Auckland metallers Downfall of Humanity are far from being new kids on the block, having released a first album back in 2016, followed more recently with a pair of 2019 singles, descriptively titled Apocalypse and Enemy. Like so many others the five-piece saw their best-laid plans for a new EP release titled ‘Deceit’, and follow-up tour in late 2020 turn into lockdown frustration. Amberleigh Jack caught up with them following the delayed EP’s welcome arrival in October last year.
Ask any act about their influences and it can sometimes be pretty difficult to get them to stop. I put the question to Auckland metal act Downfall of Humanity’s vocalist, Daniel Carleton and guitarist Bryce Patten, and the result was a chronological history of their own band – in the form of shared favourites.
In the earlier days, bands like Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine heavily influenced the group. They then found a heavier sound – more akin to Lamb of God and Machinehead. Now, though, Carleton explains, they’ve discovered, “…kind of our sound. It’s a very Trivium-style, but I think it’s our sound by this point.”
Downfall of Humanity formally began their sojourn into the NZ metal scene in 2016 with the release of debut album ‘Suffer The Silence’, but the band’s true beginnings can be traced back several years from that to backyard evenings shared with west Auckland parents, a few beers and some sweet jam sessions.
It was on a street in the remote suburb of Laingholm that Carleton and his brother Alex (guitars/backing vocals) watched their parents play together with their friends. One of those sets of friends happened to be the parents of drummer Ben Bakker. A friendship through close proximity and a love of music formed, and the three started playing together regularly. Add to the mix bassist Ben Pegman, and the rest is history. Almost.
There was, of course, the problem of who – amongst a group of misfit musicians with no vocal talent – was going to sing. Carleton explains how he came to pick the short straw in this particular battle.
“As a band we decided one of us had to get in on it. It came down to who was the best vocalist, and it was none of us,” he laughs.
Following more debate, the decision came down to the two guitarists, and it was decided that the vocalist would be chosen through a rock-off.
“So we had a guitar battle that I did not win,” he admits. “And I ended up having to pick up vocals!”
Doing whatever he could to go from absolutely-not-a-singer, to lead vocalist in a melodic metal band Carleton took to watching YouTube videos, and ultimately took classical vocal lessons. Those singing lessons, it turns out, helped immensely with the metal screaming as well. Patten joined the band soon after and, according to Carleton, it all just started falling into place.
Following their debut album, Downfall of Humanity played some memorable shows, and began to build a solid fanbase within the local metal scene. They made the 2017 Battle Of The Bands final and opened shows for Antagonist AD, 8 Foot Sativa and Devilskin amongst others.
It’s been a slow build, but with the band following the linear trajectory and getting ready to record and tour a brand new four-track EP, the world imploded. At the time we chat via Zoom in November 2021 Auckland remains in Covid lockdown, something this band (and yes, plenty of others) has had plenty of practice with. We’re set to discuss the brand new EP ‘Deceit’, which was released in October. It was released, Patten explains, the day after the band should have been finishing a nationwide tour.
Originally set to record the EP in July 2020, the band sensibly booked a tour for October that year. Covid stopped the recording midway, so the band toured without the EP. This year? Smooth sailing… right?
Carleton reckons his band seem to have the worst luck with lockdowns – to the point where many of his friends use the band’s’ plans to gauge whether another lockdown is imminent.
“We thought we were being really professional,” he laughs. “We arranged time off work and booked studio time for April 2020. We still got the time off work I guess,” he laughs referring to the April lockdown.
Their studio booking was necessarily pushed back, the band opting for August 2020. If you’re following the pattern here, that was the month of a second Auckland lockdown. The planned October tour was also cancelled.
“So we are absolutely nailing these lockdowns,” he jokes.
With that pretty well summing up their 2020 Patten mentions a gig the band were set to play earlier this year.
“We were getting ready to get on stage at that show when everyone’s phones started ringing, telling us we were going into lockdown.”
A lesser band may have crumbled – or at least postponed indefinitely, but the five-piece were fully ready to record and EP, and with a little Kiwi ingenuity it happened. Thanks largely, as Patten explains, to a Storage King unit he shares with a few friends.
“[We have] monitors and a bit of treatment on the walls. A bunch of treasure in it basically,” he says.
“We recorded the vocals in that, which was good because we could make lots of noise around the clock. Daniel’s quite loud, so it’s good to have that capability!”
The drumming on ‘Deceit’ was programmed because they couldn’t get into a studio to record, while the guitars and bass were recorded and produced by Patten in his bedroom.
With everything set to go the files were sent to local producer Zorran Mendonsa for mixing and mastering, and the four-track EP ‘Deceit’ emerged. It’s a labour of love recording the guys are rightly proud of with the melodic metal sound that’s now truly theirs, and storytelling inspired by real life, lockdowns and a little bit of crazy that everyone’s felt over the past few years.
Despite having such miserable luck with their own tour plans, the band did get a chance to play a few shows in 2020. One notable one at Ding Dong Lounge where Downfall of Humanity’s first crowd surfer emerged. Carleton recalls the crowd as “wild” and Patten recalls more of the gig, almost as a confirmation of wilder crowds post-Covid.
“That was one of those shows where I was quite pleased to be on the stage rather than off because the metal mosh pit crowd was terrifying.”
And now that it seems life may be heading toward a new normal, and Patten says they’d like to do the live shows planned for the EP.
“They may not be lined up as nicely as they were, but that’s the best way to get your music to people and get them to connect with the music.”