In the New Zealand summer of 2005, guitarists Antony Royle and Derek Wu teamed up with South African classical violinist Yvette Van Wyk to form an experimental symphonic metal project called Iraena’s Ashes. Joined in the studio by bassist Kris O’Brien and drummer Robert Bryson, the Auckland-based group recorded two tracks which would introduce the foundation of a new brand of Kiwi Metal. Later that year, the 5 track ‘Severance’ EP was released by the band now known as ALPINE FAULT.
With the departure of Rob Bryson that year, Ant’s brother Tim Royle (formerly of NZ metal giants Leper Asylum) joined the band on drums and over the next three years, ALPINE FAULT set out on a journey to share their own brand of metal to an Auckland metal scene struggling to survive a series of venue closures and industry bias.
“We were very fortunate… [we] were writing what we felt to be really genuine music, we wrote exactly the music we wanted to write and perform … and we realised back in Auckland that we were fortunate enough to find that there was a growing group of people there who seemed to like listening to our music as much as we enjoyed playing and writing it.” – Ant Royle
In 2008, a proposed record deal with an independent label was turned down by the band members and questions were raised about the future. While some saw a future overseas, other commitments meant that they could not all make the move together. In March that year, Ant and Yvette, following their dreams of sharing their music to an international audience, moved to Brisbane, Australia where a new ALPINE FAULT would set up camp and unfold.
With the addition of guitarist Kalen Austin, bassist Ben Trappitt and former Amartyr drummer Daniel "Cowboy" O'Brien, the new line-up established Dying Sky Studios, a rehearsal room in the bay-side suburb of Capalaba. It was here that the band would gather several times a week to write new material and forge for themselves a bold new direction. By the beginning of 2010, and with the further addition of Lauren Innis as new lead vocals ALPINE FAULT were ready to unleash themselves upon their new home crowd of Brisbane. In the September, 2010 edition of the Fallout Magazine, editor in chief Liam Guy wrote about the newcomers:
“Bursting onto the metal scene earlier this year, the melodic six-piece group, ALPINE FAULT have quickly established a high-quality reputation for their energetic live performances...Constructing a strong following in such a short time… ALPINE FAULT introduce Australia to a band that really takes on a different approach to some of your mainstream metal bands... the vast following the band has established through the Brisbane music-scene, and the recordings they are set to release… the band really has a bright future ahead of them.”
By 2011, plans were coming together for the recording and release of a debut album, the material for which would be a collection of works which stem back to the earliest version of the band right up to the current era. A further personnel change was to occur with the introduction of Nadia Vanek in for Innis before ALPINE FAULT joined legendary producer Adam Merker at Studio Anders Debeers in June that year. It was during this time that the album’s conceptual nature would become apparent and the story of missing NZ woman Iraena Asher would return.
Tracking and mixing for the album was completed in October by Merker and the work was sent for mastering to internationally renowned engineer Jens Bogren whose Fascination Street Studios in Orebro, Sweden has been home to some of the greatest albums of the genre in recent times. Opeth’s Ghost Reveries and Watershed, for example, which are cited as being crucially influential albums to the members of ALPINE FAULT themselves.
Leading up to the launch of Iraena’s Ashes, ALPINE FAULT released the first single “I’ll See You Soon” alongside a music video for the track. The video, directed by Adrian Pagano, debuted on YouTube in November 2011 and was received by a wider audience than the band could ever have imagined. Orders for the new album on the back of that video swarmed in from all over the world and ALPINE FAULT’s dream of reaching an international audience had taken its first steps. Quickly reaching tens of thousands of views, the "I'll See You Soon" video put ALPINE FAULT on a global platform and the band now looked to to tour overseas.
In the midst of planning, came a testing period in the band's career as personal differences led to the departure of 'Iraena's Ashes' singer Nadia Vanek. The subsequent down-time tested the determination of the band like never before. Plans were put on hold as all efforts were now focused on finding a suitable replacement. ALPINE FAULT went global with a search for a new singer. Submissions were sent in from all over the world but a high standard had been set by the now-departed Vanek and the auditioning process was grueling.
The now 5-piece ALPINE FAULT, not content to go to ground, teamed up with Adrian Pagano once again to record their second music video "Mourning Has Broken (Sleep)." Album sales were going well and writing for a second album had also begun. Taking a break from reviewing the vocalist submissions, Raouf Al-Araji of fellow Brisbane band 'Dark Symphonica' recalled a local vocalist: Brisbane-based, pianist and classical singer, Samantha Wolstenholme. Having reviewed some of her YouTube videos, Royle and the others invited her to their studio. It was evident that Sam had the elements they were looking for and with an upcoming support of Swiss 'Folk Metal' giants Eluveitie looming, she was quickly put to work on the 'Iraena's Ashes' material.
Having played a fantastic show with Eluveitie and receiving encouraging feedback regarding Sam's place in the band, ALPINE FAULT can once again consider themselves whole. Writing for a second album is well under way and the eyes of the members are once more fixed upon travelling internationally.