Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nimbatus: The Interview

It has become increasingly rare for metal musicians to pour their emotions into the music they create. For Nimbatus, one of the most mysterious and captivating one man bands we have encountered, it comes so naturally. We were lucky enough to have some time with the man, the composer, the enigma. Find out what goes into writing a Nimbatus EP, where his inspiration comes from, and why you are unlikely to ever see a live show.

First and foremost, thank you so much for this opportunity. We appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions about your work.

Thank you very much for having me. Nimbatus is only a small and not well known project and I am glad you're giving me the opportunity for this interview.

Being in a solo band project, I imagine that there are a lot of ups and downs when it comes to writing and recording an album. What would you say are some key advantages and disadvantages to being a one man band?

The biggest advantage is certainly being able to work on your music whenever you find the time. Especially when you're doing your art at a non-professional basis. It is sometimes very difficult to fit your hobby into your normal life schedule that comes with a regular job. Another point is the ability to do whatever you want to do without any arguments with other band members. You simply do what you think fits the actual song or what your mind or heart tells you. There are no real limits to what you are creating and only your own creativity limit the actual outcome of your work. The debating process within a band can be very creative when you do it in an open minded brainstorming style, but mostly it only leads to endless and tiresome discussions that might only kill any creativity. But please don't get me wrong, when you work on your own you always have to debate with yourself and watch your outcome with a critical eye to ensure a certain quality. That might sometimes lead to the point where you get frustrated because you're not sure about the direction a song you work on might take.

It’s interesting to have to find you’re lyrics through the notes you play. Where did you come up with some of the track titles from your new EP “Transitions?”

At the time I was working on “Transitions” I went through a really hard and emotional time in my life. There were many ups and downs and a lot of uncertainty about the events that took place during the writing and recording process. All four songs were conceived while I was struggling with these emotions, good and bad ones at the same time. When you listen to the songs, you can certainly feel and hear the mood changes. Actually all the songs were recorded in exactly the same order as they appear on the record. And the titles depict the events and thoughts I had at the time I recorded them. For example the song “Enter the Path” emerged when I was about to enter the path that in the end lead to the new life I now live.

In that same vein, have you ever considered adding vocals to your music? Do you have any vocal experience yourself?

Actually I have considered it. That's when the collaboration with Malinconica from Sicily started. Unfortunately we were only able to record one song together so far. I didn't hear from her in a while now and I hope she's fine. Sometimes I feel like vocals might be able to enhance the listening experience at certain parts of the songs. But then again I think to record songs only as instrumentals is somehow unique in the metal genre and many people encourage me to keep on going without any vocals. This way you can really focus on the lead guitar and whoever is listening can put their own thoughts and emotions into the songs.

A lot of your melodies follow a dark set of patterns however are also brightened by calm gorgeous riffs. During the writing process, where do your inspirations come from?

I never really thought about that. Usually I just sit down, take my guitar and start to play. As my mood has certainly an influence on how and what I play, I'd say the biggest influence is my actual life at that point. Plus something I listened to before might have inspired me. Most of the times after playing for a while I come up with something that seems to be listenable and I start to record that idea as a rough demo to prevent myself from forgetting about it. From that on I start to develop the song around that certain idea, starting with the drums to set the rhythmic character of the song. With the drums recorded I can totally focus on the final guitar tracks. I use a lot of layers to get a dense sound with a lot of harmonic and sometimes disharmonic content. I never had any education in music theory, I have the sound I want in my head and I play around and add stuff until I am as close as possible to that idea.

You sell your new EP “Transitions” as a downloadable MP3 through your Bandcamp site. Have you considered making physical copies, or is the cost vs. reward just too hard to work out?

Unfortunately these days I don't think there is any reward for small bands in offering physical copies anymore. As much as I love to buy albums from my favorite bands as a CD with a real artwork and booklet and maybe even as a limited edition containing additional material, I can't afford to produce physical copies that almost nobody would buy. I know of some bands who tried to sell there small scale batches of 200 to 500 physical copies that cost them a lot of money. But they usually ended up with the costs not getting covered by the sales. It is hard enough to sell your music when you're known to some extent, but it's almost impossible when you are as small as Nimbatus. The investments needed to record my music are big enough without any further money I'd have to put into the production of physical copies. Furthermore besides MP3 Bandcamp offers the music in FLAC format with lossless compression. FLAC files are a bit by bit representation of the master files, so the listener doesn't have to deal with any sacrifices in audio quality in comparison to an actual CD.

If it isn't too forward to ask, what kind of sales/download numbers have you seen for your albums to date? Have you seen a growing support of your music, even in this the age of piracy?

Honestly, despite all the positive feedback I received, sales are disappointing. The first three albums are available as free downloads. I changed that with the new EP “Transitions” though the price is so low it would still almost count as a free download. I thought I would be able to cover some of my expenses by doing so. But it seems like many people prefer to download my music through “alternative” channels. I started Nimbatus without any intentions to make money. The whole project is based on my personal motivation on making music. The feedback I receive from fans is what keeps me going. But really, I guess I would continue making music even without one single person listening to it.

Have you considered touring at all this year? Would you be able to put together a touring band?

Nimbatus is and will ever be a studio project. I would consider myself as being a bit restraint and I don't like to be the center of attention. I like to work in the studio on my own. I don't want to see my personal self in the picture and prefer the music to speak for itself. This being said, as I do all of this in my free time while having a regular life with a regular job it would be almost impossible for me to tour at all. Plus I'd need to find the right people to be able to perform the songs on stage. I know there are some people who would like to see my music performed live and try to encourage me in doing so. I am sorry to tell them that it is highly unlikely to ever happen. On the other hand, I often hear that the whole project seems to be kind of mysterious because I don't give away many details about myself. I'd like to keep it that way.

You list that you do all of your own writing, recording, mixing, and mastering. How long have you been working with music, engineer wise? Have you ever mixed or mastered other artists work?

For me writing music was always combined with the recording process. I was always very interested in the whole technical aspects and I always wanted to achieve good sounding productions. So I started to record my own songs many years ago. It seems like I developed some skills over the years that are good enough to record my music. But I never recorded other artists though sometimes I think I should at least try it. So, if you're reading this and want to get your track mixed feel free to contact me.

How long have you been a musician? Would you say that you play a certain instrument best or do they all come pretty natural to you?

I'm now actively into music for more than 25 years. At the time I started to develop a certain interest into writing songs I only used synthesizers and computers to create the sounds I had in my head. Later on I realized that I am much more into handmade music though I still use keyboards until today to make the overall sound more interesting. So I started to learn the guitar and that is when it all began. Years ago a friend of mine and I tried to found a band. It never really worked out, but at that time I had to replace the drummer a few times and it came to me pretty naturally. But until today the guitar is my main instrument and sometimes I wish I'd be able to find the time to practice some more.

If you had to name three guitarists that have influenced you the most who would they be and why?

There are certainly many influences in the way I'm playing the guitar and I am confident that every single piece of music that you ever heard and liked in your life will leave an impression of a various degree. But I never really tried to copy the style of any guitarist out there, though I often heard that I sometimes sound a little bit like I listened a lot to Joe Satriani. Well, I certainly don't because my playing skills are much lower than his and I would never compare myself to him. If I had to pick one guitarist I'd say it's definitely Mikeal Akerfeldt. I love the way he plays especially because he is not into playing as many notes as possible in a given time frame but tries to feel the music and every single note he picks. And in my opinion that is exactly what music is all about... emotions.

With your new EP out now, what is next on the horizon for you and the Nimbatus project? What can we expect in the coming months?

For the last few weeks I was working on the sound for a new album. I never use mixing templates that I would reuse for every album. That would only lead to albums that sound too similar. Instead every album I start from scratch before I get into the writing and recording process itself. Only a few days ago I started recording a new song and so far the outcome is satisfying. So I guess I'm right in the middle of the production of a new album that will most likely be released later this year. I'm still debating if I should stick to the EP concept, so people wouldn't need to wait for new material to be released for long. But I haven't decided on that yet and I will see how the recordings develop over the next months. If everything goes well, the new album will have the biggest sound of all and will show a new side of Nimbatus and some new elements never to be heard in that extent before. There might be some surprises!

Thank you again for being a part of this, and for sharing your music and insight with us. We are looking forward to your next release!

Thank you for this interview and your support! I really appreciate your interest in my music!
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Friday, March 30, 2012

Akoma - The Other Side (2012)

In 2004, Demark's latest heir to the symphonic metal throne was formed. The brainchild of vocalist Tanya Bell and guitarist Morten Harboe, Akoma is a band that is the sum of their many influences. Soothing, seething, and emotional, their music isn't just a basic, female fronted approach, but a more in depth and complex one. On their new EP, "The Other Side," they reach out to the global metal community, offering delicate keys, ravishing guitars and a voice that could move mountains.

From the onset of "Bittersweet Memories," there is a decidedly folk inspired tone to the music, mainly in the keyboards. As they build up, adding a pounding drum beat and bass line, the whimsical sounds draw you in. Vocalist Tanya Bell, whose style is something akin to Tarja meets Sharon den Adel, commands the tracks, soaring above the mix with an edge. The strength of the song lies in the instrumental balance, with each piece coming together in a perfect symmetry. While each may have an aura of simplicity, the depth of sound seems far richer. It becomes the basis for Bell to tell her story, in a gentle, but powerful way. The less restrained opening to "Your Sacrifice" sees an increase in aggression from all sides, taking the distorted guitars for a chugging ride. Despite the heavenly vocal tone being set, the backing instrumental is a lesson in contrast. The guitars chug forward, while the drums fill every waiting gap with a fill, roll, or double kick. The keyboards, airy and ethereal, tie it all together in a neat bow. Bell shows her talents time and again, whether as a vocal solo, over just piano, or over the assembled mix.

An emotionally drenched song, "My Love" has elements that could fit right in to a modern opera, with Bell's voice tickling your inner ear with grace and beauty. Single piano keys and light synths combine, if only as a vessel for her soothing words. As the drum beat rumbles in, welcoming the full band, the picture is complete. Bell croons ahead, leaving nothing behind, a single note taking you to the end. In that same stratosphere, "Without You" is equally heavy, in the weight of the lyrics alone. Once again, the distortion returns, with guitars echoing throughout the track. A constant thud of drums remains, before erupting into a full on battery of beats and crashes. The more bruising side emerges, with a collision of chords and kicks. Even in these more aggressive moments, nothing is out of place, nothing is overlooked. Every note is perfectly timed, powerfully blended together in a symphony of chaos.

A reworked version of "Guardian Angel," which appeared on the original promo EP "Angels Of Revenge," falls into place. Clean guitar tones accompany Bell's voice, this time in a far more accessible way than other parts of the album. Her vocals seem to be utterly flawless, on their own or part of the mix, with every breath, every word flowing from her lips with perfect pitch and accent. Songs like this are the perfect example, with no distortion or heavy guitars to hide imperfections. A song that spans over three minutes, yet it seems to end as quickly as it began. The finale, "Immortal Love,"  is, by far, the strongest track on the EP, with every tenet of the symphonic metal genre coming into play throughout five minutes of pure goodness. From the devastating stamping of drums, to the soaring, operatic vocals, and everything in between, Akoma hit all the right spots. The song is as powerful as the title conveys, giving you something to bang your head to, while also finding yourself overtaken by the beauty of it all. The vocal portion of the breakdown is enchanting, raising your eyebrows as bell hits the highest highs with accuracy and grace.

The fact of the matter is, this is a can't fail sort of endeavor. Akoma embody all the right things, from a angelic frontwoman, to a talented band dynamic. These aren't just six songs that were thrown together hoping to make a quick buck. Woven into each piece is an emotional tagline, one that represents everything the band has seen, heard, and accomplished over the course of their nearly eight year career. There is a frankness, an honesty to the music as well as the lyrics, one that makes it so easy to let yourself go while listening. Call it what you will, but "The Other Side" sounds like a great place to live.


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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Meshuggah - Koloss (2012)

Meshuggah, Meshuggah, Meshuggah! They have returned. The extreme heavy metallers from Sweden have finally returned with yet another murderous album, entitled “Koloss.” You get a full 54 minutes and 32 seconds of non stop brutal riffs and thunderous drum rolls that will leave you bleeding out your ears while you scream for more. We have all waited pertinently for a solid four years and now it is here. Where should we begin?

Well the opening track “I Am Colossus” starts things off with punishing vocals that echo above screechy guitar riffs. The riffs are short at first but open up with massive distortion shortly after. Furious drum patterns light up the track with a burst of double bass pedals and cracking cymbals. Eerie synths enter towards the last minute of the song while the guitars throw monstrous riffs at you from all directions. This lead into “The Demon;s Name Is Surveillance” which blasts opening with jack hammering double bass pedaling and pounding snares that punch you dead in the face. Aggressive growling comes through murdering everything in site while you bob your head violently.

“Do Not Look Down” throws violent waves of wild bass lines and groovy tones with booming drum rolls. Cymbals crash constantly in the background while the snare beat you down with its relentlessness. Meanwhile Kidman comes in a completely destroys you with his wicked vocals. His harsh screams will echo in you head for days. Good luck trying to sleep.

A soft guitar riff plays gently at the beginning of “Behind The Sun” Don’t let this mellow sound fool you, behind it comes demonic guitars that chug away with dark melodies. The vocals continue to spark with devilish growls that are full of rage. The tempo of the song stays at a slow pace but that doesn’t stop the drum fills from going crazy. As you fall deeper into the track, you’ll find the drums becoming more and more vicious. Double bass pedals rumble recklessly underneath you knocking you on the ground. You won’t be able to help but mosh with the way these drum rolls fly at you. “The Hurt That Finds You First” picks up speed with fast chomping guitar riffs and relentless snares. The drums will drown you in bass waves with it’s overwhelming kicks and toms. The vocals scream with violence and anger as they rip your head off.

Songs like “Breaking Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” and “Demiurge” stand as the backbone to this album. Hard hitting guitar riffs and thunderous drum rolls destroy your speakers at high volumes. They provide you with haunting tones along with hell raising growls and lyrics. The unique structure of the tracks keep you at the edge of your chair while you constantly bash your head to the drums. These are two tracks that are sure to have you hitting the replay button consistently.

Meshuggah continues with their madness as they come out with another outstanding piece of work. “Koloss” beats you into the ground track by track until there is nothing left of you. Then of course, you’re gonna want to play it again and again. The album is addicting as it is heavy. It’s eerie melodies will haunt you night after night as you find yourself playing this album day after day. This is definitely top ten of 2012 material.


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Massacre Cave - The Ninth Wave (2012)

As we stated recently on our Facebook, we are honest men, if nothing else. Our reviews are an honest assessment (albeit subjective) of the music we hear. So, regardless of how we came across an artist, rest assured that we are giving you a straightforward opinion on the music. In the case of The Massacre Cave, a four piece band from the tiny island of Eigg, which resides off the coast of Scotland, a white label CDR shipped across the ocean blue was all it took. Within seconds of pressing play on "The Ninth Wave," the method of delivery no longer mattered. Rooted so firmly in their homes and heritage, this folk tinged thrash speaks for itself.

As the guitars kick in on "Winds Of Death," they immediately lodge themselves into your frontal cortex, bending and winding through rapid fire notes. The drums are equally as catchy, coming fast and furious. The vocals are less polished, often coming through the style of raw yelling. It may be off putting at first, but you soon realize that you wouldn't want it any other way. The intricacies that come into play, through bass and guitar progression, are dazzling. The melodies and tempo are what draw the folk comparisons, with the high speed riffs tangling themselves into the bass line time and again. The solo that emerges in the latter stages is proof of the talent you are dealing with. The energetic assault of "Long Time At Sea" could even be called sludge, with the harsh vocals drowned in a storm of endless kick snare combos and darting guitar notes. The layer and volume build up in the pre-chorus sets the table perfectly for a vocal hook. But again, they don't settle for one sound or style. Instead, they throw you a change-up, literally, in the form of a power shift. Don't lose track of the lyrics, as they ring with honesty and truth, despite their raw delivery.

There is no more poignant example than on "Behemoth," scattered with audio from news outlets. Helping the lyrical message catch fire is a barrage of drums that rings out from left to right. The guitar riffs that fill the verse are intoxicating, and easily entrenched for days. The Cormack brothers, Ben and Joe, have no shortage of blistering fret work, as is evident with each new melody that comes to the service. You won't find any recycled riffing here, no monotone chugging. Instead, you are treated to some good thrash guitars, with a heavy dose of finger wizardry. Combined with a twisting bass line, and you have a winning team. The closing opus, "The Prey Approaches," is right at home anchoring the EP. If you thought you could escape cleanly, this six minute track will draw you back in, starting with a maniacal laugh. Between the machine gun drums and the wild guitar riffs, there is enough fire here to bring a city to the ground. Everything before was fast, but this is faster. The previous songs were catchy, but this one clings onto every part of your ear canal. The vocals hit their stride at the perfect moment, taking on a strength that may have been lacking in the earlier efforts. The cohesion between all the moving parts is the star, and this is their trophy track.

After a few listens, it's fairly easy to see why The Massacre Cave has earned rave reviews from those who have heard them. They play a brand of thrash that may sound raw at times, but one that is beautifully crafted and finely tuned. While it would be a stretch to call them folk/thrash or even folk at all, those elements come through here and there, just enough to have a home and a purpose. There isn't a stray drum hit, or a single string out of place. Don't let their humor fool you; these guys are top notch musicians. On "The Ninth Wave," they harnessed every bit of energy the sea had to offer, and burned it onto a piece of plastic.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Screaming Savior - Infinity (2012)

As we reach out to the evil shadows of Shanghai, China, we come across a vicious symphonic black metal band called Screaming Savior. The extreme metal group has recently released their newest album, entitled “Infinity.” The album is ten tracks long and is filled with wicked growls, gorgeous orchestration, and pulverizing drum rolls. The speed of the double bass pedals alone will make your ears bleed.

The album opens with the intro track, entitled “Derivation,” which is sounds like it came straight out of the score from the movie “Dark Knight.” Keyboards and strings slowly surround you with eerie tones pulling you closer into the album. Blaring distorted guitars open up in “Star Of Fatality.” A huge wave of fast pace guitar riffs blast away as double bass pedals rumble violently beneath you. You wont know if you should mosh and just bash your head to the rhythm. Demonic black metal vocals entire in the verses with aggressiveness and power. They also manage to add some screeching violins in the background add a haunting sound to the track. They cry with eerie tones as more evil growls come through and knock you on your ass. Devilish laughter echoes through the end of the track leaving a chill down your spine.

They continue with more beastly beatings in “Sanguinary Salvation.” The vocals are delivered perfectly as you’re hit with wretched words in such a demonic manor. Later you’re introduced to ravishing piano riffs that will take your breath away with its wild range of reckless notes that run up and down the scales beautifully. The guitars follow the melodies to a tee. Meanwhile you’ll also run into uncomfortable shouting lyrics that sound like someone is dying a slow death. Between this and the harsh growls, you’ll be completely swept off your feet. It’s songs like this and “Ocean Of Asura” where the orchestration floats perfectly in the background to where you hardly even notice it. But when you do, its angelic strings will consume you in darkness as monstrous guitar riffs come in and destroy you.

If you like incredibly fast double bass pedal drumming then make sure you check out “Nacha The Demon”. It sends mind blowing bass pedals with detailed fills and rolls from all angles knock you to the floor again and again. Shattering cymbals collide with deafening snares and toms leaving you beaten and bloody. The good news is, you get a short breather with following track “Pray To The Chthonic.” This track contains some gorgeous female humming melodies along with soft soothing strings. Things do become more heavier towards the middle of the two and a half minutes track as slow booming drums begin to rumble as heavily distorted guitars chug away behind them. Eventually you are with more devilish growls. This is the closest thing to a ballad that you’re gonna get from these guys so enjoy it. They definitely show a lot of emotion in the song even though aggressive lyrics are aimed at you towards the end.

If there is one track on this album you do not want to miss it’s “Ode To The Expedition.” The band shows a lighter, more epic side to themselves as high spirited horns open the track with catchy melodies. These horns carry throughout the track as the devilish vocals come through and rip you a new one. Although there are plenty of vicious guitar riffs and exploding double bass pedal drumming, they also throw in some amazingly catchy violin parts that’ll have you up and dancing like you’re doing an Irish jig. They definitely hold some folk like melodies in this one. This is a great all around track that anyone can connect to. It’s got elements for everyone to enjoy and still continues to stay extreme at the same time. Even “Curse Of Dreamland” has some folk parts in it with acoustic guitars and a change up in vocals. Yes that’s right, they add a little clean singing in this one which really takes you by surprise. This is perfectly story telling music that has orchestrated tones that remind you of a score from an adventure movie. They manage to balance out the aggressive guitars and drums with the soothing strings and soft violins and keyboards perfectly. You’re definitely gonna want to replay this track a few times.

For being such a young band, Screaming Savior has definitely stepped up and proven that they are for real. “Infinity” is only their second full length album so clearly they have constantly been busy writing such fantastic and detailed work. This album is an album that you can listen to from beginning to end and not have to skip any tracks. They leave you wanting more that’s for sure.


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Monday, March 26, 2012

The Bendal Interlude - Odourama (EP) (2012)

Walking the fine line between modern thrash and stoner grooves, The Bendal Interlude have built a reputation for themselves, opening for the likes of Sunno))) and Earth on their quest to rule the world. With their latest release, a new EP titled "Odourama," this Liverpool based four piece are bringing back their brand of deafening riffs and inexplicably harsh vocals for another go-round. With the goal if touring endlessly behind this release, can these four songs be the foundation for a rise to power?

The title track, complete with sickening music video, begins with a spoken word segment, taken from the 1981 film "Polyester." Before you know it the riffs are coming fast and furious. There is always something inherently catchy about some well crafted thrash riffs, and these are no different. In particular, the verse sections get lodged in your brain. The vocals are predictably grating, though their impact is lessened by the murky production work. The cloudy mix turns things into one plane of sound, making the small bits harder to pick out. With more spoken bits interspersed throughout, there is a very good use of stop/start dynamics. But now, it is time to put on your hat, as "Hat Time" would indicate. This two minute burst is as heavy as you could expect, with some double bass pedaling and snare fills ringing out. Once again, audio clips get edited in, but this time they are layered with the raucous riffs into one entity. It is, indeed, an entire hat philosophy.

The most complete track comes in the form of "Ron Salmon," which takes the writing process to a new level. The guitars are catchy, as before, but this time the chord and tempo changes are more precisely timed and linked. The drums continue to be a force, barreling through each segment with a thunderous heavy hand. The production, unfortunately, let's the music down. Guitars, bass, and drums begin to run together in one solid layer of distortion. This creates an unstable layer for the vocals, which end up sounding slightly off. To their credit, they make the most of what they have, and still manage to churn out a solid track, despite it's engineering faults. The offering ends with "Shants," where the true groove shines through. The opening riff is sure to leave a mark on you, with a blues feel before the distortion kicks in. But lost in the blaring vocals and sizzling cymbals is the reminder that there are strong fundamentals at play, be it in songwriting and execution. And what better way to end an album than by asking "I'd like to know what you're doing with all that chicken in your pants"?

Creating music of any style isn't an exact science. Sure, there are certain steps to take, certain order for things to fall into. The Bendal Interlude have the two most important aspects down, with creative songwriting and musicianship checked off the list. In four songs, they give you a taste of what they can do, including several different approaches. The third part, production, needs work if they are going to realize their potential. And while this sound infinity better than many other albums released this year (see: black metal), too much of their energy and talent are lost in the mix. With a little tweaking and freshening up, "Odourama" will live up to it's name.


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Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Podcast: Has been delayed....

So, our live event took place this past week, in front of an audience of 116 rowdy fans. It was a good time, to say the least. We met a lot of metal fans, talked shop, and had a lot of laughs along the way. We are in the process of editing the recording down to a more accessible length, a process that is difficult. We would love to just throw the entire hour plus up here, but that may be overkill. So, friends, sit tight. We will return next week with either a) the live show, ready to be digested or b) our next podcast episode to keep you entertained.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Et Moriemur: The Interview

Versatile Czech death/doom monsters Et Moriemur might not be a band you have heard before. But, after Darrell sat down with vocalist, and language master extraordinaire, Zdeněk Nevělík, we are convinced that they are a band you should check out. See what makes their new album "Cupio Dissolvi" so emotional, and where they derived so much inspiration from.

First and foremost, we can't thank you enough for taking the time to answer some questions about your work. Let's start with the new album, and in particular, the artwork. What inspired the cover artwork, and how do you feel it represents the subject matter of the album?

Thanks to you Darrell and to Sorrow Eternal for giving us the opportunity to appear on your excellent web zine! We were looking for something different for the Cupio Dissolvi artwork, something unusual, and happened to find these beautiful wooden dolls carved by a woodcarver who lives in Southern Bohemia. I think these dolls represent perfectly the idea of the album, i.e. the repulsion and, at the same time, the attraction towards suicide. You can feel both the fascination and the horror of the void, of non-existence.

The album follows some true stories of suicide, which is a very dark subject. How did you come to the decision to tells these stories? Were they inspired by people you knew?

I don’t know exactly why, but the stories of these people (whom I didn’t know personally) struck me particularly. Maybe because they are packed with true suffering which admits no solutions. I have to admit that I’m quite sceptical about happy endings :) In general I think that death and the fragility of life, the fact that everything and everyone can disappear from one moment to another without leaving any trace of ever being here, are artistically very inspiring, which is of course nothing new: it has been so since the times of ancient Greeks at least.

The vocals are certainly a highlight of the album. The lyrics are done in six different languages, which is something I don‘t think I have ever heard. How difficult was it to tell your stories through the use of all these languages?

Thank you for having noticed this aspect of the record. I wanted to use quotations from world authors because they express exactly what the single stories needed and I decided to keep them in their original language so as to preserve their unique beauty. That’s why I used all these foreign languages. It’s also my homage to all these incredible writers and poets from different countries.

Throughout the course of nine tracks, you exhibit many different vocal styles, some heavy, and some softer. But what stands out is the emotion that seems to pour out in your words. Did you find yourself personally affected by making an album like this?

I think you cannot write about people’s deep suffering without being moved by it. I chose only stories which inspired me emotionally and wrote the lyrics trying to identify myself with these people and feel, at least in part, the desperation and all the other feelings they possibly went through. It’s surprising how many things you can have in common with people who decided to kill themselves. There isn’t a qualitative difference, we are talking about the same emotions, only in their case it was unbearably intense.

Musically, the album itself is very diverse. With two layers of guitars, crashing drums and the use of atmospheric keyboards, you create a much deeper sound than traditional doom. Tell us a little about the writing process, and how each of the instruments come into the final product.

For most of the songs I came with a rough version, which my bandmates completed with their own contributions, enriching the original structure. Michal (drums) was particularly helpful in this regard and came with some great arrangements and melodies. Honza (bass) came with some super riffs too. The last step was writing lyrics which matched the atmosphere of each song and this was in some cases the most difficult part :)

The style of music that Et Moriemur plays could be simplified to death/doom, but there is a large variety of sounds and styles to hear. Who were your biggest influences in the formation of the band, and how did you come to such a delicate balance of death, doom, black and melodic metal?

As a doom metal band you cannot ignore the big names of this genre and we too were influenced by classical doom, death/doom and funeral legends. But we’ve always tried to have a personal approach and a distinct sound to the highest extent possible.

But we don’t listen only to doom or only to metal either and you can count among our influences such different artists as DIMMU BORGIR, CRADLE OF FILTH, BURZUM, the darkwave bands referred to as NEUE DEUTSCHE TODESKUNST, NICK CAVE, JOY DIVISION, BAUHAUS, classical music and composers like DES PREZ, GESUALDO, DVORAK, CRUMB, BARBER, PROKOFIEV, BARTOK or SCHONBERG, the French chansons, the traditional Moravian music and even bands coming from the hardcore scene like NEUROSIS, GODFLESH or THREADBARE, as well as some industrial and noise bands.

It is very rare that we have a chance to hear a band from the Czech Republic, let alone a metal band. What is the metal scene like right now in and around Prague?

I think there is a thriving metal scene here, there are many amazing, top quality bands and we have some very good extreme metal festivals. Unfortunately there are no big labels to support these bands at home and abroad, almost everybody who is active on the metal scene does it for passion which is fantastic, but simply cannot match foreign labels with more financial possibilities. And of course there are people who don’t care about promoting local bands at all and prefer to support foreign established acts. As far as doom is concerned, there are very few bands indeed. I think we are the only doom band in Prague plus there is a couple of other doom bands in other areas of the country.

You have shared the stage with some great bands over the short history of Et Moriemur, from Helevorn (one of our favorites) to Saturnus. And this year already, you have dates booked to play with Esoteric and Ahab. If you could put together your ideal tour, with any set of bands you wanted (past or present), who would you choose?

That’s a good question :) I think that sharing the stage with BAD RELIGION, SICK OF IT ALL, BLUT AUS NORD, GOBLIN, OBITUARY, GRAVEYARD DIRT and EVOKEN would definitely make my day :)

One thing that stands out is your open support for animal rights organizations. It isn't often than metal bands take such a hard stance on those, or any, issues. How important is it for you to stand by those organizations, and what led to that open discussion?

As you said, taking a stance on anything is not common among metal bands. But I grew up not only on metal but also on punk/hardcore where these issues are quiet common. I have been vegetarian for 16 years now and I think that there are things which we just can’t pretend to ignore. Many metalheads don’t see eating meat even as an issue, not to mention those who consider killing animals as „cool“, „true“ or „natural“. And we try to do more than simply talk: Et Moriemur send ten percent of the price of each sold copy of Cupio Dissolvi to a Czech animal rights organization, we distribute pro-animal rights information leaflets at our gigs and organize a doom festival here in Prague called “Patior Ergo Sum” during which we offer strictly vegetarian/vegan catering.

With your new album out, tour dates scheduled, and a full band locked and loaded, what comes next for Et Moriemur?

We are working on new material which we hope to record later this year and will see if there is any interest from labels to release it. But as the economic situation is dire and labels prefer to invest only on established acts we could as well decide to release it by ourselves, that won’t stop us, we are used to doing things by ourselves. Plus we are already planning our December edition of Patior Ergo Sum and our gigs next year.

And I have great news: Et Moriemur have just ranked second as "New Artist of the Year" 2011 in Břitva awards (Czech rock/metal publicists awards). We are extremely happy with this result!

Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview, and for sharing your work with us. It has been an honor and a pleasure.

Thanks most of all to you Darrell for your very good questions and for your support, we truly appreciate it. Keep up your excellent work with Sorrow Eternal and hope to talk to you again soon!
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Fall Of Eden - The Warrior (2012)

Coming from a small town in Illinois, a death folk metal band by the name of Fall Of Eden has stepped forward with a brand new album. “The Warrior” takes you into a world of heavy pagan riffs, monstrous growling vocals, and incredibly fast double bass pedal drumming. The album contains 11 powerful tracks in which you’ll find something unique and electrifying in each of them.

The opening track, “A Call For Blood,” kicks off with wicked guitar riffs that screech from left to right as booming drum rolls rumble behind them. The verse starts with machine gun double bass pedal drumming that will blow your mind. The speed of theses kicks are outstanding. Meanwhile reckless cymbals and relentless snares pound away as fast melodic guitar riffs carry you through the song. The vocals are a mix of vicious pagan growls that switch to clean singing in between certain riffs. A wild guitar solo hits you during the middle of the song with intense melodies with high speed. The solos run for almost two full minutes of the track. This will definitely get you hooked to the album right away, and you haven’t even heard the whole thing yet.

“Wargasm” will knock you off you seat with its wall of monstrous guitar riffs that open up the track. Monstrous screams echo into the distance as the verse comes rolling in with devilish growls. The guitar riffs are relentless with their melodic notes running up and down the scales constantly while the bass follows with similar groovy lines. Definitely make sure you check out the drumming on this track. Jack hammering double bass pedals will beat you into the grown while snares and cymbals come through and destroy you with bone crushing patterns. “Blooded Dawn” continue with aggressive guitars that have screechy tones that’ll make you flinch and yet throw your devil horns up at the same time. Rapid cymbals splash away in the background while deep growls lay on top of the guitars. The bass lines are performed with tremendous speed as they follow the guitar riffs with quick tones. Right when you think you have some time to catch your breath, “Dying Breed” steps in with more relentless snares and drums that will keep you moshing away. The growls continue with the same vicious performance hitting you harder and harder with each lyric.

Later in the album you’ll come across a track, entitled “The Legion,” which starts out with heavily distorted chords blaring in your face. More demonic growling vocals come through and sweep you off your feet with dark muddy tones. The guitars are going insane with their wild melodies that will have you constantly bobbing your head. This is definitely one those tracks that you’ll go back to again and again. “Day Of Solace” is the final track on the album and it definitely ends with a bang. Gorgeous guitar riffs float through the air with calm sounds. Soon after come the distorted riffs with thunderous drumming underneath them. The vocals have a mixed sound of shouting and growling tones. They layer these vocals together giving off an interesting sound to the chorus. The drum patterns are punishing throughout this entire track. It’s nothing but shattering cymbals with rumbling double bass pedals and snapping snares. The fills in between the verse and chorus are absolutely mind blowing. The track leaves you wanting so much more, so be ready to replay this beast of an album.

“The Warrior” is full of wild energy that will keep you moving throughout its entirety. Each track fires away with ruthless guitar riffs, hell raising solos, and explosive drum patterns that’ll pulverize your speakers. Fall Of Eden show us their talented musicianship and songwriting skills in this death folk metal album. If you’re looking for something new and refreshing definitely check these guys out.


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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sunpocrisy - Samaroid Dioramas (2012)

Evolution. That word, alone, describes the career arc of Italy's Sunpocrisy. Formed a short five years ago as a four piece progressive death metal band, they were not satisfied with the music they were producing. After adding two members and focusing on more complex sounds and expressions, they return to unveil their new album, titled "Samaroid Dioramas." A merger between progressive death and melodic post metal, this is a  concept album of the highest order. This collection of eight tracks is as ambitious and far reaching as anyone could have imagined.

As distortion and effects fade in on the opening track, "Apoptosis," it almost feels like you are being drawn in to something bigger than yourself. The frequencies build and fade, swirling around you. As it leads into "Apophenia," the progressive death metal influences are apparent, in both musical and vocal aspects. While the guitars chug and thrash, there is also a focus on small intricacies in the sound, It isn't a one dimensional approach, but rather a multifaceted attack. The drums, while disturbingly huge, fill all of the smaller, more subtle gaps in the action. The mix of clean and harsh vocals provides a dynamic contrast of light and dark, represented in the album artwork as well. As some of the aggression steps back, you are left with a more melodic, atmospheric passage. With such crystal clear production, each instrument can come through in its own way, forming a massive arc of sound. The more intriguing aspects come in to play when the harsher, grating vocals are layered atop the more note oriented guitar parts, a fractured harmony that seems odd at first, but quickly becomes enjoyable.

The flow from track to track keeps momentum at a constant high, even when cutting from a heavier portion to a more subdued one, like that of "ϕ - Phi." Harsh vocals blanket distorted chord changes, with ever present drumming beefing up the overall mix. The layers of guitars and bass seem to lock together in harmony at all times, each note expertly placed. As the bass steps out in the melodic areas, you get to have a taste of the talent level you are dealing with. The more ethereal post metal riffs that emerge here are incredibly intricate, both in delivery and reception. Drummer Carlo Giulini puts on a clinic of tempo, timing, and power, rising and falling with the building mix. His playing mirrors the mood of each section, rather than dominating it with overaggressive work. And, in an odd move, the track ends with a vocal solo that will make the hair on your arms and neck stand up. A track that starts as another interlude, "Vertex" grows into so much more. From roots of distortion and chaos, an otherworldly keyboard melody emerges, helping to create a post metal inspired masterpiece. gently sung words complement delicate guitars, a perfect combination that is eventually shattered by screaming vocals. For a track that spans four and a half minutes, it ends in a flash.

The true interlude, "Trismegistus," is a much more minimalist approach, with light guitars and synths backing spoken words. The last few seconds see the addition of pounding drums, which roll headlong into "Samaroid," and it's brutal vocal attack. But the true star here isn't the screaming, but rather the ambitious musical accompaniment, one that could knock you on your ass without hesitation. Guitars become intertwined, drums shake the room, and the bass covers everything in a low end coating. The multiple changes in sound and speed leave you dizzy, all leading up to a grand singing chorus, tying all of the pieces together. What would likely be called the breakdown portion erupts, feeding fuel to the fire. The flames rise up, then die down just long enough to bring the track to a blistering close. The intermediary track, "Samaroid/Dioramas," grows from the ashes of the previous track, rebuilding itself with pulsing drum beats and synthesizers. Clean vocals keep things moving ahead to a climax, with each passing moment leading you closer to the impending explosion.

Even as the filthy, gritty vocals reenter, the decidedly melodic groove does not vanish. Lead by the bass line, smooth as ever, and some fine tuned guitar work, you get to see, side by side, the contrasting and competing styles at play. This is where the strengths of the band become most apparent, darting back and forth between the two sides of the coin, taking your breath with a heavy punch to the stomach, then allowing you to regain in during a drawn out melodic portion. From one to the other, everything in between, and back again at the flip of a switch. A seamless transition welcomes you to the final track, "Dioramas." It is highlighted by very understated guitar work, building on moods, rather than distortion. That isn't to say it is all lamb, and no lion. You can always feel the heavier aspects coming, and they always come right on time. And while the melodic may dominate the early portions of the track, it returns to to its heaviest, with grizzly screams taking control. As the last agonizing scream fades away, the music breaks down, and all becomes quiet.

Albums like this one are truly the best of both worlds, taking the heaviness of death metal vocals, and sprinkling them liberally onto compositions that might otherwise be completely clean. In the case of Sunpocrisy, it is hard to tag them as one genre or another, because they embody so many, all in one.  They fleshed out a concept, but not just on paper. They put it into action, vocally, musically, and visually. When you have visions of divinity and complexity in mind, you can't just play a few solos and call it a day. "Samaroid Dioramas" is the audio representation of an idea. The realization of a concept.


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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Summoner - Phoenix (2012)

A four piece band by the name of Summoner has released their new album, entitled “Phoenix.” The band is from Boston, MA and lists themselves as a stoner rock band. The album is eight tracks long and contains heavily distorted chugging guitars and deep bass lines and intense drum rolls.

The album starts out with a groovy guitar riff in “The Interloper.” It’s upbeat bass lines and melodies will have you bobbing your head immediately. The vocals kick in with harsh yelling lyrics providing plenty of sludge tones. The chorus is simple and melodic planting its memorable sound in your head for days. A wicked guitar solo jumps in towards the end with high pitch notes that fly across your speakers with electrifying sounds. “Winged Hessians” picks up right after with similar guitar riffs and similar speed keeping you rocking out from song to song. The guitars continue to chug away blaring heavily distorted chords in your face while the vocals constantly throw violent lyrics at you. The guitar solos shine with gorgeous melodies that really draw you closer to the music. The song runs for a little over five minutes but for the amount of times that they play the same few riffs over and over again they could have easily shortened it to three minutes like the first track.

The air fills with dark swampy guitar riffs in “Conjuring” as the bass line gets right to work with catchy melodies that lead the way to the verse. A heavy snare guides you through the song along with shattering cymbals and booming kicks. The guitar riffs are catchy in between each verse leaving you rocking your head back and forth throughout the track. The vocals are solid but sound very similar to the tracks before this one. You may start to feel a bit bored by its delivery. “Let The Light In” slows things down with its soothing bass lines. The track runs for a little over nine minutes long but again, with all of the similar riffs that are repeated over and over, I don’t think it was necessary to keep the track running for that long. The vocals finally change up as they deliver a more softer tone of lyrics over the groovy bass line. The drum rolls are basic and help keep the verses running smoothly. The track definitely offers some emotional feelings with its light guitar riffs and mellow vocals. “Reclaimer” also contains soft vocals that have some interesting filters on them as the verses are belted out with catchy tones. The guitar riffs are a little more punishing as they blast away with heavy riffs full of mean distorted sounds.

The album ends with a seven and a half minute track, entitled “Dead Moon.” The beginning guitar riffs have somewhat of a southern twang to them as you’ll hear the same melody for the first full minute of the song. The verses start out with more light singing vocals that sound layered together. The verses become more aggressive later as the vocals switch back to their harsh yelling tones. The southern melodies continue to play throughout the track as the bass started to follow their every riff. The one thing that really steps up at the end of the album are the drum rolls. Each fill becomes longer and more detailed with every new riff. Toms and snares clash together forming a strong mix of rumbling bass waves that’ll knock you on your ass. Even though the tempo of the song is slow, the speed of some of the drum rolls are incredible quick and heavy. I wish they gave this kind of performance throughout the entire album. If there’s one song you should definitely hear on this album, it’s this one.

“Phoenix” has an average stoner metal sound to it that isn’t horrible but at the same time, doesn’t really stand out from other bands. A lot of their riffs end up being repeated over and over again with no room for creativity. The vocals are solid but could have definitely been turned up a little in some of the tracks. The recording quality is at a somewhat low end as you might have a difficult time hearing certain instruments at certain times and muffled distortion in certain areas that probably shouldn’t have had it. If you come across the album, fine, but don’t feel the need to go out of your way to hear it.


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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Horse Latitudes - Awakening (2012)

Outside of the realm of the "same old doom metal," you will find Finnish three piece Horse Latitudes. They have thrown away the rule book, as it were, and ventured off into new territory. Comprised of two bass guitars and drums, with sparse vocal passages, they are taking doom to a much deeper place... literally. On their new album, "Awakening," they traverse the plains of doom, pass through the forests of drone, and do so without a six string in sight. Now that is some good "out of the box" thinking.

It seems only fitting that the opening track, "Preparation," is exactly that. It is a welcoming to a style of music that may seem foreign to you. Immediately touching on the low register, you are greeted by a rumbling harmony of bass guitars, with a consistent drum beat. It isn't until the following track, "Dissolution," begins that you get the full spectrum of sound. The slow, deliberately bludgeoning bass passages don't introduce a whole lot of lateral movement, if any at all. The constant vibration of cymbals is like a haze over the music. The vocals aren't the main focus, but merely another layer in a very shallow mix. The problem lies in the track length, with this one clocking in at over seven minutes of the same riff, the same structure, the same unchanging pattern. It struggles to get from point A to point B, often sounding lopsided and dragging.

The opening pounding of the drums on "Profane Awakening" isn't an explosion waiting to happen, but rather a bomb that remains dormant. Before long, you are thrust back into a very similar wave of low end shaking. The highlight here comes in the form of the vocals, rising above the mix in a style that Peter Steele may have appreciated. But even his dynamic choice of singing style can't inject any true life into the instrumental, with an occasional fill cutting across the channels. Even as things start to change and evolve, they rarely get to little more than a simmer. There is little difference from one movement to the next, even as "Decline Of The Ages" takes on a more traditional doom feel. To their credit, they do manage to blur the lines between bass and guitar here, almost making you forget that there isn't a "guitarist" involved. The density of the bass lines, and the level of distortion echoes that of a drop tuned guitar. The moaning and wailing vocals are certainly a mood setter, though the mood than portray may not be immediately clear. Again, a ten to twelve second fading bass note is all that leads you out.

The nearly thirteen minute epic, titled "Into The Deep" is an exercise in song writing, though not in a way that you would want to copy. Contained in this massive track are very few variations on the previous tracks, with the same repetitive chugging taking the place of any actual new material. Reminiscent of the most recent album by The Howling Void, this is really a two minute piece, stretched to the breaking point. Again, the vocals give you something to point to on the positive end, conveying true emotion and depth. After the drone novel that you just heard, the thankfully short, in a manner of speaking, "Along The Circles" signals that the end is in sight. And while this track does boast some of the more creative drumming, at least in the early stages, it does little to salvage the album as a whole. It takes until the last minute of the last track for you to convince yourself these people are still alive.

It is becoming commonplace for bands to buck the trends, and try to step out on their own, doing something unlike their peers. For Horse Latitudes, eliminating the guitar from their doom soaked work seemed like an interesting concept. But in practice, it leaves so little room for creativity and subtlety. Lost in the quaking and crunching of dueling bass lines is the need for versatility. Sure, there are moments where you'll think that things are starting to come to life. But when you take six tracks, stretch them over 46 minutes without any change of pace or power, "Awakening" is destined to put you to sleep.


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Monday, March 19, 2012

Massive Pain - Demo (2012)

Stepping out of the shadows of Korinthos, Greece comes a vicious new thrash metal band by the name of Massive Pain. After forming in the beginning of 2011 the four piece has released their new demo this past February as they provide hell raising guitar solos and monstrous vocals that are sure to catch your attention.

The “Intro” opens up the demo with dominating riffs that chug away as thunderous kicks and snares rumble heavily beneath you. An electrifying guitar solo jumps over the top with soaring melodic notes that will spin you in circles as they wrap around you head with quick speeds. This goes on for about two minutes straight until it fades into the song “Runaway.” This wild track introduces the bands lead vocalist, Panos H. His raspy aggressive voice gives off a beast of a sound adding an angry tone to his words. Heavily distorted guitar riffs destroy the background of the verse as they are accompanied by rapid kicks and snares that beat you into the ground relentlessly. The middle of the song comes to a halt when all of the instruments fade. A single guitar continues to float with its catchy melodies. Its calm tones play alone for about a minutes straight before you are awakened by wicked guitars and a wild solo. The vocals step back in towards the end with more heavy lyrics before track fades to an end.

The third track on the demo is “Hell Is Here” and by the sound of its demonic chords and aggressive guitars that surround you, this title isn’t kidding. Dark lyrics come blaring out of your speakers as quick double bass pedal patterns collide with pounding snares and shattering cymbals. The high tempo of the guitars will have you moshing in your own home for sure. The demo is wrapped up with “At War” which opens with some incredibly detailed drum rolls crushing you with toms and snares. Fast chugging guitar riffs quickly follow with catchy melodies as the vocals step in with more vicious shouting. Each verse ends with a powerful guitar solo that will knock you out of your chair. Make sure you pay close attention to the bass in the track. You’ll find some monstrous bass lines with catchy melodies as well. Things come to an end with another explosive guitar solo throwing notes at you from all directions as the drums completely annihilate everything in its path. It’ll make you feel as if you’re watching them live as they perform a closing finale. The track will definitely have you hooked as you’ll find yourself replaying the track again and again.

The demo has a decent recording quality but could use a few minor tweaks but besides that everything is pretty clear and in the open. The vocals were a huge part to this band and will have you wanting more. There’s a lot of energy from the instruments as well as you’ll find the guitar solos quite fitting to all of the heavy riffs and relentless drum rolls. Definitely check the demo out and keep an eye on what Massive Pain comes up with next.


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Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Podcast: Episode 40 (Mid life crisis)

So, we hit the big 4-0. This past week was the one year anniversary of when two metal heads from New York hit the "Create blog" button, and thus Sorrow Eternal was born. We look back at some of our reviews for the last week or so, recovering from the blooper reel of last Sunday. Darrell had a full plate, with releases from Barren Earth, Three Steps To The Ocean, Diabulus In Musica, and Black Ink. Justin had a productive week, as well, with reviews for Epica, Amberian Dawn, and M-Pire Of Evil making their way to the site. A few news and note later, and we call it an episode...

But not before a big announcement......

There is one part, which can be downloaded here.

There is also a second part, which you could get here.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Drakkar: The Interview

When you have an opportunity to sit down with veterans of the power metal genre and talk shop, it is impossible to pass up. We caught up with Italian power metal band Drakkar, to talk about what it means to be a part of that genre, the ever increasing competitiveness of the Italian metal scene, and the risk and reward of writing an album that is very story based, like "When Lightning Strikes."

First, let me say that it is a pleasure and honor to have the opportunity to talk to you about your music and your work. Thank you for taking this time to sit down with us.

It's my pleasure, really.

Going back to the formation of the band in 1995, what led to the decision to use the name Drakkar? What does the name signify to you?

I can't honestly say for sure where did it come from, as the name was chosen by the original bass player and founder of the band, which I joined a few months later. However, it's a name I always liked: short, epic, easy to remember and powerful.

Before we get to the music, let's talk about the story that "When Lightning Strikes" is built on. What inspired the story itself, and how important do you think that story is for the listeners?

The inspiration came primarily from the classic American "pulp" science fiction of the '50s and '60s. Stuff like Jack Kirby's comics, Star Trek, movies like "The Day The Earth Stood Still", all those kind of things. I love the American pop culture of those years and I thought it would have been fun to work in that context for the album's lyrics and mood. Things like the spoken parts of "The Armageddon Machine" have been specifically tailored to try and recreate that kind of experience. That's why they are so emphatic, maybe a little bit corny, if you will, but that's part of the fun of it.

Unlike so many other albums, yours is really story based, with each track telling a different piece.
How difficult was it to write music and lyrics to support the story itself?

Well, it was obviously a challenge, but it all came very natural in the end. I'd say that the longest part was to research and find those touches, both in music and lyrics, that would make the experience more organic and unique. Some examples are the Russian polka in the middle of "Winter Soldiers", or the Japanese introduction for "Salvation", things that had to captivate the listener and take him to a specific place and time, make him feel part of the story. We didn't want to create just a collection of songs with intertwining lyrics, but a whole musical journey that you can sit down and take when you put the record on... a cinematic experience, if you will. Once we set our minds to this, it really was a very natural process.

Right from the start of the album, there is a strong focus on symphonics. How difficult is it to balance a strong symphonic element and the pounding drums and distorted riffs?

Well, for us it's always a matter of focusing on the songs, first and foremost. We don't consider ourselves an actual "Symphonic Metal" band; our compositions not usually revolve around the orchestra, of course there are intros and stuff like that, but ultimately, the symphonic parts are our icing on the cake, which is the song. I would say that we're pretty much focused on creating good metal songs with good melodies; then, the orchestra comes in as a mean to add a more epic, grandiose feeling. Of course the orchestral parts are important, but they are in service of the songs, not the other way around.

Not only do the lyrics tell the story, but so much of the emotion comes from the guitar riffs themselves. Tell us a little about the writing process, and how each layer of sound contributes to the overall style of the band?

Well, usually, I write the bulk of each song on the guitar, coming up with riffs, verse, bridge (if any) and chorus. Then Corrado and I work on the instrumental parts and, together with the others, finalize the structure. When the structure is done, everyone works on arranging his parts in detail. Me and Dave usually work together on the main vocal melodies, we've found we get the best results like that, and during this process I also start writing the lyrics, which are usually the last thing to be completed. Everyone of us has the chance to contribute to the sound of the band, and I love that, I think it gives us a more rich and varied palette of influences and moods, as everyone of us has different tastes.

Songs like "Revenge Is Done" and the title track, "When Lightning Strikes," really show off vocalist Davide Dell'Orto's vocal range. Who were Davide's influences as a singer?

Dave has done such a great job on this album, it really show how mature he is nowadays as a singer. As far as influences go, he is a great fan of James Hetfield, Russell Allen, Dave Coverdale, Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio, Phil Anselmo... But he also likes a lot of music which is not necessarily metal, and I think that helps him to find some solutions which you wouldn't immediately expect. As I told before, we work together on all vocals for the songs and I honestly think we make a great team, because Dave is not just a talented singer, he's also a great guy, always concentrated on making the best possible song, not on showing off. Ego is really not a factor for any of us in the band, and I think that's the reason why we're still together after so many years and despite all the difficulties we faced.

What does "power metal" mean to you? Musically, lyrically, emotionally, how does it make you feel?

It's a kind of music that is full of energy, the perfect blend between aggression and melody. It's a musical style that gives you a boost of confidence, of power... helps you believe in yourself and find the will to take on life, to fight for what is worth to you. I really think it elevates the soul, and that's probably the reason why it goes so well with symphonic touches/influences, because classical music has that same quality, that touch of eternity, it's uprising. At least, that's the way I feel about it.

Being a part of the power metal movement is a huge honor. Alongside bands like Blind Guardian, Rhapsody (and Rhapsody of Fire), and Stratovarius, you are helping to build the most melodic metal genre. What is it that attracted you to power metal, and why do you think it is such a beloved form of metal?

Well, you can pretty much understand it from my answer above. It's a kind of music that has so much energy, it's aggressive and powerful but without having the need to be angry and furious all the time, as it can convey a very positive message. It's power put to good use to raise your head, stand tall, proud, and believe in yourself. I know that a lot of people will always be dismissive of Power Metal because it's not as "cool" as more extreme forms of metal music, but we honestly don't care. We do what we like to do, we're just sincere and we're never gonna allow others to tell us what we must do. And that's another thing which I think is really associated with Power Metal: stubborn passion!

You are no strangers to the Italian metal scene. But recently there has been an explosion of metal bands from Italy, propelling your home country to the top of the metal world. How do you feel about the metal scene in Italy today, and the crop of bands it has produced?

I think Italy has an incredible amount of talented bands and musicians, in every sub-genre of the metal world. It's a shame that it's so difficult for Italian bands to be noticed and recognized by the big European labels and festival (with a few notable exceptions). I mean, everyone could tell you that the road to recognition for Italian bands is twice as hard as that of our brothers from the North... Germany, Sweden, Finland bands have a lot more exposure and chances, while we have to struggle for every inch. But quality-wise, I don't think Italian bands have anything to envy to more renowned musical scenes.

With a new album released through My Kingdom Music, what comes next for Drakkar? What can we expect to see and hear from you in the coming months and years? Can we expect a sequel to "When Lightning Strikes"?

Sure! Right now we're focusing on some live shows here in Italy. We are also looking to cross the border, but that is really difficult and to be honest we are not the time to sell our moms for a 15-minutes support slot where you can barely start playing and you're kicked off the stage, so... We'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, I already started working on a lot of material for the next album, our goal is to record it in 2013. We don't want to disappear again for another 10 years, I mean, we're back and here to stay and we already lost too much time.

Thank you again for your time, and for the music you make. We look forward to what comes next!

Thanks to you for everything. Stay metal!
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Friday, March 16, 2012

LLVME - Yia De Nuesu (2012)

A lot of bands try to mash too many genres together and end up sounding horrible. Well LLVME isn’t one of those bands. They actually put together a pretty balanced sound in their new album, entitled “Yia De Nuesu.” The extreme metal band from Spain manages to combine blackened death metal sounds with folk and even Arabic tones and melodies. If that description doesn’t excite you than I don’t know what will.

The album begins with the song “1188-1230” which opens with an eerie melody that is accompanied by slammed guitars and double bass pedals. The guitars start to chug away as the verse begins with vicious growls. Booming drum rolls take over the background with echoing cymbals and detailed double bass pedals that will have you throwing your devil horns up immediately. The refrain contains seductive female vocals that hypnotize you deeper into the song as the growling vocals come through and completely destroy you. Later follows a soothing violin solo that is calm and haunting gat the same time. This runs right into a wild guitar solo that runs up and down the musical scale recklessly. The female vocals fade back in soon after with angelic tones and gorgeous melodies. The tracks closes with a beautiful piano riff. This is a perfect opening track that displays all sorts of instruments and structure and gives you a taste of what this album is all about.

Things become heavier with “Helmantica.” The tempo picks up with quick speeds as relentless snares pound away at you while double bass pedals rumble violently beneath you. The growls waste no time as they quickly rush in from the beginning. They are layered with monstrous guitar riffs and surrounded by keyboard strings. Definitely make sure you pay close attention to the drumming because the fills in this track are phenomenal and will blow your mind. Later comes a song, entitled “Conceyu” which contains soothing strings and violins throughout the track giving off both light and dark tones. Powerful guitars blast away in the background as more pulverizing growls take over with wicked lyrics. This track continues to show how diverse they can get with all of the different uses of different instruments and distorted effects. You’ll find yourself hitting the repeat button in no time.

Warm strings fill the air in “Purtiellu De La Llialta.” Beautiful guitar riffs slowly fade in almost playing as a vocals. Distorted guitar come in on top with heavy distortion as they chug slowly as the drums jump in with exploding snares. The verse has an interesting build to it as you will find melodic bag pipes floating in the background while monstrous guitar riffs and drums shake you. Violent growls are thrown at you giving off a realy beauty and the beast type of feel. Meanwhile the strings continue to surround you with their relaxing presence. Later comes another guitar solo with calm melodies and catchy notes. This is definitely a song I find myself going back to again and again.

“Llibacion Nu Alborecer” has a great mixture of distorted guitars and beautiful piano riffs that carry clean male vocals gently throughout the track. Of course you are later met with monstrous growls that will knock you off your seat. Meanwhile demonic violins begin to take over surrounding you with dark devilish tones. You run into these ominous violins a couple of times throughout the track. The song structure was set up perfectly to give you a little bit of everything.

“Yia De Nuesu” has a refreshing sound with it’s unique elements and its use of various instruments. Each track is well designed and leaves you guessing as far as where their sound will lead next. LLVME creates an intense atmosphere of weeping violins, thrashing guitar riffs and warm bag pipes and strings. It’s all connected in perfect time with their thunderous drum fills and relentless double bass pedal rolls. This is definitely a work of art that you don’t want to miss!


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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rogue Sounds - Jupiter And Beyond The Infinite (2012)

Anaheim, California's Rogue Sounds are creating immense soundscapes that simply cannot be contained. Following in the footsteps of some of the titans of their genre, they are taking the art of post-metal, and making it easy to understand, and even easier to enjoy. And while this three piece offer their work up for little to no cost, rest assured the quality far surpasses the asking price. But eliminating the cost means you have no reason not to hear what "Jupiter And The Infinite Beyond" has to offer.

From the first blast of "Wormsign," you can get a sneak peek of what you are in for. Relentless drumming stands out, never missing a beat. The guitars provide the atmosphere, the bass provides the driving force. Falling somewhere between the unbridled aggression of Isis and the smooth, polished flow of Junius, there is plenty to digest. This isn't a one dimensional instrumental, but rather an ever changing, ever evolving composition. The addition of synths to the background is a subtle, but very effective, touch. And while subtleties are such a large part of what makes this music enjoyable, it is the obvious pieces that make it so easy to listen to. Evident in every drum stroke on "25th Parallel North," there is an assertiveness that, if it was missing, would create a gaping hole in the mix. Instead, every gap is filled, making each section unique, yet connected. The groove provided by the bass line, combined with the airy synthesizers that accompany it, counteract the heavier guitars and drums. It leads to a tug of war, where both side pull, keeping the rope precisely centered.

If, somehow, you aren't sold on the merits of electronics in the post-metal movement, "Mission To The Sun" might hep to sway you, one way or the other. Beginning with programmed horns and beats, it lays the groundwork for a space age feel. What you are greeted with at the beginning is all you get, with the band choosing to use this as an extended interlude, rather than the foundation for a building guitar track. For better or worse, it fades into "Solar Nebula," which immediately brings things back to life. The drums are massive in sound, from each kick to every passing snare. The track is a perfectly formed take on atmospheric post-metal, with an intense wall of sound following you throughout. Guitar chords are strummed, echoing for seconds afterwards. Once again, use of synthesizers brighten the mix, elevating every guitar fueled note to new levels.

The short interlude, titled "Continuum Storm," is short and to the point, break beats included. Walking the fine line between electronic interlude and techno homage, it finishes the arch that "Mission To The Sun" began, this time fading right into the closing track, "LV-426." Gone is the house vibe, and returning is the low end provided by a true rhythm section. Rock solid, like a concrete foundation, they keep the tempo and give the melody a starting point. With layers of guitars and synths building up over the course of over five minutes, you are slowly surrounded by the distortion and crashing snares. There is some degree of immersion that must follow, allowing yourself to be swallowed whole by the mix, only to be washed ashore minutes later.

It is almost amazing how easily Rogue Sounds transition from beats to hard edged, guitar driven metal. The cohesion between all three members results something that is both engaging and accessible. They have taken the ideas of some of their biggest influences, and made them into something uniquely their own. And, with this being a work of art rather than a business venture, they can do what they choose. By offering up the music itself for free, it is an invitation. It reads: "This is our new album, 'Jupiter And Beyond The Infinite.' Sit back, and enjoy." So, what are you waiting for?


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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Barren Earth - The Devil's Resolve (2012)

Finnish six piece Barren Earth have a style all their own. Blending 70's psychedelic rock with modern progressive metal, this outfit is more than the sum of it's members. Featuring current and former members of Moonsorrow, Amorphis, Kreator and Swallow The Sun, this is one "super group" that has lived up to the hype so far. Their first full length, "Curse Of The Red River" was widely heralded as a work of metal genius, by fans and critics from around the world. But with the dreaded sophomore slump looming over them, can they make "The Devil's Resolve" better their the previous effort?

The band wastes no time in getting into the meat of things, with "Passing Of The Crimson Shadows" picking up where they left off. They find a striking balance between melody and distortion, both in the vocal tracks and guitars. The trade off of clean singing in the verse, and the devilish growls of the chorus is always a factor, building momentum with each pass of the baton. But the guitars share a similar aspect, with acoustic picking leading the way for devastating chugging and wild solo work.The progressive rock vibe is furthered by the use of keyboards, always extending the reach of the track, always laying in wait behind the drums. In "The Rains Begin," you have the song that best represents the mission statement of the band. The psychedelic tones are undeniable, with a great growling hook to seal the deal. But the transition from atmospheric to heavy is where the real skill comes, flowing seamlessly from enchanting folk guitars into dense thrashing ones. The breakdown section is a keeper, pairing harsh vocals over melodic, and 70's inspired, guitars and keys.

The pacing picks up on "Vintage Warlords," but the diversity is still at a high, choosing to keep the mix varied, as opposed to focusing on just one style. This becomes a mash-up of Finnish folk, progressive, and the death/doom genre they know so well. The crashing of cymbals cannot be contained, sizzling throughout the track. But as you get to the midway point, you are greeted with an interlude that would make Deep Purple proud, showing that melodic sensibilities have a place in the heaviest of metal outputs. The melodic fades, and the masterful growls return to finish the job. Perhaps the most inspired track on the album comes in the form of "As It Is Written," which sees use of the bagpipes, and very intricate keys. The guitar riffs, bending and sliding, will root themselves in your brain for days. The vocal contrast sees use again, but moreso here than anywhere else. When backed by the shredding and groove that comes from the guitar side of things, you have evidence of a band that is more focused, more complete than any time before. Combine that with "The Dead Exiles," and you are going to have something to hang your hat on. The air of evil is incredible, with a slow, deliberate barrage of drums and guitars. But just when you think you are hearing a straightforward death/doom track that may have been left off a Swallow The Sun release, the melody makes an appearance, cutting through the thick fog of riffs and rage.

Amidst all the heavy riffs and eclectic vocal combinations, the drums may become a background, instead of a leader. That changes on "Oriental Pyre," allowing each kick, every single roll and fill to shine through with surgical precision. The melodic vocal passages are layered so delicately atop a bed of drums and guitars that it is only fitting to have it all torn to shreds by a single scream. Again, you find a strange mix in the breakdown, with guitars and keys twirling and winding over wild drums, syncing back together for a final push to the finish. It would be hard to pinpoint the dark wave of music that you are treated to on "White Fields," where even the more emotive sections have an eerie tinge to them. Whether it be the keys in the melody, or the pacing of the riffs, it all just leaves you feeling slightly uneasy, perhaps even looking over your shoulder. Fittingly this stories end with "Where All Stories End," a summation, of sorts, of the work this band has achieved thus far. Though it clocks in at under six minutes, there is so much on display here, including everything you picked up on along the way. The guitar work is the true star, with some great solo work leaping over the mix. The perfect harmony is struck as the track starts to fade to a close, seeing layered melodic vocals set atop a thunder of drums and distortion. And, as you would expect, a light, clean guitar plays you out.

As we have seen so many times before, the so-called "super groups" fail for two basic reasons. First, they are ego stroking bores. Second, they sound exactly like one or more of the main bands involved. Barren Earth have managed to avoid both pitfalls, creating a sound that is all their own, without a trace of ego or entitlement. From one album to the next, they have fine tuned and honed their sound, finding a more defined space to inhabit. What makes this even more incredible is that it is all accomplished in a limited "side project" schedule. "The Devil's Resolve" is exactly what you want it to be, exactly what you thought it would be, and exactly what it should be.


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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Epica - Requiem For The Indifferent (2012)

As we waited patiently, Epica has finally returned with a new symphonic masterpiece, entitled “Requiem For The Indifferent.” It’s 14 tracks of gorgeous orchestrated instruments and stunning vocals with wild performances of electrifying guitars and beastly double bass pedal drumming. The album will have you surrounded with ravishing melodies and breath taking lyrics that are sure to be stuck in you’re head for days.

The album opens with marching snares rolls and soothing strings in “Karma.” The two and a half minute intro contains epic choirs and orchestrated strings to help build up “Monopoly On Truth.” This song comes rumbling in with wild guitar riffs and insane drum fills that will wake you up immediately. Relentless snares punch you in the face while melodic guitars wrap you in circles completely surrounding you with destructive riffs. Simons take over the beginning of the verse with her operatic voice while detailed drum rolls shake beneath you. She is then met with the wicked growls of Mark Jansen which completely rip through the verse. You’ll immediately start to see the difference in this album as you’ll notice that Jansen’s growls are used a lot more often than the bands previous work. Each verse jumps back and forth between the female singing and monstrous growls. The chorus has calm vocals delivered by Simons with gentle tones. Later in the song you’ll come across the first solo of the album and yes it’s a bomber. Each note rips through you with gorgeous sounds while double bass pedals pound away in the background.

“Delirium” opens with soft chants and slow piano riffs that really capture a beautiful image. Simons steps in for the verse with angelic lyrics while piano notes continue to shine in the background. The chorus is mellow and is carried out by Simons’ soothing voice as she delivers catchy melodies. A light choir chants along with her during the refrain giving the song a more full sound. Later enter drums and strings adding more rhythm to the music but yet still keeps the mood calm. As the track builds and builds, electrifying distorted guitars fade in for a short while as the chorus is repeated with reckless energy. This is a ballade you don’t want to miss.

Arabic tones open up the song “Requiem For The Indifferent“ as it really puts together a different sound than we‘re used to with Epica. The verse jumps at you with a few grunts before Simons comes in with her operatic voice. Meanwhile galloping drum rolls run rapid through the background as vicious guitar riffs chug away violently. The chorus reminds you a little more of their older material as Simons soars over the guitars with high pitch melodies shattering the musical scale. This runs right into more wicked growls that are filled with demonic tones. The drums are definitely something to play close attention to in this track. The patterns are constantly changing along with the tempo while each fill is explosive and unique. After a short rest with the instrumental, “Anima,” the song “Guilty Demeanor” comes in with punishing guitar riffs that’ll knock you out of your seat for sure. Blaring chugging guitars are accompanied by dark strings and fast double bass pedals. These monstrous guitar riffs carry through the verses into the refrain which Simons provides you with catchy vocals and clear lyrics. “Deep Water Horizon” is a little more subtle on the intro as quiet acoustic riffs play gently as Simons hypnotizes you with her attractive voice. Distortioned guitars fade in towards the end of the verse building up the chorus perfectly. Theses mesmerizing lyrics will have you hitting the replay button immediately.

Later you’ll come across “Avalanche” which starts out slow with gloomy strings and angelic violins. Simons shines in the verse which she is accompanied by acoustic guitar riffs and light strings. Her operatic tones send a chill down your spine as you feel the emotion in her voice. However just as you become comfortable, Jansen swoops in with deadly growls that’ll make you shit yourself. Blasting guitar riffs echo in the background with catchy melodies and thumping bass lines. A chanting choir chimes in during the middle of the track as a rush of violins speed by with captivating sounds. Jansen steps back in with more vicious grunts destroying everything in its way. The chugging guitar riffs will have you throwing your devil horns in the air towards the end as a mind blowing solo comes through and sweeps you off your feet. This leads right into the final song, entitled “Serenade Of Self-Destruction.” This epic masterpiece runs for over nine minutes long and contains everything from soft piano intros to hard hitting guitar riffs backed with pulverizing drum rolls filled with detailed patterns that’ll have you bobbing your head recklessly. The tempos change in speed constantly leaving you with no time to guess what is about to happen next. The song itself is a real experience and you’ll want to replay it a couple of times in order to catch everything.

The 14th track is considered a bonus track, entitled “Twin Flames.” It’s a gorgeous ballad that Simons really shows of her reach in pitch and operatic style. Soothing strings and piano notes carry you away as you’re put to sleep by Simons ravishing vocals and beautiful lyrics. The refrain will have you humming its melodies in your sleep. Before you know it, the album is back to track one and the adventure starts all over again!

Epica continues to change their sound in a unique and positive way separating each album from the one before. “Requiem For The Indifferent” jumps through their norm of classical tones and orchestrations and pushes forward to an even more aggressive sound than they’ve ever reached before. Monstrous growls and machine gun guitar riffs add a special spark that really ignites the flame for this album. This is a pure beauty and the beast style at its best.


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