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Conjuring Fate's Phil Horner: " I personally feel the song always has to be put first. It really needs to be good to stand out. Though music is music and its free speech really, and a way for people to express themselves."

Interview with Phil Horner from Conjuring Fate
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 07 October 2019, 1:45 AM

Another brick in the wall, another step forward for the home team. Coming from a rather small Metal scene, yet neighboring one of the largest on the planet, has its advantages, especially when it comes to opportunities. The Norther Irish, Conjuring Fate, never lost sight of what is in front of them, always trying to capitalize on their previous efforts, taking every challenge in order to be relevant, and out there taking chances. Due to the release of their new album, "Curse Of The Fallen", Steinmetal had a chance to talk to Phil Horner of the band about the fresh material, songwriting, being a Northern Irish band and more…

Hello Phil, it is good to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate?

Hey Lior, thanks for having me along man. I feel like I am currently going to die from the cold. Some people in these parts call it man flu. Anyways enough of that…

It was first time for me treading in the fields of Conjuring Fate, though the name crossed my mind earlier in 2017, which I believe was when you pressed your debut through Pure Steel Records. Prior for us stepping into the mud of your sophomore album, “Curse Of The Fallen”, I would like to know more about the Northern Irish Metal scene, as I came to know only a handful of bands and nothing more. Is your Metal scene currently under development? Has it always been there but in a rather small scale? Are there enough opportunities for new bands to grow?

Heavy Metal has always been imprinted into the local scene. From Sweet Savage all the way up until bands like Gama Bomb now. It has never really gone away, just different levels of success. You have competitions like Hard Rock Hells "Highway to Hell" & Bloodstocks "Metal To The Masses" competitions. They help bring new younger bands more attention. And even if they don’t get through, it helps provide a stage for them to grow upon. We also played those stages quite a few years back.

Listening to “Curse Of The Fallen”, I must say that it didn’t surprise me as right from the get go, the strong connection to the NWOBHM, which I am sure also had roots in your local scene, revealed itself in its glory. Not really back to the basics of the late 70s, yet I can easily argue that you guys are the Northern Irish version of Saxon of the early to mid-80s, which is pretty neat. Have you ever noticed the similarities to Saxon, which I am sure that you are inspired by? Do you think that “Curse Of The Fallen” displays a rather different picture of your music?

That’s a great compliment, thank you! I am a big Saxon fan, and maybe that comes across in the song writing to an extent. I love NWOBHM in general and most that has spawned from it, like power metal.  Our first album "Valley Of Shadows" was a collection of songs from over the years mixed with a few new songs. But "Curse Of The Fallen" I believe is the next step for Conjuring Fate. Songwriting wise they still sound like "House on Haunted Hill" or "Land of The Damned". We just tried to really think about what was best for each song this time round. It is the same, but I guess it’s also different. What I guess I’m trying to say is it still sounds like, us but better song writing and better production.

In your opinion, what are the strong points of “Curse Of The Fallen” that makes it a standout in comparison to your debut album? Do you believe that you guys pushed it to the limit when it comes to a show of skills?

We definitely took our time to make sure each song was as good as it could be. I really pushed the guys in the studio to get the best out of them, and it worked. I pretty much tore song ideas apart and glued them back together again. What initially sets it apart from the previous record is the song writing & production. Both are just better overall. We recorded the album at my studio again, but got it mixed and mastered by JSR Audio. Songs like "Daughter of The Everglades" brings a slight softer edge, but still has a major bite, "Journeys End" is just anthemic and "Original Sin" sees us push ourselves a bit more into classic power metal. Catchy, epic and full of solos. Haha…

Once again in contrast with the debut, which elements in your songwriting would you say that you emphasized more on “Curse Of The Fallen”? Did the involvement of your new drummer, Niall McGrotty made any different in your approach towards writing songs or perhaps adding value to the tunes to spice them up a bit? Songwriting ideas or style, not overall really

Niall takes away the ideas and puts his own stamp on the songs. He laid down a great foundation for us to work upon. And the writing of the songs, I guess I was just picky. Haha… Some of the guys would have a slightly different style to me, but we always get it in the CF ballpark.

How would you describe the songwriting in Conjuring Fate, back when you wrote the material for the new album? Was it a joint effort by the band members or merely a single songwriting calling the shots, laying down the ideas only for the band to complete them later?

Anyone can write in the band. Songs I write I generally finish. Ideas I get from Steve are usually only bass, so I need to work out the whole song around his general ideas. Like what to do with guitars, where to put harmonies etc. Though they are usually structured pretty well, if not finished. For this recording everyone in the band had some creative input in one way or another though.

Stepping off topic for a bit. Since the early 00s, though there has been a wide revival of Traditional Metal, including the old school qualities of NWOBHM, Thrash, Death etc. there have been tidal waves of a modernized kind of Metal, swarming with technical dexterity and bewildered musicianship. It appears that technical skills overshadowed the actual song. What is your viewpoint on that? Is it still worth it to focus on the song format when writing tunes or rather be over the top with playing skills and showing them off?

I listen to lots of new bands, but only those who have that classic style really. I personally feel the song always has to be put first. It really needs to be good to stand out. Though music is music and its free speech really, and a way for people to express themselves. So if people prefer songs with all the technical stuff, why not eh.

Though I have several comments about the drum sound, that I think is not really with a presence, the sound pattern of the guitars and vocals is great. The mixing and mastering are well made as well, in vain of the modern way of mixing a Metal album rather than in the early days, yet in good quality. What is your take on the sound production? Who made it happen for you?

We recorded everything in my fully equipped 24 channel studio. To really fatten the sound up and to save me a headache we enlisted the skills of Josh Robinson at JSR Audio. He’s fast becoming one of Ireland's go to guys for modern sounding metal. Drums I know what you mean there. We recorded all drums in my studio and Josh essentially modernized them with some drum triggering. Something like the drums in your band, Switchblade. He didn’t go for the big ‘boomy’ drums, but a more modern tight sounding approach. We just incorporated the old techniques with the new. Overall we are pretty happy with the sound. It’s essentially our sound becoming more modern, but keeping those classic vibes there.

What are the prime lyrical themes on “Curse Of The Fallen”? What inspired your lyricists when writing the lyrics? Any current state of affair events or something that is more global or rather myths and legends?

We generally keep away from politics. Haha… If anything we do incorporate horror and darker themes. We do have songs with a bit more meaning now and again. Like the song "Chasing Shadows" on the album "Valley of Shadows" or new track "Midnight Skies".

Which of the album’s songs do you find as the most influential for you? Please elaborate on your pick.

I don’t really think I can choose any. It’s hard to say one of my own songs influences me. Haha… Let's say a standout track? Not saying these are better than others, but here I would have to say something like "Daughter of The Everglades". It’s still sounds likes us, but it throws a slight curve ball. And probably "Original Sin" as it's probably the fastest track overall that we have done so far. All the other tracks are great also of course. Haha… "Night of The Knives" is also pretty gnarly…

What are the next challenges for Conjuring Fate when it comes to supporting “Curse Of The Fallen”? Do you have plans for a release show, probably in your home town? Any plans in motion of stepping outside of Northern Ireland into England or even Western Europe for mini-tours?

Basically all of what you said there Lior! We play some Irish shows in November then we head to Scotland for a special album launch show there as well. We currently have some un-announced shows in England and Europe. Once we sort everything out those dates will go out.

How would you describe a live show of Conjuring Fate? What makes it outstanding?

We’re full of energy and put on a show. We fully enjoy what we are doing and that comes across onstage. We all have wireless packs so we tend to venture out into the crowd to escape those hot lights at time. It has to be done eh? Haha..

Have you already started working on the next album? Any information that you care to share about it?

We haven’t committed to anything there yet. With promoting this album, filming videos, gigging etc. time is tight. We always work away by ourselves though and bring ideas to the table. So I’m sure it won’t be long before we start to think about that.

Let’s look further into the future, hypothetically speaking as nothing can be expected. Where do you see Conjuring Fate going? Let’s say a five years plan.

Definitely a tough one! Well for one I hope we are still gigging and releasing. I would like to think we would have released another 2 albums within this time and at least have some form of bigger tour supports under our belts. Though we will always continue to take on those big single shows as well to keep spreading the name out there.

Phil, many thanks for your time for this interview. Conjuring Fate is one of the better proofs that the old school way of making Heavy Metal is here to stay. Cheers mate.

Total pleasure Lior, been fun talking with you. We will continue to fly the flag for heavy metal in N.Ireland & beyond. \\m/



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Edited 10 December 2022

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