As a fan of both fantasy and mythology, Heart Through Sacrifice hits all the right spots with their self-titled debut album. using their melodic metal sound, they dive into a dark fantasy tale through the tracks that are as enthralling as the music is engaging. While we wait with baited breathe for the follow-up album, we had the chance to chat with Doug Rimington from Heart Through Sacrifice about the album. Tackling everything from the backstory of the tracks to the Digipak CD launch and real-world messaging, we received an amazing insight into the man and the music.
OSR: How did the band first get together?
Rimington: Believe it or not, HTS is a solo project. I wrote and recorded the whole thing on my own apart from vocals. For the live shows, I had some friends fill in on guitars otherwise it would’ve looked pretty weird!
OSR: Your self-titled debut album Heart through Sacrifice was originally going to be released as CD Digipaks only and available at gigs, what was the thought process behind this?
Rimington: I’ve played in so many bands, including ones signed to small labels, but it always ends up with a fruitless digital release that just gets let out into the matrix and then we’d play to 4 people in a pub. This project was about doing everything 100% from start to finish and have a real product in my hands at the end. I wrote the album to be listened to from start to finish, not so much for the ‘Spotify generation’ that just listens to music on shuffle. I guess I hoped people would sit down with the CD and enjoy the album in full. I forgot that less and less people have CD players these days!
OSR: With 2020 closing down gigs, the album has now been released digitally, was this a challenging decision to make?
Rimington: Indeed it was, I really wanted to keep it in physical form and had planned to be playing shows in 2020 with the live band and selling copies of the album there, but as 2020 closed down literally everything, I just began writing volume II and to completely move on from volume I, I felt that letting it out there into the digital space would mean I could sign it off in my mind.
OSR: Are you still intending to sell the album as CD Digipaks while it is available digitally?
Rimington: I only made 100 copies of the digipak version and have less than 40 remaining. If we play shows again once volume II is completed, then sure I’d love to sell those at gigs. As for making more copies, that’s not decided yet, it all comes down to how the graphic novel pans out.
OSR: There is a dark fantasy story woven into the album with each track acting like another chapter in the tale. How did you come up with this concept?
Rimington: I love cinematic music, and after spending an afternoon at Whitehouse Studios with Matt Bew going over it, we both agreed it felt like a movie. After pondering a few ideas, I wrote most of it on a flight to Reykjavik, partly to take my mind off the turbulence! The story itself flowed really easily, but it has been and continues to be fine-tuned even now as work on the graphic novel begins.
OSR: What was the biggest challenge you faced when creating the album?
Rimington: Time and money were the biggest challenges, which I’m sure is the same for most bands. There were lots of challenges in the end, doing something like this on your own is tough. But, I had lots of good friends to bounce ideas off including Bec from Bullet on a String, Matt from Whitehouse Studios and a few other musician and techy friends.
OSR: While the album is steeped in fantasy mysticism, there is a very real-world message threaded into the story. Is this something you actively planned or is it just a bonus?
Rimington: Originally, when planning and writing the lyrics, I actually wanted the songs to be more metaphorical rather than literal so they could stand on their own. If people can relate to these words, then that’s a mission accomplished. Heart Through Sacrifice itself means ‘gaining heart through sacrifice’ so work hard and you will be rewarded, even if that reward is just knowing you did your best.
OSR: If people could only listen to one track from the album, which would you recommend?
Rimington: For me, it would be the 4th song, ‘Pride and Honour’. From a songwriting perspective, it was everything I wanted in a song, heavy, melodic, fast and powerful. It was also the first demo I sent to Corinne to lay down some scratch vocals and it was her demo that she sent back that inspired me to continue on and write the whole album!
OSR: There are a lot of layers to the sound on the album from stomping drums to electric riffs and soaring vocals, but what is the one thing that you are most proud of on the album?
Rimington: I think I’m most proud of the drums. It was my first time tracking metal drums and I tracked 10 songs over a 5 day period! I’m not the most solid drummer so it was a lot of weekend and evening practices sessions. Matt (Whitehouse Studios) was very patient throughout the tracking and I can tell you there were some days where I had my head in my hands wondering if I could even play what was required.
OSR: The album cover is inspired by comic books and there is a potential graphic novel linked to the album. Can you tell us more about this?
Rimington: Yeap, there is a graphic novel in the works, Bec from Bullet on a String, who did the logos and cover work for both the digipak and digital releases, will be heading this up. We’ve begun the planning and are reworking the story a bit to create lore and depth to the characters. As you can see by the digital cover, the art will be heavily 90’s DC comics era inspired. I am super grateful that Bec has decided to do this, to see the music I wrote inspire this kind of art is really unbelievable!
OSR: With gigs slowly starting up again, are you planning any upcoming dates?
Rimington: No plans to gig again in the near future. If I do, along with Corinne on vocals, I’d need a session band, and for that, I will need some serious funds. For now, I am concentrating on the follow-up album with 12 songs in demo form written and now I need to work on the story and lyrics to go with!
OSR: What else can we expect from you in the future?
Rimington: I’m actually writing 2 other albums alongside HTS Vol II. One is a rock-n-blues instrumental project with another guitarist (Lloyd Meeks) called Lockdown Co. The other is a metal project with songs based around environmental themes, that one has no project name yet but you can call the genre ‘envirometal’! I’ve been inspired to write some angry stuff by recent events including the slaughter of dolphins in the Faroe Islands. I’m hoping to release that one in early 2022 and HTS Volume II after that, time and money depending!