Canadian Thrashers Hyperia Manifest Ghastly “Silhouettes of Horror” (Interview)
Husband and wife duo Colin (guitars) and Marlee (vocals) Ryley form the core of Vancouver-based thrash metal band Hyperia. While on an extended honeymoon in 2017, the Ryleys began formulating riffs and melodies that would soon become the foundation for their debut full-length album Insanitorium, released in 2020.
On their second full-length concept album Silhouettes of Horror (independently released March 18th, 2022), Hyperia has crafted 11 ferocious bangers, including a fabulous metalized cover of Swedish pop band ABBA. The band’s blend of melodic thrash/death metal and lyrical storytelling coagulate quite well together into narratives of darkness and horror that hint at deeper underlying themes. During a recent Zoom chat, vocalist Marlee Ryley talked about the band’s formation, a recent move to Vancouver, the band’s lyrical concepts, mental awareness, and what the band’s plans are for the rest of 2022.
Did you and Colin meet through the love of metal and then got married?
Marlee: We had a mutual friend that wanted to start a project and both of us were part of different music projects. We decided to join his project, and that's how we met. It was actually a folk metal band. But it wasn't anything serious on our end. We started hanging out more and then we started dating in November 2013. He had another band that their keyboardist left, so I was supposed to be temporary. So I joined as the keyboardist and ended up being a permanent thing until we decided we wanted to go traveling for a year for our honeymoon. So the band stopped. We got married in June of 2016 and then we went on our trip in May 2017 for 13 months around Europe in Asia. After coming back, we started the band. Actually, on the trip we had a little travel guitar and that's where Hyperia riffs and the guitar parts were born for the Insanitorium album.
The band’s brand of melodic thrash/death metal show hints of fellow female-fronted bands Unleash the Archers and Mortillery, as well as 3 Inches of Blood and Into Eternity with that distinctive Canadian flavor. Did any of these artists influence you and where does your style of melodic thrash metal come from?
Yeah, I think a lot of them might have influenced me. I was just trying random stuff to see what I could do. I guess hearing those bands, I probably got inspired subconsciously, more or less. I do listen to all those bands. We're in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and that's where Unleash The Archers is from. I wouldn't say that I was really inspired by them, per se, but I get why people compare us to them. Yes, Brittany (Slayes) is really awesome! With those bands, I'm sure it's been ingrained in me from when I started listening to metal. Because I'm so versatile, and the styles of voice also translates to the music, because I have different kind of ways that I can sing. I've experimented, and I find that our flavor is that we want to give an experience that's more of a story and a little bit more interesting.
What made Hyperia recently move from Calgary, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia?
When we got back from our trip, we wanted to start the band. And then a few months later, Colin wanted to work for himself and do something that he loved. So back in 2018, he applied for Vancouver Film School to do the sound design course. So that was the main reason why we were moving. We were supposed to move in 2019, but the band was doing good and we wanted to pursue that more. So we postponed it to 2020. In 2019, we told the band, “Hey, we're moving, do you want to come with us?” We all moved down here. But then our drummer decided he wanted to pursue other things. And we also had a different vision of how we wanted the drums to be. We just weren’t on the same page. Now we have a new drummer finally, as of a few months ago.
Obviously, you and Colin have a strong relationship. But what’s the camaraderie and musical chemistry like between the current band members?
We're all best friends. We're very big on communication. At first we kind of treated it like a business where we'd have one-on-ones or meetings where people could express how they're feeling and what they want to do about everything. And over time, we got really close, and now we can really communicate on a different level than most friendships. So it's pretty cool.
Silhouettes of Horror's lyrical concept deals with parapsychology, night terror hallucinations, and inhumane government experiments. Opening track “Hypnagogia” deals with the condition “Hypnagogia” which is a state between wakefulness and sleep where someone experiences hallucinations. These are interesting topics, what made you explore these themes?
Personal experiences. I’ve suffered from night terrors since I was a kid. I wouldn't call it sleep paralysis, but later on I found out it was called hypnagogia. It's not sleep paralysis because you can still move, but I wake up and I'm still kind of dreaming. Then I see things and it's almost like a transition from sleep to wakefulness. I scare the crap out of Colin because I'll scream, “Oh my God, there's bugs all over you!” or “There's a guy standing over the bed!” Then he says there's nothing there and then finally, 30 seconds later, I'm okay. But I remember it all. But in the moment, it just feels so real that I'm really scared at the time.
How did the writing process go for this album? How did you go about constructing the music to the lyrics or vice versa?
Colin wrote all the songs. He likes to record everything kind of rough, and then we give our own flavor with bass and rhythm. Maybe Dave (Kupisz) will throw in a few riffs here and there, but mainly it's Colin. Then I actually write the lyrics after. I always think about the structure of the song, but sometimes I will just write things on my mind. Sometimes I like Colin to sit with me just to bounce ideas (off of). If it doesn't fit, I just rearrange it or rewrite it in a different way. I research what words would be similar or things maybe I've never heard of. I like it because I get to learn a lot of new words and new things and then add it to my knowledge. This album I tried to write differently than I did on the last album, because the last album I felt like a lot of the structure was very similar. And this album too, but I tried some different kinds of patterns and ways that it's written.
The songs are very dark, but melodic. And then other parts can be very uplifting, even with this type of subject matter. What type of mood or atmosphere were you trying to capture with the songs?
We want it to be a story, and the feeling of what you're saying with a dark (atmosphere). But we also want it to be uplifting. As dark as some of the lyrics are, I'm still trying to bring awareness to mental health and bring my experiences through the interview. When we're interviewing, I can kind of explain that getting help is very hard to deal with, and especially your partner or someone that's in your life, they can't force you to do anything. But I'm trying to raise awareness on if you are able to seek help or try different things like medications. Whatever works for you; it's okay and not to be ashamed of it. And it's worth it. Because I went 30 years feeling absolutely crazy with anxiety and all that. And now, I'm finally 32 years old and basically finally starting to live my life like a normal person. And hopefully that last. But I really want that for everyone. If anyone wanted to talk to me about it, or message me, they can feel free and I will help as much as I can.
For the production, what were you going for sound wise?
Colin produced it, recorded and mixed it. And then we sent it off to our friend Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios in Finland to be mastered. We obviously wanted a polished album, but to keep with the old school thrash. Colin is constantly learning and getting better as well. So this album is definitely a step up. And who knows with the third album, I feel like it's going to be even more of a step up because his job is relating to sound and he's always improving. I think that's kind of what he was going for; we're going to polish this, but we're also going to have a little bit of grit. Because some people would like that more, but at the same time, you can't please everybody.
Your cover of Abba’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme" is pretty cool. How did you go about transcribing/translating their pop formula into metal?
We were sitting in our basement back in Calgary and we were just listening to ABBA, because we like ABBA. And then Colin’s friend had suggested doing a cover of ABAA and then Colin was on the guitar and he starts playing what he thinks it should be, if it was metal. He’s just able to create things really quickly on the spot. So he started playing it and figured it out. Then he wrote some solos overtop and I was just sitting around listening and we chose “Gimme Gimme Gimme.” Colin probably knew this, but I found out later that a band called Synergy had done it before, but I feel like ours is like a lot different because we don't have keyboards. But I'm very happy with it. The vocal styles… I definitely did a lot of experimenting on what I wanted. I still want it to be a little bit easy listening and pay our homage to ABBA, but I added a little bit of screams underneath part of it; parts of the bridge I think it was. And then just a little bit of grit to my vocals as well.
Since you’re a rather newly formed band, and then Covid shut music down for about two years, have you had many chances to play shows or tours since your formation?
(We haven’t played) a whole lot. We played some cities in Alberta. We also played in British Columbia like Kelowna and Vancouver. We didn't really get to the East Coast or anywhere else. We had a tour planned to go to Europe for two months and then do a Canadian Tour for one month when we came back. But obviously that was when COVID was happening, so it all got canceled. I don't know if we'll be able to plan the same thing right away. But now that we're on the coast, we'll probably do West coast down to the States thing first. We experienced live shows with our friends and fellow Canadians. I think that we established ourselves pretty well, and then just getting PR and being on that record label Sliptrick. We self-released this album, though, because we just prefer that after having an experience with a label.
What’s Hyperia’s game plan, what do you hope to achieve or accomplish? What’s next, including upcoming touring plans?
We have some festivals lined up in Canada. Who knows, maybe in 2022 we’ll make it down to the states. But we're still kind of trying to figure that out, and if not, hopefully 2023. We want to go everywhere possible. Colin and I just want to go on tour, that's our dream. And it almost was accomplished if it wasn't for Covid. It's so hard to pick where to go right now, so we'll probably have to play it a little bit safe and just do one week tours at a time and then hopefully one day we'll do a big, few-month tour at some point.