Madison, WI – It has been a year since COVID reared its ugly head. In metal terms, one could say COVID has turned the metal stage to lead. There have been many challenges, especially to the up and coming as well as those just getting their feet wet, learning what it really means to have an amp that goes to 11. One band that was able to improvise and keep their name in the metalsphere is Madison, WI based Lords of the Trident. I was first introduced to Fang VonWrathenstein (Master of vocals), Asian Metal (the quiet shredder), Baron Taurean Helleshaar (the wise shredder), Pontifex Mortis (incognito bass), and Master Hercule “Herc” Schlagzeuger (tamer of skins) when a random YouTube search yielded an awesome reaction video by Cole Dockter entitled, “Metal Musicians React to Pop Music”. The video is humorous look at pop music through the eyes of a metal band and to date has over 1.5 million views.
Looking at the Lords of the Trident website, YouTube Channel, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook page, the band has developed a very strong personal relationship with their fans and other musicians. They have used their web presence to entertain and educate other musicians, while also shareing music and ideas with their fans. It came as no surprise that Lords of the Trident were able to summon powers of alchemy rivaling Albus Dumbledore (of Harry Potter fame), turning the lead that would be COVID into pure gold… with OPERA!
Fang and Baron have dabbled in classical music from time to time. Fang’s exceptional vocals and Baron’s diverse musical prowess have made for entertaining videos that wow the audience with their range and expose many to music that would not be metal. Taking it one step further, the band went outside the Lords and connected with other metal musicians to duke it out, challenging their operatic talents in an aptly named Opera Battle. The first battle I experienced consisted of Fang competing against John Yelland of Judicator. With Baron accompanying the challengers they performed, over the ether, “La Donna E Mobile” from Rigoletto… in impressive fashion I might add.
Shortly thereafter, a rematch was in order. This time John and Fang, accompanied by Baron and guest shredder, Sarah Longfield, belted their renditions of “Ah! mes amis/Pour mon âme” from La Fille du Régiment. What a blast!
They were on a roll! As it turns out, Fang is friends with Brittney Slayes from Unleash the Archers. The question remained, was she up for the challenge? You probably already know the answer, YES SHE WAS! In what appeared to be an off the cuff challenge, Fang and Brittney… well… slayed “Brindisi” (The drinking song).
After this last performance, Digital Beat Magazine reached out to Fang to see if he could enlighten our readers about the band and the vision that ultimately resulted in these epic battles. Fang agreed and was able to convince John Yelland to play along as well. Check out what they had to say!
Digital Beat Magazine – I was first exposed to you for the first time in Cole Dockter’s reaction video. Did you ever dream that it would take off like that? What did it do for you as a band? How did the idea for the video come about?
Lords of the Trident – Honestly – no! It was more of a “friend of a friend” request. Cole is friends with our drummer, Master Herc, and he basically just called us up and said, “Hey, want to have some beers and react to some pop music?” We REALLY didn’t think anything of it at the time, but the YouTube gods decided that video was worthy, and BAM – 1.5 million views later, here we are! It’s been extremely beneficial for our band, as we’ve been able to meet so many more cool people (like you)!
DBM – You have a large web presence, almost all music related but not necessarily music specific.
LOTT – YouTube and most of the digital landscape nowadays is really about consistent content, which sort of flies in the face of the way most bands do things. Usually you drop an album every few years, which doesn’t work with the current landscape, so I try to make things in between to fill the gaps.
DBM – Fang, I know you take great pride in your vocal training (and it shows, my wife, not a metal fan, loves your vocals). Can you tell us about the training you have received? Did you choose metal or did metal choose you?
LOTT – For most of my (immortal) life, I was somewhat self-taught. I had some rudimentary training as a young barbarian child, but afterwards it was just a lot of singing in the chariot. Recently, though, I’ve started up voice lessons again. I’ve been studying opera with Dr. Shelton, a local tenor in the Madison opera. We’ve been working together for two years at this point, and it’s made a WORLD of difference in how I approach things.
Did I choose metal, or did it choose me? Who’s to really say!
DBM – Now for the fun stuff. Other than letting your hair grow, you have definitely kept busy during the pandemic. You have continued with your Words of Fang advice videos and other projects that draw in more than fans of the most metal band on earth. Describe how your mind works (give me an example of how an idea evolves into a video or other online project such as the build it yourself multi streaming device or a word of Fang).
LOTT – I have a problem in my brain called “hyper-focusing”. It’s usually associated with ADHD. I’ve been told by a few friends who are psychologists/psychiatrists that “you have all the good traits of ADHD without any of the negative side effects” – meaning, when I get an idea in my brain, I tend to hyper-focus on it to the point where I will work on it until it’s done to my satisfaction. So when I set out to make a Words of Fang video, or a music video, or an opera battle, I’ll usually have a fully-formed idea in my brain already of what I want that video to look like and/or be, and I’ll just…go! The ideas for the videos usually come from real-life experiences. For example – once the pandemic hit, we needed to quickly pivot to digital livestreams, so I had to learn all about that. There’s a video topic. Once I have enough knowledge to transmit, I simply type it out into a script and away I go!
DBM – That brings me to the real reason we are here, one of the coolest projects to date in my mind, your Opera battles. I know that many metal artists are classically trained and of the genres metal fits in quite nicely with classical, but what inspired you to have such a ‘competition’?
LOTT – It was partially the pandemic, because I saw a number of artists doing “online collaborations”, and I thought it would be interesting to try that out with the opera songs I was currently studying. To do the songs justice, you’d need a powerful voice and a masterful grasp of your instrument, and power metal singers fit that description perfectly. I also thought there was an opportunity to bring in some of the “opera jokes” that you see the three tenors making during their live shows and update those jokes into the digital landscape that we find ourselves in. I had so much fun making the first one, I decided to just keep going!
DBM – As we discussed before, you have had considerable voice training, how did you go about choosing who to include in your operatic conquest?
LOTT – I have a secret list of a bunch of singers that I’ve run across who I think would be good for this series. Currently, it’s got to be my friends, since the series isn’t big enough to reach out to, say, Bruce Dickenson.
DBM – John Yelland of Judicator and Brittney Slayes of Unleash the Archers were indeed worthy opponents. John, how did Fang (Ty) approach you? Tell a good story.
JOHN YELLAND: I’ve known Ty for a long time now, and we’ve always had a good relationship. He’s very committed to his band’s Patreon and YouTube channel, so when he approached me asking if I’d be interested in doing a metal opera duel I was very eager. It has been one of the most fun side projects I’ve taken part in!
DBM – John, same question (more or less) I asked Fang (Ty) before, what is your vocal background? Coaching? Training? Etc. Embellish as you see fit.
JY: I took six years of vocal coaching in my 20s and then worked as a vocal instructor myself. I am classically trained, but have studied a variety of other skills and techniques to improve my abilities over the years.
DBM – Any and all of you…. Have you ever thought of throwing a little opera into one of your albums from the metal perspective or in your opinion have you already done so?
JY: Generally, Power Metal is rich with operatic vocal tendencies already. Just look at Nightwish as an example. I think what most people are hearing is the evolution of opera into metal, but unless it’s a more “classical sound”, they don’t really perceive it as opera specifically. So I think it’s there already.
DBM – So who really won? Have you considered working together to voice an entire scene from an opera? Just a thought
I think as long as we’re out there melting faces, we’re ALL winners.
Tell us about your recent releases. “Let There Be Nothing” and “Power Outage”…
JY: ‘Let There be Nothing’ is a hefty slab of faw, progressive power metal that we released in the summer. It is a concept album about Flavius Belisarius, a 6th Century Byzantine general. It’s a morality play featuring nasty battles and love triangles!
LOTT: Power Outage was our second “Patreon Album”, meaning it was an idea originally conceived for the backers of our Patreon, but it’s formed into something much bigger than that: A full two albums of acoustic material!
Thanks to Fang and John for taking the time to answer a few questions. The Opera Battle series has been awesome and I see there are a few more classical pieces out there also. Their hard work and creativity have put all masters of alchemy to shame and their efforts to deliver pure gold is precious!
As Fang mentioned, much of the band’s support is via their fans at Patreon. If our readers are interested in supporting bands, such as Lords of the Trident, you can do so on Patreon. This gives bands the resources they need to deliver content to fans. At a time when stage appearances are limited, this can be band-saving!