Crossover thrash has been having something of a renaissance thanks to the efforts of bands like POWER TRIP, along with newer albums from the likes of ENFORCED with the excellent Kill Grid. But it’s not a uniquely American phenomenon; featuring former members of HANG THE BASTARD and signed to the underground powerhouse Church Road Records, INHUMAN NATURE are the hard thrashing, SLAYER-worshipping crossover band you need to hear. Their latest three-track EP, Under The Boot, was released back in February and we made sure to get in touch to talk about how they got their start and what their plans are for the future.
“The easiest way is, I just describe [us] as a heavy metal band,” vocalist Chris Barling says when we ask him to explain just what INHUMAN NATURE are about, before expanding on this; “maybe that’s not the most accurate description,” he laughs. “It’s thrash crossover, played by people who listen to loads of SLAYER.” That’s an understatement, and something fans were quick to point out when they heard one of the new tracks, Ride The Apocalypse, whose vocal pattern is heavily inspired by Angel of Death. “I thought maybe I’ll get away with it,” he chuckles. “There’s a lot of early TESTAMENT, especially Under The Boot, and a lot of MEGADETH in there as well… the classic sort of bands that you’d think of when you think about thrash!”
Their name itself is also a throwback, a reference to the SEPULTURA cover of FINAL CONFLICT’s song Inhuman Nature. The name was already in place when Barling joined the band ahead of their first demo, though he’s now the only remaining member of that era. Fortunately, they’ve remained fairly consistent since then, with only a single guitarist change for their debut album that they released independently. Since then, they’ve gone on to sign to Church Road Records, securing them an ever-widening group of listeners whose tastes are often as broad as the label’s themselves. “I’ve known Sammy and Justine [the label owners] for quite a few years now… Justine got in touch with us last year and asked what we were up to. It was really good timing because we’d planned to record these three songs,” he explains of their signing. That existing relationship and plan to record bore fruit; they were more than happy to work with the label and were already hoping to garner some label attention of the back of what became Under The Boot; originally planning to use it as a demo but instead releasing it in its current EP form.
Of the EP itself, and specifically the themes that have inspired the lyrics, it’s one very much borne of modern frustrations, especially the pandemic – but it’s by no means of its time. “I get a lot of inspiration rom what’s going on at that time,” Barling begins, “but a lot of it is dressed up in fantasy-style lyrics.” City Of The Dead, for instance, is actually inspired in part by his commute to work. “We’re in this pandemic, locked down, but I work in the city and I cycle. It was dead, there was no-one around, especially that area [he works in] and when I got to the office, it was a ghost town,” he remembers. That combined with the cognitive dissonance of there being “thousands upon thousands of people dying every day and it somehow being normalised and reported as a regular daily statistic, heavily inspired the song.
When it came to Under The Boot, however, inspiration was a little more direct than that. “If you’re a normal person, there’s always some motherfucker above you, digging their heels in. It’s your boss, it’s a fucking energy company hiking up the prices when they don’t need to, Boris [Johnson] is fucking partying.” Those two, much more direct songs, then fed into third song Ride The Apocalypse which, rather than being quite so to the point, was written as something of a satire of modern life. The pandemic – and perhaps even now – there’s a sense of living through a modern apocalypse. Though the streets are no longer quite so deserted, there’s a cost of living crisis and capitalism continues to exploit the planet and people mercilessly in the pursuit of ever-increasing profits. But in a “there’s not a lot we can do about it, just try and live through it” way, Ride The Apocalypse is a tongue in cheek appraisal of how life is expected to find a way despite the horrors.
These three songs are just the beginning of their plans for the year; with a run of shows alongside UNDERDARK under their belts and with more in the pipeline, they’re hoping to spend the first half of the year touring before hunkering down again for album number two . With the backing of Church Road Records behind them, the impact of which they’ve already seen with the EP making its way round their fanbase thanks to their subscription model, they’re keen to spread the word of thrash and crossover as far as they can. They did plan to use some of Under The Boot’s songs on the new album but opted to leave it as its own thing. “It does mean we have to write more songs now,” he laughs, “but it’ll be fun!” With the surreal events of the past few years and the toll modern life is taking on so many, fun suits them just fine.
Under The Boot is out now via Church Road Records.
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