Today, we may present to you an interview with Scottish heavy metal band Runemaster. In 2020, the quartet from Edinburgh released its first full-length record, called Wanderer. In my opinion, it was one of the best outputs which can be labelled as traditional metal with a lot of epic elements. If you don’t know these guys yet, please check their stuff out after reading the following lines.
Hi, thanks a lot for your time. How are you doing?
Keith: As well as can be currently thanks, although we’ve not been in the same room for pretty much a year!
Probably, there are still some readers who don’t know Runemaster yet. Can you tell us something about the founding history of your band?
Aidan: Runemaster originally formed in 2007/2008 from a previous band of mine. Guv was brought in as singer/guitarist, we wrote a good amount of songs and played a few gigs before wrapping the band up until around 2014. A lot of the songs from the original lineup were retained, Guv originally had quite a black metal style/approach to his singing which has evolved over the years.
Your lyrical approach is interesting, especially for a blog that focusses on epic topics. Where do you generally find the inspiration for your lyrics?
Guv: The lyrics are generally inspired by the mythologies of Northern Europe and associated esoteric runelore. Personal themes also run throughout the majority of the lyrics but represented via the interpretations of the runes.
Who was responsible for the songwriting on Wanderer? Do you work as a band in this regard?
Aidan: We all work on the songs as a band, most of the music is written by Guv and myself and then we all work together refining and tweaking the songs until we’re all happy with them.
Keith: Guv and Aidan write the riffs, and then Guv writes all the lyrics. When they bring them to the room, I usually have some say in structure and bits I’d like added or taken out.
Ed: Guv and Aidan bring the riffs to the practice and then we go through them all together and adjust it from there. As bassist I like to follow along with the guitar riffs, but sometimes break away to add a different element to the sound.
In my opinion, one of the strengths on Wanderer is the great powerful riffing by Aidan and Guv which is really heavy. Can you point out some artists who served as an important source of inspiration in this regard? Sometimes your guitar work reminds me of Solstice in their glorious White Horse Hill-era.
Aidan: For me in terms of the type riffs I contribute to Runemaster the influences would be 80‘s Metallica, Jake E Lee‘s Ozzy albums, Judas Priest and Queensrÿche to name a few.
Guv: The influences are multiple and varied, everything from Black Sabbath to Manilla Road via Venom, Celtic Frost, Bathory and Darkthrone. The riffs just have to feel natural and sometimes they sound closer to the source of influence than others, but to our ears they all sound like Runemaster.
On Bandcamp, one can download all of your stuff for free. What made you decide to make this possible?
Aidan: Because no one wants to deal with the ball-ache of handling money!
Guv: The most important thing for me has always just been for people to be able to listen to the music we make and Bandcamp was the simplest way to do this.
What do you generally think of streaming platforms?
Keith: I think they are a great idea for finding new music etc, but they could probably do with being a bit fairer to artists. Surviving off of music seems to be a pipe dream now. I use Spotify though, and it is a great tool. YouTube used to be great until you started getting adverts in the middle of 3 minute songs.
Ed: Streaming platforms are a great tool for exposure, but the financial return is basically non-existent, so it’s not really a great way of supporting upcoming bands at this moment in time.
Are you fervent vinyl collectors?
Keith: I actually don’t own any vinyl. I think I’d need to sit at someone’s house and listen to the classics on vinyl to see if it does sound as much better as people say, as it’s an expensive hobby!
For sure! 2020 was a disaster, but there are a lot of amazing releases, including Wanderer of course. What are your favourite records released last year?
Keith: I’ve been listening to a lot of King Witch’s (Edinburgh) new album Of Rock and Stone. I also liked Napalm Death’s new album, mostly as it was so unusual. Lik’s Misanthropic Breed is great too. I also like Killer Be Killed’s new album, but I’m not a fan of the Dillinger guy’s vocals. Troy from Mastodon has really upped his game vocally! I realise that none of these even remotely sound like Runemaster…
Guv: My favourites this year have been the records from Cirith Ungol, Wytch Hazel and Enslaved.
Ed: I second Napalm Death’s new album Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism, and Dark Fortress’ new album Spectres from the Old World – excellent musicianship and a fresh take on the traditional black metal sound that brings something new to the genre.
You’re from Edinburgh, Scotland. Is there a vivid metal scene – or is it quite difficult for a metal band to get attention? Are there any interesting metal clubs that one should check out when he visits your hometown?
Aidan: There is a pretty good scene in Edinburgh, although venues are obviously struggling just now, bars like Bannerman‘s and the Banshee Labyrinth are well worth a visit! I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to get attention, it depends how ambitious you want to be with it.
Keith: The metal scene here is great, some really top-notch bands and a great scene. I’d agree with Bannerman’s and Banshees, but check out La Belle Angele too. I’d say it’s relatively difficult for Scottish bands to make a name for themselves, depending on the genre. When you see the wealth of talent it’s surprising that more of the bands aren’t bigger. Check out (all different genres of metal) King Witch, Dog Tired, Iron Altar, Disposable, Sapien, Anaxor, Solar Sons, Razor Sharp Death Blizzard, Hammer, Juniper Grave, Tommy Concrete and loads more from Edinburgh.
Ed: Edinburgh has a very close knit and supportive metal scene, and with the whole Covid situation aside, there are always opportunities available for playing as long as you’re prepared to put in the work!
How would you define the term «epic metal»? And what’s, in your opinion, special about it?
Aidan: For me Manowar is basically the definition of epic metal! It’s not really what I’d class Runemaster as though, I just see us as a heavy metal band.
Keith: I think of epic metal as normally being European metal about battles etc with a very uplifting tone. I don’t see Runemaster as epic metal either, definitely more heavy metal.
Guv: Aidan has a valid point with Manowar but for me epic metal is completely and utterly Manilla Road.
Could you point out a favourite epic metal band? What’s your favourite record?
Aidan: Manowar – Kings of Metal.
Keith: Grand Magus – Hammer of the North for me!
Guv: Manilla Road. Every album.
Ed: Not exactly an epic metal band, but for an epic metal record, it has to be Bathory – Blood on Ice for me.
Last question: Are you already working on new Runemaster stuff? If so, what may we expect?
Keith: We haven’t seen each other or actually started writing anything for the new record! Covid has pretty much stopped us dead in our tracks unfortunately. Sorry to leave on a dull note! Thanks for interviewing us, and I hope you enjoy Wanderer and check out the other bands from Edinburgh/Scotland!
Definitely – I think there’s enough stuff for a Scotland special, I have to talk with my colleagues about this topic. Many thanks, Aidan, Keith, Guv and Ed. Stay safe!