The Fateful Hour is a melodic doom metal band from New Bedford, Massachusetts, who are currently gearing up to release their second album. We caught up with the band for a long and insightful chat to find out a little more.
First things first – can you introduce yourselves and tell me a bit about the band?
Ben: Hello! My name is Ben Fortier. I am a guitar player and vocalist in the band. Brandon and I started this collaboration many years ago as a studio project, tracking Into the Arms of the Heavens one drunken night. I had a bunch of songs that fit the mood of that tune, and knew we could find some like minded musicians to play them and get something unique going on in the scene.
Brandon: My name is Brandon Green, guitar player of The Fateful Hour. The Fateful Hour to me is an expression of what makes everyone human. The music is derived from intense experiences which pertain to every member of the band.
Bliss: Hi there, I’m Bliss the bassist! I’ve been involved in this band from the get-go, playing the role as rookie, artist, girlfriend, diplomat, wildcard, and little sister of the band. Playing guitar from an early age, I never found the time to develop my hobby further than strumming my own creations in my college dorm until asked to try out for bass when this project began as a casual and innovative outlet for much more experienced musicians than myself. Three years have passed quickly, and I feel as though I have gone through a tremendous growth spurt that I attribute to the influence and determination I felt among my bandmates. I remember laughing when I was first offered the spot, but practiced seriously to claim my place, and have been working hard ever since to hold my own as a worthy asset among these brilliant, creative individuals.
Zach: Hello, my name is Zachary Vezina. I play keyboard/piano and I’m also a vocalist in The Fateful Hour. I was a good friend of Jon Viera, and once he started collaborating with Ben and Brandon, he asked me to come try out. I was hooked to the music immediately and been a part of the band ever since.
Jon: Greetings. I’m Jon, the drummer. I had met Brandon over 3 years ago now. We hit it off right away, so he asked me if I’d like to hear some demo material that him and Ben had been working on. I had always wanted to do a doom influenced project, and I was very impressed with the material and the potential of where it could go. Now, working on the second album, we’ve all equally written this one. It’s much more eclectic and progressive, and I feel it truly represents every member of this band.
Last year you released your debut album An Everlasting Silence – how did you approach the
writing and recording process?
Ben: All of the songs besides Arms and Daniel were written many years prior to actually forming the band. I used a MIDI software program called TabIt, very similar to guitar pro. The TabIt community was a very active group of musicians, so I wrote a lot of tunes for them. It was very humbling, to say the least! I was a teenager, so music was a huge, huge deal to me. I was listening to a ton of Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Anathema, and Saturnus just pumping out song after song. I had never written so much music in my life.
Brandon: The process of using MIDI really helped us in the initial stages because Ben was so open for everyone in the band to chomp on the material and put their own spin on it. We’re very lucky to work with someone like that. Those old songs were a great jumping platform into our sound today. We use similar techniques for writing, but nowadays we record practices and listen back with the intention of working on the same song(s) next practice. This made us efficient and really helped us figure out what we wanted to hear out of ourselves.
I felt one of the strongest tracks of the album was Crumbling Pillars; I felt the clean vocals were a nice touch. Can you tell me a little more about that one?
Zach: I have been a vocalist and pianist for as long as I have been interested in music. When I first joined the band, I was only a keyboard player. I thought Ben’s vocals were amazing and had no aspirations of doing vocal work at first. Once we started working on the album, I found that I could not resist the urge to write vocal melodies. That melody stood with me for a while before I approached the band with it. They welcomed my creativity with open arms and I have been doing vocals ever since.
Your cover art was created by Bliss – can you describe the process behind creating the art?
Bliss: I was in my first year of graduate school as a painting student when I took on the challenge of creating the album art for the first album, and fresh out of graduate school for the second. Inspired by the compelling lyrics by Ben and Zach, I envisioned a moment of loss in which a man is haunted by the memory of his departed Lover for Everlasting Silence. In this new album, I created a second chapter, so to speak, for this same character stepping forward from the blaze of his burning house – the moment of erasure and cleansing of the past, to transcend into a new beginning.
Using my personal process for figurative painting, I hired my friends (professional models) to pose in order to give this vision its initial breath of life. Working alongside the talented Ben Fortier, we composed the scene as Ben took breathtaking photos (I utilize numerous reference photos as a guideline to first hand draw, and then paint on a life-sized canvas). I spoke to them in depth about the concept prior to the shoot and worked with them in a way comparable to a director working with actors – to evoke heavy expressions of compassion and lament – sentiments that I delved into throughout the entire painting process. As I painted these pieces, I immersed into a deep concentration, envisioning myself in each scene and feeling these emotions, also while listening to our scratch tracks and bands with a similar sound to further connect the work to an authentic expression.
Brandon: I can’t speak as the artist, but Bliss is actually my fiancé, so we do a lot of things together. I was involved as the “roadie” for the day in shooting the models for the album art, and assisting in the design/layout of the album.
Ben: Working with Bliss and her model for the artwork on our upcoming release was an awesome experience. I work in visual media, and being able to work with someone who really embraces your vision like our model did just made my job so easy. His intensity was off the charts, and this was the second time we used him (he is also on the first album cover) so he really has a connection with the music. Until Bliss had created the art work, there was no real “story” behind the music. It was just a bunch of contemplative songs. Bliss is a true artist, so when she wanted to take on the challenge of doing the art we knew she was going to kill it. And she did. And she’s doing it again. She’s really brought the story to life through her vision.
If you could go back and do anything different, would you?
Bliss: As an artist, I am only satisfied with the “completion” of a piece when I feel as though it is the very best I am capable of at this stage in my artistic ability – I take a hard, objective look at the work, and if I cannot identify any obvious errors or bothersome quirks, and I have stretched my brain and heart to max capacity, I force myself to walk away (always with opposition), knowing that perhaps on “the next piece” I will be even stronger. I take this same exact approach to the music that I produce, and feel as though it was the very best I could produce in that place in time.
You’re currently putting the finishing touches to your second album – would you say it follows on from An Everlasting Silence or do you feel it is more of a standalone piece?
Bliss: I feel as though this current album symbolizes a revival of the soul, to bend, rip, and tear oneself from a dismal past (Everlasting Silence) in the struggle to embrace a new beginning. I believe this expression of inner turmoil and aspiration is conveyed through the more vibrant and energized guitar sounds, the rapid thunder of the drums, the passion of the vocals, and the (ahem) improvement of the bass sound. For me personally, this album represented a real hunger to grow and to tear away from old habits and comfort zones into new and exciting musical territory.
Zach: Definitely a stand alone piece. The music on this album still has the same emotion and feeling but it has flowered from the initial seed of An Everlasting Silence. The music was created more maturely and it we have all worked on it collectively. Essentially, this upcoming album represents everyone in the band in much different ways. It is a greater collection of creative minds and the entire band.
What can fans expect from the new material?
Ben: Something much, much more refined than the first album. I was happy to contribute a few songs to this writing session, and they kind of set the tone for the rest of the album. But it is so, so different than the first album. We keep joking that we are now a “doom n’ roll” band. While we haven’t completely ditched the melodic doom aspects, there is a lot more of a rock n’ roll / 90’s heavy metal vibe on this album.
Jon: Much more progressive.
Which track are you most proud of?
Jon: I often ask myself this question. I mean, the last song on our sophmore album titled Resonance is very personal to me, but I really love all these new tracks equally. They all have their own identity and emotion. I think this second album is constructed in much more of an album fashion where I’d hope that it demands a beginning to end listen as one piece of art.
Brandon: I couldn’t agree more with Jon. This album was carefully constructed, and every member of this band beat the hell out of these songs both as a whole and individually with their own instrument(s). Some songs really stumped us for a while, and we would shelve them for weeks. When we would revisit a track it would just blossom into something special. Those experiences happened often on this record. We all challenged ourselves to do something new and unique for the entire album.
Bliss: Personally, Face of Transcendence was a milestone for me, because I wrote a good portion of the underlying melody. It became kind of a secret obsession of mine to finish the song in this early stage until I hit a roadblock and had no choice but to share it with Brandon at that point. Upon hearing it on its first run, Brandon grabbed his acoustic guitar and we finished it in one beautiful night in Pennsylvania, under the stars and all that lovely shit. The band took to it like ravenous wolves when we brought the melody to practice, and developed it into a crushing tune.
Were there any tracks that were more of a struggle to perfect?
Ben: Some of the songs went into the studio not entirely completed, but we were okay with that. By the time we hit the studio, we were as ready as we were going to be. During the writing process, however, we struggled with a couple of songs. Rather than seeking perfection, we were striving to write songs that were unique yet cohesive.
Zach:I found the album as a whole was more difficult to perfect, and as musicians we are always finding ways to improve our material. Everyone has pushed their abilities much more in this album than the last. I personally have found this album to be a great learning experience in finding my own voice in the band. Theres always new avenues to explore and approach, and it takes a while to find your own road.
Moving onto live shows, how would you describe a typical The Fateful Hour gig?
Brandon: Each song has a purpose. We recently performed at a show for Suicide Awareness and raised over $1200. The night was an incredible success. We reminded people no matter how hard things get it’s always better to say something and ask for help. We ended the night with a track Resonance which is about attempting to communicate with someone you’ve lost. If you could say something, what would you say? The intro is very melodic, atmospheric, and fitting of the mood. At the show, Zach explained what the track was about during the intro, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when we tore into that heavy track. I love getting off stage
and having people approach me and saying how moving our music can be.
Bliss: You know it’s a knockout Fateful Hour show when the bass player and drummer are in tears halfway through the set, and by the end, we are all hugging each other on stage, annoying the hell out of the poor saps who are up next in line to perform. Ok, most of that is probably my fault, but in all seriousness, we are most successful when we are emotionally invested in the music and take the stage with purpose, as we have during these powerful, aforementioned fundraising events. Our beloved friends have now become obligatory fans, of course being the loudest and most lively people on the floor, completing a quintessential night.
If you could play on a bill with any band, who would you choose?
Ben: Daylight Dies! 1.) Because I think it’s totally feasible. 2.) Our music would flow together super well. 3.) I met a couple of them a few years back and they seemed like really cool guys.
Jon: Enslaved. Only because they’re my favorite metal band and we often joke about how we’re like a doom version of Enslaved now. Agalloch would be fantastic as well.
And finally if The Fateful Hour could put their name to a product, what would you choose?
Ben: I’m not sure I understand the question. Like a product that would represent us? Well The Fateful Hour sounds like it could be a TV show, as well. So I’d have a TV show. Did I do that right?
Zach: If we were to represent the band as any product. I would say we would be soil. Soil is the foundation on which all life grows from. We strive to make our music present and organic. IF YOU THINK DIRT IS RADICAL, THEN CHECK OUT THE FATEFUL HOUR!