9 Facts About 'TABULA RASA'
Happy birthday to our debut album 'TABULA RASA'
To celebrate our debut album's final year of single-digit anniversaries, here are 9 things you probably didn't know about 'TABULA RASA.'
1. 'TABULA RASA' was the first time that HeKz worked with producer extraordinaire John Mitchell. In September 2011, the band decamped to Reading for 3 weeks to record most of album (some additional vocal sessions followed in November 2011). The ensuing weeks were a flurry of activity, a race against the clock to finish 60+ minutes of music before the studio would be taken over by the next aspiring young band. John's own astonishing pace of work was matched by his two excellent engineers, Ben Humphries and James Billinge, who helped to keep things running smoothly and make sure that the band was on task, even if it meant butting heads on occasion with one or two of the band.
2. It is the only HeKz album to date where a musician who did not perform on the album receives writing credits. Much of the material for the album was written, either fully or in part, whilst Danny Young was in the band. You can still hear his contribution on many of the songs on 'TABULA RASA', most notably the main guitar theme on "Don't Turn Back" and the twin guitar leads on "Bring the Fire" and "Vendetta."
3. Though the album was recorded as a four-piece, 'TABULA RASA' marks the first time that keyboards became a prominent feature in HeKz's music. All of the keyboard parts were arranged and performed by Matt Young & Al Beveridge. For the more intricate orchestral passages, such as those heard on "City of Lost Children" and "Don't Turn Back," we took advantage of John Mitchell's state-of-the-art orchestral virtual instruments, but some of the synth parts heard elsewhere on the album were from the original demos, created using the humble Garageband stock synths!
4. 'TABULA RASA' is the only HeKz album where each song has been performed live at least once. At time of writing, "Kingdom", "The Left Hand of God" and "Journey's End" from 'CAERUS' along with "The Light Fantastic" and "To The Lions" have never been performed live. The songs "Homo Ex Machina", "The Devil's Coin" and "Victorious" have the distinction of only ever being performed once.
5. The album marks the first time that HeKz made use of the drop-D tuning as, prior to 'TABULA RASA', all of the band's music utilised standard tuning. Since those first adventures with drop-D on songs like album opener "Poison Pen," the brooding "Darkness Visible" and the fast and frantic "A Pound of Flesh," it has become an important and regular fixture on the albums that would follow. So much so that half of the songs on both 'CAERUS' and 'INVICTA' make use of the drop-D tuning, including "The Black Hand" and "The Devil's Coin".
6. The material on 'TABULA RASA' is perhaps the most diverse of any HeKz album. The arguably more modern prog-metal stylings of "Poison Pen" and "Darkness Visible" rub shoulders with straight-ahead hard rockers "Bring the Fire" and "As Rome Burns," punctuated by more ambitious long players like "City of Lost Children" and "Hashashiyyin". This is largely because the HeKz recording process has always been motivated by self-inflicted deadlines. The studio sessions for the album were booked almost a year in advance, with the attitude of "we'll record whatever we have." During the intervening months, the band started to lean more heavily on it's progressive rock and metal influences, and the resulting tracklist shows HeKz midway through it's transition from a 'traditional' heavy metal / hard rock band to a sound more reminiscent of the one that can be heard today. Now, speaking of "Hashashiyyin" ...
7. With a running time of just over 7 minutes and fervent use of the 7/8 time signature, "Hashashiyyin" was the obvious choice to be track 7 on 'TABULA RASA.' The lyric draws influence heavily from the "Assassins Creed" video game franchise, and just a smidge of history, thus the music was written to underscore this tale of a shadowy vigilante stalking his prey from the rooftops of medieval Jerusalem. The snaking time signatures and undulating dynamics of the instrumental section are intended to conjure the image of the chase and ultimate confrontation between the mysterious protagonist and his intended victim.
8. Many of the lyrics on 'TABULA RASA' were a departure from what had gone before. The early EPs "Exodus", "Another Time" and "Orfeo" took a staunchly mythological direction, with the odd exception. The songs on 'TABULA RASA' instead aim to hold a mirror up to the modern world and deal with corruption in the media, vigilante justice, the perils of ambition, self-serving governments before giving a nod to Greek mythology at the end of the album. 9. When selecting the final songs for a HeKz album, the difficulty is usually that there are too many to choose from! Right up until the week before the band was due to start at Outhouse Studios, the plan was to include a song called "Firefly," though at the last minute this was swapped in favour of "Darkness Visible." Other songs that almost made the final cut include "Through the Eyes of a Traitor", the almost folky power ballad "Botany Bay", 12-minute space-rock epic "The Omega Paradox" and "First Born First To Die," a 'sequel' to 2006's "Exodus". #progressivemetal #progressiverock #heavymetal #hardrock #progmetal #progrock #tabularasa #debutalbum #assassinscreed #altair #johnmitchell #outhousestudios