EMPIRE STATE BASTARD Feat. DAVE LOMBARDO: 'The Silver Cord Sessions' EP Out Now

April 24, 2024

EMPIRE STATE BASTARD, the extreme metal band founded by Simon Neil (BIFFY CLYRO) and Mike Vennart (BIFFY CLYRO live guitarist and solo artist, ex-OCEANSIZE),has shared "The Silver Cord Sessions" EP. Available today on all streaming platforms, the live EP emerges as EMPIRE STATE BASTARD has just been nominated for two Heavy Music Awards: "Best Breakthrough Album" and "Best Album Artwork", both for their acclaimed debut, "Rivers Of Heresy".

Recorded at Silver Cord Studios in New York, owned by GOJIRA's Joseph Duplantier, who produced the session, the EP sees EMPIRE STATE BASTARD detonating a triple blast of incendiary tracks — "Harvest", "Moi?" and "Stutter" — from "Rivers Of Heresy". The accompanying live studio footage shows the band's frenetic intensity instigated by founding members Neil and Vennart, cemented by bassist Naomi Macleod (BITCH FALCON) and drumming legend Dave Lombardo (SLAYER, TESTAMENT, MR. BUNGLE).

Since debuting early in 2023, EMPIRE STATE BASTARD has hit festivals including Download, Glastonbury and Hellfest as well as completing a U.K. headline tour that included a London show at Electric Brixton. Next comes the SLEEP TOKEN North American tour, interspersed with the Sonic Temple festival, before they play a London show as guests to THE ARMED and then select European festival dates.

"Rivers Of Heresy" arrived in September 2023 via Roadrunner.

In addition to its digital release, "Rivers Of Heresy" was made available on the following limited-edition physical formats: CD with an exclusive 24-page fanzine; poison green vinyl and red / black marble vinyl; and cassette. The deluxe vinyl bundle adds a seven-inch single featuring "Harvest" and a non-album B-side to either album vinyl.

The concept for EMPIRE STATE BASTARD emerged when Neil and Vennart would spend downtime on tour sitting at the back of their bus sharing the heaviest, most avant-garde and confrontational music they could find. Now, a decade on from its conception, the project is finally coming to fruition, with Vennart writing the songs and recording all the guitars, and Neil focusing on vocals and lyrics.

The two have emerged with a collection of songs which adventurously probes slamming hardcore in the vein of SIEGE; the frenetic, visceral thrash of SLAYER; the claustrophobic sludge of MELVINS; the freeform vocal dexterity of Mike Patton; and the gargantuan stoner riffs of SLEEP. It's a band that's rooted in the tradition of metal's forefathers but informed by more recent waves of leftfield aggression.

During an appearance on "The Jasta Show", Lombardo spoke about his involvement with EMPIRE STATE BASTARD. Dave said: "Simon Neil and Mike Vennart [are] from a very popular band in the U.K. called BIFFY CLYRO. [A lot of people in the U.S.] don't know who BIFFY CLYRO is, but they're massive in the U.K. They headline Download and Glastonbury [festivals]; they headline Download the next day after IRON MAIDEN. So there guys are massive. But Simon Neil, the vocalist for that band, and Mike Vennart have a love and an affinity for hardcore music. And for the past 10 years they've been talking about this. And they hit me up during the pandemic and took a shot in the dark and said, 'Well, why not? Let's ask him. He might not wanna do it.' But they asked. At first, I fell in love with the music. I was, like, 'Wow. This is pretty fucking cool.' Odd time changes. It's a little thrashy. It has a little bit of grindcore in it. It's hard to describe. It's its own entity and it has a personality of its own. So to give it a description is really difficult. But it is in the hard music vein. And when I heard the music, I was blown away. And I agreed. And they sent me the files [for the album]. And I recorded the drums in my home studio, and I sent it back. And they were pleased."

Simon told Kerrang! magazine that he has been "needing to make a record like this for a long time. This is where I'm almost trying to be provocative," he explained. "I said to Mike that I don't want to sing any melodies — although there are a few melodies on the record, which is me following the service of the song — but my intention was no melody at all. Just fucking mayhem. We wanted people to feel that they'd almost struggle to get to the end of the first song. Thankfully, it became something more sophisticated than that, more musical, but at this point I needed to do this project. I haven't sat down with my guitar and written a song for BIFFY in a long time, and I think post-pandemic I've struggled a little bit with inspiration. This will help me [going forward], I think."

Vennart told Buzz magazine about Lombardo's drumming approach on "Rivers Of Heresy": "The songs are so complicated, there isn't much margin for improvisation. Dave gets to get his rocks off during [near-seven-minute album track] 'The Looming'; he has an indeterminable amount of time in the middle of that to go as fucking crazy as possible. In fact, when we were doing the record, I kept having to say to him, 'No, you can really open it up on that part. Go crazy. This is your moment. Just fucking go for it.' Any drummer likes being given that permission — and Dave has the chance to open up on certain corners of the music, but myself and Naomi absolutely do not. Every single pick has to be identical.

"I think, to a large extent, the guitar and the bass is the anchor in the band, so Dave can keep the backbeat — but fucking go as wild as possible, because nobody goes wild like Dave Lombardo. He's got such swing, such personality to his playing, that you want to hear him fucking go crazy. But that's the thrill of him, that there's so much power and eloquence in his musical vocabulary. You just want to hear him talk all the time."

Lombardo, who has spent most of the recent years between crossover pioneers SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, horror-punk icons MISFITS, hardcore supergroup DEAD CROSS and MR. BUNGLE, was effectively fired from SLAYER after sitting out the group's Australian tour in February/March 2013 due to a contract dispute with the other bandmembers. He was later replaced by Paul Bostaph, who was previously SLAYER's drummer from 1992 until 2001.

Lombardo rejoined TESTAMENT in 2022 but stopped touring with that band a few months later.

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