Interview with Aaron Robinson of Blood of Angels This is the band's second interview for Asphyxium. Their first, in April 2019, can be read here. -DW
Blood of Angels formed in 2015 and released their debut EP “Rise of the Fallen Gods” two years later. The three songs recorded for it were based on Norse mythology. Did the band intend to write about mythology on each release or was “Rise” a one shot deal?
Rise was to be a one-shot deal with Norse Mythology. We plan on doing concept albums covering different subjects. The current album “Failure of Faith” is about the three monotheistic religions and what they have done to divide humanity.
How many independent labels did the band seek out before settling on Sliptrick Records?
Not many. Sliptrick Records was highly recommended to us from a reliable business associate.
How long did it take Blood of Angels to complete their new album “Failure of Faith” for its release last October? How well has Sliptrick Records handled publicity since it came out?
It took us a year to track the songs for the “Failure of Faith.” The album was completed last June. Sliptrick Records has done a good job with the PR of the album release, as well as Metal Coffee PR and Against PR. We have had some awesome reviews, and an article and spot on the compilation disc for Legacy Magazine.
Was the album recorded, mixed and mastered in a studio or independently? Did you record the parts together or separately?
We recorded the parts separately, and the album was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Mastersound Studios in Tampa, FL.
Why did you choose the Tampa studio to work on “Failure of Faith” and who was in charge of recording, mixing and mastering? Did the people you worked with generate the sound and atmosphere you envisioned for the album?
Preston DiCarlo handled all the engineering of the album. The reason I choose the studio is that Preston has a great history working with metal and punk bands. He made the work environment enjoyable. I felt he really found the sound we were looking for.
Why was “Failure of Faith” chosen as the album’s title, and how do the songs on the album relate to its intended meaning?
“Failure of Faith” is the perfect title for the album. The first half album is about the formation of the main three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The second half of the album gives historical examples of how these faiths have divided humanity under false truths to preserve power for themselves.
How much historical research went into studying monotheistic religions and the divisions it caused while the album was written?
Quite a bit, over many years. This is a subject I have wanted to tackle in an album in a long time.
According to what your research uncovered, in what ways did religions create false truths to maintain power and control? Were there times this ended with the masses rising against the ruling classes?
The false truth of god and instilling the fear of god upon a gullible populace. The creation of the messiahs that all seems to follow the same story. God sends an angel to communicate with the chosen one who is poorly educated. Then they are to spread god’s word. The problem is that these events are only documented in religious text, but not found in any historical record of the time. The other question is the validity of these religious texts. Most of them were written many years, even centuries after the supposed events. Old Testament did not take form until the 8th Century BC. Jesus was believed to be crucified in 35 AD. Nothing was written about him until 55 AD. The letters of Paul only referred to Jesus as a revelation, and not a living being. Also, the story of Jesus follows the same story as Romulus, Mithra, Dionysus, and Horus. The Prophet Muhammad is said to ascend to heaven in 550 AD. The earliest Quran did not surface until 590 AD. You have to ask the question why the forty year gap?
The times when masses have risen against ruling it was to topple tyrannical governments. But the religions remain.
When you started work on “Failure of Faith”, how did you intend to do so in a way that was unique to Blood Of Angels and different from other bands’ observations on religion?
Most metal bands discuss religion and use the forbidden idea of Satanism for shock value. Some of the bands in the Norwegian black metal bands do have a lot of conviction of their satanic beliefs. Religion with us is not used to shock, but as attempt to ask questions and get the audience to objectively think about faith, and whether faith is a good thing. We approached the subject through an academic angle. Objectively looking at religion and seeing if the stories match the known history.
How long had you thought about addressing issues of religion in a concept album? How often have you seen religion used as a weapon or a means of control?
I have been wanting to address religion as subject for many years. I thought this was the right time to do this album. As far as seeing how religion is used as a means of a weapon, you do not have to look much further than 9/11. How those men were manipulated by the call of Islamic Jihad to execute a plan to murder 3,000 people. Religion is used in our own country to manipulate believers into a political agenda. They are using our system to steer the nation into an ideology that serves Evangelical interest to create a theocracy. Some people find that to be a good idea. But theocracies are not tolerant of free thought. Iran is a good example.
Speaking of 9/11, I’m sure you’ve heard about the many conspiracy theories that surfaced since then. How much credence would you give some of them?
I do not give the conspiracy theories any credence. I have heard that it was an inside job, and explosives were set throughout the building. They are questions on how building 7 came down. At the end of the day, those planes were hijacked by Islamic extremist, and were piloted into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
What is your personal definition of Satanism? Are Satanic themes still relevant in metal or not, or does it depend on the band?
There are a few. You have the actual worship of Satan. And there is the Anton LaVey version as a focus on carnal humanism. I really like what The Satanic Temple is doing. They are keeping the first amendment of our Constitution honest. Just like all gods and prophets like Moses, Jesus, and Muhammed; Satan doesn’t exist either. They are challenging the perceived notion that America is a Christian nation. I do not think Satanic themes have much relevance anymore. I feel the shock value of Satanism has passed.
If Satanic themes in metal aren’t as relevant anymore, what lyrical themes would be more relevant for the present?
They are many things that bands can write about. Personal struggles, real life horrors, politics, social activism etc. So many more things to write about besides promoting fictional demonic figures.
What bands do you know of who write more relevant lyrics for the times that you relate to?
Dark Tranquility, Ozzy Osbourne, and Metallica write lyrics beyond your stereo typical metal band. Iron Maiden has always been a band of lyrical intellect.
Were there any movies you saw that inspired you to question religion? Or any books that supported your position? And why?
They were not any movies. Bill Maher film Religulous inspired the album. As far as bands go, Acheron was a big influence in questioning the legitimacy of religion. Vincent Crowley made a very persuasive case. I was already questioning the truth of religious organizations. They are a lot of books that support similar positions. Dr. Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” is a good example.
What did Vincent Crowley and Richard Dawkins say that bolstered your drive to question religious organizations?
Vincent has always expressed the questioning of Christianity in his lyrics. Richard Dawkins has always showed that god is not possible. He has done it through evolutionary science.
Did you see the documentary “Hail Satan” about the Satanic Temple? If so, what did you think? How much of a good thing is it that they’re challenging Christian fundamentalism, and how would you respond to people who say they’re weirdoes and idiots?
I did see the documentary. I think it is great that they are mocking organized religion using satanic imagery to make people uneasy and keep the government honest about the first amendment. Freedom of religion means freedom of all religions, not just the one of the majorities, although The Satanic Temple seems to be an activist organization and not a religion. On a side note, I am proud of the organization to have dismissed one of their leaders for calling for the President’s assassination. Even if you don’t like President Trump, calling for his assassination is a horrible bridge to far.
Weird is a matter of opinion; idiots they most certainly are not. They have won court case after court case with strong valid arguments for religious freedom.
Are your observations on religions misconstrued at times as attacks on religions, or do you make the album’s message clear and easy to understand for the listener?
I feel we have made the message clear. I am sure the devout will see the album as an attack their religion. Any time the faith is questioned they go right to the accusation of heresy, instead of attempting to question what exactly they are worshiping to begin with.
What songs on the album most descriptively illustrate the points we’ve been discussing?
All of them in their own way!
Monotheism: “Monotheism” is the beginning of the concept of a singular God during the time of ancient Egypt, and how that concept has fanaticized followers to a concept of superiority over other faiths in the ancient world through the middle ages.
40 Year Journey: This song goes into the development of Judaism from Exodus to the creation of modern-day Israel, as well as how an oppressed people throughout history has become the oppressor.
Blood of the Lamb: Continues the journey into the development of the three main religions by bringing this account of Christianity based on historical facts and not the bible. Questioning the validity and claims of the “messiah” and the creation of a power-hungry organizations based a blend of ancient used to alter history.
The Messenger: Islam is the religion of focus on this track. “The Messenger” is the translation for the profit Mohamad and how a legend transformed into a religion that continues to influence and used to control over a billion people today.
The Crusader: This song begins the second half of the album. In this song we chronicle the 200-year war that is known as The Crusades.
King of Hops: The title comes from the nickname given to Martin Luther when he was in seminary school, because of his love for beer. The song outlines the revolutionary changes that Martin Luther did within Christianity.
Disaster of Supremacy: This how societal ideas of supremacy in any form brings for the end of stabilized civilization. By linking racial and religious supremacist’s ideology have the same dangerous end.
Don’t Need (Religion): Our tribute to the great Motorhead and Lemmy Kilmister. “Don’t Need (Religion)” was originally recorded on the “Iron Fist” album. We wanted to do a Motorhead song, and this song is perfect to summarize the album.
America’s Mythologies: For the finale of “Failure of Faith” we delve into the three verses highlighting some of the religious organizations created in the United States. We discuss Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Scientology.
Which reviewers or underground magazines most closely understood the lyrical concept of “Failure of Faith”?
Metal Temple Review and Legacy Magazine are the ones that made the best attempt and understood the album’s concept.
How did you establish promotion deals with Metal Coffee PR and Against PR and how well have they helped the band?
We have been working with Metal Coffee PR since the beginning of the company. Wes has been fantastic helping our band in many ways beyond PR. We have had a fantastic relationship for three years. Against PR came to us, I was looking for some additional boost. Against PR has given us that extra push we needed.
Being that Metal Coffee PR and Against PR are online in one form or another, are those companies helping the band receive exposure outside the US? How did you cross paths with them and what interested them in helping the band?
Both have done a great job getting us exposure outside the US. Against PR is based in Spain. Their main public relations connections are in Europe. Wes came to me three years ago wanting to represent us. After an exceptionally good meeting we decided to work with him, and the relationship. With Against PR, I started to get emails from them, so we decided to give them a chance. It has been a good relationship. They have helped us out with endorsements, and press releases.
Do you have any concepts in mind for the next Blood of Angels full length, if and when you begin working on one? Or are you going to see what inspiration comes to you?
We are planning on doing an album exploring different cultural funeral rituals, and how they help with closure. This is something we all experience, and I feel it will that we can all connect with.