Those that saw my previous list of the best matches of 2017, you may be surprised that the list is half as long and isn’t just a love letter to WWE. To be blunt, WWE (Raw and Smackdown) have really let me known every since the Royal Rumble and it feels like every month is getting harder and harder to watch due to bad storytelling, roughly half the roster now being on the injuured list, repeat after repeat after repeat after repeat matches and feuds and of course the whole Saudi Arabia thing that has made me almost stop watching entirely (mainly keeping up as I still have favorite wrestlers that are there and they are not the ones responsible. I’m smart enough to realize that). But also since last year, my love for NXT has grown exponentially and I have been able to REALLY discover wrestling outside of the WWE moniker. While there are sooooo many promotions I can’t follow, haven;t had the chance to follow, and simply don’t know about; I have been able to enjoy more from promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring Of Honor and more. And with the heavily rumored talks of the wrestling stable The Elite potentially starting their own promotion in 2019/2020 to possibly rival the WWE (or at least give them reason to believe they are not the only horse in town anymore in the states); it’s an exciting time to be a wrestling fan...if you know where to look for it.
Granted, I am not the biggest wrestling fan in the world anymore, my knowledge of wrestling up to 2001 means that I have 2002-2016 wrestling that I’ve missed out on experiencing first hand. The following 5 matches is not the most comprehensive list in the world, nor will I treat it as such. I treat this as a music fan that got back into the love of wrestling and enjoys it for what is, while still being a complete smark about it. But here is my top 5 matches of 2018 and 5 excellent reasons for non wrestling fans to give pro wrestling a(nother) shot.
5.) Hangman Page vs Joey Janela (Chicago Street Fight)- All In
Right up till the time I originally stopped watching wrestling, I LOVED hardcore matches and that only grew as I got older. I loved the table crashes, chairshots, the blood, the chaos of it all. Now a days I am a bit more sensitive to it all, especially after I got the internet and found out about Japanese Death Matches and especially considering the horrific events that happened in 2007 that lead to the WWE being more mindful more of concussions and affects to the brain (come on, you know what I’m talking about, just google it if you really don’t know), it’s really hard to look back at some matches of the past, especially unprotected chair shots. All that said, when I first heard of this match, I was curious as I love Hangman Page, but knew literally nothing of Joey Janela, so I had zero insight as to what they had in store. Simply put these guys absolutely delivered. Some spots made my jaw drop wondering how they did not die (specially Janela), the use of tables, ladders, chairs and a literal Cracker Barrel just had everything I loved about hardcore wrestling back when I was a kid, but updated so it was a little safer, yet, even more INSANE. Plus the events that happened after the match featuring Famous Dick Wrestler, Joey Ryan just added all the comedy aspects that I miss about old school WWF wrestling, as immature as one could see it. Just a perfect hardcore match that’s not too extreme but brutal as you can get at the same time.
4.) Kazichika Okada vs Marty Scurll- All In
What else can I possibly say about All In? As a whole it’s the best PPV to this date! This match was an absolute highlight of that. Much like the match coming up after this; this match focuses on two villains that came together for this PPV, but not for a title, not for brand supremacy, not even for a title shot; but simply because these two are two of the best in the buesiness at what they do. Okada representing Japan and the Villain Marty Scurll representing the UK (and The Elite) in the longest match of All In. What made this match work so well was not just the chemistry between the two; but it was a match where you thought you knew who was going to win from the beginning, but as the match went on, you began to really question it and think “WOW, IS HE GOING TO WIN?” That’s great storytelling in wrestling when you are genuinely wondering what will happen. This nearly 30 minute match will keep you on the edge of your seat and for good reason. A sheer David vs Goliath match that will keep you guessing till the very end.
3.) Tomasso Ciamp vs Velveteen Dream (NXT Championship)- NXT Takeover: WarGames II
My favorite One on One match under the WWE moniker. Who would have thought as a kid who stopped watching when he was 11 would get back into it in 2017 and discover that wrestling as DRAMATICALLY improved in all facets. A brilliant match between two egomaniacs (both heel and babyface….that’s bad guy and good guy for the non wrestling fans out there). Both men are LOVED by the crowd but get the exact reactions they deserve. Ciampa being one of, if not the greatest heel of all time, the crowd despising him, his infatuation of never losing the title, undeniably fantastic promo work and a master of the ring and what a bad guy should be. The Dream starting off as the eccentric megalomaniac bad guy, turned into one of the most loved baby faces in NXT history...all while still pretty much being exactly the same. To make it simple, he is the 2018 version of WWF legend, Goldust, but updated for the time and no focus on sexuality (unless you look for it...perv!) The battle between these two seemed like it was going to be a good match, but not the best of the night, and it did start that way; but the longer it went, the better it became. Every near fall had you gasping when the opponent kicked out before 3. The high spots from Dream were insane, the tactics by Ciampa were so methodical and brilliant. Easily some of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen between two guys in the ring. It’s a shame we’ll never get a match like this in the WWE, but thankfully for fans like myself, NXT exists and only gets better as time moves on.
2.) Adam Cole v Ricochet v Lars Sullivan v Killian Dain v Velveteen Dream v EC3 (North American Title Ladder Match)- NXT Takeover: New Orleans
My favorite match under the WWE moniker. This match has everything you could possibly ask for. Hardcore spots, high flying, infinite tension, and 6 of the best NXT superstars (past and present) at the time. You got the smarmy villain that’s a mix of Shawn Michaels and Triple H (Cole), The master of the fly flying spots (Ricochet), The monster brute (Sullivan), The loveable brute (Dain), The flamboyant egomaniac (Dream), and the Cocky rich kid who just came to town (EC3). Outside of supernatural powers ala The Undertaker or the bloody brutality you find in CZW or Japanese death matches; it’s so hard to be disappointed in this match. When it was live, you had no idea who was going to win and if you were a fan of NXT; you would have been happy to see that belt on any of the six. The outcome was exactly how it should have been (which won’t be spoiled here) and 4 of the guys men in this match have had great success after this match (the other two; Dain and EC3 have so much untapped potential that hasn’t hit this year yet, mainly due to booking and over saturation of great talent). There’s so much good to say about this match. Just go watch it and see why wrestling as as good as it has ever been.
1.) Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada (2 Out Of 3 Falls)- Dominion 2018
This is simply the greatest match I have ever seen. The 4th One on One encounter between these two legends of the business gave us a 65 minute epic that pulled at your heart and soul with every passing minute. Not to mention that this was a 2 out of 3 falls match, which just built the tension even more. The near falls, the repeated finishers, the endurance, and most importantly, the story being told in the ring is simply astounding. Omega is arguably the moved wrestler of today. His love of video games, the most brilliant acting seen in wrestling, an absolute seller of any match he is in, the best promos in the game, and such a loveable personality; the man has it all. Okada is the definition of Japanese wrestling. His persona, his skillset, his (at the time) no nonsense mentality, and absolute sheer brilliance in the ring. Every single time between these four matches, these two have been in the ring, has been masterclasses on wrestling with every match being better than the last. Whenever anyone says that wrestling was only good in the late 90s during the WWF’s Attitude era; make them watch this match and this should easily change their minds. Two of the absolute best wrestlers not under the WWE moniker, it’s not even up for discussion.
And there you have it. My top 5 matches of 2018. I again apologize for no Main Roster WWE making the list, but, if you’ve seen the quality this year; there have been some good to great matches, but absolutely nothing I would go back to. The fact I have been watching about the first half hour of Raw before shutting it off due to sheer boredom pretty much says it all. Coming back into wrestling last year; that’s a heartbreaking statement. BUT thankfully things like NXT, NJPW, ROH, what ever The Elite do in 2019, etc prove that there is quality wrestling out there, just like quality music in 2018. You just gotta look for it.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Where would Metal be without Unleashed? It feels like there would be an empty void left by a band that has inspired countless Pagan, Viking, and Death Metal bands. Thankfully, Unleashed is going stronger than ever nearly 30 years into the band's career. I recently, I got the opportunity to ask Unleashed Mastermind Johnny Hedlund a few questions about everything going on with Unleashed, including the brand new album, The Hunt For White Christ, available October 26th through Napalm Records. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!
October 26th brings us the 13th album from Unleashed The Hunt for White Christ. How does it feel to be able to have this album coming out in just a couple weeks?
It feels amazing! We worked on it for around two years so it is safe to say that we are looking forward to hear what people think of it. We are also preparing which songs to be on the live set list and it will have an affect also which songs people like the most.
The Hunt for White Christ continues on as the 4th album to follow the story of the World of Odalheim that you have penned yourself. How does it feel to be able to show off both sides of your creative mind by showing off this saga in musical form?
Very good indeed. Since the book never got finished I figured it might make sense to do the chapters into songs so to speak. And why not, much of the story line is inspired by stuff written on many Unleashed albums anyway.
For those that may not be familiar, where does The Hunt For White Christ fall in line with the story?
The story of Odalheim is about the Midgard Warriors and their fight against the main enemy “White Christ”. The last album “Dawn of the Nine” ended with the song where the Midgard Warriors led by the son of Thor returns to Folkland shores after a successful quest to take back Svithiod and the Nordic region from White Christs rule of terror. Now, as this happens, a few scattered surviving armies of White Christ took the opportunity to attack villages on the South. These villages were naturally inhabited mostly with unarmed women, children and old people. Needless to say they were slaughtered, dismembered, raped and ultimately burned. When the Midgard Warriors arrive at the village it is all too late. This exact moment is what you see in the cover art work. The Midgard Warriors realizes that something must be done, and quickly. If White Christ can do this…what will happen next? They raise the runic letter G over the village for Blot to the dead and for victory in the coming war. And as a symbol of the ultimate act of man – to give without expecting something in return. The Midgard Warriors stand ready to give their life for family and kin. And so the hunt begins,,,The Hunt For White Christ.
Lead Us Into War was chosen as the first single off the album and is an absolutely perfect opener of the album. Is that why it was chosen as the first single?
Not really. The first song was chosen because it had to be that song to start the next events in the story line. But ok, we could off course have chosen another song for the first single release. But it had to be this one as no one to start the album.
Without question, the album cover for The Hunt for White Christ may be my favorite Unleashed album cover ever. The more I look at it, I see all the little nuances and beautiful landscapes shown off, How much time and effort was made to create this cover?
Oh I am not sure how much time the artist (Pär Olofsson) actually used to put it together. It took me a pretty long time though figuring out which sequence of the story line that should be on the album cover though. But I agree, it might be our best looking one so far.
How much of The Hunt For White Christ will be represented in upcoming live shows?
I am not sure yet. But a few songs for sure will be in there. The trick is to play as many as possible but on the other hand after 13 records, well, we have some shit to choose from I guess. Pretty hard to make everyone happy though haha.
Not just a new album to be able to promote, but with 2019 also comes with the 30th Anniversary of Unleashed. How does it feel to be able to have Unleashed, arguably, at it’s strongest point 30 years into your career?
Well thank you very much for those words on the band. I’d say it really feels great. It is no small thing to be a recording and live playing artist for this long. I think most musicians feel the same closing in on 30 years in the music industry. You really have to keep shit together in order to continue with some dignity and quality. And there is much more where all this came from.
In some fantastic news for Americans like myself, you are coming back for Maryland Deathfest in 2019. What’s it like to be able to come back and play for the American fans once again?
Amazing to say the least! And we are very much looking forward to it. We always have a blast playing in the US.
What should people expect from Unleashed as you celebrate 30 years as a band?
We have a few surprises in the pipe so to speak but we are talking about them right now so I really can’t give out any real info yet. Sorry about that. But it will be some nice things happening.
When you’re not focused on music, how do you like to spend your time?
I spend much of my free time with my eight year old son. We do all kinds of things together. Watch soccer games, play ice hockey and soccer, bicycle, skiing, listen to metal (off course), go to festivals and well, all the things I possibly can do together with him. There is nothing better in this world as I see it.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a long time fan of your work in all forms it was an honor to be able to ask you some questions about everything you have going on right now. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
OK thanks for this interview! Hope to see you next time in the US!
Unleashed- The Hunt For White Christ available October 26th through Napalm Records
Anaal Nathrakh has been storming through the gates of Extreme Metal since 1999. With every album gradually becoming bigger, grander, and more vile than the last, the band returned in 2018 to unleash their 10th album, A New Kind Of Horror through Metal Blade Records. I recently got to ask V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (vocals) a few questions about what is going on in the world of Anaal Nathrakh right now. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! It’s a great honor to be able to help promote you guys once again and to talk about a fantastic new album.
Thank you for the support.
A New Kind of Horror comes out September 28th through Metal Blade, how does it feel to have this 3rd album through Metal Blade coming out?
It’s a good feeling. We’ve been looking forward to it coming out for what seems like a long time – we handed it over to the label quite a while back, but the release dates, schedules, blah blah blah – it’s exiting that it’s finally come out. We’re proud of it, and now it can finally spread its wings.
As described in the press release, this album is absolutely not a happy album and is easily one of the most intense albums you’ve released to date. Was that the approach going into this album, or did it come out this way naturally?
It came out naturally. That’s just the way we work – we do everything mostly by instinct. We have an idea, an atmosphere, a feeling in our heads, and making an album is a matter of translating that into music in the most direct way possible. Basically it’s not so much about writing music, it’s about letting it out, pouring out the thing in our heads. I think if we went into it saying ‘ok, this has to be intense’ or whatever then it could come out forced. But we don’t plan in that kind of way. We think ‘ok, this is going to be Anaal Nathrakh’ and then follow where that leads us.
I genuinely love the progression of the band over the years and hearing what’s happening with A New Kind of Horror takes all of my favorite elements of the band but somehow makes it even catchier, yet more chaotic and intense than ever before. With this style of songwriting, how do you know what direction you want the song to go in musically or thematically?
Thanks, I’m glad to hear you thought so. We don’t know what direction we want to go in until we do it. We have ideas, little things we want to include and sometimes there’ll be a rough sense of how we want a song to feel. And there’ll be a general atmosphere we have in mind for an album. But those are just signposts, and once we’ve started, the most important thing is then that the song should feel right as a whole. So what you start out to do can end up some way from what you in fact do. But that’s fine, and writing in an unconstrained way gives more room for the kind of innovative little things that keep music fresh, I think. Mick can write precise things perfectly easily, of course. But for Anaal Nathrakh, we follow where the music leads.
Lyrically, this is easily one of the most thought provoking albums I’ve heard in this current political climate. No matter where you stand, it’s the kind of lyrics to make you stand back and think about things. How do you feel about the political climate today? Do you see things getting better any time soon?
I’m glad you thought so – the intention is for people to think for themselves about the ideas that run through the album, not to take our thoughts and simply adopt or ignore them. I think we’re in pretty tortured times, politically speaking. One of my favourite journalists is a film maker called Adam Curtis. I haven’t seen all that much of his stuff, but what I have seen has a brilliant way of joining the dots of history. And I think we need perspectives like his to understand the royal clusterfuck that the world is threatening to turn into. There are deep seated reasons going back decades for the way things are today, but at the same time there are currents in society which often get in the way of understanding that. Certain narratives become dominant, and crowd out any other way of understanding what’s going on. That’s part of the thinking behind this album’s parallels between war a century ago and today – no other phenomenon showcases the exclusive concentration around one narrative as much as war does. Anything other than dogged, bloody minded adherence to the official line is considered treasonous. No regard for the fact that the other side are doing exactly the same, and always think they’re exactly as justified and fighting to protect and survive just as much. It’s something that really comes out in the work of the artists from WW1 – contrast the ever-more complex and abstract images produced by those on the Allied side with the work of someone like Otto Dix. There’s more common humanity and horror expressed than the narratives at the time could have ever allowed. And the same kind of thing persists today – my own country is currently embroiled in terribly ugly political divisions, and again we’ve heard calls on the fringe right for more patriotism – by which they mean ‘agree with my side and come to see the other side as enemies of the country’ – even though those not on the fringe right are still just as concerned with the national interest. Create a dominant narrative of being embattled – not arriving at an understanding with friends who seek to cooperate, but being forced to stand strong against enemies who seek to undermine. That’s just one tiny example from close to home. In general, I think the whole climate is increasingly fucked up – not just here, but in many other places, too. And no, I don’t think things will get better.
Brandan Schieppati was able to contribute some vocals to one of my favorite songs on the album, Vi Coactus. What was it like to add his vocals onto this song?
It was good fun. Brandan and Mick have been good friends for years, and it was great to be able to get Brandan on the album. He seemed to really like the stuff, and had a laugh recording, so it was good all round. And it came out well, I think. His style compliments what I was doing, and but it’s also subtly different and adds an extra flavour.
Forward! Was released as the first single - How was that decided as the first single?
We picked it ourselves, because we love the song and because it’s something a bit different. It’s an out and out head banger, and that might sound strange for us, but if you get the feeling in it and maybe catch some of the lyrics you’ll realize it’s absolutely Anaal Nathrakh at heart. So it’s a cool, possibly slightly unexpected but nonetheless powerful song, and that seemed like a good thing to introduce the album with. There’s plenty of other atmospheres on the album and it’s not like we’ve completely changed musical direction, Forward! is just one facet of a complicated whole. And it’s been quite successful as far as we can tell - the teaser video Metal Blade put on youtube has quite a lot of hits, as does the track on Spotify.
Is there any other single been determined yet from the album, or is that still to be decided?
Yeah, not long back we released a full video for Obscene as Cancer. That was a great thing to do - the film makers knocked it out of the park and delivered something which is a perfect distillation of and complement to the song. The song is particularly important in the context of the album because it’s the one based on a Wilfred Owen poem from World War 1, which is one of the motifs of the album as a whole. It’s not like a history concept album, and part of the point of reflecting on WW1 is to see parallels with the world today, but that poem in its own right is one of the most profoundly affecting pieces of writing I’ve ever come across. So to have the song and video we made under the influence of that poem as one of the ‘singles’ released in the run-up to the album coming out made perfect sense.
2019 will be 20 years since the start of Anaal Nathrakh. How does it feel to be able to say the band has lasted for two decades now?
Yeah, strangely enough I was thinking not long back about when I went on tour with Benediction, and took the first Anaal Nathrakh demo that we’d just recorded with me. I didn’t realize it was twenty years ago, and it doesn’t seem like that long even now I’m aware. The thing is, although it sounds like a big deal, and I can see why people might think it meant something, it doesn’t matter to us. We don’t really care that we’ve been doing this for a week, a year, a decade. We’re interested in what we’re doing, not where we’ve been. To a certain extent we’ll occasionally pause and think ‘not bad for a couple of kids messing about in the front room of a house that hadn’t been tidied up since the 50’s’. But we’re not particularly sentimental, and we have no sense whatsoever of resting on our laurels. We’re not comfortable self-satisfied prats, we’re hungry kids who feel driven forwards. Still.
What is next for Anaal Nathrakh?
We have a number of shows lined up, and we’ve been working on loads more shows that we can’t announce yet. So we’re going to be pretty busy. Beyond that, who knows? Aside from lining up live shows, we’ve never been ones for planning all that much, so we’ll see what happens!
What is next for you outside of Anaal Nathrakh?
Two main things. I also sing for Benediction, and we’re working towards recording the first new Benediction album for ten years in the next few months. We’re not sure of dates etc yet, but it’s finally happening and it’s exciting to be in that position after so long. The new material is sounding really strong, and we’ll have a brand new track on a compilation CD that Nuclear Blast are putting out soon. And alongside that I’m coming towards the end of a project I’ve been working on for what seems like forever. It’s a big body of work, and I’ve spent virtually the whole time for about 5 or 6 years with it in the back of my mind even when I’m not consciously working on it. But if things go according to plan, I’ll be finishing that off in the new year. So within the next twelve months or so I should be done with one of the things that has contextualized my life for a long time. That’ll be a very strange feeling.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a long time fan of the band, I simply love the direction you guys go on every album and it’s amazing to hear where you are in 2018. Before we are done is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
Thanks a lot.
Anaal Nathrakh- A New Kind of Horror available NOW through Metal Blade Records
S.K.o.R. is a band hailing from Stockholm Sweden bringing back sense of Hard Rock from yesteryear, but not afraid to be themselves in 2018. With unique visuals, diverse lyrical content and an overall fun vibe; S.K.o.R. released their latest album Rubus Tellus September 14th through GMR Music. I had the opportunity to ask frontman Emil Gammeltoft a few questions about everything you need to know about this band. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!
It’s my pleasure.
For anyone that may not be familiar, describe S.K.o.R.
S.K.o.R. is a band from Stockholm Sweden and play hard rock with I guess a bit of a modern touch. Energy-wise on a top level, some classic rock elements, some punk elements and my voice on top of that going mostly all the way up there.
September 14th brought on the release of the new album, Rubus Tellus. How does it feel to have this album for nearly a month now? What has been the reaction to the album so far?
Already around 20 ,000 streams and that is not bad for a newcomer to the scene I guess (?) and reviews is starting to get in and they seem to be very positive. We just got one in from Sweden Rock Magazine and that was a great one. People seems to like it and seems to appreciate we actually want to break new ground and have success with it!
What was the songwriting process like for Rubus Tellus?
It’s usually a melody that comes from any of the band members and if it is to everybody’s liking a song is created. So for the new album it was like this and it was important that all in the band had their input to the songwriting.
I personally love the fact that the album is so diverse in it’s sound. Being able to get some great hard rocking songs to cool acoustic tunes, all while feeling like it makes sense. Was that the intention of the album or did come out that way naturally?
Thank you very much! A good song is a good song never mind the musical genre but I think we have created a sound of our own and I guess my vocals makes it a red-line too to the whole concept of our sound.
Bubbleman was chosen as a single for the album, which is a great representation of what the album has to offer while not giving everything away. Is that why it was chosen as a single?
Our record label GMR Music felt that Bubbleman was the right choice for first single and a video was created also that you all can find on youtube. I think they saw the potential as it is kind of repetitive on the chorus and that the song represents the band in a way even if it’s far from the only single that have potential on this album!
With that, Bubbleman is shown off tremendously well as the album cover to Rubus Tellus. Where did the idea come from to use this as the album cover?
Bubbleman has now been developed to be S.K.o.R.s mascot so it felt right to put it on the front cover! Bubbleman will always be in the band concept from now on!
The lyrical content has a lot of great directions to it, from fun to hard hitting. How was the lyrical process for this album?
I try to be diverse in the lyric department, nevertheless serious stuff like in the song “Hell To Pay” to environmental issues of what we are doing to our earth on “Armageddon”. But also fun stuff like “Karate Girl” and wicked stuff as in the song “Seagull”. The whole spectre I would say is in content on this album.
With the band starting in 2006 and with it being almost 2019 already, how do you feel the band has progressed in that time?
S.K.o.R. started out as a folk rock band in 2006 and a completely other direction. That was the aim then and some EP:s and one full length album was done in that vein, but I got to the point where a need to rock hard felt right so we changed direction in 2015. So you can say a completely other sound and direction has been taken and now people is starting to wake up, so I guess this is what we should do and are best at!
What was it like to be able to get out there and start promoting this album live when the album came out?
We have just started actually. We are out this autumn in Scandinavia and hope to do a tour in the beginning of 2019 also in other countries! But it feels good and the songs and performance is getting the thumbs up!
With that, what should people expect from a S.K.O.R. live show?
Expect an energetic live show in high tempo and of course Bubbleman on stage!
What is next for S.K.O.R.?
Getting out to as many as possible both online and live. Choosing next single for a video and also start the songwriting process for the next album!
What do you like to do when you are not focused on music?
As most these days we who creates music can not live on music so we all have day jobs to get the economy together. Apart from that I guess we are all just ordinary people with those ordinary needs and don’t say no to feel good and live life!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Rubus Tellus is a fun, 14 track adventure of hard rock that is so much fun to listen to from start to finish and it was great to be able to talk to you about it. Before we are done is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
Thank you very much for your fine words! The band is very much alive and creative and look forward to have contact with all rock fans who likes us via our websites, so please go in and say hi on our facebook (www.facebook/SomeKindofRubus) or our official site www.skorsaljes.se or our Instagram: s.k.o.r.sweden We look forward to keep in touch and a splendid and fruitful 2019!
Korpiklaani has been filling the Folk Metal world is drinking, dancing, and fun filled songs for 10 albums now. Never set on making the same album twice, the band got back into the studio to release their newest album, Kulkija, coming out September 7th through Nuclear Blast Records. The album is filled with a sense of travel and adventure that really fits the band perfectly. Recently, I got to ask guitarist Cane (Kalle Savijarvi) a few questions about everything going on in the world of Korpiklaani. ENJOY!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!
Thank you for having me!
Kulkija is coming out September 7th through Nuclear Blast. How does it feel to have this album coming out in just a couple weeks?
The wait has been long. We finished the recordings already in December last year. Now when the album is finally going to be released it feels very relieving. Four singles are out already from the record and the feedback has been positive. You can imagine how
excited we are about album being out at last.
How did the songwriting process begin for Kulkija?
It never stopped after “Noita”. First ideas for “Kulkija” were there written before the last album came out. Again Jonne wrote the most of the music, but also Sami did two songs and Tuomas and Jarkko both one. Lyrics were mostly written by Tuomas Keskimäki. Poet who has been writing texts for our previous albums also. Sami did all the folk arrangements ready before the recordings, so this time we didn’t need to work on those in the studio anymore like before. In general the process went as usual, demos were made by one and then together see if something needs to be changed.
Kulkijais about a Wanderer’s journey on the road and seeing where life will take him. Where did the idea come from to a full album based on this concept?
First of all, this is not a concept album even if one would like to think so. All the songs were written separately, only when all the material we had was put together, we noticed that there was that kind of traveler theme going through the songs. It wasn’t intentional, but our life as touring musicians is not that far from wanderers life, if you want to see it that way.
What I really love about this album is everyone in this band feels perfectly showcased throughout. From solos and leads to the overall production, everyone stand out and fits together perfectly. Which I imagine will make the songs sound even more incredible live.
Was this the intention of this album or did that happen naturally?
It’s nice that you say that, because it was one of the main things we focused on this album. We wanted the overall sound to be more like our live sound. Have enough space for vocals and folk instruments, which are leading the most of the time. Also not to pack the songs with too much stuff and avoid compressing songs too much to maintain the natural feeling. To make all these changes, we had to try a different producer than on the previous albums. Janne Saksa was a perfect choice for that job. It was really easy to work with him right from the start. He knew exactly what we were looking for.
There has been 3 great songs released as single so far. How did you decide what songs off this massive 14 track, 71 minute epic, album to be released as singles?
“Kotikonnut” was the first one because the summer had just started and the song has has a very summerish atmosphere in it. “Harmaja” then again differs enough from the other material, so we wanted to show that side of the band too. That has a great video also, when the previous one had only lyric video. The other real video we made, was for “Henkselipoika”, the third single. That is a really “good mood” song, which was perfect choice after the darker and slower “Harmaja”. Video worked out well also. It has beautiful views of the Finnish nature and being funny at the same time.
It’s hard to believe that Kulkija is already the 10th album from Korpiklaani. How does it feel on your end to have this be the 10th album from the band?
When making an album it really doesn’t matter if it is fourth or tenth. But of course it’s nice to think that we’ve been able to do all that in 15 years. It’s funny how time flies when you’re having a good time!
Coming this Fall, you will be hitting North America once again and bringing Arkona with you. How does it feel to be hitting North America and being able to promote this album? What should people except from this upcoming tour?
This tour is something we’ve been waiting for three years. Finally it’s happening and the whole band is excited about it. We are going to play a lot of songs from the new album, but not to forget the older classics. It’s going awesome again. Those people who were there last time knows it. If you like drinking, dancing, having fun and things like that, come to our show and you won’t regret!
What is planned for Korpiklaani in 2019?
Shows, gigs, concerts and more shows! Now it’s time to tour around the world again, when the new album is out. Starting with European tour in February.
With being such a leader in the Folk Metal world, how do you feel about the current state of Folk Metal today?
It’s live and kicking. Korpiklaani is doing better than ever. I think that tells something about the state of Folk Metal.
When you get free time away from Korpiklaani, what do you like to do in your free time?
Well, I don’t like it but, count days to get back on the road with the band.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to do this interview. Being a long time fan of the band it was a sheer honor to be able to talk talk to you about everything going on in the world of Korpiklaani. Before we are done is there anything else you would like
to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Thank you! Besides the new album, remember to check out our first live CD/DVD “Live at Masters of Rock” which came out in the end of last year! See you in November!
I never thought I would get to be able to say this, but I am officially 30 years old as of today (August 19th).
The last 30 years has been filled with tremendous highs and some devastating lows. Sadly, due to mental struggles in my life including Major Depression, High Anxiety, Mental Trauma, etc, I am not really able to appreciate the highs as much as I should have, but looking back, I have a lot to be grateful for, especially career wise:
I have done 528 interviews (but at least a couple dozen that won't get to see the light of day) in the last 7 years. The radio show is currently at 294 episodes (including the one that comes out later today/tonight), I have made countless friends and acquaintances over the years, some still around, some that sadly left, some that just parted ways for various reasons.
30 is a strange, strange number for me. In all transparency, 30 was a year I was choosing to to make it to. Especially over the last few years I had made a goal to myself not to start the next decade of my life letting my mental issues get the better of me and had I not been successful I was going to make another shot at my life. I have spent 18 years of my life now in mental hell all stemming from problems that started the day before my 12th birthday and spanning till now. But as you can guess by reading this, I'm still here. SO did I cure my mental problems? Not by a long shot!
I am still a mental wreck for most of day and night. I find complete solace in the work I do with interviews, reviews, radio show, etc; but the rest of my life I still try to figure out what to do to find true, long lasting happiness. There's many ways to go about this: doing what you love, seeking solace in others, seeking professional help, medications, give in to life altering vices, suicide, etc. As you can tell not all answers are good ones, and sans the vices, I have attempted all of those, with varying results.
I actually have attempted suicide 6 times. 5 times I was stopped, the other time was new years eve 2013 into 2014 and I grabbed my roommate's gun at the time, pulled the trigger and realized there was no bullet in the gun. I'm not proud of any of those moments, but I am proud that none of them altered my life in a botched fashion, nor actually got the job done.
While I still struggle every single day of my life, I can't get better if I stop living. There is no clear cut answer for anyone. The human mind is such an intangible thing despite being one of the biggest reasons we are around. And with that every mind reacts differently. For example, as I'm writing this up, I'm in a sad state, but a thankful state. When I am hitting a real hard wave of depression, I can't comprehend anything; there is no light at the end of the depression tunnel, there's no ropr to climb out of the whole, there is just darkness, sadness, isolation, etc. FOr me, I just keep trying to move forward by looking for things to keep me going. One area is that there is always new music to promote and bands to care about. So I always look for new music and try to promote the bands I care about as much as possible.
If you look back at my very first interview on here with Morgan Lander of Kittie then you look at my latest interview with Mike Portnoy; you see a DRAMATIC difference. Not just in sound quality and production, but the confidence in myself. I went from a kid who was beyond scared to talk to anyone, let alone an active and famous musician; to being able to have amazing conversations with my biggest heroes as if they have been my friends for years. How did that happen? It literally came from a sheer passion for what I do and the perseverance to get better every time. Growing up, I didn't start having conversations till I was 4. It was never because I couldn't talk and unlike what I was tested for a lot at the time, I am not autistic. I was actually scared to talk. As I learned as I got older, I was not in the best environment for a healthy mind. I grew up in a cracking family that shattered in 2000 and never recovered. I was consistently told that my opinions do not matter, keep my problems to myself, and being told I was of no use to anyone. When you are taught that from a very young age, it's hard to break that mold and you start to believe it yourself until your mind reaches a point that you can't comprehend any other kind of thinking....unless you try to better yourself.
I was a really good student in school until Fall 2000, then my grades started slipping. I was actually in a program that my school had called Gifted and Talented, where I was able to do extra projects, get my work shown off to visitors, and get my name recommended to outside activities for the intended purposes of getting scholarships to college and other extra curricular activities. then Fall 2000 came around and my mind was completely and utterly lost. I was getting sad all the time and my family did not care, I didn't have friends anymore, I just kept to myself as much as I could as I felt I was the only person left I didn't disappoint.
This of course, as eluded to earlier, lead to 6 suicide attempts from 12 years old to 28 years old (if you gathered, it's been about 2 years since my last attempt). The saddest part of a good chunk of my suicide attempts; when I was stopped, it was never for the typical reasons not to do it. It was for reasons such as "We will look like terrible parents if you kill yourself." "What about going to hell?" and "You better finish the job if you try that again because you won't want me to find you after..." As you can tell, not good reasons to stay alive.
Actually in recent times, my brother has called me quite a few times to try to get me to kill myself. Calling through various numbers, making fake accounts online, faking who he is, and all other sorts of issues that just seems so vile. After all this time, I still have no idea why he continues to do this. He's recently done this as of this year, but that time did not lead me to try number 7, THANKFULLY!
To a lot of people reading this you could think I could reach out to other people for help. When I was a kid I was told from everyone I knew not to and when I did try to make new friends, it ended disastrously. If you ever talk to me or have talked to me outside of an interview, I am an absolute wreck when trying to talk to people. Granted I am better than where I used to be, but I still have the hardest time being the first person to reach out. No matter the reassurance, I get scared to the point of breaking down if I have to start a conversation (outside of interviews). It's a constant fear of feeling like I am bothering people and ruining their days by trying to talk to them. Rational or Irrational, it's still something that hits me every single day.
But despite all of these mental, psychological, sociological and just plain absurd issues; I still keep trying as much as I can. As you may have gathered, music is my calling in life. Even if it's not playing, I get to talk music almost every single day with amazing people and to me, that's just as rewarding.
For anyone struggling that's reading this, you gotta find that for yourself as well. What's the thing(s) that keep you going? Do you have passions in your life? What are they? How often to you get to follow those passions? Is it a hobby, an interest, or a full on career? Does your life hinder on your passions? There's so many things that go into it. For me it's music and gaming that brings so much joy to my life. As of recent times I got back into enjoying pro wrestling as that was something I loved as a kid until my mental issues started entering my life and I forgot about it. While they are not substitutes for the struggles in my life, they are things that keep me around and keep that drive of life going for me. Even if it's just one thing in life for you, even if you can't do it every day, find that passion for you, find a way to get to live it somehow, some way, don't lose out on why you love the things you do and remember the joy they bring you when you get feeling as low as I do.
As for other aspects of my life, I am still keeping strong with That Drummer Guy, I have no intentions of stopping as long as I still have a voice and/or a way to get my views out there. Whether I become the biggest names in heavy music media or I don't progress any further than I am right now, I love the road I'm on and there's no exit ramp I am ever going to look for.
As for playing music, I do have my band, Systemic Collapse. Back in the beginning of the year we recorded some instrumental demos. Maybe they'll see the light of day, maybe not. Anyone whose seen my track record knows that even with playing for 21 years now, I still have yet to have a record to call my own. If this one ends up happening, awesome, if not, I still have That Drummer Guy which has become one of, if not my biggest passion in life. I never thought I'd say that as someone who would play my drums every single day, constantly trying to find a band that could last and show off what we could do. Maybe one day? Maybe not? Let's find out!
But getting back to why I'm writing this up. I still can't believe I'm here at 30. WIth full intentions of not being here at 30, I am here, I still have the drive of wanting to be alive (though I will admit, there is a lot of twists, turns, roundabouts, reroutes, etc) and I am writing this out for all of you to see.
Whether you suffer from mental issues life myself, whether you just enjoy what I do, whether we've been friends for years or hours, whether you stumbled across me by accident, noticed it's my birthday and say I wrote up a saga of an essay; regardless of it all, I'm here I plan to stay here, I hope you plan to stay here as long as you can as well.
Just remember that you life can never get better if you cut it short!
But as for now, thanks for reading. It's my birthday, time to get some sleep, wake up, see what the day has in store for me, get disappointed by 2018 Summerslam and begin my first week of work in my 30s as That Drummer Guy! In any capacity, I hope you stick around for the ride!
- Josh Rundquist
The world of Metal can be an interesting place. If you really want to, you can cover so much ground for anything you enjoy. That's exactly what Parker Yowell does. Be it behind the kit with his bands, filling in for a band in the studio or live, or doing work behind the board in the studio, Yowell can do it all and so much more. With that, his new band Seas of Malice, captures a sound of brutality, yet covers so much musical ground that you don't hear in a lot of other bands today. I recently got to ask Yowell a few questions about everything he has going on.
And for the very first time, I will be premiering a BRAND NEW SINGLE. The second Single from Seas of Malice, Our Own Eradication, which will be available at the very end of the interview. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.
No problem, man. Thanks for having me!
For those that may be familiar, tell us about your background as a musician up to this point?
So, I've been touring for about four years both in bands and crewing. I've played for Jungle Rot and worked as a tech for Suffocation, Kataklysm, Carach Angren and Dying Fetus. For a number of years I took drum lessons from Kevin Talley, and he actually got me my first tour when I teched for him when he was in Suffocation. Currently I'm in the bands Seas of Malice, Skin the Lamb and Serpents Whisper.
The first time that I saw you play was playing with Jungle Rot a few years back, opening for Dying Fetus. Knowing your capable skills, what’s it like for you to be able to either fill in or guest spot for bands behind the kit? Is every situation different or do you got things down to a science on how to learn songs quickly enough to make the show the best you can get it?
Sick! That was my first show in my home city! It was rad to shred it up in Minneapolis! Every situation is for sure different, but typically I like to keep things as consistent night to night as possible. That means click tracks, reference tracks and sometimes (I stole this from Kevin Talley) reference notes of the song structure. It also depends on the band. Jungle Rot was a much more straight forward death metal band so learning the songs was fairly easy. It also meant I could have much more fun live and put on a show. When a band has insane tempo and time changes you have to concentrate much more live and it can limit your ability to get into the performance. Seas is going to be a fairly complicated band in terms of our live production, however it will mean that our performance will be as flawless as possible. We want to be able to bring a level of intensity to the fans that will get them hooked on our live shows.
Among all of the cool stuff you’ve been able to do up to this point, you started yet another new band, Seas of Malice. How did this band come together?
I had met our keyboardist Katie when she was on tour, and we wanted to start (what at the time was) a side project. I wrote a few songs and I could tell we'd need a fairly dynamic vocalist. I had played in a band with (frontman) Kyle Carpenter a few years ago and got in touch with him to see if he'd be interested. He threw down some vocals on what eventually would be “Up To My Neck” and we went from there. I had about three songs but they all turned out really great so we decided to just tackle a full length record instead of starting out with an EP. We were originally going to release a few songs online but it became pretty apparent that we had something pretty sick so we decided to devote our time to this as a full time band, not just a studio project.
For anyone yet to check out Seas of Malice, how would you describe the band?
This is probably the hardest question to answer. We have elements of a lot of different subgenres of metal. We've got some death metal, thrash, deathcore, black metal and even slam. So if I had to pick, I'd say we're just a metal band. The best thing I've heard someone say is that we sound “new, fresh, and heavy.” Since I'm the primary writer in the band, the danger of that is all the songs sounding similar. I tried very hard to make sure that each song was unique and had it's own feel to it. I also didn't want to sound like we were trying to copy our favorite bands.
What is the full lineup of Seas of Malice; both in studio and going forward?
In the studio, I write and record all the guitars, bass and drums. Live I'll be playing drums, however. Kyle does all the vocals and Katie does the keyboards and orchestrations. Live, Jeff Golden (ex-Crowbar) will be our bassist and we're currently auditioning full time live guitarists.
The first single released is Up To My Neck, featuring CJ McMahon of Thy Art Is Murder. How did you get him involved in this song, and how was this song chosen as the first single?
I was talking with Kyle about if we could get a guest vocalist on the album, who would we want to work with? Being massive Thy Art is Murder fans, we both thought of CJ but we also knew that was fairly unlikely to happen. Shortly after, I wound up crewing for Dying Fetus on a co headlining tour with Thy Art is Murder. I became friends the Thy Art guys pretty quickly and asked CJ if he'd be interested in doing a guest spot on this record. We actually went over the lyrics together, some of the structure and all that. It was pretty surreal to have a writing session with one of my favorite vocalists. He ended up recording when the tour wrapped up and did an incredible job. We wanted this song to be the single before CJ was even involved. We feel it's a pretty good representation of what we do. It's got fast parts, a slamming break and killer keyboard elements as well. Once CJ said he was down to work with us we knew that this was the song we wanted to do with him.
What will be the next single released from Seas of Malice?
The next single is called “Our Own Eradication.” I think people will dig it, although it's definitely different than “Up To My Neck.” After that people will have to wait to hear the album. I wouldn't say this is a concept record, but I will say that it has much more of an effect when you listen to it from start to finish. And we definitely finish it on a strong note.
Did you change your drum setup at all for Seas of Malice compared to other bands you are in?
I did! And I will be changing it again before you guys see us live! Haha. So, for Jungle Rot I used pretty much a 6 piece kit. Two kicks, three toms (10 inch, 12 inch, 16 inch) and a snare. For Seas I added a third rack tom (8 inch) because the music is a lot faster and has busier drum parts. Believe it or not I actually down sized the Seas kit from what I used to record the next record for my other band, Skin the Lamb. That session I had two floor toms, one on each side, double ride and pretty much anything else I could think of. I needed to have some extra layers on that album. Hopefully that will be released next year.
With Seas of Malice, you actually do way more than just play the drums. What is like for you to have such control creative input in a band with such talent all around?
There's good and bad with that. The good part is I don't have anyone going “man, I don't really like that riff,” or “I think this part should go this way.” Not to say that I don't value my bandmate's input or ideas, but we pretty much just write our own parts and give each other some feedback. None of us play each others instruments so we trust everyone to come up with their own parts. The down side to being the only instrumental writer in the band is if I get stuck on a part, there's no one to bail me out. I don't have another guitar player to go “I have this riff and it would fit perfectly here.” If I get stuck in a musical maze, I've gotta figure my own way out of it. It's funny because when you're the only writer, sometimes you write a song and you know it's awesome, and other times you kind of go “so...what do you guys think of this?” Both happened on this record. I was really stoked on Eradication, but the first song on the record I was on the fence completely. I sent it to Kyle and he sent it back with vocals and it completely changed my mind. From there Katie laid down her keyboards, and it gave it another layer that made the song so much darker than it was before. It's one of my favorite songs on the album now.
When you do so much in a band besides play drums, are you more perceptive to how everything should sound or do you let things happen more naturally?
I think that's definitely accurate. I pretty much have an idea of what parts I want in the forefront of the mix, what parts should be layers and what the overall mix should be. I think a lot of times guys know what they want their parts to be, but overall they sort of leave it up to the engineer. Since I'm the guitar player, drummer, and handle all the pre production, I have a pretty good idea of where I want the song to go as a whole. As I'm sure our engineer, Joe Cincotta, would tell you, I have some fairly specific ideas about the mix haha. I actually do a rough demo mix as a kind of reference so he knows “keys should be more present here, this guitar line should go this way” and so on. He's doing a great job on these songs, and they're turning out exactly how I had envisioned them. Because I do play multiple things in the band, I think that when I write a song I not only know how I want to instruments to fit together, but I actually can put them together. A lot of times you'll see a guitarist tell their drummer “go like this...” and they'll try and sing some drum beat, and the drummer is like “what?” Because I'm both people in this scenario I think it's easier for me to know the map of the song from start to finish.
With that, what would you say is the biggest thing(s) you’ve learned about being in a band outside of just being able to play?
I think the biggest thing I've learned is how to be professional. Being in a band and playing music is fun and everything, but if it's your job you need to handle yourself as a professional. I think because my first tour was with Suffocation and Kataklysm, I learned right away a lot of tour etiquette, tricks and tips and just how to survive on the road. Every tour you learn things, though. I think a big thing is learn from other people. I've gotten to tour with some very experienced bands and I've basically picked their brains for tour tips.
After this coming release, what is next for the band?
Tour! We're going to be looking to get out on the road next year. We want to be out there a lot, and are already looking at some possible tours and bands we'd fit in well with on a package.
What’s coming up with you besides Seas of Malice?
Apart from studio work, I'm still working on the full length Skin the Lamb record. We're currently looking for a label to release the next album. I'm also hoping to be able to finish up the Serpents Whisper record next year.
Outside of playing music yourself, you also do a lot of incredible work behind the board. How did you get interested in doing engineering/production work?
Thanks man! I didn't even know bands could self produce when I was first getting into music. The first time I even heard the term was when I was watching the Killswitch Engage DVD and saw Adam D in the booth recording them. It was kind of a revelation to me that a band member could also be involved in the overall production of the record. I was really interested in how involved he was with the band, and once I started forming bands myself I looked into recording and the production side of things as well. Some guys like to just play their parts and leave, but I like to be more involved in the whole process.
I kind of felt like being able to edit your music and work on it was important if you want to have a product go the way you want. I have edited every release I've been a part of so far. If I can have my sessions clean, then the engineer can save time editing and just focus on tones for the album. This way I think the record is going to be more along the lines of what I want it to sound like when I begin writing. I also will help bands edit because sometimes you hear a band you know is good but they don't have good recordings. It honestly doesn't matter how good your band is if your demo sounds like garbage. Having a professional product is part of being a professional band.
What do you like to do when you’re not focused on music?
Not much! Haha. Other than decompressing I'm a total MMA nerd. Chances are if there's a UFC or Bellator event going on, I'm watching. A lot of fighters are into metal as well which is pretty cool. It's always rad to talk to a fighter you're a fan of and have them tell you that they're a fan of your music.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. You have accomplished a lot of incredible things in this field we call Metal and I can’t wait to see how Seas of Malice takes off and explodes all over the world. Before we are done is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
Thanks so much for having me, man! I just want to thank all the companies who have endorsed me throughout the last few years. MEE Audio, who makes great in ear monitors which my whole band relies on. Axis pedals, which I've been playing since I was 15 years old. I never imagined myself being an Axis artist so that was a dream come true the day I got the green light from them. Scorpion drum sticks make durable stuff. I go through sticks like a wood chipper. Pretty awesome I have my own sticks through them! Long story short, Mike who was filling in for Thy Art on that tour gave me the nickname “Parkolepsy” because every time I would take a nap in the green room, one of the Thy Art guys was inevitably always there to take a picture of me sleeping. I think Lee was the first one to take a selfie with me while I was crashed out haha. Marshy even started the hashtag #ParkerYowellSleeping. Anyway, the nickname stuck and now it's on my drum sticks and my in ear monitors haha. I also want to thank Dean Markley! I've played the Blue Steel strings for a long time so for them to endorse me meant a lot, especially because I'm primarily a drummer. But I've used their strings on the Skin the Lamb releases and the upcoming Seas release. Last but not least I want to thank anyone who's ever bought a CD, shirt, or supported me in any way. People always say “without the fans we wouldn't be here” but it's totally true.
PREMIERE: SEAS OF MALICE- OUR OWN ERDICATION:
Everyone has their own views on what makes good Black Metal. Some say it was to be raw and evil, some say its about the tremolo picking and blast beats, some think you can make Black Metal any way you want it to be. Harakiri For The Sky proves that last theory correct with their signature blend of Post Black Metal. Back in February, their 4th album, Arson was released to critical acclaim. Back then (though updated now to make the interview make sense) I was able to ask the mastermind of Harakiri For The Sky, M.S. some questions about everything going on with the band. He recently got back to me and I can now call this my 500th interview to date. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! February 16th brought on the release of Arson. How does it feel to have this album out now? What was the songwriting process for Arson?
Actually the whole process was really smooth, we handled it as before, hence me recording the music and providing it to JJ to create the lyrics, then recording those. Only difference was that our friend Krimh (Septic Flesh, ex-Decapitated) played the studio drums for us and gave the whole album a fresher sound with the way he plays drums, that was a great experience for us. He was in Austria that time and after sending him the pre-production he had some time to practice the drumtracks and refined them a bit. Was great to record with him, he is an energetic drummer and it was very good for the whole album sound.
What led to Arson being chosen as the title of the album?
The album deals a lot with closure of past events in our lives, finding a point to leave it behind…metaphorically spoken setting it all on fire. Also it can be seen as a critic on how our society develops, how shallow it gets and that its unhealthy how selfish people have become and how this is harming the way we treat each other. There are many way to interpret the title but best is just to listen, read the lyrics and make your own opinion.
With the amount of positive reception for 2016’s III: Trauma, did you feel any kind of pressure (good or bad) when writing for Arson?
There is always pressure but the important part is not to give in. Otherwise you would get influenced to change your unfiltered ideas to stuff that might sell better or sounds more like the previous release or whatever. Most important is to make honest music that comes from the heart and not to do something just to be successful.
Having been a fan since the first album, I really love what you guys are able to accomplish as far as the songwriting and lyrical concepts. How have you feel the band has progressed since 2011?
I think there is always a natural progress. Or lets call it change better. We got older too, we have different things that influence us, different things that are on our minds and that we have to deal with. Probably the same with everyone.
Every Harakiri For The Sky album has it’s own very distinct sound to it. How would you describe Arson in an overall sense?
I'd describe it as very organic but also quite aggressive. its overall a bit faster and harder but still with its very melancholic and melodic side. it was always important for us to combine those two features…might say a lot about our characters.
With that, I really notice from a songwriting perspective that there is much more use of Melodies, Harmonies, and diversity on Arson. Was this an intentional thing, or did that just happen naturally?
That's all natural, i guess maybe i write more mature songs now with the melodies embedded a bit better, but its hard to evaluate that myself to be honest.
Tomb Omnia and You Are The Scars were chosen to represent the album before it’s release. What led to these 2 songs being chosen to showcase the album?
Both of us got to choose one song, simple as that…wasnt easy though i have to admit.
What do you like to do when you are not focused on Harakiri For The Sky?
I love to travel, that's incredibly freeing and relaxing for me to also see other places and getting to know other cultures. Also with touring a lot its important to not forget about social contacts at home…besides that there is always music, that's an everyday thing in our lives anyhow.
Has there been any 2018 albums that you have enjoyed so far?
I can say in 2018 i especially enjoy the new Sworn (black metal from Norway) album as well as the new A Perfect Circle album.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a fan since the beginning, it’s awesome to see how far the band has come in a relative short time and I can say that Arson may be my favorite album from the band to date. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to say that I haven’t mentioned yet?
Thanks a lot for the interview again, sorry for the severe delay with the interview…has been a bit of a rough patch lately personally. Cheers!
Harakiri For The Sky- Arson is available NOW through APO Records
Tommy Karevik has had a busy life as of late. Between fronting one of the biggest Power Metal bands in the world, Kamelot, fronting one of the best Progressive Metal bands, Seventh Wonder, and many cool guest spots; Karevik has really been able to show off everything he is capable of with his voice. A while back, I got to send Karevik a few questions about everything he has going on lately. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!
TK: No, Thank you =)
First things first. The brand new Kamelot album, The Shadow Theory, came out April 6th through Napalm Records. How does it feel to have your 3rd album with Kamelot out?
TK: It feels great. We are all very happy with the album and the general direction the band is moving in right now. Needless to say the sound has evolved in comparison to the the old Kamelot records which is only natural because times evolve and people as well. But the cool thing is that we managed to keep that Kamelot trademark sound through it all, the instant recognition factor when putting on a song.. Yup this is Kamelot!
How did the songwriting process begin for The Shadow Theory?
TK: The same as always actually. Thomas and Oliver got together to work on ideas a couple of times to hammer out the basis of the musical framework. I was then working on song ideas with Oliver over skype mostly. I spent the majority of the time writing with Sascha in Wolfsburg though, writing music, melodies, arrangements and lyrics as well as recording the final product.
What is the story behind The Shadow Theory lyrically?
TK: It is a loose concept based around the theories of Carl Jung´s “The shadow aspect” where everyone has a shadow and the less we embody it the darker it gets. We use that as a platform to tell a story of a dystopic world where most of the worlds money is in the hands of only a handful of people. These people rule the world behind closed doors and make us believe that they want us to believe, making us think we are making decisions based on what we need or want. There are 3 main elements to the story.
The Shadow Empire being the top layers with all the power. The Shadow Key being the growing resistance of enlightened and free thinking people. Connecting the shadow key back to psychological aspect of the overall theme we also want to convey the message that only you possess the key to your own happiness and self growth. No one else can do that for you. It will require work but you can do it. The 3rd one is The Shadow Wall and that is the smoke screen they put in front of our eyes to distract us in favor of their hidden agenda… Social media, commercials, religion and war.
I noticed throughout the album, Kamelot has really spread their wings, musically, and a lot of diversity is going on throughout. Was this a conscious decision or did that happen naturally?
TK: I think it just happened naturally. I mean we always try to have diversity in every album. There has to be a certain flow and pacing for the fans that wants to enjoy the album from start to finish. We still write for people to be able to listen like that and we take pride in that.
As of the time of writing this, Ravenlight is the sole single for the album so far. How was Ravenlight chosen to represent the album as a single?
TK: Well knowing what the first 2 real video songs would be we felt that ”Ravenlight” would be a great instant gratification track in terms of having all these elements that a Kamelot song should contain. It is a pretty direct song with a great message that you can instantly hear is us=)
Now that you’re 3 albums deep into Kamelot, how did you approach your work on this album?
TK: Every new album is always a great challenge. The more music you write, the harder you have to work to not repeat yourself. It can be daunting at times but the feeling of finding solutions that is something new and fresh and that hasn´t been written before but that still sounds like you, is just fantastic. Of course writing is also more relaxed though after 3 albums in terms of feeling comfortable with the band and the fans. I know that I have their support and that feels great. This time around I just sat down and started writing and basically didnt stand up before it was done. It was very condensed and intense in the end.
The album not only features your amazing vocals, but also features Lauren Hart and Jennifer Haben doing guest vocals. How did they come aboard for The Shadow Theory?
TK: Thank you! Lauren Hart was recommended to us by my girlfriend Kobra Paige. She joined us for a show in California where we opened up for Iron Maiden and did a great job. She is a screamer and when there was a few parts on the album that called for that style she was asked and happily accepted. Jennifer is the singer of ”Beyond the Black” and has been working with Sascha a lot in the past. He knew she was a great person and easy to work with in the studio so she is singing a duet with me on the ballad ”In Twilight Hours”. I really like that song and her voice fits perfectly.
Earlier this year, Kamelot hit North America with Battle Beast and Delain. How did it feel to be back on the road to promote the new album?
TK: It was a great tour. Our biggest and best North American tour to date and that was awesome to see. NA is growing to be a real main market contender for Kamelot. It was a great package with bands that delivered a killer show night after night for month straight… Very consistent tour and great people.
With playing song from both your era and previous work; what are your favorite songs to sing live (from before your time, and what you’ve recorded)?
TK: From the older songs I would say ”The Human Stain” is a favorite. I think it is just a beautiful song with fantastic lyrics and a highly relatable topic. When it comes to my own songs it is more difficult ha ha… The energy with songs like ”Sacrimony”, ”Liar Liar” and ”Insomnia” never fails though and those are songs that people know word by word so it´s very rewarding to play live.
What is next for Kamelot?
TK: We got kind of a busy festival summer ahead of us followed by a European tour in the fall where we will also record a live DVD in Tilburg Holland. After that we have a Japan/Australia tour planned so some exciting times for sure!
Any updates in the world of Seventh Wonder?
TK: The new concept album ”Tiara” will finally hit the streets in October this year. It will feel very nice after such a long time to give something back to the fans. We are very proud of the album and we are looking forward to be able to play some shows on it come release date! There are some things brewing as we speak =)
Last year, you lent your voice to the amazing project, Ayreon for the album, The Source. What was it like to lend your voice once again to Arjen’s masterpiece songwriting?
TK: Yeah Arjen asked me again and I totally didn't expect that since I was on the previous album, so yeah I was surprised. I had a lot on my plate at the time but I made it happen anyway for Arjen because I love that guy and I really wanted to do it. Arjen typically sends me guide vocals of melodies he wrote and I adapt them to my style of singing and make adaptations. It´s fun and very different to all my other bands where I write my own melodies and lyrics from scratch.
Was their any albums in 2017 that you enjoyed?
TK: Actually 2017 was such a crazy year in terms of being totally buried in work so I don´t even remember most of it… Let alone did I have time to listen to a lot of music unfortunately. Whenever there was time to wind down I would typically turn to music completely different from metal or rock. I listen to a lot of Swedish singer song writer music and my favourite is Lars Winnerbäck. There is nothing like listening to beautiful lyrics in your own language I find.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a long time fan of ALL of your work, it was a complete honor to be able to ask you some questions about everything you have going on and promoting the brand new album from Kamelot; which I very much enjoy. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
TK: Thank you for those kind words and thanks a lot for your support! Also a big thank you to all of the readers out there! Hopefully I will see you all somewhere down the road!
Kamelot- The Shadow Theory is out NOW through Napalm Records.
Seventh Wonder- Tiara is out October 12th through Frontiers Music.
Some bands were just born to play fun music. That's what Kissin' Dynamite is all about. Over the span of their 5 previous album, the band has showcased all of what they are about in Hard Rock, Glam, and Heavy Metal, with the upcoming release of their 6th album and first album through Metal Blade Records, Ecstasy, I got the opportunity to ask Andi Schnitzer (drummer) of KIssin' Dynamite a few questions about everything you need to know about the band in 2018. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! Ecstasy is coming out July 6th through Metal Blade Records. How does it feel to have this album coming out in just a couple weeks?
It's always a very exciting time when a new studio album is gonna be released, but this time it's something even more special for us, because it's the first album with the passionate new team we built around us, consisting of Metal Blade for the world and Sony Columbia for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. So we're curious of what's going to happen.
How did the writing process begin for this 6th album from Kissin’ Dynamite?
It was in summer 2017 after the the Generation Goodbye Tour. Our first plan was to release the next album not until 2019, so we actually didn't have any pressure. And this is always the best state of mind you can have to write songs. So Hannes and me started writing, just for the sake of writing songs. We had a really good flow and after a few weeks we already had almost the base of entire album. So, after all we decided that we could release the album already in 2018. Like this we stick to our 2-year groove that we have since 2008. Anyhow, it seems to be a good rhythm for us.
I really love the diversity of the album. There is some heavy hitting moments not just musically, but emotionally as well well just stellar songwriting and musicality. Was that the focus of writing these songs on this album or did these songs come together naturally?
Thank you very much. I think it's always important that things grow naturally. We've always decided after how we felt at the time. This time, we just knew, that we wanted to go kind of back to the roots, after we had made some experiments musically as well as in therms of lyrics on the last two albums. So this time, it was all about more simplicity without being trivial, no compromises. And of course, we always care about being focused for writing catchy songs.
How was the recording process this time around? Any major changes, mishaps or funny moments of note?
It may sound boring, but: actually no changes. You know, over the years we developed a nice and smooth way to write and produce together that just works for us. And probably we keep on refining it as we get more and more experienced, but I guess we won't chance the base of it anymore. And in terms of funny stuff...believe me, I could go on forever with telling you tour stories, but when we're in the studio, we're focused and serious in order to have the best possible result. But when the touring starts again, it's always the best moment, because then the beast gets unleashed. Ask me again after the Ecstasy Tour ;)
With that, Ecstasy is your first album to come out through Metal Blade Records. How does it feel to have this album come out through such a legendary label?
As I said before, it's very exciting time for both the band and the people from the label. For us, it's really cool to be with Metal Blade, because they're rooted in Germany AND Los Angeles. And due to the fact that we've still never been to the States, I guess these are really good requirements therefore.
The title track and I’ve Got The Fire were chosen as singles for the album. How did it come about choosing those 2 songs to showcase the album?
I think, I've got the fire was predesignated to be the first big bang after the longer break we had before. It's a hymn-like, good vibe stadium rock track which is also the perfect opener for the album. And lyrically, it fit's perfectly fitting to the band name. So it just makes sense. Ecstasy, we chose as the second single firstly because of the outstanding featuring performance of Anna Brunner from Exit Eden on this track and secondly because it captures the basic vibe of the album very good, which is: having a good time and looking on the sunny side of life.
Coming up later this year, you’ll be opening for the legendary Powerwolf throughout Europe. How does it feel to be on such a great tour package like that?
It definitely will be the highlight of the year. We've met those guys several times before on some festivals and I can say, they're really lovely and funny guys. I'm sure, it's gonna be a blast. And of course, they're quite big, so we will get the opportunity to play in front of a hell of a lot of people in whole Europe, which is great.
For anyone going to check you out for the first time on this tour, what should people expect from a Kissin’ Dynamite show?
You know, I've never seen a KD show myself, because anyhow I always was very busy at the time :) But I guess, you can expect a very explosive and powerful show, also visually. We're not the kind of band who is standing around and is only playing their instruments. I promise, there's a lot happening on stage!
What do you like to do when you’re not focused on Kissin Dynamite?
Currently, I actually don't know because at the time it's all about Kissin' Dynamite every day. But when I've got the time, I really love to live my life in the name of permanent vacation, so I just lay in the sun, go out for a motorcycle ride or in winter I really love to go into the sauna or skiing. I need those relaxing things as a compensation to the roller-coaster ride of playing in a rock band.
What are you currently listening to?
I really like Ghost. After a long time, it's finally a new band with no hyper modernized sound, but still having that x factor that separates them from the rest. For the first time, I saw them as a support for Iron Maiden a few years ago and thought: Oh my, just another masked band. But after a while, I noticed that they're something special.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a long time fan of the band, it was awesome to see everything going on in the world of Kissin’ Dynamite and taking about what will be one of my favorite albums of 2018, Ecstasy. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Thank you for this Interview and the compliments. We're really thankful of whats going on at the time and can't wait to unleash the beast again. Hope to see you all on the road, rock n roll! ;)
Kissin' Dynamite- Ecstasy is out July 6th through Metal Blade Records
I've said it before, I'll say it a million times. Canada produces some of the best Metal bands on the planet. Any style you can think of is represented in a brilliant way all over. With that, a band from the Edmonton Alberta Canada area is finally releasing their first EP, The Existential Reversal, June 15th. I had the opportunity to ask this band some questions about their unique blend of Thrash and Metalcore. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! June 15th brings the release of your brand new EP, The Existential Reversal. How does it feel to finally get this out?
We’re really excited to finally release these tracks to our fans. We’ve spent a lot of time developing our sound over the past couple years and it is fully represented with this EP. It feels good to release some fresh content.
How did The Existential Reversal become the title of this EP?
It definitely took a bit of time to land on a solid name, but half way through the recording process, it just sort of hit us. The EP has a very dark tone to it and conveys themes of the unwilling inevitability of death and the idea of having your life ripped away before you are ready - The Existential Reversal.
What was the songwriting process for this EP?
For this EP Marshall, one of our guitarists, laid the majority of the ground work on guitar and then him and our other guitarist Rob hashed out the finer details, including harmonies and layers to give the tunes that crunchy yet smooth sound. Drum patterns and bass lines were developed during jam sessions. Once a song was put together, our vocalist Brett would write lyrics and vocal patterns and then we would all collaborate in jam to ensure we developed the best song possible. We felt these songs fit really well together as a three track EP.
I really dig the artwork for this EP. How did the artwork come together for this release?
We’re big fans of quality artwork. We love complex and intricate designs both for our merch and EPs. We work primarily with two artists for the majority of our artwork; this particular design being developed by Headsplit Design out of France. We feel that it’s the perfect representation of the thematic undertones of time and death, using subtle details throughout the design.
All three songs fit so perfectly together showing off what you guys are capable of in 2018. How do you feel about the progression of the band up to this date?
We’ve been pushing each other to really up our musical game. We started off as more of a straight ahead thrash metal band with hints of metalcore, but with our current line up we’re not overly concerned with traditional sub genres. We write songs using several different influences and go with what sounds best to us - whatever we think is going to make people say “Fuck Yeah Tyrant!” is what we want to put out. We are excited about the unique sound we’ve created and look forward to defining it further.
Where do you see Tyrant going from here musically?
We want to continue writing music that satisfies us as a band while building off the sound we’ve created on The Existential Reversal. As previously mentioned, we don’t want to limit ourselves to any sub genres as we write new music. We are looking to actively experiment with new ideas and influences to further develop the Tyrant sound.
What is next for Tyrant?
We want to keep our foot on the gas. Now that we’ve released some new material, our goal for the rest of the year is to continue playing shows around Western Canada and put together a national tour. We’ve been keeping our eye on some overseas opportunities, which is something we really want to push for next year. We’re also in the process of writing a full length record as well as re-recording our old demo Limitations with it’s current live sound. We want to ensure that we can provide our fans with a solid stream of quality content to keep up the momentum.
What should people expect from a Tyrant live set?
People should get ready for some serious energy. We’ve been gaining a reputation in Western Canada for having a chaotic and energetic live performance while upholding our music standards to the fullest. We constantly work on our live performance and feel that it is a big part of our identity as a band. Whether it’s shredding on stage, selling merch, or having a beer in the parking lot, we love playing shows and meeting new fans.
What is the Metal seen like in the Edmonton area compared to the rest of Canada?
For a long time Edmonton’s Metal scene was a top contender in Canada, representing a variety of metal and hardcore bands. Sadly the music scene has taken quite a hit in the past few years with a large number of venue closures - even the venue where we shot the live part of our music video for Spoils Of Decimation burned down about two weeks after the shoot. The city can’t seem to catch a break lately, but Edmonton is resilient and has great people working in the scene. We are hopeful and excited to see it prosper once again.
What do you like to do when you’re not focused on Tyrant?
As a band, we like to hang out together and crush Pina Coladas, put on records, and play board games.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I absolutely love The Existential Reversal and I can’t wait to see what you guys embark upon next. Before we are done is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
Well first off, thank you for the interview and we’re glad you dig the EP! And secondly, as a general PSA: support your local music scene because no one wants that shit to wither away!
Tyrant- The Existential Reversal is out June 15th!
Brooklyn NY has had some fantastic bands over the years of all styles of music. It's awesome to see now that more of the Atmospheric, Indie, & Post Rock styles are getting represented in this amazing new band called Glass Lungs. On the verge of their debut album, Impermanence, coming out June 29th, I had the please of asking Glass Lungs' Andy Amato (Drums) a few questions about everything you need to know about this band. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! For those that may not be familiar, describe Glass Lungs.
Glass Lungs is a band with passion bursting from the seams. Each note is written and played with purpose, each cymbal and drum hit with deliberate dynamic and rhythm, and each word sung with conviction, sincerity and meaning. There is no lack of beauty and ambience with each song yet there is grit and aggression that will move you and leave you wanting more. Taking influences from our surrounding areas in Brooklyn and NYC, there is a toughness yet elegance that blends the two in a way the listener wouldn’t predict nor think it could make sense but does. It’s an experience that will grab you. Come along for the ride.
June 29th brings forth the debut album from Glass Lungs, Impermanence. How does it feel having your debut album finally coming out?
It has been a long road with still so much to accomplish but having the release date right around the corner is a relief. It will be 10 months since we got into VuDu Studios with Frank Mitaritonna to record this album and I couldn’t be more proud of how it came out.
With that, how was Impermanence chosen as the album title?
It’s tragic how so many school shootings, mass killings and senseless terror happens in our world now but still nothing shakes you to the core like the loss of a loved one. Death around you is jarring and can really affect you but when you can no longer lean on your best friend, hear “I love you” from a parent, hug your sibling or spend time with anyone that means something special to you, it leaves you sincerely with a piece inside missing forever. If you allow that moment to sink in, you can see just how precious each breath you take is, each moment we can enjoy time with someone meaningful to you is and puts a real, beautiful perspective on our lives. Our existence is so short in the grand scheme of things. Life is fragile and unpredictable. This album touches on these subjects of loss and a longing for more. Chad, our vocalist, had someone very near and dear to him pass away and he was able to use this album as a platform to work out his feelings on the matter. It means a lot to me as I have lost someone that meant so much to me recently and I believe it’s something we can all relate to. It is how we deal with it that makes the difference.
Spin after spin, I am constantly picking up new layers in your sound. A great sense of atmosphere mixed in with brilliant songwriting and musicianship. Was this the original intent for the band’s sound, or did it come about this way naturally?
We all, with the exception of Chad, come from the hardcore/metal scene so this band was something very new and exciting for us to dive into. There are still heavy elements to this album, (i.e. I snuck in a blast beat in “Firewalker (Chapter 2)”, but we got lost in experimenting with different sounds that felt almost celestial at times and made you really feel something to the core of you. I think this line-up is very special in that we all are striving for something deeper and more unique. We are on the same page and aren’t afraid to try new things. Sometimes it’s just in letting things ring out and letting the pieces fall where they may that produce the most memorable and soaring parts in our songs. Overall it’s been a very natural process and we are exciting to continue to progress and mature as a band.
When did you realize the band was going in the right direction musically?
The band was going in the right direction the moment the demo of the song “Acquiesce” was born, which is one of the first songs written prior to me joining the band and is what made me want to be a part of Glass Lungs in the first place.
From The Wayside is a great example of what you guys can do as a band. Capturing what the album is about, but leaving you wanting more. Is that why it was chosen as a single?
“From The Wayside” was the choice for the first single because we felt it had the right elements of catchiness lyrically and moved well musically. A lot of the songs are a bit more progressive on the album and this one felt more straight-forward and the right song for listeners to get a first taste of the album.
What is next for Glass Lungs?
What is next for Glass Lungs is touring. We have been tackling Brooklyn and NYC for some time and will continue to do so but now we are looking to branch out and hit more than the New York metropolitan market. It’s something we are anxious for and look forward to bringing this new album to as many places as we can!
What should people expect from a Glass Lungs live show?
People should expect to feel something at our live show. Expect to feel energy and the moments that leave you deep in thought. Our live set is very intense. It’s dark, driving and leaves space at the right time so things don’t get monotonous and boring. Come ready to sing along and enjoy a real experience with us.
What are you currently listening to?
I am a die-hard Misery Signals fan so I’m always rocking that band but I cannot get enough of movie scores. Sometimes vocals/lyrics block the moments I can do my own thinking instead of someone telling me how they feel or what to feel. Having moments of introspection while listening to Alexandre Desplat or letting John Williams take my mind to the lands of Hook, Jurassic Park and Star Wars, Danny Elfman to Gotham (Tim Burton’s Batman) and Edward Scissorhands to name a few, are some of my favorite moments of my day.
What do you like to do when you’re not focused on Glass Lungs?
When I’m not focused on practicing the drums and trying to progress the band I write poetry, I’m writing a screen play and I am currently developing another podcast endeavor after being a host of a successful show a couple years ago.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a new fan of the band it was great being able to ask you a few questions and learn more about what Glass Lungs is all about. Before we wrap things up, is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
I think it’s important to note that the best part of being in a band is friendship. The memories you make on tour, writing, recording and all things band related, brings you close together and makes you family. Some of the closet people in my life are old band mates and current ones. Fans come and go but it’s the band, the family that matters most.
Lastly, we aren’t a religious band by any means, on the contrary actually at times but we feel there is more to life than your phone, Instagram or the newest Netflix show out. Ok Netflix gets a pass but people matter. Art matters. Go out and touch somebody. I don’t care if you feel you are the toughest dude in the room, you have the desire in you to be loved, and to feel important and special to someone. Express yourself and let go of the notion of being “Too cool”. Write some shit on paper and see how it goes. Find yourself, and your voice. Music, and art in general saves lives. It has saved mine.
Glass Lungs- Impermanence is out June 29th!
TNT is back in full recording force after 8 years with their latest album, XIII which is out NOW through Frontiers Music. I recently got to ask founding member of TNT Ronni Le Tekro, about everything going on with TNT in 2018. CHeck out the quick interview down below. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! June 8th brings in the release of TNT’s 13th album, appropriately entitled XIII. How does it feel to finally have this album out?
It feels good to have the album out.It was quite a journey making it. It think it carries a message of Hope
With 8 years between albums, how did you approach the songwriting for XIII?
The songwriting on this album was a bit different from the other albums. 2 of the songs were written by Tony Harnell and Me,4 of them were cowritten with Ledfoot(Tim Scott O`Connell) and Tony. The rest was shaped around my ideas and Tim`s great lyrics.We wanted a diverse album like Queen
Of course in those 8 years, there has been lineup changes in the band. How did it feel getting this incarnation of the TNT lineup for this album?
It feels good.We rehearse and are constantly looking for creative moments.As well as keeping the legacy while building momentum.
Did you change anything in the studio this time Around? As far your guitar setup or any additional changes?
There are no changes in the studio except new 32 ch UA Apollo soundcards. The rest of the guitar setup is identical with 1982.Marshalls :-)
How hard was it deciding what songs would be released as singles before the release of XIII?
The label decided the first single,luckily....cause the band,being in it,is blind and def:-)
XIII is being released on your new label home, Frontiers Music. How does it feel working with Frontiers?
Frontiers are doing a very good job for the band and seems geniously interested in good rock
What is next for TNT?
Next for TNT is release of new video `NOT FEELING ANYTHING` as well as live shows beginning June 22nd
What should people expect from a TNT show in 2018?
You can expect all the classics from 82 and on as well as 4 songs from the new album XIII
Also in 2018 brings the 36th anniversary of TNT. How does it feel to have the band push forward for nearly 4 decades now?
You know,we feel like aristocracy although we don`t have economic features. We are proud of the fact that we could release albums for 36 years,more importantly that past and present members have good health is more important than success.
What do you currently listen to?
I currently listen to CITY BOY, JOE WASH and DAVID SYLVIAN
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. With a great new album, a rejuvination in the band, and a great future to look forwartd to, I wish you and the rest of TNT nothing but the best. Before we wrap things up, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Thank you for showing true interest in our music. TNT is a band people can`t write off yet. In constant change and development. We hope our fans join us for the last years of this journey without preconceived opinions. All the Best
TNT- XIII is out NOW through Frontiers Music
It's not very often that a band can come back from the dead and become stronger than ever before. Velvet Viper proves that it can be done. After commencing the band in 1993, 24 years later, in 2017, Jutta Weinhold came back around to the idea of making Velvet Viper a force that needs to be heard in Metal once again. With that comes the latest album, Respice Finem which is out through GMR Music. I recently got to ask Jutta a few questions about everything going on in the world of Velvet Viper. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! For those that may be new to the band. How did this band come to be and what brought the band back in 2017?
I founded Velvet Viper after my old band ZED YAGO broke apart in 1990. We released two albums but the music industry underwent big changes in the grunge era of the early nineties. The split of ZED YAGO was a heavy blow for me and I for many years I stayed away from dramatic metal. Around 2010 I began playing the old songs again with the JUTTA WEINHOLD BAND and after some time I felt the need to write a new album. 2018 brings the return album of Velvet Viper, Respice Finem.
How does it feel to have a new Velvet Viper out this year after all this time?
It is such a great and fresh feeling to go on stage with completely new songs, but it was a long way until we could finally release the album. Bubi the Schmied, the original drummer of ZED YAGO, who had also played on the second VELVET VIPER album “4th Quest for Fantasy”, passed away this January and now we have a brand new line up with extremely talented musicians to support me. With so much time between incarnations of the band, there’s a lot of influences that can take place.
When bringing back the band, what did you want Velvet Viper to accomplish musically?
I wrote the songs with our guitarist Holger Marx, who is in the band since 2015 and we had the intention to continue the musical journey of ZED YAGO and the old VELVET VIPER albums. The foundation for all the songs is my lyrical concept with elements of fantasy, myths and folklore. This evokes a certain atmosphere for my vocal lines and I think this leads to a certain style of music which is recognizable.
When did you start to feel like Velvet Viper was finally getting into the right direction in it’s new formation? Was there a particular song, or riff or moment that grabbed your attention?
I had ideas for new songs going around in my head for quite some time and when we finally decided to do it, it felt instantly right. Our producer Kai Hansen kicked straightened some elements in the songs that were a little too far away from classic heavy metal, but in general the final versions are still pretty close to the original ideas. I think I knew it would be really good when I heard Michael Ehrés drum tracks.
What went into the writing process of Respice Finem?
I had a lot of lyrics on a big pile with ideas for melodies and song structures at home and I sat together with Holger, our guitarist, who had a lot of riffs and ideas for solos and so on, and then we started making demos (still with Bubi on the drums). Kai joined us in the rehearsing room to arrange the songs and then we had the final concepts for recording. Explanation: „Respice Finem“ Quidquid Agis Prudenter Agas et Respice Finem Whatever You Do, Do It Wisely and Consider the End Was immer du tust, tue es klug und bedenke das Ende.
How did you approach your work on the songs and lyrical content on Respice Finem?
It always starts with lyrics about a certain topic like Lohengrin or some experiences of Zed Yago, the flying durchman’s daughter I invented. This sets the tone of the song and leads to all the other things that make up a song.
On Respice Finem, you got the legendary Kai Hansen to produce the album, what was it like to work with him?
Oh, he is such a great guy and he knows so much about heavy metal songwriting and choirs and all of that and also found Corvin Bahn for us, an exceptional keyboard player whose contribution to the final album cannot be overstated. Kai also was involved in the mix, which was done by Eike Freese. Kai is a real Master of Confusion (that is a song title from his last Gamma Ray album) when it comes to being somewhere right on time, but he is a genius when he sits down and starts to work. How does it feel to be able to get back on stage as Velvet Viper and play new and classic songs for a new audience? I just love it, the new songs combine so well with the old ones and it is such a great feeling to play some of the songs from the 80s at the end of the show with my new guys. I hope we can do more shows in the future.
What is next for Velvet Viper?
We are working hard to become established again as a real entertaining live band. We will play some festivals and more club shows this year and if all goes well, we would like to do another album with the line up that is playing together live so well.
How do you feel the Metal scene has changed since the original incarnation of Velvet Viper wrapped up in 1993? For the Better? The Worse?
It is definitively different today. There are so many bands and you can look at free videos on Youtube and everywhere. Even the larger bands don’t sell that many albums any more and have to play lots of shows to make a living of it. Somehow music has lost its value because you can get it for free everywhere. But on the other hand people still come to live shows and listen intensely to music and the metal fans are really loyal even when you take a 25-year break.
With that, is there any more modern bands that you enjoy?
I am afraid I really live in the past in this respect; a lot of newer bands I hear have a great sound but no real songs and ideas. So far I have not discovered a new Ronnie James Dio or Bruce Dickinson.
What do you like to do when you are not focused on music?
That is really not very often the case. We have three cats at home and I like to do a brisk walk every morning. But mostly it is music in one form or another that occupies my mind.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I thoroughly enjoy what you have created with Respice Finem and I really hope this interview will inspire any and all people interested to check it out as well. Before we done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Thank you for doing this interview. Dear metal heads out there, go and watch your favorite band live on stage. That is the real deal! Rock 'n roll is bigger than all of us CAUSE THIS SONG IS NEVER ENDING All the best from Jutta of VELVET VIPER
Velvet Viper: Respice Finem is available through GMR Music
Let's just get this out of the way now. While in normal circumstances, the first half is January 1st- June 30th. While that is correct, that's not how it normally works when it comes to music releases. While some do release albums the last few weeks of the year, the typical tracking is January 1st through the 2nd week of December. If you want to be on a Best of The Year list, you are being a real jerk waiting till the last 3 weeks of the year to release an album. So there!
Anyways, let's get into the swing of things. The rules are stated in the title. This is the top 50 albums of 2018 in the first half of the year. This is in alphabetical order, not ranked order (that comes at the end of the year, as always). This is all of music I have had the chance to check out this year. Anything that came out June 1st or before that is not on this list either isn't technically an album, I didn't get to check out yet, or quite possibly, I just didn't enjoy.
That said, let's go!
The Absence- A Gift for the Obsessed
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
A band that's been away way too long is back in ever-loving full force. Everything about this band has improved and they have made some of their best material to date. Catchy, heavy, technical, brutal. Everything you could possibly want in a MDM album, but updated to fit the band's mold. Go support these guys. Absolutely brilliant.
Against The Grain- Cheated Death
FFO- Rock N Roll, Speed Metal, Punk
An absolutely fun Midwestern band that knows when to kick things into overdrive as much as they know when to take things easy. IF you love that classic 70s-80s Hard Rock vibe mixed in with intensity and fun; Against The Grain is the band for you. Cheated Death is their finest example to date of what they are capable of on record and live. You need fun in 2018, check this out.
Ails- The Unraveling
FFO- Black Metal, Experimental, Ludicra
From the ashes of the California Black Metal band, LUdicra comes the band Ails, which has fully formed their debut album. Bringing some of the best elements of their previous band into a more raw and experimental approach. If you want your Black Metal intense, immense and listenable, Ails is right up your alley.
Alkaloid- Liquid Anatomy
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Progressive Metal
How do you make the best of a bad lineup breakup? You make a new band and pummel everything in it's path! With Alkaloid's latest album, they completely scrub the animosity of Obscura away, forging further with their blend of Tech Death, Prog, Frank Zappa style quirks, and insightful scientific stories that with snap your neck on the turn of dime, yet make you think. It's a great feeling when a band can make you do that!
Amorphis- Queen of Time
FFO- Finnish Melodic Death Metal, Progressive Metal
There's not many bands that can be around as long as Amorphis and have the amazing discography to back up those years. Queen of Time is the next logical step for the band, incorporating more symphonic moments, amazing guest spots, and the brilliant songwriting that keeps Amorphis one of the best bands in the game. The era of their prog side continues to soar higher and higher.
FFO- Progressive Metal, Power Metal
Best Angra album since Holy Land. I don't think there's really more I can add to it than that.
At The Gates- To Drink From The Night Itself
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
The kings of Melodeath are back with their new album. The new album is a bit more experimental and proggy in comparison with the previous album, At War With Reality, but it fits so perfect. Everything you love about the band is here, but just more to it. ATG can do no wrong!
The Atlas Moth- Coma Noir
FFO- Post Metal, Sludge Metal, Groove
Without a doubt my favorite album from TAM to date. The dynamics on this album are stellar. The production is what the band always needed. The songwriting is top notch. This album has everything I want in this style but exaggerated to levels that really make every note stand out and have purpose. I couldn't recommend this more.
Bad Wolves- Disobey
FFO- Modern Metal, Hard Rock
This band features members of bands who all have been burned in one way or another (I know how that feels). After the burning stopped, they got together to make their own blend of Modern Metal and Hard Rock to make it stand out to the crowd and ESPECIALLY with the popularity of their cover of The Cranberries' Zombie, have put all their previous bands to shame (in popularity, music quality is subjective). The original songs on this album have the right amount of heavy and catchy moments that will catch your ears and draw you in. Sometimes when you listen to music so heavy, or so proggy or so underground, you just want a solid catchy album, that's what this album and band is in waves. I wish them nothing but the best, they deserve all the love they are getting.
Between The Buried And Me- Automata I
Funny enough, as I write this up, I just got sent Part II. In the interest of fairness, when it comes time for the end of the year, I may put these two together as one album...we'll see. But anyways. BTBAM came back in full force with Automata. Coma Ecliptic was a watershed album for the band and while they didn't abandon that sound, they did bring back the heavy moments that most fans crave. Simply put, if you dig the band, you'll love this album, even if you felt slighted in the past. Now after I'm done writing all this up, I'll be jamming Part II.
Bleeding Through- Love Will Kill All
FFO- Metalcore, Black Metal
I never expected to hear a new Bleeding Through album, but in 2018, here we are. Combining all the best elements that made the band stand out from the crowd, Bleeding Through comes back to make their style even stronger. You can't compare the band to any other of their era, it just doesn't work. But if you haven't heard them before, if you wanted your Metalcore to not sound Metalcore and your Black Metal to have more catchy appeal...BAM! Bleeding Through is for you, And why not start with their best album to date?
Corrosion of Conformity- No Cross, No Crown
FFO- Southern Sludge, Hard Rock
How many bands can get back together with their best known lineup over a decade later and put out their best album? Not many, but COC did! Combining the best qualities of the Pepper Keenan era of COC with the right amount of new flavoring makes this album a sheer joy to listen to. Start to finish, everything makes sense. If you ever heard of the band or loved the band for years upon years, please pick this up and support the revival of one of the best American bands around.
The Crown- Cobra Speed Venom
FFO- Melodic Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Wow, has this been an amazing year for Melodeath or what? As if the best bands of the genre didn't put out albums this year already, The Crown comes back and arguably puts out the best of them all. Combining everything that makes the band great with even more speed and intensity, The Crown shows every band that came after them how Melodeath is done with just enough Thrash to destroy all your senses. Phenomenal stuff.
Entransient- The Weight of Things
FFO- Progressive Rock, Dark Metal
Completely switching gears here, Entransient returns with their latest album that is a completely heart wrenching album in all of the best ways. If you never heard of the band, imagine an American style Porcupine Tree mixed with Katatonia. It can bring you down emotionally, but you feel so good listening to it. That is how it's done, folks! Give this a spin and thank me later.
Exmortus- The Sound of Steel
FFO- Speed Metal, Thrash Metal, Classical
A new era of Exmortus is here. While on the surface things may not have changed much, the foundation of the band changed, new styles are incorporated and the band is arguably stronger than ever. If you want your metal fast, heavy and forward thinking, Exmortus does it all and gives you the throwback of Classical influences that really makes the band soar above the rest. Check this one out!
Follow The Cipher- Follow The Cipher
FFO- Modern Metal
I'll put it bluntly...do you miss the sound of Amaranthe from their first two albums? Do you want more of that, but done even better and more bold? Follow The Cipher does that and then some. More daring and courageous, yet keeping that catchy, mainstream, modern metal sound in tact. This should appeal to you if you enjoy your Metal catchy. Follow The Cipher deserves to blow up like Amaranthe did. I can't wait to see what they do next.
Galactic Empire- Episode II
FFO- Metal Star Wars
Just like the FFO suggests, this album is filled to the brim with Star Wars covers done in a Metal vibe. No vocals, just instrumentally. To fit the name, the songs do feel very dark and brooding just like the end of Empire or Rogue One. It's just a really fun album and a great take on some classic songs (make sure to check out last year's album as well!).
FFO- Classic Metal, Evil
Boy oh boy, are Ghost the band the point of contention in the Metal community, eh? As least in my experience People either are enthralled with them or despise them. I am in the former. After completely breaking out with their last album, Ghost had to up the ante with this album. How did they do so? Well they keep their Mercyful Fate meets Blue Oyster Cult sound in tact, but they added a new flavor to their style...Queen. There are so many Freddie Mercury and Brian May nods on this album and it's a great thing to see. This album is not their heaviest, but it is the most musical. But I know how this works, if you love the band, you'll love this. If you hate the band, your mind is already made up and nothing can change it and for some reason my musical integrity is discredited for liking the band...fine. But just like your mind won't be changed, neither will mine. This is a brilliant band who put out another triumph of an album.
FFO- Blues Rock, Heavy Metal
Sometimes you need to step away to find...peace. Pun aside Graveyard has returned after their hiatus to put out some outstanding rockin' tunes. They are as fuzzy, bluesy, and heavy as ever, but with that new invigorated feel that you can't describe, but only can feel. Peace is what the band needed to keep going and I hope it lasts. Such a fantastic album.
Gruesome- Twisted Prayers
FFO- The band Death
Another point of contention band in list. Gruesome are unapologeticly a tribute to the great Death Metal band of all time...Death. Their latest release is their tribute to the legendary album, Spiritual Healing. It's not a covers album, its an original album that stays true to what this album is about musically, thematically and with overall presentation. Much like I talked about with Ghost earlier, you either get what Gruesome is doing or you don't. I get it, I appreciate it and that's why I love it. If you have your own (Individual) thought (patterns), check out Gruesome. They are doing a tribute album for every single Death album. You won't be disappointed if you get it.
Gygax- 2nd Edition
FFO- Hard Rock, Classic Metal, Nerd Culture
What a fun band this is. I mean the name alone should tell you everything you need to know about the band. It's fun, nerdy, doesn't take itself too seriously, and just wants to put out great music. That's exactly why it is such a great album. If you dig music like Thin Lizzy, The Sword and Wolfmother, this should be right up your alley.
Harakiri For The Sky- Arson
This band continues to improve with every single album. Every album gets catchier, stronger, and more thought provoking. Arson takes their blend of Black Metal, Shoegaze and Post Rock and make it stand out from the crowd with adding much more catchy moments and their best production to date. Go in with an open mind and this may end up being one of your favorite albums of the year. It definitely is for me.
Howling Sycamore- Howling Sycamore
FFO- Technical Death Metal with Clean Vocals
You didn't think it could be done? Have you not heard Cynic before? Anyways, this debut release has completely blown me away. While if you are a purist, the vocals will take a while for you to get (let's face it, some of you will not be able to), but if do get it, everything fits so perfectly here and really shows off that good music is good music, no matter what tuning it's in, no matter what vocal range is being used, and no matter what styles are blended. Such a brilliant album and I can't wait to see what's next for these guys.
FFO- Modern Metal, Progressive Metal
Much like Melodeath, 2018 has been a stellar year for debut releases. This is a prime example. Hyvmine comines what is being used in Modern Metal, Prog, Djent, etc but makes it beyond catchy and with so much soul. As if Dug Pinnick wanted to make a modern Prog Metal album. These guys are going to simply explode if they catch on and they deserve it. Outstanding work.
Ihsahn is literally incapable of making the same album twice. 'Amr sees Ihsahn embrace more of his 80s musical mentality and incorporate it with his innovative style of Progressive music he has been making since his solo venture debuted. It's nowhere near Black Metal except when it is. It's not Proggy except when it is, it's not catchy or mainstream except when it is. It's all of that but more! You gotta have an open mind to full grasp Ihsahn's solo work, but 'Amr is the closest thing he's done yet to being mainstream and it's such a valiant album for that. Just give it a spin and gather your own thoughts. You kinda need to anyways.
In Vain- Currents
FFO- Extreme Progressive Metal
Easily one of the most underrated bands around. Much like Ihsahn above, this is the most mainstream effort from the band, but that said, it's also a complex, invigorating showcase of Extreme Metal, Prog, and catchy elements and blend into a fantastic listen. Even Trivium's Matt Heafy gives his stamp of approval by signing on the album. Check these guys out and see what you've been missing out on all this time.
FFO- Finnish Melodic Death Metal
Quite possibly the most underrated of all Finnish bands, Kalmah returns with sheer passion and aggression on Palo. It's symphonic, catchy as all get go, brutal, and showcases such brilliant songwriting qualities. Finland quite possibly has the best track record per capita as far as quality metal bands go, check out Kalmah for another reason why that fact I made up is true.
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
Comeback album of the year? It's a strong contender if nothing else. The band hasn't felt this inspired since Serenity In Fire. After some much needed changes in the band, both musically and outside of the music itself, the band is firing on all cylinders and captures everything you love about the band. The brutal riffs rip your face off, the melodic moments are so pleasing to hear, and the more atmospheric moments capture something in the band that's always been there, but now finally shines through. Simply astounding work.
Letters From The Colony- Vignette
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
Remember earlier what I said about debut albums? This is another reason why 2018 has been amazing for debuts. Mixing Meshuggah, Gojira, Zappa, and leaving out all the moments of Djent you probably hate; Letters from the Colony shines through any monotony that has plagues through music in recent times and shows what can really be done in this style. Jaw Droppingly great stuff!
Light The Torch- Revival
FFO- Modern Metal, Hard Rock
Much like Bad Wolves earlier, Everyone in Light The Torch has gone through some hard times both in the band and other personal matters, It's great to see how after 75% of this band came from Devil You Know and returned with a mainstream Metal and dare I say....Rock album. I honestly find it to be such a refreshing change of pace. It doesn't venture into the Metalcore or Death Metal or Tech Death styles that members have been known for, but just writs simpler, yet punishing songs. Revival proves the point when you write the music you want to write, you will end up so much happier and when you have people who enjoy it as well, it's the icing on the cake.
FFO- Old School Death Metal
Do you miss the early day Death Metal of the early days of 90s Sweden? Fret no more as Lik returns with their 2nd album and its going to destroy your senses. This is a dirty, gritty, angry, and for that reason, sexy, Death Metal album that hearkens back to those glorious Death Metal days of Entombed, yet updated just enough to make it something you know can thrive in 2018. Superb work!
Lione - Conti- Lione - Conti
FFO- Power Metal, Progressive Metal
Bet you didn't realize that there was no animosity between both singers of Rhapsody did you? In fact, they wanted to actually make an album together showing off what they could do working together. The music is ferocious when it needs to be and so melodic when it calls for it. Plus, both voices sound so angelic combined together. This is what every Power Metal band should strive to be. One listen in and you'll understand why.
Long Distance Calling- Boundless
FFO- Instrumental Progressive Post Metal
Another band that is incapable of making the same album twice, LDC actually did a full 180 on their sound. Their previous album features vocals on nearly every song and got them the most popularity I've seen in their career. So they went ahead and made a completely instrumental album to counteract that. Don't mistake the wording, they only make what they want to make and a 100% instrumental album fits so perfectly at this stage in their career. Showcasing all of the best musical sides of the band, LDC feels even stronger than before and proves that the band will forever be, Boundless.
Lords Of Black- Icons of The New Days
FFO- Power Metal, Hard Rock
Lords of Black is quite possibly my favorite Power Metal band and this brand new album continues to show off why. While this album is far more commercial sounding than their first two albums, the band has not let go of what makes them stand out amongst the rest. The phenomenal vocal delivery, the undeniably astounding songwriting but now just a bit more palatable for those that more of a Hard Rock tinge. Seriously, if you're not familiar with the band, go check them out immediately. You'll understand why.
Lunatic Soul- Under a Fragmented Sky
FFO- Progressive Rock, Experimental
Quite possibly the most mainstream Lunatic Soul album to date? I'm as shocked as you are! The songs on this album are much more album focused and blend together so well in the format. I am not sure if this means Riverside will be getting heavier to counteract this change in Lunatic Soul, but I love what is going on here. If you like the early to mid era of Porcupine Tree (basically anything up to In Absentia), this will be completely up your alley.
Memoriam- The Silent Vigil
FFO- Death Metal
You miss Bolt Thrower, I know you do. While we will never get them again, Memoriam continues it's memory by forging it's own path in slow to mid paced Death Metal. With this sophomore album from the band, they have gained some notoriety, especially with the video for the song Bleed The Same. If you watch it, you'll understand their political side hangs to the left, which in a climate like 2018 where stating your political opinions could destroy, the band just wants to do what they feel is correct and if I can say so...they really have knocked it out of the park on all levels. You need some thought provoking Death Metal, even if you think opposite of what they do. Gain that open mind and enjoy some killer music in the process.
Mile Marker Zero- The Fifth Row
FFO- Progressive Metal, Alternative Rock
The very first concept album from this long standing band is exactly what we needed in 2018. A great concept, fun catchy songs no matter the dynamics and a sheer joy and passion that seems to be missing in so many bands as of late. If you haven't heard the band before, imagine Dream Theater meets A Perfect Circle meets Hurt. An excellent combination that makes for fantastic music you need to hear.
Oceans of Slumber- The Banished Heart
FFO- Doom Metal, Progressive Metal, Death Metal
After showing off what the band is capable of with their debut album, the band expanded their sound tenfold with The Banished Heart. The lyrics are absolutely devastating, the music is more melancholic and emotional, and the overall power of the band surpasses what even I thought was possible. While there are more slower numbers on this album, when it fully kicks in, it makes your jaw drop in the best way possible. You're not going to hear another band like this that does what they do better. Go grab this NOW! Probably grab some Kleenex while you're at it.
Orphaned Land- Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs
FFO- Progressive Metal
I've had this album since 2017 and I totally forget that it's actually a 2018 album. This concept album continues to show off the power and glory that is Orphaned Land. Be it acceptance of all people in the lyrics or just sheer amazement of the songwriting and arrangements that happen throughout. Even Hansi from Blind Guardian helps add to the power of this album. It's a sheer delight to listen to and while it goes through many phases, their message of acceptance is one that everyone needs to take to heart. The world would be such a better place if they did.
Panopticon- The Scars of Men On The Once Nameless Wilderness
FFO- American Folk Metal
If you're not familiar with the FFO above, simply it's folk metal but using the Americana and Folk, Bluegrass elements in the right ways. That's the best way to describe Panopticon, or at least what the band has become. This double album showcases both sides of the band perfectly. Disc I is the Panopticon that truly signifies American Folk Metal, while disc II is actually a bit of a departure of the band, completely taking out the Metal elements and writing a straight up Folk/Americana/Bluegrass album. This band isn't for everyone, but this band is 100% for me and it's awesome to say they are a Minnesota band. Give them a shot, especially if you want something new. They are a truly mindblowing band.
Primordial- Exile Amongst The Ruins
FFO- Black Metal, Folk Metal
Possibly Ireland's greatest band? At least in my eyes they are. Primordial returns with another epic journey of the senses, history and musical fulfillment. While not really straying from their sound, it's completely and utterly solid and that's all it will ever need to be. You need feel triumphant, well, this is the soundtrack to help make it happen.
Rivers of Nihil- Where Owls Know My Name
FFO- Extreme Progressive Metal
I'll go ahead and say it, this is my favorite album in the first half of 2018 and it's going to take a juggernaut of an album to knock it off the top spot at the end of the year. While I always loved the band, this album REALLY showcases what the band is capable of. Still containing their signature style of metal done on their previous two albums, they added atmosphere and prog that didn't realize the band needed in their sound. Moments of saxophone haunt you in the right moments while adding a hefty helping of Cynic to fill out their sound. Whether you have been a long time fan or just hearing about the band now for the first time in this post, you owe it to yourself to check this band out and see why the band has exploded in 2018. If any band deserved that happening, it's these guys.
Spock's Beard- Noise Floor
FFO- Progressive Rock, Rock
The most mainstream sounding SB album to date. It is just a completely solid Rock album from start to finish with the right amount of Spock's quirkiness and prog to let you know the band hasn't changed and are here to stay. Such a great, uplifting album for you all to enjoy.
Subsignal- La Muerta
FFO- Rush Meets Porcupine Tree
That is the best description of the band I can give. It's dark like Porcupine Tree but with the technicality of Rush, but somehow still makes their sound their own. If you even care the slightest bit about Prog, Subsignal will become a new musical obsession. La Muerta is the shining example of why. Plus you'll have 4 other albums to check out when you're done hearing this. So go...do it!
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
I'll be the first to admit it, I was really hoping to see a change in the band musically. It feels like since Altered State that they may have found the style that fits them and there was no need for change. Boy, was I wrong. Sonder brings back Dan Tompkins into the fold and with it, album showcases dynamics and style changes that I thought were lost forever. This is the TesseracT album we needed in 2018 and I'm so happy we got it. I can't wait to see where they go from here.
Tribulation- Down Below
FFO- Black Metal, Classic Metal
If you are not on the Tribulation bandwagon by now, I can only hope its because you never heard of them until now. Tribulation does every single thing right in Metal. They bring back the classic, evil sounds that are all but gone today, but mixes it with own blend of musicality. Down Below is the next logical step in the band's sound and it's easily their finest work. Hauntingly beautiful and catchy as all get go. The hypetrain is about to take off again, jump on now!
Unreqvited- Stars Wept To The Sea
FFO- Blackgaze, Depressive/Suicidal Black Metal
Simply put, is Deafheaven too hipster for you? Does Liturgy make so you mad that you wanna scream? Are you superficial enough to hate Ghost Bath simply because of their name? Check out Unreqvited. They continue on the trek of making Black Metal with atmosphere, but still showcase the breakdown of life that originally went along with it. The lyrics will break you in one way or the other and music is superb. And unlike most DSBM bands, the production is actually listenable and enjoyable! This is such a stellar album, go check out why!
Visigoth- Conquerer's Oath
FFO- Classic Metal
Do you want to find a band that you enjoy that can take moments of Power Metal and Classic Rock like Manowar, but not feel ashamed to admit to others you like them? Visigoth is here to save the day and slay everything in their path. Absolutely solid musicianship, fantasy lyrics that you can visualize in your head and production that fits right at home no matter how you check out music. Such an underrated band that needs your love. Give Visigoth some love today.
We Sell The Dead- Heaven Doesn't Want You And Hell Is Full
FFO- Hard Rock, Gothic Rock, Doom Metal
Combining members of In Flames, H.I.M. and Spiritual Beggars, writing music in the style of Candlemass meets H.I.M. and being inspired by Jack The Ripper. IF that doesn't sell you on this band, nothing will. It's a Melodic Doom Rock Triumph. And one of the most underrated albums of the year. Discover them now and give them the love they deserve.
Wolvhammer- The Monuments of Ash & Bone
FFO- Sludge Metal, Doom Metal, Black Metal
One of the most innovated bands around have returned with their latest album that will rip your heart out. Combining all of what makes the band stand out from the rest of the pack, the band continues to shine with their dark light making evil music that fits right at home on our playlist. As an added bonus, the album is FREE on their bandcamp page. The only reason for you not to download this is because you are lazy. Don't be lazy, be proactive!
And there you go folks, the Top 50 Albums of 2018 so far. I really hope you can find at least one album here you can appreciate and love as much as I do. The best part of this is that there's still another 6 months of 2018 music coming, I can't wait to see what comes next. And with that tune in next time in December for all of my Top Lists of 2018, including the Top 100 Albums of the year!
Nervosa is a Brazilian band that is continuing to destroy everything in their path. since their inception, they found an amazing blend of Death, Thrash, Groove, and killer instrumentation from everyone involved. June 1st sees the release of their 3rd album, Downfall of Mankind, coming out through Napalm Records. I recently got to ask Fernanda Lira (Bassist, Vocals) a few questions talking about everything you need to know about Nervosa in 2018...ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!
Fernanda: Thank YOU for the opportunity of talking about our new album :)
June 1st brings the 3rd album from Nervosa, Downfall of Mankind, coming out through Napalm Records. How does it feel to have the album finally coming out?
F: It’s a baby that’s born! haha Really, people have noon idea of how tough producing a new album can be, from having to find time to writing new stuff even when on the road most of the time, to the recording process, when , as an example of our last recording session, we spent sometimes over 13 hours a day in the studio! So seeing it all actually take form and finally be out is one of the most exciting and relieving moments there’s out there!
I immediately noticed that Downfall of Mankind is the most ferocious Nervosa album to date? The tempos are faster, the blast beats are even more insane and the vocals bring the most gripping intensity seen yet. Was this all intentional from the beginning or did the songs naturally come together this way?
F: We actually never set how exactly we wanna sound, once our writing process is really organic, it all happens very naturally. We always know we wanna step forward with a new release, and always try to make it better than the last one, but we don’t set anything sound wise. But i agree with you 100% on how different the songs are and that they sound more ferocious, and many of this is because of our new drummer. She comes from a death metal band. so she knew she would bring more aggressiveness, speed and technique to the songs, so we kinda created refs that would fit this, and in the end we noticed that we finally found out exactly how we wanna sound, we feel that with this album and with her, we really found our musical identity, which is this thrash metal thing, filled with a lot of death metal influences.
Another huge aspect I am enjoying is the insane production quality on the new album. What was it like to be able to get this quality production for Nervosa?
F: We decided to work with Martin Furia, which is an amazing producer that has already worked with some bands we love, like Flotsam and Jetsam and Destruction as a sound engineer, and he also was OUR sound engineer live for a couple of tours in Europe, and he’s amazing guy, with very good taste and who’s very patient, easygoing and creative, which makes the whole difference in the studio, at least for me. Also, when we and mainly he had in mind when we asked him to work with us, was to bring all our energy live to the studio album. Everyone who watched us live, knows how fierce we can sound and look on stage, so when he decided to bring this to the studio, it definitely also made a difference, that’s why it sounds more aggressive and rawer than the previous ones!
Never Forget, Never Repeat & Kill The Silence were chosen as singles. How did you decide on these two songs being chosen to represent the album ahead of the release? What has been the reception you have heard for the singles and album so far?
F: We wanted to have songs that not only had that ‘punch in the face’ kind of vibe, but also we’d like to have as singles songs that summarized all the elements people will listen throughout the whole album, and both of them have it: blast beats, speed, aggressiveness, catchy choruses, etc. People have been really impressed and surprised so far, mainly with Never Forget, Never Repeat, cause it’s definitely one of the fastest songs we have so far, and I’m not sure people were expecting that! The production is also something that people have been talking a lot about!
How did the album come entitled Downfall of Mankind?
F: All our lyrics are about crazy shit that’s been going on all around the globe, and i have the feeling if we don’t change every of those aspects and situation, we will be definitely marching towards our downfall. It seems it’s a pessimistic title, but it’s more of a realistic one if you pay attention to the news and society itself.
What is next for Nervosa? For those that haven’t had the opportunity yet, what should people excpet from a Nervosa live set?
F: We took a little easier this year so we could rest for a bit, so we’ll definitely be touring to promote the album, but not as extensively as the previous years, when we were playing around 150 shows a year! We have an European summer tour scheduled for this year, and many nice small tours and gigs in Latin America! Then on the next year, we’ll be definitely back on touring like crazy, all over the US. and Europe and we’ll be trying to play new territories, like Asia and Oceania, it’s definitely gonna be blast! Our set is very intense live, at least that’s what people say hahaha We believe being on stage is our dearest moment, so we always have a lot of energy to give and show, it’s a fun concert to watch if you like thrash/death metal!
With it being almost half way through 2018, do you have any favorite albums of this year so far?
F: I’ve heard the new Judas Priest album and it sounds amazing! There’s a couple other releases I’m looking forward also, like the new Behemoth and Krisiun albums, I’m sure they’ll also be around my favorite ones hahaha
What do you like to do when you are not focused on Nervosa?
F: When I’m home, i like trying to do nothing haha like really relaxing, doing things i can’t do on the road, like watching movies, going to the cinema, eating our with my family, cooking, riding my motorcycle… And also I’m a very spiritualistic person, so when I'm home i can do all my rituals hahaha like meditating, doing therapies with crystals, watching spiritualistic lectures and courses, lighting all kinds of candles and incenses, all this mystical stuff! haha Oh, and, of course, listening to a lot of pop to learn new vocal techniques, with Beyonce, Lana del Rey, Amy Winehouse! My neighbors hate me when I’m around hahahaha
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview? As a huge fan since the debut, it’s awesome to see how the band has evolved into what you are now and being able to help promote such a great album like Downfall of Mankind. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
F: Aw, that’s awesome, love to hear that and thanks a lot for helping us out and supporting, it really means a lot! For everyone else who’s reading this, i just say what i always say, keep on supporting metal and respecting the scene, we’re all the sole responsible ones to keep the metal flame burning!
NERVOSA- DOWNFALL OF MANKIND IS OUT JUNE 1ST THROUGH NAPALM RECORDS
Alien Weaponry is slowly taking over the heavy world, and their debut album hasn't even been released yet! June 1st sees the release of said debut album, which features the New Zealand band showing off the best of what they can do : Heavy riffs, strong lyrical content, changes from out of nowhere and so much more. I recently got to ask the band some questions to talk about everything you need to know about Alien Weaponry and the debut album, Tū. ENJOY!
For those that may not be familiar, describe Alien Weaponry.
We are a thrash/groove metal 3 piece who sing/write in Te Reo Maori (New Zealand's native language).
The debut album Tū is coming out June 1st through Napalm Records. How does it feel to have this album finally coming out?
Absolutely amazing, it's been so long in the making and to finally have it out it's going to be so satisfying after all the work we've put into it behind the scenes.
I truly appreciate the unique and diverse sound throughout Tū. Was this the original intent of the band since the beginning, or did this sound evolve over time?
We really just write whatever comes to us, so the album is sort of a representation of the band's mindset when we wrote each song. When we first started writing songs, we wrote in English, but we started to include Te Reo Maori in our music about 3 years ago. We originally did it because we wanted to enter a competition called Smokefree Pacifica Beats, but it sounded so good that we kept doing it, so now about half our lyrics are in Te Reo Maori. As well as the sound of Te Reo, there are some cool stories to tell and important issues to address pertaining to Te Ao Maori (the Maori world).
Holding My Breath and Kai Tangata have been chosen as singles for Tū. How did you decide on these two songs representing the album before it’s release?
As far as the album goes, Kai Tangata is about the heaviest track on there so putting it out as one of our singles was a no brainer because it is just a really killer track that really speaks to traditional thrash and groove metal fans. As for Holding My Breath, we felt it represents our more melodic side of songwriting. All of us are big fans of Trivium and I think you can really hear it in the track. Holding My Breath is also a really important song to Lewis, who wrote the lyrics, and expresses some pretty intense things.
What has been the reception you have heard for the singles and album so far?
The reception has been overwhelmingly positive and we're so happy about how many people have been contacting us to tell us how much they love the singles.
And, as far as I'm aware, everyone who has reviewed the full album so far has really liked it too. I don't think we could have asked for a better outcome.
Raupatu actually won an award back in September, the APRA Maioha award, for your lyrical commentary on New Zealand history. How does it feel to recive such an accolade and be able to bring up a difficult subject matter into a song like this?
First off, it's really humbling but I think, even more important than that is that it shows that our message is being heard, which is the whole reason we do what we do.
What is next for Alien Weaponry?
Well we're about to have our album release show in a week. We will be playing a few shows in Australia shortly after that and then flying over to Europe where we will be touring until early October. We are playing 7 festivals, including MetalDays, Wacken Open Air and Bloodstock, as well as a bunch of club shows, so yeah there's a lot, haha
For those that have not had the pleasure to see, describe an Alien Weaponry live show?
100 tons of neck breaking brutality. Although I think maybe we aren't the most qualified to answer that question, because we've never actually watched ourselves live!
Having talk to other bands in the country before, I’ve learned New Zealand has quite the diverse style, especially in heavy music. How does it feel being a part of such a great musical scene?
It's really great, there are a lot of very talented musicians and great bands in the metal community and actually in the music community in general in New Zealand. I think being such a small country really helps the individual scenes here to be very tightly knit.
What do you like to do when you’re not focused on Alien Weaponry?
Work on cars, mess around doing dumb shit with mates, driving and sleeping
Thank you very much for taking the time to be able to talk to me about everything going on in the world of Alien Weaponry. With being brand new to the band, I love discovering music like this that really captures my interest and makes me wanna go back and listen to Tū over and over again. I wish you all nothing but the best and I’m very interested to see where things go from here. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
I'm going to make a shameless plug, haha. The album is currently on pre-order, you can buy it off Napalm's website, so go and get a copy and support us!
Alien Weaponry- Tū is out June 1st through Napalm Records
First of all, for those of you that knew that the title was a reference to Pallbearer...good on you, we can be friends!
This is a mid year report for myself and I know what some people are thinking, "Hey it's mid-may, that's not REALLY the mid year point." In most cases, your right, but I am taking into the equation of taking the holidays off the last couple of weeks in the year, so adding that on to here, it equals out, so there. But getting back on point, I wanted to do a mid year report to let you know how I'm doing both in front of and away from the mic and let you know what's up.
First off I'll just say that this year has been quite the struggle for me, especially in the beginning on the year. I'm not going to air all my dirty laundry (till I get paid for my autobiography), but I will say that there's been a lot of issues that have been going on in my personal life with my family that have really taken a lot of joy away from me. At least for the last month or so, I have been able to say enough is enough and the issues have ceased. It was actually quite the heartbreaking thing to do, in essence, saying goodbye to your family, but I had to for a multitude of reasons. My Major Suicidal Depression being the biggest reason. It's not an illness I like knowing I have. When things are going good, I am doing good, when things are bad, I get really...really bad. But as mentioned earlier, I have been relatively ok for the last month or so and I truly hope it stays that way.
I also moved this year from one apartment in one city to another apartment in another city. Still in the Twin Cities area, but in a place that's much bigger, cheaper, and simply, better. I feel like the quality of the radio show and my audio interviews have improved greatly because of this (carpeting is such a great thing when recording your voice). For the first time since I moved away from home, I have a backyard! Which I deeply missed. I feel like I have the best of both worlds right now, in the city, but it feels like I am away from everything. It was absolutely needed.
At the time of writing this up, I am at 58 Interviews for 2018 and 475 in TOTAL! Never in my life did I imagine that I would have accomplished so much just by being myself. From anyone that checked out my earliest interviews to what I do now, you can hear the evolution: from someone who was scared witless of talking to someone that I didn't know personally, to being able to talk to anyone for an interview and make it feel like a normal, casual conversation between two friends. That was absolutely the goal when I started doing interviews: Make them feel like actual conversations and not ask the same tired, pointless questions. A new goal came with that down the road about clickbait, but let's talk about that a bit later. If things go according to plan, I should be able to hit 500 in the next month or so. I can't even fathom that I am about to hit that point so soon.
The radio show, is also going to be hitting it's 300th episode in the fall. I know the radio show gets so much less traction than the interviews do, but that is where my heart lies. I love not only talking to my favorite bands, but also being able to PLAY them on FM radio no less (yes it is more than just a podcast, you silly gooses). I was doing an early version of this show right before I started doing interviews, so it's great to be able to see the parallels and differences between the two and seeing how they evolve year after year. This week is my 280th episode. If you're reading this, go check it out. It's quite an awesome show showing off my talks with Amorphis and A Perfect Circle (I've always said it's an eclectic show that has something for everyone.)
The last great news is that my band, Systemic Collapse has recorded a 3 song demo that we are putting some final and new touches on. I have no clue when it will be available. I'm hoping sometime this year. We still have a lot to figure out. Everything from vocals to lineup to cover art and so much more that goes into being a band. After playing drums for 21 years, I'll finally have a release of my own to show off to the world, it's a great feeling.
Now onto why I called this mid year report why I did...a plea for understanding...
I love what I'm doing, I love every single aspect of what I am able to accomplish and share to the world as That Drummer Guy, but the internet has really changed for the worst over the last few years. For anyone that may not have known, I do everything as That Drummer Guy by myself. Every single aspect: the radio show, the interviews, writing up everything I do, checking out every single album in detail that I receive to see if I should support it or not, reaching out to bands and PR for promos, show coverage, and interviews, doing all of those things, advertising my stuff, promoting my stuff, sending my stuff to people. I don't have anyone on my end that takes care of any aspect but myself. No higher ups, no interns, nothing. I've tried in the past to try to line up partnerships and deals to do cross promotion, even do a full live version of the radio show for particular stations.
If you didn't understand anything I listed above, simply put, this is a one person operation. All I have to rely on is myself.
That is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that I have 100% free reign of what I cover, what bands I can cover, what Interviews I wanna do, what shows I wanna cover, what albums I wanna promote, etc. There is no higher ups telling me what I can and can't cover as you would get in other areas "That's not heavy enough!" "That's TOO heavy" " Don't Cover Prog" "Only Cover Metalcore" "Only cover bands on the radio" (That last one is my personal favorite told to me).
The curse is that....I only got me. I don't got the funds to make sponsored posts on social media, I don't have others to help spread the word of what I do, I don't have enough time in the day to do every single aspect of operations to make what I do as That Drummer Guy looking as professional as the bigger names out there in this field. I'm just one guy.
In the last couple months I have been REALLY reaching out on social media for advice on what to do to improve what I do as That Drummer Guy. Here are the main things that were covered.
1.) Make actual videos (i.e. myself in front of the camera doing interviews)
2.) Cover the trends that are popular now (i.e. reaction videos)
3.) Make headlines talking about the interviews you do and label accordingly
Let me cover why I don't do those three things now:
1.) Almost every single interview I do now is either over the phone, over skype or through a written email. For two of those situations, there is zero possibility of getting the other party to be on video for obvious reasons. The one exception would be skype. The thing is though, not every person wants to be video recorded, they have no problem with voice recording but not visually. I don't blame them. On press days especially, there is so much time and effort that goes into being on camera and looking presentable, by the time they are set, the interview time is gone. I'd rather have content than visuals of us barely being able to talk. Others may point out "Hey, didn't you used to do interviews in person? Do that again!" In person interviews are a nightmare to schedule, keep scheduled, line up, and make happen and in those cases, you get even less time to talk. You get enough time to talk about the new album and/or tour and you're done. (basically, 10-15 minutes and 0 chance of being able to go in depth with answers.) It has been so very rare where I have been able to get real, in depth discussions in person, simply because of the time factor. and getting back into the video aspect of those, same thing as on skype, to get prepared to look presentable on camera, especially on a tour, is so not worth the hassle for so many bands. I wanna make every interview I do as comfortable as possible. I know the bands that I talk to will have the terrible, clickbaity type interviewers just looking for headlines and dirt to get clicks...as I'll talk about later, that's not me. If I got a half hour to talk to someone, I want it to be the best half hour that musician(s) have that day that does not involve being on a stage in front of a crowd. It goes into what I talked about earlier, I cover what I want to cover. THANKFULLY, I completely run the gambit from Pop Rock to Black Metal to Grindcore to Progressive and sooooooo much more. Basically, if I do an interview with someone, it's because I dig their stuff and want to promote them to the best of my ability as a one person operation. I want to do nothing less.
2.) This I equate to trend hopping. Some trends actually become staples, some fade away immediately. I don't want what I do to be a fad, I want it to actually matter. Let's not even get into the legality of being able to do reaction videos without copyright infringement and getting strikes against my account on YouTube. That simply isn't worth it. Plus that's what the radio show is for. I can play those artists, legally, where you can judge if an artist is up your alley or not.
3.) Probably what could be my Achilles Heel. I know in my heart of hearts that this is probably the biggest thing that's holding me back, but here's why I don't make headlines out of my interviews...integrity! Some may call that a dumb excuse, but I don't. From the opening greetings and salutations to the final words, I want you to check out the FULL interview. I don't want my interviews taken out of context (Hell, look at the main page of this site to see what I'm talking about, I have a whole section dedicated to that happening without my authorization) Granted, when the bigger sites see my stuff, find something interesting in what I do and write up an article on it, I am eternally grateful. And ESPECIALLY as of late, they write out at least half the interview instead of just the headline they choose to show it off. All that said, if I pick a headline out, I'm basically making my own claim as to what is most important, a line that could be taking out of context, and could make the interview into something that it is not. If you want an idea of what the interview is about, I ALWAYS write a short description of what's talked about in each video: "New album, touring, upcoming plans and so much more" or some variation on that. I want it to be up to YOU what is important, I just ask the questions and engage, what's important is what you take away from it all. Headlines that decide for you what's important, and especially clickbait headlines that make your attention being grabbed and most likely not even really checking out the interview panders to the lowest common denominator. If that was my goal to begin with, I wouldn't even bother supporting the bands I actually care about and just reach out to only the biggest and drama-esque bands to get dirt. And I know that if I did, even with the quality of work I do, if I started doing that, I would feel like the biggest hypocrite and I would absolutely hate myself more than I already do (cause, you know, Major Suicidal Depression).
So here is the plea. Know that I am here to bring out the best quality one guy can bring you. A weekly 2 hour show covering rock and metal, interviews almost as soon as I conduct them available with just any mistakes or dead air cut out (unless there's some information I can't let out there) my year end album reviews covering over 100+ albums every year, and any other things I can scrounge up for you guys.
With that though, especially in the last couple years, means my stuff gets seen less. Facebook is an absolute joke these days, Twitter is a little better but not by much, YouTube stifled me so hard back in January where I will not make any money from there again till I hit 1,000 subscribers (I easily hit the 400 hours a year part, just not the subscribers) I went from having my stuff seen actively by those who care about what I do to hoping that the band or the bands' PR sees my stuff and shares it so it at least has a fighting chance of getting to people who may care about it.
I don't have the funds to do pay promotion, I can't afford a PR of my own, all I can do is be myself, do my thing and hope for the best. That's my plea. Know that I am trying so hard to make every single thing I do as That Drummer Guy matter. If you're reading this I hope I did an interview, played a song, reviewed an album, or showed you a band that you enjoy. That's what makes me different than a Hipster...I search out stuff you may not know about and actively WANT you to hear them and enjoy it.
I'm not on the edge of giving up. I have too much joy in doing this and in all honestly, it feels like the only thing I can offer this world, I don't have this I'm not doing anyone any good (a harsh reality). So if you enjoy what I do, please understand that I am just one guy, working in two shifts (one when I wake up, one before I go to bed) doing all that I can to make you care about music you may enjoy, what ever that may be. Without selling my soul, I feel like I have reached as far as I can as far as quality without massively changing how I do everything and again....selling my soul. So I just ask of you...a plea if you will, to continue supporting what I do if you enjoy it. Follow everything I do on Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube) Check out the radio show on the fine stations that air it (KROCKS/Zero Point Radio, and 13SRadio) and check the website (thatdrummerguy.com) daily to keep up to date on what I'm up to. I know I can't rely on social media letting you be able to see everything I do, by checking the website lets you know what's new; you just may discover your new favorite band...or a band you absolutely hate. You won't know unless you try.
So that's about it for me in this mid year update. I will be doing a Top 50 Albums of 2018 So Far the first week of June and of course the grand daddy lists in December covering EVERYTHING in 2018. Along with hitting my 500th interview, 300th episode of the radio show, and my 7th year of being That Drummer Guy to come down the road.
Until then, thank you for the support, basic line of caring, passing through to see what I'm up to, or even the silent resentment you may have for me. Love Hate o9r Meh, I need it all to keep going.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Midnattsol has been riding the waves of symphonic, gothic, folk, and power metal since 2002. With the band's 16th year, they will be releasing their fourth album, The Aftermath, out May 25th through Napalm Records. While there has been lineup changes in the past, this release brings on possibly the biggest change with Liv Kristine joining the band to share vocals with her sister, Carmen Elise Espænes. I recently got to to send Carmen a few questions about everything you need to know about Midnattsol in 2018. Enjoy!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.
Carmen: Thank YOU for doing this interview and for your support, it means a lot to us! :)
For those that may not be familiar, how did Midnattsol begin?
Carmen: The band was founded in 2002 by our ex-member Christian Hector and I. I had just moved to Germany and had a huge wish to write songs together with other ones. Christian had many connections and friends in the business and contacted the first members of the band. We wrote the songs for our first album «Where Twilight Dwells», and to our huge surprise, Napalm records was at once interested in giving out our album, and from then on everything went very fast. Album, tour, concerts, interviews – suddenly I didn't recognize my life hehe! We got such overwhelming feedback from fantastic fans all over the world! And now, soon 4 albums later, many of our fans still support us, even after so many years, which are very grateful for.
With the band’s fourth album, The Aftermath, coming out 25th through Napalm Records, how does it feel to finally get this album out?
Carmen: I can`t describe how happy we are that we finally made it to finish the songs and bring out the new album! Thanks a lot to everyone who supported us through all these years and never gave us up, that means a lot to us <3 It is always an exciting time when you have the songs finished and are going to release them soon, you have this special feeling in your stomach and just want to show them to your curious waiting fans hehe ;) We are also proud of the fact that we are going to release a limited edition of vinyls. Hope the fans will like that too!
How did the songwriting process begin for The Aftermath?
Carmen: In fact that the song writing process was very inefficient. We had so many ideas and couldn't finish the songs, because we focused on different things and musical directions. We also had different ideas how the songs should be written. Huge private changes in our lives such as getting children, building houses, new work etc didn’t make it easier. All in all, the years went by, but luckily, our keyboarder and organizer Daniel early 2016 said: "Guys, now we need to finish these songs, it`s now or never!" And then we started going through all the material and ideas that we had (which were a lot), decided what we wanted to use and rewrite, and we wrote some totally new songs as well. And the process went very well this time and made a lot of fun! :) It`s cool to think about the fact that we are able to write songs together, even though we live in two different countries!
Of course with this new album, also comes an addition to the band lineup? How did this come to be?
Carmen: When it was clear that it was only Daniel, our Guitarist Alex and I left in the band, we needed some more musicians. Daniel asked his good friend and skilled Guitarist, bassist and producer Stephan if he wanted to join the Midnattsol family, and he fortunately wanted to and started straight away writing songs. Suddenly out of the blue my soulmate and the best sister you could imagine, Liv, called me and asked if she should join the band. I was so surprised and of course I wanted to, it was like a dream coming true! She has such a beautiful voice and been in the business for ages now hehe ;) It`s also great to have Michael Kapelle stepping in as our session drummer for the upcoming release shows in May, we are very grateful for his effort!
With that, how has the fan base been receptive to the news?
Carmen: Oh the response has been absolutely overwhelming! Stephan crossed our way before, so the fans know him already a bit, and the news that Liv got in was more than a good one, that really made the day for many fans. A lot of fans have written to us during these years that they wish that we two sisters share stage again, that we sing more Norwegian songs together, and also that we should do a whole album together. Now their wish finally came true! :)
How was the recording process for The Aftermath? Did it go smooth, was there any hiccups along the way?
Carmen: The recording process was completely different from the others, because we did it ourselves this time. Most of the time it was absolutely great. It's so practical and great when you have children, and you can go to your studio for a few hours instead of being away for days. It was also a total new experience to have the chance to record something many times till you were satisfied. Unfortunately, my daughter was a long time at the hospital, so for a while I couldn't record that much. But I decided that I wanted to make the best out of it, and with such understandable band colleges, we made it together. Of course, as it often happens, in the end it was a bit exhausting and we had to work many nights as well in order to get it finished. But as you can hear - it worked!
Upon many listens, I can definitely hear more Atmospheric and Folk elements shining through The Aftermath, compared to earlier albums. Was this intentional or did that come about naturally?
Carmen: I totally agree! There were folk elements on the other albums as well, but on our new album «The Aftermath» I definitely think it`s even more, and this is a direction where we definitely are heading more and more. I feel inspired by folk songs and tales, and I love learning more about the earlier days. We didn't have any restrictions when we were writing the album, just total freedom to let the creativity flow, so we sang and played things we haven`t done before. That was a fantastic feeling, I really loved writing the songs together with the other ones.
I also love how well paced the album is from top to bottom. The Purple Sky is a great opener, and Forsaken is such a great album closer (also included the bonus track Eitrdropar a completely solid emotional closer on those version of the Aftermath) how hard was it to decide the track order of the album?
Carmen: Wow, thank you so much for the compliments, glad you like it! :) This time it was not very difficult to decide the tracklist. There was only one song that I can remember, that we talked about, and it seems we finally made the right decision.
The Purple Sky and Herr Mannelig have been released as singles. How was it decided upon these two songs to represent the album in single form?
Carmen: To be honest, it was a bit harder to make the decision about the singles. We thought that many songs would be suitable as singles, especially the final song «Forsaken» or the folky song «Syns sang» would also be worth as singles as well. Finally, we agreed with our record company to take» The Purple Sky» and «Herr Mannelig». The fans can at least listen to «Forsaken» in our teaser, and who knows, perhaps we manage to make another video, in one form or another ;)
What has been the reception to the new songs so far?
Carmen: Both singles, «The Purple Sky» and «Herr Mannelig» are so far very well received by the fans. The album is varied musically; besides the a bit darker and more complex singles, you have emotional ballads like «The unveiled truth», folk songs like «Vem kan segla», «Syns Sang» and «Eitrdopar», and also more midtempo songs like «Ikje glem meg» and «The Aftermath» and last but not least an instrumental song. We hope you like the new songs!!
So what is next for the band?
Carmen: We are preparing for our two release shows on the 25th and 26 of May every spear minute hehe. We are so looking forward to it! Afterwards, we will continue the promotion process, perhaps rest a little bit, and then we are very eager to start writing new songs again. The goal is to make the next song writing process the shortest one in Midnattsol`s history ;) Next year, we want to present our new CD at festivals.
With being able to promote the new album in a live setting, what should people expect from an upcoming Midnattsol show?
Carmen: Both sister together in one show, together with great songs and a great line up....our record label calls it pure magic and depth - that we want to reach! Last but not least we want to have lots of fun together with our great fans, and perhaps enjoy a beer or two together afterwards J
Has there been any recent album releases you have enjoyed?
Carmen: hehe, in my dreams, right now I am only listening to our songs and the songs we are going to play on our release shows! I know it sounds weird, but as a full time teacher, mum to three children and a big house, I don`t have any spear time besides the music. I am also listening a lot to some folk and local songs I a going to perform this Saturday at a birthday party, for example the British folk song «Drink to me only with thine eyes» and a well known song here in our district called «Tirna Noir».
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a long time fan, it was awesome to be able to ask some questions and help promote The Aftermath coming out on May 25th. Before we are done is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Carmen: Thanks to you too, once again! One of the goals of this album is to bring out an important message, we have to wake up before it`s too late! I feel that we are heading in a total wrong direction. We are destroying ourselves, other people, the nature, the animals – the whole earth, and are focusing on our looks, material things, power and money. The cover, the title and the songs are connected together as in a circle, and should remind us of this message all in all together. We think that there will be consequences of our actions, we can`t continue like this forever!
Midenattsol- The Aftermath is available May 25th through Napalm Records
Is Rock dead? Some circles tend to think so. I, for one, believe that as long as there is passion, innovation, and real joy for playing a style of music, it will never go away. Valhalla Lights continues to prove these points home with the debut album, My Gracious Highway. A completely solid album from start to finish exploring all side of Heavy Rock And Roll while putting their own tinges to the music. I had the opportunity to ask the band some questions to promote the album...ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.
No worries! Thanks for taking the time to ask us some questions!
For those that may not be familiar, describe Valhalla Lights.
Pretty much we sound like a wall of sound with soaring rock chick vocals and melodies that slap you right where you want to be slapped. We come from Byron Bay, which is a small surfing community on the east coast of Australia and is the center of an extinct volcano and is an area that is known for its natural fresh air, stunning beaches, rich volcanic soil and dramatic landscape that has been gouged out by hot molten lava. Yes we get inspiration from our surroundings and we definitely play explosive, hard edged melodic rock, so Volcanic Rock seems to fit us pretty well.
Your debut album, My Gracious Highway, is available now. How does it feel to have this album out?
Feels great! It’s been a journey full with high and lows and curve balls, and now it’s time to take it where it needs to be..the US. A place that’s obviously a bigger market with a larger population than good 'ol Oz. This album is the album that we have always wanted to create. My Gracious Highway is exactly how we envisaged it and we are proud of it and we hope you love it!
How did the songwriting process begin for My Gracious Highway?
It began with a strange combination of sadness with the passing of our last singer, coupled with a new and supercharged excitement of moving into a new era with our new singer Ange! There was also a whole arsenal full of songs with each possessing that little something special for the record. We couldn’t wait to share that..All of us had never been so pumped, so excited and so ready to create and for us to move things to a new level. We went on a writing mission and the songwriting just flowed. There was so much pent up emotion and energy that everything just came out. We have had a very traumatic few years, and this album is like “yes…. we made it… we persevered as a band and pushed through all of the difficult times… and this is it!”. It has all of our energy, all our frustration, all of the things that we want to express. It is the complete sum of everything for us. We pooled all of our experiences and we in to the best studio we could find and smashed out the best fucking album we could.
How was the recording process? Was it smooth or was there any bumps along the way?
The recording process had its little challenges, the usual differences of opinion that summate to create an even stronger record, but overall it was pretty smooth, on time, on budget and seemed to flow. We worked with our good friend Anthony Lycenko as producer. We had worked with him on previous albums when Deon, George and Brent played in FORT together. Unfortunately it will be the last time that we work with Anthony as he took his own life a couple of months ago. This has given this album an even more special meaning to us, because without Anthony’s great engineering and little suggestions along the way it would not be the album that it is.
Through repeated listens of the album. I just hear so many great moments of Rock. Heavy, bluesy, melodic, catchy. Was this always the intention of the band or did this style come naturally?
There was never any intention to sound a certain way. The sounds you’re hearing are just 4 people wearing their heart on their sleeves and delivering it like their lives depended on it. We’ve all come from a background of solid, old school, tube driven, high quality gear. That’s why to this day I just cannot understand bands walking into a venue with next to nothing just expecting to play whatever gear is on offer and expecting to sounds good. Our gear is our sound, you cannot replicate that playing shitty gear or someone else's gear..you just can’t. It’s important to all of us that we retain that wall of sound for all to see, hear, smell, taste and feel. We just get together in room and play what we think sounds good. We are brutally honest with each other, and we push each other to thrash out the best music we can make.
What has been the response to the singles released so far?
Most people are blown away by the albums production, it’s songs and the fact that we’re from Byron Bay Australia and not from some major city like LA, London or New York. They are also spun out when we tell them we did a music video for almost every song on the record, and created cover art for each song that interlocks into a larger art for the full album cover kinda like a jigsaw puzzle. If you click around our website you will see a video explaining how that works. It has been really satisfying to be receiving airplay throughout Australia and also in the USA. The Valhalla Lights fans have been super supportive, our live show crowds have been growing and the feedback has been great.
What would you want people to take away from listening to My Gracious Highway?
We are super proud of My Gracious Highway we hope it takes people on a journey as it has for us. For us, that journey is about always taking the high road to remain true to yourself. It is about always making the best decisions possible, and doing the hard work to get the best out of ourselves. We put everything into the music that we create, and we push each other to be the best we can be. My Gracious Highway is us in an album. Each will take home something different and hopefully it will serve them in their life as a tool for happiness and provide a nice little moment of rock and roll bliss..
With all of the great touring opportunities you have had so far, how much do you feel the band has grown in a live setting?
Our live set is hitting a new benchmark each time.. Doing shows with Sebastian Bach from Skid Row, Gilby Clarke from Gun’s n Roses, Baby Animals and The Superjesus was a great way for exponential growth. The backbone of Valhalla Lights (George on Guitar, Brent on Bass and Deon on Drums) has been playing together for around 17 years. We were in “Fort” that did national Australian tours with Clutch (2x tours), Kyuss Lives (now Vista Chino), Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork (, Nebula and shows with Monster Magnet, Helmet, the Black Keys, so we have always been a rock solid live band. Ange grew up surrounded by a musical family and her mother had always been in bands even when pregnant. Ange’s mother said that she was on stage singing and Ange would be would kick like crazy. She was definitely trying to get out to get her hands on that mic! We live for playing live. That coupled with an obsession for bigger and better shows, always rises the bar as far as our live show is concerned.
Over the years, I have learned about so many great Australian bands of so many different styles, yourselves included. How do you feel about the Australian music scene as compared to other areas of the world?
Australia has a lot to offer, it’s beautiful cities, it’s beautiful beaches, it’s people and the many bands that have already put Australia on the map.It’s always delivering something to rival American and European markets and now it’s got us. The thing about Australia is that it is a long way between shows. The land mass is the same as the US, but the population is only 25 million. It is easy to overplay, so we focus on doing a run of shows up and down the east coast a couple of times a year. We think that the likes and dislikes of the people are the same, just everything is more spread out. We are looking forward to getting to the US to smash the stages there.
What is next for Valhalla Lights?
What’s next for Valhalla is continuing to push the envelope with touring, writing and getting it out there to as many people as possible. We are currently working on putting together a run of shows in the US. Watch this space! That dream resides inside for all of us. We all have the usual commitments as everybody else, the jobs, mortgages, families, relationships, but we all remain focused on delivering this album far and wide and to keep on keeping on.
With being a part of music for as long as you have, how do you currently feel about the state of Rock in 2018?
Marilyn Manson said that ‘Rock is deader than dead’. Gene Simmons says rock is dead. I say that it is alive and well! Rock is definitely going through a transition stage and is in a state of flux. The thing is that there is a massive amount of great bands, and with cheaper recording options there is plenty of rock music being made, but in the words of the great AC/DC … it is a long way to the top! It’s just a much harder musical climate and there’s just so much congestion..it’s a bit like going into the supermarket.
Valhalla Lights- My Gracious Highway is available NOW
It's always great to discover new music that has a different style that truly stands out from the crowd. That is what Screaming Beast is accomplishing with their debut album, Our New Narrative of Hate, which is available NOW. I had the honor of asking the band a few questions about everything you need to know about this band last week and they got back to me with their answers. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!
Thanks for having us.
For anyone not familiar, describe Screaming Beast.
It’s always hard for artists to say we are this or that as we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves but if you made us we would probably say we are a groove metal band with some stoner metal tendencies. Riff-based metal might be another way to describe the music. Lyrically there is life experience and some politics in there but it’s not in your face.
Our New Narrative of Hate is coming out this Friday. How does it feel to finally have this album coming out?
It’s been a long time coming that’s for sure! It started back in 2013 with Dan and Anton and it needed to become a band before we could get it done. The addition of Arun, Rory and Jason really gave us some impudence to get the album finished and start building a name for ourselves.With two previous EPs (2013’s Blistering Lies & 2015’s To Assail and Conquer) how does it feel to have a full fledged album to your name? It’s very much like you have found some completion, you have got to where you were going and you get some time to take in the view. But it also frees us up to start working on the new stuff knowing that the previous journey is complete.
How was the songwriting process and recording process for Our New Narrative of Hate? Did it go smooth or were there and bumps along the way?
Haha! There are always bumps recording. When Jason came onboard he brought with him a more classic sounding bass (think John Paul Jones) which is not what you find in modern metal and sonicly it presents some issues so there were some adjustments needed on both sides but we found a sound that works (bump or great journey you decide) .The songwriting process is a bit convoluted as Dan lives in Sweden so ideas are passed to Arun (who is the keeper of the music) who cleans the ideas up to pre-production state then it’s sent to Dan who, through magic and trickery, makes it sound like Screaming Beast. We all work from our own studios so the writing process can be a bit lonely but on the plus side it gives everyone time to arrange their thoughts regarding the songs and we generally have 5 or 6 different versions of every song until we all agree on which one we are going with.
How did you approach your work on the album? What gear did you personally use?
It was a pretty smooth process for me, as Dan and I are similar players stylistically, learning the songs was quite a quick process for me. Having jammed some of the songs in a previous musical incarnation, it all came flooding back. As for the solos I contributed, I did them through a mix of improvisation and composition. Sometimes I had an idea of where I wanted to go with certain phrasing, and the rest was improvised until I found something I loved.My live set up: I us e two Jackson KVX10 King V guitars, both modified with Schaller floyd rose bridges and Seymour Duncan Black Winter pick ups. Strings I use are D'addario 13-62 for the B standard stuff and 13-66 for the drop A stuff. I use an Engl Invader II and Pro 4x12 cab as my amp. Pedal board consists of a Line 6 G50 wireless, TC Electronic tuner, ISP Decimator noise gate, TC electronic mini corona chorus and mini flash back delay. I also use an Engl Z9 footswitch.
This was way out of my comfort zone, mainly due to the speed, so I had to spend a few weeks getting my right hand technique up to spec as I did not want to go down the plectrum route as I prefer a finger style so it was back to the Billy Sheehan tutorials. My recording setup is pretty much the same as my live setup except I take DI’s at every stage of the signal when recording. Cort SP Artist 5 string with rotosound 65-135 nickel strings into Line 6 Helix for compression, EQ and a bit of magic into a EBS HD360 amp and EBS 1x15 and 4x10 Neoline speakers. I might also add a bit of the old sonic maximiser which I find helps bring a little sparkle.
My approach to the album was side on, downwind and with extreme caution.My live and recording setup is identical; Ibanez Iceman into a tube screamer and a HM-2 into an Orange OR50 with an Engl 4x12.
I approached the work slowly, one track at a time. Building my lyrical concepts around the melodies of the songs. I try and follow the natural emotions and intensity of the main riff. I recorded with Dan using an SE2000 and with Jason using a Sennheiser Mk4.
My goal was to get the overall Screaming Beast sound that is in my head onto the computer, I tend to use the same set of plugins and record the guitars dry and then spice them up in the box. For the drums we use a blend of live and Superior Drummer to achieve the right sound. For drums recording and live I use Tama Superstar drums, Evans heads and Zildjian cymbals my guitar rig is a secret but it starts with an Ibanez and finishes with awesome sound after much magic has happened. It’s still simpler than Jason’s rig though!
At the time of writing this, you released the album to stream through your YouTube page. What has been the reception to the album so far?
The USA seems to like it a lot based on College radio plays and we are getting some good plays in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK.YouTube response seems pretty positive and we are waiting to see the Spotify analytics
As a newcomer to the band, I really love your guys’ style. Such great melodies and crushing moments mixed with distinct vocals and songwriting. Was the original intent of the band or did you come to this sound naturally?
That is so kind of you to say. It was more organic than predetermined but we were always looking to be a riff based metal band as that is what we love to listen to.Anton's vocal style definitely suits a riff based sound as the listener can get into the groove quickly and start to focus on the message Anton is trying to get across. Head nodding and brain entertained is the key!
Despair got an official music video release. How was it decided that would be the song to help represent the album before coming out?
We all really love that song, it’s got such a groove and is a reel pleasure to play so there was not much discussion as it just seemed an obvious choice.
What is next for Screaming Beast?
We have plans for 3 more videos this year and we are already working on the next album which we have penciled in for an early 2019 recording. We want to get out and playing live and we are working with some promoters to get that done. Our next gig will be an all-day festival in Manchester UK June 2nd 2018 at the Bread Shed (https://www.facebook.com/events/1327141980720291/)
Now with a complete lineup, what should people expect from future Screaming Beast live shows?
Energy and fun. We want the crowd to be headbanging, dancing and having fun and we will bring you all the energy you need to do that.
What do you do for fun outside of Screaming Beast?
I play in other musical projects, which include other types of metal band and also a covers band. Outside of that, pretty normal stuff like seeing my family, my friends, going out for food, cooking..... I like to go for walks and travel to places although I don't do those as much as I would like to. Hoping for a good summer to get out and about!
I like to trail run, generally keep as fit as possible and I love reading science fiction. When they are on tour I like to get out and bother Twelve Foot Ninja until they give in and get drunk with me.
Ride bikes (a lot) and mainly eat pizza. I think that pretty much sums it up!
I lift heavy weights, read and debate with anyone that will listen ha.
I have no life outside of music and work. If I did have any spare time I would go get drunk with Jason.
Besides the new album coming out on Friday, what other music would you recommend people to check out?
God Shaped Devil and Endeavour.
Twelve Foot Ninja, Evil Scarecrow and Footprints in the Custard (their live show is something else!)
A couple of mate's bands I can highly recommend: Hacride and Carpenter Brut from France. Also, a pal's band from a while ago who sadly are no longer active: The Mire from Brighton. Their album Glass Cathedrals is still really up there for me. Loads of awesome riffs and grooves!
I would recommend Footprints in the Custard, Ten Foot Wizard and The Hicks.
Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Night and Endeavour
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview to promote the debut album from Screaming Beast, Our New Narrative Of Hate. As a new fan I really dig what you guys do and is easily one of my favorite discoveries in quite a long time and I’m excited to see where you go from here. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Check out our YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/uWBz7igWnU4 or search on Screaming Beast) for our new video for Despair from our debut album Our New Narrative of Hate .The album will be available on all digital platforms from March 23rd and will also be available on CD from CD Baby (https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/ScreamingBeast)
Memoriam is back in just under a year with their Sophomore album, The Silent Vigil, coming out March 23rd through Nuclear Blast. With the debut album being filled with loving nods to Bolt Thrower, The Silent Vigil is filled with anger, heartache, and a realistic look at the state of the world. I had the opportunity to ask bassist, Frank Healy a few questions about everything going on with Memoriam in 2018. I hope you enjoy it!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! The sophomore album from Memoriam, The Silent Vigil, is coming out March 23rd through Nuclear Blast. How does it feel to have this album come out, almost a year to the day after the debut album, For The Fallen?
Well it's what we set out to do and what's happened! We come from an era when our favourite bands used to knock out an album a year in the 80's, early 90's and we decided we would do the same. Instead of working and reworking a song over and over again which I think can sometimes dilute a song we just write one and move on leaving it in its raw state so what you hear now is more or less as we wrote it. It's great that we've done what we set out to do in this respect because we already have a backlog of songs for the next album so need to get on with it.
How did the songwriting process begin for The Silent Vigil?
As always our guitarist Scott comes up with the main bones of a track and puts it in Dropbox for us to listen to and say yes or no. Then we just jam and pool in our ideas,tempo changes,middle sections etc and that's it,Karl usually gets a feel for the song and then by the following week usually has the lyrics done and off we go onto the next track !. We have always worked fast and it suits us to just stumble on keep banging tracks out fast and furious.
How did you approach your playing for The Silent Vigil?
Well once we have the track in a semi ﬁnished state I tend to harmonize Scott's riffs/notes to fill a song out a bit more,sometimes I just go off on a mad one and play a completely different undercurrent riff to keep it interesting. As a four piece with only one guitar you need to ﬁll out songs more and give them more flesh in a live situation.
I’ve noticed that the emotions changed almost drastically between For The Fallen and The Last Vigil. Where the former was more focus on loss and sadness, the latter features a lot more anger both musically and lyrically. Was this intentional or did that happen naturally?
Yes it was intentional in the end,the ﬁrst song we wrote after the "For The Fallen" album was "Nothing Remains" which again was taken from a personal angle by Karl whose mother is in the advanced stages of Dementia. The frustration,helplessness and anger manifested itself in his lyrics to that track and that in turn has spilled over onto most of the other tracks on The Silent Vigil". As for the music? It's just a development from album one in my eyes, we've worked together for a while now and are a lot more comfortable trying out new approaches and styles to our songs. Being in the middle of it all I'm not really able to be objective about it. Maybe when the album has been out for a while I can look back on it and see the changes in our music.its a bit too fresh at the moment though to be able to do that.
Bleed The Same was chosen as the first single to promote the new album. How was it decided that this would be the first song to represent the album?
Bleed The Same was chosen mainly because of its message in the lyrics. I'm sure the lyrics are clear enough for you to hear and understand why we chose it !. Secondly, we like to release a slow song first, ease the listener in so to speak before the riffing onslaught of the rest of the album. We did the same with "Reduced To Zero" from "For The Fallen" when that was released. Give everyone's ears a chance before pummeling them !
The video for Bleed The Same is something I truly appreciate being represented visually. Though there has been a lot of praise and backlash for said video. How do you personally feel about the reactions to the video?
As long as it generates a response then lyrically the song is doing its job. I am personally happy that it has caused debate from left and right. Anything that can provoke a reaction good or bad is a good thing to me. Things like this should be talked,debated and argued over, if it's getting people to think about it and discuss more then our work is done.
With that said, how do you feel about the state of the world in 2018? Is there any way you can see things becoming more civil in the future?
I personally feel that certain countries are being led by clueless fucking lunatics at the moment. In the U.K we have Theresa May backtracking and changing everything her government promised with Brexit and making a complete clusterfuck of the whole situation without even trying too hard, then you have Donald Duck the American president tweeting like a child who has had his lollipop knocked out of his hand. That man has his ﬁnger on the red button and he really cannot deal with the reality of his position. Something has to give soon,we cannot leave people with the mental capacity of a boiled egg in control of millions of sane people can we ?. Saying that , I am optimistic about sense eventually coming through, just not yet though!
Coming up this month, there will be some UK shows in promotion of the new album. How does it feel to be able to play some shows in promotion of the new album?
We don't really think about it too be honest, some of the songs on the new album we have been playing in our live shows for over 6 months. It will be good to try a few more out in a live situation though as we tend to get bored quite quickly as a band so need to be playing something new all the time. It's good to have two albums worth of songs now so we don't have to rely on cover songs to ﬁll our live set up!
What should people expect from a Memoriam live show?
Don't expect anything then you cannot be disappointed!. It's just going to be more of the same. I suppose the noticeable thing about one of our shows is the audience can see that we are genuinely enjoying ourselves on stage together, that rubs off on the audience which in turn we feed off. Everybody's happy with that situation!. We are just going to plod around various countries like we usually do, getting into trouble, getting drunk and playing metal!
Was there any albums you enjoyed that came out in 2017?
G.B.H "momentum" album. Class people,class band,class album
Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me about everything going on in the world of Memoriam. As a huge fan of the band, it was awesome to be able to get more insight into the band and be able to help promote The Silent Vigil coming out March 23rd through Nuclear Blast. Before we are done is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
Cheers,see you all at a show hopefully.
Memoriam- The Silent Vigil available March 23rd through Nuclear Blast
When the average metalhead thinks of Metal from Brazil, their mind will immediately go to Sepultura. While Sepultura did influence so many bands with their style of Thrash, Groove, and Death Metal, there was another band that started in the 90s that took over the Progressive and Power Metal world....ANGRA! The band has gone though many changes over the years, not only musically, but lineup wise as well. Arguably the biggest lineup change came when guitarist Kiko Loureiro took his leave to join Megadeth. But with this change came the brand new album from Angra, OMNI, which is available NOW through earMUSIC. Before the album came out, I had the opportunity to ask founding member of Angra, Raphael Bittencourt, a few questions about the world of Angra in 2018. I hope you enjoy it!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!
Well, I thank you for the opportunity, for the interest, for the support and anything.
February 16th brings the release of Angra’s 9th album Omni. How does it feel to have this album coming out in just a couple weeks for all of us to enjoy?
First of all sorry about taking so long to answer to these questions. And it feels great to bring this album out at this moment, it really represents that the band has still lots of passion for music, passion for metal, passion for working and this business and the metal scene. We have been reborn once again.
As some of my favorite Angra albums are written, this is a concept album. What is the concept behind Omni?
OMNI is a word that means “all”. No like everything but a single thing that connects everything making a whole, like an omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence thing. All the stories and all the ideas behind it is about the fact that everything in life is a movement of contraction and expansion between the absolute nothingness and this concept of wholeness. And through this we start to think about other dimensions, other possible things that we don´t think it´s possible, but quantum physics are now proving that they are more than possible. They are very near to us. Other expressions of reality are becoming more and more a fact than science fiction. So there´s the concept that all is together any many other arguments and subjects like we've written this album as a whole. The band was very close together and we worked on the songs as a team, as a collective thing. It also summarizes everything that has been done in the past for Angra. I believe that we have the first ten years as a thesis, as an idea has been brought with Power Metal combined with Brazilian music and symphonic music and progressive stuff. So an idea was born. After ten years there was this huge line-up breakup. We brought an antithesis with a new band with a new line-up. We were now becoming more aggressive, we were now becoming a bit more progressive in some ways. And now, a third era is born; what we call the syntax - So making a reference with the Greek rhetoric. I´d say that the Greek rhetoric is usually based on a thesis, an antithesis and the syntax that summarizes the common points between these oppositions. OMNI is also representing that syntax – the point for the band where we learned and we grow with the best experience with our past history. I believe that mankind is now getting ready to get into an era of syntax. An ear that will start on 2046 because some people are being born now and they will be around their thirties in thirty years of course. And it´s a new kind of human being that will certainly change this world. Starting with the fact that they will together build and artificial intelligence system, cognitive computing system that will make a huge transition to our own cognitive systems. So in thirty years from now a huge change in the human cognitive system will happen. Due to the evolution of our brain that will be a natural thing. Together with the revolution of energy sources like oil, we will be less dependent on oil and together with economic and financial revolution, because we will be less dependent on money or gold and material resources. Virtual coins and virtual money will take a huge presence in the future world – in three decades from now.
I have gotten the chance to be able to check out Omni for quite a bit of time now and I really love what the album has to offer. So many elements of what always drew me to Angra is represented in full force, while expanding upon new ideas. How did the songwriting process begin with Omni?
That´s a good one. It all started out of jam sessions. We were touring with Tarja Turunen – we were the opening act for Tarja in Europe two years ago. We had lots of fun. We were very well treated by her and her crew. We were always happy and hanging around and started some jam sessions backstage. That was awesome, because we didn't mean to write songs. We didn't mean to write an album. We just met to hang out and make music. Sometimes we grabbed the garbage can and forks and knives with plates and started making rhythms out of it. We have recorded the whole thing. That´s how it all started. A few months afterwards we started to seriously listening to this stuff and we started to add other stuff that we were individually writing. Then we started to get together to listen, to practice and try to find some riffs and some melodies for this stuff. It was a very natural and fun process. I can say that it has been quite a while I had so much fun writing an album like this one.
With Kiko Loureiro taking a hiatus from Angra, and Omni behing the first album without him, how did the songwriting dynamic of the band change when Marcelo Barbosa coming into the fold?
The biggest difference was not having Kiko by my side. But I was writing most of the stuff with Felipe Andreoli – the bass player – who has been with us for already 18 years, which is a long time. He is a very experienced and skilled musician. We started to have a great chemistry with him right away. We have been friends for a while and Kiko has also suggested to replace him. Not only Marcelo was a good songwriter partner, but he also changed completely the dynamic of the band. The shift of one single member makes a huge difference in the overall dynamic. Marcelo was so happy to be in the band. He is a very experienced guy. He has got a guitar school, he is promoting guitar events in Brazil – like international clinics with every guitar player that you can ever guess. It was fun, because the band – Fabio, Bruno, Marcelo – they were very fresh to that. Only me and Felipe were older in that situation. So we could capture that freshness into some new elements and new ideas to rewrite our own history.
Light of Transcendence and Travelers of Time have been represented as singles for Omni. How did it come to be to pick out these two songs as singles?
Actually “Light Of Transcendence” was an accident, because it was played in a radio show in Japan. It went out as an accident, because the record company let it out with no notice. “Travelers Of Time” represents a little bit the now moment of the band. It´s not the fastest one, it´s not the typical Power Metal. It has got some progressive elements, it has got some Brazilian rhythms and it summarizes a lot what the band is at this point. It´s a good song but it´s not our best song on the album. I wanted people to have a zip of what the album tastes like but I didn't want to frustrate them with no other surprise. So I kept some other surprises, some other songs like “OMNI – Silence Inside” which is a great song or also “Magic Mirror”. I thought “Travelers Of Time” would be very objective and representative of the band.
Omni also features a number of fantastic guest appearances that really heighten the intensity of the album. How were these guest appearances decided upon and able to happen?
We have been inviting guests for our best albums. And it´s always nice to perform with your idols. This time we didn't want too much that people think we´re doing marketing out of these guests. But we like it to be very sincere. Whenever we invite someone to be part in our album it really needs to have a purpose. We have been to 70000Tons Of Metal two years ago and had the chance to see Alissa performing live. I realized that I was in front of the greatest metal artist performing nowadays. She is a diva, she is a metal queen, she is just great. She delivers 100% of what she records in her albums and she is a great performer with great charisma. It´s just hypnotizing to get Alissa to our album. So we all in the band were amazed and we thought we must have her in our album – we must do something with that artist. The Fabio said that he got her contact, because he toured with Kamelot and she is a friend of one of the guys from Kamelot. So he asked her and she did accept because she is a friend of Fabio. We were all very happy with this, we were celebrating and cheering because Alissa is going to perform with Angra. Well Kiko is out of explanation. He is not in a hiatus. He is out of the band as he is now performing with Megadeth and after Megadeth maybe with another band. So he has got no intention to get back to Angra. We have found our way without him. He is still a great friend of mine and everyone. He is still taking part on decisions that concern our past records. He still gives suggestions about what we want do with no obligation. Just as a friend. And it was as a friend that he took part on the song “War Horns” in our album to show the people that he is out of the band and he has got his own career which is going huge nowadays. But he is still a friend of ours and he is still glad to take part in our albums. Well and Sandy is a huge artist here in Brazil and a very bright and beautiful soul. She is a diva here in Brazil and started her career when she was six years old. She was singing children songs and we all know her in Brazil for a long time. She is a friend of ours, she is close to us. When I came up with the idea of “Black Widow´s Web” and the personification of the social media into a female stereotype – the black widow – I wanted also to split this female character of the black widow into two polarities; one very fatal and mortal represented by Alissa, and the other side representing the naïve and ingenious side of female entity that we want to represent. I didn't want to have the social media being demonized as something very negative. I just wanted to bring the discussion of how some people get sucked up their personalities and identities into social media because of their desperation. So that´s the discussion. The idea of having such a major voice from one side of Sandy and then the demonic, evil voice of Alissa on the other hand having this contrast in the same song – I thought that it was a good idea and I still think it is.
Coming up later this year, you will be performing, once again, at ProgPower USA. How does it feel to be coming back for ProgPower?
It´s always great. I think it´s the only big Prog Metal with Power Metal event happening there in the US. So it´s an event that connects Progressive and Power Metal and I think it´s the only one people drive or fly from all over the place to check their bands out. It´s an opportunity for us to be together and exchange ideas with other bands and to see some other stuff that has been done in the US and also getting in contact with a new crowd. Very often people come to us and say they have never heard about Angra but they love us. It´s a privilege and a huge opportunity. Whenever they invite us, I´ll accept.
I was in attendance back when you played all of Holy Land in it’s entirety (One of my favorite performances I’ve seen live). What should North American fans expect from Angra at your 2018 performance?
Thank you my friend! This time we´re bringing some new songs from OMNI. This time we bring a more solid line-up. I think we´ve now really built a very consistent line-up, a very strong band that has been revitalized for the next 20 or 30 years. That´s how I feel. The North American fans will get a little bit of that energy, the motivation, one of the best moments of this band. I founded this band almost 27 years ago and it has been a long time – I wouldn't say never – that didn't I feel this energy, the atmosphere in the band so positive and so productive and so good for the members and for the crowd. So they will also listening to some of the songs that were very representative throughout the past 26 years.
Besides ProgPower, what is else is happening with Angra in 2018 and/or 2019?
We have around 100 concerts throughout the world this year. So we have around 30 concerts in the US, because we´re touring after ProgPower around America. We have 4 concerts in Japan, 2-3 concerts in China and Taiwan. We have around 30 concerts in Europe. We have lots of concerts in South America and Brazil. So we will be touring with OMNI. For next year we would like to record a DVD to a live concert, making a live footage of this moment. We will document everything I was telling you - this excitement, the new beginning, the reborn of the band – maybe with an orchestra, maybe a simple thing with acoustic stuff, maybe just a metal concert. We still don´t know. But I really would like to document what´s happening there.
Was there any albums that came out in 2017 that you enjoyed?
I can´t recall now, but if I remember it later on I´ll tell you. There is a Brazilian band called Project 46 and they have released an album, but I think it was this year and not last year. It´s a very good band. They´re singing Portuguese. It's a mixture of Thrash and Death Metal and other stuff. It's very good.
Once again, thank you so very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a long time Angra fan, it was an honor to be able to ask you a few questions about everything going on in the world of Angra, AND be able to talk about what will easily be one of my favorite Angra albums, Omni. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
I thank you a lot for the space and the opportunity for us. I thank you my friend. I hope to meet you on ProgPower or in one of our US dates to chat and have a beer together. OMNI is already one of mine. I´m very proud of this album. I think that I have three favorite Angra albums now: “Holy Land”, “Temple Of Shadows” and “OMNI”. Well, I think you covered very much everything. I see you in America, hopefully in September. Thank you my friend and take care.
Angra- OMNI is available NOW through earMUSIC
Heavatar has everything you could possibly want in a Power Metal band. Epic songwriting, orchestrated integrity that gives great nods to composers of the past, brilliant musicianship, and a great sense of a musical greater good. Recently I had the opportunity to ask Heavatar mastermind Stefan Schmidt (Vocals and Rhythm Guitar) some questions to talk about the sophomore album, Opus II: The Annihilation which just came out this past Friday (February 16th) through earMUSIC. Here is what he had to say!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!
Opus II- The Annihilation is coming out February 16th through earMUSIC. How does it feel to get your sophomore about album out as Heavatar?
It’s always great to see your idea come to life. Of course the mastering of the album is already months away, because after that it has to be produced, promoted and distributed, but all the songs still feel fresh, because we worked on them together in the rehearsal room. The old school way.
With getting the chance to being able to listen to the album, I really love the direction The Annihilation goes into. It feels like a very natural progression from All My Kingdoms. Was the songwriting as natural as I am making it sound?
Yes, definitely. As I said, this time it was not a guy thinking about a song at his home studio and then getting together friends for the album. This time we already had the experience of one European Tour (with Grave Digger) and knew much better what suits our style best. We worked on every song together in the rehearsal room and came up with arrangements that sounded best for Heavatar.
As with All My Kingdoms, there is great nods and motifs to classical composers of the past on The Annihilation. Was there any particular composers or arrangement ideas you specifically wanted to show off on this album ahead of time or did those ideas come in as the songwriting progressed?
The Chopin thing (Hijacked by Unicorns) was in my mind for years, the other ideas came when we started songwriting and gave some thoughts on which classical motifs really inspire us.
None Shall Sleep and Purpose Of A Virgin Mind has been released as singles for the album. How was it decided those two songs would represent the album?
It’s always hard to decide for singles, haha. I think in these days, the value of a complete album is not so much honored anymore by younger fans. They are more used to listen to music in “Playlists”, perhaps even on ones not did by themselves but by Spotify or Amazon. So it is even more important to chose singles that somehow represent the complete style of the album. I think these two songs give a strong idea what we sound and play like.
With 5 years between albums, how much do you feel the band has progressed in that time?
Especially in terms of growing together, due to the mentioned European tour. In terms of style or playing, you can not do any better than Jörg always does, haha. But it felt really good to take all the experiences from the first album into the 2nd one.
The album also features an outstanding cover of Manowar’s Metal Daze. Where did the idea come from to cover this particular track?
I love Manowar. Eric Adams is my favourite singer and I always wanted to sing a Manowar song. We chose that one because it was the only one Jörg was willing to play, haha.
What is next for Heavatar?
Promoting the album and seeing what options will arise.
Any other plans for 2018 or beyond for you?
For me personally, we will work on the 7th Van Canto album to be released in Summer.
How do you feel about the state of Power Metal in 2018?
During the last years I concentrated more on my relationship to Power Metal. To be honest I do not listen to so much music anymore, compared to when I was 16 or so. It’s more about creating an own idea and finding the best way to bring it to life. And my ideas always seem to result in something power metal related, so I guess, this is just my favourite style and this does not depend on whether Power Metal is still a big scene or not.
For those that may not be as familiar with classic composition and composers of the past; what would you say those who enjoy Metal music could stand to learn or appreciate from the classical art form?
There are some parallels, when it comes to harmony and especially the dynamic range. And also the part of exaggerating (faster, louder!) is a common thing in classical music as well.
Was there any albums in 2017 that you enjoyed?
I really love the new Threshold album and the Sons of Apollo debut.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I am really enjoying what has been created with The Annihilation and hits so many areas of music that I love. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
Thanks for you interest in Heavatar and keep up the great work!
Hevatar- Opus II: The Annihilation is out NOW through earMUSIC
For those that know me. I normally tend to do my reviews of albums at the end of the year, to make for a grandiose Best Of The Year round up. This year, I'm still going to do that, but I also wanna cover albums that deserve the love the whole year round. When I got the opportunity to check out the brand new BTBAM album, there was no way I couldn't put my thoughts into words for all of you to enjoy!
Between The Buried And Me is about to release their 8th album Automata I March 9th (Along with Automata II out in June 2018) through their new home at Sumerian Records. After celebrating last year with the 10th anniversary tour of arguably their biggest album to date, Colors, the band has never been known for making the same album twice. So what does BTBAM have in store for us this time? A Caribbean Ska-Core album? A collection of Austrian TV Show Themes? A 7" Split with Taylor Swift? Not this time around! The band has actually decided to take Automata and release it in two parts and show that the band has grown even more since their last album, Coma Ecliptic. But how you ask? Let me explain!
The album starts with Condemed To The Gallows, which is available to check out here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq8u0uDK61E Right off the bat, with it's clean guitar intro, you can feel the band is going to kick it in a big way, you just don't know when. Rather than showing off their more death metal sides as done in the past, it kicks more into a heavier prog and synth heavy intro before the systematic brutality begins. Adding a lot more atmosphere, the band brings back more growls than previously seen, while keeping the more prog rock influence in tact. Imagine if Colors was made my TesseracT. The half way point of the song features some beautiful guitar soloing that while brief, is highly effective. Immediately after this brings one of the heaviest moments on the album with a breakdown that is quite reminiscent of The Silent Circus days before kicking back into its prog antics, before eventually ending where it began with it's haunting clean guitar riffs before turning into static.
With this static, it immediately goes into House Organ. A peppier and false hope giving happy sounding intro before kicking into it's mid-tempo goodness. Organ filled riffs are going on among the calculated BTBAM formula. More of the atmospheric guitars filled up the mellow moments of the track. If you have to compare this track to anything in the back catalog, it hearkens back to Fossil Genera - A Feed from Cloud Mountain. And before you know it, it's done at 3:41 in length.
Quite possibly the best track on the album is next, Yellow Eyes. The synths and some of the guitar riffing brings heavy Pain of Salvation vibes while mixing a bit of the Hypersleep era of BTBAM with it. A little before half way through, the Mike Patton style vocals make their comeback in a short, but effect manner. before kicking into my favorite riff of the album. The song Sings "YELLOW EYES" before kicking back down to a very Opeth flavored mellow groove. Once again, the atmospheric guitars make an appearance as everyone else goes absolutely insane with their riffing and vocal melodies. A very catchy electronic synth and snare drum duo riff kicks off the last bridge of the song before bringing things back around chorus style. 7:30 brings one of my favorite solos on the album, which again feels like it could have fit so perfectly on a Pain of Salvation album. With that it brings the end of the track that is layered in haunting synths to bring on the next track.
Millions comes up next and it's one of the most left of center BTBAM songs. While being in 5/4 for a majority of it It battles between a spooky 80s throwback, an Indie Rock Top 40 single, and classic BTBAM Prog Rock. The second half of the song features more short and effective orchestration before going into dark Mr. Bungle/Dillinger Escape Plan groove territory with the song ends with fading drums that remind you of DEP's Black Bubblegum before synths kick into the next track.
Gold Distance is the Veridian of this album. A short segue way that features beautiful soundscapes and guitar that just lasts a minute and two seconds in length before kicking into the final epic.
Blot is the album's lone epic track, sitting in at 10:27. The song starts with a very Middle-Eastern feel, which the band has explored in the past. This all leads to riffing that feels right at home with other all star epics such as White Walls and Swim To The Moon. The majority of the verse riffs are at the same mid-tempo, with short bursts of blast beats and growls thrown in from out of nowhere. Then it kicks into classic Colors style riffing but with a renewed sense of purpose, adding much more variety and atmosphere. The chorus is one of the happiest sounding moments in BTBAM's catalog. The middle segment of the song features some fantastic Middle-Eastern style soloing mixed in with some great prog riffing underneath before going into White Walls/Ants in the Sky style territory with it's mellow somber sounds mixed in with rim clicks. After exploring what is possible with this, the song begins to build and build and build until it.....brings silence. But just for a couple seconds as it leads into one of the other heaviest moments on the record. Kids who need a reason to thrown down in the pit will love this riff to bits. This leads back into the ever glowing chorus that grows and grows into a quite angry prog riff that goes ballistic and then....cuts, almost abruptly. With a feeling of "Hey, that can't be it. WHAT COMES NEXT?" A perfect musical cliffhanger while we wait for Automata II.
All in all, BTBAM has found a way to reinvent themselves while keeping their integrity in check and making fans of any era of the band happy. If you love your brutal riffs, it happens in all the right moments. Do you love the prog wackiness? That is shown all the proper love. Do you want the band to explore new territory such as more atmospheric moments? Automata I is filled to the brim with atmosphere.
Clocking in at a little over 35 minutes, this feels like a complete BTBAM album that leaves you wanting more, and thankfully, we are getting more in June. What will those last 4 Automata songs be? 4 epics? 4 top 40 singles? Pure instrumental atmosphere you play over top Automata I (Actually, that may be a cool idea if done right) but we will have to find out down the road. Till then, get excited for Automata I. BTBAM in 2018 is bringing everything to the table and it will leave you wanting MORE!
Between The Buried And Me- Automata I is available March 9th through Sumerian Records.
Check out Condemned to the Gallows here: