The Four of Forty-Five

The new Cnoc An Tursa album is still almost 2 months away but we were lucky enough to not only review it but interview them as well. “The Forty-Five” will thrill their existing fans and definitely garner some new ones with their blend of black, folk and pagan metal with Scottish influences, not only musically but lyrically as well. I was able to discuss the new album with Reni McDonald Hill (lead vocalist and guitarist) who gave me some insight into the album, it’s concept and few other things… check it out!

The Forty Five
Congratulations on your upcoming new album “The Forty Five”, what sort of feedback have you been getting on it so far (if any)?
“The album isn’t officially out until Feb 17th 2017 but we have a track ‘The Yellow locks of Charlie’ up on Youtube and its generating a lot of positive feedback. I’m hoping to get another track up early January!”
Cnoc an tursa the forty five
It has been almost 4 years since your debut album “The Giants Of Auld”, was the 4 year gap planned to create the new album or for other reasons?
“I had to undergo an operation on my wrist and I was unable to play guitar or write any new material for almost a year. “The Forty-Five” was supposed to be released Jan 2016 but as usual we went thought a whole load of setbacks with recording and mixing. We have already started writing album number 3 so it’s safe to say fans won’t have to wait another 4 years for it.”

Concept album
The new album is a “concept” album, could you elaborate on the specific concept and why you chose to do one?
“The album is centered around Bonny Prince Charlie and the Jacobite uprising in 1745 also known as The Forty-Five. I love the idea of concept albums and fusing the music into a story line almost like a movie. I personally think it creates a more in depth and complete listening experience, I prefer an album I can play start to finish and enjoy as 1 piece. On that note the next albums is going to be another concept album lol.”

“Scottish atmospheric historical black pagan folk metal”

When I want to describe your sound I would tell someone you are “Scottish atmospheric historical black pagan folk metal”, do you feel any of these adjectives are accurate? Do you have a style/genre that you prefer?
“Strangely enough I’m influenced more by 80s synth/pop music and 80s movie soundtracks more than anything else. Of course I am also a huge fan of metal but again mostly 80s metal like Dokken, Ratt, Wasp to name a few. I think people are catching on… someone left a comment on our Youtube video for The Yellow Locks of Charlie‘’ Is it just me or the melody in the first minutes resembles “Save a Prayer” from Duran Duran? And yes it was! With the whole Pagan/Folk tag I can see where that comes from but I’m not really interested in all that, I’ll use instruments like bag pipes, penny whistles and Irish flutes but I tend to approach them in a non-traditional way.”
cnoc an tursa int1
Songwriting
From a songwriting perspective, the tracks here are longer on average than previous ones…..was that a natural occurrence or did you write them due to the subject matter or what you wanted to get across on the album?
“The songs on the 1st album are far too short, there is some great pieces of music on there but they are over before they even begin, that was a learning curve. The new songs have a lot more elements so there’s more to play with and it’s easier to spread the songs out evenly.”

How does the songwriting for Cnoc An Tursa work? Has it changed or did it change with the new album recording process?
“‘Giant’s…’ was written between band members but I wrote The Forty-Five on my own this time round. The process has always been more of a bedroom style project than a bunch of musicians getting together in a room and writing together. I can spend up to 2 months writing a single song the synths/keyboards can take a hell of a long time to put together properly.”

How did the concept for the album come along and was it the only idea/concept you decided to pursue?
“It was always our plan to make the 2nd record a concept album it was just a matter of finding something historically related to Scotland that we were passionate enough about to take the time and effort into researching. I can’t recall any other concepts being discussed I think this was the 1st one that came to mind and everything fell into place very quickly. The lyrics we use on the album are old Jacobite war songs from the period of the rebellions a spin off from what we did on Giants with the old Scottish poetry we used.”

Stellar act
I compared you to other stellar acts such as Skalmold, Winterfylleth and countrymates in Saor, what other acts from Scotland would you like to clue everyone in on that we may be unfamiliar with?
“I really liked Falloch’s last album ‘’This Island, Our Funeral’’ I believe the band has a new album coming out very shortly. Our bass player Tony was the singer on that album and Andy from Saor was the singer on the 1st Falloch album. Myself and Tony play guitar for Saor as does our drummer Bryan Hamilton, we are all very close friends. Scott from Falloch also mixed our new album.”

cnoc an tursa int3The album has more instrumentation this time around, did integrating other instruments come easy or were there challenges to do this?
“I’ve became a better keyboard player and song writer over the years, gear/technology is always advancing and I have access to a lot of synths, hardware and software that just didn’t exist when Giants came out. It was a challenge but I think it’s important to constantly push myself and make the best music I possibly can.”

Lot of plans
Is touring/playing live something you enjoy doing? What tour plans do you have in the near future?
“We haven’t a lot of plans at the moment, most of my spare I’m spending writing album number 3. I want that finished up for the end of 2017, I think we will line up some shows closer to summer.”

How do you feel about the ease of people being able to download your music without compensation? Is it a concern or are you OK with it if people get to hear your material?
“Yeah, I don’t really care, I just love writing music and I’m happy people enjoy listening to it regardless of how they obtain it. CD’s are a dead format I’m amazed a handful of people still buy them to be honest.”

Favourite albums of 2016?
“Saor – Guardians”

Closing thoughts?
“We have a show in Glasgow alongside Ereb Altor 24th March, be sure to check our official page @ https://www.facebook.com/cnocantursa/ for more updates.”

By: Jeff