The ‘difficult second album’ is something that weighs heavy on many artists heads, instilling an element of pressure into the fold, and often becoming the definitive artefact that signifies whether or not they are able to ‘make it’. From the perspective of Kadeem France – lead vocalist of Liverpool metalcore band Loathe – the creation of ‘I Let It In and It Took Everything’ was more of an exercise in taking risks and pouring out every part of yourself into a project while not succumbing to outside influences.
If anything, the act of shutting themselves away to endure a creative process that took 451 days from start to finish, meant that Loathe were able to produce a truly vital, yet somewhat unexpected magnum opus. Reaching out from the apocalyptic density of their debut album ‘The Cold Sun’ into a soundscape that amorphously touches on their personal lives; ‘I Let It In and It Took Everything’ is an exploration into both the deepest corners of Loathe’s collective mind, as well as the outer boundaries of metal as a genre.
Kadeem notes that while the diversity on the album is fuelled by having driven themselves to the brink of going crazy, the act of tapping into a more expansive side to themselves almost came at a higher cost – not necessarily in terms of doubting the music, but simply wondering if people were ready to hear such a difference in their sound. “There was a time when we were writing songs like ‘Two-Way Mirror’, ‘Sad Cartoon’ and ‘Is It Really You?’ and we were thinking about everyone in the scene turning their back on us,” he says earnestly, questioning if they could ever be seen as anything other than a heavy band.
“The response that we had just reconfirmed everything that we believe in, and has opened so many more doors for us as a band because now we don’t have anything to be afraid of in terms of being creative,” he continues. “It can be the downfall of so many bands. You get trapped in the idea of what other people’s ideas are of your band. I didn’t really want that to happen to us because we were running off ‘The Cold Sun’ for so long.”
Where their debut sonically focused on visceral aggression and monolithic riffage akin to the likes of Slipknot and Meshuggah, its follow-up took on seismic shift where the band leant more into the breadth of post-metal and shoegaze, in a similar vein as Deftones and Jesu, all the while putting more of a focus on their cinematic influences.
“We’ve always written albums as if it’s a movie. Each song is a scene – each scene needs to go into the other as smoothly as possible, and it all needs to feel like one consistent thing. Eric [Bickerstaffe, guitarist and backing vocalist] and Feisal [El-Khazragi, bassist] just get everything down to a tee when it comes to that. The flow of an album is so important because it needs to feel like a journey,” Kadeem explains.
It’s easy to see how Loathe takes inspiration from Silent Hill and Twin Peaks – especially focusing on the multiplicity of worlds that exist with the mind of David Lynch – since their own music has the ability to encapsulate a moment as well as evoking a feeling in the listener and providing a means of escapism if necessary. Despite feeling in the recording process that maybe people were not ready for the multitudes contained on the album, Kadeem is confident in their decision to stick to their guns and feels as though they were able to create “an album that a lot of Loathe fans needed in these times.”
Where some people turn to music as a method of providing solace from the outside world, others simply use it as a soundtrack to their daily lives. It is undeniable that our regular means of consuming music has been altered during the global pandemic — from a lack of live events and a plethora of postponed releases, to the increase in streaming and social media engagement.
In an age of fake news, misinformation and ignorance surrounding all that we know about coronavirus and the way that it has disrupted the creative industries, Kadeem jokingly finds himself falling into the conspiracy theorist category when contemplating how the arts may bounce back whenever things begin to subside. “This might be a bold thing to say, but I feel like coronavirus, and everything [else] is just assassination of live music,” he says. “Anything that’s artistic and feeds your soul – it’s not so much being abolished, but there’s no real care for it right now, and I don’t know how or when that’s going to change.”
Despite the uncertainty of the year to come, Loathe have recently secured a 24-hour rehearsal space and have been spending most of their time being the same prolific creators that they have always been, whilst consuming more new music than ever. “Sometimes we just sit there for hours just showing each other music because we all live quite far away from each other [as a group of people] in a band, so to be there in person and experience new music together is just a different vibe,” Kadeem enthuses.
Reflecting on what it has been like to create an album during a period of isolation, as well as releasing it in similar circumstances, it seems as though Loathe have been given a unique perspective on what could’ve been an entirely different experience. “I remember when it hit midnight, we were like: ‘oh my god the album’s appearing on Spotify’ and it just didn’t feel real to me at all,” Kadeem says. It wasn’t until the day after when they played a homecoming show in Liverpool for the album’s release, that it all sunk in and Kadeem had woken up to the reality of Loathe’s journey thus far.
“It almost felt like through the whole process of the album I was in some sort of deep sleep,” he begins, before detailing the humbling experience of being surrounded by friends and family at a venue that his band were headlining on the day of their second album’s release; a venue that he used to go and watch shows at whenever he was home. “I’m just very grateful for the response of it, and where we’re going to go now from this is just beyond – the fact that we can get away with writing songs like this – the sky’s the limit for us now.”
Taken from the December 2020 / January 2021 issue of Upset, out now.