It's been a pretty turbulent year in the Northlane camp. Since forming in 2009 the band had built up impressive momentum back home in Australia, culminating in their second record, Singularity, hitting the Top 5 back in Oz.
"We've got at least 50 different guitar sounds"
But the 2014 departure of frontman Adrian Fitipaldes threatened to derail the whole thing. Instead of the band imploding, guitarists Josh Smith and Jon Deiley and the rest of the band used the turmoil to their advantage, recruiting vocalist Marcus Bridge and diving into recording sessions for their as-yet-untitled new album.
When we speak with Josh, the band are putting the finishing touches on the record, and he admits the shake-up has allowed the five-piece to move in new directions, with some of the band's more hooky melodies and even progressive tendencies falling into their crunching metalcore mix.
"This album is a step forward," he says. "The music is going to be a lot more accessible to people that didn't listen to us previously. [Not alienating fans] is always in the back of your mind. Once you have music as your livelihood, you worry about that sort of stuff. But that wasn't the focus of what we're doing – the material when it was written was a lot more experimental and softer. It wasn't until we got into the studio that we threw out all the lyrics, re-wrote everything and it started to sound heavier."
Since Adrian's departure, Josh has taken on the bulk of lyric writing – and despite him feeling free to plough new musical furrows, Northlane know all eyes are on them.
"The pressure is huge because we have to live up to what we've already done and we have to appeal to the same people, but we don't have the same line-up," he says. "At the same time, we do this for ourselves and our own fulfilment and not for other people."
In doing it for themselves, Northlane have turned it up to 11 as far as experimenting with guitar tones goes."We've got at least 50 different guitar sounds," Josh says. "The PRS Archon blended with the EL-34 [loaded] Bogner Uberschall has been the core of the rhythm sounds. We've used those through a Mesa Rectifier cab and a Laney G12 Heritage 4x12.
"There are a lot of cool guitar moments and ambiance, and lots of challenging riffs," he continues. "There's one song with a real fast section in it that's well beyond anything we've done before, and there's another song called Impulse that has the catchiest chorus we've ever written, but also the hardest-hitting, most difficult riff we've ever written."
The band are set to hit the UK for Download in June, so festival goers will have to listen out to see whether they can nail that gnarly riff live!
Northlane's new album, Node, will be released this summer