The Australian alternative scene has struck gold again, this time with Sydney’s Pretty Thrills who are …
Thy Art Is Murder is one of Australia’s strongest representatives in the hard-hitting deathcore arena.
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With the release of their fifth studio album, Human Target, this time Thy Art have transcended the time-old tale of religion as the source for our woes, to take head-on some of the heaviest issues in the secular world today.
“What’s important to realise,” guitarist Andy Marsh says, “is whilst everything was always framed by this sort of anti-religious narrative on previous records, not all the songs were about religion. They were just using the device of religion as a kind of a metaphor for the duality of man, like this good and evil … so a lot of the songs were actually just about mortality, morality and those sorts of things. Philosophical questions, but because of the nature of the band it was very easy to kind of frame them religiously. With this record, it’s not that I consciously decided to drop those lyrical devices, it just kind of happened. I don’t know whether it’s because I got better at writing songs, so I am able to pull in new ideas and weave stories through this, because you can’t be very direct with our band. It’s important to weave those story arcs using a device that has an element of, say, brutality, or fear, or whatnot. So somehow with this record, I was able to do that without relying on this very ancient good versus evil narrative.”
With tracks such as New Gods and Chemical Christ, the idea of religion, or ‘new religion’ still lurks for Thy Art, but as Marsh explains, there’s much more going on Human Target; “Yeah I guess those ones, I guess they’re kind of framed in the context of these new religions … New Gods it could have easily been ‘new idols’ or ‘new heroes’ you know, anything that people are drawn to, whether a celebrity or a sports star or whatever. Now it’s all about who is better at taking selfies; it’s dictating the status quo in a lot of spaces. Those two songs did end up a bit religious superficially but otherwise, we’re talking about all kinds of things: domestic surveillance, institutionalised prison systems and addiction to psychotropics and the pharmaceutical industry’s prevalence in pushing psychotropics onto the Western world in the last thirty years, so many different things.”
It sure sounds intense! Was the writing process different this time with new ideas? “Nope,” laughs Marsh, “the music gets written in about a month so as the songs come together I start framing concepts for songs and I will have a lot more concepts than songs. After developing those, I try to elevate them … you have these basic ideas like ‘oh, I don’t like the pharmaceutical industry pushing drugs on people’, it’s like that has to be turned into another story, and that’s Chemical Christ and whatever. So they get elevated to another concept and then it’s just a matter of taking those concepts and matching them through the music, without even having written a lyric.”
Now it’s all about who is better at taking selfies; it’s dictating the status quo in a lot of spaces … We’re talking about all kinds of things: domestic surveillance, institutionalised prison systems and addiction to psychotropics and the pharmaceutical industry’s prevalence in pushing psychotropics onto the Western world in the last thirty years, so many different things.
There are a few tracks, such as Eye For An Eye, that bring some melodic elements to the front. Was this a conscious development in Thy Art’s approach to Human Target? “That song” Marsh says, “really started from me trying to flesh out a few different ideas, I mean obviously, we are the band we are and the people that we are, so it’s important as a creative, when you have a left-of-centre idea that you’d normally chuck away, normally at the start of the record I’ll try and develop those weird ideas to see if they can fit in the context of the band. So that one was one of the first kind of fruity ideas, that was kind of a bit different, let me see how far I can push it … and turned into this five minute long epic, I guess.”
Although he has been playing live with them for a few years now, Thy Art Is Murder have officially welcomed drummer Jesse Beahler to the band and studio with Human Target. On tracks like Eternal Suffering, the drum parts are quite different. Is this the mark of the new drummer? Indeed, according to Marsh, Beahler has been an invigorating addition. “Again, that’s another song that I started working on that was a little bit different, trying to use different notes, different scales, different rhythmic ideas, and the song started out totally different, with a pretty cool idea I think that I might dig up for the next record. But what was really cool was, normally I sit in the studio by myself and write the albums, Jesse lives in Delaware, which is just a two hour drive from Graphic Nature in New Jersey, so … he would just pop up on the weekends with a couple of beers like ‘ah, what have you been doing? How are the songs coming out?’ and for this particular one at the end, I knew I wanted to have a breakdown, as we often have breakdowns,” he laughs, “but I didn’t want it to just be, you know … I really liked this song, I really like the way it came together, I put a lot of thought into crafting the riffs and soundscapes.
“I was like, I need to do something different here, I want it to be heavy, and I want this song to degrade with the lyrics, like with the idea of what the song was going to be about, like I want this degradation to occur. So I was like, ‘do you have anything?’ So Jesse came up with this groove and this tom thing and put it in, and I was like, that’s a bit different. I normally don’t overdo this, I write the music and say ‘you play this’ or whatever, but this drum part, he told me ‘you write music to this now’. So I did, and it was actually really cool and it was very sludgy and they way we made the song in post-production it kind of degrades along with the storyline, you know this inevitability of decaying together, I thought that was really cool, and it wouldn’t have happened without him.”