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.
Interview by GMA's Israel correspondent Liram Golibroda
Shredhead are a new wave Thrash Metal band from Israel and are considered one of the best new bands there. They started their music career together in 2009 as a Slayer and Megadeth cover band, a couple of years later they released their first album "Human Nature" and could be regarded as one of the best Israeli Thrash albums. In 2012 they went to the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle for Israel and now, just before releasing their new album, GMA spoke with Yotam and Lee about the band, the new album and well… if you want to know more just read the interview:
Ahron Ragoza - Vocals
Lee Levi - Bass
Roee Kahana - Drums
Yotam Nagor - Guitars
Hi guys, what are you working on now days?
We have just finished recording our new album, the album has been mixed and mastered by Tue Madsen who has worked with bands like Aborted, Betzefer, The Haunted and many more. And now we're getting prepared to send him to some record companies. Besides that, after we finished the new album we have already started writing for the next one, and also we're planning some shows in Israel.
How can you summarize everything from the beginning of the band up till the times after recording your second album?
We've been through a lot, starting with new members to setting our own style of music. It was a long process but nowadays we feel like we're strong and stable, and are all friends with those who enjoy playing together with us ever since the first day. We have had some amazing experiences that we couldn't even imagine ourselves achieving, such as the WOA metal battle and recording our second album.
How do you create new songs?
90% of the time, Yotam writes the riffs and tries to make them link together into a song, later on he sends the riffs to the rest of the band so we can work on it during future rehearsals and everyone gives their own style to the song. It can be with Kahana's drumming or Lee's bass playing and writing lyrics that will fit the song in the best way. In other cases we just improvise and hope for the best.
How does the new album different from "Human Nature"?
In every possible way! It the beginning we only searched for music that allowed us to be faster, more brutal and louder. When we started writing "Human Nature" we were just kids that loved playing with no music experience, but now a couple of years later after "Human Nature" we've all had some musical experience that made us better musicians. The new album is more aggressive and more melodic than "Human Nature", and the lyrics are more thoughtful and intimate.
Are you planning any surprises for us, maybe plans to go on tour?
We have a lot of plans, not only for the new album but also about where we'll stand next year as a band. Everything else is a secret. As for tours, we have a lot of plans and we hope everything will go on as planned.
What live show do you remember as the best one you have had up in till now?
Two weeks after we came back from WOA we celebrated one year since the release of "Human Nature". As with every Shredhead show we invited special guests, made some funny covers and even had a boxing fight between Lee and Ahron. In general that was a show that felt more like a huge party and it was great.
What can you reveal about your upcoming album and where can you see Shredhead in 5 years time?
The new album will include 11 aggressive songs and will feature this concept of an instrumental song before the last song just like in "Human Nature". The name of the album is "Death Is Righteous" and it describes what we've been through in our personal lives over the past two and a half years, and our understanding of why does death everyone deserves death.
As for looking five years ahead, we envisage it with a third or fourth album, non-stop tours and hopefully with music as our only career.
What is Shredhead for you?
Shredhead is the frame that holds our lives together, everything we are going through lately is for Shredhead, we work to support the band and we work hard to promote her. Meaning every second we have we put into the band as without Shredhead we are different people.
How could you define your music?
MMMMEEEETTAAAALLLLL!!!!!!!! People can describe our music as Thrash Metal or Groove Metal. We don't describe our music because we play what we love and believe in.
What is your message to the fans?
We want to thank every single person who supports the band, without you we would not exist and we would not have the strength to move on.
Interview by GMA's Bangladesh correspondent Nabil Abaddon
GMA has always tried to sift out raw talent from the most exotic corners of the world. One really has to go on an expedition and look out for such bands who are nowhere near to be discovered by the Metal world. Nepal is one country with raw local talent and some really dedicated concert organizers. They not only have a small Metal scene in the hills, but also they have big Metal Fests every year where they have brought bands like Napalm Death, Behemoth, Decapitated, Vader, Nervecell, Arsames, etc along with big names from the neighboring countries.
We shine the light today on a four piece Thrash Metal band from the depths of Nepal, called Bidroha (which means 'rebel or retaliation' in English). Bidroha self-released their debut album “Suffer Till Death” last year and have toured Hong Kong in January this year. These chaps are quite popular in the local scene due to their Thrashy stage performance, which had earned them a place on the same bill with Decapitated and Nervecell at Nepfest IV last year in the capital city Kathmandu. Apart from that, they have a split release with Argentine Heavy / Thrash band Insignia. I spoke with Bidroha’s front-man / rhythm guitarist Saurab Sainju about his band and the local scene. Here is an excerpt of how the conversation went….
Apocalyptic hails brother Saurab! Your band just released its debut full length album “Suffer Till Death” last year. How is the band doing right now?
Saurab: Hail GMA. After the release, we have been refurnishing ourselves for the album tours which started from January 26, 2014 in Hong Kong. Originally Amar Sakya who was the drummer of Bidroha, due to his personal reasons was unable to continue the album tour for an uncertain period of time. Therefore Bidroha found a new session drummer Akash who joined our overseas tour at that point. Also Bisal our bassist went abroad and I, myself have recovered from a broken hand and we are inactive due to that. Listen to Bidroha’s promo demo from their album Suffer Till Death here.
Please tell us what were the directions and motivational factors that started Bidroha?
Saurab: Bidroha came into existence after Zantu and I disbanded our previous band and as always I wanted to start and play the Thrash Metal genre since the initiation phase of my Metal music interest. As the Thrash Metal genre should not be fading away from the scene, I felt why not revive it back again. So Zantu agreed with my suggested theme and joined me, afterwards we found Amar as a drummer and Saugat as the bassist. Saugat decided to continue his further studies and left the band. Then Bsal joined the band and this is how Bidroha was born!
Bidroha’s album “Suffer Till Death” came out in November last year. What kind of response are you getting from the fans?
Saurab: Till now the responses and album reviews from our fans and supporters are all positive! A dream doesn't become reality through magic, it takes sweat, determination and hard work. This is what we believe.
Bidroha toured Hong Kong at the very beginning of this year. Would you care to tell us about the whole experience? How was the show and what kind of reaction did you get there from the crowd?
Saurab: Well, the experience was awesome. It was one of our most memorable tours ever. We had two shows, 26th and 28th January, and the first show was in ‘Backstage’, which was good. Although we were drunk and got carried away with it, the show was good. The second gig was in Yak and Yeti Restaurant. The crowd there was mostly non metalheads, we played two rock songs and jammed through it. We are thankful to those who came to support us, taking out their time from their busy schedules, and one thing was sure, even though many of them were not metal heads, they really supported us from their hearts. Yeah and not to forget, I went hiking with the NRN (Non-residential Nepalese) guy who brought us in Hong Kong after my band mates left for Nepal. I forgot to mention that I was overwhelmed with their support by buying our T-shirts and CD's.
That’s great to hear. Will you tell us who Bidroha is inspired by?
Saurab: Well, we all have our own tastes in music. But when it comes to Bidroha, our music is mainly inspired by Thrash metal legends like Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica, Exodus, Kreator, Destruction etc.
Alright. Lets get to a different topic. As much as I have heard, there are loads of Metal bands in Nepal but Bidroha is pretty much the only Thrash Metal band over there. Can you tell us what can be the reason behind that? Also please tell our readers about the Nepalese Metal scene, as in the bands, musicians, gigs everything.
Saurab: Yeah, we are the only old school Thrash band here in Nepal at the moment. The reason behind this is that Thrash is an old genre which was alive in 80's era and it's dead now. So, now it's 2014 and new genres are emerging and taking over the old ones and people listen to their choices of course. Here in Nepal, especially in Kathmandu, the scene has been developing for the past 3 years. It's progressing more with the proper sound, stage, amount of crowd etc. It only lacks the proper quality of crowd who are truly Metalheads and also we don't have venues for the indoor and outdoor gigs. There are always showstoppers (police) in almost every concert. Outside of the valley, there are only places like Hetauda and Pokhara, knowingly the most happening places for their Metal Scenes at the present.
As for the bands, there are more new bands coming into the scene. Some stick to the music and some leave the scene with no hopes and play other genres. Basically, when we talk about underground bands, each bands or musicians, there are very few bands that get paid and most of the bands they can't even think of surviving only by playing and depending on their music career. Some of the bands may want to continue playing; it is because a true musician never wants to give up his passion.
What do you think of the sites posting underground Extreme Metal materials? Listen to Adhipatya Ho Danav Ko by Bidroha here.
Saurab: It depends on the sites. For example, there are lots of Facebook pages that are supporting and posting underground stuff but a lot of the pages in someway, just want to get more likes on their pages and even post the wrong information about the bands. If any site is giving wrong information about any band, those sites must be stopped and those who truly collect authentic information about the bands and update their pages or sites are definitely supporting the scene.
Nepal has been visited by some major Death Metal acts like Vader, Nepalm Death, Decapitated, Behemoth etc. Which Thrash bands would you like to see in Nepal in the future?
Saurab: I would love to see the German Thrash bands in Nepal.
Coming to a different topic, having a devastated economy in Nepal, how much does this affect the musicians and organizers who put on shows? How much are the quality instruments available in Nepal?
Saurab: First of all, it's hard to find proper indoor or outdoor venues for Metal gigs in Nepal. I must say, you have to be lucky enough to find a proper venue, and then organizers have to pay a high amount towards the venue charge. Besides that there are our show stoppers (police) who would stop the show without any reason or notice. As for musicians, they don't get paid most of the time and its mostly the musicians who invest their money from their own pockets. Most of the headlining bands end up not playing in the shows because of the police’s invasion. A lot of the people who come to the show, would either ask for free passes or they would ask for over 50% discount to get in. This way our shows ultimately face a heavy loss. To answer your second question, if you can pay well, then best quality instruments are available.
So what are you guys planning on for the next year? Anymore overseas tours?
Saurab: We had plans to have the album tour in Nepal, India and Hong Kong but the tour was in Hong Kong only. Unfortunately, it's getting late for the tour due to the problems we have. Now we have found a new bassist and Amar is back. Let's hope we can still do this tour. If not, then we will do some gigs excluding album tours and will be taking a rest for months to continue our normal life like studies, jobs and will be back again.
Thank you so much for your time Saurab. Really appreciate it! Any final words for Bidroha fans?
Saurab: Well, first of all thanks for having me on board. Thanks to all the supporters, fans who have been supporting us from the begining till now. We have released our debut album "Suffer Till Death" and if you haven't grabbed on it yet, go grab it now. Your feedback would be appreciated a lot. Lastly, Thank you very much for appreciating our work. Thrash'em all \,,/
"We still have that spirit of exploration, but we've definitely found our groove and we can't wait to show the world"
Immoralis are a Symphonic Metalcore / 'Orchestral DETHcore' sextet arising from the dark and dampened streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having already unleashed their ferociously powerful effort 'The Great Collapse' and just dropped their latest single 'Burden', it was clearly overtime in respect to giving these four lads and two lasses a proper interrogation. We recommend the track 'The Great Collapse' from their album of the same name as a starter point to get into what is poised as the newer Bleeding Through. Let the fireworks begin, we spoke to the band as a whole and also addressed two questions to them individually, surprised to see the UK was not mentioned in this interview....
Hey guys, first of all how did Immoralis come about, how did you meet and what does the name mean?
As far as our lineup we all met through Craigslist ads, YouTube, mutual friends and being in the right place at the right time. As far the name Immoralis goes it actually has no real meaning but was thought up and it just happened to stick.
You call yourselves Orchestral DETHcore Metal, what influences make up your sound?
Between each individual member we have such a varied difference on what we each listen to personally that we all bring something unique to the table and are able to come up with our sound.
Who would you say was the party pooper of the band, who is the leader or daddy / mummy of the band? (That is who makes sure everyone is happy)
Each of us have been the party pooper at one point or another, Jens and Adam would be the leaders / father figures and Matt would be the comforting mother of the band. As far as everyone else in the band Jesse is our networker, Tori is our swing vote whenever our democracy is at a tie, and Jace is our social butterfly / wild child.
You released your debut album 'The Great Collapse' last year, did you all come up with the songs or was some songs thought up individually?
Jens and Adam pretty much had the foundation of the songs written and as each of the rest of the members joined they were able to add their instruments to the songs to create "The Great Collapse".
What plans have you got for the year? Please explain the meaning behind your new single 'Burden'?
We will hopefully be working on a new EP as well as doing some touring. "Burden" was inspired by the TV show "Dexter". The song can be viewed as a stepping stone towards the direction we're going.
Finally are there any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
We'd like to give a collective shout out to everyone that has supported us so far. It means the MULTIVERSE to all of us and we're excited for what's to come!
The rest of the questions were directed at each member with two questions each.
So Jens, how long have you been playing guitar and what do you currently play with?
I've been playing guitar for 17 years now... wow, how time flies having fun! Currently, I have 3 guitars that I use live, my two mains are a Tobacco Sunburst Gibson Slash Signature Les Paul and a Black Dean ML Custom Run. My backup guitar is a Gibson '67 re-issue Flying V. All of the guitars are down tuned to Drop-B. I use DR DDT .12-.60 strings. My amp is a Peavy 5150 EVH signature Blockletter run through a Carvin 4x12. My pedal board consists of a Morley Bad Horsie 2 wah wah, Boss TU-2 Tuner that run in front of my amp, with a TC Electronics Flashback Delay, TC Electronics Hall of Fame Reverb, and a ISP Decimator in my FX Loop to clear up all the nasty unwanted noises that come from a cranked 5150... I also have a Sure Wireless system that I use depending on the day and venue.
What is your favorite Immoralis riff and why?
My favorite Immoralis riff? Well, that would probably have to be in 'The Value of Nothing', specifically at 1:49. It's a pretty basic riff that only happens for a few short measures, but it just brings me back to the old (Master of Puppets / And Justice for All) Metallica shred days, so you better believe I down pick that shit for full Hetfield authenticity.
Jace, as backing vocalist and bassist, who do you take influence from?
Influences for me have come from all around considering singing and playing. My parents are huge influences on me, being musicians themselves they've always been able to help, teach and inspire me with anything I do music related. Vocally I would have to reach out to Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, Pat Benatar and Amy Lee of Evanescence. I love the feeling they all release in their singing and all their different styles. Bass wise, I really enjoy playing fast, so Geddy Lee of Rush and Ryan Martini of Mudvayne were two of my first influences that really reached out to me on that instrument for two reasons, they weren't your average 'root-note bassist' and I never got bored listening to them play. Then I got into Tal Wilkenfeld, and she is definitely a top inspiration for me along with John Myung from Dream Theater. Flawlessness meets tastefulness. I don't care what anybody says, there is nothing like a good, solid, funky fresh bass solo.
If you could sing a duet with any musician from any time in history, who would it be and why?
If I had the chance to sing a duet with any musician in history, it would definitely be a tie between Sharon from Within Temptation and Amy Lee from Evanescence. Their impressive range, feeling and over-all talent is just flawless! I have been listening to both groups from each ones beginning and I definitely believe that the passion, drive and talent we all would share could definitely be combined into one of the most breath taking musical pieces yet. It would be such an amazing honor.
Matt, how did you train to become a drummer, was it natural or did it take time?
I've never had a formal lesson before so I guess you could say I took to the instrument pretty naturally. I was inspired to learn by watching other drummers before I had even touched a pair of sticks, I just knew I wanted to play the drums instinctively in a sense. But as far as getting to where I am today it's come from years of listening to music and learning other drummers parts as a way of figuring out how certain things are done. Very trial and error then figuring out what works best for me and our songs.
If you could take Immoralis to only 3 countries (except USA), where would you take them and why?
Definitely Australia, Germany and Canada. Those music scenes as of late are pumping out some sick bands and just seeing how shows go down from seeing other bands in those locations the appreciation for our genre over there is just insane and I would love nothing more than a first hand experience of that.
Adam, did you and Jens share guitar playing tips in the early Immoralis days or was it very easy to do?
We were both semi experienced at guitar and writing music when we met. Jens has always been an exceptional guitarist with his formal training, schooling, and how he constantly pushes his skills and in the time of knowing him and playing with him I've grown tremendously by learning from him. When we first started writing together it was difficult. We were both trying to pull the music in a certain direction which is strange because we actually share many of the same influences that got us into music like Pantera, Metallica, Etc. Where the magic began was when we both let go of control and just let the music flow. We gave everyone a chance to finish an idea before criticizing or changing it. We also adopted early on that no idea or direction is off limits. We don't have to be strictly brutal or melodic. We love the duality of both. We never know where the next song will go.
What would you say makes Immoralis who they are?
I think our secret sauce is our diversity and that everyone contributes. If you put four guys who all love Death Metal together then they'll make a Death Metal band or Thrash, etc. The truth about us is that there are bands we all love but there's such a range of influences between everyone and we really encourage every members input. When we first started writing we didn't really know what kind of band we were gonna be so we were really experimental and just figuring out what we wanted to be. Our first record "The Great Collapse" is in my opinion a good example of us exploring what sound we want. Since then we've definitely honed in on what we think will make Immoralis the best band we can make it. We still have that spirit of exploration but we've definitely found our groove and we can't wait to show the world.
Tori, how long have you been playing keyboards and do you feel that more bands need to explore this instrument further? (As in does it create atmosphere so that the whole song sound changes?)
I've been playing piano for probably around 16 years, keyboards for 10. While I love the extra layer that keyboards add, I wouldn't equate that to saying more bands need to incorporate them. I wouldn't be opposed to such a movement, but there are tons of amazing bands out there already that utilize keys, and in vastly different directions! However, I will fully admit that if more bands want me to listen to them, keyboards are an easy way to do so. That's where I get my giggities.
Who would you liken yourself to playing wise? Who influences you?
My biggest influence is easily Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish. The sincerity, talent, and imagination behind his songwriting are what first inspired me to attempt fitting my classical background in the metal scene. If it hadn't been for a good friend of mine showing me the "Once" album and coercing me to form a metal band, I certainly wouldn't be where I am now.
Jesse, what made you become a vocalist, was it a childhood passion?
I actually grew up playing the guitar and playing in a garage band with my older brother Pat. I was 14-15 years old covering Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Korn, etc. Then I started writing my own music and lyrics so our band began writing original music. That's when I started singing. I would always sing along to songs when I was little. But growing up my main focus was the guitar. When I turned 17 I started writing music that was to technical for me to play and sing at the same time. I found a guitar player that I could teach the songs to so I could mainly concentrate on vocals. I really got into the screaming side of music after hearing the "Deftones", my favorite band ever ha. Then America Head Charge, Dry Kill Logic, Chimaira, etc. I took a break from vocals and got back into the guitar for a few years. I then took a break from music all together to pursue other interests. I stumbled upon Immoralis, heard some songs that were just instrumental and after hearing them I had so many sick vocal ideas running through my head. That's when I decided to get back into the music scene. I think my passion is music in general, whether it be vocals, guitar, bass, anything that helps get the ideas out of my head and into a written song. That is my passion.
What advice could you give to those learning this type of vocals?
As far as advice for anyone trying to learn screaming / singing vocals. I would say nothing happens overnight, it takes years and years of learning, practicing and making mistakes to learn how to scream properly. Nothing of worth comes easy. If your voice is gone and your running out of breath then your doing it all wrong. Control your breathing! Also be open minded, just because you're into metal doesn't mean that other genres can't help you become a better musician or vocalist. I practice singing to anything from Bruno Mars, City In Colour, Periphery, then screaming to Veil Of Maya, After The Burial, Elitist, Whitechapel, etc. It all helps me become a better vocalist and I'm always learning new things. Last but not least, be yourself. It's good to practice to other music and learn from it but be original. Which means let everything you scream and sing come out naturally. Don't try to sound like someone else and most of all don't over-think things.\m/
As DevilDriver sharpen up their axes and brush off their gold-coated selves after their well-received Bloodstock appearance, I caught up with Dez Fefara (Vocals) and spoke to him about the plans they have for the year, their time watching a marriage proposal take place in the Bloodstock Signing Tent, past events and how he believes work ethic is a key to success.
We have selected a number of questions from the interview for your reading pleasure, but please also find the audio version above.
Hi there Dez, so at Bloodstock you witnessed a marriage proposal take place, what was that like for you?
That was a good time man, I mean any time people will go to a gig and coming together as a couple and enjoying music when, they were tying the knot at a Metal concert and I mean that is a damn good time. You know what I mean? (laughs).
Was that the first time you saw something like this happen?
No, actually that has happened quite a few times with DevilDriver, it happened after playing in Berlin and Australia and it is a wonderful thing to see people come to a gig and tie the knot, basically it's a cool thing. [Then refers to the Bloodstock occasion and reflects on his thoughts]: I was thinking this could go one way or the other (laughs), nah like I said it could be a beautiful thing or it could be turned down, but I always wish everyone the very best and I've been married for a long time so I know what a beautiful day it could be but I've also been a part of scenario's which were not so good. But I wish the best to people.
Now you released "Winter Kills" back in 2013, have you got any plans for a new release this year?
No, I mean if I had my way we would put a record out about every year and a half, it's just impossible so we're pretty much on a two and a half year cycle right now and we can very much keep up with that, that being said later on in the Fall (Autumn) of this year we will be recording and then sometime next year I will be recording vocals. But just the way we learn to write together is what made "Winter Kills", "Winter Kills", it's what made the six records perform well on the road, we're glad we're using this new writing style and by starting now we want to get ahead of the game to make sure we have a real quality product to go in and record.
Of course you're coming over to the UK in April and are touring with Sylosis and Bleed From Within, is it the first time you've played alongside these bands?
No, playing alongside Sylosis they were on tour with us and they got into a little horrible accident in America, I'm not sure if you know about that so they were in an RV and they got wrecked pretty bad and were pretty lucky to be alive, but I mean they had to redirect their tour so it was kind of like 'hey guys lets get together and kick shit up, we're glad your alive', they've got their own and sound and brought a lot to the table.
I always like coming to the UK, there are certain places as a musician you can make it or break it, in that stage we were looking at Los Angeles and the UK. We're very loud over there, it's a great time and I have a lot of friends and I know the shows are going to be off the hook, and that is going to be important for me, when you know the shows you're going to perform at are going to be crazy, it makes it all the better and we got to make sure that we will be ready to do it.
In regards to your song 'Not All Who Wander Are Lost', there's a section where the band-members are subject to x-rays, was that your idea or another band-members?
No no, that was an idea I had and when I tried it out the director was like oh this can easily be done this way and that way and so we ended up putting that in the video. I've worked alongside some really cool people so.... [listen to the audio at the top for a more in depth answer to this]
Thinking back to when you were a child, did you foresee yourself with DevilDriver as big as you are now?
Oh no I don't think it's the matter of being big or small, it's about being a musician. So now it's kind of a different scenario in relation to listening to a record collection because now you would ask 'hey mum, dad, let me borrow your iPod for the day', which is not going to happen because they're going to need it for work, or to go to the gym or whatever. In my house, all those kinds of records I got into them early on so now I have 60's stuff like The Doors, Steppenwolf's 'Born To Be Wild and other stuff like that I got into when I was really young, so I saw myself being a musician but didn't want to think in terms of being big or small and instead just getting up on stage and being a musician and that is really worked out for me.
Regarding "Winter Kills" which debuted #32 on the Billboard, could you perhaps shed light on why Metal music does or does not tend to get high positions on the Billboard?
Well metal tends not to get in to Billboard top #40 and it is extremely hard to get into, especially when you're against someone like Justin Timberlake and just not getting into it, but this is starting to change and I'm really proud to say that we made #32 and that's with no clean singing or no clean vocals, nothing good on the radio and as a result making it onto the radio means that it shoots onto the Billboard chart, that with requests for airplay pushes you further up the chart. But the chart is mainly a lot of pop music, a lot of pop punk and to see this shift with metal now making the chart's, it's something rather special, as metal is seen as the disproportionate and I don't know why it is happening, but it's happening.
Out of all the albums you own, what album would most people be shocked at in knowing that you own a copy?
(laughs), well I listen to a wide range of music so from everything including blues to punk rock, to Black Metal, to psychobilly and I love it all man, as far as being shocked I think you would have to take a look at my record collection and see that I have some Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Black Sabbath, Emperor, Dio, Sepultura, Black Flag, etc. and crazy opera stuff, you know I collect music as I am a music musician, not a metal musician and I'm very far from the purest in that anyone who knows me knows that I love Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy as much as I love Black Sabbath and Black Flag. So, I wouldn't say they would be shocked, more so I would say they would be like 'Oh that's a Sinatra CD, didn't know you like that music and I'd say yeah been listening to it a lot'.
What would you say to those unsigned bands who don't quite understand yet what being in a metal band is about, in respect to investing time and money? What of those bands who think promoters should bow down to them and give them gigs instead of working for them?
If you're getting into an underground art, and I mean anything that's an underground art like painting, sculpting, playing the Blues, Punk Rock, Heavy Metal, don't get into it for the money, and basically you will always have to put something into life in order to get something out and so that means you would have to pay for gas, food, hotel accommodation or you'll probably have to go one or two weeks without a shower and so there's always going to be different kinds of scenario's on the way up, but if you stick with it, you know you keep your day job and you keep yourself sane, you stay away from the problems that will kill your band and stay away from hard drugs and all of the things that are going to destroy your future, then you might have a future. Don't go following a scene, you should be making your own style of music and do it for your heart and yourself, and those who like your band. Believe in yourself man, that's all you got to do just believe in yourself and those kinds of people who have done that have started all kinds of bands, if you believe in yourself you will be able to do things.
People who believed in me helped me out and those that didn't, I am no longer friends with and most of them are no longer in the industry any more so it is also not only important to believe in yourself, but others too as they are the ones who you will want to spread the positivity around.
Those bands (laughs) who think that people should bow down to them are stupid, you know you're just a f**king musician. You're not a world leader or whatever, you're a musician. Here's the thing right, I come from what you would call a working-class background, ok I was on a construction site for years and I know what it's like to work my ass off. With my dad, I would go down there around 5 in the morning (a.m.) and still be working when before the sun goes down and you're so tired. I've never lost that work ethic because I believed in becoming a man, and not through buying houses, or cars or having a beautiful wife. So no, no one should ever have to bow down to you even if you're a musician.
Finally are there any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
Yeah well, for anyone who has supported me from the beginning of my career up till now, in any number of my bands thank you very much and I'll never ever let you down, not through my music nor through the live shows, so come on out to the shows, get in the pit and have a good time with DevilDriver and throw away the chairs for a night with us.
DevilDriver are on tour in the UK from the 3rd to the 10th April and are hitting these following cities (in order): CARDIFF, LONDON, WOLVERHAMPTON, GLASGOW, DUBLIN, MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON.
Tickets are on general sale now and you can pick them up at www.kililive.com and www.seetickets.com (Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton), www.ticketmaster.ie (Dublin), www.triplegmusic.com (Glasgow) and www.wolvescivic.co.uk (Wolverhampton).
By GMA's Bangladesh correspondent Nabil Abaddon
In the search for Extreme Metal bands from the most exotic corners of the world, we shine the light on a small South-East Asian country called Nepal, a country that has burst out as an emerging Metal scene in the last few years with a bunch of talented local bands and the consecutive arrivals of Metal acts like Vader, Napalm Death, Decapitated, Behemoth, etc. We searched a bit more and stumbled upon a band called Dying Out Flame.
Dying Out Flame is a five piece ‘Vedic Death Metal’ band, a particular sub-genre that originated with Rudra from Singapore. The name Dying Out Flame comes from the Hindu tradition of cremation. It is the last phase of the burning of a corpse. As the band moniker suggests, Dying Out Flame plays a unique brand of Extreme Music that incorporates Death Metal with ancient Vedic / Hindu philosophies and mythologies through the use of Eastern Classical chants, complex time changes, Death growls mixed with clean vocals and what not. They have played many local gigs and festivals and are now busy with the recording of their debut album.
I managed to talk with the band leader, vocalist and bassist Aabeg Gautam over the net. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
GMA: Greetings Aabeg! Welcome to GMA Interrogations. Hows it going with your band?
Aabeg: Thanks, we are doing great. A lot of things are going on at the moment. We are recording our debut full length album which will be released sometime in early / mid 2014. We are also performing live on regular basis. So stay tuned for massive 'Vedicization'. We have also been through some line-up changes on guitars because Saurav khanal was kicked out few weeks ago due to his false respect and attitude towards the band and music. We have however found a good replacement and we will come more powerful in upcoming days. Altogether we are really busy and exicted about everything going on right now.
Watch their song “Annihilation of Jallandhara” here
GMA: Dying Out Flame is a “Vedic Death Metal” Band. So tell us how do you define the term 'Vedic Death Metal'? How do you write your lyrics and compose the songs keeping that in mind?
Aabeg: If you'd make a 30 second study of our work you'd soon realize what is Vedic Death Metal. It is Death Metal music totally based on Hindu themes and Vedic literatures. it's the mixture of words and music derived from Sanskrit Vedic mythology / philosophy incorporating with ancient shlokas and fusing traditional Hindu classical music into Death Metal. To answer your second question, when I compose music and lyrics, there is no set formula. It all depends on time and place. I might have a riff in my head, a drumbeat or a mythological / philosophical theme that the song would be based on. I take those things and build an entire concept for the song around that. It just evolves and evolves from there, and there is always an emotion that works whilst making every song. It just comes to me from my inner feelings, thoughts and eternal love and dedication for Death Metal, art and religion..
GMA: As far as I know, you guys started as a Technical Death Metal outfit. What made you change your genre?
Aabeg: These days, Death Metal has become a bit too glamorized and popular. I rarely see anything new these days. I see nothing but bastardization of artistry and style only and it sickens me. We don't want to play the same thing again and again which has become a trend these days. So to keep the music interesting, fresh and away from the trend, we had to make some changes to our sound.
As we had some concepts of Hindu mythologies, literature's and traditional classical music, we all decided to evolve into a Vedic Death Metal band for creating religious / spiritual awareness and closeness to the world. Most people in Nepal understood what Metal is in the last few years with the big success of Cradle Of Filth, Slipknot, Lamb Of God etc. Metal is violence, evil, Satanic, nihilism only for pseudo Metalheads and brainless kids here who don’t have any direction in life. But personally, I am spiritually aware, I do not have the need to flaunt it, because this is not how I want my art to be.
I look only at myself and focus on myself. It's my law, I'm my own law and my own God before anything else. The rest is less important, we just play in a way that reflects and expresses deep underlying truth and reality of existence and it seems that Vedic Death Metal is the only proper medium to express our feelings of religion, spiritualism and Death Metal aggression at the same time. It is a big part of our lives. There is no false faces behind it.
GMA: Is the band working on any EP or album at the moment?
Aabeg: We are in the middle of our recording of first full length album, which is much more extensive as far as the arrangements and overall music are concerned. One year of dedication and hardwork is what lies responsible for it's enormous patterns, and hopefully the final outcome will be what we have prayed for. I think this album will appeal and come as a fresh breeze to anyone whose heart pounds for Vedic Death Metal glory. We are enjoying the work and I think this is my life’s best work till date.
Album Teaser can be seen here
GMA: As far as I know all four members of DOF are studying at Nepal Music Center, am I right? How much does that help in the music you do with DOF?
Aabeg: Yes, except our new guitarist Bikalpa, who joined the band few weeks earlier, we all are students of Nepal Music Center. Studying music theories in music school has helped me a lot in composing music and keeping it interesting and to flow with everything really well. It has helped me a lot as a musician and a composer but if you have good listening power you don't need to worry about theories, it is simply the study of why certain sounds go together. Listening to some of the bands / artists that influence you, can help you to get a lot of the ideas. It's all about the feel and how it affects you..
GMA: Who inspired you to become musicians and who do you idolize as a band?
Aabeg: Music comes from the Gods and is not the gift of any one man or race. I can safely say that I'm inspired by my surroundings, inner feelings, thoughts and love for extreme sonic musical notes since my childhood and it lit a fire in me to create the music. These things are more influential than music itself I believe.I like the enormity of music, not only limiting to Death Metal, a lot of other genres too.
I like Indian Carnatic classical music, Jazz, Funk, Blues too.. but when it comes to metal, I am always into old school Death / Black / Thrash / Grind. I am the great worshipper of bands like Morbid Angel, Vomitory, Immolation, Unleashed, Dissenter, Bolt Thrower, Malevolent Creation, Vader, Sinister, Entombed, Nile, Lock Up, Terrorizer, Hate Eternal, Hate, Grave, God Macabre, Dismember, Emtombed, Carcass and many many more...
GMA: Do you think it is possible in Nepal to make a living solely on music?
Aabeg: It is impossible thing to make a living here solely on music. We all must have some other ways to have a roof above our heads and a meal on the table. Except for that, I can't say money has any value to me. But once you choose music as your basic occupation, you have to be satisfied and happy with what you get. The small amount of money we make occassionally are invested in one way or another, equipments, practise room charges etc.. But I am also pleased with the part of composing music. As long as my basic needs are being fulfilled, I am satisfied.
GMA: Tell us a bit about the Nepalese scene! What are the good bands and good gigs?
Aabeg: Sincerely, I don’t know if I can still call it scene or not. Metal is very disjointed here. Some bands are envious of other bands who are set on the longer road. It's a shame! It was good in the earlier days and could have went on to become something brilliant if there was not any jealousy and malice that exists nowadays.
Some stupid, shallow bunch of idiots ruined the scene who only wanted to promote themselves. Especially, the undervalued lot from the so called "true" big metal bands and "true" underground promoters whose only purpose is to gain a fan-base, profit , impress girls etc. They have erased the pure spirit and devotion of the early days. I know that it might look strange in your eyes that I have such negative attitude about the metal scene here, but this is the truth.
The internet made it much easier to wipe the underground. Internet serves it's purpose as well, people just have to realize that it is not behind the computer screen that the true foundation of metal scene lies. Whats comforting though is that there are still some bands who are honest and serious. Some of the hordes I highly respect and recommend are Ugra Karma - they planted the germ for the Death Metal to grow in Nepal. They instilled a spirit of what Death Metal actually meant, both in raw form and as an ideology.
Other bands who are honest and true to their conviction are Aakrosh, Binaash, Bidroha, Wakk Thuu, Broken Hymen, Narsamhaar, Undefined Human etc. So, they deserve to be supported as much as possible. If people do something sincerely and it makes sense, then everyone should respect them.
GMA: So Dying Out Flame will be playing in the inaugural Nepal Death Fest this year along with some of the most promising bands from the sub-continent. How excited is the band for that? Have you guys played in any other fests before ?
Aabeg: That's definitely number one on our list of things we're looking forward to. This is a first proper DIY Death Metal festival in Nepal that is going to be held on 11th January. So, we are really exicted for that and those who want to lose your breath momentarily, you all must have to attend the festival. And yeah, we have played numerous festivals before..
Watch their performance at Summer Fest (Nepal) here:
GMA: Nepal has been visited by many Death Metal bands like Vader, Decapitated, Napalm Death, Behemoth.Eeven Micheal Angelo Batio toured Nepal few months back. How many of these concerts have you been to?
Aabeg: I've had the privilege of watching and meeting all of them live except Michael Angelo Batio because that's not something for what my heart beats. All those bands were the beginning of the road for us, the foundation, inspiration to us as younger musicians and all of them have left their marks on us as fans and musicians. In fact, Vader was the first international Death Metal band I ever saw live, and it was something I will always remember as a fan.
GMA: So whats DOF's plan for the next year?
Aabeg: My plans concerning Dying Out Flame are to release our debut full length album and a music video for "Eternal Mother Of Great Time" firstly. From the other hand, my ultimate plan is to create the means for uplifting of religious / spiritual spirits and transcendence in the listeners that occur when listening to the great art. We will continue expressing our thoughts, attitudes and feelings through our Vedic Death Metal music with endless passion which is a big part of our lives and pictures of our souls and we will spontaneously continue Vedicizing new plagues with the holy storm of Vedic Metal. I want to create something more different and obscure that you wouldn't just call a good Vedic Death Metal band but it's Dying Out Flame alright and we will accomplish that. Also, we have thought of some lives, there is already invitations of tours from our brothers from Bangladesh and India. When the right time will come, we will play there.
GMA: Thanks for your time and patience. It was great talking with you. Any last words for the fans you would like to say?
Aabeg: It's been a good time answering to your questions and spread some propaganda. We're glad that there is an interest in what we're doing. Thanks for your support and great interview. The studio version of my personal favourite track "Shiva Rudrastakam" will be released after few days as an album promo. So stay tuned and salute to the brothers of Metal and yeah never forget "ahimsha parmo dharma"!!