"[This album] is meant to give the struggle and the pain that we have gone through a name.”
Wristmeetrazor recently released their new album 'Replica Of A Strange Love' via Prosthetic Records.
A savage, sultry and insatiable take on modern metalcore, the band expand on whatever expectations you may have of what they are capable of and come out the other end with something truly extraordinary. More than anything, it's a record written with the last 18 months at the core of it, and sets out to give the fear, uncertainty and horror that the world has experienced a face.
We jumped on the phone with bassist/vocalist Justin Fornof to talk through the process and what he hopes that this record will represent for those who let it into their lives...
Before we look forward, let’s look back. What did the ‘Misery Never Forgets’ cycle teach you that you have brought into this new campaign?
“It added a lot to what the previously considered notion of the band was, that’s for sure. When we first started, the band was only one kind of thing, and there weren’t many expectations to do anything. The idea, in the beginning, was that we could do a couple of weekend tours and a few festivals and then break up. So that has changed with each step we have taken. But in particular, with ‘Misery Never Forgets’, we ended up tapping into things that I had never really considered that we would. We started becoming a band that could do stuff within the larger music industry. We started doing things outside of our own circle.
“In that sense though as well as seeing so many interesting and cool aspects to things, there was also the ugly side that comes with existing in that world. And that world is full of people who will lie to you and tell you what you want to hear but then not follow through. You can get exploited and pandered to in ways that are pretty unlike the other aspects of what comes with being in a band. So many of the harrowing parts of the journey were with different people trying to put their fingers into the Wristmeetrazor thing, and a lot of that helped mould where we are now. A lot of this new record addresses that experience at various stages. We’re in a much better place now with a team that we like, and things are working out much better, but a lot of the frustrations from that cycle have fuelled this batch of songs. It’s a direct reflection of what we went through.”
When things get bigger than you ever expected it to be, it’s odd when the industry troupes that you hear connected with genres like pop and arena rock are suddenly connected to a band making dark and aggressive metalcore…
“I think to the other extent with Wristmeetrazor, we were always doing something different enough to where people on the industry side didn’t know where to put us. And to them, if they fucked us over, they would be like, ‘Well, what are they going to do?’ We didn’t have a ton of recourse with us. We had no real leverage on anyone, and it’s so weird that in the metalcore genre, there would be people who would take advantage of bands who couldn’t defend themselves.”
Was the fallout of these experiences where this record started to come together or did the frustrations bleed into the vision you already had?
"This record was in the works as early as 2019. The first track that we did pre-production for was whilst we were still doing the ‘Misery Never Forgets’ cycle. But the real bulk of the record started coming together in February of 2020. We all went to Kentucky and pre-prod the record with Isaac Hale from Knocked Loose. He helped us to write all of it and produced the whole thing too. It was a mutual thing where we would put in riffs and ideas, and he would throw stuff back to us.
"The band's vibe had undoubtedly shifted from the writing sessions for the first record to where we were on this record. Part of that is because Wristmeetrazor has never really been a thing that has been pigeonholed into one genre. When we started the band, the songs we were writing were very much more of the early ‘00’s scream variety, but we were still interested in writing riffs that sounded like Norma Jean or Skycamefalling. So I don’t think it’s inconceivable that we went from that to where we are now. We are now very much a product of touring, having new members and, more than anything, the trials and tribulations of the last year. A lot of what we have been through has helped build the philosophy that sits at the centre of this album."
Having someone like Isaac on your team and supporting your vision must give you the confidence to push as hard as you can…
“Absolutely, but I would shy short of saying that Isaac instilled some sort of reimagined vigour for the music industry or anything like that. For the most part, he’s our friend, and we’ve known him for a long time, so this connection didn’t come through an email or anything like that. It came across through a text message as a friend saying that we knew he wanted to try more production stuff and whether he wanted to do this. There’s no outside interference within it. It was completely insular. But it does definite help when you have someone who is going to vouch for you so much that they want to put their name on your thing.”
And what exactly was the philosophy that you formed through the process of crafting this album? How did you build it?
“There isn’t anyone theme that connects all of these songs. I’m a big fan of records that are conceptual but aren’t concept records. Records like ‘The Downward Spiral’ by Nine Inch Nails are about an emotional descent, but there isn’t a common theme stringing it along. So with this new record, and how I wrote it lyrically, there isn’t one thing that goes throughout it, but there is a theme in that each track follows this descending nihilistic disbelief as far as my outlook on the world and humanity goes. A lot of it was built on the last year and built on the little context it has had in terms of humanity and reality. I still feel very strongly that there is no context to what has happened on a philosophical and collective mental level. Nobody knows why they feel how they feel or what’s going to happen or become of everything. To me, I wrote this record to try and give context to it all. It’s meant to give the struggle and the pain that we have gone through a name.”
It’s the spontaneity and unpredictability that has come with life at this time that feels the most potent in how these songs have been crafted…
“Exactly, and I feel like I wanted to add my own philosophical approach to what these songs are about. Add my own little pieces of subtle theory throughout to give it that context on that larger scale. I feel like the stuff that comes out this year, including this album, will reflect a time that soon we won’t be able to recognise. I don’t think we will be able to recognise what things were like at this point, or even recognise myself at this point, very soon. I was very influenced by the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche and Anton LaVey, and Aleister Crowley. So much so that I would be reading their work simultaneously whilst writing these lyrics. But I felt like it was all relevant to myself and the mental state of the world.”
To have the immediacy of reading something and seeing your own experiences in those words to the same degree, it becomes a part of your art is something you don’t see very often…
“There was a certain amount of hopelessness and depravity and pure dark that existed during these months that was never given that context that it needed. I felt it on an existential and nihilistic realism level, to the point where you realised that there was a life-changing thing happening. The fact that the realities that you once knew were changing and may never actually exist ever again created a very specific sort of hopelessness that will be very hard to replicate in the future. I don’t think that ‘Replica Of A Strange Love’ can ever be made again. I don’t think I could ever write lyrics like this again. I don’t think any of it would be set up the same under any other circumstances. So in that sense, there is something very special and different happening here.
“I think that a lot of bands over the last year used their music as an escape because they wanted to be anywhere else. So they wrote songs that were referencing things that may continue to occur or were just total fantasy. But this record is 100%, not a fantasy, and I hope that it rings a core deep inside of people in the same way that it did for me.”
When you take a step back and consider what you have created from this period of uncertainty and fear, how does it feel to see the result?
“It’s hard to put it into words. It’s not something that we think about or allow to cross our minds. It’s one of those things where if you think about it too much, it will drive you absolutely crazy. There are a lot of what-ifs when you’re in a band putting out a record like this. You want it to do a certain thing, and you want it to have a certain impact, but I try not to think about that too much. The more you create expectations for things like this, the harder it is when those expectations aren’t met. However, we try to stay as focused as we can on the future and what’s next. I try to be very wilful in what I want, and we want to will into existence. This record was a lot about willing this stuff into reality.”
What does it mean to you to have Wristmeetrazor as a means and a muse for you to express these things and will such things into existence? How has your relationship with the band in that regard changed throughout this process?
"The band has evolved a lot, and I think it is now indicative of my philosophical and spiritual views with this record in mind. Our other records have been much broader because they were written about things that had happened but could also have happened to other people. ‘Misery Never Forgets’ was supposed to be about relatable trauma. This record is purposely cryptic. The things on there that are invisible to the naked eye has been done on purpose, and it is stuff that is meant to be found by the listener. I think that part of the purpose is that this album should mean different things to different people. That’s what music is all about. I think that people deserve something in heavy music that digs that little bit deeper. It’s been very surface level for a while, and I feel like it still is now. We wanted and hoped for this release to push those boundaries."