Unveiling themselves in June, Sacred Noose have certainly made people sit up and take notice of them.
Made up of members of Disconnect, Wardomized and Frayed Ends, they describe their music as “Irish Dissonant Black/Death/Doom Metal misery with noise influences” and their debut track Absent Ichor certainly backs this description up.
I decided to have a chat with the band. Although guitarist/vocalist/noise merchant Adam Miles and guitarist Steve Martin are the ones articulating the responses, it’s clear that the views of both drummer Eddie Cross and bassist Mike Largey are also included.
What inspired the band’s formation?
Adam Miles: Myself and Eddie (Drums) formed Sacred Noose in January 2022 with the intention of writing dissonant death metal with strong black and doom metal influences. In particular, we’ve been inspired by the likes of mid period (Steve Tucker era) Morbid Angel, Full of Hell, Spectral Voice and the intensity of earlier Swans work. Previously, we trialled out a project where Eddie took on drums and we then decided to give the core lineup structure a proper go as our schedules became clearer.
Over time, our material and writing style became darker and noisier as we decided to add more sonic elements into the band, with the final lineup solidifying a year later. The tracks themselves have gone through multiple iterations and they easily qualify as some of the harshest work we’ve all done in our musical careers.
What do you plan on doing differently from Disconnect and Frayed Ends?
Adam Miles: In many ways, I envisioned some of the Sacred Noose material to pick up where the death metal era of Disconnect left off, however with the additions of multiple guitars and a noise rig there are more sonic possibilities to work with. Whilst Disconnect’s 2019-2022 work focused around experimentation within dissonant music, Sacred Noose aims to bring heavily unsettling metal to its audiences in a more established and robust manner. I also deliberately stepped away from some of my previous musical techniques/tropes to allow for different types of dissonant sounds to shine through, especially given that this band is a journey outside of each member’s original comfort zone. We’re all from slightly different musical backgrounds and we play off each other’s creative personalities to innovate and bring out music that we believe has its own slightly distinct sound based on how we bring various components together.
Steve Martin: Aside from having different target audiences and genres, the writing process is something the bands don’t share. Frayed Ends would typically have a lot of songs that have definitive starts and endings, and whilst that’s certainly the case as well for Sacred Noose we also have more of an awareness about the set as a whole. Adam’s noise rig really gives us space to make some hellish soundscapes that bridge moments in our songs together with tension and discomfort as well as providing a meaningful way to connect the songs into a continued, punishing live set. It makes for a deliberately jarring but consistent thematic performance where even the moments of rest are unpleasant.
Absent Ichor puts me in mind of Anaal Nathrakh jamming on ‘Monolith’ era Celtic Frost. Will the EP carry on in this vein or maybe bring in more doom, noise etc?
AM: Whilst Celtic Frost always will (and always should) be an influence, the EP spreads out in multiple other directions. These include noise soundscapes, forays into more death metal oriented guitar passages and war metal inspired sections. There will also be plenty of doom and dissonant ‘blast heavy’ sections across the release.
The imagery of the noose forming out of a kind of primordial ooze is incredibly potent. What does it mean to the band?
AM: The fundamental ideological ‘point’ of Sacred Noose revolves around the concept of death as an aspirational ‘release’ for whoever decides to pursue it. We wanted the imagery to reflect the harshness and starkly bleak nature of the music we’re conveying which the noose conveniently draws to amidst a visually chaotic extended rope. The harshness of the logo can be interpreted in multiple directions – for myself, the logo reflects the unhinged nature of both the music we play and the scattered, turmoiled psyche of those at the point of making such a morbid decision.
Will Sacred Noose be playing live quite a bit or will you limit yourself to bills that you think compliments the music?
AM: While Sacred Noose has a firm ‘home’ in any extreme gigs that come up, we’re not gatekeepers by any means. The extremes of music should be open to anyone if they decide to join us. If the lineup’s reasonably heavy, or the particular event promoter wants to present an alternatively compelling creative vision for a show, we’re open to discussion. As a band of seasoned musicians, we’re aware of the regional clustering that typically happens with bills and we’d like to work against this norm, presenting different audiences with our material whenever possible to give them something hopefully new and exciting (or horrible). We’re not interested in bills which contain morally/politically questionable bands, however.
As veterans of the Belfast music scene, how would you rate it compared to 2012?
AM: From my experience, the scene has gone through several ‘phases’ since my involvement over a decade ago. Many of these phases have issued bands which continue to persist to this day amidst varying levels of apathy and the unavoidable onset of age for both bands themselves and their initial audiences. I currently see the Belfast scene as undergoing a punk/thrash revival with a couple of new black metal bands also coming through. The main difference I’m seeing with some bands is the level of professionalism I’m seeing – more bands are fully establishing their music and label presences and in some cases are touring more extensively. For me, the current gap for Belfast is its infrastructure for helping extreme music and non-major label bands flourish, both for locally and incoming (touring) bands. This will hopefully be a temporary issue to some extent as solutions are currently being worked on for this, including involvement from ourselves to build a promotional community for most of the odd and extreme music across the island of Ireland. We feel like bringing a series of collective ‘safe grounds’ for the extreme music scene will make it become more palatable to audiences both across Ireland and internationally.
SM: Belfast is a very different city to play shows in than it was when I started all the way back in 2004. I’d argue that there are more consistent extreme touring packages (which will hopefully allow us to get exposed to a wider audience) but that smaller local shows pose a lot more risk. For context, the cost to a local promoter has doubled and sometimes tripled to run a show (venue hire, sound and travel costs being just a few of those factors). It was with that in mind that we decided to face this head on and start our work with Vitriol Promotions. We genuinely want to put shows on that you just wouldn’t usually expect to see in this country and have been in contact with several sought after acts which rarely, if ever, play here.
I’d also say that for a band to debut nowadays that the standard is much higher. DIY recording has come so far since I put my first release out and bands are no longer tied to the same 3 reputable studios up and down the country. This means that there is a deluge of material making its way on to streaming and social media platforms that sounds every bit as good as a studio EP from a decade ago that cost a grand to put out. It’s an exciting time to be involved in heavy music and hopefully this trend continues to grow, as it’s always a good thing to see the local music scene flourish and thrive.
Tell us more about Vitriol Promotions? What do you intend to do differently from the likes of the Distortion Project, DME etc?
AM: Vitriol Promotions was founded by a number of individuals from different Belfast bands with the aim to accommodate small to medium niche and extreme acts that in some cases are not covered within the shows that are typically put on. We want to focus on nurturing partnerships with promoters and bands across Ireland and further afield to ensure that more niche extreme acts can successfully come over. We also aim to deliver shows which are able to provide our audiences with multiple different types of experiences in one night, ranging from the eccentric to the blunt and direct. We aim to augment the current Irish metal and noise gig ecosystems rather than stand as a competitor, and we welcome all forms of collaboration.
As you have noted, the tools that bands have in their arsenal these days is highly impressive, and there is a rise in alternative venues being used (such as your gig in United Tribes Studio). With the high cost of living, can you see more bands adopting such tactics and, therefore, creating a tighter scene?
AM: I welcome the rise of alternative venues again in Belfast as these continue to allow niche acts to grow and develop their sound. It also enables promoters to focus more on the quality of the music that’s put on rather than focusing as much on financial returns, which is ideologically closer to what I would like to see for shows. Creating a tighter scene will depend on the ecosystem of each region in Ireland – promoters, artists and venue managers all need to work together for the common good of the music listener whenever and wherever possible. I firmly believe in the concept of unknown demand and that’s one of the things that excites me about both playing and promoting – people don’t know they might want what they’ve never heard, which is both my creative ethos for Sacred Noose and Vitriol Promotions alike in terms of putting these out to the wider Irish public.
In terms of living costs, this is a topic that is unfortunately widely covered with increasingly challenging situations to resolve as inflation continues to spiral. To achieve an equilibrium-like situation where financial damage is minimal, mutual transparency, fairness and understanding are key. We’re all unfortunately going to be hit by rising costs and arguably as a population we’ve continually undervalued the price of music as an art form, and in many cases this expectation of low prices has additionally manifest itself in terms of merchandise mark ups for touring bands, where prices have begun to become financially unsustainable for bands to maintain a viable touring business model. Raising entry prices and enabling artists to conduct business fairly seems to be an outcome with a net lower impact (and higher potential overall public satisfaction) compared to small additional pieces of mark-up revenue being extracted from a small to medium number of fans. We’ve all seen enough charades with some venues chancing their arm on social media to last us at least half a decade. Thankfully, the power of sites like Bandcamp has enabled alternative mediums for artists to sell and connect with low commissions.
Additionally, I would encourage artists to learn how to produce their own releases, even if it’s in a pre-production/demo format, as this will allow bands to minimise expensive (and in some cases, lacklustre) studio costs. In many cases, clean production doesn’t work well for extreme music and I personally appreciate the character that shines through from something which hasn’t been completely cleanly produced. We are verging on a new frontier with generative AI as well which will impact both mixing and artwork, however for Sacred Noose I highly enjoy the interpretation that other artists that we’ve collaborated with have brought to our work and we aspire to continue this as the quality of what we visually present is also highly important to us.