In the autumn of 2002, The Living Fields was born as an outlet for guitarist Jason Muxlow's doom inclinations and populist beliefs. Fed up with both the tuneless brutality of the late '90s and right-wing idiocy pouring out of the metal community after September 11th, work began on initial compositions with the intent to combine doom-fueled songwriting with the progressive politics metal once stood for.


The music progressed quickly, and before long, Muxlow was looking for a partner to bring a voice to the score. Jon Higgs was contacted on the basis of his energetic vocal performance with Monsterworks, but it was his similar world view and undiluted passion for metal that ultimately sealed the deal. Within weeks, Higgs had cut vocals for the newly-christened Empires Fall, and though far from perfect, the song clearly had legs. Higgs also proved dead-on lyrically, and both The Miseries Never Cease and A Leveling Spirit grew out of the ensuing enthusiasm.

As the material progressed, it was obvious that something extra was needed and as an experiment, string and piano arrangements were composed to fill the void on Empires Fall. Soon, all songs had full orchestral accompaniment, but as they evolved, the orchestral sounds were stripped out in favor of a more intimate and expressive string quartet. Not only did it sidestep the formidable task of mixing a full metal band with a full orchestra, but the simplicity and humility of the solo instruments reflect both the aesthetic and ideological aims of the band.


Comprised of four songs and clocking in at over 22 minutes, The Miseries Never Cease was released in 2004 to worldwide acclaim, with rave reviews from Metal Maniacs, Terrorizer, WormGear, Metal Norge and many others. TMNC opens with the epic ride of A Leveling Spirit, slips quietly into the early dawn lament of the title track, and concludes with the thrashing intensity of Empires Fall. Together, these songs stand as the first shot in our canon and set up a wide base to explore in the future.


The Living Fields welcomed drummer extraordinaire Chad Walls (ex-Brodequin, Pustulated, Besieged, Dislimb, Enter Self, ad inf.) to the fold. We immediately set to work on our full-length debut, but first had to overcome the growing pains of Chad's home studio build-out, John's move from New Zealand to London, and our experimentation with track-trading methods that would allow us to collaborate without every breathing the same air. Things that would take five minutes to fix in person took days, if not weeks to sort out. In a word: "painful."


Our quiet year was a result of Muxlow's endless frustration with the recording and mixing of the debut. Computer meltdowns, file incompatibility, ProTools instability, and everything turning to ash any time it was touched let to a near-total stop of all TLF activities. Thankfully, the pains faded and the gears finally began to churn again in the autumn. That October, while attending a Grave and Dismember concert at The Abbey in Chicago, Muxlow crossed paths with a young metal journalist named Samu Rahn. The two were acquaintances via Jason's metal review website Deadtide, but had never met in person. And so the seeds of a new phase for the band were sown, though they would take years to germinate. Meanwhile, Muxlow returned to work on the record, and on December 27th, it was finally ready. Little did we know the wait was far from over.


IIn January, we sent copies of The Living Fields to our industry contacts and it seemed that every month after another label would nibble our toe, only to swim away when we refused to turn over a completely finished (and paid for) album for nothing in return. When our last (and best) prospect fell through in June, we said to hell with it and decided to release the album on our own. More months went by researching duplicators, saving money and waiting for the final product. The album officially went on sale October 7, 2007.

There was much activity in the months between finishing The Living Fields and getting the final product to market. Muxlow built a new home studio and, with a substantially more stable working environment in place, the groundwork was laid for our sophomore effort. With the then-tentative title Running Out of Daylight, it paradoxically was shaping up to be both a simpler and more ambitious affair than the debut. Though some songs were more concise, relying more on riffs than atmosphere, the album as a whole ran a wide gamut of tempos, textures, styles and moods. The title track ? a sprawling, crawling opus dwelling on Galileo's final days in confinement ? was offset by the acoustic lament of When The Walls Go Up and mile-high anthems of Glacial Movements. Bringing it all to fruition would, however, take longer than anticipated.


Muxlow got a happy little divorce (it was actually quite amicable but these things are never fun), the economy started to rot and The Living Fields had to be put in box for a while.



Since their encounter at The Abbey in 2006, Jason and Samu had intermittently discussed bringing some of Jason's side projects to life, both musical and journalistic. The first of these, formally begun in 2008, would go on to become Earthen Grave, another Fields of Burden, and another still was a metal musician's magazine called Execution which sadly died on the vine in 2009. Months of jamming, practice, and confabulation followed, but without a finished product to show. The two did discover, though, that they worked well together, and that Samu's own musical style was well suited to The Living Fields. Muxlow offered Samu the gig, Samu accepted and the two spent the remainder of the year in preproduction: revising structures, relearning riffs and streamlining arrangements. By the end of the year, “Running Out of Daylight” .


In January and February, Jason and Samu recorded scratch tracks that Jon and Chad used for their album takes. Samu and Jason began final tracking in March and continued through June. The two guitarists worked from Jason's Chicago home studio, while Chad sent his drum tracks down from Ottawa and Jon shipped his vocals over from London. Touch-ups were completed in the fall, after which the project was delivered to Jay Walsh at Farview Recording for mixing. Jason and Samu joined Jay in December to make final production decisions and arrange Jon's vocals.

With the band's tracks handed over to Jay for mixing, it was time to find some string players. Trying to nail down one or more string players to bring the orchestration to life ultimately led Jason to playing with concert virtuoso and all-around badass violinist Rachel Barton Pine in Earthen Grave but had thus far proved futile for The Living Fields. Then a recommendation from Rachel led us to violinist Chuck Bontrager who proved to be a perfect fit for both the band's music and chemistry. Chuck made some improvements to the score, brought the MIDI orchestration to life and laid down the entire album's violin and viola lines over three short sessions.

With time running out, another chance recommendation from Rachel Barton Pine connected the band with cellist Petar Kecenovici. Two short sessions with Petar during a warm break in the particularly brutal 2010-2011 Chicago winter was all he needed to cut his parts. We snuck the files in just under the wire for inclusion in the final mix.


In early January, Jason and Jay put the final touches on the mix for Running Out of Daylight, and by month's end it was in Candlelight's hands, at long last. There was little time for celebration, though, as much work was left to be done – the booklet design, new press photos, updated biographies, overhauling a website that had lain dormant for nearly four years, etc. The record, meanwhile, was sent to the UK for mastering by Tim Turan (Emperor). By June, the promotional cycle for Running Out of Daylight was under way; the record was finally released July 18th in Europe and July 26th in North America.

The album's release was celebrated by the press as a great step forward for the band, and even for the genre at large by some enthusiasts.

The Living Fields is proud to be part of the Candlelight Records family. Having launched the careers of metal visionaries like Opeth, Emperor and Enslaved, their legacy in extreme underground music is undisputed and it's an honour to place another brick in that wall.