Words by Paige Cobos
Often sequels are never as good as the ones that came before it. The sequel can go by the same winning formula but there is sense that something is missing in what the made the first pure magic. For Texas metal band Steel Bearing Hand, the sequel promises to keep that magic but raise unholy hell like nothing before.
With the release of their second album Slay in Hell earlier this year, the sequel is almost like a rebirth. The band combines the all best of death and thrash metal with a few black elements to create a ground assault for the senses. Vocalist and lead guitar, Wyatt Burton talked with us about the challenges of creating that sequel, finding new fans after several years on hiatus and why listening to Black Sabbath should be the rite of passage for any young metal fan.
Off Shelf: So it has been a few months since you released Slay in Hell. How does it feel to finally let this album free out in the wild and be taken in by metal fans?
Wyatt Burton: It’s a relief to have it out. We worked hard on this record for many years, it’s been interesting to see how people who aren’t familiar with us respond to it. We’re very grateful for the positive reception it’s received from people and to Chad from Carbonized Records for making it happen, and handling it so professionally.
OS: Why do you think fans seem to respond so much to Slay in Hell? How does it feel to have new fans discovering you guys through this latest release?
WB: Aside from the song writing, it may have something to do with the production. We’re very proud of the end result. Irving Lopez from Anomalous Mind Engineering did an excellent job recording and mixing, along with Jack Control from Enormous Door Mastering’s work, they were essential in capturing our sound. As far as new fans discovering us through this release, it’s definitely a trip. So far, we’ve mostly won our fans through our live shows and word of mouth, so it’s strange to see so many people discover us online. Chad from Carbonized Records went above and beyond with this album and he’s been instrumental in getting our music in front of so many people who’ve never heard us before. We couldn’t be more grateful.
OS: How would you describe the up and down journey it has been coming from your self-titled debut in 2015 to now with Slay in Hell ?
WB: Years of blood, sweat, and tears and keeping our noses to the grindstone. We did a lot of touring and changed lineups a few times and worked as hard as we could. Playing in a band isn’t all it’s cracked up to be a lot of the time and life gets in the way of making things happen as quickly as you’d like most of the time. It definitely did for Steel Bearing Hand.
OS: Yeah, given the difficult past year and a half, what were the challenges to trying to record an album with the limitations of the COVID lockdown?
WB: COVID didn’t affect this record at all, it was recorded in 2019. Honestly it hasn’t really affected anything about the release either, with a few minor exceptions.
OS: That is great to hear! The final song ‘Ensanguined’ is a favorite track of mine. It encompasses such a behemoth storm of heavy riffs from a slower doom pace to neck-breaking speed and at 12 minutes too. What was the creative process like into creating such a fearsome finish?
WB: Thank you, we like that one as well! We took our time with it and tried not to rush getting it finished. It’s one of the few songs we wrote and recorded before we played it live, so that had an effect on it, I think. It wasn’t much different than our normal process.
OS: Also that album art! What was it like working with Vrugarthdoom for the epic cover art? How did you contact him?
WB: I found him through social media and just contacted him through there. It was great working with him, he’s an absolutely killer artist and was very patient with the requested adjustments. He did such an excellent job capturing what we had in mind, it was incredible to see it come to life.
OS: Finally what metal album would you personally recommend every metal listen to, besides Slay in Hell?
WB: Black Sabbath – Master of Reality.
OS: Why this particular album?
WB: It’s quintessential, foundational. It’s hard to explain, but I think if you hear that as a kid and fall in love with it, it’s a good sign that you might have heavy metal in your blood. I also think there’s something particular about the production of this record that captures the essence and atmosphere of metal. Again, it’s hard to explain.