Full Frontal Assault: Recording from 5 years ago released
It’s been awhile since Bellingham has heard from Full Frontal Assault: five years to be exact. The metal band broke up in 2008, but few people knew about it. FFA never played a farewell show, never sent out a press release or made any other kind of announcement. It was almost as if they just faded away. That’s not to say that the members faded away: lead singer Jeff Kastelic is the front man for Leatherhorn and Kodiak, guitarist Bobby Savage plays in Kodiak, drummer Gabe Taylor is in Baal Beryth and Last Bastion and guitarist Jimmy Kastelic still works on music and lives in Bellingham, but is not in any bands at the moment. As for bassist Eli Cobb, well, none of the members seem to know where he is these days.
So, while it may have been five years since FFA has played a show, Bellingham has definitely gotten an ear-full of them in one form or another since the break-up. Yet, the five years of silence from the band as a whole ended in March, as FFA released Conqueror, their “new” album, which was actually recorded five years ago but was never released.
“The album was the last thing we did as a band,” Jeff Kastelic said. “We finished it and it just kind of sat there and collected dust. We never even played a final show or anything, so this was literally when it all came to a halt.”
Jeff Kastelic and Savage both said that Conqueror – which clocks in at more than 70 minutes and has nine tracks – was the most ambitious album the band ever recorded. Up to that point, the band released one EP and two full-length albums over a span of seven years.
“This was the first album we recorded on our own,” Savage said. “We really tried to push our boundaries and make music that we had never heard before. It is a pretty intense record, and it is super raw. I mean, we recorded it in seven or eight different locations, with different equipment, so no two songs sound the same. There is no consistency and at times it can be pretty difficult to listen to, but that’s what it was and that is how it is going to stay. It is like a time capsule.”
In many ways, the recording of their last album was a huge learning experience for the band members. Kastelic said that the recording of Conqueror really influenced the work he would go on to do later with his other bands, and has really helped him get a good grasp of the recording process. He called the recording of the album a “stepping stone” towards his evolution as a musician.
“In the end, I think Conqueror really captured what Full Frontal Assault was all about. It is an artifact of what we were going through at the time and captured the band’s DIY philosophy perfectly,” Savage said. “The DIY ethic was really important to us at the time. It was do it ourselves or don’t do it at all: the merch, the tours, the album art, it was all made by us.”
Another aspect of the FFA philosophy captured on the album were the themes of survival and inspiration, Kastelic and Savage said.
“You know, when people saw us play and took us at face value they would think we were all about death and destruction and were a bunch of fucked up weirdos,” Savage said. “And maybe that is true to some degree I guess, but our band was really about overcoming the odds and rising up. We did sing about death and destruction, but it was always about overcoming those fears and being strong and being part of a brotherhood. That was really what FFA was about. It was more of a punk rock ethos than a black metal one.”
Kastelic said the reason they decided to release the album after so long was because they wanted to share it with people and pass on the inspiration.
“People always think metal is meant to bring you down, but we always wanted to inspire people,” Kastelic said. “Our goal was to use extreme music as a tool to do some good, as cheesy as that might sound. We wanted to inspire and motivate people to survive all the challenges that we all have to endure in life and to rise above all the negativity.”
Challenge is a subject that comes up often in the album because, at the time, the band was going through their own challenges. Kastelic said that it was really hard to come to the terms with the fact that the band was breaking up right when it seemed like they were reaching their full potential.
“In the end, we felt there was never a clear explanation as to what happened to the band,” Kastelic said. “So this album is like a ‘thank you’ to all those people that keep asking about us and have supported us this whole time, and still want to hear what FFA has to offer.”
Kastelic and Savage said there will probably never be a FFA reunion show or an album release show, but the album will be for sale online and at Everyday Music and Avalon.