For Carnifex frontman Scott Lewis the loss of hope has brought with it a brutal new album and record deal with Nuclear Blast. But the past is never that far behind.
Die Without Hope. The simple words that represent an album of anguish, hopelessness, defeat and a near inescapable darkness. Straight from the heart and mind of a man that began his journey in the unlikely place of school theatre and now finds himself, along with his band, at the new home of Nuclear Blast records.
He sings as though the weight of the world rests on his shoulders and if it doesn’t, the weight of his world certainly does. His voice is relaxed and as I dig deeper into his mind it doesn’t tremble, it doesn’t quake, it holds with the strength of a man that knows his demons.
You can almost see the red leather elongated chair with him stretched out before you. Your pen scratching notes as he tells you what he says to himself before every show.
“Remember the lyrics.”
Not don’t forget your lines. Remember where they came from.
“Remember the raw emotion that you felt when you wrote them and channel that intensity in to the performance. Make it as intense as possible.”
The words belong to the heavily tattooed Carnifex frontman Scott Lewis.
On this album he didn’t find the darkness from an elusive muse. Instead it came pouring out of his soul. And like a beast in a cage it’s unleashed every night when he steps on stage.
“I’ve struggled with my own issues.” He says.
These are issues that plagued him during high school and during the writing of the new album, respectively.
As Lewis says, “being in live theatre…is about one of the nerdiest things you can do. I had no friends and always had people telling me I was shit so I have always struggled with self confidence.”
During the writing of Die Without Hope the negativity found him again in the form of band and personal conflict. The lyrics to the first single ‘Dragged Into The Grave’ come from writing freely and with more time than he’s ever had to write before.
“I don’t give a f**k if you live or die/ one thousand needles buried in your eyes/ remember when I said I want to watch myself choke?/ this is a nightmare that I’ve embraced/because I like the way blood tastes.”
Lewis is concerned about his own mortality and death is an interest of his.
“I worked in a mortuary for two years, so I have been around death since I was very young. It’s interesting, to see how people react to death.”
The scratching of the pen continues and Lewis’ voice is almost mechanical in that it doesn’t change.
“I don’t know that there’s a message. Message implies that I had a message or idea that I was trying to convince people of or bring them around to.”
If no message then self expression at its deepest and its darkest.
“The themes are very clear…it’s very cold and there’s lots of hopelessness and despair.”
The album was designed to capture that feeling, embody it, and breathe it every time it’s played.
For Lewis this was the next logical step in the growth of the band. It falls together with the albums before it and sits firmly with his writing style and his life.
He writes from a first person perspective and along with the themes and album art (also from his mind) it keeps the albums connected in much the same way writing keeps him together.
The album was written before the band signed to Nuclear Blast it was the longest time they’d had to write to a record. And that’s reflected in every riff and every agonised scream.
“We had time to write and rewrite five or six times. Each time, we made it better.”
He himself called it “the best Carnifex record ever” and if there’s anyone that’s an expert of Carnifex, it’s the man whose mind bred and feeds the beast.
And still the pen continues to scratch.
Indeed, Lewis has shoulders broad enough to carry the weight of his world and with Carnifex’s new home at Nuclear Blast, that world is looking to get bigger.
“I couldn’t ask for a better, more hardworking, sincere and honest team and they’d bend over backwards for the band.”
Nuclear Blast believe in the band and it’s clear by Lewis’ voice alone that with the new label behind one release they’re excited to see what’s next.
The label represents a new start for the band and for a man that carries his demons like stones in his pocket. He’s on the forward march to the next tour, the next album and the next chapter of his life. Although it was once a slow one, it’s a march that with the new deal and crushing new album, has gained momentum.