‘Magic: The Gathering’ Goes Metal: A Chat With Time Walk
Forget the Big Four. When it comes to ironclad alliances in the heavy music community, nothing comes close to the bond shared between nerds and noise-makers. Led Zeppelin's Lord of the Rings worship, Ozzy's video game addiction, Vektor's aggro-laden sci-fi — the relationship between geekery and heavy metal dates back to the primordial days of the genre. That link isn't surprising — just like gamers, comic book fans and sci-fi acolytes, metalheads are frequently characterized as outsiders within the West's cultural mainframe (sports, pop, politics). Both communities derive their strength from the passion and pride associated with this characterization; heavy music, in particular, is a sound primed for the underdogs.
Enter Time Walk, a pack of metalcore purveyors from Missouri with a deep-seated love for Magic: The Gathering, the trading card game which, since the late '90s, has persevered as the alpha and omega of geek gamerdom. The quartet, which splices the punishing grooves of Merauder with the morbid intensity of Napalm Death, takes their name from one of the oldest, rarest cards in the game. (You can get it off Amazon for a cool $1,000 — a bargain compared to the infamous Dark Lotus, which is usually priced in the six-figure range. Magic fans don't fuck around.)
Listeners need not be familiar with the game to jump into the din; Time Walk's racket is as almighty as it is all-inclusive, which is probably why hardcore acolytes have been buzzing about them ever since they rose to prominence on last year's promo tape. The band's new record, Beyond Eternity's Grasp, ups the ante even further with a polished, primal sound that gestures to all points of the metallic spectrum. It's a winning hand, for sure. Stream it in full below.
Ahead of the album's official release this Friday, CLRVYNT caught up with Time Walk guitarist Tyler Schlottman to discuss their new record, the Midwestern hardcore scene and their secrets for kicking ass in Magic: The Gathering. Planeswalkers, I hope you've got your notepads out — it's time to learn from the masters.
Time Walk's Beyond Eternity's Grasp LP is out January 27. Get it here.
How did Time Walk come to be?
Time Walk started back in 2014 when the group me and [frontman] J.D. [Harris] were in broke up. We started writing music and got around to getting our first tape together in 2015, Path to Exile, and that's pretty much where it all started.
Beyond Eternity's Grasp has a lot more death metal and old-school influences on it than 2016's promo tape, which was more in line with traditional metalcore. How did you arrive at this sound, and how would you characterize the writing and recording process for the album?
The two songs off the promo tape were written and recorded before the rest of Beyond Eternity's Grasp was written. So, those two songs had a little more of what our sound on Path to Exile was, but [were] starting to branch into the sound that would be on new record. J.D. is the one who writes all the music, and during the time between the promo tape and writing the rest of the record, he started drawing a lot more influence from some death metal, which shows in the other songs. We wanted to retain the sound that we already had going, but also add a little something new to it. We recorded the record here locally with Kevin Brooks with Landmark Recording Co. He recorded, mixed and mastered the record.
You guys came up in Springfield, Mo., part of the vast Midwestern hardcore scene. Clearly, that means something much different than it did years ago, with music being readily available due to internet distribution. Do you feel like that is an advantage or a disadvantage — the lack of a focus on a local scene?
I think the availability of music helps out a lot with bands getting out there. Now, pretty much any band can get their record on Spotify and Apple Music, so being able to have music easily accessed makes it a lot easier for bands to make a name for themselves than it did several years ago.
Local scenes vary from area to area in the Midwest. There are some areas that are really good that we have been to, like Kansas City, Chicago and Milwaukee. Over the past few years, the scene in the Midwest has grown a lot, and things seem to keep getting better.
You and J.D. both played Magic: The Gathering back in the day. What kind of decks did you build, and what are your most prized cards?
I played mostly during the Ravnica block. I just played Pack Rat until that block rotated out, then briefly played a red / black deck with Generator Servant and Underworld Cerberus in the Theros block. I'm currently playing a blue / white control deck with Dovin Baan and Torrential Gearhulk, and I'm looking forward to brewing up something new with the new set.
J.D. played a little of everything. He has played the most of all of us. He played some blue / white control, green /white heroic, red deck wins, Dimir Mill and blue / green ramp. Some of his favorite cards were Supreme Verdict (which we ended up naming a song after), Aetherling, Thassa, Unflinching Courage, Medomai the Ageless and Cyclonic Rift. He is currently playing the Metalwork Colossus artifact deck.
Our bassist, Tanner, actually plays MTG with us now, too. He has just worked up a black / white life gain deck that he has been playing, and is looking to work up something new with Aether Revolt's release.
A Magic: The Gathering expansion, Aether Revolt, just came out. Plan on picking up any booster packs?
Yeah, we all plan on getting some stuff with the new set. We have picked up a couple fat packs and will probably end up splitting some boxes, then, from there, figuring out what we wanna build.
Last but not least, if you guys blow up and land a major contract, do you have any plans to drop $1,000 on the card for which your band is named?
I'm sure if we had the extra cash laying around to spend, we would probably each try and grab one up. Even if never playing it in a deck, [it] would be just a cool thing to have around, with the band being named after it.