Interview with Cognizance


Metalcore band Cognizance hopes to make itself a force among the legions of hybrid-metal bands dressing like hardcore kids, partying like millennials and hungry for riffs. With their newest release, _Inceptum, Cognizance unleash two tracks of technical metalcore with a focus on songwriting. Guitarist Alex Baillie gave us a few moments of his time to describe the past and future of this competitive band…

When did Cognizance form, and did you have a goal in mind at the time? Were you from similar musical backgrounds? What about life-paths and outlooks?

Henry and myself started working on a Death Metal song late 2011, we recorded it like 3 times with the help from some other musicians we were friends with. Eventually, it started to sound pretty cool and early 2012 we started (slowly) piecing 4 songs together which later became our debut Inquisition.

Pryce (Big Mac/Henry) and me have been friends for quite a long time, we’ve played in a couple of bands together. We’ve always shared a mutual love for heavy metal, gear and snacks. So kicking off this project was pretty easy going.

Phil joined the force late 2013, we’ve known him a while and I used to play in his band XisForEyes. You can check this out in detail in our “Origins” video:

You’re more experienced musicians than the average person starting a new band. Was this a challenge and how did you overcome it? Did you face any obstacles in uniting your musical styles?

I wouldn’t say we’re more experienced than people starting a new band, but we’re keen players for sure.

I’d say the only obstacle we initially faced and still sometimes do is Pryce telling me everything needs to be faster haha. We eventually compromise on a tempo, I’m down for the faster speeds but sometimes certain parts can just sound a mess at whacky speeds. Plus I can’t play that fast!

As far as musical styles go, we each contribute our style of playing to compliment the song. If our idea doesn’t work or fit then it gets changed. We usually put things like this down to a vote.

What sort of music is Cognizance? How does it differ from death metal, grindcore and metalcore?

Cognizance is modern Death/Extreme Metal. I don’t think we differ that much from the styles mentioned above. Although I don’t think we have any elements of Grindcore in there, yet.

_Inceptum seems to be a concept EP. What does the leading underscore (_) mean? What is the concept?

We wanted to use the underscore to visualise the technological/digital theme in the song “The Succession of Flesh.” The specific word “Inceptum” was inspired by the other single “Aeon of Creation.” The theme in each song share undertones which form the title _Inceptum.

The lyrical themes of each song are set in completely different time frames. “Aeon of Creation” is about the hellish conditions during the early formation of Earth, the originator of consciousness. A natural creation. “The Succession of Flesh” is set in the present and is themed around technology being considered an extension of human consciousness, a man made creation.

Why did you decide to do an EP instead of a full-length?

There are a few reasons why we decided to do this, mainly; Time, our budget and our ambition to keep churning out songs as quickly and consistently as we can.

Currently not being a live band means that we have to go about things in a slightly different method. At the moment this works for us and our sound is constantly changing so this keeps each release sounding real fresh.

Where did you record, and what did you do to get the crisp and crunchy (“Pringles”) sound you got?

_Inceptum was recorded in various locations:

  • Drums: Eyal Levi’s studio in Stanford, Florida. Eyal also recorded his solo here.
  • Rhythm and lead guitars: Henry’s studio up in Leeds; Eyal flew out to record us here in the UK.
  • Vocals and bass: Phil’s studio up in Newcastle upon Tyne. More Eyal action right here.
  • Frank Mullen guest spot- Tommy Jones (Videohammer Studios) who filmed the whole recording process flew out to Long Island New York to track Frank at Full Force studios.
  • Jason Suecof guest spot: Jason recorded his guest solo at his studio in Florida, the mighty Audiohammer studios. They now have a meat smoker over there but that didn’t make its way on to the recording.

About those Pringles you mentioned, the overall sound is down to each of our performances and the final mix Eyal did.

You chose to release the EP to press as a 20-minute film about the making of the EP. How did this “meta-release” come to pass? Was it a greater challenge?

The addition of the documentary fell in place naturally. We wanted to capture the experience of this project as it was a pretty big venture for us having Eyal Levi and Tommy Jones come over from the US to work with us. Plus including a documentary with the release was a nice step up from our last demo, widely know as the “Speed Metal” self-titled.

Tommy did an incredible job of the documentary. Filming in multiple locations/studios can’t be easy to edit into a final product but he’s really nailed it and we’re pumped about how it’s come out.

We will be releasing the documentary for free online alongside the release of _Inceptum on the 22nd December.

What’s next for Cognizance? How should interested fans stay on top of what you’re doing?

We’re already working on a bunch of new material. I’ve pretty much got four songs written at this point. I’m not sure what we’re going to use them for or when you guys will hear them. But we’re starting some pre-production in less than two weeks, should be badass.

We post regular updates on our pages

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14 thoughts on “Interview with Cognizance”

  1. Yoko says:

    “Metalcore band Cognizance hopes to make itself a force among the legions of hybrid-metal bands dressing like hardcore kids, partying like millennials and hungry for riffs.”


  2. monotone metalcore grunting says:

    At least they don’t come off as self-absorbed douche bags (like Ara).

    1. Ara says:

      Glad we left an impression on you.
      Here’s our new record. Enjoy!

      1. Good title. Will check it out.

      2. monotone metalcore grunting says:

        No thanks. The only thing I enjoy about your band is your obscurity since that means you’ll never get the chance to piss on the history of death metal as badly as the bands you look up to (I’m assuming Ulcerate and Job For A Cowboy). Metal Sucks might be the place for a band like yours to build an audience.

        1. Ara says:

          This place is the Tea Party of metal. Did all of you get bullied by mallcore kids in high school? No one is out to ruin the history of death metal except for you guys, who continue to drag its name through the mud by condemning the concept of progression. Nobody who was part of the creation of the genre shares the idea of it that you have. Death metal was a stance against common musical ideas, and now no readers here will allow a band to be considered part of its genre unless it follows the exact same playbook executed in the early nineties. If any of you were actual inspired musicians, you would understand that copying your peers for the sake of fitting in is an artistic fallacy and makes you just as guilty as the trend-hopping bands you unjustly lump us in with.

          1. Always glad to see you all here. I think Ara is one of the better recent bands. Much better and less “pop” than some of the other bands mentioned.

            This place is the Tea Party of metal.

            Ouch! But I would like lower taxes and less government interferen– wait, I got sidetracked.

            However, we should take a peek at this:

            Death metal was a stance against common musical ideas, and now no readers here will allow a band to be considered part of its genre unless it follows the exact same playbook executed in the early nineties.

            That’s the nature of genres: they have attributes. In the late 80s and early 90s, those attributes were not so clearly codified as they are now, but they were present.

            The worry with metalcore is that it’s actually a step backward from the death metal standard to the post-hardcore of the late 1980s and late 1990s which it acutely resembles.

            I think people here are OK with newer metal but realize it has betrayed the idea of death metal and its spirit if we call it death metal.

            Hence we call it metalcore, and realize there’s a wide variation in that genre, but that it shares common songwriting traits.

            Progression, regression… it might be a matter of perspective, how it appears. But then we look to the historical record and all is pretty clear.

            My question is: what’s next? We’ve had this type of metalcore around for 15 years (or more, if you listen to me). The next leap metal is going to take is…?

            My guess is a hybrid between Blotted Science and Metallica.

            1. Ara says:

              I’ve been a fan of death metal for an extremely long time. I understand the need to defend a genre that means a lot to you to those that falsely try to identify with only its superficial attributes. I totally get it, but the mentality here is too rigid, and some of the arguments used don’t make sense. What you all are fans of is clearly Old School Death Metal, and perhaps the name of the website should change to accommodate that. With the last 20 years though the genre has changed and now there are multiple types of death metal, and if you go to any other website that talks about death metal you’ll see that. As for the dreaded metalcore genre- metalcore is the fusion of metal and hardcore, nothing more. I watched it come about as I tried to start a death metal band in 1999 and was only able to encounter those in the hardcore scene trying to fuse that stuff with the heaviness of metal. There is a profound disconnect between the members of Ara and the people I mentioned, who are no doubt the people you are afraid are infiltrating the death metal genre. But, just because something within the death metal umbrella doesn’t click with you, you shouldn’t be able to call it metalcore. Necrophagist is not a metalcore band. Origin is not a metalcore band. You can talk on and on about the strengths and weaknesses of the two, and chances are I will agree with you, but the former is a progressive death metal band and the latter is a technical death metal band. If you tell me the Sound of Perseverance is a metalcore record, I may actually die of embarrassment for all of you.
              For example, I love old school horror movies, and I think modern ones suck, but I won’t call Paranormal Activity Part Whatever a romantic comedy because it falls back on jump scares and bad cgi. It’s a horror movie, but a shitty one.
              Some of the arguments on here are mind-boggling: I’ve seen plenty of reviews here where you talk about the narrative of a song and the storytelling and such, and if you like it, it’s ok to call it death metal, and if you don’t, it’s metalcore. It’s like you created this box of what is palatable and you force what you hear into it instead of bending your argument around it. We’ve been accused of a lot of things around here, from hip hop influences to pop song arrangements, and both of those are absurd. Trust us, we aren’t the bad guys out to shit on death metal. We are simply fans of the genre that want to hear new avenues explored with it, and if anyone took the time to fully listen to what we do, I doubt the modern pitfalls of the bands you all are terrified of would apply to us.
              It’s easy to get pissed on the internet. I’m sure you’ve made your judgments about us that are unfortunately unwavering. But I would love to actually sit down with you guys over a beer and talk about death metal and what you look for in the genre and where you would like it to go. Chances are there would be common ground.

              1. What you all are fans of is clearly Old School Death Metal, and perhaps the name of the website should change to accommodate that.

                Are we? “Old school death metal” means stuff like Num Skull. We’re fans of the breadth of death metal.

                I think the problem here is that some argue that “metalcore = death metal,” while others disagree. This reminds me of how the music industry tends to call lots of stuff heavy metal because it makes for better sales, because there’s a lot of metalheads out there buying A/DC, Iron Maiden, Metallica, etc. discs and this makes metal, while not the biggest genre, one of the biggest and most consistently purchased among the people who don’t need a whole lot of advertising to convince them to buy bands. AC/DC sells once people see an album is out; other bands require a lot more hype.

                So the question is:

                Is metalcore death metal?

                And then: what is death metal?

                There’s a whole onslaught of historical information in The Heavy Metal FAQ that can help.

                What defines death metal is a certain kind of composition that you see in all of the genre.

                Metalcore does not use that, but uses a type of songwriting identical to that used by post-hardcore, which we might call “high contrast variety” songwriting.

                We are simply fans of the genre that want to hear new avenues explored with it

                And that’s the problem. Not speaking of Ara, but metalcore as a whole is taking zero new directions. “Combine all the stuff that people liked in the last generation” is not a direction. Really, metalcore should trace its roots to post-hardcore and start developing on what that interesting genre did. There’s more there than here in metal.

                This also ignores the fact that old school bands are not putting out releases at the same pace as the newer bands, but they’re putting out some amazing stuff. Beherit, Blaspherian, Imprecation, War Master, Demoncy, Sammath… there are A-level albums in there.

                But I would love to actually sit down with you guys over a beer and talk about death metal and what you look for in the genre and where you would like it to go.

                Me too! Hope we get a chance. You might consider that what makes Ara stand above its competition is not style, but substance. Songwriting, song content, imagery and ideas.

                1. Ara says:

                  Is metalcore death metal? Of course not. Much can be said about the spirit of metal and how you can hear it through the notes being played. I can hear motive in music and you can definitely hear the intent of death metal bands versus that of metalcore bands, and this doesn’t necessarily have to do with song construction- it’s more an intangible feeling. Chromatic riffs comprise a lot of death metal songs but also Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4.” What it seems is that the phobia around here is of riff-salad wankery which inherently makes something metalcore to your ears- which I can kind of understand given that the arrangements of say a band like The Dillinger Escape Plan are definitely not that of a death metal nature, but perhaps could be if the sound there was more in line with the genre. For instance, Nile’s “Serpent Headed Mask” is very much a riff salad song, and is unquestionably death metal, and early Atheist still had bonkers arrangements. As time moves on bands will want to build upon the extremes of the past, and more and more adventurous arrangements are bound to occur. This doesn’t make the music metalcore. The way a band utilizes arrangements sets them apart from other bands but doesn’t confine them to a genre- their SOUND does. You touch on this by citing Demilich as a band that approaches complex arrangements in a narrative fashion while it still is death metal. I think throwing a billion non-related ideas into a song makes it a bad song, writing-wise, but not a metalcore song.
                  I read most of your history of metal FAQ. While it is quite expansive and informative, it is not without bias. What are your credentials for analyzing the music as you’ve done? Do you have a music degree?

  3. Concerned Citizen says:

    It seems they’re spending most of their time/money on their image and creating a higher quality product than their peers with the production, documentary, etc. They’re better than most in their genre if that counts for anything. Some of the riffs are good. The whole is unconvincing and forgettable because it becomes monotone anger no matter how much contrast they throw in. From the way they create music, I can tell they’re coming more from the background of Aphex Twin fans who listen to house/trance music trying to be “brutal and tech” rather than guys who listen to Morbid Angel for instance. Even the cover art looks like something I’ve seen countless times before, and just in recent years.

    On a positive note, at least the Morgoth article made me listen back to the Cursed album and Eternal Fall/Resurrection Absurd.

  4. trystero says:

    Where is the mystery? The myth? The imagination? Where is the power? Where is the soul stirring heaviness?

    Cause it aint here!

  5. Now I'm Angweeeee... says:

    How to know something is terrible/metalcore in less than 10 seconds…

    Have you ever noticed all these songs start off with the same pattern? The first riff always sounds something along the lines of 2 fast power chords going into a palm muted series of “chunky” power chords then back to the first 2 power chords before sweep picking or tremolo picking a random series of notes on the upper end of the fret board? When that’s over the vocalist grunts out “ohhhhhhh!!!!”. The recipe for beginning metalcore tracks.

  6. Flying Kites says:

    What is Metalcore? Is it similar to Thrash?

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