Rotting Empire is the second album from US metal band Forty Winters. Chock-full of heavy riffs and meaty beatdowns, this is metallic hardcore in its original 90s/00s incarnation, all stomping riffs and attitude, but with modern delivery. And do you know what? It’s great to hear.
Jeff Stevenson (Guitar) & Xavier Vicuna (Vocals) filled me in a bit more on all things Forty Winters…
Introduce us to Forty Winters!
Xavier: We’re Forty Winters, metal band from South Florida. We play pissed off music for pissed off people. It’s actually a lot of fun. We love to tour, so make sure you come check out a show if we’re in your area.
Where did the band name come from?
Xavier: The name came from Shakespeare’s Sonnet #2.
“When forty winters shall besiege thy brow
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,”
What are your influences?
Jeff: AC/DC and Mortal Kombat. Before I could even speak, I managed to let the whole family know who my favourite band was (there’s a good chance my first words were AC/DC lyrics). Their stripped down, no bullshit approach to Rock n Roll is something I hear resonate within “Rotting Empire” and a lot of the music I tend to follow.
Fast forward a few years later and I’m introduced to Mortal Kombat. The game/soundtrack were big for me. The mix of dark imagery, ultra-violence and metal (Napalm Death/Fear Factory) my soul was sold.
Xavier: Slipknot, Manson, Misifts, AFI, Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, etc.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
Jeff: Embodyment – Embrace The Eternal
Humanity’s Last Breath – Detestor
Old Wounds – The Suffering Spirit
Ingested – Suppressing The Boundaries Of Human Suffering
Sevendust – Kill The Flaw
If someone hadn’t heard you before, how would you describe your band?
Xavier: Fast, unrelenting, punishing Metal.
Tell us about Rotting Empire – what’s it all about?
Xavier: “Rotting Empire” is a story; it’s a horror story, really. It’s a tall tale of angst, demons, and progression. Every song is a different chapter. We touch on subjects ranging from the living dead, spirits, alcoholism, depression, big business, and more. It was meant to be an angry, pissed off, and menacing piece of art.
How do you write your songs?
Jeff: For “Rotting Empire” we made it a point to write everything together at the practice space. Scott and I would start by writing a few sections of music that felt cohesive and then we would line them up and figure out which combination had the most impact. Xavier would be right there with us giving his opinion as well as showing us his vocal ideas.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Xavier: My personal favourite song on the album is “Empty Tombs”, mainly because of the chorus and the built in intro. Tombs is my jam.
How do you think Rotting Empire sits in the metal/hardcore/metalcore scene in 2016?
Xavier: That’s totally up for interpretation. We throw our art on the table and people can react and interact however they want to. We fortunately have had some very positive reviews for the album thus far so I’m staying proud and confident. Very grateful.
How do you think your music will progress in the future?
Xavier: The sky’s the limit, we are only getting started and there is so much room to grow. The music will progress intelligently and organically. It’s all about living and learning, feeling out what works and what doesn’t.
If you were to do the record all over again, what would be different?
Xavier: Absolutely nothing. Everything and every part about this record is special and sacred in its own way. It all happened so naturally.
Talk to us about the album artwork, and the importance, (or not), of artwork in these increasingly digital days
Xavier: Our friend Bill Hauser was responsible for the art behind “Rotting Empire”. We’re all old school guys, so the artwork is a HUGE part of the album process. It speaks volumes without saying a word. We had one concept, we sent it to Bill and let him run free with it. We are all very happy with the finished product. Collectors never stop collecting, so I know there are still people out there picking up records for sure (myself included). On the same token, even in a digital age, an album cover can make or break your release. It’s still very, very important.
What do you think the challenges are in promoting heavy music in 2016?
Xavier: We live for the challenge and if you don’t do it the hard way, don’t do it at all. There are plenty of bands playing heavy music and it’s all about climbing to the top, I believe that goes for any style of music. It’s not super mainstream and exposure is minimal, that’s what makes it more special in my opinion. You really have to love it and be passionate about your art to survive.
What’s your experience of the music industry so far?
Jeff: It’s a business, and like any business you have take the good with the bad, the ups and downs. Just try and line yourself up with the right people, put out a quality product and hope for the best.
Do you have any upcoming shows you want to mention?
Xavier: We will be in Miami, Florida on September 11th with Lord Dying, Black Fast, Child Bite, Joel Grind, and Bullethorn at Churchill’s. It’s gonna rule.
What does the rest of 2016 hold for you?
Xavier: We will finish up our promotional campaign for the record. We just dropped a new music video via Revolver, so check that out. Plenty of more media and content to drop and a few other tricks up our sleeves. Plenty of touring, we’ll be back in North, South, and Central America. As well as a few other places we haven’t been.
Any final words?
Xavier: Thanks for having us! Make sure to check out “Rotting Empire” available NOW!