Interview: Symphony of Heaven

Symphony of Heaven is a Blackened Death Metal band from Indiana. I had the opportunity to talk with the band about their history, recent EP, the faith that drives their music and the upcoming full-length album.

Introduce yourself and tell us your role in the band. How long has each of you guys been playing your various instruments/doing vocals?

Logan: I'm Logan Thompson, and I go by the moniker "PATHØS" for the band, which means "to invoke a sense of suffering". I am on rhythm guitar and vocals. I have been playing music all my life, started with drums at about 4th grade and learned guitar starting in about 7th grade. My mother is a music teacher so I was involved before I could even remember anything.

David: "I've been playing bass for about as long as I have guitar which is around 7 years. Been doing vocals since I realized how to do gutturals driving around in my Chevette around 2008.

Mason: I’m Mason Beard, aka “ASAPH”, an alias derived from the Psalms, which means “collector of the people” or “to collect or gather”. I’m the drummer. I began playing music when I was maybe 10? 11? I don’t quite remember, but I remember learning piano for two years. I wanted to be a drummer since I was very young but my parents thought it was important that I learn how to read sheet music. A skill which, at this point, has since been forgotten. I began drumming at 13 and I’ve been hammering away ever since.

Eero: Started writing and experimenting with music on computer (Commodore Amiga) when I was 11. Started playing guitar and actually learn music at age of 16-17.

What are some of your biggest musical and lyrical influences?

Logan: Some of my biggest influences overall I'd have to say are bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Fear Factory, Metallica, Sepultura, Nile, Behemoth, Darkthrone and anything Devin Townsend has done.

David: I love all sorts of music (metal, indie, shoegaze…). For metal it’s bands like Genghis Tron, Extol and The Faceless.

Mason: Overall, throughout my years of playing, I’d have to say, Living Sacrifice, Death, Sepultura, Death Requisite, Slayer, Deliverance, Shai Hulud, A Hill to Die Upon, Vials of Wrath, Extol, Zao, Embodyment (Embrace the Eternal-era) and Becoming the Archetype. I’d also add Abated Mass of Flesh, Skald in Veum, Drottnar, The Burial, and Relient K (the old stuff) but those are more fun for me to listen to than to try and replicate.

Who are your all-time favorite frontmen in metal, rock, or punk?

Logan: I would have to go with what I grew up with, which would be James Hetfield, Dimebag Darrel and Dave Mustaine. Throw in some Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn and your set to go.

David: Justin K. Broadrick for being such a visionary for bands like Napalm Death, Godflesh and Jesu. Also, I’ve always loved Peter Espevoll from Extol (especially Undeceived) vocally as the layered approach really hit my ear pleasingly.

Mason: For me, first off, I will always have a place in my heart for Bruce Fitzhugh of Living Sacrifice. The man can do no wrong, vocally, in my eyes. Chuck Shuldiner (Death), Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy), Kris McCaddon (The Famine, Embodyment), Matt Plunkett (Abated Mass of Flesh), Tom Araya (Slayer), and Elisha Mullins (The Burial) are probably my all-time, as of this interview, favorite vocalists. I believe all of them play an instrument as well.

Tell me about your life before Symphony of Heaven. What bands were you in?

Logan: I wasn't in too many bands when I was younger. I had the typical garage band in high school with my buddies and we would jam Metallica and Ozzy and Static-X. Then I was with a more organized band after high school called Neverlabeled. But I had to quit once my work schedule became 6 days a week. Then I stayed that way for many years, 6 days a week on nights for a long time. Left no time to be part of a band unfortunately.

David: I’ve been in 1 man bands, 1 man bands that ended up being a duo and then full bands, part of other peoples bands… My main band is TIMŌRĀTUS which is an experimental metal band that with every release is a different subgenre of metal.

Mason: Rural Indiana is the absolute worst place to find a band. I was homeschooled as a kid, which means I had to find people outside of school, obviously. I found one or two people who were very talented musicians but weren’t necessarily at the time metal musicians. And then we added on two other people who were close with and we formed our first band, which was called Haloed Patriots. Horrible name, and I still regret letting my bandmate choose that. Nothing ever happened and a couple of them quit to go off to college or join the army. That left me and my friend Daniel, so we decided to form Mystic Winter. Which is currently working on a new EP.

Eero: I have been playing in bands since I figured out how to do power chords and palm mutes.

Is there any special meaning behind the band name?

Logan: Yes there is. I wanted a band name that had significant meaning, so after some searching Symphony Of Heaven came to me. The idea behind the name is that all that happens in the world is under the control and plan of God, based off of Romans 8:28, God causes all things to work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose, like a Symphony Orchestra all the different parts come together for one purpose.

You recently transitioned from being a solo project to a full band. What was the reasoning behind the decision?

Logan: Well, I couldn't play live by myself, and I love playing music live and with others. So, I needed band members. Thankfully David and Mason came on board in time for the first Audiofeed show we played in 2019. They were already good friends of mine and lived in the same state so we were able to get together and make music.

David: Logan and I were in the same boat at the same time, we both wanted to play with our own bands in a live setting and lived (fairly) close to each other. So, we all wanted to get together and help each band achieve that goal. I’m so glad to be friends with all the other members and be apart of something with such a great message behind it!

Mason: I basically hounded Logan for the year and a half that SOH existed about playing drums live if the opportunity ever arose. So, for some reason, I was his first choice. Even though, at the time, I had never played live and barely played with anyone outside of my church worship team. I’m truly honored that I made the cut and I’ve worked very hard to match the talent of each member’s musical proficiency. More of a journey than a destination.

What is the inspiration behind the The Ascension of Extinction artwork?

Logan: The artwork for TAOE is based off of old Soviet propaganda, but almost as if the mask is removed and you see the true nature of the ideologies of marxists, Communists and humanists. They show themselves as liberators and heroes, but in reality they are demons and horrific monsters that come to devour, destroy and enslave.

How's the general reception been for the EP, and what do you hope fans take away from it?

Logan: The reception has been great so far, and it continues to gain attention in the market. Everyday there is more followers on social media and streaming services, so I think everyone can hear that this is a strong release that will stand on its own, something that people can talk about and tell their friends about. I hope people walk away from the EP knowing that there are others out there that share their view of what's really happening in the world, and that there are Christian artists who aren't afraid to take a stand for truth.

David: Really great!

Mason: As far as I’m aware, the reception has been great! I have had a lot of people reach out and tell me, even though I didn’t have a lot to do with it at the time. The songs are very much oriented towards seeking the Truth and thinking for yourselves rather than blindly following the masses and let the blind lead the blind. With that in mind, don’t be arrogant about it and calling people names because you think you’re better than them. These are things I’ve struggled with, myself, but I’m finding that balance.

What's the story behind each guest vocalist on The Ascension of Extinction?

Logan: Well, Karl of Pantokrator and I have become best of friends over the internet over the last year or two, we talk all the time and share a lot of the same views. So being I was a Pantokrator fan even before I met him, it was a natural thing to have him do a guest spot, especially for the content of this EP, which he also contributed quite a few lyrical ideas as well. As far as MUND of Skald In Veum goes, that is even a mystery to me to this day. I believe Karl might've been able to pass the word along to Skald that I was interested in having MUND appear, and eventually the word got to MUND. That band is quite the mystery as you know, so I believe they delivered the finished vocal file to Karl which then passed it back to me. From what I understand that was a joint effort of the vocals of MUND and the lyrics of HETH.

How and when did you connect with Rottweiler Records? How did they get involved in releasing the album? Did you have any other labels interested at the time?

Logan: I knew Shawn Browning from having met him at Audiofeed 2019 and just having a shared home state of Indiana. He was friends with Mike Larson of Frost Like Ashes, who was head of Nosral Recordings. So there was some cross reference there. When we were no longer with Nosral, Shawn showed interest and I knew he was the real deal. Yes we had some interest from a few other labels, but I knew Shawn more personally so it was a natural fit for us.

Mason: If I remember correctly, we reached out to a ton of labels. I believe Rottweiler was the biggest one that stood out. There were a few more, I just don’t remember, which ones.

What are your favorite recent album releases from other bands?

Logan: I've been big on Enslaved's latest release "Utgard", also Mayhem's latest album is really good. Pantokrator's "Marching Out of Babylon" is just absolutely amazing! There really is so many good albums out there I couldn't list them all lol.

David: Well, I’ve been in a much more mellow mood the last year or so when casually listening to music (probably from starting a shoegaze/dreampop band with my wife), but for me Hundredth’s latest album, Somewhere Nowhere has been on repeat for me. Also, ‘68’s new EP, Love Is Ain’t Dead has been a big uplifter to me in the cold winter months.

Mason: There’s been only a few albums lately that I’ve really enjoyed. I wish it were more, but I’ve been deep diving into older material that I had missed out on from years prior. I would definitely say Ensepluchre’s album “Desolation” was amazing. I’m probably the only guy in the band who really likes hardcore music, so this may come as a shock, but Luther’s Hammer and FALL both released some amazing material last year. At the very end of the year, unfortunately, after I had created my top 5 list, I found what likely would’ve taken first place, which was Old Growth’s “Mossweaver”. A phenomenal atmospheric black metal project.

Who are some of your favorite bands in the Christian metal scene?

Logan: As I mentioned a few times, Pantokrator. Others in no particular order would be Ascending King, Frost Like Ashes, Timōrātus, Horde, Admonish, Fleshkiller, Drottnar, Crimson Moonlight. If I missed any I apologize, there's lots of good ones.

David: Extol hands down is my favorite, others include, Vials of Wrath, Renascent, Crimson Moonlight, and Drottnar.

Mason: My induction into the scene have still remained some of my favorites: Living Sacrifice, Zao, Becoming the Archetype, A Thousand Times Repent (bet you haven’t heard that one in awhile), and Demon Hunter. Over the years, I’ve grown to love Extol Ascending King, Vials of Wrath, older Mortification, Vengeance Rising, Deliverance, old Embodyment, August Burns Red, Strongarm, Unashamed, Abated Mass of Flesh, As They Sleep, Cermionial Sacred, Impending Doom, Heliocentric, O Wretched Man, Death Requisite, and Not Beneath to name just a few. Plus all the ones I listed as influences.

How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?

Logan: I was raised in a Christian home and my extended family was all very faithful as well. I'm very thankful for that. I was baptized in Faith and Repentance (as best as I understood them at the time) when I was 11 years old and from that point on have done my best to walk after Christ. I've failed more often than I've succeeded but that's why there is Grace.

David: Being raised in a Christian home without my opposition really caused me to grow up to not have much of a personal faith, but when I was in my early to mid 20’s I was questioned more and more about my beliefs and that caused me to really question them myself. The more I questioned the more I studied, the more I studied the more my relationship with Christ became stronger.

Mason: As long as I can remember, so probably since I was between ages 5-7, I’ve believed. But at that point, it was my parent’s faith. Years go by and I begin forming my own opinions, I came to the realization that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes through the Father except through Him. I’ve taken apologetics and in doing so, found overwhelming evidence of this to be true. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a good Christian. I have failed countless times in my walk but I still carry on with that knowledge, striving to be a better man.

Eero: My parents were Christians so I always had some faith in Jesus Christ but I made my own commitment to follow him at the age of 16 when I realized that if I would die I really wasn't sure where I would end up to.

In your own words, what is the Gospel?

Logan: Truth, Hope, Resurrection. Grace from God when we deserve death, but He gives us the opportunity to live with him for all eternity and know that nothing in this world is greater than Him.

David: Good news, the greatest news! That we are so loved that the creator of all life gave up His son on our behalf so we could have a deeper relationship with Him!

Mason: The Gospel is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The impact that Jesus Christ had upon this world is immeasurable. Everything leading up to that point is what makes that story even more magnificent and everything following is what cements the importance of the story. It is hard to sum up an entire cohesive iteration of the Bible, as I believe it is all important to the Gospel.

Eero: That Jesus Christ, Son of God died for your sins and if you believe in him you will be saved.

Favorite book of the Bible?

Logan: That goes back and forth between Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Psalms, Job and then as far as New Testament goes, I'd have to say Romans, Colossians, and Revelation, especially the individual letters to the individual churches in the first few chapters.

David: My name is David so I might be a little biased haha, but it will always be the Psalms and Proverbs.

Mason: Proverbs, Job, Isaiah, Daniel, and Matthew. To me, a lot of wisdom can be derived from these. Of course that does not exclude the others, but these are the ones that have meant the most to me.

Eero: I think I have read Proverbs most.

Logan, I know you enjoy reading material from the early church. Who are your favorite church fathers?

Logan: Clement has a great letter, the stories of Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Basil the Great, Augustine and Aquinas.

When you're not creating music, what do you like to do in your free time?

Logan: We are a gaming household. We play our Xboxes probably a little too much. I'm a huge Skyrim fan, along with Fallout 4, Resident Evil 2, and Assassin's Creed Odyssey. We also enjoy shooting the boy's BeeBee Guns and grilling out when it's warmer outside.

Mason: I like writing stories a lot. I’ve been diving into writing short stories lately, so I’ve been working on those here a lot. Aside from that, I help manage The Metal Onslaught Magazine, which also helps scratch the writing itch. I love promoting other bands’ material the best I can. Hosting the Life of Defiance Podcast with my close friend Roland Street has also been a lot of fun as of late. But overall, whenever I get the opportunity, I really enjoy spending time with my friends and just shooting the breeze.

Now that your EP is out, what’s next for Symphony of Heaven?

Logan: We are finishing up the next full length album as we speak. It's super close to being done and so we will be releasing that as we get everything done.

David: Get everything in place for the new album and practice up for some live shows… hopefully.

Mason: Yeah, as Logan said, the new album is going to be out hopefully very soon. I’m very excited for everyone to hear it and, hopefully, be able to play them live. We’re currently 7 songs fully recorded and ready to go. The album, if all goes according to plan, will be released through Rottweiler Records. Unless I do something to make Shawn really mad.

Any other projects, you'd like to shed light on?

Logan: I'd like everyone to check out all the other groups that us members are apart of. David's bands Timōrātus and Color Crush, Mason's projects Mystic Winter and The Thilipsis, and Eero's bands Renascent, The Slave Eye and Angel of Sodom to name a few.

David: As Logan’s said, I’d really love for everything to check out all the other projects we are all a part of, Renascent, Elgibbor, Mystic Winter, The Thilipsis, The Slave Eye, and Angel of Sodom.

Mason: Definitely want to push Timōrātus, Renascent, and Elgibbor as David, Eero, and Logan’s main projects. I’ve been writing a new Mystic Winter EP and The Thlipsis’ new EP, which will both hopefully come out this year. Logan and I also have a project with Jarek Pozarycki (Elgibbor, Pozar, Frost Like Ashes) and Ravn Furfjord (Frosthardr, A Hill to Die Upon) called Koronatizor, which also may be writing new material here soon.

We’ve come to the end of the interview. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Anything else you’d like to share?

Logan: Stand strong for Christ, those that call Him Lord. If you don't call Him Lord, come to know Him. The times are difficult right now, and probably won't be getting much better for a while. Stand Strong, be men of courage and faith.

David: No matter where you are in regards to your faith, views or actions, you are loved. Loved by the creator of everything and by us.

Mason: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things may be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Also, please check out our band, if you haven’t already. Between “The Season of Death”, the “Body of Christ” split, and “The Ascension of Extinction” EP, hopefully you’ll find something you enjoy. And the new album, which will be done and in your ears very soon. God bless!

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The Season of Death (opens new window) [2017]