Hephystus forges ahead with newfound label support

by Ryan Snyder

Metal chose us,” Troy Surratt joked, as he explained how Greensboro metalheads Hephystus fell into their line of work. “On a more serious note, it gives us as individuals more freedom to express ourselves through our music. It’s full of energy, power and complexity.” I was that perspective — along with a ripping stage show — that led the band to recently go from struggling, unsigned independent act to signed band with a certain direction and promising future.

Hephystus signed with noted rock label Spectra Records, the home of artists such as Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm, classic rockers T.Rex, and the recently reformed Cutting Crew, back in early June. Under the banner of the label’s familiar black-and-white logo, Hephystus’ next project includes the re-release of their selftitled debut album with bonus DVD content to be filmed at Greene Street Club on Wednesday, July 21. The label has arranged for Blake Faucette to assume the role of producer and director, a rock veteran who has produced footage for bands such as GWAR, Andrew WK, Corrosion of Conformity and Between the Buried and Me.

More importantly, the band took their debut album back to the cutting room floor and replaced entire instrumental tracks in the process of reinventing their debut as Burn the Page. Hephystus parted ways with bassist Jonathan Loftis and proceeded to rip the old bass tracks off the album and recorded all new ones that new bassist Aaron Yow wrote, along with fresh vocal harmonies and drums in some instances. The result is a sleeker, more melodic and more radio-friendly metal album that Surratt feels the new lineup — and fans — can get behind.

“It’s not that we didn’t like them, it’s that [Loftis] is no longer a part of the band,” Surratt said. “If we were going to have to tour on this album for another year, it’s not fair for [Yow] to play someone else’s part. He’s too good not to have on the album.”

The band started as a project between drummer Troy Surratt and guitar players Brandon Miller and Matt Halberg. The three have maintained a close musical association since high school and have played in a number of bands, including the occasionally reunited A Life Besieged. As the latter began to fall apart, Surratt looked to start from scratch with a sound that could stand out in the contemporary metal scene. While still looking for a bassist, the three added keyboardist Andrew Pollard to the mix. With Miller handling the primary songwriting duties, it’s been the band’s shared priority to create a new, refreshing sound for the often overlooked and marginalized local metal scene.

“I feel like there hasn’t been a metal band in North Carolina who’s done a lot, really since Between the Buried and Me. It feels like people don’t care about the sound around here.” Surratt said. “We’re just trying to step our game up now that we’re a signed band. We just want everyone to say, ‘Why haven’t I heard of these guys?’” The band will embark on a European tour next spring after putting together a regional tour and Surratt trusts that with the combination of power, energy and complexity that Hephystus possesses can help to breathe new life into the feeble heavy music scene in the area. With the new label backing, it might not be long before metal fans can have another local act to get behind.