As readers of North Sask Music Zine will know, I chose Set To Flames debut album, "Set To Flames", as one of my top three albums of 2021. It naturally fell to me then, NSMZ's resident Metalhead, Mark, to cover new material in the works for La Ronge's Metal-adjacent duo of Shelbey Savoie and Troy Patterson.
Two tracks were shared with me for private review by the pair, Forgotten and Insomnia.
First impressions are everything in any entertainment media, especially music, and these two songs have clout abound in that arena. Insomnia expands upon that N.W.O.B.H.M. influenced sound that Shelbey and Troy established with the debut release in 2021, confidently including palm-muted pull-offs and pitch bends on guitar and Shelbey at her most powerful on vocals. Forgotten, takes us into the catchy radio-friendly territory of the Hard Rock side of Set To Flames with big anthemic hooks that'll sure have you singing along.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, further growth for a band that proved their chops in 2021 by punching way above their weight for a debut release. Believe me, readers, you're in for a treat when this new material drops.
To find out how things have gone since the release of the debut and what fans can expect from the upcoming material, I caught up with Shelbey and Troy:
MARK: What has the response been like to the album like across the province and beyond?
SHELBEY: The response has been almost overwhelming, it's been welcomed in various music stores throughout the province and we never expected the album to literally travel across the world. That's the cool thing about not only having your music on online platforms but also seeing the stats that come with it. We have album plays in the US and Europe, as well as Australia and Japan. We had someone from Finland send us a private message on social media telling us how he found us online, played our album, loved it, found our covers we have posted on our Reverb Nation page and was a fan of ours. It's something we honestly never imagined, and seeing our album grow organically like that just really validates that people want to listen to what we create. That alone has made this entire journey a really unique experience.
M: What can we expect from the upcoming new music?
S: We already have two songs that we consider complete. From a vocal/lyrical standpoint, I want to challenge myself and start writing a little differently, just in the sense of exploring different subject matter and how to get messages across to listeners in a new way. A lot of the songs in our first album focus on one or two subjects, and while I'm still very happy with them and listen to them with as much enthusiasm as when we were writing them, I want to push my boundaries a little. I want us to be known for our versatility and unexpectedness in our music.
TROY: I think we are constantly developing our sound, never really sticking to one formula. Fans might find some of the new stuff we're coming up with to be a bit heavier sounding. We've gone from tuning down a half-step in our album to a full step now with everything new so far, giving it that heavier, low end that rock fans enjoy. We were kind of already transitioning that way with the last few songs we wrote for our first album.
M: Your music reminds me of earlier female NWOBHM bands like Girlschool on some tracks and has a big vibe of Amy Lee with Motley Crue guitars behind the vocals on other tracks. What are some of your inspirations?
S: I get the "you remind me of Amy Lee" a lot, which is an absolute compliment in my opinion. Evanescence was a huge part of my musical upbringing, the album "The Open Door" is one of my favourite albums of all time for the reason that it taught me you can still have a dirge-like sound that is still considered "heavy" without having to have a 180 beat tempo. She also made me realize how a powerful voice can have a place in hard rock and metal but still sound pretty. Which is a relief because I can't change the voice I have, even if I wanted to lol.
T: I played bass for most of my music career. My favourite musician was Steve Harris from Iron Maiden. When I practiced, I was usually learning Maiden tunes. Motley Crue was probably my all-time favorite band growing up, so these influences you're hearing in the music are not far off at all. Although, I never thought of my playing to have a Mick Mars vibe, but I guess it makes sense that it does and I have heard that comparison a few times. I grew up with bands like KISS, Ozzy, Van Halen, Queensryche, Pink Floyd... They're all in my playing somewhere.
M: When can the public expect to see the new material drop?
S: Our plan is to release an EP early next year. We want to compile 5 or 6 really hard-hitting songs that we take the time to perfect so that we release another record that we are proud of. We never stop writing. There's always 2-3 songs in the works at any given time. If what we've been able to write so far is an indication of what new things we can create, I'm really looking forward to what else we will be able to come up with.
M: What can fans expect from release #2?
S: I think fans can expect to hear a lot of the things they liked from our first album, but with some new twists. I've been testing the limits of my voice a bit more, and that will be noticeable on a song we've written called "Insomnia". I do want to keep ourselves in the rock realm, for sure. We're all about sick riffs and catchy choruses, why mess with a good thing?
T: It's still pretty early in the writing stage to know exactly how this one will evolve. There hasn't been any large breaks in our writing timelines so really, the stuff we're coming up with should show our overall evolution from our last album to this next release we are planning. I think if you enjoyed our first album, you're going to like where we are going with our new music.
If you missed Set To Flames' self-titled debut album, you can find it on Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify and all other major streaming platforms. In Saskatchewan, exclusive physical USB copies of the album can be purchased from Saskatoon's Collector's Edge Comics and Games.