INTERVIEW: She Must Burn foray into fantasy with new record ‘Grimoire’

She Must Burn started gaining international attention after their self-titled EP was released in 2015. Since then they’ve gotten to do things that even long established bands would kill to do. They’ve shared the stage with the legendary bands Cradle of Filth, Carnifex, Fallujah and more. The UK band very recently released their debut full-length, Grimoire, and by the sound of the record and what bassist Frank Korsair has to say, it’s clear they are ready to dominate.

“My first gig with this band was at a 1500 cap venue with Cradle of Filth [at] Nottingham’s Rock City,” Korsair says with an air of disbelief. “Cradle of Filth were looking for some bands to tour with and one of our managers found out so they sent over some of our music and they picked us,” he continues.

For any band, that is a lucky break. But for a band that were only used to playing small pub gigs, sharing a stage with Cradle of Filth is almost inconceivable. “I think in a way, if Cradle of Filth were in their 20s and they started a band now, I almost feel like they’d be very similar to what we are now,” the bassist muses. “And they know that too. We get on with them really well [and] they see themselves in us as well.”

Being the modern equivalent of Cradle of Filth is a bold statement, but She Must Burn haven’t reached their zenith yet and their full-length Grimoire already soars high. The new record has a taste of everything heavy; black metal, symphonic metal, metalcore – you name it. Bringing all of these musical elements together in a cohesive manner wasn’t easy, though, especially since member turnover has been high.

“The [writing] process was pretty tough, actually,” Korsair reveals. “We had a big member switchover at the beginning of the record. I wasn’t in the band prior to [Grimoire]. I wasn’t in the band during the EP. I joined the band before this album was written, before we went on tour with Cradle of Filth and before we got signed as well. It was a massive learning curve. It was difficult to find our feet for a while.” But find their feet they did, and they happened to land in a very dark and fantastical place. 

“[The song] “The Wicked” is the idea that if you accuse someone of being something enough, then they eventually become that thing. We portrayed it through a girl being cast out and then lured away by some sort of dark spirit into the woods. Basically, we told real life stories in a fantasy kind of way.” Other tracks on the record took the same form, like “After Death” for instance (music video above).

“After Death” is about a spirit leaving its body and going to the afterlife. But it’s portrayed through various different cultures. The raven, in Viking mythology, would carry the spirit to the afterlife. Christianity believed that the raven was a symbol of bad luck. That’s why he says, ‘Tell me if I’m blessed or cursed.’ This guy who’s dying sees the raven and he doesn’t know if he’s being sent to a good afterlife or a bad one.”

grimoire

This literary, mythic approach to writing crushing metal music is what earns She Must Burn their accolades. The UK act not only manages to balance the intricately heavy segments of their songs with beautiful melodic elements, but they master the technique. “There’s enough bands already that can sing about things in such black and white,” the bassist says. “We wanted to keep our character involved in the process and that’s how we did it.”

Another aspect of the songwriting that makes She Must Burn so intriguing is the way they approach their breed of heaviness. For this band, heaviness comes in second to melody, even though it might not sound that way. “Dan [Ristic], our drummer, is really into classical piano pieces,” Korsair shares. “He wrote “A False Heaven” which is on the album. Then you’ve got Jonny [Davies], our guitarist – he really likes atmospheric and moody and quite sad-sounding [music]. They basically just sit down and write these beautiful things and they theme the heaviness around the intricacy of the lighter stuff.”

When you listen to their track “Gloom,” however, brazen screams, pounding double bass, hellish breakdowns and speeding guitar leads are what you’re signing up for. You’re also listening to Sean Harmanis from the popular metalcore band Make Them Suffer step in for a vocal feature, which highlights the various genres that She Must Burn occupy. The same band that have played with black metal act Fallujah could also play for fans of bands like Motionless In White, for example. It’s that kind of flexibility that keeps She Must Burn so interesting.  

If you like what you hear from Grimoire, stay tuned for She Must Burn to come stateside. They will be playing UK’s Download Festival in June, but they are also itching to come back to America. As Korsair says, “No one goes as hard as Americans do.”

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