At the forefront of a growing wave of UK metal, INTENSE have won numerous fans worldwide with their no-nonsense no-compromises approach and energetic live performances. 2011 sees the release of the band’s third full-length album, ‘The Shape Of Rage’ which will further the cause of the British power metallers and raise their profile throughout metal heartlands across the globe.
After opening their account with the self-financed ‘Dark Season’ EP in 1998 it was virtually a new band created by vocalist Sean Hetherington which recorded 2004’s ‘Second Sight’ album. Released by Underground Symphony (except in France where it was picked up by NTS Records) ‘Second Sight’ was the band’s first collaboration with producer Karl Groom (Threshold) and was supported by a number of high profile gigs including the Metal Bash in Germany and Bloodstock in the UK where they opened the main stage on the Saturday: despite an early start they still packed out the house. Further dates including the Thirteenth Day Festival, the Dominion Festival and the Dong Open Air in Germany, and a well-received video for the track ‘War Of Angels’ kept the band in people’s minds until time came to start work on a follow-up.
Sessions for ‘As Our Army Grows’ began in 2005. The album was originally intended to be a self-financed release but the material came to the attention of Napalm Records and as a result ‘As Our Army Grows’ was released worldwide and licensed to the Russian, South American and Far Eastern markets. Again recorded and produced by Karl Groom with Threshold’s Richard West producing Hetherington’s vocals and adding some keyboard passages, ‘As Our Army Grows’ picked up accolade upon accolade on its release early in 2007. “You'll get to hear ten fine compositions, filled with great riffs and solos...”; “powerful songs, gripping riffs and rhythms, immense vocals... one of the strongest examples of how a modern power metal band should sound...”; “cometh the hour, cometh the album: 'As Our Army Grows' is a sweeping and ambitious - and distinctly British - power metal album...” are just a handful of the many positive reviews. With over a hundred interviews for the album under their belts the band shot their second video; the promo clip for ‘Fear Is Not Enough’ helped spread the word, although its hard-hitting storyline also led to it being banned in some quarters, thereby adding to its notoriety. A number of disappointments over tour dates and support slots meant that INTENSE were unable to promote the album as much as they would have liked, although a tour with Blitzkrieg and a sold-out show with Sabaton in London ably demonstrated to appreciative crowds what the band have to offer.
2010 saw the UK metal machine – Hetherington, guitarists Nick Palmer and Dave Peak, bassist Stephen Brine and drummer Neil Ablard – working on ‘The Shape Of Rage’, another unyielding slice of unashamed metal. With the band’s trademark fearsome guitar work, rock solid rhythm section and immense vocals, ‘The Shape Of Rage’ picks up where ‘As Our Army Grows’ left off. “We were really proud of ‘As Our Army Grows’, says Hetherington, “and although it was released just about everywhere we didn’t get to tour it much and we were frustrated by that. It deserved more. We aim to put that right with this album.
“We’ve deliberately not rushed the ‘The Shape Of Rage’,” he continues. “The recording process was fragmented once again, but this suits us. Having the ability to go away and listen to stages of the recording before venturing back in helps us tweak parts and see what works.”
The album title comes from the track ‘The Shape Of Rage’ which was written by Nick Palmer. “It’s the first time we’ve named an album after a song,” comments Hetherington, “although we don’t really class the track as the title song as such; we just liked the title ‘The Shape Of Rage’ and thought it was apt for some of the emotions that run through the album.” Steve Brine gets his first writing credit for INTENSE, contributing ‘The Lie’. “‘The Lie’ is Steve’s musically and I added the lyrics,” says Hetherington. “It’s a fast-paced song and kills the guitarists so should be fun for us to play live and for the crowd to watch too.” Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon) makes a guest appearance on the album, providing an alternate ending to ‘The Lie’. “I had a harmony thing going through my head for the ending from the last chorus and with help from Clive we recorded a different ending. This is Clive’s first ever performance on an INTENSE song and although it didn’t make the final cut, this version will become available, maybe as a bonus track or a B-side. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what people make of the two different versions.”