STYGIAN CROWN’s Rhett Davis talks about the debut album and the meaning of ‘candlethrower’

Stygian Crown, hailing from Los Angeles, California, has their debut album in starting blocks with a release, scheduled for the end of the month. The first full-length record features eight songs, all excellent ones. The album showcases a band that’s hungry and their Epic Doom Metal is just putting a spell on you. Reason enough for Markus’ Heavy Music Blog to reach out to Stygian Crown drummer Rhett Davis for getting more insights when it comes to band, music and the term ‘candlethrower’.

Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Hello Rhett, thanks for making some time for Markus’ Heavy Music Blog. First question these days is for sure: how are you and how is life as a musician in California in times of Covid-19?

Rhett Davis: Thank you for having me! I’m a home body by nature so when faced with Shelter-in-place, it honestly didn’t phase me. I am also fortunate that I have a job I can work from home. I haven’t played drums in a few months and I do miss my friends and jamming with them. But I keep myself occupied as best as I can.

MHMB: Stygian Crown is a rather new and it was in 2018 when you founded the band. Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea to start the band and how did things get into shape and form?

Rhett: Stygian Crown actually started in 2013′ it just wasn’t called that till 2018′. I have been working at it until I found the right line up and the rest more or less fell into place. My other band Gravehill was active at that time till 2018′ so I could only do so much. Plus I also play live drums for Divine Eve and have a local Venom Tribute called Sons Of Satan. All of that aside, once we had Andy Hicks on guitar it became a constant. 

MHMB: ’Stygian’ refers to the River Styx of the underworld in Greek mythology. What is the background for choosing a band name that refers to Greek mythology? 

Rhett: I got the name from the lands of STYGIA (Serpent Lands) in the Robert E Howard Conan The Barbarina pulp. I had a band called Keen Of The Crow some years back and we had a song called ‘Stygian Black Lotus’. I took the first word and applied it to another old band of mine Morgion. That band’s final release was titled ‘Cloaked By Ages, Crowned In Earth’. So taking tribute from both those bands “Stygian Crown”. I also admire the character Thulsa Doom from the Coppola/Milius ‘Conan the Barbarian’ film… so if you look at our logo you see entwined Snakes within a crown…  STYGIAN “Snake”… CROWN.

MHMB: You released ’Through Divine Rite’ a first demo rather quickly. Was the demo the springboard for inking a deal with Cruz Del Sur and how did you and the label got together?

Rhett: It wasn’t quick, we recorded all the music a year before Melissa added vocals to them. As I admitted earlier, this band has been a long time coming. We had the demo out into the world for quite awhile. Cruz Del Sur contacted after we confirmed our participation in Legions Of Metal Fest.

MHMB: I must admit that I was really impressed when I heard the debut album the first time. The way in which epic- and doom metal unites is rock solid. Listening to the album gives me an impression of you guys playing together very tight. Everybody adds his/her piece with a focus on the total. Can you describe in a few word the song-writing process for the seven songs (and the intro)?

Rhett: The writing centers directly on both Nelson and Melissa. Nelson will have riff ideas and Melissa will write short piano pieces with her lyric ideas sung over them. I help in much of the song arrangement. Jason and I work out any rhythm section ideas we might have over the course of playing the completed song. Andy and Nelson work out guitar leads in the same manner. We demo our ideas in our jam room and Melissa works out her vocals from demos we send her also. We write very unconventionally.

MHMB: You have with Melissa a classical training singer which definitely enriched the sound and differentiates you guys from many other bands. How did you find Melissa?

Rhett: She is a close friend of a mutual close friend to Jason and I. My wife pointed out her skill to me from YouTube. I didn’t know she was a singer at all! Once we talked and sat down with her at the studio she fit right in immediately. A no-brainer.

MHMB: You guys use the term ’candlethrower’ when describing the sound, referring to Candlemass and Bolt Thrower. Now, I can hear definitely the impact of bands like Candlemass on your music but where is the link to Bolt Thrower? Is it the intensity of the music or something else?

Rhett: There are 2 very distinct traits about Bolt Thrower. They have a very powerful tone/heavy low end. They also are masterful at using melody. Bands like Candlemass, Trouble, Solitude Aeturnus… same traits. The differences are the approach of the singer and the speed of the tempo. That’s it. Candlemass & Bolt Thrower have been a major influence to all my music in one way or another these past 30 years. We discovered how our tone and some of our riffs have the Bolt Thrower bravado. The beauty of music is interpretation, and homage. This is ours. I think some might not hear it right away simply because of Melissa’s voice. But it’s there.

MHMB: The possibilities of promoting the album live are quite limited at the moment and streamed shows are gaining momentum. Is that something you guys would do as well and how do you see the possibilities of real live shows in the nearer future?

Rhett: We have a plan to enter a sound stage and record a live performance at the end of June. If all goes well we will release the footage soon after.

MHMB: Can you already describe the future plans you have with Stygian Crown? The debut feels ’just’ like a start of something great with much more to come.

Rhett: We did have plans to perform at some festivals, some postponed till 2021. Hell Over Hammaburg, Up The Hammers, Legions Of Metal and Hammer Of Doom. We have all intentions of performing. It is a matter of how this pandemic will play out? 

MHMB: Rhett, is there something more you would like to share with the metal community?

Rhett: I appreciate the time you gave to us and wish you and those reading my humble regards! Be safe & well!

MHMB: It was great that you took some time for Markus Heavy Music Blog and I hope to see you guys in Europe as soon as circumstances allow. Thanks.

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