Interview: Citadel talk new single, video and album launch

Credit: Nick Hargans

Brisbane progressive metalcore outfit Citadel have been making moves and they’re ready to bounce back with crushing new single “Nightmare Frontier”. After releasing their debut album DECOMPOSE on 4 November last year, the band have made a name for themselves in the local live circuit.

“Nightmare Frontier” is an evocative track with aggressive breakdowns and infectious melodies, complemented by syncopated grooves and shimmering synths. The lyrics discuss crippling self-doubt and fear of being misunderstood, while the haunting visuals of the accompanying video is just as compelling.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by esteemed local producer/engineer Gareth Hargreaves (Polaris, Young Lions, The Brave), the latest offering is a step towards the band’s newly developed sound with two additional members. Having made it to the final heat of the 2022 Good Things Festival competition and supported the likes of Voyager, RedHook and The Dead Love, Citadel are quickly becoming a distinguished act in the local heavy scene.

We caught up with the lovely lads to chat the new single, album launch and more.

Congrats on the new single! How does it feel to be back with new music?

Liam (guitar): It feels great! We went against convention by having our debut release be an album, but even as we were recording and releasing that, we’d made a decision that we didn’t want long periods of time between releases. We think it’s our strongest song so far, so we’re excited for people to hear it.

The melody of “Nightmare Frontier” reminds of album favourite “Oolacile”. Was it written after DECOMPOSE?

Liam: Nightmare Frontier was part of a batch of songs that were all being written before and during the release cycle of DECOMPOSE. We had almost a year between when we recorded DECOMPOSE and when the album released, so we had plenty of time to get creative. We try to be writing music fairly consistently, and Nat is an incredibly prolific songwriter. Our aim is to always be writing the next batch of music, even if we haven’t released the finished stuff yet.

The blistering riffs and frenetic drums are mesmerising. How did it all come together?

Nat (guitar):  We wanted to put out a heavier, more crushing song as a standalone single, so working on a song that brought in some of our more metal/core tastes was fun. Dane absolutely crushed the drums on Nightmare Frontier, and we’re so stoked he was finally able to flex his skills, and on such a hectic song as well. In the studio, Dane worked hard to really maximise the impact of the grooves and fills so everything sounds intentional.

The riffs were inspired by bands like Make Them Suffer, Ice Nine Kills, and basically any band that uses the ‘evil note’, and initially I wasn’t sure how it would go down with the rest of the boys. Once we all got around the song and did some workshopping, it really came together and I think balances the heaviest side of us with some of the most melodic and catchy.

The song addresses personal anxieties with such intense conviction. Does it serve as an emotional release, or at least help to understand your struggles?

Russell (vocals): I actually find performing songs to be more of a release than to write the lyrics themselves. I overthink and stress about how to properly convey thoughts and emotions, but when we’re on stage I feel like I get to fully express myself and what the song is about.

A really important thing for me is for the lyrics to have some sort of connection with other people, because hearing our songs sung back to us is one of my all-time favourite things. Whether people relate directly to my experience, or can find some sort of personal reflection in our songs, I think it’s a really unique and beautiful moment.

What was it like to work with Gareth Hargreaves on the track?

Nat: Working with Gaz is super comfortable for us, and he really has his head around what we are going for. Previously, I had recorded the drums as well as guitars on DECOMPOSE, so this time round having Dane in the fold and tracking drums really lifted things, and alongside Gaz were able to workshop some great work.

Dane (drums): Working with Gaz was a breeze. He allowed me the flexibility to record how I like to whilst holding tenure in the values we hired him for. Nightmare is a very dense track and the first offering of this line up and the first song I got to record drums on for Citadel. It was great to have Gaz there to capture it.

The video for “Nightmare Frontier” is a haunting representation of the lyrics. How was it to shoot?

Liam: It was very different for us, that’s for sure! We went with Nick Hargans, who shot the videos for our first 3 singles, at a horror maze called Evilcorp in Fortitude Valley. Lewis (bass) had scoped out some locations and Evilcorp had some great areas for shots which captured the vibe of the song, including spots where we could fit the whole band. They were very accommodating for us, which was great because we had to move a lot of their props around to fit the drum kit and lighting.

Citadel’s lyrics and merch seem to have a lot of pop culture influence. What are some of the band’s favourite sources of inspo?

Nat: A big one for us is Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and the greater FromSoftware universe. Oolacile off our debut is a direct reference to the Dark Souls DLC ‘Artorius of the Abyss’, and Nightmare Frontier is a particularly hellish and challenging area from Bloodborne.

Some of us are also anime geeks, so there’s a couple of references to that too. Parasyte is spelled the way it is as a nod to the show of the same name, and the shirt we released has a cheeky reference to it as well.

How was the belated album launch with East Capri, Violent Conflict and ZUKO last month?

Dane: The album launch was a liberating experience. It was our first headline show, as well as the first time we were playing a few of the songs on the album live. The postponement of the original date also came with looming concerns that were quickly abolished by the enthusiasm the audience brought.

The other bands are some of the best up and coming acts in Brisbane and definitely put their best foot forward for the show. All in all, a great way to celebrate the work that’s been done and hopefully a footnote in what’s to occur later.

“Nightmare Frontier” is now available to stream everywhere. Stay connected with Citadel on Facebook and Instagram for more!