I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I’d never been to New Alliance Audio before. In operation since 1987, it’s one of the Eastern Seaboard’s best-reputed studios — you’ve probably also seen “Mastered at New Alliance East” on a plethora of releases; that’s right next door — nestled into the heart of Cambridge a couple blocks down from The Middle East in a building that also houses the radio station WEMF and numerous other entities of note. The occasion that finally allowed me to sneak a look was Rozamov putting the finishing touches on their first full-length, and I very much appreciated the opportunity to stop by, even more because I got to hear some of their new material than because it granted me a look at the place where they tracked it.
Or tracked most of it, anyway. There was still a bit of work to be done, some vocal overdubs prior to mixing and the like. Guitarist/vocalist Matt Iacovelli met me at the door and gave me directions upstairs — he was stepping out into the August heat for a quick break from recording — and up in the studio itself, I found bassist/vocalist Tom Corino and New Alliance head engineer Jon Taft in the control room past a narrow lobby. The control room itself is spacious enough to record in, a high ceiling, intimidatingly large tape machine, professional-as-hell low wall of preamps, expansive console, ProTools setup, stack of monitors and so on, all dark colors and lights that could probably be turned up if you wanted to make someone uncomfortable or see to clean — unlike many studios I’ve been in, it was clean — and through the window was the recording room itself, which had been arranged to suit the vocals, with partitions arranged to capture the sound just right and give a projected feel. I didn’t get a close-up look at the microphone, but from listening to what came through it in the control room once Iacovelli came back in and got started, it sounded expensive.
Rozamov, after releasing their first, self-titled EP in 2012 and following it up with a second EP, Of Gods and Flesh, in 2013, joined forces with Midnite Collective earlier this year for a two-track split with Deathkings (review here). I’ve seen them play periodically since 2012, and watched Iacovelli, Corino and drummer Will Hendrix (elsewhere for the afternoon) transition from a four-piece to a trio — former guitarist Liz Walshak now plays in Sea — and step forward as one of next-gen Boston’s fiercest heavy bands. They headed into New Alliance a couple weeks ago to start recording their first full-length, and I’d be hard pressed to imagine a better time. With the experience of their two EPs and that split behind them, as well as veteran status for the 2015 Psycho California fest, an opening spot at a Converse-sponsored show for none less than Slayer and tours both behind and ahead of them. They are nothing if not ready for their next test, which of course is the album itself.
Laughing as they listened to a playback of a song called “Serpent Cult” — not to be confused with the Belgian band of the same name — Iacovelli laughed as he pointed out that all their releases so far have had four songs, and the difference this time was that four songs topped 40 minutes. “Serpent Cult” did seem immediately expansive, and the layers of clean vocals he added while I was there — Corino likened them to a harmonized Electric Wizard, Taft to melody-rich locals The Proselyte — did much to make it all the more so. I wouldn’t cheapen their past output by calling it their most complex work before experiencing a finished product, but the ambition was plain to hear. And coming through the New Alliance monitors, even the unmixed crawl of a cut that had the working title “Super Doom” lived up to its name. Jokes were tossed back and forth through the microphone connecting the control room and the recording space, and Taft and the band (and I as well, obviously, though one tries to keep one’s opinion-expressing to a minimum in those instances) listened through each line to make sure it was where they wanted it to be before moving forward.
And it says something about the work Rozamov have put in up to this point that they have such a grip on what they want to do sonically and that they seemed so comfortable in directing the material. The bulk of the recording was done and would be finished before long. They were still working out lyrics — I think it was “Super Doom” that still needed a line — but there was plenty to do while they worked to nail down the finishing touches, and though the original plan had been to start mixing immediately, already more than half the day was gone and lunch had yet to be consumed, so the conversation quickly turned to pressing matters: sushi, Thai, Indian, etc.
I’d eaten before I got there, so thought it better to excuse myself rather than double-up, but I was grateful for the slice of new Rozamov that I got to hear and I always feel like you never really know a band until you see them work in the studio — laughing through, “That was bad. Do it again,” and so on — so I’ll look forward to the arrival of their debut even more now having been fortunate enough to swing through while it was coming together. As to when that arrival might happen? Between the inevitable pressing delay, label scheduling and whatever else, I wouldn’t think it would show up before 2016, but you never know. Either way, I’ll let you know when I hear more.