Is punchy, indie-rock your vibe? Do you spin Ali Barter, The Preatures or Tegan and …
Some albums grab you by both hands and refuse to let go: A Lunar Rose by Saviour is one of those albums.
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Scattered across Perth and Melbourne, this melodic metal/core outfit have captivated stages from sweaty saliva-swapping nights like Next and Bang all the way to the big league: UNIFY Gathering 2017 and 2019. To get there, they released three albums as stepping stones: Once We Were Lions (2011), First Light To My Deathbed (2013) and Let Me Leave (2017).
Despite line-up woes and setbacks aplenty, Saviour forged ahead with this opus regardless. Their labour was not in vain. It flows with ethereal, no-sound-left-behind metal that sounds as much organic as it is mechanical: think bands like Agent Fresco, Fallujah, or Sleep Token. They wear their heart on their sleeves and once you’re under their spell, you’ll know why. Speaking to vocalist Bryant Best, we take flight to meet A Lunar Rose just as it is:
Hysteria: New album The Lunar Rose. Before talking about the music, let’s talk about that haunting artwork.
Bryant: I was working with an old friend from high school, Michael Barnard. He goes by Alchemy on his socials. I was throwing some ideas about a face with a garden growing out of the head, and he took it upon himself to decipher what I was saying and created the artwork that it is now. We were all pretty stoked about it once we saw it, actually. It was one of those ones that, sent us the first draft, and we were just like, “Oh, hold up, this is the one.”
100 percent. It’ll even look better on a vinyl sleeve.
I’ve got the vinyl sitting in the room next to me. It’s one of those things, they look great. I’m definitely keeping a couple of those. They look awesome. Pretty proud of what that looks like. I’ve seen a lot of bad album [covers] going around. I’m pretty stoked we’re not in that category.
The blurb says this new record is “heavy, heartfelt, and melodic.” If that was your intention, you guys totally hit the mark.
We’ve gone through a bit of a member change since the last record. From the last record we had quite a few guys drop out, had a few things happening. So ended up recruiting a few guys. I think that at that time we were happy to reinvent the sound. It feels like everything Saviour should be and is. This was the record we’ve been trying to write for a while. It’s heavy on the heavy and heavy on the feels. I’m pretty proud of what we’ve done.
The song Never Asleep is haunting. I think it’ll stick with people. Especially Shontay’s line, “I wish I was dead” at the end. God damn.
With our writing, we didn’t really want to do anything too generic. We stay away from the chorus-verse sort of thing, just let the song take its own journey. The journey that Never Sleep took came together for us. It was one of the earliest songs that we did write on the record, and yeah, for me it was just a cool journey instrumentally. When I was writing over the top of it, it sort of wrote itself.
If you’re going to listen to our album through phone speakers, please don’t.
How do you divide the brutal and clean vocals among yourself and Shontay?
Generally I’ll spend about a month on a track writing stuff down, trying it out. By the time I get to somewhere I think it can work, I’ll get Shontay and she’ll come in with her own flavours and we see how well it meshes. Sometimes there’s times I’ve put weeks to a month into a track, we get to the demo stage, listen back, and we’re like, “This isn’t it.” So it’s one of those ones a lot gets thrown out, but we just make sure we keep what we feel.
This album actually ended up getting getting boiled down to 10 tracks. At one point we thought we were going to do a 16-tracker.
Wow, that’s almost unheard of these days. Must have been tough murdering those darlings.
It was tough. We ended up shedding quite a few tracks in the process. Could see the light of day later on, though. But it was a pretty harsh process that we went through to make sure we were all happy with A Lunar Rose.
There’s a mix of electronic sounds as much as there is guitars here. Songwriting is one thing, how do you pick samples, patches, and so on?
A lot of our writing starts with guitars and we might come across some cool sound that they’re willing to put in. By the time we hit the studio, we normally have quite a few components and churns. We refine it a lot. We’re just not rushing tracks. We’re putting the work into them, hearing different things on different days. And making sure we put them down to create that cool atmosphere, whether it be with instruments or some sort of synth or electronic sounds. That’s a lot of fun for us, putting that stuff together.
Another aspect of the Lunar Rose is just how colossal it sounds. I don’t think airpods or phone speakers will do it justice.
Yeah, definitely. If you’re going to listen to our album through phone speakers, please don’t. [Laughs]
If you’re doing through those couple-buck petrol station earphones, please don’t also. I think it works best as a big sound. There’s quite a lot going on with Saviour. With a poor audio presentation, you’re going to lose a lot of it. You’ll probably think it’s a pretty average album.
We’ve been holding onto this album for a while, and I have come across people wanting to hear some tracks. When we only have phone speakers available, I definitely opt not to show them. So invest in some good speakers!
What’s next for Saviour? Will you support this album with a tour?
Yes, but we need to actually start rehearsing. We’ve got half of us that live in Melbourne and half that live in Perth at the moment. So we’re a bit of an Australian band rather than a single major city band at the moment. Once we get the chance, we’ll hopefully hit the road with just a cool energetic set that we fill with tracks from this new album. There’s a lot going on. But just getting this album out for us has been such a big goal for a long time. It’s hard to see past February twenty-eighth, actually. Once that happens it’s going to be a big relief off our shoulders.
A Lunar Rose is out 28th of February through Believe Digital/Indpendent. Vinyl and CD pre-orders are available through Artist First.