In 2012, To Speak Of Wolves went on tour. It wasn’t their first run (they’d been playing together for a few years), but when they got out of the van, walked into their homes, and woke up in their own beds, they felt different. “We never really talked about the band,” explains the drummer and founder Phil Chamberlain, “we just…stopped talking about the band.”
To Speak Of Wolves wouldn’t play another show for years.
“Honestly, we were burned out and we didn’t know how to handle ourselves,” confesses Gage Speas, the band’s vocalist. “We were all going through heavy personal stuff, and always being on tour made us all feel exhausted and trapped. We didn’t know how to balance it all.” They kept in touch, but for the next four years they’d find themselves focused on other things.
And then, in 2016, a sentence emerged on social media that induced euphoric expectancy amongst To Speak Of Wolves fans everywhere: “Should we do another record?”
“It was crazy,” remembers Chamberlain. “In the same way we stopped talking about the band, we started talking about the band again. It just happened. We put something online asking if anyone would want us to start making music again and we were overwhelmed by how many people freaked out about it.” The encouragement, the years of rest and maturity, and the inevitable truth that the guys whole-heartedly missed making music together, resulted in a reunion that put them back on the metal-core map. “A lot of bands break up and get back together to do one final album,” explains Chamberlain, “and we didn’t want to be that. We wanted to make sure our fans knew we were back in it for the long haul.” After partnering with Solid State Records again (where they’d released their two previous full-lengths), they started working on their next project.
They may have taken a break, but time has been a beautiful influence. “I started seeing a counselor,” explains Gage, “and he had a way of opening up these locked doors within me—these haunted rooms I pretended didn’t exist—and helping me talk about them.” From alcoholism to being molested as a child, the content is as dark and complex as the songs themselves. “I’m lucky,” says Speas, “because wherever I want to go lyrically, the guys support me.” The other members—Andrew Gaultier, Seth Webster, and Chamberlain—worked on instrumentation to partner well with the heady concepts. The result is an intricate album in both stanza and structure.
“The thing is,” notes Speas, “everyone’s story is different but the same. My biggest hope is that our fans hear this music and root for my story because it’s also theirs. The hardcore scene is a tribe of people; they don’t know me and I don’t know them, but we can offer this window into our emotions that connects us all.”
Although they weren’t satisfied until the songs made them cry (to Gage, if it wasn’t that emotional it wasn’t honest enough), the record isn’t without hope. “There’s a lyric at the end of one of the songs that says ‘You are not alone / We’ll make it through / You’ll learn to trust again / Even though they crushed you.’ There’s a light at the end of this tunnel, I know there is, even if right now it feels like life is just gasping for air.”
Dead In The Shadow releases July 21st. Breathe it in.