GRAVESHADOW Interview: HEATHER MICHELE on Paying ‘Ambition’s Price’

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Now in its fifth year of existence, Graveshadow is finally coming into its own. The Sacramento-based quintet began drawing regional attention in 2014, which spread with the release of its 2015 debut album, Nocturnal Resurrection. The nucleus of the group; guitarist Will Walker, vocalist Heather Michele, bassist Ben Armstrong, and drummer Roman Anderson, have been cultivating their brand of symphonic metal since 2013. The addition of lead guitarist Aaron Robitsch (Cerpuscle), has only solidified the band and added depth to an already formidable unit.

While Graveshadow has always been labeled “symphonic metal,” their sound is a broader mix of elements that also include thrash, doom, death, and progressive power metal. In fact, it is the latter that feels more in line with the music on the band’s sophomore record, Ambition’s Price, released April 13 through M-Theory Audio. On the new album, Graveshadow blend their symphonic foundation with fantastical tales, epic melodies, layered harmonies, and a more riff-driven sound than the previous record. Something Heather Michele shared was purposeful in its intent.

With this one, our goal was to be a little more riff-oriented when we wrote the songs. When we wrote the first record, there was a bit more of a focus around keyboards. We still want those elements in our music and will continue to want that, but we really wanted to make sure that everybody had a voice in this, especially more guitars.”

The record is already on the Billboard charts; a testament to the band’s fans and the strength of the new music. Michele admits the band is pretty ecstatic about the response.

We honestly weren’t sure how it would do the first week. We’ve done a couple of tours, and we’ve met amazing fans who really appreciate and support us, but we weren’t sure how this second album was going to be received. So far a lot of people seem to like it, so we’re very excited.”

Ambition’s Price marks the debut for the band’s new guitarist, Aaron Robitsch, who also handles keyboard duties on the new record. Heather talked about what he added to the chemistry and creative process of making the new record.

Aaron brought so much. He brought more than we ever could have hoped for. He’s already very versed in writing keyboard parts. He has a project called Crepuscle where he’s the keyboardist of that band. But of course in Graveshadow he mostly handles lead guitar work, which he does a fantastic job at, in my opinion. He was a perfect fit, and he stepped in amazingly.”

The album title comes from the song of the same name, but it holds special importance for Graveshadow‘s members who have endured challenges and struggles both personally and as a band.

When we wrote the title track it felt very symbolic of what we have been going through for the past several years of being in the band. There’s a great deal of sacrifice that happens when you’re in a band, and it can sometimes feel like you’re giving more than you’re getting back. All in all, we wouldn’t choose anything else. We’re so happy with where we are, but it did come at a price.”

The band has already released three tracks from the record, “Doorway to Heaven,” “Widow and the Raven,”, and the video for “Warchief.” The latter is the third song in a trilogy embedded in the new record, entitled Call of the Frostwolves.

All three parts are, ‘Slave,’ ‘Liberator,’ and Warchief.’  It’s kind of nerdy, but we own it,” laughs Michele. “That’s kind of what we’re all about. It’s actually a trilogy about a character from World of Warcraft. This particular character was born and raised in slavery. His name is Thrall, and it actually means slave, which is what the first song is about. Within ‘Liberator’ he ends up freeing himself through a series of events. He goes out and finds the rest of his clan, and in the end he becomes the Warchief, and leads them to freedom. It’s a very epic tale that we fell in love with and wanted to write about.”

You can listen to the full interview with Heather Michele below as she talks more in-depth about Ambition’s Price. Graveshadow will kick of its first headline tour this summer.

Learn more on the band’s Website

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