Brand new Irish metal duo Cell Games take us back 20 years or so in time with a sound they hope provides a revival of nu-metal in a bid to “rival the best turn-of-the-century bands.”
The duo of Maximillion Foy (vocals) and Tristan Carroll (guitars, programming and ‘assorted bits) first got together to play at an anniversary gig to commemorate the life of Chester Benningon. As Tristan explains: “The first time we played together was when I put together an anniversary gig for Chester Bennington in 2018 to raise money for suicide awareness and prevention. In the process of practicing for that and in playing the gig itself we realised there was definitely something there when we played that kind of music together.”
The pair began searching for people to fill slots for a live band only for the pandemic to hit, but they turned this to their advantage to start creating music together and collaborating over Zoom.
As Max explains: “I had been wanting to work with Tristan for a while simply because I felt like this is a guy who loves to write music and play gigs, but also is ambitious as hell on top of that. He’s a guy who can take a totally ridiculous idea and somehow find a way to make it work in real life. Which suits me just fine because I’m prolific when it comes to ridiculous ideas. So far it’s been a very fruitful partnership, and I can only see us getting more ambitious as we go on.”
The result of this is a delicious throwback to the good old days of nu-metal which, personally, was my first proper taste of rock and metal music. Tristan describes their sound as: “Big dirty riffs with hip hop rhythms bouncing away alongside them.”
To which Max adds: “Our sound is retroactively innovative! We can look at the metal music we loved growing up with the benefit of hindsight, and with that knowledge we do more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff, if that makes sense. We’re on a mission to write songs that rival the best turn-of-the- century bands and, in the process, create something fresh and exciting.”
Our first taste of this is debut single Lament Configuration, which was released in January. It opens up with a bouncy effects-ridden guitar riff, which gives way to a heavy stabbing riff, dreamy vocals and lively driving drums. That feeds into angsty, rapped/spoken vocals that drop into more aggressive vocals, which flow into a big shouty but catchy chorus “Destroy or be destroyed, There’s no better way, Let us be the destroyers.”
A brief second verse features really cool higher-pitched vocals that dive straight into a second chorus, followed by more vicious vocals that flow into repeats of the chorus. The opening riff comes in, before a more atmospheric section of drawn-out vocals drops into a final blast of the intense chorus.
On the track, Tristan told us: “Everyone who’s heard it is digging the aesthetic. Especially anyone that grew up with nu-metal the first time. If you haven’t heard it yet, picture peak Deftones and Korn filtered through 20 years of other external influences.”
To which Max adds: “Lyrically, the song could very easily be about pandemic life even though it was written well before covid-19. It’s basically about me being very aware that the world was going to shit, and figuring out now to be a person who contributes positively despite of all that. It’s an angry song set to angry music but there is an element of defiance and empowerment to it as well. The fact that people have picked up on that sentiment is extremely gratifying because I really wanted this song to mean something.” Check it out in the video below:
Unsurprisingly, the likes of KoRn, Deftones and Linkin Park are major influences on the band, along with a very eclectic list including the likes of System Of A Down, Devin Townsend, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Code Orange, Faith No More, Kiss, Fear Factory, Shame and Declan McKenna.
And on what inspires them to write music, Max tells us: “Personally, I just love to write songs and create something that didn’t exist before, or be a part of something which would be completely different without my contribution. I usually like to write about my own experiences but I made a conscious effort with Cell Games to turn the lens around and focus on what’s going on in the world. I find the potential in people for good and evil to be fascinating and it’s kind of become a theme for this project.”
While Tristan adds: “I definitely take bits and pieces from anything I listen to and it eventually gets filtered into a riff or a groove. Usually it comes out sounding like something from WWE in the early 2000s because that’s the sound that got ingrained in me when I was getting into music.”
There’s more to come from Cell Games, with the duo in the middle of refining their second single, on which Max promises “everything is turned up a notch” and Tristan says “still sounds filthy.” They still plan to add to their ranks in an effort to get into the studio with live drums and, in Tristan’s words: “Make some noise in a small, sweaty pub and get this nu metal revival out to the people!
As Max puts it: “It’s exciting to be sitting on songs that you just know are going to be fire for a live audience. We’re waiting for a chance to scorch the earth and will definitely be turning up the heat between now and the end of the year.”
If, like us, you’re keen on 2021 being the year that a nu-metal revival not only revs its engine but kicks into overdrive, then you need to stay tuned on Cell Games because we think things are only going to get bigger and heavier from this band.