“Scotland can be quite a grim country, but it’s equal parts beautiful and I think that inspires a sort of honesty in a lot of Scottish music,”
says Craig McKenzie, frontman for Glasgow’s Megalomatic.
“You don’t find many modern Scottish bands singing about fairy tales or fantasy,” he says. “It’s always about real life issues.”
Formed in 2013, by McKenzie, drummer Jamie Barnes and bassist Ben Reffin, Megalomatic do indeed sing about real life issues and they do so with equal parts muscle and heart. A power trio whose musical might comes across as a mixture of Biffy Clyro by way of Mastodon, Megalomatic have proven, over the course of their young career, that heavy music can have profound emotional resonance.
While the band’s debut album Hunt For The Midnight Sasquatch showcased their penchant to play metal that was informed as much by Black Peaks as it was by “South Park,” the band’s new EP Symbolism is a jaw-dropping batch of new material that represents a massive creative leap forwards both lyrically and sonically.
“A Yellow Car, A Golden Chariot” is a throaty blast of sheer metal bliss; “Trider” is a raw and powerful existential journey, and the crunch and howl of “Cesspit” finds McKenzie declaring, “I’ve been swimming in this river/I can’t escape,” all the while sounding like an open wound of a man caught in the claustrophobic vortex of his own thoughts.
“Direction” is a thoughtful surge of heavy soul that showcases Barnes’ virtuosity behind the kit. Then, the cathartic closer “Silky” is rife with primal stomp and a palpable grappling with mortality. It’s filled with whiplash guitars, prowling bass lines and a backbeat that suggests both doom and redemption.
Of that redemption, McKenzie reveals the EP’s subject matter had a lot to do with its presence:
“This EP does deal a lot with mental health issues like anxiety and depression in the wake of loss, and extreme amounts of pressure,” he says. “A lot of the songs reference how we try and use these lows to fuel the positive things in our lives.”
While McKenzie’s compositions aren’t afraid to wrestle with the universe’s biggest and darkest questions, he explains that the subject material of his lyrics have to do with where he is in his own life when he’s writing them:
“Lyrically, I write songs around current life experiences,” he says. “In most cases, songs don’t end up being about one thing, but more a sort of screenshot of my mindset at the time.”
As for how long the five numbers for the EP were gestating, McKenzie recalls:
“At the time of recording these songs, some of them had been around a lot longer than others Over the long period of time we were officially writing for this EP we had a total of 9 songs written, be it through a sudden burst of inspiration or through forcing songs out for the sake of creating something. The tracks that ended up on Symbolism are the ones we found to come to us most naturally.”
While Megalomatic can play it dark, fast and heavy, their songs have surprising breaks and shifts that catch the listener off guard and beg for repeat listens. Their varied musical tastes that range from Snoop Dogg to Ice Cube to Everything Everything, demonstrate that this is a band that draws inspiration from the least likely of places.
This can best be evinced in Megalomatic’s pre-show ritual, which is perhaps one of the more surprising reveals you’ll run into all year.
“As a band, we hype ourselves up before playing a show,” McKenzie laughs, “by listening to Will Smith in the car and before we hit the stage.”
Debut EP set for release 15th September 2017 via Milky Bomb Records.
BUY/pre-order link: Megalomatic-Symbolism-EP
1. A Yellow Car, A Golden Chariot (lead single)