Agoraphobic Nosebleed- Arc
FFO- Doom Metal, Sludge Metal, Grindcore
Massachusetts's Agoraphobic Nosebleed has been long known as one of the most legendary studio Grindcore bands to ever exist. Not only has the band broke out of the mold of just being a studio band with playing select festival shows (starting with 2015's Maryland Deathfest) but the band is doing a fantastic in 2016 with release 4 separate EPs. One EP for every member of the band's personal influences. As having the tremendous honor of working with Relapse Records, I have the honor to be able to review all 4 EPs this year. This 3 song EP is all inspired by vocalist, Kat Katz (Katherine Katz)'s love of Doom Metal and Sludge Metal.
Arc starts with the 7 minute Southern Sludge Metal tribute, Not A Daughter. The song is pure, unadulterated worship of bands like Crowbar, Eyehategod, and Acid Bath. The fastest paced song on the album (which is still about 5% speed of the usual Agoraphobic Nosebleed song, haha) is a great, groovy sludgefest where Katz take all of her aggressions out on the world. Deathbed starts off with a lone bass drum before one of the heaviest doom riffs comes out and decimates anyone listening. By far the slowest, heaviest, and most brooding song on the album, this song gives worship to the Doom Gods that came before this and they are pleased. A little over half way through the song, the song picks up just a tad to give more of the Southern Style Sludge that would make anyone from Crowbar to The Sword smile, before kicking back in to the doom to close out the track. The EP closes with the almost 12 minute epic, Gnaw. The song combines a bit more of an uptempo feel like Not A Daughter, but keeps the doom of Deathbed. The middle section of the song has more atmospheric, and feedback vibes before kicking into the most crushing riff of the entire EP. The song and EP ends with some distorted feedback that grows faster and faster and faster and, abruptly, ends.
Overall, Arc is meant for those who love Sludge and Doom or can appreciate the band showing love for their inspirations. It's definitely not for the faint of heart. It's soul crushingly heavy, sludgy, doomy, and pure Agoraphobic Nosebleed. If you want the faster sides of the band you'll have to wait for the other 3 EPs in the series to come out later this year to see what they have up their sleeve. Till then, kick back, turn off the lights, light some black candles, put on your Saint Vitus shirt and sunglasses, tell your significant other to leave for 27 minutes and 13 seconds, and ENJOY!
Agoraphobic Nosebleed- Arc available NOW via Relapse Records
Legendary musician, Steven Wilson, has just released his latest EP, 4 1/2. It is a a collection of B-Sides that were not ready or just did not make the mark for Wilson's latest album, 2015's Hand. Cannot. Erase. and even in the writing sessions of 2013's The Raven That Refused To Sing. As it is evident by the title. This serves as a companion piece to Hand. Cannot. Erase. and is definitely implying that album 5 will be released in the future. Would any of the song's have fit in those albums? ABSOLUTELY! But this serves a great reminder that Wilson wants to release any music that he thinks is worth checking out. Let's see what 6 songs are deserving to be heard in 2016.
The EP starts with My Book Of Regrets. Easily the best song on the EP. I had the pleasure of hearing this song (When it was originally untitled) back in early June 2015 in Minneapolis. A few days later, I also had the pleasure of doing an interview with Steven 2 days later over the phone where he first let me in that an EP was in the works that would include this and other songs that didn't make the cut for the new album. I was so excited when i heard this song would be included because it is one of the best things he has ever written, especially now that is a complete song. The song was recorded in late June 2015. The song starts off in the Porcupine Tree realm. It reminds you of Time Flies off PT's last album, The Incident, but poppier and proggier at times(if that even makes sense) and not as musically dark. The middle instrumental solo sections are really something to behold before entering a mellow atmospheric section that makes you feel like floating away. Towards the end of the song, it gets back to the original section of the song and leaves on a floating note. Year Of The Plague is an instrumental piece that oddly enough, sounds like the mellow sections off of Ne Obliviscaris' latest album, Citadel. Synth string sections mixed with acoustic guitar, bass and piano. Happiness III starts off with acoustic guitar before kicking into another pop-driven proggy song. The song is very much in the vibe of PT's In Absentia, which makes since because it was originally written in 2003. Take out the heavy parts of the song Trains and replace it with more twang, and you got it! Sunday Rain Sets In is another, moody, instrumental track. Very depressing sounding and give an eerie vibe. Towards the end of the song it picks up for just a few seconds with distortion, bass drums, etc but then settles back down closing out the track. Vermillioncore is oddly enough not a Metalcore, Deathcore, hardcore, or Djent song, but rather a a midtempo song in the vein of Halo off of 2005's Deadwing by Porcupine Tree. Just heavier, moodier, and instrumental. The EP concludes with a cover of Porcupine Tree's Don't Hate Me off the 1999's Lightbulb Sun. The song, recorded live, also features a very strong appearance on the chorus from Israeli vocalist, Ninet Tayeb (who is also featured on Hand. Cannot. Erase.). The song is structurally the same, but with the addition of the female vocals, it gives a very different vibe that is definitely a love it or hate it situation. I am of the love it side. The middle, instrumental section is a bit more spread out than the original version. it features much more organ than the original and give more of a Pink Floyd vibe than done previously. Overall a fantastic rendition.
4 1/2 has left some fans polarized and some wanting more. The ones polarized don't appreciate that the EP coasts about the same as a full album and also, more notably, the cover of Don't Hate Me. While others believe that the EP is sheer brilliance and the only disappointment is that they have to hit the play button again to start it all over. I am closer to the latter. The beginning and end of the EP are worth the price of admission alone. I'm not entirely sold on most of the middle of the EP but they serve as great instrumental segue ways through the EP. Overall, I highly recommend checking this EP out. Steven Wilson is at the top of his game and I can't imagine him slowing down any time soon. And if he has this kind of material left over, there's is no reason to ever stop until the tank is empty.
Steven Wilson- 4 1/2 available NOW via Kscope Records!
Varg (NO, NOT THAT VARG!!!) is quickly becoming one of the hardest working bands in the German Folk Metal world. With combining elements of Folk, Black, Metalcore and even Pop, the band's 5 album, The End Of All Lies, is becoming known as a fantastic representation of the band's versatility. I had the pleasure to talk to Managarm (Timo Rotten) to talk about everything currently going on the wolf dominated world known as Varg.
Thank you for taking the time out to do this interview with me. My first exposure to you guys was in Minnesota at Paganfest 2014. You guys totally blew me away and I've been a fan ever since. Now that The End Of All Lies is officially out. How has the early reception for the album been so far?
Sure, thanks for having me. Minnesota was great, I remember that night very good. Glad you liked the show. It has been very great so far, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, the fans liked it. We even entered the Top 20 of the German album charts at position 17. It just feels so great. We’re very proud of that album.
The new album does showcase a stronger and different distinct sound than used in the past. What brought on the new ideas in the band's sound?
We’ve been experimenting a lot on our previous release „Guten Tag“. The results were a bit confusing for everyone. But now it feels like we found the right way to combine our pagan roots with the more modern approach. I simply love bands that try to incorporate different styles into their music. This has always been a great influence for me. Finally having accomplished that is just great. It feels good. I think we have found our musical core. Varg is exactly where I want it to be at the moment.
The first track, The Great Dictator marks a great use of the legendary speech from the film of the same name (The Great Dictator). Is it fair to say that the themes of the film inspired the lyrics of The End Of All Lies?
It sure seems legit. But the songs were long written and recorded before we came up with the intro.
The Title Track, The End Of All Lies is a great representation of the sound of the album, showcasing everything the band is capable of right now. Was it an easy choice having that be the lead single from the album?
We had a couple of songs in mind to become the title track. At first the album was supposed to be entitled „Revolution“, then it was „Achtung“. But „The End of All Lies“ soon became our favorite, because of the reasons you already named. It perfectly sums up everything we do on the album.
Anna Murphy from Eluveitie makes a fantastic guest spot on the song, The Dance Of Death. How did it come about to bring her on board for the album?
Yeah right? Her performance is just incredible. I’m so happy to finally have a collaboration with her doing vocals. (She already did a guest appearance with her hurdy gurdy in 2011 for the song „Rotkäppchen“, you know.) She’s been a long time friend of mine since our first tour together with Eluveitie in 2010 and I have a huge respect for her. She’s an incredible musician.
Was there any B-sides, covers, or unused material from the End Of All Lies sessions that might make an appearance in a future release?
We indeed wrote a shit ton of songs. Two of them can be found on our previously released „Rotkäppchen“ EP. I don’t really know what’s going to happen to the other songs. They might end up on upcoming albums. There are a couple of very strong ones among them, which just didn’t make it to „Then End of All Lies“ because they didn’t fit into the tracklist.
What are the current plans for Varg for 2016? Any chance of hitting North America for this album cycle?
We have the Wolfsfest coming up in March/April. This is going to be our first self produced headlining tour through Germany and Switzerland. Very big production and it’s gonna be awesome shows. I’m sure we’ll come back to the US, but unfortunately I can’t confirm anything so far. We’re working on it.
Now that's the beginning of 2016, were there any albums you enjoyed from 2015? What albums are you looking forward to in 2016?
I really enjoyed the new album from Hollywood Undead: Day of the dead Killer band! Also Love Story from Yelawolf was one of my favorites in 2015.
I don’t listen to much of the new metal stuff that’s coming out though. I’m more into the bands and albums I grew up with. The new Marilyn Manson album The Pale Emperor. probably was the most surprising and exciting release of 2015 for me. He was one of my major influences as a teenager and seeing him getting back to full strength on that killer album was just awesome. I’d call it my album of the year probably.
Thank you once again for taking the time to do this interview. It was a tremendous honor. Before we wrap things up. Is there anything you would like to mention or promote that I haven't brought up yet?
Thanks for the interview, it was a pleasure. Hope to see you soon again in the US.
And a shoutout to all our American fans: We will come back! You guys rock! Keep the Wolfskult alive over there.
Varg- The End OF All Lies is available now via Napalm Records.
Swedish Gothic Metal band Beseech had broken up in 2006 after the album cycle for 2005's Sunless Days, In 2013, the band was remade with a whole new lineup but still including original members Robert Vintervind (Guitars) and Klas Bohlin switching from Guitars and backup vocals to becoming the frontman of Beseech. Now with the band's brand new album My Darkness Darkness releasing March 4, 2016, I had the distinct honor of talking to Klas about the reformation of Beseech, the new album and so much more!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Been a fan of what you guys have accomplished since I discovered ...From A Bleeding Heart back in High School. So the band got back together and ofﬁcially became active again in 2013 which is leading to the upcoming release, My Darkness, Darkness,;the ﬁrst Beseech album since 2005's Sunless Days. What brought on you guys wanting to come back and start over this adventure?
Well, during the years when Beseech was put to rest, me and Robert (the creators of the Beseech sound and the main composers) talked a lot about doing something creative with Music. We were quite uncertain if it should be as Beseech again, but since we both had written a few new riffs and had some cool ideas that we wanted to present to each other, we took it from there. Then we met during the summer of 2012, two guitars, cold beers and then we started jamming. To be honest we were amazed of how much Beseech it sounded, so we decided to bring the old skeleton back to life again. I don’t know what it is, but when Robert and I are together in Beseech there has always been a core of melancholic energy that ﬂows trough out the music.
This time our music took another direction towards more rock than metal and with me on lead vocals, which might be the most obvious change. Since the start in 1992 my main job in Beseech was not the vocals. I wrote songs and played guitar, but also some harmony and backing vocals here and there.
When the band got back together in 2013, it has gone through quite the lineup transformation. Does the new lineup feel like it does back in the day or is this a welcomed change?
We made the changes that we thought were necessary due to the new sound. Through out the years there has been many members leaving/joining the band. I have very deep respect for all ex members and what they have accomplished in the band. We had a really great time, but that belongs to the past now. For a band that lasts over 20 years, changes within the lineup is often a fact.
The ﬁrst guy besides me and Robert, to-rejoin Beseech was Manne Engström (guitar). Manne had been a member in the later edition of the band and we had known him since the mid 90s through StudioMega, the so called ”classic Beseech studio” where we have made almost all our recordings since the yearly days. In 1996 (?) we met Manne for the ﬁrst time. He was in the studio recording with his death metal band Fatal Embrace, and we have liked him a lot ever since. Many years later when Beseech was put to rest, I also had the pleasure to get to know and to work with the new talented producer at StudioMega, Johan Örnborg (Bass), whom just within a few years developed into an amazing producer. I was there with my new psychedelic experiment/band Depressive Art. From the beginning we were supposed to do most of the work together with Christian Silver (Beseech main producer), but then somehow Johan became the main producer during the process. Also Robert and Manne have worked with Johan on several occasions with other projects. So besides hiring a great bass player, we also got ourselves a really good producer. Today Johan is also a member of the Facination Street Studio, where many great but also some legendary bands have recorded their albums. Håkan Carlsson (drums) and Angelina Sahlgren Söder (vocals) I had experience working with from the progressive band The Fantastic People, also for this band we decided to make our recordings in StudioMega, with Johan during the mixing sessions. Today Manne Engström is also the main owner of the studio, and from time to time they still make amazing recordings with great bands. For Beseech this is also a really good asset and a great head quarter.
Angelina is also a very important complement to my voice, since the two of us have made space for the third generation of singers. This time we have taken a step towards emotional country and have worked a lot with harmony vocals in way that is quite unusual within the Gothic genre. For this album I have also taken a much more deeper responsibility regarding the vocals in general. Except for that I have written all the lyrics (except for Highwayman / written by Jimmy Webb) I have also been in charged of producing and recording almost all vocals. I’m proud of getting the conﬁdence from the others, after all there is a special relation between the singer and the lyric. So this was probably a smart move.
My Darkness, Darkness feels like a very ﬁtting album in 2016. The mood of the album feels traditional in the Beseech sound yet contemporary. Were the songs on the album all freshly written or was there anything left over from the time the band went on break that have been brought back in?
Creative people often stay creative, and so it was even for Beseech during the vacation years. So there is a mix of both new and old, unreleased songs of course. For some of the songs we had to make some arrangements to make them ﬁt along with the Beseech 2.0 sound. Too me a great song can be translated into different kinds of genres and bands. Just like our version of Highwayman. On a related note, was there anything that was left on the cutting room ﬂoor on this album that might make an appearance on a future release? Yes, there was more material in progress. When writing songs, there are always limits of how far you can experiment. So these 11 songs was our perfect match for ”My Darkness, Darkness” I believe. It feels great to ﬁnaly have these on tape. For me as a songwriter it’s really hard to have too many songs and melodies within your head. So another great feeling is that I’m looking forward to get back at the drawing board and continue where we left off.
It has been recently announced that you will be playing the ﬁrst Beseech show in over a decade as a release show for My Darkness, Darkness March 4th, 2016. How does it feel coming back in a live setting with the new album to promote?
It feels amazing. We have spent so much time and effort into this, perhaps more than ever in making an album that we like our selves. The release show will of course be something special for all of us. Too us Beseech is also like a second family. I really enjoy the laughs, the diners and the red wine during late nights in the control room at StudioMega listening to old death metal. It’s like living in a bubble, almost like a time machine, where we can escape from reality for a while. Is there any songs in particular that you will be bringing out special for this show? I think that we have found a great mix in all this. Most people seem to choose Souls Highway as their favorite Beseech album. I’m most anxious about playing the new songs, while others might wanna hear something from the ﬁrst album. Therefore we have made a mixture of material in the set list, including songs from our entire career. For me as a singer it is also a challenge to sing the old classics like Between the lines, Sunset 28, Shadow Scape, Manmade Dreams, but also some of the later material like Drama and The Outpost. Then of course there will also be a few songs from the new album as well.
So what are the current plans of Beseech in 2016? Any possible touring on the horizon?
Of course we wanna play live, travel and meet our fans along with our strange fellows on the road. Exactly how and when is too early to tell. We are working on that.
Beseech has left quite an impact on the Metal world and for me a big impact on how I look at music being dark, beautiful and melodic. Is there any bands on your radar that you feel are keeping this idea in music today?
To be honest, I don’t know much about what is going on within the Gothic scene. A matter fact I haven’t been proper updated since 1998. After our ﬁrst album ”...from a bleeding heart” I some how got to much of the ”good Gothic stuff”. It’s like eating a cake, at ﬁrst it tastes amazing, then eventually the taste of the cake gets too much. I guess it has to do with the combination of both being a listener and a songwriter at the same time. I'm still attracted to dark music, but nowadays it mostly comes from emotional country and singer songwriters. Townes Van Zandt is worth mentioning as an artist which I admire. Then I’m also into more present bands like Soulsavers, Ghost, Midlake, Brett Detar, Ryan Adams, Graveyard and of course the Beach Boys.
How do you feel Music, and in particular, Metal, has changed since Beseech ﬁrst left us in 2005? Is it for better or for worse?
There will always be good bands, as long as people continue writing great songs. From Sweden there is a fresh wave of vintage hard rock and bands like Hypnos, Graveyard and Spiders which I’m really in fond of. I also appreciate that I have discovered more and more present psychedelic hard rock and bands such as Black Mountain and Witchcraft. Thank you very much, once again, for taking the time to do this interview. Before we go, is there anything else that you would like to mention or promote that I have not brought up yet? Another cool thing that happened recently is that Jimmy Webb’s management got in touch with us concerning our cover of his master piece song ”Highwayman”, probably most known from the band ”Highwaymen” featuring Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. Anyway, Jimmy really likes our version and believes that we have made a proper incarnation of the song, and that is so cool.
Beseech- My Darkness, Darkness is available March 4th via Despotz Records
Cluster Fuck Review: Nile/Enforcer/Warbringer/Cauldron/Exmortus/We Are Legion at The Triple Rock In Minneapolis, MN 1/24/2015
This is my non partisan review. I hate being this honest but I'll try to represent both sides of the case, all sides I was told *without giving names to who said what* and my thoughts at the very end. Nights like this show makes me not care if I ever rejoin another band ever again
To put it mildly, this was a complete and utter cluster fuck of a show...
To anyone reading this, I'm sure the story has come out or soon to be coming out about how 2 tours involving one with Nile and one with Enforcer/Warbringer/Cauldron/Exmortus got together in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a show. Even on paper this sounds like a bad idea. for fans, this is both polarizing shows for fans on both sides. Sadly, there's not enough people out there who can appreciate Nile as much as Enforcer/Warbringer/Cauldron/Exmortus and vice versa. The band who got shafted the most is the local opener of the show We Are Legion. There is so much to get into about what happened...
I guess trying to tell the story, there's no way to do this but tell it in the order that I experienced it. Try to follow along, I'm sure it will get confusing at some point.
I got in line a little after 4PM to wait for the doors to open at 5PM. It was about 25-30 degrees outside, which is quite cold, not as cold as some winters, but enough to still suck. Little did I know that I'd be waiting for two hours till 6Pm when doors FINALLY opened. What happened? Well guitarist of We Are Legion, Will Maravelas, wrote up a message on Facebook announcing We Are Legion had to cancel. The reason for the cancellation? Set up took longer than expected and because of that, the band got axed. You think that would be enough right? No no no.
A big part of what happened was Nile took up the entire stage at The Triple Rock. leaving no room but for a drum set. The rest of every band that played, except Nile, played on the floor. For some people who love an up close an possible show ala Hardcore shows, this was a great experience, for those who actually care about things like sound and the band's well being, not so much. For those not in the know, The Triple Rock is a less than 400 person capacity venue. There is a merch area, a bar on the opposite side of the room, a railing area, and a few steps down in the middle is the pit area with the stage being in the back of the venue. Along with this, there is a separate bar that is attached that is a bar and grill. Having a band play on the floor at The Triple Rock is essentially taking away almost half of the pit area, making things even harder to see and less enjoyable for those that don't feel like getting their asses kicked in the name of fun.
The first band up was Exmortus. Who definitely made the best out of a shitty situation. While cracking a couple jokes about playing on the floor, they played a killer opening set. With the recently announced news they are playing with Amon Amarth and Entombed A.D. on a North American tour, these guys are getting bigger and bigger and I couldn't be happier to see it.
Toronto's Cauldron was up next. The band also cracked jokes about being "The tallest band in the world, we don't need a stage to be seen" they put an incredible set of 80's inspired Speed Metal and Heavy Metal. While there was one mishap musically, I believe it was a broken string, the band played it off like it was nothing. Way too short of an opening set, but so much fun.
Warbringer was up next. While the band is still suffering through a lot of internal problems (which I know all too well about), the band played so phenomenally. While being quite pissed about playing on the floor (as evident by social media posts) the band made the absolute best of it, treating it like you were at a Black Flag show in 1985. People were jumping off the railings while no one caught them, circle pits galore and just pure chaos of a set. the real star of the set was drummer, Carlos Cruz, who is an absolute madman behind the drums and honestly, gave George Kollias a run for being the best drummer of the whole show.
New up was Enforcer, who despite being on the floor and the stories you'll read later in this review. Did in fact play a set of music! It was quite evident that they were upset about playing on the floor, the attitude came off quite apparent as I studied what was going on. Definitely not the fun loving band I've seen from YouTube videos. Still fun, but noticeably, something was wrong. They put on a great show, while sadly having to cut 10 minutes of their set. Regardless of everything I'm glad I saw them once.
Finally for the sets of music. Nile closed out the night. Due to the anger of the show being pushed back, We Are Legion being kicked off the show, seeing 80% of the bands on the floor, not being able to do my job and get any decent pictures (just look at my Instagram account, THAT1DRUMMERGUY, if you wanna see them). I left to go to the separate bar of the Triple Rock for the rest of the night, but not before picking up an Exmortus shirt and Warbringer patch on my way over.
Now the fun begins.....
*THE FOLLOWING IS WHAT TRANSPIRED IN THE LAST 12 HOURS. NOT SAYING I AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH ANYTHING THAT THESE PEOPLE SAID, JUST REPORTING. MY THOUGHTS ARE AFTER THE NEXT ASTERISK SENTENCE*
Keep in mind, until official statements come out and takes responsibility, everything is hearsay!
While I got over to the bar, Person 1 flags me down and wanted to talk to me. He let me know about how he felt about Nile's techs were complete assholes. threatening to cancel the show if things were not to their specifications, due to the stage setup, none of the bands could play on the stage and to stack everything in front of Nile's setup (aka, backlining) treating everyone like shit and threatening to cancel the show at every turn, much like Danzig actually did cancel his show at The Cabooze in Minneapolis (and about a quarter mile away from The Triple Rock) a few years back. That left a bad taste in my mouth, especially after hearing similar things in the past.
Later in the night, I read a post on Facebook from the promoter of the show apologizing for the show last night. In it, the promoter describes how the bands "elected" to play on the floor instead of making Nile move their gear to accommodate the other bands. Which Person 2 I talked to that night saying that was a complete lie. It was either play on the floor or the show gets canceled. If true, That got me even more fired up and pissed because I do believe this person in question and having had to deal with similar situations in the past with band's Ive been in, I have no reason to believe that there is any lying in that regard. The promoter said it was also Nile's management that said We Are Legion should be taken off the bill to accommodate all the lateness that transpired.
I was all fired up to write a review with all of that information that I saw and received until i saw earlier today that Will from We Are Legion once again made a quite extensive post about what happened on his side of the story last night. To spare posting the whole post. In paraphrasing, what happened was Nile took longer than expected to set up, Enforcer got up and wanted to do a full sound check as well, that backed up the show 45 minutes more. With that, Enforcer were noticeably pissed about Nile taking much longer than expected, were acting shitty towards everyone (responsible or not), and kept their attitudes with them during the set.
Finally, There are reports that the double booking that is caused by The Triple Rock themselves. If that is the case, they clearly fucked up things quite badly and the word will get out amongst all the bands to stay away from the triple Rock if this is possible again.
*OK, THE REST IS ALL MY THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS*
So my thoughts. I don't know who is right or who is ultimately the most to blame. But I do have thoughts on what all the main party's reactions to what happened last night.
Again, if everything I wrote is true statements...
The three big targets of blame are to blame for this: Nile, Enforcer and The Promoter. Nile and their techs and management for taking their time setting up with no regard to another tour joining the show. When you are combined with other artists, specifically another tour, you gotta be a courteous to everyone involved Is moving your gear on a small stage back until all the other bands on the bill that big of deal to threaten the entire show in question? Would it really take take up that much time to just move stuff back into place? That shitty of a hassle to threaten to cancel the show?
Enforcer was well for taking the shit situation out on everyone else and if they did take 45 extra minutes to set up, that hurts everyone involved. It should not be apparent to everyone in the crowd that the whole night has been run into shit, make the best with what you got. Never let the audience know you are having a shitty night, EVER! No one will want to see you again if that gets out publicly. If you play like you are pissed off, it's very apparent. I noticed it right off the bat. Hell Exmortus, Warbringer and Cauldron did not want to play on the floor, but they made due and cracked wise about it.
And finally, The Promoter and/or Booking Agent for the Triple Rock for ever thinking this was ever going to be a good idea in the first place. If you have the option for 2 tours, the same night, same venue. PICK ONE GOD DAMN TOUR!!! Was it just to make more money in one night? A bigger show means more money, right? AAAAAAAAAND let's not forget that Cauldron was getting dicked around since the show got announced!!! At first, they were announced, then taken off the show, then put back on, then taken off again, then finally just a couple weeks before the show. they were finally added back on. That is not fair in any stretch of the imagination. The band had nothing to do with the tours being added together, they had no reason to be an innocent bystander, waiting to see if they even get to be on the bill or not. That is by far The guilty party's fault. There is no other explanation I will accept. That is simply not fair.
Lesson for future reference...because the first mention will not be enough I'm sure...if you have the opportunity to be the promoter or book two different shows on the same day at the same venue, PICK ONE GOD DAMN TOUR!!! Unless you got things completely coordinated and every single person involved knows whats going on and all sides are happy, pick one or the other, this shit will happen. This is not the first time it has happened, it won't be the last. It's not fair to Nile, it's not fair to the Enforcer/Warbringer/Cauldron/Exmortus tour, its especially not fair to We Are Legion and by far, it's not fair to anyone who went to see the show.
We gotta make this shit stop!
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Progressive Death Metal
Obscura Is a phenomenal German Technical/Progressive Death Metal that has definitely gone through the wringer in the last two years. From losing half the band (Guitarist Christian Muezener and Drummer Hannes Grossmann) in 2014 and recently guitarist Tom Geldschläger in 2015. When the band got back on it's feet in 2015 to be a part of 2015's Summer Slaughter tour in North America, the band suffered from several issues making the band drop off the entire tour. From that point on, Frontman and Guitarist, Steffen Krummerer, set out to make sure that the band's 4th album, Akroasis, would be a complete force to be a reckoned with. Not only did he succeed, but the band is arguably the strongest it has ever been. Let me explain why...
The album starts off with Sermon Of The Seven Suns, which starts with a fade and Cynic style clean vocoder vocals before kicking into the band's signature sound of technical riffs, bombastic blast beats and outstanding Guitar and Bass work. So many great technical riffs mixed with melodic moments of sheer beauty. The middle instrumental section features fantastic Bass riffs provided by Bassist, Linus Klausenitzer. The ending features some more crazy riffs that eventually lead into a fade out that leads into the Middle Eastern Influenced song, The Monist. While still being very technical, the song is a bit slower than most of the rest of the album. Lots of groove and very double bass driven ala Death. The chorus features a great vocoder section that would make Cynic fans very happy. An overall killer, groovy, song. The title track, Akroasis, is easily the fastest song on the album. Absolutely pure chaos right from Drummer Sebastian Lanser's opening drum fill. The song is layered in Blast Beats and melodies and harmonies of the great 90's Tech Death bands, which the band has made so perfectly well their own. The guitar solo section of the song is easily one of the highlights of the entire album. The song ends with clean guitar and bass sections that slowly fade away leading into the clean guitar intro of Ten Sepiroth. The song has more of an upbeat Thrash/Death Metal feel compared to the rest of the album, yet, still featuring plenty of blasts and growls. The short instrumental sections really make this song great to hear. A song that would definitely be perfect to get caught in the middle of a circle pit. Ode To The Sun (Sadly, not a Dredg cover) has is another groovier song that is beyond crushing. The slower riffs give off that ultra heavy vibe Gojira has become famous for. Actually that's a great way to look at it. Cynic meets Gojira. Arguably, this is one of the best choruses on the entire album. The second half of the song features a slower doomy feel to it with choir type vocals that lead to a quite eerie ending before leading into the chaos that is Fractal Dimension. The song features the famous Obscura signature sound. The solo section features some slower and crushing riffs that are meant to make you bang your head, before it snaps from the verse riff kicking back in. After a short bass-driven interlude the song ends on one of the best riffs of the album to close out the song. Perpetual Infinity starts with clean and acoustic guitars and bass, giving a great Cynic feeling once again with the vocoder vocals. While the song is more uptempo compared to the rest of the album, it is almost the catchiest song on the album. Giving more nods to 90's Tech Death, it has the most melodic moments in the album on almost the entire song before ending on a very chaotic last riff to make way for the final epic. Weltseele is the longest Obscura song to date at 15:16. While on paper, a 15 minute Tech Death epic may feel way too long and jarring to listen to, that couldn't be further from the truth. Without question, this is the best song on the album. While starting is a mellow intro, the song eventually throws it's way into a march style assault. This definitely shows off everything the band is capable of, The fast, the mellow, the heavy, the melodic, the chaotic. It's all here. This also features the other best chorus on the album, if not the best. Roughly half way through the song it gets a bit more mellow and focused on creating atmosphere with synths, acoustic guitars and clean spoken word. This comes back into an amazingly dark section that gives such an evil feeling. This is followed by the fastest blasts on the entire album for just a little bit before kicking into a Cynic style and synth driven instrumental section before hitting the climax of the song. the climax makes you feel like you are just about to fall off the side of a mountain in sheer terror. The final riff on the album rivals Between The Buried And Me's White Walls as one of the best ending riffs to an album put on record. Everything about it is brilliant. The song finally ends with bass and clean picked guitar that leaves on a final lingering and fading note to close out Obscura's 4th magnum opus.
It's hard to put into words how amazing Obscura has rebounded from turmoil and back luck in the last couple years. While many thought that the band would have reached it's highest point with 2011's Omnivium, Steffen Kummerer and Co. not only shatters that notion, they prove that they are stronger than ever and the band's best days are still to come. Akroasis is sheer and utter brilliance! Combining the best of the Tech Death days of yore with a modern twinge. Obscura is one of the leading bands in the Progressive and Technical Death Metal realms for a reason. Come see why for yourself!
Obscura- Akroasis available February 5th via Relapse Records
Jon Davis is the Frontman and Guitarist of the Doom/Death/Sludge Metal band, Conan. Hailing from the UK, the band has returned with their 3rd opus, Revengance coming out January 29th through Napalm Records. I just got to talk to Jon for my first interview of 2016. I was sadly suppose to do a Skype interview, but due to outside issues on my end, all i could do was ask a few questions I had on my mind. Hope you enjoy!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I thoroughly enjoy what you guys do and it's an honor to make this interview happen.
So Revengance is coming out next Friday (January) and you have released the title track as the lead single. How has the response been to it so far?
The response to the lyric video has been pretty good, and we’ve had some full reviews of the album and they've been great too. So far no one thinks it is total dogshit and we’re happy about that I guess. I’m more concerned with how these songs go down live and we haven’t really toured yet this year, so we’re anxious to get on the road and tour at last.
The more I listen to the entire Revengance album, I can sense how unbelievably tight you guys are together and it really sounds like the songwriting is in absolute top form. What went into the writing process for the new album?
The writing process, at its basic level, was the same as every other album. However, when you consider that the people writing the album consisted of the long term producer (Chris), the original member and long term main song writer (Me - Jon) and a fresh pair of ears with an eagerness to stamp his authority on the sound (Rich) you will not be surprised to know that the tracks sound fresh and vibrant. The song writing took place almost entirely in the practice room with all three of us writing the songs at the same time, this is different to how things were done in the past where I would write riffs and then we would practice them together once the songs were half done. I found it much more enjoyable this time around and I think it shows.
How would you say the recording process differed this time around compared to Monnos or Blood Eagle?
It was pretty much the same. Same studio, same producer and same equipment (more or less). We went for a slightly more expansive, more raw sound.
Was there anything that was left on the cutting room floor or as a B-Side that may be coming out in the future?
Sadly not. We were pretty efficient and made use of everything that we wrote.
You guys played the Maryland Deathfest Pre-Show at the Rams Head in Baltimore, Maryland, apart of an amazing bill that night. How did it feel to get asked to play a part of such a great festival?
It felt great actually. We were looking forward to playing there and we weren’t disappointed. The festival was awesome and sharing a bill with Yob and Primitive Man was pretty big for us.
This year, you guys are doing a pretty good sized length North American tour with Serial Hawk, lasting almost the entire month of March. What are you guys planning as far as the set goes? Will it be more focused on Revengance or covering the discography?
We’re excited to get out on the road with the lads in Serial Hawk, they are an awesome band. Naturally we will be focusing on the new album but will be playing one or two songs from the back catalog.
Is there any other plans for 2016 set up yet?
Yeah there are. We have a UK tour and several trips to Europe planned. We also have an Australia tour in the works but nothing is confirmed there yet. We’re looking forward to touring.
Now that we are in the midst of 2016, do you have any album releases in 2016 that you are looking forward to? And favorite albums of 2015?
I have a small label called Black Bow Records, through this label I release music by underground bands. 2016 will see new releases by The Bendal Interlude and Slomatics and both of them sound great. Slomatics finish recording in February and I’m excited to get that out there as I’m their biggest fan. The Bendal Interlude headlined our first ever show in Liverpool in 2007 so it is awesome that I am releasing their first full length. In 2015 I loved the new Mammatus album Sparkling Waters as well as new music by Headless Kross and Intensive Square.
Once again, thank you very much for doing this interview with me. It is a tremendous honor to be able to talk to you and be able to help promote the release of Revengance, coming out January 29th through Napalm Records. Before you go, is there anything else that you would like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
Cheers, thanks for the warm words. Thanks to your readers for checking us out and we hope to see some of them on our upcoming US tour.
Conan- Revengance available January 29th through Napalm Records!
Check out Conan with Serial Hawk at the following shows in the US:
Walking With Giants- Worlds Unknown
FFO- Alternative Rock, Hard Rock
Walking With Giants is the debut album from Gary Noon (Vocals, Guitar) and features guest appearances from Clint Lowery (Guitar) and Morgan Rose (Drums) of Sevendust and Brian Marshall (Bass) of Alter Bridge. While many fans of heavier music fight the urge to want to listen anything lighter, they are missing some truly talented hard rock in the process. That is exactly what Worlds Unknown showcases. Very catchy and brilliantly written songs with lots of melody and harmony and heavy in all the right spots. Think Staind meets Alter Bridge meets Sevendust!
The album starts with the first half of the title track, Worlds Unknown Part 1. A short instrumental track that leads into the song Broken Truth. The song starts with a lone guitar riff before blasting in with a great heavier meets pop riff. Back To Life is a great radio rock ballad. Absolutely in the vein of what makes Alter Bridge ballads so great. Bound has a great alternative rock vibe to it right from the start. Lots of radio potential here. Heavy Hand is next and starts off with a great Sevendust vibe before getting more midtempo. An absolutely catchy chorus makes this a great listen. Endless Road is another great reason to not be afraid of your inspirations. While still having it's own sound, there is a huge Alice In Chains vibe in the verses, and that is a great thing. The Now is a big nod to Sevendust (considering who plays on the album, that's not a shock). While being a bit more of the radio rock variety than Sevendust's heavier sound, it really works! Guilty One is a great mix of heavy and poppy. Exactly what top 40 rock needs right now. Different Voice starts with a long guitar riff that leads into a midtempo number. The middle of the track features the heaviest moment on the album with a crushing breakdown before a very cool guitar solo. Solid Ground is the last full song on the album. With it's blend of heavier and catchy moments it is one of the strongest songs on the entire album. The song ends with a segue way into Worlds Unknown Part 2. It is a bit heavier than Worlds Unknown Part 1 leaving for a fantastic finish to the album.
The message of the album is quite clear, ENJOY LIFE! There is too much negativity in the world, especially right now. We should change that and be happy with ourselves and strive to make the most out of ourselves. That is absolutely something I can get behind. This is exactly what is needed in radio rock today. Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll is cool, but we need room for stuff to keep us positively motivated. When this album hits, it should take the world by storm, even if it takes time, it will be worth it.
Walking With Giants- Worlds Unknown available NOW via a self release
The Mute Gods- Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
FFO- Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
The Mute Gods is the brainchild of Nick Beggs (contributor to the likes of Steven Wilson, Lonely Robot, Steve Hackett and so much more) on Chapman Stick, Vocals, Guitar and Bass. Also featured on this album is Marco Minnemann on drums and Roger King doing production and playing Keys. The album is an extremely catchy brand of prog rock layered in pop and alternative rock. Imagine Steven Wilson doing Hand. Cannot. Erase. with 70's prog instead of having electronics and BOOM! Let's dive right into this amazing album.
The album starts with the title track, Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me. While having the awesome 70's prog twinge, the chorus is unbelievably catchy. There is a good reason why this was, indeed the first single from the album. Praying To A Mute God starts quite mid-tempo and keeps that similar speed much like the former track, but expands upon it. Much more diversity and fills happen throughout the song giving a little bit or room to show off on each instrument. The second half of the song is a great example of that. Nightschool for Idiots is much more mellow and piano driven. A great, almost relaxing song, until you hear the lyrics. It definitely has the Steven Wilson cynical lyrical charm to it. Feed The Troll is the second single off the album. It starts off bass driven and an electronic movement before kicking into a darker, almost King Crimson style riff. The song is one of the heavier moments on the entire album as well. Very dark and brooding, but so enjoyable. Your Dark Ideas follows next and is a bit more uptempo. It almost sounds like a track Steven Wilson penned around the time of In Absentia or Deadwing. A very killer track. In the Crosshairs is the shortest track on the album. Being that it is instrumental, it showcases every instrument in the band in a great way. A great change of pace in the album. Strange Relationship starts with a great 8 bar, almost Opeth like, swing beat provided by Minnemann. The song is quite mellow in comparison to other songs on the album and features quite a bit of keyboard changes until the song. The fading piano notes of the last track segue way into Swimming Horses. The song begins more atmospheric before kicking into a mellotron style riff mixed with guitar, then finally kicking into a dark, brooding song. It features song Middle-Eastern style riffing and very bass and chapman stick driven. The second half of the song is where things start to pick up in tempo before progressing back to the dark mood it left before. Father Daughter closes out the album and features a Porcupine Tree feel and more of the electronic faded drums that Steven Wilson is famous for in so many moments before kicking in. The album ends in a very electronic way as it dramatically stops, leaving you wanting more.
All in all, The Mute Gods have provided an absolutely phenomenal debut album. Combining all the best parts of prog rock mixed with a great nod to the likes of Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett throughout. The lyrical content is very much intended to be a way of living your life to the fullest and not giving into the world we currently live. Explore, Create and most importantly, try to make the world a better place for those that will follow us in this world. It is a great sentiment!
The Mute Gods- Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me available January 22nd via InsideOut Records
Varg- The End Of All Lies
FFO- Power Metal, Black Metal, Folk Metal, Metalcore
*For All Extensive Purposes, I am sticking with the English version of this album. the original German version is also available*
Varg has really been making quite an impact in the last few years. With a huge moment for the band being a part of Paganfest 2014, the band returns in 2016 with their 5th album, The End Of All Lies. This features the band tighter than ever writing some of their best songs to date. Heavy, evil, and catchy as hell!
The album starts with a 2 and a half minute intro, The Great Dictator (Which is based off the legendary speech from the 1940 movie of the same name) and is the perfect segue way into the title track. The End Of All Lies is a fast, heavy song that features everything that is great about the band. The spirit of Power Metal mixed with Metalcore, and some Black Metal blasting to boot. The chorus is beyond catchy. Revolution is next and starts in quite an epic, held out, way before launching into a full Metalcore assault . Again, the chorus is extremely catchy and almost radio friendly. Streyfzug showcases more of the viking metal and folk side of the band. Much more of a slower, midtempo song give a nice break from the chaos that ensues the album. Achtung starts off with some electronic moments before breaking into a shocking danceable Amaranthe (Drop Dead Cynical) style riff. The middle section features some atmospheric elements and some cool drum fills, but otherwise sticks to this catchy style. Sounds like an absolute party song. Darkness shows off more of the black metal elements while having a power metal twinge to it. There is a couple metalcore style breakdown per-choruses, otherwise it is some black metal goodness. The Dance Of Death features vocals from Anna Murphy of Eluveitie. The song is the closest thing to a ballad on the album and gives a great, creepy feeling. Murphy's presence makes it feel like a dark carnival/vaudeville feel. Einherjer sounds actually very much like the band Einherjer, especially in the chorus. It's a speedy song in the verses and quite epic sounding in the chorus. Winterstorm is, by far, the fastest song on the album. A great black metal feel for the most part with some metalcore style verse riffing. By far the most evil sounding song on the album. The final song is Rain Of Ash. It's starts with a solitary guitar riff leading to a very mellow song. The chorus is one of the catchiest of the entire album and gives a great epic atmosphere. The album ends with a fade away of a heavy, breakdown style riff leaving the listener begging for more.
All in all, Varg knocks it out of the park with The End Of All Lies. It's got a little bit of everything you'd want in a band like this from the most evil sounding black metal to danceable pop metal to metalcore breakdowns to some of the catchiest choruses you'll ever here. This is just one completely solid album!
Varg- The End Of All Lies available NOW via Napalm Records
Exmortus- Ride Forth
FFO- Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Neoclassical
Exmortus is a band that has been on an incredible streak as of late. Doing their blend of Thrash Metal, Death Metal and Neoclassical has kept the band sounding fresh as ever. With Ride Forth, the band's 4th album, the band really finds their sound and sounds tighter than ever.
The album starts with Speed Of The Strike, which is easily one of the fastest songs on the album and a great way to start this 4th adventure. For new fans, you will easily hear the Classical and Orchestral influences in the band. Relentless is still fast but not near as speedy as the first track. More of the Thrash influence is on this track. For The Horde is a classic sounding song for the band. Feast, heavy, thrashy and shreddy. A great single for the album. Let Us Roam is very mid-tempo in comparison to the rest of the album, but really showcases the band's chops. Almost like a nice breather for what is to come. Black Sails comes off as the most versatile song on the album. While coming in as a more mid-tempo, yet upbeat number, It really showcases the band's versatility as far as songwriting. Not as focused on notes and shred and love or Classical music, but much more on writing for the song itself. Hymn Of Hate brings back the speed and Orchestral chops highlighted in the guitars. Mixed with the speed of Thrash, it reminds you of versatility in chops that has gone missing in modern Metal. Beethoven's Appassionata is up next and is an absolutely flawless cover. It reminds you very much of playing one of the highest levels on Tetris, especially at the end. Exmortus always covers as least one classical movement on each album and this was an excellent choice this time around. Death To Tyrants is a very worthy song to follow the Beethoven cover. Starting with more of a march intro, it is a upbeat, midtempo song that is greatly paced throughout. While picking up at times, it just focuses on being an excellent march to war. Fire and Ice closes the album. While not the fastest song on the album, it is a great Metal assault. It is the longest song on the album (at 6:24). It gives a very epic, victorious feeling, much like winning a Viking Battle. A perfect song to close out the album.
Exmortus has done it again with their brilliant chops, classical influence, their love of speed and strive to make quality music. This is a band for those who want more substance in their Thrash and Death Metal or want what Orchestral music would sound like if it had distortion back in the day. Ride Forth proves that Exmortus is breaking new ground and creating a world of music that should have been touched upon years ago, especially in non-instrumental bands. Exmortus rules, plain and simple!
Exmortus- Ride Forth available NOW via Prosthetic Records
Tobias Ornes Andersen is becoming a very legendary name in Metal drumming. His recent work with the Norwegian Blackjazz band, Shining, really gives a fantastic showcase for everything Andersen can do. back in November I had the pleasure to send Tobias a few questions regarding Shining's latest album, International Blackjazz Society.
TDG: International Blackjazz Society has been out for a couple weeks now and it is getting quite of bit of deserved attention. What went into the writing process for this album?
Tobias Andersen: After One One One was released in 2013, we toured a lot. Both headlining and support tours. At the same time Jørgen started writing new songs. It was not the typical release the album - tour - songwriting cycle. We discussed the new ideas while being on the road, which was a really good idea, because we could really see what we missed in our live show, and then focus the songwriting towards that.
When it comes to the actual songwriting it is Jørgen who do everything. He sends out different solutions for parts/grooves etc, that we try out and discuss. But he is the brain, and got the full vision.
TDG: Shining is obviously known for pushing the boundaries on what is possible on every album, whether it is the formation of the Blackjazz sound on Blackjazz or the more simplistic and more straight forward (in comparison to Blackjazz) sound of One One One. International Blackjazz Society feels like a natural progression, yet still maintains the Blackjazz sound you've pioneered. Was the writing process this time around a natural one or was there anything you intentionally wanted to achieve that has not been done before?
TA: One thing we did was to demo all the songs and try out different solutions for the parts. We actually played most of the songs live before recording them.
It is also a more diverse album than One One One. We have free jazz, high energy fast songs, medium tempo, and actually a ballad.
This was intentionally yes!
TDG: My personal favorite song off International Blackjazz Society is House Of Control, which one can argue is the most subdued song on the album. I think it shows a great maturity in sound in knowing what to play and what not to play. Is that a challenge at all at this stage of knowing what to add and not add to a particular song?
TA: I guess it comes from experience and maturity. It is of course all about the whole sound, and not only individual instruments. (How a drum fill affects the vocals etc.)
Like i mentioned we did pretty good demoing and tried out a lot of different solutions. Then went for what we thought best served the song.
TDG: Was there anything from the International Blackjazz Society recording sessions that didn't make the album that might make an appearance in the future?
TA: No, not that i am aware of.
TDG: You guys are currently in the midst of a headlining European tour. How are the new songs translating in a live setting? Are the fans receptive?
TA: Yes! The new songs works amazing actually. They are really fun to play, and i think they really comes across in a live setting.
It is cool to see the fans dig the new material live!
TDG: In speaking of playing live...you guys have made huge music media attention this year with your performance on Trolltungo cliff. While looking absolutely gorgeous from what I've seen in pictures and video, it also looks absolutely insane! Was this a once in a lifetime appearance or would you ever dare trying this again? Has the attention of the performance becoming viral made an impact on making new fans?
TA: Hehe yeah, that was really insane! I don’t think we are going to play there again. For various reasons. But we will probably play some other crazy place!
I don’t know if we made new fans because of the Trolltunga thing. It truly got a lot of attention, which is good!
TDG: You have made quite a number of guest appearances since we talked in Minnesota in 2014 such as Marty Friedman to the band Haunted Shores. Do you enjoy the idea of working with some many different musicians? Has any experiences inspired your personally and how you write music?
TA: Its great fun to do things with other musician! Like the thing we did with Marty. I am sure we get inspired in some way. But i can’t point out a direct link to the result of our music.
TDG: Is there anything planned yet for 2016 yet? Any chance of hitting North America again next year?
TA: We are going to continue playing and promoting the new album International Blackjazz Society. We would love to come back to North America! But nothing is booked yet. I cross my fingers!
TDG: With 2015 about to come to a close, do you have any favorite albums that have come out this year?
TA: I really love the newest Kendrick Lamar album, How to kill a butterfly.
TDG: Thank you once again for taking the time to do this interview. It is an honor to be able to talk to you again. Before we are done, is there anything else you'd like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
TA: Thank you! Check out the newest videos if you haven’t yet. We have two new live videos. One is from the studio and the other is from Trolltunga!
Both turned out really good!
Shining- International Blackjazz Society is available NOW via Spinefarm Records!
Unleash The Archers is becoming a full force to be reckoned with. With the release of their 2015 album, Time Stand Still, Relentless touring, an amazing set at ProgPower USA 2015 and a very successful North American run with Crimson Shadows, The band is showing no signs of slowing down. Back in November I had the opportunity to send vocalist, Brittney Slayes a few questions:
That Drummer Guy: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I had the pleasure of seeing you guys at ProgPower USA back in September and you left a HUGE impact with the crowd that won't be soon forgotten. Unfortunately with your ProgPower appearance, it came with the sad news that the band you were to be supporting for a North American tour, Hibria was not able to come to America due to visa issues. Was it a hard decision to be able to carry on and make it a headlining run with the same dates?
Brittney Slayes: The hard part wasn’t carrying on, it was leaving them behind. Driving away from them as they were standing on the curb waving goodbye was the worst. I totally cried hahaha. We were all so excited to hit the road together and we waited as long as we could, hoping the visas would come through last minute but it never happened. The shows were booked and UTA had all the required paperwork so we had to uphold those commitments. We couldn’t announce until last minute either and so some fans didn’t find out until we
arrived without them. It sucked, to say the least.
TDG: Crimson Shadows is an absolutely perfect choice to tour with you guys. Were they on
standby in case of something like this was to happen or did they just so happen to be free
at the time and it all worked together?
BS: We have been really good friends with the Crimson boys for a long time, so we were
partying with them in Toronto whilst waiting for the visas to come through. When we
told them Hibria was most likely going to have to drop from the tour they said they
would do anything they could to help us out… So we asked if they wanted to come
instead! They had literally just gotten back from tour with Nekrogoblikon the day before,
so they were pretty road weary, but if there is a group of guys that is always up for
anything it’s them ;) They sorted some stuff of real quick and were able to meet us part
way into our first US leg at our New York show. This majorly lifted our spirits, because
even though we lost Hibria, we got to tour with some friends we have been dying to get
out on the road with for years! It’s was just as great as we had always imagined it would
be ;) Waaayyyy too much partying hahaha!
TDG: Unfortunately for me, I was unable to attend the Minnesota show due to a family
emergency. Were the crowds on the tour receptive to you guys as much as I and the rest
of ProgPower were?
BS: Actually, yeah! Especially in the Midwest! We had some rad shows in some really rad
cities. There are still a few we need to infiltrate a bit more but for the most part the tour
was very successful. You have no idea how wonderful it feels to hear an entire crowd
singing along in a city you’ve never played before. My heart was exploding all over the
TDG: Now that we are at the end of the year, how is the new album, Time Stands Still
holding up for you guys? With all the attention you guys have been receiving as of
late, has there been any time to think about the next album? Or is the focus more on
BS: It’s hard to tour in the winter, what with treacherous mountain passes blocking us in on
all sides, so we are shutting ourselves in for the winter to write the next album. When the
thaw comes again in Spring we will hit the road once more! TSS still has a lot of
momentum so we definitely want to keep touring this record. We have our sights set on
Europe and South America, as well as the western US. We’ll hopefully hit the studio for
the next album some time next summer, but until then we are going to try and pick up as
many tours as we can!
TDG: Now that you've had a headlining run in North America, do you enjoy the idea of
headlining 3 albums into the game? Given the opportunity would you still accept any
main support slots on any upcoming tours?
BS: Absolutely we’d be so down for support slots! Headlining is cool but it’s also very
strenuous. You have to take it easy the whole night in preparation for the show, and you
can’t relax until it’s done and by then everyone is gone home for the night. I’d love to
have some time to enjoy the night, and if we are supporting a band we like then that is
even better! So rarely did I get to actually take the time to watch Crimson Shadows’ set
because I was always warming up and getting ready, so I relished I the moments when I
would get to sing along.
TDG: Now that 2015 is about to come to an end, do you have any favorite 2015 music
BS:There were so many awesome albums released in 2015! And still a few more to come.
I would have to say that the new Ghost album, Meliora is one of my faves, as well as the
new Powerwolf, Blessed and Possessed. Both so catchy! The new Symphony X was
good, as was the new Soilwork. Maiden was good but it was very similar to their last two
releases so it might take a few more listens before I really get into it.
TDG: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Hopefully the next time
you guys hit Minnesota, I'll be there. Before we are done, is there anything else you'd like
to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
BS: Thank you so much for reaching out! We’ll definitely come back to Minnesota so don’t
you worry ;) I guess just thank you to all of our fans for your incredible support on this
last tour and always and we’ll see you next time! Or come hang out with us on Facebook
or Twitter or Instagram we always try to answer messages and comments and stuff so
don’t be afraid to say hi!
Unleash The Archers- Time Stands Still is available NOW via Napalm Records!
Pagan's Mind has long been a powerhouse in the Progressive Metal and Power Metal worlds. As a longtime favorite band at ProgPower USA, the band recorded their latest CD/DVD, Full Circle- Live At Center Stage from their performance back in 2014. A couple months back, I had the distinct honor of sending guitarist/backup vocalist, Jorn Viggo Lofstad a few questions to help promote the new release:
That Drummer Guy: First of all, as one of my, all time, favorite bands, thank you so very much for taking the time to do an interview. This fanboy could not be more excited!
Jorn Viggo Lofstad: Thank you very much, I’m happy to do this interview.
TDG: So just a few weeks ago, your newest live album, Full Circle: Live At Center Stage came out. Are you happy with the final product?
JVL: Yes we are happy with it. It’s live and it is what it was that evening in September 2014. The audio mix came out really good, the thing that took the most time was the editing of the film material, but that came out pretty good as well.
TDG: Having just started going to ProgPower this year (very late to the game, haha) Center Stage is an ideal place in sound and atmosphere for a live album. And with this being the 2nd time you've recorded a live release from ProgPower, would it be safe to assume that down the road that a 3rd live release from ProgPower is possible?
JVL: With Pagans Mind this is the first official release from the ProgPower USA festival. We had a couple of songs from PPUSA as bonus material on Live Equation but that’s that. But the Jorn release Live In America was also recorded at this festival in 2006 so for me personally it was the second one. Pagan’s Mind first played this festival in 2003, then 2007 and 2009 and then recording Full Circle in 2014.
TDG: At this point in the game, is it hard picking out what songs make it it into a particular set? Are there any songs that you love to still play and any that you dread?
JVL: Well this particular evening we could play as much as we wanted, so in addition to playing the entire Celestial Entrance album we did a “best of the rest” plus some surprises as for example the song “Full Circle” which is a 15-minute-long instrumental containing a mix of really cool parts from PM songs we normally do not play live. When we do a standard 1,5 hour gig we do have discussions of what to play, hehe, our personal favorites are not necessarily the same songs. But we try to keep it fresh and the songs differ a bit from gig to gig.
TDG: Now that it's been almost 5 years since the release of Heavenly Ecstasy, is there any plans on a new album in the future? And if there is, is there any details you can share about the direction that it will be going in?
JVL: Absolutely, we have been working with new material for a long time already. But we have also had longer periods with less focus on the song writing. Now we have decided not to play gigs for a while and use the time we have together on the songwriting instead. We hope we can release a new album in 2016. The album will come when we have 10 killer songs to put on it ;)
TDG: ProgPower is very understandably a 2nd home for you in America. And by the reaction of the crowd every time you play it, the fan base grows bigger and bigger. Do you enjoy making ProgPower an occasional appearance to the states or is there any chance of another Pagan's Mind tour in America down the road?
JVL: We did tour the US in 2009 and it was a great experience. We do want to tour the US again and as we actually are making plans for 2 album releases we will tour the US after one of these releases.
TDG: With ProgPower being a very true sign that Progressive Metal and Power Metal has a very loving and loyal fan base in the USA, does playing something such as ProgPower have the same effect as something like a Summer European festival?
JVL: Playing at a festival in front of 10,000 people gives any band massive exposure, but I think playing PPUSA also gives you the same effect even if its 1000 people and not 10000. The reason is that at PPfestival the fans are so dedicated that If you as a newcomer play this festival you will see that hundreds of people already have spent time checking out your band before you come and play there.
TDG: With 2015 about to come to a close, do you have any favorite albums of 2015?
JVL: I was about to say Sonic Highways with the Foo Fighters, but I think maybe that album came out in 2014, lately I’ve been listening to the new Symphony X album, the new Muse album, the Ryan Adams album from 2014, latest Leprous album and much more. I listen to so much different stuff all the time, I get tired listening just to one album again and again and again.
TDG: Thank you once again for taking the time to do this interview, it has been a tremendous honor. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
JVL: Thanks so much for having me here and I hope to see you all out on the road after the release of our forthcoming new album. And at last: My thoughts go out to all the people that one way or another have been affected by the recent tragically events in Paris.
Pagan's Mind- Full Circle: Live At Center Stage is available NOW via SPV/Steamhammer!
Borknagar- Winter Thrice
FFO- Progressive Black Metal, Folk Metal
Borknagar is one of the most legendary names in Norwegian Metal. As a supergroup powerhouse that is most notable for featuring ICS Vortex and Vintersorg on shared lead vocals (Vortex providing bass guitar as well), the band has become a very collective outlet for the group to share their Norwegian Pagan Ritualistic music. Winter Thrice is the 10th album for the band and hearkens back to more of the Norwegian Folk Metal side of the band that has been missing for the last couple albums (that said, Borknagar has yet to ever release a disappointing album) yet, also make for their proggiest album to date as well.. Winter Thrice just may be the best thing the band has ever released! Let's find out why!
The album starts with the lead single from the album, The Rhymes Of The Mountain. This is collectively the strongest single from the band to date. It features everything that makes the band strong. Soaring clean vocals, evil screams, majestic music that makes you feel like you are in the heart of a Norwegian winter (maybe not so much in the style of Immortal, but you get the idea. Winter Thrice is the next track starting with haunting keyboards before coming in with a double bass driven assault. The song features a great contrast of clean vocals and Progressive and folk elements for the majority of the song and pure Black Metal and screams as the chorus. A great song to name the album after. Cold Runs The River is much more of a mid-tempo song to start then just blasts into Black Metal goodness before a very gorgeous chorus. The song features a choir type background vocals throughout that hit in all the right spots. 3/4ths of the way through features a Led Zepplin style guitar riff and guitar solo mixed with the Black Metal screams that makes for an unexpected, but gracious change. Panorama has the feeling of the last couple albums with Prog style keyboards throughout leading into a nice, off-time, verse riff and shared dual vocals. For those that love the Prog-Driven side of the band, this is definitely a song that will hit home for you. When Chaos Calls starts with a short piano break before leading to a blast beat driven, clean vocal attack (nothing is better than blast beats over clean vocals done right). While there are some screams, the song is more focused on the cleans. The middle of the song leads to a nice, instrumental interlude featuring clean guitar before leading to one of the most majestic moments on the whole album and ending with a nice blend of cleans and screams. Erodent starts with desolate style clean guitar that leads to amazing clean vocals, proggy keyboards, and a killer mid-tempo battle theme. When the song picks up it goes heavy on the blast beats and Black Metal elements and has a gorgeous and evil chorus. Noctilucent is the "ballad" of the album. The song doesn't feature much vocals, but they are all clean and beautiful. The music behind it is very majestic sounding and gives a nice breather for the last couple songs to come. Terminus is by far the best song on the album. Starting off with a quick drum fill leading to a Black Metal driven Assault that has a bit of an early to mid era Opeth and even some Soilwork feel to it. The chorus is slower but sounds absolutely grand. This song has the best use of the of the synths that not the typical keyboard sounds. And absolute highlight of the band's career. The closing track, Dominant Winds, sounds very desolate as well with some wind sound affects that make you feel like you are alone right before the force of double bass driven, grandiose clean vocals, and Black Metal riffing takes place. The middle of the song is another highlight of the album that is both beautiful and evil. Roughly 3/4ths of the way through hits a big Opeth/Goblin style keyboard instrumental section before kicking into the grand finale of the album. Another great mix of the cleans and screams. It ends with keyboard becoming a force with a mid-tempo evil riff leading to a slower clean guitar and bass that slowly fades away making you want to start the whole album cycle over again.
In short, Borknagar has come back with a vengeance! Winter Thrice is the perfect mixture of Prog, Black Metal, Folk, and Melodies/Harmonies. Winter Thrice is the perfect starting point for getting into the band. Any direction you go from here is the way to go. For those that want more substance out of your Black Metal or want your Prog to be way more evil, Borknagar is the band for you! This will be regarded as one of the best albums of 2016!
Borknagar- Winter Thrice available January 29th, 2015 via Century Media Records!
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.