Imagine a world where the beautiful blue of the oceans, the gorgeous green glades of grass, and the burning orange of the sun were to dissipate into shades of grey, a desolate dystopia devoid of all things human. Liverpool’s Loathe take this post-apocalyptic view of the world and twist it into an industrialised machine of brutality, void of happiness where darkwave synths simmer under djent-dyed slabs of hardcore and deathcore, infused with prog-twiddled riffs. Their debut ‘The Cold Sun’ is a story of two characters, A and B, and their journey through this desolate world, and the pure intensity of the music they create allows you to sonically join them.

It’s strange then, having produced a record rooted in such hostility that guitarist and vocalist Erik Bickerstaffe is as calming as a mother soothing her child to sleep with a lullaby, simply a man kicking back enjoying some downtime as ‘The Cold Sun’ takes the world by storm. Regardless of its reception, Erik is just pleased to finally have the album out after a gruelling year of writing and recording it and battling the common everyday worries of active musicians: “we all at first were like, we went into it thinking ‘are we gonna be able to top what we did with the EP’ and those general worries of what musicians go through but by the end we were just kinda like ‘we know this is what we are, we know this is what Loathe is’ so however this gets received is however people view what we want to do as a band so its blown us away over how acceptable and how understandable people are over what we’re doing. I don’t think it could go any better, we’re slowly growing so after working on it for a year, it’s just surreal.”

The praise that’s been dealt to them in such a short space of time, with calls for album of the year already firing from all cylinders of their fanbase, hasn’t gone to their heads as it has with so many former potential heavyweights. Humble and honest in their own representation of themselves, Loathe have a clear-cut vision of what they want to do and how they’re going to do it, and that is to simply be themselves: “Honestly, when we first started it was like ‘yeah, we’re a band we’re just going to do things for us’ and we still have that mentality but it is definitely a goal for us to become some sort of new face in metal, we wanted to redefine the genre by not even having a genre, by including as many different places, and worlds of music, inside our own, so we demolish whatever sort of idea people have of us, so it’s like, ‘this is Loathe, we’re gonna go on this way, and do it our own way, and do it the way we want to.”

Credit: Zak Pinchin

Loathe define themselves by refusing to define themselves as any one particular genre, allowing themselves to operate flowingly and freely, switching between whatever fits where. Operating outside of the boundaries of genres allows them to create more than just a singular album, to make it more than just your average record: “We’re all into loads of different styles of music, so we don’t limit ourselves for our inspirations, we take stuff like the synth stuff, that’s a really big thing with our music, we like to reflect a kind of soundtrack with our music, and having the synths and all of the different elements underlying with all the different instruments, the heavy instrumentations, we wanted that to be a juxtaposition with all the soft pads, to contrast with how hard the guitars hit, and how heavy the music is. Electronics have always been a big part of what we do, it’s just another element of what we’ve taken from our inspirations outside of metal.” From the very moment the instrumental titular track bubbles up into true-opener and single ‘It’s Yours’, you know that ‘The Cold Sun’ truly is above and beyond an album, it is a soundtrack to a film of your imagination, the lyrics and the music taking you on a journey through a dystopic wasteland of a world: “We aim to create drama with the music, we want it to be suspenseful, like a movie soundtrack. That’s what we aim for with all our releases, we want it to create some sort of emotion or trigger some sort of idea or vision of what you could think of listening to music, and what you could pair it with visually, it’s a big thing when we try and write the music.”

As much as it’s a soundtrack for a movie of your own mind, it’s also a physical dialogue of the feelings of five men, a collection of emotional energy tied up into music. It’s lyrics are screamed with such intensity you’d be worried a fire is about to blaze out of your speakers, and yet, truthfully, they are simply expressing where they were at, at a particular time, rather than being incredibly intense people: “We’re not really angry people – we like to reflect whatever we would be feeling, if it were to be angry we’d like to put it into our music. I guess there was some sort of underlying negativity that we were all going through so it came out really aggressive, but that was kind of the goal with our music to begin with, we’ve always been a heavy band and we’ve always wanted to create hard-hitting music, like if it’s to do with the lyrical content, it needs to hit hard. So we’ve always had that goal, it’s never really been something we’ve really focused on, as in ‘we need to be a heavy band’, it’s just what comes naturally for us.”

It’s not just in the way they portray their records either, when they enter the realm of live shows, they continue their desire to create experiences beyond that of the expected: “We don’t go into a show as just five people on a stage playing music, it’s more of a theatrical performance that we try and make into a night to remember, regardless of everything else going on, you get into the venue and you see Loathe, and you see that venue is taken over by what we are and what we do and the music and so we try to bring as much energy and as much atmosphere as we can.” With a conceptual record that flows through and through like a well-oiled machine, you may assume that their live shows would run through the record one-by-one from start-to-finish, but in the minds of Loathe, it’s an entirely different world: “For the album it works just because that’s a solid thing to us, we wanted it to be a sit-down record that you listen to, that’s how you get the bigger picture when its pieced together. But for a live show we need to match whatever tour we’re on, whatever city we’re at and judge it by what people want to hear and what sort of vibe it is, but we do change it up every tour that we do, it’s never the same set, we’re not ones to stick with the same thing and rehash it all the time. We won’t play it in order though, we’re not ones to do that.”

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Whilst their music may say otherwise, Loathe are laidback and are looking to the future with hope and prosperity, an entirely different world to the dystopic negativity that binds their debut ‘The Cold Sun’ together. They haven’t got a plan set in stone, and are content with sitting back and watching it all unfold as the music does the talking for them: “

“I guess we’re just gonna keep doing what we do, we never intended for it to be received as it, we’ve had people say album of the year already, it’s all extremely humbling compliments from everyone but we never expected it to be received in this way at all. I think we’re gonna tackle whatever we go for next, with the same kind of mind-set, we’ll just do us and do what we want to do and hopefully it’s received even better. We will try to top it. We always strive to do better than what we did last time. We’re just letting the music do its thing. We’re a relatively small band, so we’re just kind of pushing the music as far as we can and hopefully the response from different areas will let us travel there and perform us there.”

Loathe’s debut record ‘The Cold Sun’ is out now via SharpTone Records, available here.

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