Derek Haley is the lead guitarist and founder member for Death Metal Band Heaven Ablaze from Canada.


Q Hi Derek.  When did Heaven Ablaze form?
A Hi Vicky, well Heaven Ablaze was formed back in late 2002 when I met up with Jeremy Walsh (Bass) and Jeff Wood (Drums) at our local high school where we all attended.  We originally started off as a cover band…playing mostly old Slayer, Metallica, Pantera, and Testament songs.  We started to get bored playing the same old crap over and over so we started to experiment with some original songs that I had been working on but realized we needed another guitarist to thicken out our sound… that’s when we ask Mike Grund to take over rhythm guitar duties.  Soon after that we found Conan Bulani (former Blood Of Christ vocals) and asked him to join as the final member.  We recorded our first album “Enlightened By Darkness” with this line up in the fall of 2004 and released it soon after.  Since then we have recorded two more albums “Reborn Through Evil” which we recorded with JF of KATAKLYSM in Montreal Quebec Canada and the third album “Proclamation Armageddon” with Nigel Curley of Excruciating Thoughts (Local London Band).  After our second recording we parted ways with Conan and asked Derek Lee to join as our new front man…  he’s an animal behind the mic and on stage…I’m very proud to have a front man of his caliber on vocal duties for this third album.  Also, after Mike laid his tracks for the third album he also left the band.  We now have Pat Davison on backing guitar and he’s working out amazing.  He has a fantastic ear for music and a great imagination when it comes to arrangements and riffs.  We are stronger now than ever and look forward to world domination in the near future!!
Q Have you been in any other bands?
A I personally have put most of my efforts into Heaven Ablaze.  I have done a few other little fill-ins and studio work but nothing too serious to date.  I don’t like to limit myself… so maybe somewhere down the line I’ll find some time to work on another project… but at the moment I’m completely focused on H-A.
Q You’ve shared the stage with Strapping Young Lad. That’s pretty mint. Did you get to meet them afterwards?
A Yeah that was a great show!  Also one of the first shows we played with Derek Lee on vocals!  We got the chance to talk to them after the show and they were all very cool guys!  Gene Hoglan is a GOD!!  …Needless to say we all got drunk and talked metal!
Q I read your third album is a concept album.  Tell me some more about the theme and writing processes.
A Well, the third album is titled “Proclamation Armageddon”.  The album takes on the concept of the end… the end of our world…the end of time…everything. At first the story takes a very human approach to the demise of our world, but as the album progresses… it gets into a more chaotic and obscene clash of mortal and immortal concepts that soon after leads to the inevitable…

Doing an album like this was a lot of fun because it allowed all of us to do something a little different.  For example at the end of the album we have a trilogy of three songs that link into each other, which we had never done before.  The three songs kind of bring the whole album concept together and bring a very aggressive and punishing end to the album.  I think it closes the whole story off nicely… but still leaves some room for the listener to use their imagination.

Q How has the band developed and evolved over the three albums?
A Well, over the years we have come a long way as a band.  We have had to deal with some abrupt line up changes over the years… but that just comes with being in a band.  Like I said earlier, I believe we have found the perfect line up for Heaven Ablaze…everyone is on the same page and ready to push forward!  Also, we have all come a very long way in our writing process.  I usually have the basis of the song written at home and bring it to practice where everyone has input and feeds off of one another.  Everyone has a say, and I think that helps our music a lot… it brings more elements and ideas to the table.  Derek Lee and Pat have also brought a fresh feel to the band and work their asses off to make their parts the best they can.  The songs speak for themselves…throw in our first album…then listen to the third… you’ll hear evolution! Haha
Q You supported Firewind in September.  They are one of my favourite bands.  In the band influences, you quote Dimmu Borgir, Iced Earth, Pantera, Tool and Firewind.  These are all very different bands.  So, with that in mind, would you experiment with other sounds?

Yeah we were direct support to Firewind on the World Allegiance tour at their Toronto date.  I’m a huge Gus G fan… his technique and song writing skills are amazing… so it was really cool to be able to talk to him a bit!  They were all very nice guys!

In regards to the influences… you're right, they are kinda all over the map! Haha Everyone in the band has their own personal influences, which is cool because it brings lots of ideas and styles to mess around with when writing.  Personally I think we have found our “sound” now.  We have kind of a unique style that incorporates more of a European feel to the music mixed with north American death vocals with lots of instrumental parts as well. I don’t see us bringing in any keyboards or anything anytime soon… but in saying that, I do like to fuck around with different sounds… So who knows? haha. At the moment what we are doing seems to be working…so we’ll stick with that.

Q What do you see as the ideals shared by death metal bands?
A The love for the live show and expressing emotion through music.  It’s a great way to express yourself and just let loose when on stage!  99% of bands we have played with are all very cool people that get up on stage and play night after night no matter what the crowd is.  It's all about playing your music and having a good fuckin’ time doing it!!  Metal heads seem to all feed off the raw power of the music… for me there’s nothing better than playing live!
Q Which artists have you taken most notice of recently either for inspiration or for pleasure?
A Well I’ve been pumping Firewind’s new album Allegiance for like a month straight now! Haha it’s a great record… it’s got everything!   Also, I just picked up the new Arch Enemy album “Rise of the Tyrant” that’s a fantastic disc too… I suggest both of those albums to any metal head.
Q What interests do you have outside of Heaven Ablaze?
A I love to golf!  You can’t beat flying around in a golf cart with a buddy drunk out of your mind swinging some sticks! Haha it’s a blast.  I also love hockey and snowboarding… and I’m constantly playing guitar.
Q Any news on any upcoming things for Heaven Ablaze? Tours, Signings, etc?
A Well I’m just in the stages of setting up a string of shows through Ontario.  I’m also making some contacts in the USA and Europe as we speak so hopefully we can cross some borders soon and play some places we haven’t had the pleasure of playing yet!  Keep posted on our myspace site for updates on that stuff.  As for signings…I’m working on it!  That’s all I’ll say for now because I don’t wanna jinx anything haha
Q What is your opinion on the current worldwide metal / death / thrash metal scene?

I think the whole scene is in a great place right now…and its only getting better.  The internet has helped a lot to expose some very talented underground bands through myspace and other promoting tools.  I know here in Canada we have so many fantastic metal bands that are starting to get noticed which is nice to see.

Also, there seems to be a lot of younger kids coming out to our shows more and more now as well… which is cool to see them getting into it at a young age! I see a bright future for metal!

Q For fun, you have a photo shoot, and when you get there you learn that your new clothing sponsor is fetish wear.  Are you up for it?

If it means I get to wear assless chaps… then I’m game. Lol


To check out more about Derek and Heaven Ablaze, visit

I would like to thank Derek for answering these Questions.

All the best to him and the band, now and in the future.

Thanks for your support Vicky, good luck to you as well!

Stay Metal!

-Derek © 2007