Message To The Masses is a Metal band from Tuscon, Arizona. They play a fresh variety of music that incorporates Deathcore, Metalcore, Electronica, Orchestral and so much more. I just got introduced to the band a few weeks back and was very impressed. I got the offer to send in a few questions their way and this is what they have to say!
That Drummer Guy: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! Means to an End came out February 26th. With it being out almost 2 months now, has the reception for the release been so far?
Message To The Masses: I’d say it has been very positive and people are starting to know who we are.
TDG: With this release being my introduction to the band. I really appreciate your sense of diversity in the sound. Plenty of heavy parts but so much melodic moments and a lot of great keyboard riffs and synths. Is this the style you were hoping to achieve when you started or has it evolved into what Means To An End shows off?
MTTM: We believe that our sound is always growing and maturing. However, it is the direction we want to go in. The EP was more of just a sampler for everyone to hear our potential and whats to come.
TDG: The songs contain so many layers you don't necessarily hear upon the first listen that makes you wanna go back and see if you can hear everything and explore new things each time. When it comes to the songwriting, is that a natural thing to make it so dense and layered or is that something that comes later in the process?
MTTM: We have always put a ton of layers in our songs, it’s just our style. We love having different textures, synths, and other sounds. All these pieces make who we are.
TDG: With the release of Means To An End, you have signed to the fantastic label Artery Records. How does it feel being able to be a part of a label like this?
MTTM: Artery Recordings has been one of our favorite record labels for awhile now so it’s an awesome achievement for us to be a part of their family now. We always heard how well they treat their bands and now we know why.
TDG: The song that got me introduced to you guys was Blood And Bones, which (along with Open Your Eyes a few months before) are the songs showcased for Means To An End. What made these two songs stand out the most to release them as singles?
MTTM: Well, Open your Eyes was the first song that we wrote for Means to an End and it kind of shaped the rest of it. Playing it live brings so much intensity and you can’t help it but lose yourself. Blood and Bones is another banger that just gets the blood flowing. We knew that we had to release these 2 songs first because of the way they made us feel. They’re mind melting and ear pleasing.
TDG: When you begin the process for the next release, do you feel that you go deeper into new territory or are you going to explore more of what you have done with Means To An End?
MTTM: We are always digging deeper but at the same time we are still pushing farther with the sound that we have already created. We never stand still and are always moving forward.
TDG: The band will be going on a West Coast tour in June with I Declare War and Aenimus. How excited are you guys to land a tour like that?
MTTM: We are extremely excited and cannot wait to be playing alongside with these great names.
TDG: So after the upcoming tour, what is next for the band? Any more touring in 2016? Possible new songwriting?
MTTM: We have a couple shows here and there lined up. We continuously write so there is new MTTM underway. As far as touring goes, you’ll have to wait and see!
TDG: For those unfamiliar with the band, what do you hope people will get out of listening to Message To The Masses?
MTTM: After they have listened to our album, they’re speechless and wondering how they haven’t heard us before haha
TDG: When you are able to relax, what are you listening to?
MTTM: A lot of things but usually, Periphery, Asking Alexandria, The Beatles, Volumes, and etc.
TDG: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I really enjoy what I've heard from Means To An End and look forward to all of your future endeavors as a band. Before we go is there anything else you'd like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
MTTM: Check out our music videos on Artery Recordings YouTube page and remember to follow us on all of our social media sites!
Their brand new EP, Means To And End is available NOW through Artery Records!
Grimner is a Swedish Viking Metal band that is really starting to get their recognition as a strongly talented band. With their 2nd album (and 5th release overall), Frost Mot Eld, the band keeps up their fresh take on Viking Metal with catchy melodies, traditional Folk elements, heavy when need, mellow when called for, and above all, a very fun album to listen to. I just got to talk with Ted to talk about everything that is going on in the world of Grimner. Hope you guys will enjoy this great conversation!
That Drummer Guy: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I found out about you guys from your first album Blodshymner, and it's an honor to be able to talk in promotion of the brand new album, Frost, Mot Etd.
Ted Sjulmark- Thank you as well, glad to do it!
TDG- So what went into the writing process for Frost Mot Eld?
Ted- Well, I wrote the music, then we all gather together to discuss what to change in the songs more dynamic and "alive", like we have always done it. The songs came together faster this time, though, since we had a lot of old songs mixed with new ones on Blodshymner, but on Frost Mot Eld, all the songs where written together to make the album more consistent, to make them more dynamic and alive.
TDG- Would you say that the album consistency is the biggest thing that changed from Blodshymner and Frost Mot Eld?
Ted- Hmm, not really. The biggest change is that we experimented a lot more with everything, I think. We have used elements and influences which are not commonly used in folk/viking metal, and it feels really good to have been able to do that. We will probably continue along that line, too. It's a lot more fun to think a little bit outside the box, especially when you belong to a genre in which musicians aren't really known for doing so.
TDG- I was definitely going to say that this album really has a fun atmosphere that you don't get in a lot of this style of music. Where a lot of the music is about very serious subject matter that matches the music; Frost Mot Eld feels very like it would have something for anyone who can appreciate the Folk and Viking Metal genres.
Ted- Thank you, glad to hear it! Well we've heard that our music reflects on the fact that we really love and enjoy what we're doing, even if many of the lyrics on the album are very dark and melancholic. For example on the song "Vargarnas Tid".
TDG- Oh, very much so. It really feels like the band is tighter overall and not afraid to do what will feel appropriate, but stay fun. Was this a conscious effort to try to make the album more fun musically?
Ted- Indeed it was. When we started out, the writing process was very constricted and I guess we were afraid to go outside our comfort zone, or at least the zone of what people think folk metal should sound like. But from the writing the first note of "Frost Mot Eld", that changed. It's more fun to not limit ourselves, as long as we convey the feeling of battle or living in the viking age.
TDG- It really does have that feeling to it. Because in the Viking age, it wasn't just about conquering and pillaging. They have fun as well, usually with Alcohol. It's fantastic to see the fun side that can come from this music.
Ted- Exactly! There are many findings of old viking games, which they enjoyed themselves with. And it is no secret that they loved their beer and mead, of course. Although, unlike our previous releases, there is no short, jolly drinking song on Frost Mot Eld, such as Bastu from our EP Färd or Hinn Heidinn Sidr from Blodshymner.
TDG- Absolutely! So have you heard much reception for the new album yet?
Ted- We have, and it's been above our expectations! Or mine, at least. The first two reviews we got both gave it 10/10, and that was mind blowing. The rest that we have seen have all been very positive, so it really feels like this album will take us to the next level. I think we got one other full score from some magazine too, which feels great.
TDG- That is great to hear, as it deserves all of the praise it has been receiving. I am enjoying the album immensely as well and I hope to have a full track by track review up in the near future. Was there any songs or riffs that was writing during the time of the new album that didn't make the cut that may end up being used in the future?
Ted- That sounds great, thank you very much! There are always riffs, songs and melodies for every release that doesn't make the cut. I am always writing music, so there's bound to be a lot of songs piling up, but every now and then we all revisit a lot of old stuff to see how we feel about it, and sometimes we hear an old melody or riff and think "maybe this could become something good with a little modification". So we may use a modified melody or something on the next release, but probably not an old entire song.
TDG- Very Cool. You never know when that riff that didn't work at the time, just may come back and help you write one of your favorite songs in the future.
Ted- That's true! We do have a couple of old melodies used in a song that will probably be featured on the next album, we'll just have to see how that song holds up.
TDG- Awesome. Back on Friday, you recently announced a short, but sweet 6 date summer tour. That's gotta be exciting being able to get the new songs played live.
Ted- Oh yes, it feels great, gonna be a lot of fun! We played the album in its entirety at our release gig in our home town Motala, but it will be interesting to see how our Dutch and German fans react to them when played live as well.
TDG- I hadn't realized that the album was played in it's entirety. That would have been a fantastic experience to see. How well do you think the album translated live? Were there any songs that you felt sounded better live than expected?
Ted- It was a fantastic night! I think most of the songs were better than much of our previous material in a live environment. At first, we didn't think that "Enhärjarkväde" would do that well live, but wrong we were! It worked much better than we previously thought, so that's probably going on the setlist for some shows.
TDG- That is definitely one of my favorites off the new album, so I am happy that it translates so well live. The intro riff alone just calls for it to be experienced live.
Ted- Very glad to hear it, it happens to be one of my own favorites as well. Even if my absolute favorite is "Etter och Flammor".
TDG- I very much enjoy that one as well. A nice, speedy track. Which again goes back to why I enjoy the album so much. There is so much diversity in the sound and hits so many great territories.
Ted- It's great to hear. I mean, everyone in the band have a lot of different influences, and when we acknowledged that fact and let it lift the music, it became more unique. I myself don't really listen that much to folk metal in my free time, since that's what we do in the band and you kind of want to listen to other stuff then. But also, it's great to already have your sound thought out, and then listen to other music than folk metal and get your influences from many different types of music, resulting in many different rhythms and atmospheres.
TDG- Oh without question! Listening to any and all styles of music really does help with your creativity as a songwriter and keeps you inspired. So with that said, what were you listening to while you were writing the new album?
Ted- Very true! Actually, mostly video game music, film soundtracks and Asian folk music, along with the Scandinavian folk music that I always listen to. I don't know if that can be heard on the new album, but I can say for sure that it had a big effect on how it turned out.
TDG- A very diverse range, which I can appreciate. Even if it is not a direct influence in a song or album. You never know how it can affect your creativity such as a chord progression or song structure or even just the mood of a song. As far as video games, I am playing Witcher III at the moment and I could totally see the new album fitting in the background seemlessly.
Ted- I haven't made it past Witcher 2 yet, unfortunately, but I have heard the third one is good! I blame my computer. But that's flattering to hear since Witcher is one of my favorite game series! It would be awesome to have Grimner as a soundtrack for a good video game, haha
TDG- Witcher III rules. Definitely brings the new generation vibe while keeping the spirit of the first two alive. If there is ever a change of a Witcher IV happening, I'd love to see them ask bands like yourself to contribute to the soundtrack. Really give it that rich, thick, Folk aspect.
Ted- Awesome, I look forward to playing it. We would totally be down for that! I know Vader did a song for the first Witcher, but that's pretty far from folk metal, and even farther from traditional folk music.
TDG- Haha, that is very true. There are some Metal fans that work with the Witcher, so maybe there would be a chance some day. So getting back into the band. What are your plans for the rest of 2016?
Ted- Let's hope so! Well, apart from our upcoming tour, we will be booking more shows, working on new material and just trying to spread our music to as many people as possible. We hope that we will be able to get some shows in countries we haven't played in before.
TDG- Being from the United States, I would love to see you guys come here some day. Of course, that is harder to do more than ever these days due to US visa issues and the total cost to come over here. If that never does get to happen, I will have to buy a ticket over to Europe and come see you guys play one day.
Ted- Yeah, that is a real bummer, because we would absolutely love to play in the US. I really hope that we can get over there someday. If not, you are indeed most welcome to come over here!
TDG- I would absolutely love to. I've always wanted to make it over to Europe one day, either to experience one of the legendary Summer European Metal festivals or check out bands that I wouldn't normally get to see here play in an intimate setting.
Ted- You should have been at Ragnarök Festival three days ago, it was an awesome festival! Not summer yet, I know, but it was still great.
Well thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I feel completely honored to be able to talk to you and help spread word of the brand new Grimner album, Frost Mot Eld. Before we go is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
Ted- Extremely happy to hear it, it was a pleasure to do it! Thank you so much! Not that I can think of, I think we've covered a lot.I can only say thank you, and thanks to everyone taking the time to read it!
Grimner- Frost Mot Eld is available NOW through Despotz Records
Long Distance Calling- TRIPS
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Post Rock, Atmospheric
Long Distance Calling has been on my radar since I discovered the band with their 2nd album, 2009's Avoid The Light. That album really changed how I looked at music at the time and really helped me embrace what I now enjoy: emotional passages, soundtrack style movements of peaks and valleys, highs and lows, heavy and light; and above all, the idea that nothing is off limits as long as it makes sense to you, musically. With Long Distance Calling, that has always been a driving focus of the band. With the band's 5th album (and 7th release overall) TRIPS, the band continues to follow the path of making the music that is right for them and hopefully the fans will be there along for the ride. Admittedly, this is a bit of a polarizing album. This album goes into different territory from very catchy, almost Top 40 mainstream moments to very dark moments to very symphonic moments. TRIPS is very much like the name implies...a trip. A trip of the mind and soul. Strap in and let me tell you all about it!
The album starts with a bit of a rude awakening with Getaway. By rude awakening, I mean a perfect throwback to the 1980s soundtracks we all (of a certain age) know and love. The synths really drive this and make you feel like you are about to watch Blade Runner or Escape From New York. It's very rhythm based and very simple by LDC's standards, but that is what makes the song great. An elongated intro track to the album, if you will. It also really gives a great impression of what the theme of the album is all about. Next up is Reconnect. This is the first track on the album that features vocals by vocalist Petter Carlsen. The song starts off a bit more modern alternative sound with a driving synth track. the chorus brings the track a bit more on the heavy side while still maintaining it's catchiness. Overall, a great track. Rewind is one of the more emotional tracks on the album and really summarizes what the band is all about in 2016. It starts very somber with emotional vocals and piano that slowly builds up with lone guitar strikes and pulsing drums. The lyrics of the song can really bring a tear to your eye if heard at the right time (it almost has for me a few times now). The song overall has a bit of a Dredg influence in terms of the depressing but emotional and by proxy, uplifting, feel to it. A sheer highlight of the album. Trauma is the next track and it is the next instrumental. This one bring you back to the song, Long Distance Calling, from the band's Self Titled album. Different enough, of course, but a great driving instrumental track that has heavy riffs, prog flavoring and will make older fans of the band very happy. One standout part of the song is the driving bass lines of Jan Hoffmann in the middle section. It definitely brings a great driving feel to the ,otherwise, atmospheric segment of the song. Those that wanted a heavier song from LDC got it with this one. Lines is the first track (and as I'm writing this only track) that has been released so far. The song starts off feeling very Alternative Rock, especially in the vocals. From others I've heard some people say there is a Muse influence. I've heard others even say Hoobastank influence, of all things. The shining moment of the song and easily one of my favorite moments from the band, EVER, is the chorus. From the driving instrumentation to the powerful vocals, it made the song go from a cool modern rock sounding song to an absolute powerhouse. The instrumental section of the song brings back the atmosphere that songs like The Nearing Grave off Avoid The Light and even more so, Middleville off of the Self Titled album, that give great contrast to the rest of the song. The ending with the repeated chorus makes the song impossible not to headbang to. If there was ever a song from a band of this caliber to break out into Radio Rock and change Radio Rock for the better, it's this track! Presence brings things back to a more mellow vibe as an interlude. Starting with guitar, synths and ending with spoken word that leads way into the more upbeat, Absolution era of Muse, vibe with Momentum. This track is a great instrumental that really speaks without vocals (which is always a fantastic element of LDC). It's at a heartbeat tempo rate and very busy playing from everyone involved, especially drummer Janosch Rathmer. 3/4ths into the song, it brings back a heavy Avoid the Light feel that I very much enjoy. The song ends with far away synths that fade away. This of course leads to the last track with vocals, Plans. This has a very Post Rock feel to it with it's clean guitar, and electronic sounding synths and drums. The vocals gain a tremendous amount of power in the chorus. A little over half way through the song, it starts to build into a much more symphonic moment, not usually seen with the band. Gaining heaviness slowly but surely, with the synth strings helping the build, it builds up into a classic LDC riff at 5:02 and going to the end that older fans will love and appreciate. The final track, Flux, is the longest song on the album as a 12 minute plus instrumental that, once again, brings back the memories of Avoid The Light, the S/T album, even all the way back to the band's first EP, Satellite Bay. While a majority of the song stays more mellow, it constantly builds. A little under half way through the song, it builds into a fantastic heavy riff that leads into a more subdued moment once again. Again, Hoffmann shows off how to make a fantastic and groovy bass line in this moment right before the guitar kicks back into the song with a killer clean solo. The last quarter of the song brings the atmospheric moments back with a very emotional movement that almost feels like you are about to crash land in a heroic way. The final moments brings back the piano, synths, and spoken word that brings you back to reality, a sad reality of how life and the universe really works.
TRIPS is an album that centers around taking a trip through space and time. Before and after the time of Man, entering areas we have never seen before, moments we wanna go back to, moments we wish we could redo, and really thinking about how our lives work the way they do. Like anyone reading this. I know I have my share of regrets. Not spending enough time with family or friends, letting bridges burn, making choices that altered my life in different ways. This really gives you that short feeling of entering your psyche and exploring what could be if you had those opportunities to go back in time or rocket yourself ahead in time. The overall message of the album is clear. Make the most of the time you have on Earth. Never take any moment for granted and enjoy everything that you can. As you can tell, the album has definitely resonated with me in a big way and hopefully, if this reviews makes you at all interested, if will for you as well. While it's a bit premature to say for sure, I think this has potential to not only be one of the best albums of 2016, but I dare say, TRIPS may be my favorite Long Distance Calling album to date!
Long Distance Calling- TRIPS available April 29th through Inside Out Music