After five years in existence, Israeli melodic death metal outfit Nothing Lies Beyond have just released their crushing debut. ZT had a word with drummer Ariel Lior about it.
Israel isn’t really a hotbed for heavy metal of any form, let alone death metal. There’s Orphaned Land, Salem and a handful of others but it’s nowhere near the scale of any European nation (beside the Vatican). Yet Nothing Lies Beyond hope to change that, and with their admirable debut ‘Fragile Reality’ it’s a good start.
Heavily influenced by the Gothenburg death metal scene of the 90s, they’ve taken many of its strengths and added their own modern ideas. ZT caught up with drummer Ariel Lior to talk about the album’s creation, life as a metal band in Israel and more.
ZT: How did the writing and recording for your debut album Fragile Reality go?
Ariel Lior (drums): We first started thinking about recording the album at the end of 2014. After several shows (including with Children of Bodom and Dark Traquillity), we decided that it was time to record our music.
We had several ideas about the recording studio and producer, and finally chose to go with Alex Zvulun from AG Studio in Tel-Aviv. He came also from the melodic death scene and we knew that he would produce the album in the best way possible.
The whole recording process took us about six to seven months, due to the fact that we had to find another singer during that period of time. But we focused simultaneously on recording all the guitar, bass and drum parts. It was the first time for all of us recording in that intense way and we actually changed some parts, mainly the guitar sections.
I think that the end result was really satisfying for all of us, regarding the recording process in terms of teaching us how to be more professional (and for that we can give the full credit to Alex), and also for the album to turn out to be amazing in our opinion.
What were your main influences and sources of inspiration for the album?
I think that our main influence, and you can also here it pretty clearly, is the 90s melodic death metal scene, bands like At the Gates or early In Flames were our main inspiration in this album. We wanted to take the melodic music that was influenced, in our opinion, by fast riffs and melodic choruses. And to give it a little more modern twist, that you can maybe hear both in the general sound of the album and also individual parts of some songs, breakdowns and more groovy parts that give the album a small twist.
Considering you’re from Tel-Aviv, a lot of your sound can be linked to the Gothenburg death metal scene of the 90s. How and why did this have such an impact?
As I said before, we are totally aware to the fact the people link our music to the death metal scene of the 90s. I take it as a compliment, because in my opinion and maybe some other death metal fans, it was the best era for the death metal scene.
We didn’t try to link our music to that period of time. But I think the fact that our former guitar player, Guy Elberg who wrote the basic parts for most of the songs, came from a really melodic background, really helped us get that melodic sound. With time that developed to be death metal with some other influences that the rest of the band members contributed.
In my opinion, we live in an era that gives us the opportunity to discover and become familiar with more musical styles than ever before. So if a band is from some small part of the world, they can listen and be influenced by so many other genres that don’t have to be close to them geographically.
You formed about five years ago, why has it taken a few years to put out your debut album?
I think that the main thing that kept us in the rehearsal studio for so long without recording anything is that people who used to be in the band decided to leave during those five years. It was a situation that every time that we felt ready with our music, and thought about playing live or recording something, some member of the band decided to quit.
So it took us a really long time to find the last line up and be able to record the album. If you think about it, the band actually formed five years ago, but we only started working as professionals in the last two and a half years.
Why did you decide to form Nothing Lies Beyond in the first place?
There isn’t any specific reason that I can think of. We didn’t knew each other before we met at the first rehearsal and, as I said, the band line-up has changed so many times since then. So, each of us chose to be in the band because our love of this type of music and mainly because we believe in the potential of the music. This band truly gives us the opportunity to fulfil ourselves musically.
And what led you down the melodic death metal path?
Well, when we first started the band, we played some cover songs for rock bands like Three Days Grace and Avenged Sevenfold. Later on, we started working on our original music but I think the point when we started playing death metal was when Zed Destructive, our former singer, joined the band. He came from the black metal scene and took us with his vocal style to play more death metal stuff and eventually we categorized our music as melodic death metal.
What is the Israeli metal scene like?
The Israeli metal scene is not so big. Metal music over here in not mainstream, but still there are a lot of metal bands that perform in the local clubs (and there are only a small amount of those clubs). I think that the band that usually everybody outside of Israel hears about is Orphaned Land, who really made huge progress outside of the country.
So the local scene here is not so big but still we are trying to help each other as much as we can, regarding tours in Europe or merchandise etc. In Nothing Lies Beyond we are always trying to give the opening slot in our shows to young and unfamiliar bands, so they can have the opportunity to perform.
Is it hard for metal bands in Israel or is metal growing in the country?
I think that it’s hard for any metal band to “make it in the real world” and make some mark on the global metal scene. Without relating to other world problems and why it’s hard to be in the metal scene, I think that in our country for several reasons it’s pretty hard.
First of all, bands from Europe or the US can tour for several months between countries just by renting a van and booking locations. For us it’s not possible to tour in our country because there are only two to three places that are the centre of attention. So, if we are doing a tour it usually ends up with three to five concerts in the same cities.
Another reason in my opinion is that people don’t hear about Israel, or only hear about the country in a political way. So it’s pretty hard and takes more time to get our music to other countries.
There are other reasons of course, and each band faces other specific problems. I always say that it’s hard to make a name for yourself in Israel, and it’s especially hard to be a metal band in Israel.
You have self-released Fragile Reality. Is getting signed to a label important to you as a band?
Of course. I think that a good label who will believe in our music can do only good for us. By signing with a good label, you can get a home that can promote you and give you the confidence to proceed and make your own music. We still believe that we will find the right label (or they will find us) and we will promote our band as much as we can together.
Finally, what’s next for Nothing Lies Beyond and what do you hope to achieve with the band?
We are now working on the release show for the album, and it’s going to be huge! After that I think that we will book other gigs and promote ourselves outside of Israel as we can. Our main goal is to be signed by a good label and to start work on our second album as soon as we can.