The world is full of chaos. That’s not a new idea or a statement that’s particularly profound but it’s true. Although this has always been the case, it certainly feels like the chaotic nature of everything has been ramping up over the past stretch of years. Sometimes it feels like the world is sitting on a powderkeg and waiting on the spark it needs to fully ignite. Obviously I think all of us would rather live in times that were a little more stable, to say the least, but no one really gets to pick the era they live in and sometimes surviving through all the turmoil and disarray in the world just makes you that much stronger if you manage to make it through to the other side relatively unscathed.
The latest album from Canadian thrashers Raider, aptly titled Trial by Chaos, showcases a band clawing through the madness of modern life to make something that’ll stick with fans. The sophomore record continues what Raider started on debut, Guardian of the Fire, but displays more mature compositions and even more memorable riffs. With a debut as strong as Guardian of the Fire, topping it was no easy task, but Raider somehow managed just that. I recently talked to the band about their killer new record and their modest plans for world domination.
How did Raider get started? How did you guys meet and what made you want to start a metal band together?
Raider: We formed in late 2017 after meeting at shows throughout the Southern Ontario metal scene. Gabe [Rosa, guitars / vocals] had been looking for bandmates to fill out the Raider lineup and Angelo [Bonaccorso, vocals] was looking for a vocalist position. We started jamming some of Gabe’s song ideas, adding in vocals and the sound we have now was born.
How did you all get into metal in the first place and who are some of the bigger influences within the genre on the band?
Raider: We all grew up listening to the classics, and spending a lot of time at shows in Toronto and Southern Ontario as a whole. Annihilator, Immortal, Judas Priest, the list of influences is long but well filled out by classics from every corner of old school metal.
What makes you guys all work so well together as a band and how do you keep a healthy band dynamic?
Raider: Our current lineup works so well together because we share the same passion for performance as each other. We pride ourselves on bringing out the best in each other and we have FUN together. Having fun and enjoying playing together is the glue of any good band.
What’s your process like for writing the music side of things? Has that changed at all over the years?
Raider: The writing process has stayed fairly similar over each release: Gabe will demo out the main song structure, writing both the riffs and the drums, and then pass it to Angelo, who will write and demo vocals over top. We then work together to refine these ideas and seek the counsel of our close friends on the demos. On our most recent record we also had the stellar input of our guitarist, Bennett [Smith], who wrote many of the leads on the new album and helped us guide the production.
How do you write the lyrics for the band? What do you turn to for inspiration for the songs?
Raider: Our lyrics are written by Angelo. As cliche as it is, most of our inspiration comes from life. We draw on all kinds of themes: mythology, dystopian futures, mantras of endurance. We think part of the fun of our music is listening to and reading the lyrics and uncovering these themes and stories yourself!
The new record, Trial By Chaos, is a killer follow-up to the debut. What was the writing and recording process like for this one? What was the goal here with album number two and how stoked were you when you heard the final mix?
Raider: Writing and recording process were very similar to Guardian, but with a fixation on the production this time around. We wanted to be faster, heavier, and more intense than ever, adding many new elements like stronger leads and better song structure. In the studio we looked at everything through a producer’s eyes and made sure every take, edit, and mix touch aligned with our vision of creating a bigger sound.
Between the two records, how do you feel you’ve grown and improved as a band and to what do you attribute that growth?
Raider: Absolutely. This record is lightyears ahead of our first release. We’ve become better performers, better songwriters, and better producers. It comes from experience and practice and dedication. Each of us is fixated on making good music, and together, we amplify that fixation. It helped us make a better record this time around and [we] will carry that momentum to the next one.
I wanted to ask about a few songs on that new album to get the musical/lyrical origin of them. What’s the story behind that title track? Was it always intended to be the opener?
Raider: It was. It sets the tone immediately for what we are about. Life is chaos, and we keep mantras like this in our heart as we navigate and endure that chaos.
Raider: “New Dominion” and “Juggernaut Cerebrivore” go hand in hand thematically. They are meditations on growing inequality in our world, and our trajectory towards serfdom, surveillance, suffering, and self-destruction. “Devour” is about learning from our hardships and celebrating the overcoming of them. It’s about not giving in to the darkness of tragedy, but devouring it, and using it to feed the fire of your passion.
What’s your local scene like where you live? Is there one to be active in and do you feel it has had an effect, positive or negative, on the band?
Raider: We have a great scene in Southern Ontario, especially here in Kitchener-Waterloo. It’s always a great time playing here for those who have been with us since the beginning and were there banging their heads at our first ever shows.
Lastly, what’s next for Raider? What are your goals for the future of the band?
Raider: We want to continue writing better records and playing shows. This is our main focus right now, we are already writing our record for 2024 and have many show plans for both here and elsewhere in the world!
Photo at top: Trial by Chaos album cover.