The most critical time for a band is post-release, it’s the do or die, the point of no return. It is the time in which material you’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into is unleashed. Sentinel Daily caught up with Oliver Fogwell, vocalist for Australian industrial band, Our Last Enemy on the eve of such a release, where pre-release traditions run strong, like a robust glass of Red. From Throbbing Gristle to 3Teeth, Oli and I immerse ourselves into the cultural landscape of Industrial Metal – its impacts, challenges and if AI has a place within the genre…

What are the motions of an impending release? How does the band get through that last week? “This particular release has been busier than most. We had an idea to drop a single about two weeks before and a video not even a week before, so it’s been really busy around all those releases, that, and a pre-order promotion that we’ve been pushing hard”. The band have been building solid momentum with the Hex Design, the single design to whet the palates of fans. What has the feedback been so far? “To be honest, it’s one of the best received releases we’ve had in a while, its probably the most different for us, we weren’t sure how it was going to go down, we’ve introduced slide guitar, southern groove elements. The response has been really positive and the feedback really encouraging”.

The industrial genre, it is such a big landscape isn’t it? so for your style specifically, where do you like to experiment and take risks and essentially how do you refine all your ideas? “A lot of hours, a lot of arguments and a lot of compromise [Laughs] I guess Our Last Enemy really is a sum of its parts, we’re all into heavy music, but our interests inside and outside of the industrial genre are varied. For instance, Wade (Norris), our guitarist, has his atmospheric elements, Matt (Heywood, Bass)is more groove orientated; we meld all these proclivities into what you hear. A great deal of work goes into it, as integrating different styles and certain styles can be quite the endeavour. We pride ourselves on this, we’re always striving for something new, something fresh, we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves. We always try to look beyond the genre, bend the genre”.

Looking back to 2006, when you draw it all together; the writing, the releases, the members, the styles – how do you feel you have all progressed as musicians? “It was always moving from one goal post to another. I was always ready for the next step, but it was always a natural progression. Local shows developed into international supports; I guess its just a natural appetite all musicians develop. Musically, I think, each step we’ve made, each new element added to the band, be it new members, passing members, the experimentation; it has benefited the band and us personally, and that is a never ending cycle”.

The latest EP, As Within So Without, is noted as encapsulating the past, present and future of the band. Can you expand on this for me, and I guess, what were your conclusions or findings on the material when the EP was finished. “It speaks directly to [2021’s] As Above So Below – it is, essentially, the second half to that story. As Above So Below focused on themes of despair, uncertainty; feelings and emotions that were experienced not just by the band personally, but the world in general. As Within So Without, is the band embracing it. It’s the hope, coming out on the other side; scathed, but out. Our last enemy, is death – and this is an ethos we embrace. Grab life by the horns, ride it out, come out the other side”.

As an industrial musician, what are your thoughts on the use of AI and other technological advances within the space. Introducing that new innovative sound. Does it have a place in Industrial metal and do you feel you would get onboard? “We actually chat about this often [Laughs] and if any genre is going to take it, its definitely Industrial metal. Can it be made to work though? To embrace it and use it as a tool, where there is still artist involvement. For us, we’re still very organic, we still enjoy getting into the space and bashing everything out. I’m still ‘iffy’ about it being the right direction”.

Industrial metal has always been a hybrid genre, it will continue to adapt and change; culturally, technologically. For Our Last Enemy, how have these changes affected or even enhanced your music over the last fifteen years? “We’ve been and will continue to be thankful for the technological advances, all musicians can enjoy. The ability for Wade to dial in and manage the EQ and the mix, for instance, as if we were in the studio. It’s wild. It is absolutely crucial for us to continue as a band”. In terms of challenges for the genre, what stand out for you the most? “I guess, it is the inflexible opinions on what industrial music is. From the beginning, Throbbing Gristle, creating and manipulating noise and sound. Like, quite literally banging pipes together. To the turn of the century, Marilyn Manson, to the newer breed 3Teeth who represent the genre well. The tag can come with some baggage and some garbage… The industrial genre can be elitist but there are so many ways you can apply the sound, package the sound – t is a heavily experimental genre, it has always been a heavily experimental genre and should continue in this way”.

Due to a broken brachial (long story) Our Last Enemy will be having an unofficial launching of the latest EP on November 3 at the newly established den for metalheads, the Burdekin Hotel in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

As Within, So Without is out now.