People find inspiration everywhere. A brush with death could be the push you need to make a grand change. Maybe something as simple as a nice walk in the forest gave you the motivation to write something haunting. Even just experiencing someone else’s art can be the impetus that a lot of people need to create something special of their own. For Ace Meggido, the idea for The Gauntlet came as a way to keep busy during the cold months away from his hobby of motorbike riding.
Founded in 2019, The Gauntlet unleashed its first full-length record, Dark Steel and Fire, in January of this year. The debut is a killer continuation of the work started on the War and Guilt EP from 2020 and a Hell of a blackened thrash album. With the band being just Meggido, The Gauntlet lives and dies by the passion of the main man behind it all. Luckily for us, it seems like Meggido wouldn’t mind if The Gauntlet stayed more than just a lark to pass the winter months.
First off, how did The Gauntlet get started? What made you want to start this type of band and what got you to actually do it?
Ace: The Gauntlet started as an idea I had in the winter when it was too cold and snowy to take my bike out and I guess it was just pure boredom that motivated me to start recording the music. It was originally just a winter project to keep me busy until next riding season but it’s developed into a more dedicated project now.
What got you into metal as a genre in the first place and who are some of the more important bands to you within the genre?
Ace: I was always drawn to distorted guitar and gradually found my way to metal when I was a kid. To me the most important metal bands in metal are Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Slayer, Venom, and Bathory.
Being that you are a one-man band, what unique challenges and benefits does that provide you for the band? Do you ever think about expanding it out to more permanent members other than yourself?
Ace: The best thing about working solo is that I can work at my own pace. The biggest challenge is not being able to hear everything together until I’m basically done with the recording. I am thinking of putting a band together for live performances to see how it works, but nothing is definite yet.
What is the music writing process like for you? Do you have a set process that you use or does it just kinda depend from song to song?
Ace: I start with a rhythm guitar part and then start to build off of that in my head. If I have a part, I keep writing around that so that all of the parts are written together. I can’t read or write music, so I have to keep everything in my head until recording time.
How do you come up with the lyrics? Is there anything that you turn to in particular for inspiration?
Ace: Usually the music itself evokes an idea or a name, and when that happens it’s pretty easy to build the story around that. In general, I always write lyrics to the song itself. The inspiration for the lyrics usually comes from fantasy movies, video games, and ideas I get from listening to other bands. Sometimes it’s just random stuff that comes into my head.
What was the process of writing/recording Dark Steel and Fire like? Were there any particular challenges to getting your first LP as The Gauntlet recorded? What did you learn from the process that you’ll take to future recordings?
Ace: When I recorded the War and Guilt demo I felt like I found a good rhythm and immediately started writing after that. I sat with all of the material I had put together for a few months until I felt that I had completed all of the ideas I wanted to musically. I started to record all of the music when I had time, in pieces, and then there was a long stretch where I basically had all of the music done and no lyrics ready. The lyrics were the hardest part and did not come to me all at once. I tried to take my time and write them when the inspiration came.
I wanted to ask about the lyrical and musical inspiration behind a few of the songs on that debut. What’s the story behind that killer opener, “Where Heroes Go To Die?”
Ace: This was actually the last song written and as a result it had a feeling of finality to it. The lyrics are about a final battle where a hero is tested. While most will fall, the song is really about the challenge itself.
How about the origin of “Damnation Calls with Haste?”
Ace: “Damnation…” was a song I re-recorded from the demo, so lyrically it is somewhat an outlier because it was already written. These lyrics explore the mind of a fighter facing an impossible task, who has to go beyond their fears and limits to complete the mission. The result is a mental express train to Hell.
What about “Those Who Will Not Return?” That’s one of my favorites from the record.
Ace: This is a song about a band of broken soldiers making their last walk into certain death. I remember being out on a ride in West Jersey and there was a huge storm rolling in my direction. I think the dark clouds set the atmosphere for me that day and the lyrics were written around that.
“Armoured Hearts” is a Hell of a closer. How did that one come about?
Ace: The lyrics for this one are an amalgamation of ideas from other songs throughout the album. When I wrote the music for this one I knew it had to be the closer, so too did the lyrics have to “close the book” on the album. The lyrics are about the balance between inevitable doom and strong willpower.
I really dig that cover too. It’s got a ton going on and gives you a lot to dig through while listening to the record. Who did it and how much direction did you give them?
Ace: The cover art was done by Raul Gonzalez. I worked with him also on the demo and thought he absolutely nailed the imagery. For the album, I did not give much direction other than the fact that the album would be better than the demo. I knew his style fits the music already and I think he really nailed it again!
What’s the scene like out there in New Jersey and, being a one-man band, do you get to play out much? Do you feel your local scene has shaped the band in any way?
Ace: I have never played out with the band yet so I can’t really say. There is no local metal scene where I am so I just do my own thing.
Lastly, what’s next for The Gauntlet? What are your goals for the future of the band?
Ace: I am considering concerts, but let’s wait and see. I don’t really have any specific goals other than leaving behind a memorable album. If I think I can top this one, maybe I’ll try.
Photo at top: Dark Steel and Fire album cover.
Follow The Gauntlet on Bandcamp.