Dec 11, 2023
“Born in the Flames” by Branded for Exile is a non-stop ride of aggressive guitars, tight production, and loud ferocious metal sure to get your pulse going.
Louisiana metal has a unique vibe and sound unlike anything heard in other states. Hinting at darkness, the sound evokes visions of living in the humid swamp areas while also providing a gloomy backdrop for life. Louisiana metal is fierce, loud, and strong, but in a state oversaturated with metal bands, one band from Ascension Parish is standing out with their groove-metal style. Powerful metal outfit Branded for Exile has just released a new album, and metal fans, it’s intense. “Born in the Flames” features crushing riffs, melodic hooks, and powerful lyrics in a high-energy way, making for one hell of an enjoyable 37-minute listening experience. Click the album cover below to check it out!
Branded for Exile hails from Prairieville, Louisiana, and is known for blending many styles, textures, and influences, ranging from Metallica to Killswitch Engage and everyone in between. Their music is best described as an amalgamation of aggression and emotion, resulting in a truly dynamic and cohesive sound enhanced by each member’s own set of skills: Shannon Guillot is the vocal magic; Scott Hood carries the bass; Blake Cage and Cody Derouen mix it up on guitar; and Zack Leblanc is the rhythm working the drums.
Mixed Alternative had the chance to catch up with guitarist Cody Derouen and vocalist Shannon Guillot, where we chatted about their new album, the future direction of the band, influences, and much more. Take a moment to indulge in our chat, and then be sure to stream their new album on your favorite streaming service. “Born in the Flames” is a non-stop ride of aggressive guitars, tight production, and loud ferocious metal sure to get your pulse going.
MaM: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today! Let’s dive right in with your new album, “Born in the Flames”. The mix sounds amazing. Tell us a little more about that.
MaM: Shannon, your vocals are on point. When I first listened to the song “Silver Tongue”, I thought about how your voice is very reminiscent of David Draiman from Disturbed because of the range of your screams. Have you gotten that comparison before?
Shannon: When we first went in to record that song, to me, something was missing. It was our weakest song, so we changed some of the vocal parts to make them heavier, and it fit better.
MaM: If Pantera and Disturbed had a band baby, it would be Branded for Exile. Do you agree?
Cody: I will take that!
MaM: See, this is the thing, your voice … it has hints of Phil Anselmo at times, too.
Shannon: … and I am not surprised that you said that. Growing up, two of my idols were Sebastian Bach of Skid Row and Phil Anselmo. There are some parts on the album that I call ‘Phil-isms’. I intentionally did it the way I felt Phil would do it.
MaM: Your music is so high-energy and in-your-face, and your sound is so different. I feel you guys stand out here locally because of it. “Numbered Days” is just a badass song. Tell us a little more about how it came together.
Shannon: The funny thing is that ‘Numbered Days’ was written in 2013. Me and the guitar player, Blake, … started [the band] Wicked River Rising and [wrote] some songs, but things didn’t work out, so we split up. … [W]hen we got Blake in this band, we still had those songs we had written, so we decided to see if we could still use them. Three of those songs … ended up on this album.
MaM: Let’s get into a little band history.
Cody: Well, we’ve always known each other, and Shannon and I have played in various bands since 2003, but I was an outsider. I was never from Ascension Parish or the Baton Rouge scene. I started playing in the band Knever with Jeremy Pourcy and John Maher, and at the time, Shannon was with Black Market Halos. We were always crossing paths … playing shows and we had a brotherhood between bands in the early 2000’s.
Fast forward to 2019, Knever tried to get back together a few times, but we just couldn’t make it work. John calls me up one day, though, and asks me about Shannon, and then tells me to call him, so I did. That was the beginning of the first incarnation of the band, and Scott Hood, who plays bass—Shannon already knew him from playing in Black Market Halos and Soul Erosion. Eventually, Blake Cage came into the mix from Absolum, and we all meshed. Now, as far as the drummer goes, that’s a different story. We auditioned six people.
Shannon: We went a whole year without a drummer. We just could not find anyone, so we got together to practice without one for a bit. One day, a friend sent me a video on Facebook of a drummer I should check out, and I liked what I saw, so I hit the guy up. I ended up sending him some music with no lyrics, and he wanted me to send something with my singing on it. We ended up going to Jeremy’s house [Pourcy], and we put vocals on three songs, and then I sent it to him, and he said, ‘When do you practice again?’ That was it.
MaM: How did the name for the band come about?
Shannon: I came up with the name from a song I wrote, and to me, Branded for Exile stands for all the people who grew up like I did. The Metalheads, the outcasts … the ones with the long hair … the ones with tattoos … we are all ‘branded for exile’ in a way. Originally, though, we wanted to call the band Undaunted, but another band already had that name. Everyone liked [Branded for Exile] and agreed upon it, so here we are.
MaM: Take us through the songwriting process. How do you approach new material?
Shannon and Cody: Someone comes in with a riff.
Shannon: Yeah, we’ll start with the riff, and then I freestyle lyrics to it until we get everything together. By the time that is done, I usually have the lyrics written. I like to write straight off the vibe. When we have another practice, I’ll sing the lyrics exactly as they are written to make sure I don’t have to alter them in any way, and then boom—it’s a song.
Cody: As far as the music is concerned, everybody plays their part and knows their roles. You can’t have five Alpha guys trying to write one song. Somebody must step back, and another must come forward. With each song, you can tell who came forward to add their special touch. Sometimes you’re the writer and sometimes you’re the producer. Sometimes, you have to just sit back and let it happen. We live by the rule that the song is not finished until it’s recorded.
MaM: If you guys could tour with anyone in the future, who would it be and why? Also, where do you see yourselves headed in the future as a band?
Shannon: Shit …
Shannon: I think I would want to play with Killswitch [Engage]. That is my wife’s favorite band. … but it’s so hard to even imagine being able to play with so many great bands … that’s a tough one.
Cody: Since I grew up on 80’s thrash, it would have to be Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, or Megadeth.
Shannon: I know there is going to come a time when I won’t be able to play music anymore, so I just want to put out as much as I can. I want to add to the legacy. I want to get older and have my grandkids go, ‘This is my Grandpa’, ya know? When I was younger, I chased the music dream. I wanted to be a rockstar, but it just didn’t pan out that way.
MaM: … but what if it did happen now?
Cody: I love these guys and they’re like my brothers, but I don’t know if I want to be over 50 and out on the road touring. If I was still 20 or 30, then yeah, because we did chase that dream, and I did give it 100%. I don’t think that I’m going to look back and think that I didn’t give it enough effort. If something were to happen, whatever it is, I would hope it would benefit all the bands here in Louisiana. A high tide raises all ships. If we get out there and our name gets out there, I just hope that it helps somebody else younger.
To learn more about Branded for Exile and to check out “Born in the Flames”, hit one of the links below.
*cover photo by Chad Besse
Nicole Brice loves discovering new music. Got something you think she’d like to hear? Hit us up at email@example.com.