Interview: Indiana-based powerhouse THE WISE MAN’S FEAR discuss new album VALLEY OF KINGS, the Codex trilogy, fantasycore and more.
SICK AND SOUND has the pleasure to present to its readers an interview our editor-in-chief Alex had with THE WISE MAN’S FEAR Indiana-based fantasycore act consisting of Paul Lierman, Joseph Sammuel, Codi Chambers, Tyler Eads, Nathan Kane and Thomas Barham. The band debuted on the scene with Castle in the Clouds in 2015, followed by The Lost City dating back to 2017 and they’re now bringing the trilogy full circle with the release of third studio album VALLEY OF KINGS out on May 29th, 2020 via freshly signed label SharpTone Records. To give the world a taste of the record The Wise Man’s Fear dropped singles THE RELICS OF NIHLUX and WHAT WENT WRONG.
In this interview we’re catching up with the band on the journey, the origins of the name and fantasycore. We explored the creative and writing process behind new record Valley of Kings, the lyrical inspiration alongside forerunners The Relics Of Nihlux and What Went Wrong. We also discussed the details of the trilogy, the feelings and expectations behind signing with SharpTone Records, future plans and some more stuff.
- Hello The Wise Man’s Fear and welcome. Let’s start by briefly discussing your journey as a band until today and your influences in terms of genres and bands.
Hello! Thank you for having us.
We started out as a band in 2014. Joe (harsh vocals) and Paul (drums) met through mutual acquaintances – Joe went to high school with Thomas (bass) and Tyler (clean vocals) and Paul was roommates with Nathan (guitar) in college. We found Codi (guitar) on craigslist if you can believe it! We all listen to an extremely wide array of music, but some common influences of ours include A Day To Remember, Saosin, Underoath, Born of Osiris, I See Stars, etc. We listen to all sorts of music from deathcore to trap to contemporary classical and indie rock.
- Your name seems to recall fantasy novel written by Patrick Rothfuss. In what measure is this true and what’s the story behind picking this name to best represent you?
We did name ourselves after the novel by Patrick Rothfuss, but we repurposed the name to be a statement against the destructive power of pride. It is our belief that a wise man is never very prideful, and that a proud man cannot be truly wise. It is sort of the Socratic principle that says the more knowledge you obtain the more you realize that you do not know. The name felt like a natural fit because of the unique narrative voice and fantasy nature of Patrick’s books.
- The Wise Man’s Fear are a self-proclaimed fantasycore band. Let’s talk about the mindset behind this and what characteristics are necessary for a song to be a fantasycore song or typically The Wise Man’s Fear?
We use the term fantasycore to describe our sound because it is the simplest way to explain to people what we do; we play a variety of modern melodic metalcore that includes fantastical instruments (harps, zithers, flutes, etc) and has lyrics that tell stories set in a fantasy universe called Pneuma. When we write songs, typically we will begin with a lyric concept for each song’s place in the storyline, then match those lyrics to a guitar song structure that fits the proper tone. Once we have recorded the instrumentals and vocals, we will go through each song and inject fantasy instrumentation into the tracks to create a cohesive album sound.
- VALLEY OF KINGS is your new album coming out on May 29th, 2020 via SharpTone Records. What was the writing and creative process when you guys sat down and worked on your third record and how long have you worked on it?
The creative process for Valley of Kings was extremely collaborative, exciting, and smooth. We all contributed different inspirations and sonic elements to create something really unique. We wrote the storyline for the record and the instrumentals for the record simultaneously, then mixed and matched the songs to the lyrics so that each song of the subject matter it was talking about. We decided to use ancient Celtic instruments for most of the fantasy components on the record to invoke a sort of powerful warrior atmosphere that would augment the storytelling. We began writing for this record in 2017, shortly after the release of our previous record The Lost City.
- THE RELICS OF NIHLUX was released as a lead single, followed by WHAT WENT WRONG. So a first blistering single and afterwards, a more melodic episode. Let’s share the reasons behind choosing those two songs to give the world a taste of your record or behind the seamless balance you found between heaviness and melodic catchiness.
We wanted to release “The Relics of Nihlux” first to reassure people that we had not only maintained our heavy edge, but that we had grown stylistically since our last record. It is also the first track on the record so it is very story-intensive from a concept standpoint. It made sense to release that song with a music video to explain a bit of what is going on.
We followed up with “What Went Wrong” as our second single to demonstrate our more melodic side. Valley of Kings oscillates all over the spectrum in terms of melody and heaviness, so we wanted to show people the range of what they can expect on the album. The record has a very organic flow of energy as the songs follow the story arc, and we wanted to give people a glimpse of the dynamics.
- I would love to discuss the concept of the trilogy The Wise Man’s Fear are bringing full circle with Valley Of Kings.
We call this trilogy the Codex: our three records combine to form an infinite story loop that tries to summarize some quintessential experiences of the human condition. Our first record Castle in the Clouds was a straightforward allegory similar to pilgrim’s progress, in which a main character who represents mankind embarks on a quest for a castle in the clouds, and metaphorically for the meaning of life. Our second record, The Lost City, documents the rise of the villain from Castle in the Clouds, and serves as a prequel to that record. Whereas Castle in the Clouds dealt primarily with man vs. environment, The Lost City deals mostly with man vs. man conflict and comments on the degree to which a man is made by his decisions rather than his circumstances. Finally, Valley of Kings dwells on the third type of conflict, man vs. self. It completes the triad of elements (air, water, earth/fire) and follows the adventures of a group of five warriors as they try to destroy ancient evil relics. The album pits different existential world views against one another to examine their pros and cons. Ultimately, one of the five protagonists drinks from the river of life to become immortal, and is sent back through time to warn the protagonist of Castle in the Clouds against his journey.
- This record seems to be touching on mental health, self-reflection, inner struggles and more. Let’s discuss some of the lyrical themes that were important for you to discuss in this record.
Absolutely. As I briefly touched on earlier, the primary form of conflict in this record is man vs. self. Most of the conflicts between characters and difficult decisions that are being made actually represent internal dialogue and uncertainty in life. One recurring theme throughout the record is the subconscious. As the protagonists venture further below the surface of the Earth, the lyrical subject matter reflects more and more inwardly on the subconscious. Above the surface of the Earth represents clarity, whereas the center of the Earth represents the innermost self. Another theme for the record is the lasting consequences of our actions. There are moments of conflict between characters, and choices that are made that cannot be reversed for better or worse.
- What 3 songs do you consider to be: the heaviest, the most melodic and the most experimental on this record?
Most melodic: “What Went Wrong”
Most experimental: “Tree of Life”
- Congratulations for signing to SharpTone Records and entering their amazing roster. What feelings and expectations are behind this massive achievement?
Thanks very much! We are extremely excited and honored to be on their incredible lineup. We hope that once the world settles down a bit we will be able to do some touring to support this record. We are also excited to see what sort of international impact Sharptone will be able to help us achieve with Valley of Kings.
- If you had the opportunity to tour with 5 metalcore or deathcore bands who would you tour with?
A Day to Remember, Make Them Suffer, Miss May I, I See Stars, and Bring Me the Horizon.
- Is there any genre or experimental direction you might want to undertake at some point in the future?
We always keep an open mind to every sound that might work well with our style of metal. Right now we’re talking about the possibility of incorporating Nordic Iron Age instrumentation and hard, bitcrushed electronic components. We don’t have any one target genre we want to approach in particular, but we try to approach the evolution of our sound as openly as possible by keeping all options on the table.
- How are you going to promote this record and what aspirations, dreams or plans do you have in store for the future?
We’re working hard right now to respond to press inquiries, promote video content on facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok, and to get song placements on good Spotify/Apple Music playlists. We’re also releasing some behind-the-scenes video content on our YouTube channel to give a glimpse inside the process of some music videos and album details.
One of our biggest aspirations is to go on a tour overseas! We’d love to make it to Europe and play shows for listeners over there someday. It’s been a long-time dream of ours.
Thank you for your time The Wise Man’s Fear and all the best for your amazing music. We are keeping an eye on you and fully supporting you into Europe and US!
Thanks for having us! It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.
The Wise Man’s Fear – Valley Of Kings tracklisting:
1. The Relics of Nihlux
2. Breath of the Wild
3. The Tree of life
4. The Forest of Illusions
5. The Cave
6. What Went Wrong
7. The River and the Rock
8. The Sands of Time
9. The Door to Nowhere
11. Valley of Kings
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