More Than Misery
There’s an art to looking back. For Caskets, it could have been easy to plough forwards regardless, riding the wave of success from their breakthrough debut ‘Lost Souls’ that opened tours up across the United States and mainland Europe, and secured appearances at landmark festivals Download and Slam Dunk. But having swapped the bedrooms that fostered album number one for countless hours on the road, reflecting on that journey and the decisions that led them down certain paths quickly became unavoidable. Now tackling the realities of a busy band schedule, spending the best part of two years in shared tour buses and hotel rooms, those reflections have become collective.
If ‘Lost Souls’ was primarily driven by vocalist Matt Flood’s personal experiences, sophomore album ‘Reflections’ delivers a wider picture of Caskets as a whole, borne out of the usual interpersonal differences that all bands face at least once in their career. For some it marks the end, but for others it fosters a collaborative environment that pushes the music well beyond what has come before. “Difficult stuff happening made our relationship stronger because we’re now not afraid to voice our opinion and we know it will be respected,” Matt notes, fittingly looking back on the moments that began to shape Casket’s hugely dynamic second record.
The result reflects each individual member of Caskets, with Matt joined by guitarists Benji Wilson and Craig Robinson, bassist Chris Mcintosh, and drummer James Lazenby. “When your drummer is bringing you full demos with lyrics, that’s a strong foundation for me to work off” Matt smiles, recalling the moment James – alongside the others – arrived with a near-complete demo track for the record. “We all know each other a lot better than we did before; we know each other’s likes, dislikes, how to wind each other up and chill each other out. That ease we all have with each other is and was a massive help when it comes to the song writing process.”
That process has seen the tracks expanded, rehashed, and finely tuned, often beginning life in a very experimental format before being effortlessly moulded into Caskets’ distinctive yet expansive sound. The record’s more upbeat moments carry impactful melodies, upping the ante from ‘Lost Souls’ with considered force, while the powerful ambient moments play out with real finesse. “We built a platform to rip it apart and put it back together so it’s the same but better,” Matt enthuses. “We never have a full idea of what’s going to happen, but I like the spontaneity of writing music. It’s what keeps me wanting to do it.”
A series of individual lessons, each track on the Dan Weller (Holding Absence, Bury Tomorrow) produced ‘Reflections’ looks back at a specific moment in one of the band member’s lives; a thought, feeling or events, and how that moment shaped the present. It’s a step away from the singular retellings of ‘Lost Soul’, and a concept that emerged as Matt reassessed his position in and commitment to the band. “I could never sit down with a counsellor,” he admits, “it’s a lot easier for me to write it all down on paper. So, I pushed that to the boys and it kind of went from there.”
The subsequent reflections take very different shapes. The thunderous ‘Guiding Light’ tells of the struggle in finding personal strength in the face of a broken relationship; the haunting ‘Silhouettes’ lands on the immeasurable power of self-worth and how we should never change ourselves for others, while album closer ‘Better Way Out’ spawns from the process of saving a loved one from suicide. “You can be who you want to be,” the song rings out with a soaring orchestral catharsis that surpasses all of Casket’s contemporaries. The breadth and density of the subject matter is pulled together by the record’s concept, ultimately forming the beating heart of the record.
“’Reflections’ shows how much more we can get out of the band musically if we all put our heads together a bit more,” Matt beams, positive about a record that not only showcases Caskets as a full entity but represents the impressive range of influences that have soundtracked the five piece’s times on the road and in the studio, helping to rapidly expand their sound. “It’s always about the music, that’s the whole point of being in a band,” he concludes. “If we can fit as much into our sound but it still sounds like us, that’s my lifelong goal with Caskets.”