevermore for being topical but in mournful fashion and Celtic Frost, Rotting Christ, My Dying Bride and Type O Negative for cultivating a dark presence. That about sums it up, I’d say.
THM: Let’s now play a fun game before the end of the interview called “The Time Capsule”. Please list 10 songs from 10 different bands or artists to be saved in a time capsule for all future generations, and let us know why you selected those.
VR: Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody because it still sounds grand, moving and celebratory – more time is not gonna wane the brilliance of that song and Queen in general have a pretty strong discography. Metallica’s The Four Horsemen still sounds like pure electricity and there’s something pure and youthful and eternal there. Black Sabbath’s eponymous 1970 dark thing of a song should be able to send shivers down the spines of the imaginative. Godflesh’s Locust Furnace sounds like worlds being laid to waste. It has a sort of languid insistence to it that I find both numbing and freeing. On a happier note, how about Stevie Wonder’s As. It is calm, spiritual and life-affirming. Scott Walker’s Rosemary is immaculate and easy to love and be moved by. Such wistful heft to it all. Kendrick Lamar’s Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst is a meditative dose of realistic storytelling that should be preserved for its uncomplicated brilliance. Lord Vicar’s Sulphur, Charcoal and Saltpetre is the doom song to end all doom songs. Tori Amos’ Precious Things is a slab of anger and redemption that still carries so get it into that time capsule. Last and greatest, Aretha Franklin’s Respect so future generations can “find out what it means to me!”
THM: Thank you very, very much again for the interview! Please feel free to send your final thoughts and considerations to your fanbase, and also to our readers who don’t know you yet, and to let everyone know where they can find your awesome music and more details about the band!
VR: Our music is now available to stream on all platforms and the new album can be purchased off Bandcamp. We are on Facebook at Vale of Amonition | Facebook where we post the latest that’s happening with the band.
Vale of Amonition Facebook | YouTube | Spotify | BandCamp