Singer Aaron Miller says he isn’t certain that heavy metal is the proper classification for “World of Hurt,” the debut concept album from the band Four Skulls, although he admits his appreciation for the black-leather-and-no-shirt attitude of the music.
“I’m not sure if it is a different identity, but I wouldn’t wear a western shirt as the singer of Four Skulls,” said Miller, who is also known to many as a country music singer with considerable ties to Nashville.
Image aside, Miller said it was the raw power of the band’s conceptual songwriting for “World of Hurt,” along with the polished talents of guitarist Mick Bryan, drummer Tony Pack and bassist Chip McGlone, that compelled him to add his voice to the project.
“The story of the concept album ... I totally got into. I almost got into character. I could picture it,” Miller said, noting his bandmates had already written four of the album’s songs when he first joined them at Bryan’s Boyd County recording studio. Citing his own experience as a songwriter, Miller said he was deeply impressed by lyrical content already established by Bryan and Pack, establishing the album’s themes from the mind of a young man experiencing the full cycle of a soldier thrust into war.
Bryan said the band has already received outstanding notice from people in the international world of hard rock and heavy metal, and members of Four Skulls hope to market their music far beyond local borders.
“We’re not looking to be a bar band. We hope to be on a bigger bill somewhere. Our goal isn’t a weekend gig in Ironton,” he said.
While “World of Hurt” may or may not be heavy metal, it certainly reflects Bryan’s influences including studies of guitarists ranging from Rush’s Alex Lifeson and Eddie Van Halen to the late Randy Rhoads. And, overall each of the four veterans of the local music scene has plenty of time to shine as the album’s story unfolds. Anyone who might cite Miller’s country music connections and question his ability to deliver the multi-faceted vocals needed for hard rock or heavy metal need only listen to know he has the chops for the job.
“For years people have asked me ‘What are you man? Are you heavy metal or are you country? You gotta be something!’ I thought, ‘I don’t have to be something. I can be everything if I want,’” he said.
Speaking of “World of Hurt” and the rewards of recording a concept album, Bryan says he likes the idea of bringing back the old days when listeners could deeply delve into a record and its liner notes.
“I love the idea of bringing back the album,” he said.
Beyond just enjoying the music, Miller said he hopes the songs on “World of Hurt” can serve a grander purpose and raise awareness of the impact of war, as well as “the healing process.”
Four Skulls’ “World of Hurt” is available locally at 4 O’Clock Rock Guitar Shop in Ashland ad Steve’s Jewelery in Flatwoods, and online at fourskulls.net. For more information about the band, visit their page on Facebook.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.