December 8, 2015, 2 years ago

Kelley Simms

feature heavy metal millennial reign


Texas prog/power metal band Millennial Reign is doing this genre proud. Consisting of James Guest (vocals), Dave Harvey (guitars), Jason Donnelly (guitars), Daniel Almagro (bass) and Wayne Stokely (drums), the newly-formed band plays a modern brand of power metal decorated with melodic flourishes, metallic rhythms and vibrant dynamics. On its sophomore release, Carry The Fire (released October 30 via Ulterium Records), the band has crafted ten blazing metal tracks possessing a fiery blend of influences. Guitarist Dave Harvey, who also plays bass in power metal band Aska, spoke to BraveWords’ writer Kelley Simms about how Millennial Reign formed, its new release and what the future holds for the band.

BraveWords: The Dallas/Fort Worth area has a great heavy metal history. How is the current scene and where does Millennial Reign fit in?

Dave Harvey: There’s really not too many bands that sound like us. Of course there’s Aska, who I also play with. There’s another band here that plays locally called Infidel Rising, which has an early Kamelot sound. There’s not a whole lot of progressive or power metal in this area. Of course Pantera was raised in this area and there’s a whole lot of bands who still deal with that genre. But as far as what we’re doing, the traditional power metal, I can think of maybe three, maybe four bands that would fit in with this genre. As far as fitting in, there’s just such a hodgepodge of so many different types of bands here. There’s not really many bands of all the same type of metal, there’s more of a mixture. 

BraveWords: Millennial Reign initially formed as your solo album project, but when and how did it turn into a full-fledged band?

Dave Harvey: I did one album with just me, the drummer and the singer, and we just did it as a recording project. The second album (Carry The Fire) I spent several years writing material for it. The previous singer and the drummer were doing different things so they didn’t have time to do it. So I started looking for another singer and placed an ad, that’s how James (Guest) and I hooked up. We started out writing material and recording. There wasn’t much written, but we started recording, just him and I. We were basically just going to do the same thing. I brought in Wayne Stokely to play drums, who I’ve played with in previous bands. After we started recording, then signing with Ulterium Records, we started talking about turning this into an actual band rather than a recording project. So we added a bass player, and it took us a little while to find a second guitarist but Jason Donnelly came along. The band was actually put together as we were recording the album and we finished recording the album after adding Jason. We did our first show after we finished the first album, which is kind of backwards but that’s just the way it happened. 

BraveWords: You mentioned Aska. Is that band on the back burner while you concentrate on Millennial Reign?

Dave Harvey: I’m doing both projects. I’ve been in Aska for the past four years. That’s the thing about around here, it’s not like one band will take all of your time, so you have plenty of time to do other projects. In fact, George Call, who sings and plays guitar for Aska does about four other projects. Everybody just plays with everybody. Back in the ’80s you didn’t dare play with another band at the same time, for the lack of a better term, it was like messing around on your wife. People would get upset about that. Our drummer does about four different projects and I’m doing three, one is actually a cover band. Millennial is my own project and both those bands are what I’m really into, which is power metal, but the other is what helps pay the bills.

BraveWords: On Millennial Reign’s debut album you performed all guitar, bass and keyboards, was Carry The Fire more of a band effort?

Dave Harvey: In the beginning yes, it was just James and I, and I was recording it all, other than the drums. I’d say the majority of the album is mostly me. Jason didn’t come in until the tail end of it, but he did enough that he deserved to be credited on the album.

BraveWords: The cover artwork by Felipe Machado Franco (Blind Guardian, Iced Earth) is obviously striking. He’s one of my favorite digital artists. How did you get him to create the art and did you have to give him any direction on the concept?

Dave Harvey: Emil (Westerdahl) from Ulterium is the one who brought him in to do the artwork. Before we signed with Ulterium I was considering calling the album The God Particle, which is a scientific term. Then we started kicking things around and we went with Carry The Fire, which is a lyric line from the first song of the album (“Forever Changed”). Emil gave that title to Felipe and he just ran with it. As he started working on it he sent us sketches two or three times and we had little input and he finished it. And as far as I’m concerned it came out beautifully. He’s an awesome artist, no doubt about it.

BraveWords: How would you compare Carry The Fire to your debut? As you said earlier, you carried most of the load on the first album, plus you had a different singer than you do now. It’s kind of like night and day in my opinion.

Dave Harvey: As far as the new album goes, it’s more of what I’m into, which is progressive and power metal. As far as comparing the two, I think the first album was good for what it was. Could it be better? Yes, I believe it could have been. But Carry The Fire, I think not only the writing but the studio work is miles ahead of the first one. I learned a lot along the way. I think my writing is a lot better on the second album than it was on the first album.

BraveWords: I hear a lot of Queensrÿche and Iron Maiden influences throughout Carry The Fire. How did you blend these influences together? 

Dave Harvey: Like you say, I have a lot of influences. I like it heavy but I also like it melodic. I would probably say Iron Maiden is my No. 1 influence. A lot of people didn’t realize that bass was my first instrument. I picked up guitar after that just to write on my own. As far as influences, Steve Harris was my No. 1. Then other bands in the ’80s came along and I was a huge Dokken fan, Queensrÿche, who  had a little progressive side to it. Someone said to me once, ‘Wear your influences on your sleeve,’ and I guess that kind of stuck. Everything that I do just comes out melodic, no matter how heavy it is, that’s just my influence. 

BraveWords: With Millennial Reign being a fairly new band, what do you hope to achieve or accomplish going forward?

Dave Harvey: After the first of the year we’ve been teaming up with Ulterium and we’re hoping to set up some shows with Theocracy. I don’t know if it will be local or in their area, we haven’t really got that far in the discussion but we are talking with Ulterium about setting up some shows with them, being that they are the only other American band on their label. After that, we definitely hope to hit Europe. I’m sure some doors will open up for us especially with Ulterium behind us.

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