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
Perhaps they might be from the bygone cosmonaut era, or they could be the humanoid form of the daleks, whatever you make of Russia's (or in their case an extra-terrestrial planet) Sunwalter one thing is for certain... they're clearly onto something. Mixing together the elegant beauty of Symphonic Power Metal with the feel for alien and space topics... you read that right... let's call it 'Xenology metal' for the hell of it.
Having released their latest cosmic opus 'Alien Hazard' it was only fitting to go completely 'Men In Black' on them and torture them with klingon... beam me up Scotty
"I like sci-fi stories, films, books and computer games. Songs about Satan and demons are typical of the black metal genre"
Hi guys, firstly can you tell us about the band's history and who came up with the name Sunwalter, what does it mean?
"Hi, Earthman. The history of our band started in 2008, but it was the old period, when we played Melodic Black Metal. The most significant changes happened in summer of 2016, when our crew was abducted by the grey alien race for three days. After the event we got our own spaceship and were assigned as intergalactic mediums between the extraterrestrial intelligence and the human race. This role is very important for our team. Through our songs we deliver information from the deep space to Earthmen, revealing to them new knowledge, concealed by the governments of the Earth states. All our messages are encrypted with alien codes which are impossible to be broken by earth technologies. The name "Sunwalter" consists of two words in two languages: Sun from English and Walterfrom Deutsch. That refers to an extraterrestrial over mind. Some Earthmen directly contact him in their dreams."
You've just released your second album 'Alien Hazard' (via Sliptrick), what has the response been like?
"This album shows really WOW effect. A few people typically say: “It’s a good album”, but much more people define it like a perfect conceptual release of the year. Especially if we speak about something unusual, like our genre, for example, 'Sci-Fi metal'. First, try to show us a band who play 100% space music and dedicate all songs to the universe. Then try to find musicians, who follow this ideology in their image, arts, outfits and in technical equipment during live shows. Surely, after this you'll get the best response from the audience. This is because we offer original content. And it’s only a part of our truth, another side is classified as top secret."
As you're from Russia, what can you tell us about the metal scene? I bet it's hard touring Russia given there's only really 2 major cities - Moscow and St. Petersburg?
"That's false. You described a typical stereotype, applied when somebody doesn’t want to work hard. We have enough cities for touring. In fact, many Russians don’t feel like creating something new and original, and even more of them are not ready for big tours. For this, they need to check a lot of info, work on the organization itself, spend money, etc. Many young musicians think, that after their first album some rich producer will find them and they will become rock stars, like in Hollywood films. And after the moment their dreams are broken, they find a million reasons to avoid working hard and keeping on improving their bands, creating lots of gossip, that Russia is not a rock ’n’ roll country."
Touring Europe I assume you have to apply for visas? With Brexit are you as a band concerned about touring the UK?
"We don’t need visas! Our spaceship just lands in a secret prepared place near the venue, then we play live and go back again to the orbit of the Earth, where we spend a lot of time.
Miran: By the way, it will be really great to tour in the UK as well as in many other countries because we know that there are lots of abductees and people who share our interest in cosmic themes. We’d like to spread the word of alien races all over the world."
What does the authorities / government think of metal music, has there been any problems? Have your parents mentioned about rock / metal existing in the days of the USSR? What (if anything) can you tell us about said music in the USSR? (perhaps a question for Myutel?)
Myutel: "Is it about the Universal Space Systems Reunion (USSR)? Well, that's the union of planetary mining systems, isn't it? They united after the defeat in the civil war, that had broken out after the workers demanded an improvement of their life comfort and additional compensation for hard labour conditions. There was that, what's-his-name… Ah! I remember! Zchee GeVarro!
As for the music… The government pays too little attention to it. On the contrary, metal and other resources are top priority for them, that's the case. We try to get ourselves out as far as we can. But we feel equal to it!"
One question for Sol (Olga Salikhova), do you feel females are becoming more accepted in metal music? Do you receive any discrimination for being a female metal musician?
Olga Sol: "On my planet Sedna, other rules apply. There are males and females, but there is no discussion about equality and, definitely, about discrimination. Just everyone mind their own business. For you, Earthmen, it can look like Utopia, but for us it’s normal and remains so for ages. So, I don’t see here any problems in working with boys. They are cute!"
So guys, what made you decide to sing about aliens and space, assuming some of you are avid astronomers?
Alexio: "First, it was just an interesting topic. Because I like sci-fi stories, films, books and computer games. Songs about Satan and demons are typical of black metal genre, elves and dwarfs are hymned by power metal guys, and the history of the Earth itself changes every year… But space with its enigmas is quite original. And for me it’s a great honour to dedicate songs to the Universe."
What plans have you got for the year ahead and into 2018?
"We can't tell exactly, because our Grey alien friends arrange all our creative plans. But according to some information, we will engage some additional earthmen for our next saga.
Miran: I have already received a lot of encrypted information from outer space and every day I translate it into musical form. So we have some new material to share with Eafthmen and even now we can say that it’s very extraterrestrial and metal."
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's you wish to send out?
"Thank you for the interest in space and our music. We hope we could find a place for landing somewhere near UK soon, so be prepared for alienization! May the universe be with you."
When you think of Liechtenstein, you tend to think of it's football team and how easily they are beaten in almost every international football game, save face for a few of which they proved victorious in. But casting aside the woes of Liechtenstein's footballing perils, there is something far more enthralling to substitute (see what I did there?) the aforementioned with. That is a small but active metal scene.
Arguably the most prolific Liechtensteiner metal bands are Elis and Erben der Schöpfung, but with bands like Dark Salvation and Shotgun leading the next wave, can they match their predecessors in what they have achieved and carry forward the Liechtenstein Metal scene? I spoke to Shotgun to gain an insight into this landlocked country (between Austria and Switzerland), Shotgun's heritage and future, and Liechtenstein's flirtation with the Eurovision Song Contest...
"Looking for new members, that can be pain in the ass since the area is rather rural..."
Could you give us the history of Shotgun, who the current line-up is and what the band name means?
"Shotgun was founded at the end of 2010 as a free-time project, when Mischa Rucker and Matthias Marxer exchanged some riffs and ideas. After a while they thought that what they were doing might have some potential and they started to look for full time members for a fully operational band.
In April of 2011 Shotgun was complete, Mischa Rucker and Matthias Marxer on guitars, Patrik Schächle on bass, Sergio Garcia on drums and Bruno Lombardo as vocalist. Shotgun eventually parted their way with Mischa because of musical differences. Patrik switched from bass to guitar and Mäcky Lampert took up occupation as the new bassist. After a few years of live activities and recording sessions where we never found satisfaction in the sound, Shotgun started a major recording session for the first demo EP which now is released as 'First Shots'.
Shortly after completing the drum-track, Sergio left the band to settle back to Barcelona, his native city. Nonetheless the remaining members completed the recordings later in 2016 and released it in May 2017. Mäcky decided to leave Shotgun due to different personal future plans, which were not compatible with the bands plans. Tobias Schädler, former guitarist of I Am Chaos was found as the new man on the bass. After over a year and a half David Walch joined forces with the band as the drummer. This is he current line up."
You've released your debut EP this year, what was the reception like? Did you have a EP release show?
"Since it took us so long releasing it, a lot of people were looking forward it with high expectations. We got some good reviews from different online magazines, and that we do appreciate highly. Also we had many messages coming in from around the globe asking where to purchase our EP, (text us, PayPal us, get your copy).
Sadly not, since we had no drummer we were not able to play live. We had a listening, we were not really happy with that but at least it was a cool party but we will make it up with the live shows, at least to our fans in the area."
What is gigging in Liechtenstein like? Tell us more about the metal scene - venues, festivals, labels, etc - do you tend to travel to Switzerland or Austria for gigs?
"It sucks big time, we don't have a proper location and nobody is in to it to make something, also it lacks the people if something happens once in a while. In May 2016 we had the first Metal Open Air, which was cool since almost every band from Liechtenstein played there. We're always going to watch and play gigs in Switzerland and Austria since the scene is way bigger."
Is it hard being a metal band in Liechtenstein? Bands like Elis and Erben der Schöpfung broke out the national scene, are there any other well known bands?
"Well it’s not harder than anywhere else unless you are looking for new members, that can be pain in the ass since the area is rather rural and there is not a whole bunch of people living around here, compared to bigger cities. For playing live we have a good market in Switzerland, Austria and Germany so that is not an issue at all.
Well for the bands, I would not say there is anything famous out there but we can gladly recommend our friends from Tankfist and Dark Salvation."
Regarding your debut EP 'First Shots', can you tell us what each song means?
"Pretty self explanatory. Murder, possession, genocide, shotguns, beer, sex, and Thrash metal, many songs have included double meanings like ancient genocide which deals about the dying semen during sex, or shotgun blasting which is another form of a shotgun blast in the face. Actually, what you hear on the EP is the early primitive days of Shotgun, our future material will be more critical and mature, especially for the lyrical content. 'First Shots' is like a summary of the early Shotgun days."
Liechtenstein has flirted with the Eurovision on numerous occasions, what are your thoughts on the competition?
"F*ck that sh*t. We are in for metal not for a bunch of circus clowns. It's all just paid bullsh*t where honest music does not count wet sh*t. It is another fashion show on TV which we don’t need frankly."
Given the small size of Liechtenstein, what do you do for hobbies / activities outside of music?
"Drinking beer and metal is one of the best activities you can do here, hiking would be an option but the weather sucks most of the time. Back to beer and metal."
What plans have you got for the rest of the year and do you have any hello's you wish to send out?
"To play as many gigs as we can and have a huge party with some other crazy maniacs out there. Those we do greet for the support through the years for sure. For the extended hello and thanks list check the booklet of our EP."
When Skindred was announced to perform at Bloodstock 2017 there were a number of people who took their angst onto social media, raging at a band not being 'metal' enough being booked to play, when they should be at Download. Reality check, they've done Download, they've had their song 'Nobody' on the NFS Underground 2 game soundtrack, they've been going nearly 20 years, they've played Wacken for heaven's sake. That's metal enough for us.
Despite the whinging and whining on the net, the amount of festival goers Skindred pulled was more than adequate to put the elitists in their place. The well known 'Newport Helicopter' was a fitting way to end their set, even the ShowSec crew in front of the Ronnie James Dio stage got involved:- watch their song 'Warning' with the Newport Helicopter included here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpnPeFtUGkU); credit goes to YouTuber Jamiet1994 for the video - skip to 3:51 for the legendary Newport Helicopter.
Benji Webbe and Mikey Demus both were more than happy to spend time with GMA to talk about their origins, playing BOA for the first (and possibly not the last) time, plans ahead, the origin of the Newport Helicopter and much more... over to the Welsh Ragga Metallers.