Merging the punk-influenced aggressiveness of crossover thrash with the Celtic melodies of folk metal, the ‘peasant metal’ of Pillaging Villagers takes the listener on a journey to a medieval world of pitchfork-wielding rebellion where songs of victory and sorrow alike are belted out with tankards raised high.
Whether described as “punk Ensiferum” or “thrash Dropkick Murphys,” Pillaging Villagers is a raucous, high-energy debut that rampages into the town square from its opening bars, burning and looting without respite throughout its tight 39-minute runtime.
A concept album composed entirely by vocalist David Frazer, Pillaging Villagers features the session contributions of drummer Jason Hirt (Ghost Bath), guitarist Brian Koenig (Lords of the Trident) and bassist Adam Tucker (A Scanner Darkly).
Musicwebzine – Hi there, first of all, tell us something about the band:
Pillaging Villagers – Merging the punk-influenced aggressiveness of crossover thrash with the Celtic melodies of folk metal, the ‘peasant metal’ of Pillaging Villagers takes the listener on a journey to a medieval world of pitchfork-wielding rebellion where songs of victory and sorrow alike are belted out with tankards raised high.
Musicwebzine – Which is the main theme of your album ?
Pillaging Villagers – The album takes inspiration from the great peasant rebellions of the middle ages, such as the Jacquerie and English Peasants Revolt of the 14th century, and reimagines them in a sword-and-sorcery inspired world where villains symbolizing religious, economic and political authority are cast down in the anarchic violence of righteous revolt. The album’s narrative concept is explored sequentially in three acts, with tracks 1-2 comprising the first act, 3-6 the second and 7-12 the third, with the epic tracks ‘The Crisis’ and ‘Ready to Die’ acting as the story’s crisis and climax, respectively. The album uses operatic convention and plays with the narrative conventions of the lyric poems of the troubadours, with different characters presented using different vocal styles, to pull the listener deeper into the story and provide an immersive listening experience.
Musicwebzine – What about the cover and the self-title of your album?
Pillaging Villagers – The cover and self-title of the album are all tied to the immersive experience I sought to create with the concept album. I feel that album art is crucial to the listening experience of any album and I was very fortunate to work with an amazing artist, Matt Stikker, who I was aware of through his work with Magic the Gathering as well as album covers for great bands like Blazon Rite and Power Trip. He worked closely with me in the creation of the album art, reviewing lyrics and using the art to both foreshadow and lend visual representation to key moments and aspects of the story. The album art should both give the listener a sense of what to expect when listening to the album, as well as a dense visual feast, created with a nod to the collage presentation on iconic punk album covers like Subhumans’ ‘The Day The Country Died,’ to enjoy while listening to and after hearing the full story. The self-title is all part of this – I wanted to create a distinct identity for the project and give the listener an understanding of the album’s direction right from the moment they hear the band name and album title.
Musicwebzine – Which bands have influenced your sound ?
Pillaging Villagers – There are so many! There are the straightforward musical influences, from the anthemic street punk of bands like Onward to Mayhem and The Virus to the viking/folk metal of Ensiferum, Forefather and Amon Amarth. But then there are the concept album influences, especially Devin Townsend and King Diamond. Creating this album was a really personal experience for me and I inserted all sorts of easter eggs for my own enjoyment, many of which reference a wide range of metal sub-genres. You’ll hear influences from black metal, melodic death, traditional metal – the list goes on. Even non-metal music was significant in influencing the direction of the album – when I was writing it, I was watching a lot of a Netflix docuseries called ‘Sunderland Till I Die,’ which tells the story of a down-and-out football club from northern England. The show is filled with these boisterous soccer anthems and chants that fans sing in unison at pubs and in stadiums – I wanted the choruses of many of Pillaging Villagers’ tracks to have that same anthemic feel.
Musicwebzine – Do you think you can still live only on music?
Pillaging Villagers – Haha, not sure what you mean by that! Music is hugely important in my life and I am already working on my next project, an atmospheric/cinematic synthwave album that explores a story set during the First Crusade – a complete departure from the heavy music I have been writing my whole life. Pillaging Villagers represents the fulfillment of a dream I have had since I first picked up a guitar in high school – it is great to see folks connecting with it and enjoying it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Musicwebzine – That’s all!! Greet our readers with a message!
Pillaging Villagers – Thanks so much! If anyone out there listens to the album and enjoys it, please feel free to hit me up on social media and let me know, I’d love to hear from you. Pitchforks high and voices to the sky! https://pillagingvillagers.bandcamp.com/album/pillaging-villagers