When you think of Cyprus, you tend to think of wine, Greek relations, hot and sand-swept land. But simmering under the Mediterranean heat is a vibrant metal scene with a handful of bands who have graced the international stage, Winter's Verge for example. However closer to the surface is a underground scene that is fresh as the vineyards growing on this rocky island.
Nekhrah are a Death Metal band hailing from Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus and have released their debut album 'Cosmic Apotasy' this year, so it was only fair for GMA to interrogate this quartet and ask them about their origins, thoughts on Brexit, the history of the Cypriot Metal scene, touring and plans for 2018.
".... the size of the scene is an inherent challenge. It’s something niche that has its own intricate ways of functioning."
Hey guys, firstly could you tell us how Nekhrah came about and what the name means?
"Nekhrah is an anglicised version of the Greek word Nekra (Νέκρα) which means dead / deadness emptiness. It is pronounced as Né-kra."
What do your parents think of your choice of music?
"Well, I’m sure there’s regret for paying for music lessons, our mental health has been questioned on numerous occasions before, but overall, they are all very supportive even if it is not their cup of tea. Some have even attended a gig – needless to say, it was the first and last one."
How long has the Cypriot Metal scene been going? What challenges have you had to face as a band, and the scene itself?
"There were a few bands during the late 80’s that I am aware off. The extreme scene came about during the early 90’s and picked up speed during the early 00’s.
The Cypriot Metal scene has an inherent curse; compulsory TWO YEAR army service for Cypriot nationals at the age of 18. Lots of bands that begin during the teen years don’t make it after the members reach their 20’s due to this. As time outside of the army is limited for those two years, members are reluctant to practise or simply lose the spark to be creative and just go into mental slumber for the duration of their service.
Some of our members had to attend the army, then others left abroad for studies so we relied a lot on each individual’s commitment, passion and of course, the internet to keep Nekhrah going during these times.
I recall in 2014, two members flew from Cyprus, another from Scotland and another from Guildford to play a gig in a local Pub in Colchester, Essex alongside two other local bands. With regard to the scene itself I guess the size of the scene is an inherent challenge. It’s something niche that has its own intricate ways of functioning. Part of the challenge has been figuring out what works and how to put it in application."
You just released your debut album 'Cosmic Apotasy', what has the reception been like? Will you tour South-Eastern Europe in support? Or a simple Cypriot tour?; Is it hard to apply for shows in Northern Cyprus and Turkey?
"So far it has been received far more warmly than we had envisaged. It has been featured in Magazines in Poland, Germany and Norway, in a compilation CD, featured on playlists and has been played on various big rock / metal radio stations internationally. Needless to say we are overwhelmed with the praise the album has received.
A tour is currently in the works, although nothing is set in stone as of yet. Hopefully that works out and we can reach out to new listeners through gigs. Seeing as Cyprus is such a small Island the term “touring” would make it sound more grandiose than it actually is haha. But yes, we plan on playing other cities other than our home town.
Getting political are we? Regarding the first part of your question, it is certainly not practically hard to apply for shows in Northern Cyprus since the opening of the check-points on the island back in 2003.
Regarding Turkey, there are no direct flights from the Republic of Cyprus to Turkey which means that to get there one would have to cross over the check-points with equipment etc and leave from the North or get a connecting flight through another country that flies directly to Turkey. In that regard it would perhaps be practically harder to play Turkey should the opportunity present itself."
What are your thoughts on Brexit?
"Brexit seems to be like one of those terrible far-fetched stories that end up being true. Sort of like Trump being elected as head of State. However, without a doubt it does represent the view of current majority (out of the people who voted) within the UK no matter whether the Pro-Brexit campaigners have deliberately misinformed and misled.
Now on the flip side I’m not certain that it directly reflects the views of the majority of the political leadership which (undoubtedly) must now follow through. As a result the political leadership is now faced with the colossal task of negotiating deals that best protect the interests of the UK citizens with a EU that doesn’t seem well disposed to do so.
Currently I feel there is an air of uncertainty and speculation about what turn events will take. Any speculation as to the economic and socio-political impacts of the Brexit are perhaps beyond my knowledge and the purpose of this interview."
Given Cyprus' location, do you have many metal bands come and play across the island?
"Surprisingly we have had numerous big names come and play here. Some honourable mentions (in no particular order): Paul Di Ano, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Scorpions, Sepultura, Vader, Sodom, Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ, Bolzer, Kafros Lord, Moonspell, Sabaton, Mnemic."
What plans have you got for the rest of the year?
"Now that the album has been officially released we are focusing more on promotion and booking gigs for 2018, thus apart from regular rehearsals, writing new material and perhaps recording a new single we don’t have any other substantial plans for 2017. Further, we have an album presentation on the 21st of December where we will be playing Cosmic Apostasy in its entirety as well as a few new un-recorded songs."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc you wish to send out?
"Thank you’s go out to Constantinos Syrimis, Nikolas Prokopiou of ToneDeaf Studio, Alan Douches of West West Side Music and Maciej Kamuda. Greetings go out to readers of Global Metal Apocalypse as well as anyone who has researched the band and stumbled across your interview. Thank you kindly for your time and interest, we appreciate it greatly."
Not many people could envisage Bhutan having a metal scene, for a landlocked country high up in the Himalayas, some would question whether this Buddhist country could ever spawn off a metal scene. Well despite the band Forsaken seemingly being inactive, they were fundamental to the scene nonetheless.
Kinley Phyntso was more than happy to give us a brief interview of how he got into metal music, the state of the Bhutanese Metal scene and how Forsaken came about.
How did you become involved in metal music? What do your parents think of the music genre?
"My entry into metal (music) would have to be back in 2006 when a friend of mine brought Linkin Park's 'Hybrid Theory' to class and made me listen to it. It was pretty heavy compared to what I was accustomed to (mostly 70's and 80's music thanks to my mum). Now I listen to way heavier stuff than Linkin Park but they definitely were my gateway band into metal. My parents and family being the open people they are have never had any issues with the genre. They don't particularly like it but they don't tell me to switch it off when it's blaring through my speakers either."
Could you tell us how Forsaken formed, the band history and challenges faced as a metal band in Bhutan?
"I was contacted around 2012 by Ujwal Pradhan to do vocals for a band he was putting together for a battle of the bands. That was where I met the rest of the guys; Arpan Tamang, Singye Namgay, Lhakpa, and Sangay Khandu. We took part in the competition, won it and kept playing at our local pub here, the Mojo Park.
Being a metal band in a small country such as ours which is still developing, it was and still is hard to stay afloat. Many people didn't really get why we headbanged on stage or why I was growling and screaming into a microphone. They just never considered it music and we were not really in demand so we did what was the logical thing to do. We started adding some well-known rock songs into our metal set-list so that we could get shows considering there are not many venues for any band to perform at here in Thimphu."
Could you tell us what the Bhutanese Metal scene is like? (studio's, venues, bands, media, metal music following, etc)?
"The Bhutanese metal scene is a very, very small niche of people. There are no metal radio stations or even metal played on mainstream radio. It's just guys and girls who have metal playing on their phones and iPods, wearing their favourite band shirts (which are hard to come by) and musicians who just play in their bedrooms. It is not dead but it is not thriving either. We maybe have like one or two festivals in a year but that is about it. There are not many venues which entertain metal music and metal bands that do form have mostly fallen to obscurity. "
How did the Bhutanese Metal scene start? What challenges are there on a wider scope, rather than band level - government opposition per se?
"In a year we try to do at least two metal festivals called 'Painkiller' in the winters and 'Namchag Duitoen' (Sky Iron Fest) in the summer.
And the turnout is about 100 to 150 people which is good by our standards. Budget is always a hassle since we don't have sponsors, mostly because we do our shows in small pubs and business owners don't see much of a point in investing money in a festival being held in a dimly lit setting. Outdoor festivals cost way too much money and just requiresway too much paperwork to get through.
Since the metal scene here is a very small one, finding bands to fill up a two day festivals bill can be tough especially since a lot of the bands cancel at last minute or don't even have proper equipment of their own. These festivals survive because a few of us put money in to proper advertising and getting the word out there as well as asking our friends to lend their guitars or amps or jacks to some of the bands who don't really have very good gear. Like I said, it's a very small scene with even fewer people who actually play this kind of music and the scene is usually very quiet until the festivals come rolling around. Then silence again."
Costa Rica has in recent years picked up the pace on the international metal stage, with bands like Sight Of Emptiness having played the UK's Bloodstock, Pneuma making waves and now it's Corpse Garden's turn. The five-piece Death Metal horde are set on releasing their third album 'IAO 269' (via Godz ov War Productions) and with it aim to present themselves further afield on planet metal.
GMA spoke to the guitarist Esteban Sancho about the new album, the Costa Rican Metal scene, performing at Wacken and 2018 plans.
"The world is a very big place, a band can either whine about its local scene, or just move on and tour other places"
Hi guys, for those who have not heard of Corpse Garden can you give us a brief history of the band?
"Corpse Garden has been around since 2008. The band initially started with a direction more towards grind / gore but it eventually evolved into Death Metal, throughout the years, the band has suffered several changes up until 2013. Since 2013 we have had a constant, and hard-working line-up, which eventually led to a different sound, which is the one you can experience now through our new album."
What can you tell us about the Costa Rican metal scene? Any challenges? Opposition?
"The metal scene in Costa Rica only exists on a relevant level for international bands. Locally, it’s very poor and sometimes frustrating. There are almost no good quality promoters, and most people don’t really attend local shows (considering the amount of people you see in international concerts). We are an underground band, we play extreme, intolerable music, we don’t really aim for a huge audience, so we don’t really expect every show to be sold out, however, when you see what’s going on in other countries, it’s frustrating to see how much this country has to learn (I speak mostly for the extreme scene, other bands from other sub-genres, might tell you something different). I have to say though, that we don’t really care, if it’s difficult here, we just look for different places to do our thing. The world is a very big place, a band can either whine about its local scene, or just move on and tour other places."
You're set to release your 3rd album 'IAO 269' in November, will there be a Central American tour or an overseas tour?
"We are going to be playing a small tour including Costa Rica and Panama (Istmo Metal Fest and other dates), Nicaragua is in the talks to be included in that. We do plan to do more touring in America, nothing we can make public yet. And plans for overseas tour are always in our minds, getting to make it happen is a whole different story, however, I can say that we do want to do it and we are starting to have conversations about it, just nothing confirmed yet."
The Costa Rican metal scene in recent years has seemed to establish a name for itself, what would you put down to it's success?
"Different places hold different energies from which an artist can find inspiration from, however, in the end music and all the art surrounding it is what matters. I personally don’t think the country has its own name out there yet, the country might be getting to it, but Costa Rica needs more bands to have international and relevant exposition to be able to say that. Now, if we look at what has happened, you can see that more bands are now being able to get labels to print and distribute their material, that is a good step for the “country”, but nothing big compared to the situations of other bands in other places. The bands that have had the chance to get themselves known internationally is due to the hard and professional work everyone has to do to get things done properly. We all still have a long way to go."
How important is it to expose unknown metal scenes to the world? What does the Costa Rican government think of metal music?
"There’s always going to be something you have not explored music wise, it gives more variety to the actual international scene. The Government doesn’t really like metal, but we don’t care, metal has always been about giving a big f*ck off to the establishment, metal is not looking to be included or taken into consideration, we exist because we want to, because we find ourselves identified with the aggressiveness and relentless energies metal deals with, we don’t need no one to help us. For those who really want to keep this alive will always find ways to do it."
What was it like performing at Wacken Open Air? Mingling with metalheads from all corners of the globe must have been awesome?
"I did not play at Wacken Open Air. I was there, but not in the band yet. I’m sure it was a very good experience and the first sight the band had to an international scene, however, it was a very different line up, only 2 members remain from back then. We are 5 years past that already, and it is time we move on."
What plans have you got leading into 2018 and are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"First of all, thank you for taking the time for the interview. We have big plans for touring, stay tuned for more updates about this. As well, 'IAO 269' will be released in Vinyl, stay tuned as well with Godz Ov War for more info about it. To the ones who support us, a true thank you, for we are not just about music, we represent chaotic energies from within and without, we represent a way of living and getting to know yourself, your support is like gasoline to the fire we carry under the name of Corpse Garden."
Whitechapel. To some it's the area of East London famed for Jack The Ripper, but in metal context it's an American Deathcore band with a splattering of various influences pocketed here and there from Black Metal to Groove Metal. However this quintet (drummer Ben Harclerode left this year) are more than your generic breakdown-laden, riff chugging clone that seems to dominate the ever-exasperated Deathcore genre. They are the leviathan of the genre, avoiding the cliches and common aesthetics found entrenched in most Deathcore bands and thus pose themselves as truly unique.
They were welcomed back to Bloodstock this year with open arms and certainly gave the punters their monies worth.
GMA took time out to talk to Gabe Crisp, the Whitechapel bassist about the band's history,
"I'd love Whitechapel to be part of a video game, that would be cool. I'd be down for something action-packed for sure."
Whitechapel has been going for 11 years now, what has been the most challenging part of the band's career so far? Did the band name originate from the East London area?
"The fact that you're constantly leaving home and things like that, we're all home buddies... things like driving 5 minutes to work is a lot easier than flying across the world you know? But nah we love it, it comes as part of the territory.
Our band name came from the Whitechapel area in London, I was proposed to be the man to go on to call our band name and Phil said 'Whitechapel', I was like 'what the f*ck?' Why would you call it Whitechapel?' It's weird because that's where Jack The Ripper killed a bunch of sluts back in the day. I was like 'oh shit that's pretty hard, that's metal as f*ck' and so here we are.
I mean another thing, I'll give you this one, Whitechapel is kind of like in a similar way; not saying we're in any way like the band, but the name Black Sabbath... I thought about this a couple of years ago, Whitechapel, see it's like black and white, Sabbath and chapel and it's like it works, I think Whitechapel works, I don't hate our band name. Some bands they're like 10 years in and man I f*cking hate our name, it sucks."
Whitechapel is often regarded as a Deathcore band, but on 'Mark Of The Blade' you leaned more towards Groove Metal right?
"Yeaahh so, I mean we've been a band for 11 years so we try not to write the same record twice, we don't want to do that, we never have, what we were into and writing you know ten years ago... I don't know it's kinda hard for us to not evolve, that's pretty much what it all is - growing up and changing, we just want to be a metal band and not really sub-genre it and all that sh*t, keep it fun for us and try to play shit that people had gotten in to.
Whatever you refer to us I don't care, to me that term [Deathcore] reflects our early years kind of vibe. It's just 10 years ago for us, we already done that kind of sound you know what I mean? Not that there's anything wrong with it, but we just can't write the same record over and over like we're going to be on our 7th record. If you're talking 10 songs a-record, that's 70 songs sounding exactly the same and if you're putting yourself into that genre, defining yourself as such - there's sh*t all you can do there right?"
Aside from metal music, do you have any influences from outside of metal? What does your family think of your music?
"Yeah I was telling a guy earlier about this stuff, when I was 14 I started playing bass guitar and that lead me to become a part of this band. The first band I fell in love, went to see and why I got into guitars was Green Day actually and not a metal band. I was a big fan of Green Day back in the day, just thought that the bass, being loud and proud in that band was super sick, it was cool man.
My parents are awesome, they know I do big sh*t, they're stoked. It's not the greatest job in the world I guess for some people, but it is to me and that's how it works. My family usually come to the out-of-town shows once every a couple of years or so they'll come to a show, my dad loves to have a few beers and watch me play and my mum has no idea what's going on - she has a good time."
Would it be fair to say that Phil Bozeman is one of the fastest Death Metal-style vocalists out there?
"I hope so, sure why not? I think he's the best for sure, I don't know that's just me. I think he's the best for sure. I like watching some frontmen from other bands, but as far as vocals go yeah he's a bad ass - he's very good at what he does. I think he can stand beside anybody in anyway."
Regarding your song 'The Saw Is The Law', what does the song title actually mean?
"I have no idea man, honestly all it is we use that song live as like our logo, those two words rhyme and makes sense I guess? I don't write the lyrics but I think it was just a kind of play on words that kind of rhyme and everybody seems to like it so it works out. There's a lot of saws, we have a lot of saws in our designs, in our album artworks, something like that."
Are there any major festivals in Knoxville?
"No we don't really have anything like that, we play our home town once a year usually, and it's not really a metal town by any means. We're a local band that travels a lot, we have our fans but as far as metal music goes in general, there's not much going on. If there was a festival it would not be metal, how about that? Yeah we'd play a non-metal festival without a doubt, I mean we played Warped Tour which is considered non-metal, it's more metal than it used to be for sure. But yeah we'd play anything, we like good music but it has to be metal for sure; if they want to listen to us then we wouldn't want to play in front of people who wouldn't want to hear us but at the same time we'd love to play anything."
Credit goes to the Bloodstock Open Air Festival Team
You've just finished your set, how was it?
"It was a great time, it was early but at lot earlier than we're used to but everything went well, because we were having a good time. It was easy, played all the songs well so can't really complain. It would have been cool if it was a little sunnier out but I'll be honest, it's not hot right? It's not raining so I'm not going to complain."
For the New Blood Stage bands, some have only just started out, some have never played a major festival before, what advice could you give them (and future unsigned bands at Bloodstock)?
"I'm assuming that the shows are going to be bigger than they're used to or something like that, for me I never had a problem with the size of the crowd. Don't even worry about the crowd, it's easy just play your show on stage and whatever is happening down front don't even worry about it. Just play your show on stage, that's what I'd say."
Is it relatively hard for American bands to go on tours across the States?
"Nah nah, I mean for us we've always been lucky I guess but at the same time it's fairly easy as long as you have a somewhat of a following and, maybe starting up is kind of hard - I think that would be for anybody, shows in America go well."
When Whitechapel is on tour, what do you guys get up to to occupy yourself whilst travelling?
"PlayStation 4, some of us try to go to the gym every now and then if there's a way to get out and get the pump on, get a shower you know? Let's see, yeah usually just PlayStation, we play a lot of PlayStation. We've been playing a lot of NHL 17, Uncharted 4, but I'm usually watching Zach (Householder) whilst drinking beers - it sounds boring right? But it's what we do."
Speaking of PS4, if a game developer was to ask Whitechapel to provide a song for a new PS4 or Xbox game would you do it?
"As many as would, forever, why not yeah. I used to learn about bands who liked Tony Hawk back in the day, that had awesome soundtracks. I'd love Whitechapel to be part of a video game, that would be cool. I'd be down for something action-packed for sure."
Does Whitechapel have any plans confirmed for 2018 so far?
"So far I don't know if I'm supposed to talk about it, I talked about it earlier though in some form of it, but we're going to be back early Spring of next year and I don't want to say who we're coming back with, but yeah we'll be back early next year. I think it's mainly Europe stuff, maybe some UK stuff but it's very early stages but it looks like we're going to be over here next year, early next year."
Gabe, have you got any hello's, greetings, etc you wish to send out to fans, family, etc.?
"Well yeah I just got married, so I'll say hello Corinna, what's up girl? I'll figure out that she manages to read / listen to this, it's awesome. Anybody that listens to Whitechapel, that would be cool I feel like I'm a pretty lucky person in talking to you guys so, I just want to say thanks to anybody who has checked us out, liked us or not, who cares, I appreciate it - thanks to the bands."
It's always nice to see individuals or groups giving the their input towards a relief effort and Omotai are no exception. Having provided a track for the Hurricane Harvey Benefit Compilation, this Texas unit are committed to bringing charity to those affected by the hurricane in late August / early September.
GMA had to catch up with the guys to talk about this sensational venture, their origins and the extreme weather Texas has to deal with, that being tornadoes as well as hurricanes.
Vocalist / Guitarist Jamie Ross gave the honours.
"Just the sheer number of people that lost everything is hard to wrap one's head around [from Hurricane Harvey]"
Hi guys, firstly could you give us a brief history of how Omotai came about as a band? What does the name mean?
"It all started back in 2010, when Sam Waters (vocals / guitars) enlisted the help of Melissa Lonchambon Ryan (vocals / bassist) and then-drummer Anthony Vallejo to record the debut EP, Peace Through Fear. That line-up remained unchanged through the next two releases, 2012's Terrestrial Grief (the debut full-length) and 2014's Fresh Hell--both released on local label The Treaty Oak Collective. I joined the line-up as a second guitarist in 2013, pretty soon following the recording of Fresh Hell, but prior to its release.
Anthony left soon after, his final show being at a 2014 SXSW appearance. Danny Mee took over drumming duties in time to complete some touring in support of Fresh Hell in 2014 and 2015. We've been hard at work ever since, writing and recording our latest double LP, A Ruined Oak, which is set to debut on October 6th on Tofu Carnage Records. A West Coast excursion is planned to promote the record. The name Omotai is the Japanese word for "heavy," which Sam felt was an apt designation given the artistic direction of the band. Credit for the idea goes to our friend Evan Jones, who taught English in Japan for a spell."
Would you say that the 2017 hurricane season has been one of the worst in recent years?
"Most definitely. Sam's family tragically lost their home in the Bellaire section of Houston, which was hit especially hard. The season would have been horrific enough if Harvey and its aftermath were the extent of it. But Irma came along and devastated much of the Eastern Caribbean and Florida, then Maria recently ravaged Puerto Rico (which is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis). Houston's had its share of weather-related disasters--especially in the last few years. But here we are a month out from the date that Harvey made landfall, and many areas are still impassable. Also, the waste from homes being gutted has built up into a logistical nightmare for removal companies that are still struggling to make inroads."
As you're from Texas, a state within tornado alley, have you ever seen a tornado? Has there been any notable ones hit Texas?
"We're a bit close to the Gulf of Mexico to be in the heart of tornado alley, but there were several in the area while Harvey was stalled over Houston. One hit the neighbourhood next to mine on that first Friday night--I could hear, but not see it. North Texas is the unlucky recipient of most of Texas' tornadoes."
Tell us about you getting involved in the Hurricane Harvey benefit compilation, where are the participating bands located? How can people donate?
"We were approached by Miss Champagne Records about contributing a track to the benefit record, Making Waves, the week following the Harvey disaster. It was the brainchild of the MCR staff and Mercy Harper from Football, etc. All of the bands are local to Houston, so the cause is obviously very meaningful to us all. We think it turned out wonderfully and we're honoured to be in the company of so many stellar Houston bands included on the compilation. All proceeds from the benefit comp go straight to Harvey relief, so it's a perfect way to donate AND listen to some rad music."
Did you sit out the hurricane or did you evacuate further inland? What were your thoughts at the time of Harvey's landfall?
"Danny was safely in Austin for the storm, but everyone else toughed it out here. When the storm finally hit, we knew that we were going to be in for an extended confinement at our homes (fully anticipated by the Houston masses, as evidenced by the the local grocery and liquor stores being completely fleeced), but no one anticipated how crippled the city would become. Just the sheer number of people that lost everything is hard to wrap one's head around. "
Would you agree that extreme weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes are a staple part of Mid-West and Southern American life?
"For sure. And, to make matters worse, the events are becoming more frequent and increasingly destructive."
Given the damage caused by Harvey, I can't imagine there being much band activity this year - please correct me if I'm assuming wrong and inform what you will be getting up to?
"There are several benefit shows sprouting up in the area, so the music community has been surprisingly resilient. As for Omotai, we've been concentrating on getting A Ruined Oak released, and we'll be embarking on a Western U.S. tour starting this Friday, September 29th. All of the dates are posted to our social media for those that would like to come out and hang."
Finally are there any hellos, thank you's you wish to send out?
"Firstly, our thoughts are with the Waters clan and all of our other Houston friends and family that are dealing with the loss of so much property, and coping with the resulting emotional challenges. Special thanks to Sean Mehl and Tofu Carnage Records for helping us put out the LP. And, finally, thanks to all who have supported us over the years--it truly means a lot."
Essex is known for many things, some of them and some bad. It's metal scene is one of the good things and then there's TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex) which is the worst thing to happen since My Chemical Romance being classed as a metal band.
But focusing on the metal scene, it's had the likes of Tides of Virtue, Forged In Black, Sanctorum, Dismanibus, etc grace the fertile soil from Southend and Colchester respectively. However when one speaks of Basildon, one thinks of Depeche Mode, chavs, Basildon Bond paper, Denise Van Outen., etc, and now there is Raze The Void.
GMA caught up with the Essex mob to find out how they fared with Bloodstock, the Essex Metal scene, debut EP and plans ahead.
"the title itself 'Obsolescence' covers what the current state of the world really is; the system is obsolete"
Raze The Void has only been going a year, were you all in previous bands prior? How did Raze The Void come to be?
"We have all been playing together for around with each other for 15 years nearly and just managed to get together and start a band from that after realising we all wanted to start playing and touring and seeing the world. RTV literally came from out of a dustbin a few years before we started playing the scene."
The Essex Metal scene seems to be a little quiet at the moment, could you tell us the current state of the scene?
"From Essex, apart from it being quiet, to really. There are some amazing acts in and around Essex, but you just have to sift through the venues and have a look out there and see for yourself."
Having played Bloodstock, what was your experience like? How did you end up winning a slot? What advice could you give Metal 2 The Masses bands next year who are vying for a slot?
"Bloodstock and everyone who we met from it and regarding it were amazing, very supportive and the feedback from everyone and all the reviews have been awesome and extremely positive.
For anyone out there who is going to go into it; be serious but have fun. If you believe what you do it the best thing you do, you have fun doing it and you all have fun playing with each then do it, go for it, be the best band you can band!
If you doubt anything you say or do or if you're not professional enough or not having enough fun, the crowd will sniff you and not like what they are smelling. They are as much a part of you as you are of them, so be there with them, get them involved. That okay?"
As a band are you worried at the lack of local venues with only Chelmsford's The Asylum, Southend's Chinnerys, Harlow's The Square and the Colchester Arts Centre being the sole main ones?
"It's not a worry when you can book outside of Essex and in fact, to just book in Essex, from experience, people then just seem to feel like that they will miss that one and go to another one as it's only up the road or whatever. Bra chin out into other places and leaving home has not only proved well for us, but is something that everyone should do and we in fact recommend. The live music scene is dieting but it's not dead."
Outside of music, what other hobbies or interests do you have?
"We all work full time and between that and the band; writing, playing, re-writing and down time there isn't a lot between, but some of use do things like cycling, rock climbing, wind surfing, extreme ironing; mainly physical activities. We are all very involved in quizzes and chess and some of us have other music projects going. We are generally very busy."
Tell us more about your debut EP, where was it recorded? What does the title mean?
"We recorded the EP with one of the most talented and hard working men we have ever worked with who we honestly consider family now, a man named Dan Kerr or Avenue studios; absolute genius!
The EP and from that flowing into the upcoming album is all conceptional, revolving around human error, greed, the rising of the underground movement, corruption and the title itself 'Obsolescence' covers what the current state of the world really is; the system is obsolete."
What plans do you have for the year ahead? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"The album is being written literally as this being typed out to you....now. We will continue gigging and getting the RTV name out there to people and then launching the new album along with more media stuff and hopefully some new merch. It's all going UP!
Shout out to Quimby, everyone who has helped us get this far, turned up and sung along with us, Nick Plews, Bob from Club 85, Ross, Phil and the boys for all their support and love and physical moves and to Neil- we hope you recover soon. "
Kobra & The Lotus are arguably making waves across the world with their scintillating brand of Heavy Metal. Much like Australia, Canada is relatively isolated when it comes to having metal bands play outside of their own continent. However with the likes of Kittie, Strapping Young Lad, Voivod, Kataklysm and Cryptopsy all having success worldwide, it's Kobra & The Lotus' turn to stake a claim on planet metal.
GMA sat down with Kobra & The Lotus and probed them about 'Prevail II', how Kobra Paige became involved in music and the stigma surrounding female metal musicians.
"A person never stops loving the metal they fall in love with. It’s one of those loyal genres where once you’re hooked, you’re a fan for life"
First of all, thank you very much for your patience and support. Once we began touring, I fell very far behind but nevertheless am grateful for your time!
'Prevail I' is your fourth album and so what can you tell us about it? What lyric topics did you choose? Any favourite tracks?
"‘Prevail’ is without a doubt the most intensively thought out album. The lyrics and music are more thoughtful within the content, details, and structure. This album is supposed to encourage ambition, strength, and hope within people. I couldn’t pick a favourite but I really really love playing ‘TriggerPulse’ live with the guys! The energy changes on stage and we can really lock in with all of the musical supporters who come to rock out. ‘Prevail’ is also the first metal and hard rock hybrid of it’s kind for us. I believe it shows off the virtuosity of the band."
Presumably there will be a Europe / UK tour to support the album? Are you as a band worried about Brexit?
"Absolutely! We will be coming through Europe and The UK this fall!! Please check www.kobraandthelotus.com for dates, we are very excited!! No, we are not concerned with Brexit, only for the citizens personally doing alright with the economical shift."
Assuming after 'Prevail I' there will be a 'Prevail II'? How does 'Prevail I' differ from previous releases?
"You got it. ‘Prevail I’ and ‘Prevail II’ are some of our strongest and most vulnerable works yet. I believe it shows a musical maturity forming within the band as well as finally an authentic freshness to the sound that we have been searching for. It’s a highly creatively collaborative project and meddles between metal and hard rock."
As a vocalist how did you get into metal music? How did you begin your singing career?
"My father took me to see a Judas Priest concert when I was 15 and it all started from there. I formed a band when I was 17 and first going to University. It started to gain some momentum as we played little underground shows and put out an independent album. My parents told me to go for it while I was young otherwise I would regret it and now here I am nine years into it already!!"
As a female do you receive any stigma towards being a metal musician? What are your thoughts on the term 'female-fronted'?
"Unfortunately, yes but I can very happily say it is becoming a very small minority of people who have those ignorant beliefs. Just take a look at the comment section under our newest video for “You Don’t Know” and you can see the odd “this is stupid, women don’t belong in metal and blah” ha-ha. Regarding the term ‘female-fronted’, I find that for the most part the people that actually use that label mean it in a very respectful way. They truly just plain and simply love metal that is fronted by females!! I have no qualms for the term if that’s what they choose! "
Outside of music, do you have any pastimes or hobbies you enjoy?
"I love the outdoors and I love being active. I enjoy bike riding, hiking, CrossFit, running, kayaking, and travelling to new countries. I also really love spending time with my family and loved ones. Among that is spending time in the Rocky Mountains where I live."
What is the Canadian Metal scene like at the moment? Do you keep in touch with the Calgary scene? Are you surprised by metal's global spread?
"I’m incredibly impressed and proud of Canada’s metal scene and more so it’s music scene in general. There are so many great and creative artists.
I’m not surprised by metal’s global spread because it is a completely beautifully infectious genre. A person never stops loving the metal they fall in love with. It’s one of those loyal genres where once you’re hooked, you’re a fan for life. Those feelings never stop as soon as you hear the music again."
What plans does Kobra & The Lotus have for the year ahead? Will there be an album launch party?
"Tons of touring!! It’s time to work our little butts off at getting the new tunes out there! We also have been filming the music videos for ‘Prevail II’ so that when it’s time to release, everything is good to go. Currently we are in Serbia wrapping up the 3rd video for that album.
There will be no album launch. We have never officially ever had one. Perhaps for ‘Prevail II’ but for now we are just too small of a band to do that still….. small but mighty though!!"
Australia. The very mention of the country's name sparks off the thoughts of sandy beaches, BBQ's, stray kangeroo's and the Sydney Opera House. Underneath all the glitz and glamour of this glorious nation known colloquially as 'down under', Australia has a savage metal scene that has seen the likes of Ne Oblivicaris, The Berzerker, Buried In Verona, Thy Art Is Murder and Destroyer 666 among others break out into the wider international metal community over the last 2 decades.
But despite the success of the bands above, the scene as a whole seems rather isolated when it comes to touring. It's down to bands like Aetherial who look at the challenges ahead, take them head on and forge their own path to progress forward. For Aetherial this is through the concrete metropolis of Melbourne, famed for it's Grand Prix circuit. GMA spoke to Cassandra, the band's bassist to unearth what the band is all about, what the scenes down under are like, their new single, visiting local attractions and 2018 plans.
As Fosters put it. Good Call.
"I don't see why metal [bands] can’t emerge from smaller nations like Fiji or the Solomon Islands - they would have to be creative [with music exposure]. If bands can emerge out of countries like Saudi Arabia where it is illegal to play metal, I'm sure we will see some coming out of places like Fiji - metal doesn't have boundaries!"
Hi guys, for those unfamiliar with Aetherial could you give us a brief history of the band? Were you / are you in previous / current bands?
"Hey, thanks for having us Global Metal Apocalypse! I’m Cassandra, bassist in Aetherial.
Currently, we are based in Melbourne, Australia. Aetherial was formed by Shep and myself in 2013. Previously, we both played in a stoner / metal / grunge band called Cave Of The Swallows which also featured our friend and original Aetherial drummer Mr Paul Gatt. Shep was also the former vocalist in the South Australian-based Stoner / Southern Rock band Mammoth, with ex-Suffocation / Autopsy member Josh Barohn.
We recorded our album, 'The Still Waters of Oblivion' over a two year period at Everland Productions. In 2016 we signed with New York-based management company Extreme Management Group and most recently this year to Imminence Records in the US and Truth Inc Records over here in Australia, who will be jointly releasing the album worldwide November 10th."
What is the Melbourne and wider Australian Metal scene like? Do most bands do a tour of Australia and New Zealand than SE Asia?
"From a Melbourne perspective, the scene is pretty small, there are a handful of good venues to play at in the city and some good regional venues that work hard to keep live music going outside of the city. Unfortunately over the past 5-10 years quite a few great live music venues have closed down in Melbourne due to residential developments and noise restrictions, which has made it difficult for smaller bands to get a gig. A smaller population in general will always impact audience size and peoples interest and engagement in metal, particularly as its not common in mainstream culture here.
It is common for bands over here to tour the East Coast in the main cities, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane with a few stops in-between. But the sheer distance in-between and cost that is involved with getting to these places often prevents many bands embarking on a full national tour. You see a few bands heading over to New Zealand and Asia, generally larger more established bands though."
What are the challenges of being an Australian Metal band?
"Getting your music seen and heard!! There is a lot of really good music over here, if people would take the time to listen to it! Getting people to shows is another massive hurdle over here. People will have no hesitation paying $150+ to see established bands, but will not pay $10 to see 4 local acts?
Breaking through to reach people outside of the country, even reaching new fans interstate is also very challenging. It is important to utilise social media to try and get out there and engage people, it is a continual and ongoing aspect of being in a band now, particularly with reach being limited on Facebook and now Instagram for bands unless you pay for it. Many Australian bands head overseas to Europe or the US, simply because they can reach more people and play more shows!"
You just released your new single 'The Fallen Mark The Way' from your forthcoming album, what has reception been like?
"Great thanks! We have had a lot of good feedback from our fans and made a bunch of new fans too! It’s always great to hear positive words from people who get inspired from hearing our music."
Check out the lyric video for 'The Fallen Will Mark The Way' (taken from Aetherial's forthcoming debut album 'The Still Waters Of Oblivion') below.
Seeing as Oceania is slightly isolated, could you see metal music ever emerging from countries like Fiji and the Solomon Islands? Is metal music in Australia widely accepted?
"Yes, it is rather isolated over here! We don't get a lot of bands touring here. It is a long way to come and quite expensive to travel here. Due to our smaller population the audiences are a lot smaller compared to overseas as well.
Metal music generally is not part of the everyday culture over here, like it is over in Europe. It’s accepted by those involved in the scene and other musicians, but in the general population it’s not particularly well known, well received or publicised. For example metal or even hard rock is not played on commercial radio, it’s really only played on dedicated metal or hard rock community radio shows. People over here still have a lot of preconceptions about the music, artwork and general themes of metal; most people don’t / can't understand it, they seem to find the content too confronting and don't want to be involved. Hopefully though with some amazing bands coming out of Australia now more people are becoming interested in the genre.
I don't see why metal can’t emerge from smaller nations like Fiji or the Solomon Islands - There’s probably already some killer bands over there! However, I think they would have to be creative with how they get their music out there. If bands can emerge out of countries like Saudi Arabia where it is illegal to play metal, I'm sure we will see some coming out of places like Fiji - metal doesn't have boundaries!"
For metalheads holidaying in Melbourne, aside from the Grand Prix, are there any attractions / sightseeing locations you would recommend?
"Yes!! You could seriously spend months here and not see everything - the great thing about Melbourne is that there is always something going on and to discover! There are some amazing music stores where you can pick up some vintage and / or rare guitars / amps / pedals like Found Sound or The Swop Shop. For art lovers, there are so many tiny galleries all over the city showing local art and The National Gallery has killer diverse exhibitions from Van Gogh to Dior to Mid Century Modern Furniture.
For wine lovers, you can take a day trip down the coast to the Mornington Peninsula or The Yarra Valley, for amazing wine and scenery. You can visit boutique spirit distilleries like Starward Whisky in Port Melbourne or Four Pillars Gin in the Yarra Valley - which seriously gives some of the English Gin a run for it money! Melbourne is paradise for lovers of good food and coffee!! With markets like South Melbourne and Prahran Markets and amazing restaurants on every corner. There are festivals for Beer, Cheese, Salami and now even a chicken nugget festival. The Great Ocean Road makes for a good drive- for beautiful rugged coastline, Healesville Sanctuary for meeting kangaroos, koalas and other native animals. And of course you can catch some local bands at The Brunswick Hotel, The Bendigo Hotel or Cherry Bar, folks over here are always up for a chat and a beer."
With your debut album 'The Still Waters Of Oblivion' out in a week's time, will there be a tour supporting the album?
"There definitely will! The Australian Tour will take place early next year with hopefully some International dates to be announced as well! But you’ll have to stay tuned to our social media pages to get the details."
What plans have you got leading into 2018? Do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
"Lots of touring and promoting our record! We currently have some killer merch available now at Merchnow and there’s some brutal new merch coming out soon! Shep and I have been co-hosting a heavy metal radio show once a month on Melbourne’s 3CR called The Heavy Session, so along with our friend and host Chris we have some awesome plans for the show as well.
We’d love to send a massive hello, to all our friends and fans over in UK - we’re working hard to come over and play for y’all in 2018!!! Thanks very much for the support!"
It is an undeniable fact that Africa, along with Australasia / Oceania, are the last frontiers of metal music, with the exception to a handful of countries e.g. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc. Of course in Sub-Sahara Africa and North Africa there are far more metal scenes than in West Africa. However with Gabon's Iron Sliver, Nigeria's Threadstone and Ghana's Dark Suburb making noise, it was only fair for Cameroon to join the metal music movement.
Roar Of Heroes are a Symphonic / Gothic Metal unit who are comprised of two musicians - Azra-Freyja and Anarchist 1st), formed from the ashes of a previous moniker - 'Silent Echoes', a six-piece band whose activities did not last long and thus gave birth to this new entity.
GMA caught up with the duo and asked them what it is like to be metal music fans in Cameroon, what challenges there are and where do they see the African Metal movement in the future.
"Our society has never stopped judging this amazing philosophy, they still think metal is one of the devil's creations."
Could you give us a history of Roar Of Heroes, how it started and what challenges you face as a band?
"Roar Of Heroes' story is so long that a message won't be able to tell you the entire story in detail, so we summarize: in the beginning, the band was called Silent Echoes and had 6 members; a complete line-up with 2 female vocalists. The band performed together twice in February and June 2016, but after the June show, the band split-up and 6 months later was reborn as Roar of Heroes, with only two members of Silent Echoes, and this has been the same since then.
The Cameroonian Metal scene doesn't seem to have been around for a long while, when did it roughly start and what is the scene currently like?
"Cameroon doesn't have a real metal scene. We had here, the "Festirock" which we believe started in 2014 and today it's at its 3rd edition. But the last one was more of a "simple live show" than "metal show", including all types of music. So we don't really know nowadays if we can still consider it as a metal scene. But, another scene is about to be born, "Silent Night", organized by A Black Card, the label which is producing our forthcoming album. We all hope this one will be great."
Are you aware of any other metal scenes near you? Would you agree that Africa is fairly young in terms of metal music being produced?
"Personally, we think Africa will have it's place in the future of Metal music (even though 90% of bands we know only do Death or Heavy Metal, excluding South Africa and the Arabic countries!! according to us). Of course, people do not really know about metal bands in Africa, but we are sure, when the occidental communication will give attention to this continent, things will quickly improve. People really have a metal soul here."
How did you become interested in metal music and what do your parents, friends, etc think of it? How does society perceive it? Have you played any local gigs?
"We used to say, "we didn't adopt metal, metal adopted us", meaning that we always had it in our soul. When you are young, and you have the "chance" to see Michael Jackson or Metallica on your parents TV, you definitely know that you won't do country or pop music in your life. Parents and friends encourage us just because they know that we play music, we prefer things to be this way, than them judging us too. Because effectively, our society has never stopped judging this amazing philosophy, they still think metal is one of the devil's creations."
What are your main influences for your music and have you released any EP's, albums?
"Influences? Revolution is for the moment our only influence. We think everyday that things should improve around us, not changing, but improving. We recently recorded an EP, and started recording our first studio album, but unfortunately, we had a "bad wind" in April 2017, which carried with him all our files, and we were obliged to restart everything... from nothing. We finally returned to the studio back in September, and we think all will be okay very soon."
Would you agree that countries steeped in devout Christianity would perceive metal music as a threat?
"Yes we do. According to us, we think that they are focused on past metal images, which was unfortunately dominated by Death Metal and other s (with the satanic side of the genre). But that's not our philosophy, we have one different from that. In our songs, we encourage people to build themselves, to go further, to be free, to exist and so on. We have a simple philosophy: The impossible is unthinkable."
Given the location of your band, have you had any fans emerge from overseas on Facebook? If so where?
"We sometimes receive greetings from Nigeria, South Africa, France, Italy, Belgium and USA. People telling us that they like what we do. So encouraging to read mails and sometimes messages on our Facebook fan-page. We will never thank them enough."
Where do you see the Cameroonian Metal scene in 5 years time? What changes need to happen to support the growth of the scene?
"We are convinced that, in less than five years, Roar Of Heroes will make the Cameroonian metal scene to be known in Africa and all over the world. First of all, people have to assume with a firm conviction their love for metal. Secondly, they have to eradicate every judgement, so according to us, the problem starts from metal lovers, only them can extend the philosophy. But, this is about to happen, our revolution started this way."
Finally do you have any hello's, greetings, etc you wish to send out?
"We would like to send a message to everyone reading this article:- "Firstly thanks for reading, secondly never forget guys that every second in your life is a chance to change your story!!! Never stop believing in what you feel! Revolutionary yours!"
Forged In Black are arguably the best thing to come out of Southend since the expansion of London Southend Airport, Phil Jupitus' career taking off and of course (dare we say it) Busted. Forged In Black were originally called Merciless Fail and it was under their former name that they secured a slot on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock Festival 2012.
Forward on a year and Merciless Fail changed their name to Forged In Black after their first EP 'Forged In Black'. Since 2013 Forged In Black have released 1 album - Forged In Black (2013) and 3 EP's, The Tide (2013), Fear Reflecting Fear (2016) and Sinner Sanctorum (2017).
Chris 'Stoz' Storozynsk gave GMA the low down on their past success, the current state of the Essex Metal scene, touring plans and their new music video 'Pay The Price'.... be prepared to be Forged In Black.
"The song ['Pay The Price] has an anti-war theme... a concern that world leaders are not thinking of the consequences of their actions."
Forged In Black has not stopped working since your Bloodstock appearance, will we see you back at Bloodstock next year?
"Hi GMA, Stoz here, and good to speak to you again. We had a fantastic time at Bloodstock 2012 after winning the Metal to the Masses competition. We’d love to return at some point on a bigger stage with our music, and are looking to book up quite a few festivals throughout Europe in 2018 alongside the release of our new album, which we are currently writing. We have just released our newest EP “Sinner Sanctorum” which is available to download on iTunes or purchase via our social media channels."
You just released your new music video 'Pay The Price', what has the reception been like?
"The reception has been great, lots of people liking and sharing on social media, it was a very well produced video and really hammers the song home. We have released two music videos for songs on our new “Sinner Sanctorum” EP which can be viewed on YouTube and our social media pages."
Are you worried about being perceived as politically motivated with this video?
"Well, not really. The song has an anti-war theme yes, and a concern that world leaders are not thinking of the consequences of their actions. It’s my observation of the current state of affairs. We have written many songs now about many different themes."
Andy Pilkington (Very Metal) created the video, what was it like approaching him? Does the video reflect the song's meaning?
"Andy has done a fantastic job on the video and we are all very proud of the result. Our management team put us in contact with Andy and we are glad he had space in his very busy diary to fit us in and work with us on it."
It seems that things are going your way a lot lately, where do you see Forged In Black in 5 years time?
"Well I'm sure we will still be forging away on new music and our live shows, but ultimately a record deal would be nice."
The Essex metal scene doesn't appear to be as pro-active in recent times, what are your thoughts on this?
"Yes unfortunately the Essex scene seems quieter then others, I think because of venues closing and the lack of new young promoters putting shows on, but that is understandable in this current financial climate. There are still some great musicians and bands coming out of Essex though and the talent is still well and truly there waiting for a light to shine on it."
Will you be doing a UK tour in late 2017 / early 2018, are you looking to play abroad?
"We are currently writing for the new album, which we will be recording in April 2018 and is being produced by Romesh Dodangoda, so all hands are on deck to write some great new stuff, which we’d love to show off in the UK and Europe."
Since Tim Chandler left last year, will you look to recruit another guitarist or stick as a four-piece.
"Well Tim actually left I think about 2 years ago, and since then we recruited the talents of one fine Mr Chris Bone, who is on our new release “Sinner Sanctorum” and has been playing live with us for some time."
'Sinner Sanctorum' EP is out now