Summoner’s Circle, the epic metal band out of Knoxville, TN, has announced the release of their debut full-length album, Tome, on June 1, 2018. The album consists of nine occult-infused metallic offerings, totals more than 70 minutes of music, and includes the dark anthem, “Become None”, which was released as a single with a music video late last year.
The album was recorded and produced by Canadian engineer Yanic Bercier at WaveTransform Studios in Knoxville, TN and mastered by the legendary Tom Morris at Morrisound Recording in Tampa, FL.
Music Madness caught up with lead guitarist, Gog, to talk the lore of “The Six” and the elements of Tome.
Music Madness: Congrats on the upcoming album release. Looks like the band has been busy.
Gog: Thank you. Thank you very much. Yeah we got a lot of crazy stuff going on. A lot of lore and a lot of things like that that we write along with the band, just to have fun with it.
It’s fun for us, because we’re nerds anyway. It gives the band something else to sink their teeth into. Not just another band playing music.
Music Madness: June 1st the band’s debut full-length album, “Tome” drops.
Gog: That’s correct. It’ll be available through hard copy if you get in contact with any one of us, and of course, on all your favorite digital outlets, such as iTunes and Amazon. We had a great time writing it. Anybody that has recorded before knows it’s a labor of love. We’re really pleased with the way it came out and just really excited to get out there and get people digging their teeth in to it, you know.
Music Madness: Absolutely. I noticed of the nine tracks on the album that two-thirds of them are like eight minutes plus in length. Was that by design?
Gog: That is by design. We basically want each track to be its own story, kind of self-contained. We try to write things with a beginning, middle, and an end, in a way. I like to think of everything we write is sort of a sonic landscape. There’s lots of things, and the more you listen, the more you hear. There’s a lot of things going on musically in the tracks. I personally like it. When we set out, we didn’t want to put any limits or restrictions on length of the songs or time signatures, or anything like that. We were just going to write what we felt told the best story. That’s where we are today.
Music Madness: Outstanding. Should we expect some intriguing music videos to surface in the near future?
Gog: Oh, yeah, for sure. We released our first track and video, “Become None” a little bit before dropping the album. I think that does a really good job of setting the stage for what’s to come. I think if people are wondering who we are and what we’re about, I think that video does a really good job of getting people up to speed on that.
Music Madness: Right. I watched “Become None” more than once and enjoyed it. I definitely felt like it took me on a journey of sorts throughout it. You kind of just get lost in it.
Gog: Yeah. Yeah. We definitely wanted “Become None” to be its own little self-contained musical horror movie, if you will. We had a great time working on it. We had a kat by the name of Thomas Mortveit out of Norway who came to the States and helped us with that video. He was just a pleasure to work with, and he did a great job.
Music Madness: Definitely. I noticed that some of the work for the album was done down in Tampa.
Gog: Yeah. Tom Morris of Morrisound did the mastering for us. All the engineering and recording were done here in Knoxville at WaveTransform Studio with a guy by the name Yanic Bercier. He’s currently plays drums for a band called Gone In April. You might know him from a Canadian death metal band Quo Vadis. He’s just an amazing drummer. Super, super smart guy and awesome to work with. Really helped us harness that creativity. Sometimes it’s hard to just let it go. He really puts you in the atmosphere where you can just let it rip, and no idea is a bad idea. He has been a pleasure to work with that’s for sure.
Music Madness: Oh, very cool. All right. What was your favorite piece of music on the new album?
Gog: Oh, for me probably “Legion”, which I believe is the third full track, not counting the intro. When I was writing that, it ended up going places that I didn’t expect it to. You got the whole middle section where it gets a little bit progy and going for more of a straight doomy feel into that. I don’t know. I think it’s interesting. It’s kind of hard to quantify. I just very closely identify with that track. It’s cool, man.
One of my friends was listening to it, and he goes, “Man, there’s a lot of parts in that song.” I was like, “I guess there are.” I don’t really think about it. When we play it, it doesn’t feel like its 11 minutes long. It feels like it goes by in like five minutes.
Music Madness: Yeah. You could drop acid and be done tripping by the time the song is over.
Gog: That’s pretty much the way it is with all of them, man.
Music Madness: Oh, that is too funny. Have you had an opportunity to play all the tracks live? Has there been a fan favorite, or one that you guys are enjoying playing live more than any other one at this point?
Gog: Yes, we’ve played every track live by this point. One of them that goes over really well is the first full track, called “Worm Tunnel”. We tend to open with that one, because it’s a little bit higher energy than the rest. People really dig that. We get a good pit going in front of us. People are going nuts over that. When we opened for GWAR a while back, we debuted the song “Balrog General” at that show, and again, the reaction to that was just crazy good. We had a blast with that, too.
Music Madness: Were you covered in any GWAR blood?
Gog: No, no. We already had blood on us from our set, so … They were using blue blood at this show. We had a great time and they are really cool guys. We got a chance to talk to them a little bit. It was very laid back backstage. I was expecting it to be a little bit busier or more uptight. But, man, there was a lot of things going on, but everybody was just super cool and chill and just great people.
Music Madness: That always makes it that much better when you can get more out of it that way.
Music Madness: Tell us a little bit about your vision for the six.
Gog: I guess the overall vision is just continue to grow. If you read our EPK, and stuff like that, we talk about just wanting to do everything in epic scale. Not epic as in like, “Cool, dude,” surfer guy. But, epic as in just big, over-the-top, and really bringing the theater back into music. There’s bands that do that, but they’re few and far between these days. We just want to keep growing everything in scale. Bigger is better for us. From stage set, to stage antics, to songs, to the writing, to everything. We’ve already started working on a couple of tunes that are post this album. We got a lot of energy and a lot of momentum. We’re definitely not going to waste it.
Music Madness: How would you describe a Summoner’s Circle gathering to someone not familiar with the band? I don’t know if I want to call it a show, maybe an event.
Gog: Yeah we call each one a summoning. It’s kind of a gathering. It’s an event. You could expect a human sacrifice, a lot of music, some blood, and interesting, cool fantasy topic songs. To me, it has everything you need.
Music Madness: It just reminds me of those older rock/metal bands that are still around today, like some from the ’70s or ’80s where it was a production, very theatrical.
Gog: Yeah. I’m not going to lie. I’m very influenced by Alice Cooper and … I grew up listening to Alice Cooper. Something like that was definitely, “Okay. Yeah. Let’s do something like that, but in our own way.” Where the show is just a big a part as the music. I think the secret to doing that successfully is the music has to be there first. It can’t just be all show, you know. When we set out to start writing, we wanted to make sure that the songs were good, and that they were meaty and comprehensive, and that people could really sink their teeth into them, like I said before. Something that actually had value, in addition to a really, really cool stage show.
Music Madness: I agree. I always tell people I still remember my very first concert. Talk about theatrical, I still remember it was Diary of a Madman, I was in sixth grade, and Ozzy hung a fuckin’ midget and I lost my shit. I was hooked on metal after that.
Gog: I got to see that tour a couple weeks before Randy actually died in the plane crash. It was amazing. Yeah. The castle background and hanging the midget during “Goodbye to Romance”. It was great.
Yeah. I grew up in San Antonio, too, so that was also, where he peed on the Alamo that same weekend. I remember all of that.
Music Madness: Do you have a favorite part of that creative process?
Gog: Yeah. For me, it’s really just a lot of times, or a good majority of the times, start out with a riff idea, and I’ll connect a couple of riffs. Then I’ll bring it out to the guys, and we’ll jam them. If they like them, we’ll keep working on them. But, then from that point, it’s all hands on deck. Everybody gets their hands on it, and everybody will change things around… And, definitely not a, “I’m going to write this song, and this is exactly the way it’s going to be.” We want everybody’s input. I love it when everybody’s just all invested in it, writing different parts, and the song is changing and morphing, and it grows into something just bigger and better than you ever could have done by yourself. Like I was saying, I really love “Legion” for that reason. As we were writing it, I was just like, “Oh, wow. I didn’t see that turn coming.” It was really cool.
Music Madness: I know we talked a little bit about the music. Tell us about the formation of the band, how you guys came up with the name.
Gog: Yeah. I think most of us played together in the scene around here for a while. It was one of those things. I was in between bands, and I had … Our previous rhythm guitar player Summoner’s Circle, Magog, he and I are really good friends. We decided, just one night, to get together and … this is before Summoner’s … we just started jamming on some riffs. We were digging it, and we were like, “This is pretty cool.” We finished stringing a few riffs together. I always give … especially when I’m writing with Magog, because I’ve played with him in other bands before … we just give our things working titles, so we can refer to them, instead of, “That song that goes like that.” We’ll just throw a stupid title at it. It can be anything from “The Cheez-It Song”, or whatever. We finished writing this one series of riffs, and he was like, “Let’s call that one Summoner’s Circle.” I was just like, “Let’s call the band Summoner’s Circle.”
We weren’t necessarily even thinking about forming a band, but it just all took off from there. We started talking about what we wanted to do and things we’ve always wanted to try. From there, it’s like, “Hey, let’s do something theatrical with that, because it’s really a visual thing. Just the name Summoner’s Circle by itself.” It all took off from there. We brought in a lot of great pieces. Magog has gone his own way. We’re all still great friends. Just life and changes, you know. We have Absalon playing guitar with us now. It just took on a life of its own really, really quickly, and it gelled into something that I think is pretty special.
Music Madness: I am excited to see what you guys do as far as videos go in conjunction with the new music. Any upcoming tours to go coincide with the release? Any dates on any upcoming videos for any of the songs.
Gog: Nothing set in stone. I think we’re going to try to do a video. I won’t say which song yet, because we’re still talking about it, but that’s going to be coming up. We do have some dates set. Nothing in stone, as far as an actual tour goes yet, but we will be hitting the road in support of this. We’re playing Mud Valley Metalstock in Asheville, North Carolina June 16th, so that’ll be a big outdoor thing. That should be fun.
Yeah. We got some other dates set up. We’re just working on new things now. The goal is to get on the road, and get on the road really quickly.
Music Madness: All right. So, six chapters, six members, the whole lore thing….how does it all tie in?
Gog: Yeah. We post a lot of things on Facebook. We’re writing new chapters all the time. You can get the base story on our website, SummonersCircle.com. It just talks about the base of the lore if you go to the bio section. It’s not really a bio, it’s its own little fantasy story, all self-contained.
As far as Tome, the new album, there are three different books in the Tome. We have The Book of Earth, The Book of the Void, and The Book of Fire. We’ve got the songs broken up by those different chapters, if you will, of the Tome. Yeah, six of us in the band. It’s all in a struggle to regain the divine power that we once had and lost, which you learn about as you read through the lore.
For this record, it was just what the songs felt like. The Book of Earth, the songs are very earthy and gravely. Book of the Void is just Become None, because it’s about becoming one with nothing. When you’re one with nothing, you’re together with everything. When you can accept there’s nothing there, then everything has more meaning. You can look at it kind of that way. Then with Book of Fire, the songs are definitely a little bit more fiery, I suppose. The tempos are a little bit faster and just kind of a different feel. It seemed natural to break them up that way. Maybe in the future, we’ll do the other elements, as well.
Music Madness: Very cool. Do you guys all pitch in as far as writing the chapters and the lore?
Gog: Our keyboard player, Sol, does a lot of the writing, but it’s definitely a group effort. We all partake on everything. In terms of writing of the lore, our keyboard player, Sol, does that. They do a really good job with it.
The lore is something that I think we’d like to turn into a graphic novel at some point.
Music Madness: Oh, that would be awesome.
Gog: I think that would be pretty cool to have.
Music Madness: That would be very cool. Yeah. Definitely love what I heard and excited to see a lot more. I think it would be an amazing to participate in a Summoner’s Circle gathering.
Gog: Awesome, man. Thank you very much. Yeah. We definitely want to get down your way. We’re going to just keep pounding at the rock, as they say, you know.
Music Madness: Absolutely.
Gog: Just keep going forward.
Summoner´s Circle “Become None” Official Music Video:
Summoner’s Circle is:
Absalon – Guitar, Gog – Lead Guitar, Y-takt – Bass, Sol – Keys/Synth/Vocals, BG Scios – Drums, Blind – Lead Vocals
Interview by Steve Carlos