The Summoned Talk About Their New Album, 'Sessions'

The members of The Summoned-- vocalist Steve Thompson, guitarist Shaun Murphy, bassist Justin Marchant, and drummer Sam Hang--are veterans in New England's metal scene.

When listening to them, you'll hear technical melodic passages and head-spinning rhythms. This is what they do: push the boundaries of their genre.

Their record, If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures is a perfect example of this; their lead section thrashes like Testament while their rhythm section grooves like Tool.

But, while some metal bands lose the appeal of their genre in their quest for virtuosity, The Summoned remains one of the most brutal quartets in the underground circuit.

Empty Lighthouse got a chance to catch up with Murphy, Marchant, and Hang about the band's recent activity, including their upcoming record, Sessions.

How long have you guys individually been part of the Boston metal scene?

Hang: Ah man, I believe 4-5 years. Ever since The Summoned got really busy, now that I'm thinking about it. It has been great too.

We're pretty much friends with all the bands and shared gigs with a bunch of them. There are some serious talents out there in the scene.

Murphy: I guess I'll agree with Sam on this--about 4-5 years. We've definitely had a pick up in these past years. The scene has been good to us-- lots of great friends and so many killer musicians.

Marchant: I've been in and around the Boston local metal scene for the better part of the last 15-16 years.

I've been in several bands since I was 15 years old. I was always in original bands, playing out as much as possible, meeting amazing people all along the way and making some damn good friends.

You guys have been writing a new record recently. How have you guys progressed musically since your last album?

Hang: This album is actually taking me by surprise. When we finished If Only Mind Could Paint Pictures, I would think we would just stick with tech death, heavy with occasional breakdowns. But not for this new album.

I definitely feel more satisfied with this album, because it has so much experimenting going on and a lot details as well.

I definitely took the time to write parts rather than just throw something together to just get a song done.

Murphy: With this new record Sessions, we're going in a more experimental direction. It's been an album 3 years in the making for me.

All the major parts of most songs have been fine tuned by us for a long time.

Making this album the perfection of our own consciousnesses has been our goal--straying away from the more Death Metal sound we had for a more progressive and intense sound.

Marchant: I didn't join The Summoned until almost 2 years ago, after If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures. However, as far as how I've progressed musically over that time... all I can say is that these guys are the best musicians that I have ever had the pleasure of sharing a stage with.

And being a part of the writing process towards the new album has pushed me as a musician farther than I could have imagined.

It has been the most challenging, and most rewarding endeavor I've ever gone through as a musician. I've REALLY had to take my abilities to a new level just to keep up with them.

What are some of the inspirations on your upcoming record?

Hang: Haha....silence. When I decided to really sit down and work out the drums, I just felt like I needed nothing but silence. I wanted to see how my mind and emotions would work without music and have a fresh mind going into our material.

I noticed I was more relaxed, and listening to parts on loop wasn't tedious at all. Another inspiration was this saying from a gentlemen I spoke with a while back.

We got out of the NH drumfun's Drum trio session and started talking about recording and he says to me, " you know, back then before the whole digital age came about, musicians went in the studio and they performed.

No half ass BS." That stuck with me ever since, and that was my mind set during drum tracking for Sessions.

Murphy: For me it's been all over the place. My biggest influences on this record have been Cynic, Blotted Science, Death, Behemoth, Last Chance to Reason, and a lot of Jazz and Atmospheric music like David Darling and Hiromi Uehara.

Marchant: My inspiration for this album wasn't really musical at all. I drew a lot of inspiration from introspection. I think that that is also true for all of us.

This album isn't just a bunch of songs that we thought sounded cool and threw them all onto an album. This album is us.

As individuals, as a whole, and as musicians. It's my hope that when people listen to Sessions they find it to be a transcendent experience-- just like it has been for us to write the album.

When can we expect the new record to be available?

Hang: At this point, probably around Spring time.

I just finished tracking drums recently and the other guys are going in whenever, which I can't wait.

I get to do nothing and just enjoy the rest of the experience! We're recording with Evan Sammons from Audio Hammer and he takes his time to get everything right, which is great!

Murphy: Spring time is a pretty good estimate. I should be starting guitar tracking in January and that'll probably take a month.

I've got a lot of work ahead of me for tracking, all the parts for Sessions are written for two guitars and I plan on recording it that way.

Evan Sammons is an awesome guy, and working with him will definitely be awesome for my tracking and my overall playing.

Marchant: Not soon enough! We're more excited to release this album than anyone. But the last thing we're going to do is rush it in any capacity.

This album means more to us, and our fans mean more to us, than a release date. We want it to be as close to perfect as we can possibly make it. Just know that it will be released ASAP!

You guys are one of the most rhythmically intricate Metal bands I've heard in a long time. What are some of the craziest time signatures you've played in?

Hang: Wow, that means a lot brotha, thank you very much.

All I have to say is "Fractal Patterns"-- just an explosion of time signatures! Another thing I am looking forward to is hearing the different rhythm each one of us holds down on certain parts of some of the songs..

Murphy: Thanks so much brotha! "Fractal Patterns" is definitely a fun one for time changes, but one of my favorite sequences on Sessions is a rhythm pattern change from 17/16 to 7/4; in "Faradic" it just sounds so cool.

There is a lot of opposing rhythms as well where we each hold a section down.

Marchant: What's a time signature? Haha! I'd have to agree with both Sam and Shaun. "Fractal Patterns" is all over the place, and "Faradic" is as well. To be honest, you'll be hard pressed to find a song on the album that doesn't hit you with a time change out of left field.

In "Recollection" and "Built of Glass," it almost feels like the time signature changes with every other bar.

I know that I've never really paid attention to time signatures, I'll leave that to Shaun and Sam. I'll just play whatever feels right and fits the song.