There's a breed of modern day bands that have effectively put the 'heavy' back into heavy metal – as mammoth riffs and mid-paced tempos do battle with lyrics that appear to be straight out of classic novels. Ohio-based trio Teeth of the Hydra are masters of this yet unnamed metal sub-genre, regaling their listeners with a concept album detailing the harsh arctic life while pummeling them with "1970's black metal" (as group mastermind, Matt Miner describes their music). The group originally formed in 2002, and has been slogging it out ever since. But with a new album on fierce metal indie label Tee Pee Records, Greenland, and a solid following in their hometown of Columbus and the nearby region, Teeth of the Hydra appear ready to break on through to the other side.
"We went to Chicago," explains Miner, singer/guitarist for Teeth of the Hydra. "We basically lived in the studio. All of our gear became the living room - we brought a bunch of toys and went nuts for seven days. Probably could have been there for a lot longer than that, but that would probably just be indulgent. I think we did alright on the vibe of the record."
Joining Miner in the band is one behemoth of a rhythm section – bassist Matt Bailey and drummer Jamie Stillman. Miner: "We were just a bunch of friends from way back in the day. I lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and all I had in my apartment was a full-stack, a guitar, and a distortion pedal. Jamie played guitar in a fairly well known band called The Party of Helicopters. We played a lot of shows with them, then our drummer moved to New York City, and Jamie called, demanding to join the band. 'I'm your new fuckin' drummer' - that's what he said [laughs]. We've been kicking around with him since 2003."
With such bands as Entombed, Celtic Frost, Amebix, and the Melvins serving as prime influences, Teeth of the Hydra got the ball rolling with a self-released debut album. Miner: "I started a label, VolumeHammer, and put out our first CD, We Are the Fantasy. We’re sold out and probably won’t repress it."
It wasn't long before the head of Tee Pee Record, Tony Presedo, came across the band, and liked what he heard. "Tony emailed us out of the blue - to this day, I still don't understand how he heard the music. We were playing two or three shows in New York City, and he said he was going to come out." Soon after, Teeth of the Hydra found themselves at work on their Tee Pee debut with producer Sanford Parker, who has worked with the likes of Pelican, Unearthly Trance and Buried at Sea.
Miner also points out that for the most part, Greenland works as a concept album of sorts. "The album is based upon stories about 'the Viking life.’ When the Vikings began settling in Greenland, there were Inuit that already lived there. The Vikings began to die because they wouldn't ask the Inuit how to fish through the ice. The songs have a running thread of being set in the arctic, so we decided to call the album Greenland. ‘Sawing Through the Ice' is about falling through a crevice on a fishing trip [laughs]. The slow song, 'The Garden of Rotten Teeth,' is about a guy who is arrested in his sleep and never knows what crime he committed. He is going to prison, which includes a journey by rail from Moscow to Siberia, to work in a nuclear city - radiation rotting his teeth out. I grew up where all these ancient burial mounds are, and the song 'Voices Over Conus' - it's about the secrets of the burial mounds."
While the heaviness of the trio comes across in the grooves ofGreenland, it's their live show where they give a whole new meaning to the word 'heavy.' "It's a lot more unhinged, that's for sure. A lot more fury, not to say that the album's not, but there’s a lot of feedback. It’s really probably too loud [laughs]." And it shouldn't be long before the group pulls up to a venue near you. "Definitely going to be up and down the East Coast in 2006, and we'll be on the West Coast in 2007.