Canadian quintet Becomes Astral hail from the city of Guelph and are armed to the teeth with scorching progressive death metal, more of which is due out on August 18th when the guys drop their eagerly-anticipated Paleblood Sky album. The six-track affair, which follows 2014's The Mind EP, was recorded and mixed by at Montreal's The Grid Studios by Cryptopsy's Christian Donaldson, and Marco Frechette. We caught up with bassist Liam Frith to discuss the recording's crazy-cool album cover.
What was the inspiration for the album’s cover artwork? Liam Frith: We’re all a bunch of nerds and write a lot of themes based off video games, so on this one we based the album artwork off of a game called Bloodborne, which we wrote two very lengthy songs about as well. When we asked Tony Koehl to create the cover we sent him a video snippet from the video game as a reference.
Your new album cover is crazy cool, tell us about how you found the artist. Frith: Well, after we found our producer, Christian Donaldson, we decided to step up the production of the whole album. If we were going to such a great studio, we didn’t see the point in not getting everything else done incredibly professionally. We began looking at the art credits on all of our favourite albums, and at the time I had just bee getting into Sun Eater by Job For A Cowboy, which has an amazing album cover and that’s how I found Tony Koehl. After a quick Google search I saw he also did the cover for Deflorate by The Black Dahlia Murder and that was when we knew he was the guy for us. I sent him an email back in December, and right afterwards my dog got really badly injured and I had to pay for the surgery first and Tony was incredibly understanding and agreed to still work with us when we got back in touch in March.
What were the partnership’s dynamic like? Frith: We gave Tony a rough description of “a monster being born out of the sky, with a Victorian era feel in the background," but we really wanted him to have a lot of input. After that he sent us four sketches on what we wanted the monster and buildings to look like, we selected from those and then after that Tony created the final product, which looks incredible.
Did the Artist who did the cover art hear the album beforehand? Frith: We had sent him our rough mixes to listen to because we didn’t have a final product back yet. It was really cool because we have Youri Raymond of Unhuman featured on the album, and when we mentioned that to Tony we found out how much he loves Unhuman (which coincidentally he purchased their album solely based off of the album artwork, and turned out to love it).
Have you purchased an album solely based off of artwork? Did the music hold up to the artwork? Frith: When HMV was closing at the beginning of this year I bought a ton of albums based off of artwork because everything was so cheap, and I really like finding new music. Two albums that really stood out to me were Becoming by Abigail Williams, and Catharsis Absolute by Avichi (not to be confused with Aviici). Both albums turned out to be incredible, Abigail Williams I already knew of, and enjoyed beforehand, but Avichi was completely new to me, and a really refreshing take on black metal.
With the increasing popularity in digital music, most fans view artwork as just pixels on a screen. Why did you feel the artwork was important? Frith: I felt the artwork was important because I’m a physical collector. When I purchase an album I sit there with the vinyl, or CD out and listen to it while I study the artwork, the lyrics, the liner notes. On top of that, before anyone hears our album they see the artwork. If you can intrigue them with the artwork I think they’re more likely to listen to it and if they like the music, buy it.
Have any favourite Music-related visual artists? Frith: Yes! When we were going through trying to decide on an artist we looked at a lot of artists. Tony Koehl was our favourite and the best fit for us, but I was also a big fan of Rickard Westman, Marcelo Vasco and Remy Cooper.
Was the album art influenced by any of the themes explored on the band’s album? Frith: Yes! The album artwork is based off a lyric in the song "Paleblood Sky", where Layne sings “It spreads, as I’m born from this galactic womb. The cosmos open this bleeding sky as all humanity waits to die, it spreads, the kos destroys the insight of the mind. I am the last reign of death, I’m the one re-born.”
Check out the band's latest single "Paleblood Sky"