Ilenkus are a Progressive Post-Metal quintet from Ireland, the lads have recently released their latest album "The Crossing" (15/09/14) and have also unveiled their latest music video "Over The Fire, Under The Smoke" which in total honesty is a rather special video, no visual effects, no gimmicky tricks or fancy stuff, just one lad by the name of Chris Brennan strolling through the streets of Galway, singing to the song to bemused onlookers.
You can watch the video further down.
GMA managed to catch up with the lads and talk to them about both the new album, their music video, what they think the Irish Metal scene should have and whether or not they should ditch the euro.
Hi guys, a lot has happened in the Ilenkus camp, can you give us the background behind your new album?
We recorded the album in different locations in Ireland but we wanted to go with an engineer who understood our goals and the sonic real estate in which the album would sit in. We spoke with many engineers about making the album and eventually Chris Common (Chelsea Wolfe, These Arms Are Snakes, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe) agreed to take the reins, he does not mix music as heavy as ours for the most part but we knew we needed a unique approach.
What inspired you to opt for a Progressive / Post-Metal approach? Do you feel it lacks representation as a genre?
That is the style of music that we play as a group, and there was no conscious thought about it when it came to style on this record. I don't feel that this genre lacks representation but it is a hard style to pigeon hole, and some people are scared of doing that.
Focusing on the Irish Metal scene, what do you feel lacks in the scene? What could be improved?
Wild West themed metal festivals. (Ed: are there even any Wild West metal bands?)
How nervous was Chris Brennan when recording the music video? What did the public think of the production? Who came up with the idea and do you feel this is a great way to promote Galway, Irish culture and connect yourself with the city?
Chris is the only person i know with the right temperament and bottle to have done this, he was cool as a cucumber and there was a very mixed reaction from the public. We chat a lot of s*** in the van and on the road and come up with all sorts of crazy ideas. Josh came up with that idea while we were recording the drums and bass for "The Crossing" in Limerick. The video does promote Galway I guess, but that wasn't our intention - we just felt that it was most appropriate to shoot the concept in our home town.
What plans does Ilenkus have for the rest of the year and into 2015 besides the tour?
We have plans to write some new music.
Since joining the Euro, do you feel Ireland has gotten worse or better off? What are your thoughts on the euro and E.U.?
It's convenient with the money but Ireland has plunged into recession since joining the Euro. Probably would have happened anyway, who knows?
How do the three vocals differ? Could you explain why you have three musicians covering vocal duties?
They were all arguing about who should do the singing and then the voices in the argument turned from speech into singing and even further into screaming, I was scared but the melodies were soothing.
Individually, what song off of 'The Crossing' is your favorite and could you explain your choice of song?
I don't have a favorite song because i have not heard the record, the lads wont let me hear it.
Finally are there any hello's, greetings etc you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
Machinergy are a Thrash Metal trio hailing from the Lisbon District in Portugal. In September they dropped the physical version of their second album "Sounds Evolution" via Portuguese label Metal Soldiers Records and Greek label Secret Port Records worldwide. Prior to this on the 2nd June, they released the digital counterpart to the second album and this earned them sensational reviews:
"From the first to the final breathing, they attack relentlessly with a track-list overall vigorous and brutal, keeping the standards high-leveled with no relevant ups and downs between songs" Rock & Heavy [Chile]
"Remember when thrash bands did ten tracks of brutal, fast, pounding music and released it as an album without a thought for appealing to people outside the genre? Machinergy have recaptured those days" The Moshville Times [UK]
"They will no doubt blow your speakers" Metal Galaxy [Canada]
"This is one bad-ass album" Woodbangers [USA]
Following this success, Global Metal Apocalypse decided to take time out to speak with Vocalist / Guitarist Rui Vieira about the album, their award-winning documentary, the Portuguese Metal scene and the destruction of the Euro currency.
Hi Rui, now you are releasing your second album this month in CD format, how does it differ from 'Rhythmotion'?
Hi there! Well, one of the things is the speed! 'Sounds Evolution' has faster songs than "Rhythmotion'. Besides that, I think we created more simple structures in comparison with the first record, and because we're a trio we recorded the songs thinking about the playing live part. I could make a lot more solos and leads but if I cannot replicate that live, it's better not to do it. Concerning some reviews, they frequently mention our old school heritage (80's Sepultura, Metallica, Slayer, etc) that is way more declared than the first CD.
Machinergy has been going since 2006, what has been the highlight of the band's career thus far?
I think we achieved some important things in these 8 years but, besides our records, our documentary of 2012 is a big highlight for us. It was something new in the Portuguese metal scene and a fresh way to present the EP 'Rhythm Between Sounds'. The cherry on the top of the cake was the award we received recently in a film festival in our homeland, Arruda dos Vinhos.
Focusing on the Portuguese Metal scene, what do you feel lacks within the scene (if anything)? What is the support for metal like in Portugal?
We have some good publications in the underground, from paper fanzines to webzines, there are some venues and festivals where you can play but in the end, you always reach the same conclusion: You must 'fight' for your band! It's very hard nowadays to top a band, your band. There are hundreds and Portugal is not a big country. So, you must keep the publications updated, play live frequently, have good conduct, try to be active in the scene and do your work as best as you can! And persistence. That's one of the main things that's not easy and only some achieve.
Are there any lyrical themes you tend to turn to for each release? What inspires you to write these lyrics?
There's no criteria for the lyrics. In 'Sounds Evolution', there are some common points but, in general, it's very diverse. Some lyrics are more simple and straight to the point, others are more camouflaged. But I try to write always about something that's worthy of writing and transmitting a message. Some may understand, others may not.
If you could spend a day with anyone from Portugal who is famous, who would it be and why?
Maybe a day with Jorge Jesus, the GREAT Benfica FC (best team in the world) coach. He's possibly the best stand-up comedian we have 'round here!
How (and if) has the change in currency, from the Escudo to Euro, affected the scene with regards to instrument prices, live fees, etc?
The Euro is one of the causes of the current crisis situation we have in Portugal. When the Euro appeared, prices increased dramatically. In some cases it increased 50%! Taking into account the salaries remained the same and we have more and more taxes to pay, you can imagine... concerning the tickets for live gigs, it's curious, the prices have been the same for years. For a medium show with 3 to 4 international bands, you'll pay 25 Euros.
Can you give us the background behind the new album? From the planning to the recording, and to the releasing stage?
We started to write 'Sounds Evolution' in 2010. I don't remember if it was 'Cada Falso' or 'Sounds Evolution' we wrote first but we soon realized the new material would bring outside our thrash root in its plenitude. The first record is more industrial, slower and I think we felt the necessity to do an album like this, straight to the point. We recorded it in our home studio and took the time we need to do all the things, to gain more experience, that's a fact.
Concerning the physical release, again our friend Fernando Roberto from Metal Soldiers Records helped us out with it. This partnership extends to the Greek label Secret Port Records. For the next record, I think maybe it would be a good idea to record in a studio and let someone do the job. We've been making everything since 2006 without stopping, we need a rest.
Outside of music, you recently won the best short film category at the Curt'Arruda film festival, can you give us the background behind that, what it entails, what this means for Portuguese metal and the band of course?
The documentary is about our roots, our beginnings in the 80's. We talk about our influences and difficulties that I'm sure are common to the old school metalheads. It was the tape-trading times, the snail mail, the lack of information and money, well... good and passionate but difficult times. We also paid homage to the radio stations and important people that helped us in discovering heavy metal. The documentary was well received in general but, since it was something new and pioneering in our metal scene, I think it deserved a little more attention but... dear friends out there, check it! I'm pretty sure you will like it!
[You can watch the documentary on YouTube here] - it is in Portuguese but has excellent visual representations.
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and into 2015?
Right now, we're committed to bring Machinergy to the world with our new record. Thus therefore, we have just discussed about having a possible live recording to make a DVD. It's a way to fill the gap between albums and keep the band active in the scene.
Finally are there any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
Thank you Global Metal Apocalypse for this nice interview! We also want to thank all our friends around the world that are helping us, especially with reviews and interviews, radio stations and, of course, our closest friends. A special big thanks to Fernando Roberto from Metal Soldiers Records (Portugal) who has been a great friend and professional in the last few years.
Kuwait has one of the smallest metal scenes in the Middle East, in fact the scene is possibly on par with the likes of Bahrain, maybe Qatar but it's definitely not on the same level as the Yemen, as there appears to be no metal music history there whatsoever.
With a population of around 4.04 million (for comparison London is roughly double this) and a very underground metal scene, how can bands like Depth, Earsplit, Eyeresist, Benevolent *, Voice Of The Soul * and especially Divine Disorder keep themselves out of trouble, keep the Kuwaiti metalheads supporting what can be perceived as the most internationally-recognized music genres and at the same time, survive the insane heat that you would think affects them when playing at live shows..... well come on, who wants to mosh in 46*c?
* formed in Kuwait but moved to Dubai for undisclosed reasons
GMA caught up with clean vocalist / bassist Darkvain to gain an insight into what makes the Kuwaiti Metal scene tick.
Hi Jassem, how is it going and what has Divine Disorder been up to lately?
Right now the heat and climate in Kuwait is at its peak, it's nothing less than 50C. But overall we are fine hehe and about Divine Disorder, having finished the production of the album and having the official CD in our hands, what we are doing right now is preparing promotional packages and contacting the officials back and forth.
We have worked our asses off to meet the end result, and I can’t imagine throwing it out just like that, personally we feel that it deserves better effort and time ;)
Now Divine Disorder hails from Kuwait, please tell us what the metal scene is like and does the Government tolerate metal music? How long has it been going and what issues has it faced?
We as a band weren't around during the start of the whole metal scene In Kuwait; we still weren’t into metal music hehe. I have met a lot of the guys who put a lot into starting it and so on and have been told it was nearly the mid of 90s and even back then it didn’t face much of struggle as it was too small and no one knew about the activities.
As it started to grow, the Government started to see it and labelled the act as "Satanism" and that stayed along with us up until now. At least let's say during the last 5 years metal activities shut down almost completely, we find it as if the metal scene in Kuwait died. And musicians went underground, especially since it has been putting us in serious legal situations and one basically doesn’t want to ruin his daily life routine / activities / jobs with such offensive legal problems.
With Divine Disorder we are taking things differently, we hope that it will open up for us the way we imagine it will. Placing things onto an international level could pull the attention of the foreign media towards us.
What in your opinion are the three biggest issues Middle Eastern Metal bands and fans alike face?
I can’t name three different issues as all of them remain in the same category that we face. Not being accepted the way we are, and not giving us second thought on what is metal and what are the ideas or thoughts we are trying to express.
This leads to a lot of issues, such as not being able to have instrument shops provide us with the kind of equipment we use and prefer, not being able to perform live shows unless pay extra and travel further away just to perform a small show, and this could be a real issue for bands like us as a lot of labels nowadays only look out for those bands that have enough live show history and that’s very hard to achieve with such circumstances.
Now I would assume the only form of media presence for metal music in the Middle East is Jorzine (and of course GMA but ignore us ;).
I could say Jorzine is one of the biggest platforms that has helped a lot of bands out, but there are also some others who try their best to put the spotlight on the underground scenes. Metality.net is one of the finest examples. Hehe I could ignore GMA if that’s what you want hehe but I have to admit the great effort Global Metal Apocalypse are putting and that’s appreciated so much, and they gained our trust so fast. You RHYS takes things way too seriously and I like that of you!
Who has Divine Disorder played alongside (if anyone) since the band's inception? Any renowned bands?
Divine Disorder haven’t stepped on stage yet, there are a lot of plans regarding that area of things that will come after the release of our debut album, if things go as good as we want them to be. However we have a close association with other artists in the metal scene, two members of Divine Disorder, Azurayl and myself have been in a previous project called "Positive Poison" which started around 2003 and in that previous project the band played with almost all of the existing metal bands in Kuwait, almost, to name few: Throne of Thorns, Depth and Terminus.
Could you explain the meaning behind each of the band member’s stage names? Why these in particular?
Hehe oh those stage names, I remember we were reviewed by one of the local bloggers, and they had to state how childish or horrible they sounded hehe, I could agree to some point, but only if he went through the struggles we went through as musicians, only then would they understand hehe, I bet they were fairly new to the whole metal scene In Kuwait and the issues we face on a daily basis.
At some point or another we had to go with stage names to hide our identities and not be associated with those acts they call Satanism (metal). We were into Gothic and Dark Metal and that’s what our previous project Positive Poison mainly was more about.
To add to that I also would like to state that we like to take things in a cinematic / theatrical perspective and that could explains so much. Being known with that stage name all your life, we thought of keeping them the way they are.
Do you feel metal music is becoming more and more appreciated globally? On a local level do you feel it eases social issues?
Some of it. I personally think the Metal scene is changing so much I can’t see it going in a better direction. Things are taken now as 'how fast can you play', 'how brutal and ass-kicking you are', 'how much you screaming and how bad ass they think they are', in fact now it's all about the looks and high budget production with no soul or identity attached to the music.
I can see how the new wave of metal is being mixed with the mainstream more and how the newer generations are accepting metal more but from metal's new outfit / identity.
Did the Arab Spring affect the Kuwait Metal scene and musicians as a whole?
I think it didn’t affect us as much, things are indeed changing but you would still feel the same "uncomfortable" vibe going on.
Does the climate of Kuwait affect musicians when they play, surely it affects the instruments you use?
Hehe we got used to the climate, and we have our ways to deal with it, we would know when it is the right time to have a fresher climate with less heat and less humidity, as at certain times of the year we would have that happen. And to stay safe we usually do our activities indoor where you can control it with air conditioning ;)
But the last time I remember performing live was on 2010. Since then I can’t name or remember one serious metal show that has happened.
Is equipment expensive in Kuwait? Or is it relatively cheap? Where is it usually imported to?
I can’t say it’s cheap or expensive, I think it’s average and affordable. But as mentioned before we don’t have much in the way of instrument shops that provide the top notch brands that metal bands or musicians find interesting. And importing any would cost you at least double how much the instrument costs.
What does Divine Disorder have planned for the rest of the year and beyond?
We will be releasing our debut album in early November and in conjunction with this, we will have a campaign to help the release gain attention and sale, after that we will hopefully have more shows.
Finally are there any greetings (hello's, thank you's) you wish to send out?
All my thank you's would go to Rhys, the guy behind Global Metal Apocalypse for his great effort to draw a better metal world! And all the people who have helped us in pushing ourselves out onto the scene
Possibly one of the more controversial interviews we have done, given the current crisis in the eastern half of The Ukraine.
Melancholic Orchestra are a duo who play Gothic Doom Metal in it's instrumental form, the band formed in Donetsk, The Ukraine in 2009 and to date have one demo and two albums out. The most recent album "Forest of Insomnia" was released online in August 2014 and features ten tracks.
GMA sat down with Viktor Chelgy and spoke about the Ukrainian Metal scene, including current problems and the lack of exposure alongside the band's history
Hi Viktor, could you give us a brief history behind Melancholic Orchestra?
Hi!!! The start of our creative path originated back in 2009, when we had a different name. It is not easy to determine the style, in fact we wrote songs in different genres ranging from Ambient to Gothic. But in early 2013, we decided to release a demo album and create it by using different styles, in fact it was an experimental release to see how our people and fans would react.
Since Melancholic Orchestra are from The Ukraine, could you give us an insight into the metal scene (places to gig, the scene history, problems faced there, etc)
Yes we are from The Ukraine, and we have a very difficult situation within the metal scene, especially in our hometown of Donetsk, rarely are there any concerts, the television channels do not broadcast or promote any metal bands, instead they mostly cover pop and rap, I find it difficult to even call it music.
The conflict between Russia and The Ukraine, how is this affecting the scene? Are there less gigs?
The conflict does not affect the scene because the music is not linked to the policies.
Melancholic Orchestra have just released their second album "Forest Of Insomnia", can you tell us the background behind it?
It was very hard work when recording and producing the album "Forest Of Insomnia", as there were technical issues. Currently we decided to take a break and start writing new material for the next album.
You play Gothic / Doom Metal, but of the instrumental kind, what made you choose this?
Basically it's just that this style is closer to us in spirit at present.
How did you get into playing music and who influences you?
I personally have been going long in the music scene, I work as a teacher at the music school. My colleague Vitaly also soon began to play music but only as a composer.
What can fans of Forest of Insomnia expect from you in the near future?
From us you can expect anything, so expect more experiments and good music
Are there any greetings you wish to send out to fans, friends, etc?
I would like to convey a message to all of the fans of our music, a huge hello and listen only to good music!!
Rhys, thanks for the interesting conversation, good luck to you!!
This time round our interview interrogations turn to one of Sweden's most underground record labels, one that specializes mainly in Extreme Metal (Black, Death, Doom, etc) from far flung countries, from Colombia to Morocco and from Pakistan to a forthcoming release by a band in Kazakhstan.
Salute Records is run solely by one Satanic Tony Sundstrand, who also owns various projects amongst his band Demorian. It is also very safe to say he has seen the Swedish Metal scene expand and grow ever since 1981 when his musical career began; he also used to run Pure Black Heart Productions until it was closed around 2012 (it started 30th December, 2009 and catered for Extreme Metal)
With an ongoing list of releases forthcoming and a terrific catalog of years by-gone, GMA felt it was time to shine the spotlight on one of Sweden's greatest underground musicians and record label owners, what Tony has to say is an absolute eye-opener to those thinking of setting up their own label and / or distribution channel. Take note.
Hi there Tony, so how long has Salute Records been going, why 'Salute' and what bands do you generally sign / release material of?
I started the label in December 2007, and from the beginning the plan was to put together a compilation album with some smaller and very underground bands that I liked or felt that needed extra support. This is because I knew all the way back since the 1980´s and 1990´s how hard it was for myself to play in a band and get anywhere further from nothing. So it was more of a fun idea and from that everything grew bigger, nowadays the label has almost produced 200 releases with bands from almost the entire world; ranging from Extreme Black Metal, Death, Doom, Crustpunk, Dark Ambient, DSBM, Thrash, NSBM, Grindcore and regular Heavy Metal and Rock.
You have your own projects and bands, could you give a brief overview on what they are and what the future plans are?
Yes I am active in several bands and a couple of one-man band projects, but some of those also involve guest musicians. The bands that I am involved and active with are Demorian (active first from 2001, but fully since 2007) and have released a couple of albums, EP´s, demos and splits, and are working on a new release called "From Marduk To Gaia", this will be very different & will come out in 2014.
Then we have Wintercold which has been active since 2008 and has released five full lengths so far and features a mix of both Doom, Goth Rock & raw Atmospheric Black / Folk Metal, Curse Of Wotan is another band / project that first started playing acoustical Black Metal (which I think is very original) and released the last album in early June this year, future plans include having a forthcoming album, however the band will be put on hold or will end with this last album; which features more regular Black Metal in it.
Magiska Krafter is another band that I am involved in, it is an Indian / Swedish band and the front man is from Skool of Dead & Burn The Water, who I appeared with as a guest vocalist. The band released one album back in 2012 and are now working on something new.
Luciferian Blood is another band that is international & features me as vocalist, the rest of the line-up is as follows: Martin from Prayer of The Dying (Malta) on drums and Invisus from Terra Australis (Australia) on guitar & bass. The band started in the early summer of 2013 and plays very raw old school Black Metal, we are no working on a second demo or EP / mini album to be released later this year.
Doomsday Prophet is another project that was created back in 2012 and has released two demos / EP´s & one full length so far, with this project I play funeral-like Doom Metal with a high dose of Ambient / Drone in it.
Voxra is also another project, but it is now buried after two albums and one demo.
Another band that I can also mention is Dawn of Apocalypse, it is very new and features me taking up all instrument duties and my wife and soulmate Malin "Big Blondiee" on the lead vocals. We have done one demo and when this is written, we also have a debut mini album "Forces of Darkness Reigns" out on Satanica Productions.
Some work for splits and a compilation to come out in Bangladesh is also in my plans. Also I can inform all that a number of months back I became lead vocalist for the Black Metal / Ambient band Nostalgie Depression from Chile as well, so my vocals are on the band's first album and an EP.
One other band that you can look for in the future is called A Perfect Day, this band I will be playing guitars in, the band plays some kind of Depressive Post-Black Metal / Shoegaze and it will be interesting to see what more things await us around the corner.
One thing for sure is that the older I get, the more I burn for creating music and have no plans to stop ;)
In your opinion what countries are the most obscure for metal?
The countries that I think have some of the most obscure and unique Extreme Metal / Extreme Music scenes, are also ones that I have had the honor of releasing band music from, therefore these must be: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, China, Tunisia, Morocco, Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia.
What would you say is the hardest challenge for labels these days?
To survive as underground label without losing the right feelings and grip for it I guess. One thing that is often the hardest thing to get is money to last for more than you actually have and then of course another thing that I know many complain about (same for myeslf) is the expensive cost to send cds and tapes across the world to other countries.
That is one truly hard challenge for all small and underground labels. But one thing that I have learned all through the years is to never quit just because some things go straight to hell for a moment. Simply because before you know it, some things can really change to become more positive. A way that you never really expected to see. For me it has happened several times.
You seem to deal with mainly bands from far flung countries, do you feel more labels should do this?
Hmmm that is up to them. I think it is better nowadays than back in 2008 / 09, as more labels these days are concentrated and have more focus on bands from obscure countries and areas. So I think that the feeling and support for bands has reached even to the more small and obscure distant places.
And then it is of course good and positive that not all labels do it the same way. I have through theyears discovered that many labels start up their activity and believe that they can and want to become big and famous, but that is not the right goal to choose (same with many bands I believe). As you can often see, many of these labels that follow those terms are born to fail in the end.
What was the hardest and greatest challenge for Salute Records?
One of the hardest challenges must be last year when I recently released the second album for
the Egyptian Symphonic / Black Metal band Zatreon and the "so called" twist that went shortly after with the Dutch Metal band Toxic Grind Machine. The issue is now history and I don´t want to do some explanation on that topic here.
My conclusion after that problematic situation is that I still love the band Zatreon and their music, and what is true or false I now don´t really give a f*** about anymore ;) The release with Zatreon is nowdays "officially" sold out ;). One of the best or some of the most positive feedbacks and feelings for running Salute Records must begin with all of the great contacts I have with numerous bands, people, zines and labels, there are too many to count as it is more than you can find on any of the pages for Salute Records, haha.
And then of course from time to time when regular people make some really huge orders from the label as this really helps the label to survive and continue the work and plan for the future. For that I say thanks to you all.
What future releases can we look forward to?
Planned releases that you can expect from us include firstly from the band Detention from Kazakhstan, it is really nice to co-operate the release together with the Ukrainian label Depressive Illusions Records.
Then it is the Mexican Black / Death band Seed of Evil. We have Nigra Locust (Black Metal from Mexico) and it is a re-release of their only & first demo from 2012. A coming split with Wintercold (Sweden) and Nicrotek (Indonesia). A split with Nostalgie Depression (Chile) and Nicrotek (Indonesia). A four way split with bands like Necrolepsy from Bangladesh and more. A big Grindcore / Death Metal compilation (probably out when this interview is written) with 24 various bands. Some of the bands are Multinational Corporations, Pro-Past, Yattai, Parasite, Sloppy Teen Pussy, Fetus Slicer and many more. Another planned production is a new bigger compilation for download and perhaps on CD too. Discussions and plans with bands for a sort of deal and coming releases is always in my plans (every day), haha :)
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out?
A big thanks for this interview (the first officially made one so far), a big thanks to all those who support me, any of my bands / projects and all who in some way or another supports Salute Records and the bands on it. You know who you are, so it is not needed to write some kind of long list here. Don´t support the profit labels as they destroy it for all of us. Support the real underground! Hails & salutes from the land in north \m/