After a 20-year hiatus, Society Down have returned with a sound that fits nicely into the modern metal landscape yet also harks back to the genre’s 90s heydays. And, they’ve achieved something they couldn’t back in the day – create and release an album.
To do that, the Florida quartet built their own studio, created a record label, wrote ten new songs and recorded the album themselves, not once, not twice but three times. And it’s safe to say, the hard work has been well and truly rewarded.
Society Down fuse heavy riffing and raging vocals mixed with intellectual lyrics that focus on everything from historical figures and fictional wizards to dendrology and kings dying in battle. Furthermore, the Lake City band come armed with a down to earth ethos of a band that’s solely making music for the fun of making music. In their words, their musical approach is “all about writing cool songs that we like and hopefully recording them for others to hear.”
And they’ve certainly accomplished their mission of writing cool songs, as their debut, self-titled album is chocked full of them. It kicks off in style with the excellent From The Tower, which opens up with a cool little guitar twist then heavy guitars and drums support frontman Kris Hallberg’s engaging vocals. There’s a very Metallica feel about the sound of it, as it dives into a roaming guitar riff intertwining with Kris’ vocals before diving into a big guitar solo. Give it a listen here:
The album is comprised of ten newly written tracks in addition to two that exist from back in their early days, Hate in 3-D and Stumpgrinder. The former is an angsty smash of metal goodness, with more shouty vocals over darting guitar riffs and lively drums. It drops into spoken vocals then chugging guitars gradually build in heaviness and pace before deviating into a couple of cool light riffs before ending on cries of “all my hostility… hate in 3-D” and lively guitars and cymbals. Give it a listen below:
But the band sent us a new song, Ozymandias, to listen to. It opens up with a cool eastern-sounding riff that continues under reverby guitars then chugging chords under Kris’ clean vocals “What a lovely day to raise an empire, Wasteland stretching out for miles around, What a perfect day to rise up out of ruin, Toil and servitude now the only sound.” Big smashes of cymbal bring in a funky little bass solo then a heavy driving guitar riff kicks in under more intense vocals that conclude with cries of “I am Ozymandias.” Check it out here:
And the enjoyable metal keeps on coming on this excellent record. We particularly enjoy the epic The Red Feather Pt. 2, Unsung and Hit The Brakes (Car-nage), which sees Kris take his vocals to whole new levels of intensity over fast-paced guitars and funky little guitar and bass call-and-answer section. They even have time to round things out with a couple of ballads.
We had a chat with the band to find out more about their welcome return to the metal scene. Read on below…
GR: Who are Society Down?
SD: “Society Down is a four member band of friends that grew up together in the small town of Lake City, Florida. Kris Hallberg sings with occasional harmony help from Matt Watts (the drummer) and John Dekle (the bassist). Nate Green is the guitarist.
“Fast forward 20 years. There was never any intention to get the band back together. It all started with Matt and John hanging out and making some music and trying to record it on some cheap recording gear we purchased. Then Nate and Kris heard about it, so we go together to jam and hang out.
“While we were playing music someone got the idea to play an old tune from the early days. John, who didn’t play bass guitar, said he thought he could play the song on the bass so they gave it a shot. We played Hate in 3-D, a song that was released on the recent album, and it was so much fun the band was reborn with John playing the bass instead of guitar.”
GR: You sent us Ozymandias to listen to. What should people be expecting from the song?
SD: “The song Ozymandias is based on a poem we read in high school about Ramses II, and the poem (and song) are about how everyone’s works eventually fade with time… even Kings like Ramses that thought they were eternal.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
SD: “We decided we wanted to do what the band didn’t do back in the 90’s and try to record a quality metal album of originals. We wrote 10 new songs and used two old ones from the early days (Stumpgrinder and Hate in 3-D). Then we tried to record it ourselves… three different times. Each attempt to record a quality album was a failure until we brought in a professional engineer to mix it down.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
SD: “The band was heavily influenced by Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, Carcass, Tool, and many other early metal and thrash bands. We all participate in the song writing with everyone pitching ideas about the composition, but the writing usually starts with Nate playing different riffs he came up with and we try to piece them together in a way that turns into a song.
“Society Down is not a band that gigs much, or goes on the road. Fortunately, we all have families and careers that keep us a little too busy to be a full time band. If we could support our families with music, we would, but the reality is that there are very few bands anywhere at any age that can do that in the current music industry. So we just do it when we can, and when we get our fill of it we take a break until we are ready to do it again.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
SD: “For us it’s all about writing cool songs that we like and hopefully recording them for others to hear, but if Metallica calls and needs a tour partner, we could probably work something out! We actually almost named our album Don’t Quit Your Day Job, because we knew going in that the chances of supporting our families off a metal album were pretty slim.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
SD: “We don’t really have any mission or message. We are just 4 good friends that enjoy making music together and having a good time. There is something magical about creating something cool with your friends. If anything, we hope that we can inspire some other folks like us to get together with their music friends and create art together. There just aren’t many bands that do that anymore like it was when we were kids, and we think that is a shame.”