Ilenkus are a Progressive Post-Metal quintet from Ireland, the lads have recently released their latest album "The Crossing" (15/09/14) and have also unveiled their latest music video "Over The Fire, Under The Smoke" which in total honesty is a rather special video, no visual effects, no gimmicky tricks or fancy stuff, just one lad by the name of Chris Brennan strolling through the streets of Galway, singing to the song to bemused onlookers.
You can watch the video further down.
GMA managed to catch up with the lads and talk to them about both the new album, their music video, what they think the Irish Metal scene should have and whether or not they should ditch the euro.
Hi guys, a lot has happened in the Ilenkus camp, can you give us the background behind your new album?
We recorded the album in different locations in Ireland but we wanted to go with an engineer who understood our goals and the sonic real estate in which the album would sit in. We spoke with many engineers about making the album and eventually Chris Common (Chelsea Wolfe, These Arms Are Snakes, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe) agreed to take the reins, he does not mix music as heavy as ours for the most part but we knew we needed a unique approach.
What inspired you to opt for a Progressive / Post-Metal approach? Do you feel it lacks representation as a genre?
That is the style of music that we play as a group, and there was no conscious thought about it when it came to style on this record. I don't feel that this genre lacks representation but it is a hard style to pigeon hole, and some people are scared of doing that.
Focusing on the Irish Metal scene, what do you feel lacks in the scene? What could be improved?
Wild West themed metal festivals. (Ed: are there even any Wild West metal bands?)
How nervous was Chris Brennan when recording the music video? What did the public think of the production? Who came up with the idea and do you feel this is a great way to promote Galway, Irish culture and connect yourself with the city?
Chris is the only person i know with the right temperament and bottle to have done this, he was cool as a cucumber and there was a very mixed reaction from the public. We chat a lot of s*** in the van and on the road and come up with all sorts of crazy ideas. Josh came up with that idea while we were recording the drums and bass for "The Crossing" in Limerick. The video does promote Galway I guess, but that wasn't our intention - we just felt that it was most appropriate to shoot the concept in our home town.
What plans does Ilenkus have for the rest of the year and into 2015 besides the tour?
We have plans to write some new music.
Since joining the Euro, do you feel Ireland has gotten worse or better off? What are your thoughts on the euro and E.U.?
It's convenient with the money but Ireland has plunged into recession since joining the Euro. Probably would have happened anyway, who knows?
How do the three vocals differ? Could you explain why you have three musicians covering vocal duties?
They were all arguing about who should do the singing and then the voices in the argument turned from speech into singing and even further into screaming, I was scared but the melodies were soothing.
Individually, what song off of 'The Crossing' is your favorite and could you explain your choice of song?
I don't have a favorite song because i have not heard the record, the lads wont let me hear it.
Finally are there any hello's, greetings etc you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
Machinergy are a Thrash Metal trio hailing from the Lisbon District in Portugal. In September they dropped the physical version of their second album "Sounds Evolution" via Portuguese label Metal Soldiers Records and Greek label Secret Port Records worldwide. Prior to this on the 2nd June, they released the digital counterpart to the second album and this earned them sensational reviews:
"From the first to the final breathing, they attack relentlessly with a track-list overall vigorous and brutal, keeping the standards high-leveled with no relevant ups and downs between songs" Rock & Heavy [Chile]
"Remember when thrash bands did ten tracks of brutal, fast, pounding music and released it as an album without a thought for appealing to people outside the genre? Machinergy have recaptured those days" The Moshville Times [UK]
"They will no doubt blow your speakers" Metal Galaxy [Canada]
"This is one bad-ass album" Woodbangers [USA]
Following this success, Global Metal Apocalypse decided to take time out to speak with Vocalist / Guitarist Rui Vieira about the album, their award-winning documentary, the Portuguese Metal scene and the destruction of the Euro currency.
Hi Rui, now you are releasing your second album this month in CD format, how does it differ from 'Rhythmotion'?
Hi there! Well, one of the things is the speed! 'Sounds Evolution' has faster songs than "Rhythmotion'. Besides that, I think we created more simple structures in comparison with the first record, and because we're a trio we recorded the songs thinking about the playing live part. I could make a lot more solos and leads but if I cannot replicate that live, it's better not to do it. Concerning some reviews, they frequently mention our old school heritage (80's Sepultura, Metallica, Slayer, etc) that is way more declared than the first CD.
Machinergy has been going since 2006, what has been the highlight of the band's career thus far?
I think we achieved some important things in these 8 years but, besides our records, our documentary of 2012 is a big highlight for us. It was something new in the Portuguese metal scene and a fresh way to present the EP 'Rhythm Between Sounds'. The cherry on the top of the cake was the award we received recently in a film festival in our homeland, Arruda dos Vinhos.
Focusing on the Portuguese Metal scene, what do you feel lacks within the scene (if anything)? What is the support for metal like in Portugal?
We have some good publications in the underground, from paper fanzines to webzines, there are some venues and festivals where you can play but in the end, you always reach the same conclusion: You must 'fight' for your band! It's very hard nowadays to top a band, your band. There are hundreds and Portugal is not a big country. So, you must keep the publications updated, play live frequently, have good conduct, try to be active in the scene and do your work as best as you can! And persistence. That's one of the main things that's not easy and only some achieve.
Are there any lyrical themes you tend to turn to for each release? What inspires you to write these lyrics?
There's no criteria for the lyrics. In 'Sounds Evolution', there are some common points but, in general, it's very diverse. Some lyrics are more simple and straight to the point, others are more camouflaged. But I try to write always about something that's worthy of writing and transmitting a message. Some may understand, others may not.
If you could spend a day with anyone from Portugal who is famous, who would it be and why?
Maybe a day with Jorge Jesus, the GREAT Benfica FC (best team in the world) coach. He's possibly the best stand-up comedian we have 'round here!
How (and if) has the change in currency, from the Escudo to Euro, affected the scene with regards to instrument prices, live fees, etc?
The Euro is one of the causes of the current crisis situation we have in Portugal. When the Euro appeared, prices increased dramatically. In some cases it increased 50%! Taking into account the salaries remained the same and we have more and more taxes to pay, you can imagine... concerning the tickets for live gigs, it's curious, the prices have been the same for years. For a medium show with 3 to 4 international bands, you'll pay 25 Euros.
Can you give us the background behind the new album? From the planning to the recording, and to the releasing stage?
We started to write 'Sounds Evolution' in 2010. I don't remember if it was 'Cada Falso' or 'Sounds Evolution' we wrote first but we soon realized the new material would bring outside our thrash root in its plenitude. The first record is more industrial, slower and I think we felt the necessity to do an album like this, straight to the point. We recorded it in our home studio and took the time we need to do all the things, to gain more experience, that's a fact.
Concerning the physical release, again our friend Fernando Roberto from Metal Soldiers Records helped us out with it. This partnership extends to the Greek label Secret Port Records. For the next record, I think maybe it would be a good idea to record in a studio and let someone do the job. We've been making everything since 2006 without stopping, we need a rest.
Outside of music, you recently won the best short film category at the Curt'Arruda film festival, can you give us the background behind that, what it entails, what this means for Portuguese metal and the band of course?
The documentary is about our roots, our beginnings in the 80's. We talk about our influences and difficulties that I'm sure are common to the old school metalheads. It was the tape-trading times, the snail mail, the lack of information and money, well... good and passionate but difficult times. We also paid homage to the radio stations and important people that helped us in discovering heavy metal. The documentary was well received in general but, since it was something new and pioneering in our metal scene, I think it deserved a little more attention but... dear friends out there, check it! I'm pretty sure you will like it!
[You can watch the documentary on YouTube here] - it is in Portuguese but has excellent visual representations.
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and into 2015?
Right now, we're committed to bring Machinergy to the world with our new record. Thus therefore, we have just discussed about having a possible live recording to make a DVD. It's a way to fill the gap between albums and keep the band active in the scene.
Finally are there any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
Thank you Global Metal Apocalypse for this nice interview! We also want to thank all our friends around the world that are helping us, especially with reviews and interviews, radio stations and, of course, our closest friends. A special big thanks to Fernando Roberto from Metal Soldiers Records (Portugal) who has been a great friend and professional in the last few years.
Kuwait has one of the smallest metal scenes in the Middle East, in fact the scene is possibly on par with the likes of Bahrain, maybe Qatar but it's definitely not on the same level as the Yemen, as there appears to be no metal music history there whatsoever.
With a population of around 4.04 million (for comparison London is roughly double this) and a very underground metal scene, how can bands like Depth, Earsplit, Eyeresist, Benevolent *, Voice Of The Soul * and especially Divine Disorder keep themselves out of trouble, keep the Kuwaiti metalheads supporting what can be perceived as the most internationally-recognized music genres and at the same time, survive the insane heat that you would think affects them when playing at live shows..... well come on, who wants to mosh in 46*c?
* formed in Kuwait but moved to Dubai for undisclosed reasons
GMA caught up with clean vocalist / bassist Darkvain to gain an insight into what makes the Kuwaiti Metal scene tick.
Hi Jassem, how is it going and what has Divine Disorder been up to lately?
Right now the heat and climate in Kuwait is at its peak, it's nothing less than 50C. But overall we are fine hehe and about Divine Disorder, having finished the production of the album and having the official CD in our hands, what we are doing right now is preparing promotional packages and contacting the officials back and forth.
We have worked our asses off to meet the end result, and I can’t imagine throwing it out just like that, personally we feel that it deserves better effort and time ;)
Now Divine Disorder hails from Kuwait, please tell us what the metal scene is like and does the Government tolerate metal music? How long has it been going and what issues has it faced?
We as a band weren't around during the start of the whole metal scene In Kuwait; we still weren’t into metal music hehe. I have met a lot of the guys who put a lot into starting it and so on and have been told it was nearly the mid of 90s and even back then it didn’t face much of struggle as it was too small and no one knew about the activities.
As it started to grow, the Government started to see it and labelled the act as "Satanism" and that stayed along with us up until now. At least let's say during the last 5 years metal activities shut down almost completely, we find it as if the metal scene in Kuwait died. And musicians went underground, especially since it has been putting us in serious legal situations and one basically doesn’t want to ruin his daily life routine / activities / jobs with such offensive legal problems.
With Divine Disorder we are taking things differently, we hope that it will open up for us the way we imagine it will. Placing things onto an international level could pull the attention of the foreign media towards us.
What in your opinion are the three biggest issues Middle Eastern Metal bands and fans alike face?
I can’t name three different issues as all of them remain in the same category that we face. Not being accepted the way we are, and not giving us second thought on what is metal and what are the ideas or thoughts we are trying to express.
This leads to a lot of issues, such as not being able to have instrument shops provide us with the kind of equipment we use and prefer, not being able to perform live shows unless pay extra and travel further away just to perform a small show, and this could be a real issue for bands like us as a lot of labels nowadays only look out for those bands that have enough live show history and that’s very hard to achieve with such circumstances.
Now I would assume the only form of media presence for metal music in the Middle East is Jorzine (and of course GMA but ignore us ;).
I could say Jorzine is one of the biggest platforms that has helped a lot of bands out, but there are also some others who try their best to put the spotlight on the underground scenes. Metality.net is one of the finest examples. Hehe I could ignore GMA if that’s what you want hehe but I have to admit the great effort Global Metal Apocalypse are putting and that’s appreciated so much, and they gained our trust so fast. You RHYS takes things way too seriously and I like that of you!
Who has Divine Disorder played alongside (if anyone) since the band's inception? Any renowned bands?
Divine Disorder haven’t stepped on stage yet, there are a lot of plans regarding that area of things that will come after the release of our debut album, if things go as good as we want them to be. However we have a close association with other artists in the metal scene, two members of Divine Disorder, Azurayl and myself have been in a previous project called "Positive Poison" which started around 2003 and in that previous project the band played with almost all of the existing metal bands in Kuwait, almost, to name few: Throne of Thorns, Depth and Terminus.
Could you explain the meaning behind each of the band member’s stage names? Why these in particular?
Hehe oh those stage names, I remember we were reviewed by one of the local bloggers, and they had to state how childish or horrible they sounded hehe, I could agree to some point, but only if he went through the struggles we went through as musicians, only then would they understand hehe, I bet they were fairly new to the whole metal scene In Kuwait and the issues we face on a daily basis.
At some point or another we had to go with stage names to hide our identities and not be associated with those acts they call Satanism (metal). We were into Gothic and Dark Metal and that’s what our previous project Positive Poison mainly was more about.
To add to that I also would like to state that we like to take things in a cinematic / theatrical perspective and that could explains so much. Being known with that stage name all your life, we thought of keeping them the way they are.
Do you feel metal music is becoming more and more appreciated globally? On a local level do you feel it eases social issues?
Some of it. I personally think the Metal scene is changing so much I can’t see it going in a better direction. Things are taken now as 'how fast can you play', 'how brutal and ass-kicking you are', 'how much you screaming and how bad ass they think they are', in fact now it's all about the looks and high budget production with no soul or identity attached to the music.
I can see how the new wave of metal is being mixed with the mainstream more and how the newer generations are accepting metal more but from metal's new outfit / identity.
Did the Arab Spring affect the Kuwait Metal scene and musicians as a whole?
I think it didn’t affect us as much, things are indeed changing but you would still feel the same "uncomfortable" vibe going on.
Does the climate of Kuwait affect musicians when they play, surely it affects the instruments you use?
Hehe we got used to the climate, and we have our ways to deal with it, we would know when it is the right time to have a fresher climate with less heat and less humidity, as at certain times of the year we would have that happen. And to stay safe we usually do our activities indoor where you can control it with air conditioning ;)
But the last time I remember performing live was on 2010. Since then I can’t name or remember one serious metal show that has happened.
Is equipment expensive in Kuwait? Or is it relatively cheap? Where is it usually imported to?
I can’t say it’s cheap or expensive, I think it’s average and affordable. But as mentioned before we don’t have much in the way of instrument shops that provide the top notch brands that metal bands or musicians find interesting. And importing any would cost you at least double how much the instrument costs.
What does Divine Disorder have planned for the rest of the year and beyond?
We will be releasing our debut album in early November and in conjunction with this, we will have a campaign to help the release gain attention and sale, after that we will hopefully have more shows.
Finally are there any greetings (hello's, thank you's) you wish to send out?
All my thank you's would go to Rhys, the guy behind Global Metal Apocalypse for his great effort to draw a better metal world! And all the people who have helped us in pushing ourselves out onto the scene
Possibly one of the more controversial interviews we have done, given the current crisis in the eastern half of The Ukraine.
Melancholic Orchestra are a duo who play Gothic Doom Metal in it's instrumental form, the band formed in Donetsk, The Ukraine in 2009 and to date have one demo and two albums out. The most recent album "Forest of Insomnia" was released online in August 2014 and features ten tracks.
GMA sat down with Viktor Chelgy and spoke about the Ukrainian Metal scene, including current problems and the lack of exposure alongside the band's history
Hi Viktor, could you give us a brief history behind Melancholic Orchestra?
Hi!!! The start of our creative path originated back in 2009, when we had a different name. It is not easy to determine the style, in fact we wrote songs in different genres ranging from Ambient to Gothic. But in early 2013, we decided to release a demo album and create it by using different styles, in fact it was an experimental release to see how our people and fans would react.
Since Melancholic Orchestra are from The Ukraine, could you give us an insight into the metal scene (places to gig, the scene history, problems faced there, etc)
Yes we are from The Ukraine, and we have a very difficult situation within the metal scene, especially in our hometown of Donetsk, rarely are there any concerts, the television channels do not broadcast or promote any metal bands, instead they mostly cover pop and rap, I find it difficult to even call it music.
The conflict between Russia and The Ukraine, how is this affecting the scene? Are there less gigs?
The conflict does not affect the scene because the music is not linked to the policies.
Melancholic Orchestra have just released their second album "Forest Of Insomnia", can you tell us the background behind it?
It was very hard work when recording and producing the album "Forest Of Insomnia", as there were technical issues. Currently we decided to take a break and start writing new material for the next album.
You play Gothic / Doom Metal, but of the instrumental kind, what made you choose this?
Basically it's just that this style is closer to us in spirit at present.
How did you get into playing music and who influences you?
I personally have been going long in the music scene, I work as a teacher at the music school. My colleague Vitaly also soon began to play music but only as a composer.
What can fans of Forest of Insomnia expect from you in the near future?
From us you can expect anything, so expect more experiments and good music
Are there any greetings you wish to send out to fans, friends, etc?
I would like to convey a message to all of the fans of our music, a huge hello and listen only to good music!!
Rhys, thanks for the interesting conversation, good luck to you!!
This time round our interview interrogations turn to one of Sweden's most underground record labels, one that specializes mainly in Extreme Metal (Black, Death, Doom, etc) from far flung countries, from Colombia to Morocco and from Pakistan to a forthcoming release by a band in Kazakhstan.
Salute Records is run solely by one Satanic Tony Sundstrand, who also owns various projects amongst his band Demorian. It is also very safe to say he has seen the Swedish Metal scene expand and grow ever since 1981 when his musical career began; he also used to run Pure Black Heart Productions until it was closed around 2012 (it started 30th December, 2009 and catered for Extreme Metal)
With an ongoing list of releases forthcoming and a terrific catalog of years by-gone, GMA felt it was time to shine the spotlight on one of Sweden's greatest underground musicians and record label owners, what Tony has to say is an absolute eye-opener to those thinking of setting up their own label and / or distribution channel. Take note.
Hi there Tony, so how long has Salute Records been going, why 'Salute' and what bands do you generally sign / release material of?
I started the label in December 2007, and from the beginning the plan was to put together a compilation album with some smaller and very underground bands that I liked or felt that needed extra support. This is because I knew all the way back since the 1980´s and 1990´s how hard it was for myself to play in a band and get anywhere further from nothing. So it was more of a fun idea and from that everything grew bigger, nowadays the label has almost produced 200 releases with bands from almost the entire world; ranging from Extreme Black Metal, Death, Doom, Crustpunk, Dark Ambient, DSBM, Thrash, NSBM, Grindcore and regular Heavy Metal and Rock.
You have your own projects and bands, could you give a brief overview on what they are and what the future plans are?
Yes I am active in several bands and a couple of one-man band projects, but some of those also involve guest musicians. The bands that I am involved and active with are Demorian (active first from 2001, but fully since 2007) and have released a couple of albums, EP´s, demos and splits, and are working on a new release called "From Marduk To Gaia", this will be very different & will come out in 2014.
Then we have Wintercold which has been active since 2008 and has released five full lengths so far and features a mix of both Doom, Goth Rock & raw Atmospheric Black / Folk Metal, Curse Of Wotan is another band / project that first started playing acoustical Black Metal (which I think is very original) and released the last album in early June this year, future plans include having a forthcoming album, however the band will be put on hold or will end with this last album; which features more regular Black Metal in it.
Magiska Krafter is another band that I am involved in, it is an Indian / Swedish band and the front man is from Skool of Dead & Burn The Water, who I appeared with as a guest vocalist. The band released one album back in 2012 and are now working on something new.
Luciferian Blood is another band that is international & features me as vocalist, the rest of the line-up is as follows: Martin from Prayer of The Dying (Malta) on drums and Invisus from Terra Australis (Australia) on guitar & bass. The band started in the early summer of 2013 and plays very raw old school Black Metal, we are no working on a second demo or EP / mini album to be released later this year.
Doomsday Prophet is another project that was created back in 2012 and has released two demos / EP´s & one full length so far, with this project I play funeral-like Doom Metal with a high dose of Ambient / Drone in it.
Voxra is also another project, but it is now buried after two albums and one demo.
Another band that I can also mention is Dawn of Apocalypse, it is very new and features me taking up all instrument duties and my wife and soulmate Malin "Big Blondiee" on the lead vocals. We have done one demo and when this is written, we also have a debut mini album "Forces of Darkness Reigns" out on Satanica Productions.
Some work for splits and a compilation to come out in Bangladesh is also in my plans. Also I can inform all that a number of months back I became lead vocalist for the Black Metal / Ambient band Nostalgie Depression from Chile as well, so my vocals are on the band's first album and an EP.
One other band that you can look for in the future is called A Perfect Day, this band I will be playing guitars in, the band plays some kind of Depressive Post-Black Metal / Shoegaze and it will be interesting to see what more things await us around the corner.
One thing for sure is that the older I get, the more I burn for creating music and have no plans to stop ;)
In your opinion what countries are the most obscure for metal?
The countries that I think have some of the most obscure and unique Extreme Metal / Extreme Music scenes, are also ones that I have had the honor of releasing band music from, therefore these must be: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, China, Tunisia, Morocco, Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia.
What would you say is the hardest challenge for labels these days?
To survive as underground label without losing the right feelings and grip for it I guess. One thing that is often the hardest thing to get is money to last for more than you actually have and then of course another thing that I know many complain about (same for myeslf) is the expensive cost to send cds and tapes across the world to other countries.
That is one truly hard challenge for all small and underground labels. But one thing that I have learned all through the years is to never quit just because some things go straight to hell for a moment. Simply because before you know it, some things can really change to become more positive. A way that you never really expected to see. For me it has happened several times.
You seem to deal with mainly bands from far flung countries, do you feel more labels should do this?
Hmmm that is up to them. I think it is better nowadays than back in 2008 / 09, as more labels these days are concentrated and have more focus on bands from obscure countries and areas. So I think that the feeling and support for bands has reached even to the more small and obscure distant places.
And then it is of course good and positive that not all labels do it the same way. I have through theyears discovered that many labels start up their activity and believe that they can and want to become big and famous, but that is not the right goal to choose (same with many bands I believe). As you can often see, many of these labels that follow those terms are born to fail in the end.
What was the hardest and greatest challenge for Salute Records?
One of the hardest challenges must be last year when I recently released the second album for
the Egyptian Symphonic / Black Metal band Zatreon and the "so called" twist that went shortly after with the Dutch Metal band Toxic Grind Machine. The issue is now history and I don´t want to do some explanation on that topic here.
My conclusion after that problematic situation is that I still love the band Zatreon and their music, and what is true or false I now don´t really give a f*** about anymore ;) The release with Zatreon is nowdays "officially" sold out ;). One of the best or some of the most positive feedbacks and feelings for running Salute Records must begin with all of the great contacts I have with numerous bands, people, zines and labels, there are too many to count as it is more than you can find on any of the pages for Salute Records, haha.
And then of course from time to time when regular people make some really huge orders from the label as this really helps the label to survive and continue the work and plan for the future. For that I say thanks to you all.
What future releases can we look forward to?
Planned releases that you can expect from us include firstly from the band Detention from Kazakhstan, it is really nice to co-operate the release together with the Ukrainian label Depressive Illusions Records.
Then it is the Mexican Black / Death band Seed of Evil. We have Nigra Locust (Black Metal from Mexico) and it is a re-release of their only & first demo from 2012. A coming split with Wintercold (Sweden) and Nicrotek (Indonesia). A split with Nostalgie Depression (Chile) and Nicrotek (Indonesia). A four way split with bands like Necrolepsy from Bangladesh and more. A big Grindcore / Death Metal compilation (probably out when this interview is written) with 24 various bands. Some of the bands are Multinational Corporations, Pro-Past, Yattai, Parasite, Sloppy Teen Pussy, Fetus Slicer and many more. Another planned production is a new bigger compilation for download and perhaps on CD too. Discussions and plans with bands for a sort of deal and coming releases is always in my plans (every day), haha :)
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out?
A big thanks for this interview (the first officially made one so far), a big thanks to all those who support me, any of my bands / projects and all who in some way or another supports Salute Records and the bands on it. You know who you are, so it is not needed to write some kind of long list here. Don´t support the profit labels as they destroy it for all of us. Support the real underground! Hails & salutes from the land in north \m/
Folk Metal has changed into many different forms since it's birth and over the decades these off-shoots have blossomed into their own being. Celtic Metal, Pagan Metal, Oriental Metal, etc, they all have a story to tell, but what of Crossover-Folk Metal? This rather interesting genre has been wallowing around a fair bit but without any real solid foundation being created. This is probably why Germany's Punch'N'Judy are a bit of an oddity when it comes to the Folk Metal tag, we caught up with accordionist and vocalist Ute, the sole remaining musician from the original line-up, to ask her about the journey the band has made, future plans and information about their home region.
Hey Ute, so please give us a brief history of Punch 'N' Judy, how you formed, member changes, etc?
Well, it all started off as a project at the end of 2012. We had some ideas for Folk songs with complete power and so we began to search for other musicians. In 2003 we had our first gig as Punch'N'Judy and from there on it started growing. Because of jobs or private situations we had some line-up changes, the only position which is still the same from the beginning is the accordion. But until now we are still going our way and we are still here.
Now you play a form of Crossover / Folk Metal, what inspired you to take this music style?
This was really not planned, the only thing we knew when we started, was to make some kind of powerful Folk music. All members brought their own music style to the band and so it just happened that we had metal elements, rock, medieval, hard rock and folk. We liked it that way and tried to find a name for that kind of music style and so our Crossover-Folk style was born.
Why the band name Punch 'N' Judy, apart from it being a well known British puppet show?
Yes, it is a well known puppet show in Germany as well, over here it is called "Kasperletheater".
We have a song on our first album "Spring!time", called "The Punch and Judy Show". This song was our first one, we made it together with the first band members and so that is how we found our name.
This year Punch 'N' Judy has been going 10 years, how do you plan to celebrate it?
Oh, when we did the first gig back in 2003, we already had our 10 years (2013), but we did not celebrate it. (Editor: to avoid confusion Metal Archives says they formed in 2004 (http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Punch%27N%27Judy/122459)
Have you performed outside of Germany? Do you plan to play in the UK?
Yes, we sometimes play in the Netherlands and we have played in Austria as well. If someone is going to book us in the UK, we would come over ;-)
If the band owned a plane, who would be: the pilot, the co-pilot, the baggage handler, the steward and the person screaming at the back 'Oh my god, we are gonna die!'
This is a very easy question to answer, nobody is the one screaming 'Oh my god, we are gonna die!' But everyone of us is sometimes the pilot, co-pilot, baggage handler or the steward, otherwise this band would not exist anymore. We are strong together and each of us has several things to do in the band, that is how it works.
What plans does the band have for the rest of the year and into 2015?
Some of us are planning to go on holiday this year and we will play a few club gigs. For 2015 we are planning the festivals now and hopefully we will get some good ones.
Besides Metal festivals, gigs and shops, what attractions / sites should metalheads go to in North Rhine-Westphalia?.
This is really a difficult question, we have a lot of Industrial culture here in the "Ruhrgebiet" where you can do several things from exhibitions to free climbing in an industrial area. We have a lot metal pubs and clubs as well. You should come here and see what`s going on.
What is your favorite song from all 3 albums you have released? (you can pick one song per album, explain why this choice of song)
From the first album 'Spring ! Time' I like "John Maynard", because this is also my favorite poem.
I like "Flibberty Gibbet" from the second album 'Punch On !', this song always gives me a smile on my face. And from the third album 'Cross!ng Over' my favorite song is "Last March", I like the arrangement and the strength of the song.
What other bands should readers check out from the North Rhine-Westphalia region?
I have no special one, there are a lot of small bands which are very interesting.
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's etc, you wish to send out to fans, friends etc?
We`d like to thank everyone who is interested in music and supports bands, otherwise we and other bands could not exist. Thanks to our fan club and the great "Chaosraben", and thank you for the interview.
GMA Interview Interrogation: Ruzlan Ahmed (Mortuary Productions Owner) and Hridoy Rayhan (Metal Monger Records Owner) - Bangladesh
By GMA Bangladesh Correspondent Nabil Abaddon
In the last 4 years, Bangladesh has been going through a major upheaval in the underground Metal scene. Although the country saw its international exposure originate with bands like Weapon, Severe Dementia, Barzak, Orator etc during the mid & late 2000’s, it was after 2010 / 2011 that the local scene had developed a level of consistency in producing some quality Extreme Metal acts at it's own pace, earning accolades from places around the world.
Recently this year, two dedicated Extreme Metal labels called Mortuary Productions and Metal Monger Records emerged out of the blue in the local scene and announced two well assembled international compilation albums. One of them is "Luxury Of Pain", which is a double disk album and is going to be released via Mortuary Productions. Looking at the bill, it seems that Ruzlan Ahmed, the owner of Mortuary Productions wanted to make sure that the local acts receive maximum exposure. That is the majority of bands are Bangladeshi, are immensely talented and have great reputation.
Apart from that, the compilation not only comprises of some of the best Extreme Metal acts from the South-East Asian region like Orator, Homicide, Plague Throat, Dying Out Flame, Abominable Carnivore etc but also some amazing Thrash, Death, Black Metal and Grindcore bands from countries like Italy, The Philippines, USA, France, Spain, Thailand, Sweden and Pakistan.
On the other hand, Metal Monger Records is coming up with a heavy weight compilation album called "Total Chaos: Volume 1". Hridoy Rayhan has done a brilliant job by bringing together some supreme and malevolent acts in the form of Sabbat, Ungod, Gehennah, Orator, Nafarmaan, Lobotomy, Savage Deity and lastly, Twisted Fate. Following them, there are some promising young bands on the bill: Enmachined, Mortar, Graveyard Ghoul, Revealing Hecate, Ego Kill, Exalter etc. The compilation is a “must have” for the old school lovers.
With this in mind, it felt right for GMA to catch up with both of label owners and get to know more about their endeavors.
Greetings Ruzlan and Hridoy. How is it going with you guys?
Ruzlan: Thanks brother! I’m doing great.
Hridoy: Hey Nabil! I'm doing great! Thanks for asking!
Lets start from the beginning. How did Mortuary Production and Metal Monger Records happen in the first place? What were the directions and the motivational factors?
Ruzlan: Well, Mortuary Production started when my band Necrolepsy needed a label to release and distribute it’s EP in Bangladesh. After the release we thought of taking the label seriously and continue farther. And also, it is really hard for the Extreme Metal bands to find a label in the country, so we thought of giving them a platform too.
Hridoy: Well, I always had intentions to support the Metal scene of this country. I knew most labels would not sign up or release an Extreme Metal album. I felt the need to start a label based on Metal and Metal only. That was my inspiration. That is what drove me to start Metal Monger Records.
Both of the labels are coming up with two different compilation albums. Why did you choose to start off your journeys with compilations? Are they coming out physically?
Ruzlan: As I mentioned earlier, our first release was an EP. So no we didn’t start off with this compilation. Compilations are a great platform for bands to spread their music throughout a great number of listeners. In case of an international compilation, when a listener buys a copy of it he checks out all the other bands along with the band from his country. So I really think it’s a great way to spread the music. Yes, our compilation which is called "Luxury of Pain" is a double disk compilation. To be honest, I never really liked online releases. So yeah that pretty much sums it up.
Hridoy: Yes the compilation is coming out only in physical copies and are numbered to 100. Well, I started off with a compilation because I wanted to reach a certain audience overseas with my label and the following bands in the album. I think a compilation is a great way of introducing newer bands to people. This compilation will set the ground for future releases from Metal Monger. I also plan to release further volumes of "Total Chaos" in later years.
Recently, there have been a lot of compilations coming out from home and abroad, both online and physical. It seems to be the ongoing trend now. Do you two think these compilations, including yours, help the bands and the scenes overall?
Ruzlan: Yes why not? I get to see many compilations releasing from my country and abroad. This is a good thing only if these compilations are going to the right listeners which is the sole purpose of these compilations. These releases help a band to increase their fan-base in places where they never even thought of and of course a good compilation works as a benchmark for a scene.
Hridoy: Well, in my opinion compilations are a ground where bands who have proven their sound to their audiences, can introduce newer bands to them. In other words, a compilation can give younger bands a head start and the scene evolves around the bands.
The Bangladeshi Metal scene has been flourishing and has spread outside of Dhaka to places like Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Khulna, and as a result quality shows are happening. More bands are touring abroad and it seems that signing to foreign record labels are becoming the holy grail for a lot of local bands.
Please tell us about your thoughts as to how your labels can play important roles in farther developments of the local scene and what do your labels have to offer to the bands and the fans that other labels don’t?
Ruzlan: It is really great to see such great bands coming from places outside Dhaka. The metal scene now is at a great stage. The shows in Chittagong, Sylhet and others places are usually filled with Metal enthusiasts. Mortuary Productions will always support the local scene and the bands. A good number of quality releases from a label will surely increase the number of listeners and will help the bands in creating a fan-base of their own. It is really important for a scene to have a good number of listeners. Listeners who look forward to the releases of the local bands, show up in the gigs and support them. Mortuary Productions have a countrywide distribution and our releases will also be distributed by a few foreign labels and distros. So it is easy for the fans to grab a copy of our releases.
Hridoy: What I think is bands should sign up with local labels and the local labels should market them worldwide. But that's not the case in this country. Since we have only a handful of mainstream labels to start with, it is acceptable for the bands to sign up with labels from outside the borders. Not until recently we have labels that are based on Metal. So, we can only comment on this after a certain amount of time passes. I think the availability of labels based on Metal would have impacts on the decision making of the bands. If the labels do their part well, more bands will sign up with local labels and if the labels are willing to, they can sign up bands from other parts of the world and altogether the scene will go the right way. My label has nothing out of the ordinary to offer for the time being. Maybe if you ask this after a year or two I might have something
Have you guys signed any bands yet? What are the other releases / projects and future plans of Mortuary Production and Metal Monger Records?
Ruzlan: No we haven’t signed any bands yet. After "Luxury Of Pain", we will release a Black Metal split called "Lucifuge Rofocale of Xarkrinur and Krayl" and also the full length of Necrolepsy.
Hridoy: We are working on Exalter's (Bangladesh) EP release and Nekrofilth's (USA) EP "Street Bitch" and developing our website. Metal Monger Records is also organizing a gig called "Reign In Blasphemy Fest" in August which will comprise of some of the best Extreme Metal bands in Bangladesh.
Watch Reign In Blasphemy Fest’s trailer here
A label’s success depends a lot on its distribution channels as well as the promotion. Music must be made available to its consumers in distant places. How do you go about these two factors?
Ruzlan: Mortuary Production’s releases will be distributed through out Bangladesh and also by many labels and distros abroad like Salute Records (Sweden) and Six F Productions (Thailand). We promote bands and their releases so that their music spreads through out a huge number of people. The local bands have our full support.
Hridoy: As I mentioned earlier, I am working on Metal Monger Record's website. After it's done you can order the releases from any part of the globe anywhere and anytime. The releases will be available in a few outlets in Dhaka for now and I also wish to attend concerts with stalls for Metal Monger Records.
Looking at the bills of the compilations, both of them are pretty amazing. How did you go about selecting the bands? Have you had any difficulties dealing with them?
Ruzlan: I looked for some good Grindcore bands along with some promising Extreme Metal acts of from all over the world. Well I didn’t have any difficulties. The bands have been really supportive and I’m glad to work with such great bands.
Hridoy: Initially I knew what the compilation should sound like. I approached bands selectively. I haven't faced much problem in commencing with the bands. As a matter of fact, I got a lot of help from the band members. They were super supportive and I can say, without their support this would have been impossible.
Do you ever wish to make a career out of this? Apart from running the labels, what else do you lads do?
Ruzlan: No, I run this label only because of the sheer fun of running it and to help the scene and the bands grow. I’m also the vocalist of a Brutal Death / Goregrind band Necrolepsy and an old school Death Metal band Nordic Shadows.
Hridoy: I have a day job haha. I do want to make my career around my label. I love to spend my life doing what I love. But I am not counting on it.
How do you guys set your compilations apart from other compilations? How are they unique?
Ruzlan: LOP has great bands like Dying Out Flame, Plague Throat, Orator, HOMICIDE and many other killer acts from all around the globe. It also has some good Grindcore bands which is still a growing genre in bangladesh.
Hridoy: The bands make it unique.
Thanks to both of you, Ruzlan and Hridoy, for your time. Best wishes to all of your initiatives. Any final comments for the readers out there?
Ruzlan: Gratitude to you and GMA for the support. I would want everyone to buy original releases and listen to good music and always support metal. Ave!
Hriody: Keep supporting Metal!
Mortuary Productions Facebook & "Luxury of Pain Event page"
Metal Monger Records
Following our review of Hybris' debut EP "Blinded Thoughts" released this year, we decided to take some more time out and speak to their drummer Igor "Joey" Zaton about the band's origins, what the Polish Metal scene is like and what future plans they have.
By Rhys Stevenson
How did you guys form and what makes your band different?
The relatively short story of Hybris started in the beginning of 2012, when the friendship between Ozzy and Johan grew into the birth of their Technical Thrash project, firstly just for pure fun. Time passed and they decided to take it more seriously, therefore after a few member changes, they managed to assemble a full line-up, in the summer of the same year, with Pisston on bass, and me Joey, on drums. A couple of rehearsals, some style changes and every one of us knew that it was a perfect band for him to be satisfied as a musician. From the very beginning, we worked on material and were focused on possessing our unique style, without losing an old-school spirit. We are setting the bar high and we know that. Our task is not easy, but I think we are determined enough to make it happen.
What would you say your metal style is and who or what inspired you to play that style?
We define our style as Progressive Death / Thrash. We draw the inspiration mostly from the music every one of us adores, classical German Thrash and Floridian Death Metal, but adding to it some Progressive, Oriental atmosphere that allows us to experiment with a traditional Metal sound.
What is the underground Polish metal scene like right now? What bands should music lovers pay particular attention to?
Well, to me talking about Polish Metal has always been all about the underground. Surely every local metalhead is proud of our international representants - Behemoth and Vader, but in comparison to Western Europe, the amount of Polish bands recognized all over the globe is rather disappointing. Fortunately, I can’t say that when it comes to the underground which was and will stay strong and totally worth attention. Starting with the past: The number of Polish bands that with no fear could catch up with the Western scenes, but in the past they finished their careers after a demo, or two, because of Communism, poorness and the Iron Curtain is purely horrifying.
Check out IMPERATOR - mighty Death Metal from our hometown. Although, they’ve even managed to release an LP, besides in Poland rarely can you hear anything about them. Talking about the current situation, we can easily observe a rapid growth of a young, underground scene - especially the Thrash one. There’s a great deal of new Polish Metal bands who are worth the attention, so obviously I cannot point out all of them here, but if I had to choose the one that appeals to me mostly it would definitely be ThermiT - kickass Heavy / Thrash from Poznań!
What is the meaning behind your band name and does this play a part in your lyric topics?
The term HYBRIS comes from the literature of Ancient Greece and it is used to describe the inflated self-esteem of a man that usually leads to some punishment or his personal tragedy. Although, it isn’t the exact topic of our music, it is somehow associated with our lyrics, which are mainly about human mind, it’s mysteries and wild nature.
Do you feel that Central and Eastern European metal bands are not getting enough attention from Western media?
Yes, I think there is some truth behind those words. As I’ve mentioned before I guess it is primarily due to the disability of Eastern European artists promoting themselves in previous decades. Therefore, talking about good Metal music, people usually think of Scandinavia, Germany, USA, maybe UK, or South America. Whereas countries such as Poland rarely come to their mind.
What plans does Hybris have for the future?
Currently we are working on the new material and are spending time on organizing a promotional tour across our country in the autumn. When the tour is over we are planning to release some single(s) and then probably prepare an LP.
Please tell us some things about Łódź, both in music-terms and holidaymaker terms? (such as what venues there are, attractions, what sites should people see, any famous buildings, that sort of thing)
Without a doubt Łódź should be connoted with two legendary names: IMPERATOR, which I’ve pointed out before and PANDEMONIUM - the true might of the underground, that I am honored to be part of a the moment! Analogically to the Metal scene, there are two places of biggest touristic importance that obviously can’t be omitted, while visiting our city - “Piotrkowska” - the longest trade street in the Europe and “Manufaktura” - old textile factory adapted to a huge shopping mall. Truly breathtaking!
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
Cheers to all people who keep on believing and supporting us. You give us purely powerful motivation. Thank you. SPREAD THE THOUGHTS!
Every day GMA has been posting on our Facebook page a band from around the world and a band from the UK; covering all counties within our home nation. One band by the name of Gymir stood out for us, this quintet is a Folk Metal band from the South-Western county of Dorset.
Gymir were happy to take the time out, put down their swords and sip a beer or two with us, this is what they had to say:
"We found ourselves in the middle of nowhere in the depths of Wales' countryside to film our first ever video... was a lot of fun, though being surrounded by sheep was slightly off putting when coming into the shot."
First off hi guys, how are you all and what has Gymir been up to within the last year?
Hey Rhys, we're all well thank you! Well the past year has been a busy one for us as a band... we underwent some major changes, one of which was changing our name to Gymir. We were formerly know as Shallow Intentions. The reason for the name change was two things really. The first was with a name like 'Shallow Intentions' it doesn’t really sound like a Folk Metal band name, and we were getting a lot of concerned comments about it and we also found it was hindering us reaching out to a bigger audience.
The second reason was that with the name change we felt like we needed to step it up a gear and take the band a little bit more seriously, obviously still have a great time and a lot of fun with doing it but just start putting in a few more hours here and there with the networking side of things and with more hours practicing etc. even to go as far as making sure we have a great live show, not just the music side of it... but visually too. So we all decided to get ourselves some outfits along with props etc to put on the stage with us.
We also released our début 2 track single last summer 'The Return Of The Raven' which we recorded at the Junkyard studios down in Newport with Jeff Rose leading and recording / producing the whole operation. And its gone down a storm, we really didn’t expect such a response from it. We just want to give ole Jeffers a shout out to say thank you for all his hard work and extra hours he put in, and we'll hopefully see him again in the near future for the full length album and a free downloadable track within the next few months.
Also, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere in the depths of Wales' countryside to film our first ever video for the track 'The Return of The Raven' which is off our CD. Was a lot of fun, though being surrounded by sheep was slightly off putting when coming into the shot. Alongside all of that, we've been trying to gig up and down the country as much as possible, We did Warhorns festival up in York last September which was an honor to play alongside fellow Folk Metallers, made a pleasant change to play with bands in the same genre to us, and we have a few more dates yet to play up and around the country.
We also entered the BOA Metal to the Masses and got to the final which we never expected, maybe next year is our year? So yeah... been busy bees the past year, and have loads more in the pipeline but don’t want to give too much away ;)
Now could you explain to us how Gymir formed, what enticed you to play Folk Metal and who are your influences?
Gymir formed many years ago, but under the name 'Shallow Intentions' think it must have been about 8 or 9 years ago now, back when we were all fresh faced and still at college. At first it was just a covers band covering bands such as Children Of Bodom, Metallica and Pantera just as a bit of fun really. Then one day we decided to write an original... so we did... and for some unknown reason it had a rather Folk Metal feel to it, and so did our next few songs.. so we went with it.. so for the next 8 years we went under the name Shallow Intentions up until the re-birth last year... which was Gymir. I'd say our main influences are most probably Amon Amarth, Ensiferum, Moonsorrow, Finntroll, although we try not to fall too close to any of their sounds and try to make our own unique style sound.
Do you feel that Folk Metal is not well represented within the British metal scene?
Folk metal is most defiantly the outcast genre in the UK in our opinion. Everywhere you look nowadays there are Death Metal events, Thrash Metal events and Nu Metal events etc.. yet very rarely you will come across a Folk Metal event here in the UK. It's a shame really... people are missing out! If you want to go somewhere that appreciates Folk Metal then your going to have to go over to either Finland, Sweden, Norway and the likes. Perhaps its down to the simple fact that there really isn't that many folk metal bands out there, or there are and they are struggling with getting shows..? Although saying all this.. we have noticed a gradual increase in interest over the past couple of years which is encouraging, but its still very much an overlooked genre.
You released your debut single 'The Return of the Raven' last year, could you give us the background behind this release?
The background for the CD release.. hmm, well 'The Return of the Raven' is a follow up track of an older one we had called 'The Hammer and the Raven', it's basically about two clans that went to war with each other and the clan of the hammer were victorious.. and the track 'Return of the Raven' is where the clan of the raven return bigger and stronger to go looking to settle the score and succeed. In a way its kind of a representation of the band, changing our name and conquering everything we couldn't under the old one.. sort of a phoenix rising from the ashes kind of thing... that's if you want to look into it that deeply... The other track on the CD 'Valkyrie of Sorrow' was just a cool song that had been written just before the studio and we had to put it on there. We're so glad we did! it most definitely seems to be the most popular track out of the two, with YouTube views rocketing each day! crazy really..
It seems that you guys are dispersed all over, with Ryan from Chelmsford to Ian in Reading, so how do you meet to rehearse?
Well Ryan is now currently living in Weymouth, which is where Martyn and Pete are based.. Ian now lives in North Dorset about 40 miles out of Weymouth and John lives in Bridport which about 15 to 20 miles away. It can most definitely be a challenge to get everyone together to rehearse, not because of the distance, as Ian and John drive, but more due to 'life' we all work full time Jobs and Martyn is the family man with the commitments that come along with having 3 young children and a wife. But when we do get together its usually twice a month.. so we try to make the most of it and either get sets for shows sorted or if we have nothing for a few weeks then what we're doing now is working on the upcoming album.
What plans does Gymir have for the rest of the year and what can fans expect?
For the rest of the year we're planning on continuing our run of shows around the country, we're playing the QQQQ festival in October which is in Manchester, the Almost fatal fest in July which is in Cumbria, a show in Sheffield with the pirate legends that are Red Rum and Gryphfest in Bristol in September. Plus a few local dates coming up, which are yet to be advertised. Also alongside the shows as we've mentioned we shall be working hard to get the full length album ready as soon as possible, but whilst we're doing that we're going to be finishing off a track that will end up on our album to then put up for free download for everyone to download and listen to, as a massive thank you for all the amazing support we've had off of everyone the past year, since the birth of the band and to get them to stop harassing us for a period of time about the album... lol we are working as hard as we can on it, and we're telling ya.. it'll be well worth the wait! Patience is a virtue folks! Also! We are looking to get some t-shirts printed very soon, within the next couple of weeks hopefully we shall have them!
If you could be any mythological god from any following e.g. Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, etc, who would you be and why?
Martyn jumped right in on this.. he wants to be Jesus..? he didn't elaborate on that though haha, Ian would like to be Loki, causing havoc and mischief everywhere... Ryan would like to be Heimdall as he's essentially all seeing, all hearing, is bad-ass enough to be named guardian of the gods, has a cool horse, doesn't need to sleep (would be very handy) and was said to be one of the last to die when him and Loki kill each other at the events of Ragnarok.... sorry Ian.... Pete answered 'Lemme' explanation: Lemme is God... and John would like to be the Ancient Egyptian Jackal-headed god Anubis.. the ruler of the dead. Actually Martyn said instead he would want be Balder as he too is handsome and gentle.... Hah!
Where do you see yourselves within the next 5 years? Stage headliners perhaps?
5 years is a looong way off! But at the very least we'd all still love to be going as a band, as we love doing what we do and we're all excellent friends and it gives us an excuse to hang out and escape from reality for a time which is always welcomed! But what we would all love to be doing in 5 years time would of course be playing at the major festivals, not only in the UK but all over the world, what band wouldn't! Along with a couple more full length albums under our belts and maybe even a record deal to help us out... ahh we can all dream cant we!
What is the Dorset metal scene like, how big is it and what venues are there?
To be honest, the Dorset metal scene has seen better days.. there was a time where it was probably one of the best places to go to watch great bands. But with venues turning into tight asses bands cant afford to travel anymore and so they don't come. For example.. we played a headline show (wont name where) we played for about 80 minutes, and the place was packed out! Was an awesome show, one we wont forget in a long time! Anyway, after the gig we approached the venues owner about our money, and we were offered 43 odd pence or something?!
So we gracefully said to keep such a huge and generous amount and don't worry about it.. but it seems to be the same story in a lot of places these days. Sad state of affairs. There are still some great bands here in Dorset though, and we'd highly recommend everyone to come down to the south coast and witness it first hand and help out the underground metal scene! The best place to play local to us is 'Finns' its a bikers pub that plays metal all day every day! if you get a chance, go down and check out the bands that play down there.
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out to fans, friends, etc?
Yes! But there are so many people that we have to thank for all their loyal and overwhelming support over the past year it'll be impossible to thank them all. But in all, we'd just like to thank all of our fans for showing us some love and supporting us with what we are doing. We know we haven't been the quickest on the draw with releasing songs etc. But we're trying our hardest and its coming! So make sure you're all ready! so keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates! Peace out folkers!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIxYx3lc_bU (Gymir - The Return Of The Raven)
Finally coming out of the darkness and rejoining the music world, Deathstars have been priming themselves up for their forthcoming album "The Perfect Cult", succeeding their third outing "Night Electric Night". After five whole years of burying themselves down in the deep Swedish bunkers and playing shows across the globe including dates in Australia, the quartet (Cat Casino left the band in July, 2013) are ready to release another bout of Gothic Industrial hell as well as embark on a European tour towards the back end of 2014:- dates can be viewedhere. (more dates added soon for R.O.W.)
This album serves as a nice springboard for the band as they approach their 15th anniversary next year, so this album will be an interesting one. We believe it will gain the approval from the masses. But for now, GMA managed to catch up with front-man Whiplasher Bernadotte and ask him what the future holds, why they are not a metal band, revisiting past events such as the well known 'Blitzkrieg Boom' music video and how they 'nearly' represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest via Melodifestivalen.
Interview by Rhys Stevenson
Whiplasher on Deathstars celebrating their 15th anniversary next year:
Hi Whiplasher, how are you doing?
I am very good.
It's been five years since you released the album "Night Electric Night", so what has the band been doing during this time?
Well we started recording our fourth album around three years ago in Los Angeles and we felt like we were 'stressing' it, so after that we ended up on doing some more tours and everyone was tied up with projects, and wanted some changes and stuff, so all these things added up, so hence it took such a long time. So yeah we kind of stalled ,but we wanted to get this done, but hopefully it won't be as long next time.
Since "Night Electric Night" you have had a line-up change, Cat Casino left the band, how did this happen?
Yeah Cat left us because he was tired with all of the touring and missed his family more, he was tired of just traveling and we were all tired so, we respected that decision and he still remains our friend, but we're continuing as a four-piece now and also Ole Öhman our drummer started to have problems around like 6, 7 years ago and so he left too in time.
What is different between your new album "The Perfect Cult" and "Night Electric Night"?
I think "Night Electric Night" was more outgoing and this one is more futuristic, dark and much more massive and assuring in a nutshell. It's got pop music in it, it has more rock music in it and as such we've never been a metal band. It's more varied in that sense so, there's a darker story in "The Perfect Cult" in a bigger sense.
So you're not a metal band?
Noooo, that would be stupid. A metal band for me would be something like Darkthrone so we never claim to be a metal band, so let's just call it more of a 'Dark Rock' band.
It seems that throughout the Deathstars discography the band has changed their image in accordance to the albums, would you agree with this or not? What are your thoughts?
We never really discuss what kind of album we want to make, like we never say 'ok let's make an album that sounds like this', because Nightmare and I started playing Black Metal in the early 90's so we've been working in the same way always I guess, so we just listen to each other, so we can have an idea on what direction we're going, so when it comes to the album writing we can visualize what we may do imagery-wise AFTER the album is done, this is usually what happens. So we go in a direction as a band and not just by ourselves.
It seems that Industrial / Gothic music hasn't really been in the limelight in the last few years (that is not spoken well about), so with Deathstars do you feel that you bring something new to the table?
Yeah, I think we always have since when we started off in the underground metal scene, then we met Ole and Jonas so for us it's kind of an ongoing experiment and hopefully we brought something new to the genre (I'm not going to be the judge of that), so for us it's more like it's getting better and better as a band and looking over our career we feel we have been successful, so it's more about continuing to do what do we best.
Your original tour dates for the UK have been pushed back to November, could you perhaps shed some light on this? (Plus this won't be the first time you've played here, more like your 3rd or 4th?)
This was because the album was not done, our booking agency wanted us to go on tour without the album being released and to us that did not make sense, we felt it would be better for people to have heard the album before going on tour so that's the reason. So there was some communication problems.
Yeah I can't remember I mean we've been there so many times, I think we must do about 200 shows in a year, but with England we've been there many times. It seems that this was the best for us because for us and the UK it has always been kind of special.
With the November tour are you playing alongside bands from Sweden or bands over here?
We have a support band this year, The Dead & Living will join us for some weeks during the European tour and as for the rest of the world, I don't know as it's very different. We're going to South America and so will probably just play by ourselves and then we're going to North America, again not sure about that one and also Asia, so this year is going to be different. So I can't really comment on that, but everyone should check out the support band we have, in fact we're very happy that they are going on tour with us - they are a very good band.
Would that be your first time playing in South America? If not what was the crowd reception like?
Oh no, nope, we've been touring there before and the crowd reception was very good, we've noticed that some fans sleep outside the venues the night before, it's so different from Europe and they're so much more passionate and dedicated. You'll even find them meet you at the airports and so on, it's another thing and of course in Russia it's kind of the same thing, but we're really looking forward to going there - I just gotnews that we're probably going to be starting there with 5 shows in Mexico now, before the European tour. It's a lot of touring again...
This might be a bit of an obvious question, but does the heat really affect you guys?
Yeah I guess it's always tough even when it's hot, so we take care when out in the warm weather even though I now live in Italy and heat is not really my favorite thing, nope you know I'm from Scandinavia; I like that kind of weather (laughs) - dark and cold and permafrost.
Regarding some of the music video's you've done over the years, which one was / is your favorite?
Videos... yeah I mean it's hard with videos as I think it's something that is kind of outside to what the band is doing, in one way because it's the director, the one person putting the visual theme on a song, so it's more like kind of a spectacle (music videos).
But I think maybe, I like 'Blitzkrieg' a lot because I wanted it to be on a graveyard for airplanes - that was even my plan - and we humored on the idea of a graveyard of planes a lot, but planes from the war in Serbia but didn't seem to cut it into the final video so there was this other stuff, but yeah I'd say 'Blitzkrieg'.
And what of the meaning behind the music video?
(Laughs), people shouldn't ask me because they can look at it and place any interpretation onto it however they want and really, they should ask the director of the production company we used. In the beginning we have like screens and on the set during a couple of days, there's a lot of scenes that we kept doing, then when it was edited we wanted it to be re-edited for several times so in the end it comes out as something different that we originally was looking for. So it's more like a spectacle...
However it would be nice to direct a music video of our own sometime, maybe it would be completely different (laughs). Probably, probably when we might just get bored and then we're like 'it's a wrap, we're done' (laughs).
Now as "The Perfect Cult" is coming out in June, and you have already done one music video "All The Devil's Toys", will there be any more music videos?
We've been discussing it and this was just a couple of days ago, so probably hopefully we will do more music videos for the album, I think everyone want's that.
Now since Deathstars will be turning 15 next year, [interrupted by Whiplasher]...
OHHHHH!!!!!! YEAH! Officially 'teenager', 15? That's when people started having sex, now we will have to try even more now and that's a good thing you mentioned it - we haven't had a life of getting into girls pants (laughs)... [GMA: And that's what the delay between the last album and this album has been all about?], (laughs) yeah I mean when we started out, yeah I guess the girls... I mean you can look at it in the aspect that the girls were pedophiles because they were so young, like kids...
So with the 15th anniversary coming next year, will you be doing an anniversary release compilation?
Nah, we haven't yet thought about that, we did a compilation "The Greatest Hits On Earth" for the Rammstein tour (2011), also because it was we kind of wanted to wrap up that chapter and Ole stopped playing the drums in the band, so it was kind of wrapping up and starting fresh on this album (The Perfect Cult). But as for another compilation I haven't really thought about it, so we wish we will have more sex with the girls, that's how we will celebrate it.
Do you feel that metal and rock in Sweden is more appreciated than any other genre?
Everyone I know in Stockholm plays in a band, it's like they're in more or less famous rock bands, sometimes in metal bands so of course it's very appreciated, especially when now everyone plays it's considered a big thing. But of course we've always got a history with successful music, in Sweden there are so many people working in the music industry and I think it gets into a spiral, which is where everyone looks at each other and wants to be inspired by others so I can't it decreasing, but there's different kinds of scenes in Sweden like in Stockholm but also in different cities where there are different music styles. Like in Gothenburg for example it's all about Death Metal bands and metal music
So we wouldn't see Deathstars in the Eurovision Song Contest next year in Austria?
Well the thing is, we got asked this year to appear in the 'Melodifestivalen', which is the competition for Eurovision in Sweden and is like the biggest television show there is, I cannot believe they actually asked us, because we would never do something like that. But it was a kind offer and I said that they don't have enough blood so. [GMA: although would a rock / metal style Eurovision be appealing?]... yeah, I can't really stand all these competitions, but yeah those getting into the finals must be quite a big thing.
Finally any hello's, thank you's, greetings you wish to express?
Well right now I'm isolating myself for a while, from everyone because I moved to the North of Italy so, I think it's nice to have a break some time and so I will say hello to everyone when I meet them again, see you in Stockholm and also on the tour.
"The Perfect Cult" is out 16th June 2014 via Nuclear Blast Records
For a list of tour dates click here.