Bloodshot Dawn is a band that most readers of the site will be aware of. Technical melodic death metal with a brutal twist, the band have toured relentlessly with founder and frontman Josh McMorran’s relentless energy driving the band forward. Josh is now set to release his solo project, Forlorn World, with the debut album Umbra due out at the end of October. Paul caught up with Josh recently to find out a bit more about Forlorn World and to sneak an update on news from the Bloodshot camp.
Having been given early opportunity to listen to Umbra, I’m happy to report that it’s a cracking piece of work. The result of over a year of painstaking development. Josh is happy with the result. “I’m really pleased. It’s kind of an experiment as I’ve never mixed and produced my own album. I didn’t have high expectations and didn’t plan to release anything, but it was good enough to do so. It far outweighed my expectations”.
Josh has been involved in the music industry for many years, but there is obviously a point in the musical journey when you are ready to take on this kind of challenge. “I’ve never been compelled to do anything by myself” Josh explained. “I wanted to get better with the production side of things, to learn more about how to technically put an album together. Bloodshot Dawn have an album written and we are working towards the expenses side of that”. With Covid 19 impacting on the touring of all bands, this left Josh with the opportunity to accelerate his work on Forlorn World. “I started working on it in July 2019, so it was to tide myself over; we can’t do much with Bloodshot now, being from different countries”. Josh admits that he may not have been able to do Umbra, certainly not to the same standard ten years ago. “I’m a bit more open-minded now, I guess. It’s played more in the vein of my favourite listenings, the bands I listen to. You can recognise the bands I listen to by listening to Forlorn World.”
If you are familiar with Bloodshot Dawn, you’ll know that Josh possesses a ferocious roar and growl, so it is interesting on Umbra that there are sections of clean vocals, which work well alongside the harsher more recognisable delivery. “I studied vocals. It is something I’ve only wanted to incorporate in my own music, but it is a difficult thing to balance.
When I pick up a guitar it’s quite brutal, the rhythmic style, and it’s taken me awhile to work out how to approach it. But it’s experimental. I’m new to vocal melodies, over metal. I want to improve on that”. Josh’s style of playing is technically intricate, and I expressed my admiration that he can sing and play at the same time. The pressure of doing quality clean vocals in the Bloodshot arena isn't something that Josh envisages. “I wouldn’t want the pressure of having to sing in tune and play the guitar live. It’s not an easy skill. I don’t want to bring in something that is weak to Bloodshot”. This isn’t that Josh isn’t confident that he could learn to do it, far from it. “It’s hard enough to scream and play the technical stuff that I do is hard enough. Adding clean vocals to that is just such a challenge”. Josh points out that Jari Mäenpää [Wintersun] dropped the guitar playing to concentrate on his vocals. “I wouldn’t want to discredit the rest of the music by singing out of tune. Forlorn World gives me a platform to do stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily do live”. Should Forlorn World ever go live, then Josh feels that he’d likely drop to vocals only with others doing the guitar parts.
Umbra features a range of guests on it including Franceso Paoli (Fleshgod Apocalypse), Morgan Reid and Yo Oniytan. The songs appear to fit with the artists who take part but was the music written with any of those guests in mind? “I’ve collaborated a lot on the Bloodshot albums, so I wanted to get my friends on board, those that I feel are underrated I guess. None of the songs were written with the players in mind. The sections that they play on, I suppose they do cater for them. I asked them before writing their parts in. There is one solo I needed to get someone in last minute due to C-19. Generally, most of the parts cater for the players who are on them. The vocal guests on the final two tracks are portraying characters within the realms of the concept. There is interaction between the main and sub-characters”.
Bloodshot music has a predominantly sci-fi feel although there is always personal themes to the lyrics that Josh writes. In Umbra there is a story to explore. “A lot of my lyrics are observational. They are ambiguous, the writing I do, and I like to have a fantasy theme as it’s good for imagery and artwork. It’s good to have to something to relate to for the art. The first three (and the new) Bloodshot albums there has been a rolling concept between the artwork. This is part of the same lure, all dimensional stuff. If you have the cover, you can see that there is a war, and there is a main character who is a wizard. It’s kind of a standard story. He’s been stripped of all he owned and had his family taken away and he’s being chased down. After being exiled he’s become a powerful wizard and he’s trying to leave the planet he’s on. The story is in the lyrics, it’s all there. If you read between the art (both on Bloodshot) and future releases, it’ll all link together in the end”. Josh sums it up rather nicely when he says it’s basically a cinematic story about a wizard!! He continues “there are monologues and the battle scene is the peak of the story on the album cover.”
Those that follow Josh on his Facebook pages for Forlorn World will have noticed that the album art is designed and created by his fiancé, Tea Morgan. “She’s a very talented painter” Josh says. “It was less pressure for her to do the artwork on my project. It’s her first album cover. It’s fantastic. I have a metre square version on my wall. We worked together and I had the idea in mind and she created perspective as I can’t draw! It’s really eye catching”. Tea has done a stunning job, and Umbra sits alongside those superb covers that are a symbol of the Bloodshot Dawn releases.
Josh explains that artwork is one of the most important factors for underground bands as getting new listeners is a real challenge. “Having that presentation before people have laid ears on your band is the first tipping point. You don’t see a dude slamming an egg on his head and think, that’ll be a masterpiece. You want something that takes your attention instantly. In a world of constant scrolling that is difficult to do”.
Forlorn World is of course a track of the debut album by Bloodshot Dawn. Josh is clear that band names are important. “The song Forlorn World was quite personal to me lyrically, so it kind of encompassed a time in my life. The name means a lot personally. When you are in a forlorn world by yourself, everything is depressing and stuff, and getting out of that depression is something I’ve had to do multiple times. It may seem a depressing reason to call it that but for me it’s a sign of positivity as I’m not in that world. I’m very happy even though the world is messed up. I’m in a good place.