Scholomance offer an unique sort of boldly orchestrated and highly melodic Black/Death Metal which takes much of its inspiration from Classical music. Their debut promo tape got my attention but since then the band have released a proper demo recording, which is reviewed further ahead. But for now, lets have a quick look at what Scholomance are about. Scott Crinklaw speaks...
(A small excerpt from the interview featured in full on Dark Oath #6)
Although you seem a bit disappointed with the state of the current American scene as you mention on your bio, it seems that the feedback has been quite positive to Scholomance, isn't that so? Please tell us a bit about that and also about the European reactions to your stuff...
Well, if you know anything of the American scene then you know its not the most diverse or open minded scene! Yes, we have gotten a good deal of favorable opinions here though and I've made some good allies through much struggle. You see, we mostly listen to European Metal bands and therefore have a greater respect of those overseas. It is natural to want those you admire to admire you as well so I would say that the Euro reviews we get are more meaningful! It's hard because we get stereotyped because people from other countries assume we are similar to most American bands and we are not, except that we share some common bonds with American progressive music. We have little to do with these fucking morons who only talk about corpse molesting and cannibalism. That's what I hate about the scene here.
There seems to be a good deal of influences from Classical music in Scholomance, and much of the overall (lyrical) concept of the band could easily be associated with Black Metal. Who's idea was it to couple these two genres into your own style and are there any bands in particular that you would like to mention as influential?
There was no conscious decision to bring Classical music in but it has happened because we are into that form of music quite a lot. We did make a direct decision to make the piano a central important instrument just like guitar and as the piano is an old, classical instrument you naturally get that sort of feeling. Jimmy and I both see this instrument as essential now and both practice it steadily and obsessively. We both like very complex music and we end up writing these massive, orchestrated metal symphonies just by our very natures. We have different composing styles that benefit each other. Jimmy knows a good deal about scales and theory and is the more intellectual half. I know next to nothing about theory but have a natural good ear for arranging, rhythm and unorthodox practices and I guess I would be the emotional half. (...) We don't really get influenced to borrow ideas from other bands at all, so when we compose we shut out all outside influences. However, there are bands like Arcturus who are encouraging even though we are pretty different. They seem to sound more like Bach actually, while we are into a wide cross section of composers including Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Scriabin and Piston. Lately some Russian feeling has filtered in somehow. Other metal bands we like are Lethal, Iron Maiden, Dissection, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Cynic, Dream Theater, Death, old Crimson Glory, Voivod, Bal-Sagoth, The 3rd and the Mortal, In The Woods, Gardenian, Supuration, Moonspell, Spiral Architect, Evereve, My Dying Bride, Enslaved, Gandalf, Dismal Euphony, etc.
After a rough promo, you have finally released a proper demo. What would be the main differences this new material and the old rehearsals and give us some more details on "I am that which is"!
The first difference you would encounter would be the improvement in sound clarity. This demo has a very good, clear production thanks to our great engineer, Ralph! You would also notice an improvement in musicianship and arrangement. The old '96 Promo was really experimental and avant-garde blackened Metal. Now we have found our own style of symphonic/classical/progressive darkness that we continue to build on and you can hear that the 97 Demo is a lot different. It's actually more technical but less weird and it's more melodic. "I Am That Which Is" has a great sound done in a 24 track studio, 5 songs, original color cover painted by me, lyrics and pro-printed cassettes. It costs $5 worldwide.
A strange title, is it not? What's it about and is there any sort of concept that ties the lyrics together?
Not so strange we think! It is a quote taken from Beethoven. It's a great quote and can have many meanings depending on how you apply it. Beethoven was a genius and a temperamental, misunderstood man. The way he wrote and approached music has much in common with the metal lifestyle we all lead. He didn't think like the masses and often they perceived him as egotistical & negative because they could not comprehend his dedication and skill. So we dedicated this song to him and it's a brief overlook of his life although perhaps we are not worthy of so great a man! On this tape there is no unifying lyrical concept except for instances of pathetic Christian ideals that we tear apart. 'Exotica Sequence' is about dream control and is one part of a short story I wrote about this surreal ability. It is based on the true fact that through much practice I can control the course of my dreams to the last detail. 'Innocence... Lustborn' is a song of loveloss, betrayal and depressive hatred resulting in revenge. 'Light Defiance' is the solitary journey of a vampire not dealing with evil and bloodlust but with lonely emotion and sorrow. I am currently writing a concept set of lyrics that so far has 4 parts and these will probably appear on our next release.
Scholomance "I Am That Which Is"
Following their impressive and promising 1996 promo, Scholomance return with a proper demo recording done on 24 tracks which, of course, does their music much better justice, even though I feel that the sound on the tape could be a bit better. This two-piece formed by Scott Crinklaw (guitars, keyboards, and drum programing) and Jimmy Pits (vocals and keyboards), show an uncanny good taste, creativity and ability to write music. Their efforts see them trying something that can be called highly Symphonic and Progressive Black Death Metal, which resembles bands like Nocturnus, Cynic, Pestilence or early Sadist on occasion, but which results quite unique as it seems to receive an infusion of the material performed by the likes of Dark Tranquillity, Emperor, Arcturus or Limbonic Art. Everything sounds just grand in Scholomance; the versatile drum programming, the guitar work rich in both fluency, melody and technic which is, for much of the time, characteristically New Age of Swedish Death Metal, the vocals, clear, strong and kinda raspy with some high-pitched moments, and especially the magnificent keyboard orchestrations and skilled piano melodies. It all comes down to fine epic masterpieces charged with superb atmospheres and darkened intensity, layered and interlaced in complex song patterns and structures which are nonetheless a pleasant listen. Each of the 5 songs is quite unique and holds a edge of its own - the title track weaves at a moderate pace revealing strong traces of Classical influenza whereas 'Pride of the Serpent Wings' picks up some speed before indulging in Arabic-flavored melodic work. Simply put, genius and grand. Comes on pro-duped chrome tapes with full color cover (lyrics included) and sells for $5US.
Official Scholomance Homepage