Ofnus may be dreaming, but dreams can come true

There’s something stirring in South Wales. Having made their names in other Welsh bands Agrona, Blind Divide, Democratus and Black Pyre, quintet Ofnus bring their sadness through the gloom in the shape of their debut release Time Held Me Grey And Dying. On a cool Welsh evening with the odd drop of rain glistening the leaves of the surrounding trees, MetalTalk’s Paul Hutchings shared a beer and a chat at a local pub with guitarist and founder member Alyn Hunter to find out a bit more about the band who will be gracing the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival in a few short weeks.

Alyn Hunter – Ofnus – Part One

Ofnus - The Junction- 30 April 2023
Alyn Hunter, Ofnus – The Junction- 30 April 2023. Photo: Keith Conlin/MetalTalk

The history of Ofnus dates back several years. Alyn explains. “If we’re being strictly true about it, that’s going to be 2018, when Agrona were supporting Grá and Black Pyre were also on the show. There was some strange drunken conversation when Ethan (Spargo – Drums) came up to me and said, ‘Man do you want to do a project at some point?’ And I think I just turned around and said, ‘Yeah, that’d be a great idea.’

“And then you forget about it the next day, which I’m pretty sure is what happened. Fast forward to 2021, and I’m at Damnation Festival, similarly drunk, and I get a message out of the blue in Leeds Student Union from Ethan saying, ‘Remember we had this conversation back in December 2018?’ I went yes. Now is the right time. Things were slowing down with Agrona at that point.

“We’d not long done Bloodstock, but we were struggling to kind of really pick things up. So, it felt the right time to go and do something new, and I had tons of different ideas which I was batting back and forth. I came home and started writing. Within about two months, we had five to seven songs which were ready. And then the next step, of course, is just finding other interesting members.”

Finding the right members possibly proved to be easier than expected. “I think the key thing for Ofnus or anything else is just finding people who are like-minded,” Alyn says, “but also motivated and that we could rely on also had technical ability. So, I think it almost became a bit of a round of finding friends who were in similar ruts and asking if they were interested in doing something slightly different, perhaps, as a distraction, perhaps as a sort of inspiration, perhaps just something to keep occupied.

“We approached James (Ponsford) from Blind Divide for the lead guitarist. We approached a different bassist originally, but he came back to us saying he was too busy, but we also had Rich (Rees) in mind. Rich was happy to step in. We put an advert out for vocalists, but ultimately, we didn’t even need to wait too long because Will (Philpott – singer) sent us over a quick demo, and I think it worked best because he’s not only got recording equipment, but he also knows how to mix, and his style suited what we wanted. So, it was a question that answered itself.”

Alyn wrote much of the music and lyrics on the album. He said that five of the seven songs were already written by the time Ofnus formed. What about the other two songs, I wonder. Were they more inclusive? Or is Alyn a greedy bastard? “Haha!” he laughs. “I’m greedy. I did them all. I basically wrote everything. Once everything was written, I then passed those back to the guys and said, look, this must be a group band. It must be group decisions. So, if you’ve got changes you want to make, if you’re going to leave your own stamp on a song, or riff, then please do that. I’m not a bassist. So, any bassist notes over it would just be following the guitar, just to add a bit of a bump.

“The lead lines, James would listen to them and then put his own spin on them because he’s a different guitarist to me. He’s a much more technical guitarist. I would give a basic drum pattern or beat, and again, Ethan would change bits up to suit his style of play. It would largely be the same. If you compared the demo tracks to the actual album, you’re talking about 80% similarity in that 20 per cent is their own individual stamp. Which, if anything, I think works better because it’s not the too many cooks situation.”


It probably isn’t a surprise to anyone who plays music these days, but the band were on point when they first got together in the rehearsal room. Bringing together musicians who play very different styles of music, albeit all Metal (There is a mix of Metal Core, Heavy Metal, Death, and Black Metal in the band’s history).

How did Alyn and Ofnus address this? “So, funny one. We just learned all our parts at home. I think we first practised together as a four-piece, just instrumentals, ignoring vocals, in February (2022). We didn’t have a practice as a full five until probably closer to June. I think it was seven practice sessions, and in every single one, we just went and played one song over and over. It would take us about three goes, and then it would sound live-ready. Yeah. So, we learned everything from home and then just turned up to practice.

“It slotted together. Similar to how you would do things in an orchestra. You’d have to learn your part, go to your practice, and put it all together. It’s the way you should be doing it for efficiency. You don’t want to be going to practice, paying money to rent out a room and then spending the entire time teaching your bassist how to play the parts that you should have learned at home.”

Alyn explains that the band have some good fortune when it comes to the drum parts, which are, of course, essential to the band’s music. “It worked like clockwork for that. Ethan’s quite lucky because he’s got his own practice space. So he hasn’t got that worry about not being able to play live. He can work on different parts, and we gave him the tracks with just the instrumentation on it, and he can play along to it. So, if you spend time on the practice materials, there is no reason why anybody shouldn’t be able to learn what they need to have.”

Ofnus - Time Held Me Grey And Dying album cover
Ofnus – Time Held Me Grey And Dying. With elements that dive deep into the inner soul, this has Album of the Year written all over it.

I’m lucky enough to have had an advance copy of the album. You can read our review here, and it’s quite astonishingly good. Alyn is a confident person. He has a belief in the music that he writes. But like all musicians, there lingers some doubt. When did he feel that this project could be something?

He’s candid and honest. “The first practice as a four-piece. We didn’t need vocals to add to it at that point. Nothing. We had lyrics at that point. For any musician, immediately when something is ready, you get that visceral sensation, goosebumps even on your arm. When you think, I’m playing this and thinking I’m into this, that’s what we recognised quite early on. And we had most tracks written at that point. So, it was a case of, okay, we need to get this committed now, and we need to get a record out. Because if we do this wrong, we’re just going to be another band that’s going to be doing the local circuit forever.”

Having been around for several years, this is not something that Ofnus want. Alyn is clear about their vision, direction, and determination. “We want to learn from mistakes from all the other bands that we’ve been in. We have a combined experience.”

Taking that experience on board, was that a factor in choosing local musicians? Alyn is once again honest. “100%. We had criteria that we put out as being part of the project. One was we had to have a good portion of the band being able to drive. There is only one of us who can’t, so four of us have got access to a vehicle, which is great because when you’re touring, you can share the responsibility. That’s huge because there’s been times when I’ve had to drive, or take responsibility for driving. And it does wear you down a bit.

“Being able to practice reliably and the ability to pitch in with different aspects as well. Rich brings in video editing skills. I’ve got graphic design skills, and Will has recording and mixing skills.”

James is there to change the light bulb? “Absolutely,” laughs Alyn. “He’s the only one who’s not vertically challenged, so he’s absolutely got that! Between us all, we’ve all got something additional rather than just being able to play music, and to be able to bring that to the band adds an awful lot.”

This might have been the more sensitive question, given the other bands are all still active, but how refreshing is it for Ofnus to work with each other? Alyn explains that he feels the group are more focused. “It never gets old,” he says. “I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s almost something that I cringe when I say it, but we had a practice session the other day.

“It’s probably the first we’ve had in over a month. We all walked into the practice room. We haven’t asked each other if we practised. We just picked up and played a full set flawlessly. Well, as far as my ears could hear, within the confines of the practice room, flawlessly, enough for Padge from BFMV to walk past and say, that sounds good! If it happens like that, it’s amazing, and you want to do everything you can to protect it and make sure that there is an upwards trajectory for it.”

Part Two is out tomorrow.

Sleeve Notes

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