Metal music and war, the two somehow seem to come hand-in-hand at times and yet it's usually the war-ravaged nations that get ignored in the metal music community. How is it that bands across the world risk their daily lives to not only play metal music, but to survive the climate they find themselves in and yet barely receive little if any coverage from the more-established media? Dark Phantom are a Heavy / Death Thrash Metal band from the city of Kirkuk, Iraq. Having released their debut EP 'Beta' (2013) through the Swedish label Salute Records and their debut album 'Nation Of Dogs' (2016) through the Belarusian label Symbol of Domination Prod., (as well as an independent digital release), Dark Phantom are looking to venture onto greater things, become a beacon of light in the Iraqi Metal scene and show to the world that Iraq has another side to the country other than what is shown on the news. Dark Phantom are more than just a metal band, they are a metal band advocating the voice of peace.
Guitarist Murad explains to GMA the difficulties of being a metal band in Iraq, their plans to tour with their Syrian brothers in Maysaloon and why Iraqi metalheads burden so much oppression in the face of socio-cultural resistance.
"(Metal is) an art and by this art we can send our message worldwide about how we are living in war and corruption"
For those who do not know of Dark Phantom, could you please give us a brief history?
"Dark phantom is an idea that was born after the Iraqi war in 2003, when we listened to rock and metal music. Many bands influenced us, bands like Metallica, Slayer, Lamb Of God, Megadeth, and many others. The two guitarists Murad and Rebeen are relatives, they started playing guitar in 2007 and by practising decided to form the first metal band in Kirkuk. They began looking for other members to join; a bassist, drummer and a vocalist, they found them in University and through social media.
After joining the band, we practised in Murad’s room as a heavy metal band and played our first show in Kirkuk in 2011. It was a good show, playing in front of more than 300 people even when the situation was dangerous in our city. After the show in the mosque during Friday pray, they spoke about our show and that a satanic band played music in Kirkuk and that they did a show. Because of this we stopped playing shows in Kirkuk as we were really worried about our lives and family.
In 2012 we recorded our first EP ('Beta'), the record was bad because we didn’t have good equipment and there wasn’t any experience in recording, we played other shows in the north of Iraq in the Kurdistan region, because its safer. In 2014, 2 other members left the band, the drummer and the vocalist; the vocalist left Iraq because his brother was injured in a car bomb explosion, and the drummer said he must go to find a job. We found new members and a new genre that is more extreme than the old Dark Phantom. We recorded and released our first single and debut album (('Nation Of Dogs') in 2016."
It must be hard to be a metal band let alone a metalhead in Iraq? Can you tell us the challenges both as musicians and everyday persons face?
"It’s definitely not an easy thing being a metalhead with the problems you’ll have to face just for simple things like having long hair, tattoos or just black cloth, these things are seen as bad and taboo in the national culture, and you're faced with bad words, a bad reputation and in some cases death or harassment. Metal is an excellent way to show a unique way or style to people who’re old fashioned and let them know that there are other styles of living and different ideologies from what they’re used to and that everyone is different in it’s own way."
How long has the Iraqi Metal scene been going? Some say Acrassicauda were the first metal band from Iraq, is this true?
"It’s really unclear when or who was the first metal band in Iraq, but it goes beyond Accrasicauda however they were the first band who made some publicity and attracted attention."
What do your parents think of your music? Are they musicians themselves? How hard is it to obtain instruments and equipment?
"No they are not musicians, they are normal people; they think we do satanic work and get angry about it. However when we explain to them metal is not satanic work, its an art and by this art we can send our message worldwide about how we are living in war and corruption, they understand what we do and they become supportive. About the music instruments and equipment, it's so hard to find good instruments and equipment here, we work and calculate money and order it from the USA; the cost becomes very expensive but we do our best because there are no other ways to get it".
Do you talk to other metal bands in the MENA region? Such as Maysaloon from Syria, Belos from The Oman, Nervecell from the UAE, etc.?
"Yes we have a strong bond together and we’re usually aware of each other’s plans"
Arguably the greatest dream for Dark Phantom would be to perform in Europe, how far are you from reaching that goal? What plans do you have for the rest of the year and into 2019?
"Arguably it is the greatest dream for Dark Phantom to tour Europe and the USA, and play with big bands. We are hoping that by 2019 we will be able to play at a festival or two in Europe. We have some good plans, but it’s too early to say and we also hope that we can go to Syria before 2019".
Are there any greetings, thank you's, etc you wish to send out? For those visiting Kirkuk, what sights / attractions would you recommend to metalheads?
"We are thankful for everyone who stands beside us through our good and bad times, special thanks for those who support us by buying our album and who donated for our Syria concert , we never forget them, they are a part of Dark Phantom.
None, there is nothing metalhead-related in our city".
Metal music undeniably has reached the farthest parts of the globe and arguably in some unsuspecting locations as a result. From Greenland to Zimbabwe, it's caught the imaginative eye of many and as a result have given birth to numerous metal scenes. But what about the more isolated islands on planet earth? One band Surrender The Thief, hope to finally place Guam on the map in the metal music universe. For sure the likes of Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia are perhaps considered the metal music leaders on this continent, but with new scenes in the likes of French Polynesia, Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea emerging, where does this leave the island of Guam? GMA spoke to vocalist Charles Megino about the scene's history, the band's plans (including a crowdfund to tour Japan) and the struggles of geographical isolation.
"Most musicians here either commit to weekly bar gigs, monthly showcases, or stick to DIY recordings and focus on digital exposure."
For those who do not know of Surrender The Thief, could you please give us a history of the band?
"All members of Surrender The Thief were / are members of other local bands. We all pretty much knew each other and came together to try and do something different with the local scene. In the early stages of writing and tracking, only myself (Charles), Joaquin, Julius, and Jonah were involved. As we got closer to finishing the album, we started recruiting members to fill the remaining slots and start preparing for live performances."
Hailing from Guam must come with difficulties, could you tell us what challenges metal bands and fans face on the island of Guam? How long has the Guam Metal scene been going?
"Being a metal band from Guam definitely has it's ups and downs. So far, the response has been great. Definitely exceeded my expectations. Guam used to have a very diverse underground scene, holding strong onto punk, hardcore, and metal. As the years went by, the scene died down. High school bands were hard to find (when about 10 years ago, teenage bands were sprouting left and right). When we threw our CD release show for Wasteland last November 2017, it was basically a shot in the dark.
We had no clue how well / bad the show would do, but we gave it our all. We dressed up the venue, hired a sound team and brought in some serious equipment. Our initial goal was to bring change to the scene, raising the flat standard to an entirely different level. That show ended up exceeding my expectations, as hundreds came to that show and had a great time. From what I've heard, many of the show-goers have been aching for a metal / hardcore show, so they had an opportunity to enjoy that as well."
Do you know of metal bands from neighbouring islands like the Marianas, Palau, Micronesia, etc? Is it expensive to leave the island? How would you go about touring? Gigging, etc.
"As of now, not aware of any metal bands from our sister islands. Leaving the island is definitely the biggest challenge for bands here. It gets costly. Most bands here rely on weekly bar gigs, and if lucky enough, get an opening slot for concerts that come by. Metal bands don't come around here, so we're definitely not getting on one of those for a while (LOL). With that said, most musicians here either commit to weekly bar gigs, monthly showcases, or stick to DIY recordings and focus on digital exposure. A couple of reggae bands have toured the West Coast (US), but for metal, not recently."
Your planning on going to tour Japan in January, how well is the crowdfunding going? Who will you be playing with in Japan?
"The crowdfunding for this tour has been going okay. It's a bit difficult to convince people to support your dreams (LOL), but so far, the response and support we've received have been great. We're only 2 months away so we've been pushing hard to make sure we meet the requirements. Not quite sure who we'll be sharing the stage with (as the local promoters in Japan are the ones to coordinate that), but we're stoked no matter what! We're very thankful that they were open to having us share our passion with their country."
You released your album 'Wasteland' earlier this year, what has the reception been like? Any attention from overseas?
"The reception has been good. The challenging part would definitely be marketing. It's very tricky trying to catch peoples' attention with how many metalcore bands are out there now. For those who have heard the album, we've received nothing but praise. We've received emails and messages from Germany, the UK, Australia, the Philippines, and mainland US. All positive so far!"
Will the album be released physically?
"Wasteland" is available on most major digital platforms: Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, CD Baby, Amazon, etc. If interested in physical copies, we have a bunch that we'd love to mail out to interested buyers. CD Baby also has a limited amount of physical copies of "Wasteland" for sale."
For those metalheads visiting Hagatna, what sights / attractions could you recommend in seeing?
"That's a tough one. Guam's economy is heavily reliant on tourism, so there's a lot to see. It's always nice to submerge yourself in other cultures to learn further about a place and it's people, so I'd probably stay within those lines."
With 2018 closing up, what plans aside from the impending Japanese tour do you have?
"For now, we're focusing primarily on the tour. I'm trying to get in contact with more booking agents and promoters to land us some slots / shows in the Asian countries, so hopefully we get in on more of the action next year. We've also started writing some new material, so we may have another release by late 2019."
Are there any greetings you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
"To all of our loyal supporters, family and friends who have helped us get where we are today, WE APPRECIATE YOU! Our fan-base / support system is very important to us, and we couldn't be happier with what we have. Just know that everything we do, we don't only do it for ourselves, but for Guam's music community as a whole. Si Yu'us Ma'ase, Guahan!"
* (Due to the ongoing issues surrounding the legitimacy of what is the true Northern Irish flag, GMA has instead placed a map of Northern Ireland in, instead of the theme of the national flags)
Usually when you think of Northern Ireland you think of the political and religious history shared with the bordering Republic of Ireland or on a more historical-majestic note RMS Titanic of which was built in the Belfast dockyards. However Northern Ireland also plays host to a vibrant metal scene as Andy from The Crawling explained to GMA, the topics of Brexit, the band's second album and sights / attractions there are in the capital Belfast; although the band are from Lisburn.
"We have a ton of bands, probably too many for what the scene can support"
For those who have not heard of The Crawling, could you give us a history of the band, what the band name means and why you opted to play Doom/Death Metal?
"We formed late 2014. It was all our bass player, Stuart’s, idea. He wanted to get together with a
few mates and jam out some death metal tracks, but it kinda escalated into a ‘proper’ band at some point - arguably once i got involved! ha, ha! We secured a line up and got to work. We released a single almost immediately, played some shows, released an EP, played a couple of fests, the debut album followed, played some more cool shows and now the sophomore is en route!
The band name was created by my younger brother (vocals from Strangle Wire). It was originally
one of his song titles for one of his more doom-ire tracks, but once i let him hear what i was doing
he was like - you have to use this name for that shit! I loved the name, and the fact my wee bro named us was even better; he’s always been so supportive of everything I've ever done. It suits the style perfectly, slow yet menacing.
The doom/death thing was a no-brainer for me. I’ve always written music in that vein, but my last
band had a clean vocalist. Once it folded i decided i would only do exactly what i wanted, and as a die hard fan of the early Peaceville bands i adopted the guttural vocal. Combined with the slow death, doom guitars i write, it kind of made itself."
You're due to release your second album 'Wolves And The Hideous White' in November, what will be different to your debut album? It seems there is a concept story going on?
"We’re still the same band, so it’s always going to have the same underlying vibe to it, but it’s
certainly got something else going on. It was more focused than the debut, as i had a very clear
vision as to how i wanted it to be this time. It’s more venomous, a much angrier tone, and I worked longer on the song structures to create a different type of listen from the debut.
I’m not sure if it’s a concept so much, but the album has a common thread throughout. Over the
last year i became fixated on people’s relationships. I watched how individuals behave in their effort to connect with others, and remain connected. As animals i think we are programmed to find a “mate,” a person that you can always be with; but society has fucked the natural process and people are forcing themselves into relationships as a form of expectancy, rather than just letting it flow organically. Each song on the album is a view of a certain type of connection, how it is created, developed, and subsequently fails; and they always do - people simply don’t realise.
Could you give us the meaning behind the album title and a break-down of the song titles?
"The title is simply my view of society’s acceptance of a “normal” life, and so many seek such a
thing without realising that’s not even close to what they wanted originally. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you have to forgo dreams, aspirations and life goals. You only live once, and no one is getting out of here alive; we don’t have to accept anything in life. Even if it goes horribly wrong - we’re going to die and it’ll all be over; but at least you tried.
The title track is a story of a man who comes home every day to a spouse that despises his existence, and children who don’t acknowledge he even breathes, draining any joy from an otherwise meaningless life. The children are Wolves, and spouse the Hideous White (bride).
I’m loathed to go into too much detail about every track, as i don’t want to ruin a listening experience. I recall reading a review of our EP, and the journalist got something totally different from what i was writing about and it was fantastic. I don’t want to interfere with that experience by giving a step by step critique if you follow me? Not to mention that’s a really long conversation! We’ll meet for beers and I'll talk you through the whole thing! ha, ha! :)"
With Brexit, are you concerned or not about what will happen? Both generally and of course regarding the Northern Irish/Irish border?
"I’m embarrassed to admit I'm really crap with politics, but yeah Brexit will have an effect at some
point I'm sure. I’m certainly concerned about how it will affect me economically, health care and that sort thing. From what i can tell currency has really taken a hit - my British pounds aren’t going as far as they used to when i travel.
Ireland wise, I'm not sure what will happen. I grew up in an era when there was hard border, and
it’s not something I'd like to see return. I can’t see it to be honest, but if there’s money involved ... and there always is, you never know."
Will there be a tour or release gig for the new album?
"Release show is all in hand, and a real big deal for us. We’re working with Shizznigh Promotions
and playing a release show in The Empire Music Hall, Belfast.
Thursday 15th November / Support from Conjuring Fate, Neahmni and Disconnect.
9PM / £3 in
No tours as yet, but we’re working on shows all the time.
Any music videos?
"Yep, we love our videos; it’s such an enjoyable creative outlet and experience. The title track
“Wolves and the Hideous White” is completed, and we are moving onto the next story board right now. Expect 3 at the very least."
Do you feel metal music tends to speak out against world and societal issues than any
other music genre does?
"I don’t really listen to other genres of music really, so I'm not sure i can comment, but i reckon rap would be more in tune with that kind of stuff. I don’t listen to any metal that has political undertones."
What is it that seemingly makes metal music rebellious or open-minded?
"Ultimately metal music doesn’t make as much money as other forms, well, certainly in comparison to rap or pop music. As a result i think it allows artists to be artistic, which allows an
unopposed voice or opinion as it’s not financially driven. Of course a record company will find a way to make money from it, but i think the original sentiment isn’t as affected as other forms of
music, if they even have a message."
Can you tell us about the state of the Northern Irish Metal scene, is it currently vibrant or in
"Northern Ireland music is a viscous beast right now. We have a ton of bands, probably too many
for what the scene can support, but it’s definitely vibrant. We have underground shows on a weekly basis, and touring bands playing in between. We’re also pretty lucky to get local talent supporting the touring bands, as tour support often remains on the mainland. It’s a great time to be playing in bands in Ireland right now."
For metalheads visiting Belfast, what sights / attractions would you recommend to them to
"Easy - head immediately for The Limelight, Belfast on Saturday afternoon as The Distortion Project runs show every week from 5PM - 9PM. Voodoo, Belfast is the other main venue for metal related pints and live acts. It’s an amazing venue and has recently had a re-vamp so well worth a visit. Touristy wise, i highly recommend the Titanic quarter for all their exhibitions, and get a look around HMS Caroline; it’s a decommissioned light cruiser from WW1. It’s a fantastic experience."
Finally are there any greetings, hello's or thanks you wish to send out?
"Thank you for chatting with us, and thank you to everyone that continues to support The Crawling, check us out live, and buy our stuff - we really appreciate it!"
When you think of countries or regions with either semi-autonomy or partial-recognition as being independent, you tend to think of unstable politics, poor societal constructs or peoples seeking to establish their own identity on the world stage. Kosovo is one example where only around half of the world recognizes it as it's own country, without going into the politics of why this is GMA spoke to Ardit Sheholli, vocalist of the Groove / Death Metal band Krieg about the Kosovar Metal scene, it's struggles (both past and present), the bands activities and relations with neighbouring metal scenes.
"We have that stereotypical thing that being a metalhead, you're a junkie, a criminal, you're covered in tattoos and you're just dangerous"
Hi Ardit, could you tell us how the Groove / Death Metal band Krieg formed?
"It all started around the year 2011 where there was just the guitarist and drummer, doing covers of Lamb Of God, Rammstein and those kinds of bands. Later on the other guitarist and I (the vocalist) joined, then we started doing cover songs of bands we liked and shortly after that we started making our own music, which years later led to this album."
How did you get into listening to and playing metal music?
"I got into metal music through Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and I got into heavier music by, I think kind of by accident. I was searching for a South Park episode which Kenny I think played some part of Lamb of God, I couldn't remember the title of the episode so I just googled Lamb of God, and Lamb of God showed up and that's when I really got into heavy metal. Other than that I was listening to rock and that kind of stuff."
What do your parents think of your style of music? What emotions do you get from being in a metal band?
"They don't understand it so that's why they don't like it, they don't even try to understand because it's not mainstream and it's not easy for the ears. So I think people have to give it a real shot, other than criticizing it without even knowing what they're listening to.
It's the adrenaline, it's so intense it's like, when I sing I push my body to it's limits where the day after I cannot feel any part of my body, everything hurts and it's just pure energy. It's amazing, it's just a very good place to escape both for writing and singing, kinda where I let everything out."
As a metal band from Kosovo, Is it hard grabbing attention from Western Europe in terms of fans and media coverage?
"It's hard to get exposure in Western Europe for many reasons, one of them is because we're a very small country; only nearly 2 million people, another reason is that metal here is still very underground, and the other is that Western countries just have more and more bands, more opportunities to get exposure. I don't know I think just it's this place that has stuck where we are."
Can you tell us more about the Kosovar Metal scene, what venues are there, how long has it been going, etc?
"For a short amount of time, as far as I can remember like four to six, seven years, there were plenty of metal bands, by plenty I mean like 10-15 metal bands; that's how much plenty is for us. So the metal scene here is relatively young, around 20 years since people started making this kind of music. It's all because of war that they couldn't do it earlier, because of the regime, but metalheads have been around since forever as the older generations tell them."
Has any media attention been paid towards the metal scene in Kosovo?
"No, metal music gets the attention I guess once or twice a year maximum, there's a show that's been going on for 13 years in a row that's called 'Rock Per Rock', it's a competitive show with usually 10-12 bands, rock and metal, so that's pretty famous where we live in. Other than that only a huge concert is around, but no, rap gets the most attention here."
The Albanian Metal scene doesn't seem to have been going long either right?
"Hmm, Albania has now more rock bands, it had a few great metal bands... it's pretty much dead, so it has like two bands that are still active and playing really good music, but other than that it's pretty much dead."
Since Kosovo is celebrating 10 year of independence, have there been any parties or celebrations?
"We have major celebrations every year, but the music is always the same, it's always mainstream music and folk music, so if you're asking about big celebrations with rock and metal, I don't think that happened before. But yeah our people really know how to party, yeah I mean the atmosphere is good and it's great, it's a lot of fun but not my taste in music you know?"
What sights or attractions would you recommend for metalheads visiting Kosovo to check out?
"I'd recommend the national museum, other than that we have the best bars ever, anybody who can imagine any style we have them. So yeah the nightlife here is amazing. I mean most of the population here is youth, from 20-30 years old so nightlife is great wherever you go."
Is it easy or hard buying gear and instruments in the capital city Pristina?
"No we have like, I mean like Pristina is really a small city comparing it to other places, but we have I think 4 or 5 music shops, most of the people I know who own guitars, basses or drums have ordered them online. So not it's not really a problem, it's just everything here is so expensive for no good reason, so it's just better to order them online; it feels like ordering them with a discount.
Most of the equipment is imported, we don't have like a factory that makes equipment here so everything is imported from China or Japan."
Have you had anyone outside of Kosovo get in touch with the band (aside from us)?
"We have been contacted by fans outside of Kosovo, like some guys from Norway and from Sweden, but they were Albanians, they were Kosovars. So it wasn't from people who were truly Norwegian or Swedish, they were the same people as us just living in a different country. Other than that, no."
What does the average person in Kosovo think of metal music? What is the public & governmental perception?
"Hmm, we have that stereotypical thing that being a metalhead you're a junkie, a criminal, you're covered in tattoos and you're just dangerous. That's wrong because the metalheads I know that live in the city I do are the nicest people I've ever met, so it's really important for us to break this chain of misunderstanding on our society.
Most of them just don't get interested in at all, it's not like they oppose it they just ignore it I guess. It's a thing that most of the metalheads I know are very open-minded music-wise, so like myself I listen to any kind of genre there is but the people who are so much into the mainstream music are so close-minded and won't even give it a chance, that's why we have such a big gap and different subcultures."
Would you say metal music is a safe and creative way of expressing anger or discontent?
"Hmm, I think every member in the band has a different answer to this, I don't think like it's expressing anger through metal, because the lyrics I write are mostly about life itself, the universe and why we are, how we are, about humans not just war in particular. I guess overall metal is a safe side for every kind of topic you'd like to sing or write about, not just war, not just anger - that's the beauty of metal."
With the album you're working on, is there a specific theme you're going for?
"The theme, or the lyric theme kind of evolved from time to time because there are a number of songs which are older, like three or four years older and there are new songs, it's just that continuous flow from theme to theme that you can't really distinguish, only if you go really deep enough. Like the first songs are about war but not directly about war, it's more about the feeling of humans being so bad to each other. The new songs, the theme is about humans and the way we are, about life, about feelings and these just tie up together. So, I think it's just one big theme."
We're over halfway through 2018, what was the first half of the year like for Krieg?
"The first half of the year was mainly us in the studio making two or three new tracks, recording all of our songs that we meant to put on the album, having band practice right before the show and the promo gig of our album so yeah that was that part of 2018. We plan on going to Macedonia later this year, maybe Albania too, don't when so let's see what that brings for us."
Would that be the first time you've performed in Albania and Macedonia? Would you look to play other countries?
"With Krieg yes, but I myself have performed once before in Albania with another band which I had a guest track with. So I'm really stoked to play with Krieg because it's our band, we put a lot of effort into what we do, so it would feel kind of rewarding to have a mini-tour around this region.
I'd love to play in England, I love those underground hardcore shows, they're just amazing and I'd love to play in Germany too, I hope we can get shows there sometime."
If you were to play in Serbia, with the past history between the two countries, would you be anxious as to what could happen?
"Hmm, I don't think so, I've had a lot of friends who went there to see Iron Maiden and Rammstein, they all spoke Albanian there and all the Serbians knew they were Albanians, but they were just there for the music and no political drama whatsoever. So I still think we would have a good time unless someone provokes or whatever, but all of the metalheads I know and in my band are very peaceful dudes, so we would just be there for the music and hope the audience would just be there for that too."
For the rest of the year, what other plans have you got other than gigging? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"For the rest of the year, we're planning on to make new songs, to write new songs and to revisit some older songs that didn't make it on the album, because we had a lot of tracks and had to choose which songs to make up for an EP or album. For every song we have there's a certain hidden gem to it, like some riff or breakdown, or some point that was really good and it would be a waste not to clean that up more, to make a whole song out of it. So yeah basically just refining our old material and planning to do new stuff.
I'd like to thank M&A recording studio for supporting us since day one, we recorded our album there, most of the band practice we did it there and for this album I'd like to thank the Ministry of Culture, Music and Youth for giving us a grant with what we recorded the album. Of course our fans for supporting us at every show, they're amazing and so of course are the moshpits."
When you think of the Scottish Metal scene you tend to think of the likes of Alestorm, sure their Pirate Metal sound is popular among the masses but they aren't the only Scottish Metal band with a sumptuous sound. Entering the affray is Dumfries' own Turbyne, whose mix of Melodic, Death, Prog and Metalcore have left the Bloodstock faithful in awe, with their sound not like anything that has been heard before but yet use the very basics of said metal genres, what they done with those genres is bent and snapped them to pieces, to create something they can call their own.
After rampaging on the New Blood Stage, GMA caught up with the now sextet and explored their past, what two vocalists bring to the band and the current status of the Scottish Metal scene.
Answers given by various members; indicated where possible.
(on song lengths):- "It's nothing to do with how long the song is, it's all about the ideas and how well you get them across".
Hi guys, firstly tell us who you are, what you play and how did you become involved in Turbyne?
"Hey I'm Calum, I'm the guitarist and I was here at the start; started the band with a few of my friends. Hey I'm Gary, I joined the band in 2012, I sing and I also play keyboards.
Hi I'm Brian, I play bass and I think I joined around like 10 years ago or something, I'm not quite sure, but through a friend; they were looking for a bassist and so I joined.
I'm Kyle the drummer and I'm co-founder with Calum here as creator of the band, the one and only. Hey I'm Keith, I'm the vocalist and I joined way way back in the day in the beginning.
I'm Jamie, I was the last to join and I kind of just invited myself into the band, I didn't actually be asked to join, I just sort of said I'll come along and play keyboards for you, so yeah that's what I do now."
So you have two keyboardists? Who is best at playing them?
"Absolutely Jamie, I (Gary) just pretend to play the keyboards, ah he's just started. It's a new addition that we're actually bringing to Bloodstock tomorrow, so it's the first time that it's done properly and Jamie holds the whole fort in terms of solo's and proper synth, I just kind of fill in with my backing strings, so hopefully its goes well tomorrow - I'm not nervous at all... I absolutely am.
Before I played keyboards you had two vocalists, so erm Keith and I were full-time vocalists so that's something we introduced when I joined the band really. But yeah we're trying it out to see if we can push ourselves to make a bigger sound and push ourselves harder basically to add more on the stage show or to the live sound as well, so we're going to be adding more live guitars as well, we're all going to be very busy."
What's it like being a sextet when recording music? Hard and tricky surely?
"Ages, ages and ages. We do all what we can before we hit the studio, there's a lot of demo's, a lot of kind of coordinating... maybe I'll have a practise with Jamie and we'll go over what we're going to do and the singers will get together and they'll practise their bits and then it all kind of comes together in the practise space. So yeah it takes a long time before we're ready to record anything, but it works for us."
Who came up with the band name and what does it mean?
"....erm, (silence), Kyle can answer that one. I believe it was actually Kyle who came up with the name, there was a bit of a catch of course we created the band during the Nu Metal years when it was invoked to spell your name incorrectly (laughs), hence the 'y' rather than the 'i' but at least it makes it original. There's not a literal meaning to what it is, we like to leave it interpretable, but it means certain things to us, there's not a concrete origin if that makes sense?"
What was going through your minds when you were confirmed to play Bloodstock? What did you parents say?
"I was actually at work, which is quite a formal job - I wear a suit, I won't mention what I do, but I was sitting with a client at the time and I think I made some sort of an excuse to leave the room to do a small to big lap of the office, kick over one of the desks and go back to the client and finish the interview that we had. I couldn't contain myself, I couldn't send enough text messages at the same time, not to mention we couldn't actually tell anyone at the time. So yeah it was insane to be fair, because we got the invitation as oppose to you know winning on our Metal 2 The Masses night, so to actually be asked to come along and play we feel is an absolute privilege and pleasure, to have someone say we want you to come along and showcase what you can do. It was a magnificent moment for me anyway, it was almost like a mark of approval from people we've been waiting to hear from for a very long time.
They were happy aye, they've supported us through... well my parents have supported us through Metal 2 The Masses heats and have been gutted when we didn't get it so they were chuffed.
I think my mum had to ask what Bloodstock was (laughs), it took about 45 minutes to explain, I probably went through the whole roster of the bands that are playing and not one rung a bell, so we just ended up with 'it's a big thing mum, be happy for me' (laughs), so she was.
My parents are into music anyway, so they were happy for us yeah.
Aye they were chuffed, my family have always been big supporters of what we do and they travel to come and see us at gigs, and yeah just happy.
I'm adopted... (laughs), no my parents were over the moon as well and I think as well as our close family and friends who were elated just as much as we were.
Yeah I've been getting congratulations from around the world, people all over the place and well none of them know what Bloodstock is, but you know it's the words festival, stage and playing that hit the net, so yeah they're really thrilled for the band. Lot of support from people who talk to us and are with our music so that's really good to have."
Sum up Bloodstock in two words and no more.
"Big deal", "enough said", "f*cking awesome", "pretty decent", "i'll take three - ask me sunday", "I really have no idea, all that can come to mind is 'pretty decent', 'f*cking awesome', so yeah I'll go with 'f*cking awesome' too" (laughs all around).
Can you tell us more about your eclectic style of metal?
"It's heavy and kind of based in experimental progressive metal, but with this kind of NWOBHM stuff going on as well, there's a lot of metalcore... basically it's what we've come up with, with a kind of collective styles of music that we all like and that we're all into. We just play the kind of music that we want to do and that we think would be interesting and new, it's very hard to describe as there's a lot of different substances in there. It's all very diverse and we keep ourselves guessing never-mind, there's nothing off-limits when it comes to the style of the band, nothings off-limits with us. The best way to define it is to listen to it and then decide for yourself what you actually think it is, and then if you put a label on it then you can identify it easily.
For the six years I've been in the band, we've been called how many different genres? We've tried different genres... but we bring out the next song and then all of a sudden they'll define us as something else, so as Jamie said it's best to listen to it and decide what part of it's new and pick your own genre, we don't mind - we've been called a lot of things.
I like that... (all laugh), if somebody else started to play 'Turbyne Metal' I think that could become a thing, yeah that would be nice if that was a thing to kind of lead a trend or something by everyone."
Most Prog Metal bands tend to deliver 7-10 minute songs, what are your thoughts about that?
"To be genuinely progressive I think that sounds about right, there's a lot of ideas and in our case anyway there's a lot of ideas in one song and it's difficult to pick the ones that are right from the ones that are wrong, so in our case yes we do tend to be a bit longer, but we do try and chop them down so they don't seem indulging you know what I mean? I love prog music but some of it is drawn out, we try and be cautious of not making item seem too much for what we're going for.
I think we try and find a balance between your heavy part and as that starts to draw out, we'll change it up for something that might suit someone else in the same song and I think that comes across really well with us, I think you can really break it down into a nice clean sound and then bring it right back as heavy as you want to... as long as it doesn't betray the song, as long as it feels right and feels natural in the progression of the song.
To be fair Turbyne has always been known for the length of it's songs but I don't think when Calum our main songwriter is writing a song that the clock is a big factor, I think the narrative of the song and what he's trying to express is more important than how long it's going to take to do it. But yeah having said that songs reach between 3-10 minutes, maybe over, there's a real diversity in what the band plays.
I'm used to playing classical music as well so I also play 45 minute symphonies and two-and-a-half musical theatre shows, so a 5-7 minute Turbyne song is a pretty short space of time (all laugh) to fill in with noise so I'm quite glad that they just end nicely, it doesn't matter anyway as long as the idea is strong, that's the main part - it's nothing to do with how long the song is, it's all about the ideas and how well you get them across in delivering them to your audience - if it takes a while, it takes a while."
What challenges do Scottish Metal bands face these days?
"Getting out there really, we're from quite a small town so the biggest obstacle we often face is getting onto bills and expecting to bring in people, that's a problem because you know we're from a smaller town, it can sometimes stand in our way. I'd say getting a fan-base and getting out to new people, new fans, new areas is the hardest part for our fans from Scotland.
I think our biggest problem is locations, so even if we head northwards (we're on the borders of Scotland; 45 minutes from Carlisle) up to Glasgow, Edinburgh, then Dundee and Aberdeen, but even driving up to Aberdeen takes us four and a half hours. Don't get me the wrong the band is completely committed so we will travel everywhere, anywhere that wants to hear us, we'll bring the sound to them, but it is the hardest part is getting on bills, finding that niche market where people are doing to appreciate what we're doing and finding out bands that are similar to us which is very, very difficult with the type of music that we are.
Because of the music we play as well we don't really fall into one category or the other, we're not the heaviest metal band but we're too heavy for non-metal music as well, so I think that is another obstacle as well is that exactly where we sit in the market and bills that we can play on, bands that are likewise with the fans that might go out to see, bands like us.
I think playing this festival is exactly what we need though because you're playing in front of people that would never see us otherwise, so this is the best opportunity you've got."
Have you had any fans from outside of the UK get in touch with you?
"Yeah there's a Finnish guy, I could probably name a bunch of Australians who listen to our music now, but yeah erm remember... was it Finland or Norway that guy was from?
I think it was Norway, his named sounded Finnish but was from somewhere up there, yeah he got in touch through Facebook saying he came across us and really appreciated what we done and hopefully we would go over there soon and play and we were like alright, that's good stuff.
It's always nice to hear from people that are that far out and either have stumbled across us or someone's told them about our music, it's nice when they feel they have to message us and say they enjoy it; it's crazy to have a few people from the USA, mainly Florida just to say they love the music, so if anybody wants to give us a contract to Florida (laughs), I'm due a holiday so anytime.
Business class right?
At least business class and I'm expecting our own private jet, maybe Air Force One, I might settle for that."
What are your plans after Bloodstock?
"We've got a few more gigs mostly in Scotland and north of England, we're just going to keep padding for shows, we're preparing for our second album so the song's are nearly there, we're still kind of writing and perfecting them - we're hopefully going to start tracking by the end of the year, hoping for a 2019 release so that'll take a lot of attention, a lot of energy, but yeah just keep looking for shows and stuff like that, see if we can chase this and hopefully get a few things out of it as well. Trying our best to network over here as well, see what comes."
Finally guys are there any greetings, thank you's or hello's you wish to send out?
"Yeah just to everyone that has supported us, those who get us here you know we had a lot of help from the people down our way, we owe them a lot of thanks, all the fans back home as well and everywhere else. Everyone that has supported us, watched our videos, listened to our music, bought our album - yeah it's all for them, we just hope we can do them proud.
Thanks to every single person who went out their way to give us that one step up or just spread our music about, talking about and supporting us. Thanks to everyone around us, they're always supportive and it's a nice environment to be in.
Same again thanks to everyone for supporting us, every listen counts so.
Aye just everybody, everybody who has ever been to a gig or has supported us.
Perhaps a big shout out to Simon for taking a chance on us, it's beyond appreciated and we plan on to corner him and tell him that in person. To take a risk on a band who is kind of different as us, it's a big leap of faith but we fully intend to live up to and exceed his expectations.
Simon and also anyone else who has seen the band live and just take a chance with, we know these guys are good, but will they be the right act for the stage. Our road manager deserves a shout out too."
Metal music takes on a variety of different sounds and cultural slants across the world, through the likes of Brazil's Sepultura and their Latin Metal period (think 'Roots Bloody Roots') to Israel's Orphaned Land drafting in traditional Israeli Music (think 'El Meod Na'ala'), metal music has been configured with each metal scene that embraces it.
New Zealand on the other hand is one scene that often gets overlooked by most Western metalheads, either because of it's location on the world map or through the lack of effort to explore scenes other than that what dominate in Europe and North America. Alien Weaponry aim to change that with their infectious and riveting blend of Te Reo Māori Thrash Metal, the sound is combined with a Hardcore-Thrash approach with the battle cries found within the Te Māori language; one the trio are aiming to preserve through metal and one they learned through two ways...
GMA spoke to Lewis De Jong (Guitarist / Vocalist) regarding this, their past and how in 2 weeks Alien Weaponry have reminded Europe that New Zealand is still there.
"I would not feel offended because if you do a haka to someone, if they have achieved something or if they have done a performance, that's what you call a 'haka tautoko' which is basically in support of what someone is doing, it's an honour to have a 'haka tautoko' - I feel it would add to what we are all about."
Alien Weaponry hasn't been going all that long, so could you give us a brief history of the band? Tell us about your Māori heritage and meaning behind the band name.
"Henry and I started the band about 8 years ago and Ethan joined around 6 years ago, so yeah we haven't been going for 'that' long but we've been around for a fair bit.
Yeah my brother and I are descendants from the Ngati Pikiāo which is a Māori Iwi (Maori Tribe) and we have Māori family and blood in us, so that's how it kind of came about doing this. We named the band Alien Weaponry when Henry and I first started and this was before we had touched any of the Māori stuff, that's actually named after the sci-fi film 'District 9'; film had alien guns in it so we called it Alien Weaponry and because of that the name kinda stuck. But now when you think about it, when muskets were introduced into New Zealand, to the Māori muskets were a form of 'alien weaponry', so I suppose that kind of connects a little bit, but it wasn't originally planned like that."
Having played to an overflowing crowd on the Sophie Lancaster stage, what are your afterthoughts of your set?
"I'm pretty blown away by how massive and into it the crowd was, that was a really pleasant surprise."
Having played Wacken and being the youngest band in terms of band-members age to do so, did you feel any pressure whatsoever?
"Pressure? I mean Wacken's been our dream since we started the band, so I guess it's more of a... there's not really pressure, I feel like as long as you're confident in what you do and practise hard out, we feel like we get more of a buzz before going on stage, we're just trying to enjoy the experience as much as possible. But yeah it was a really insane feeling playing in front of all those people at Wacken. The crowd f*cking blew us all away, actually quite a lot of the crowds at these festivals have blown us away because the response has almost bettered New Zealand sometimes, and it's really different because this is our first time touring Europe; it's really great to be doing this."
With your brand of Te Māori Thrash metal, would you hope that neighbouring Oceanian countries become inspired by your music and start scenes up?
"Yeah I feel like we're kind of being a statement to quite a few indigenous cultures that have been suppressed and colonized, I feel like we're trying to reach out to the entire world with this and it's really cool to see the response this big being picked up from it."
Tell us about your debut album "Tū", what do the song titles mean? Tū charted on the New Zealand charts, that's got to be awesome right? Any response from the Māori Iwi?
"The album has a lot of different stuff on it, we've got anything from historic battles to unjust actions by the Government you know hundreds of years ago. Some of our more recent stuff has been more about current issues, like we've got a song called 'Holding My Breath' which is quite personal and is about the feeling of anxiety that a lot of people go through when they're quite young. We've written songs about basically things we feel passionate about, so the album's a really passionate album.
Yeah the album hit #1 when we released it, two other big New Zealand artists released albums on the same day and we were really surprised when we saw that we were ahead of them on the charts. That was a really good feeling when we hit #1, it feel like we've achieved something, something we never thought we would when we first started the band.
The reception from Māori in general has been overwhelmingly positive and when we started writing in Te Reo Māori we didn't quite know how people would respond to it, but they've responded very well and I feel like a lot of Māori are kind of 'coming out of the closet' in listening to metal, Māori wasn't really associated with metal before we started what we are doing."
How long did it take your first music video 'Rū Ana Te Whenua'? What is the meaning behind it and was it easy learning Māori?
"That was probably about two days in the studio and also a day of shooting the music video, that was the first music video we shot, but it was not the first one we released - we've been holding onto that for a long time (eight years) before we released it and when we finally did it was really satisfying for us, because you know we have been waiting all that time.
That was actually based on a battle that our great great-grandfather fought, it is basically a story about triumphing against all odds because the Māori were outnumbered, they had around 200-300 soldiers and the British had like over a 1,000 soldiers, but how they won (Māori) was they built this 'Pā' (which was the first recorded case of trench warfare) with underground trenches and bunkers. The British bombarded the Pā over a day and a half with cannons and when they stormed the Pā there was no-one there, as soon as they rode back to General Cameron who led the attack saying they had captured the Pā, while that was happening the Māori jumped up from underneath the ground and slaughtered them all - it's a brutal but cool story to write a song about.
That was our first song that we written in Te Reo Māori and we really took a chance doing that, but I feel the reception's been overwhelming. Henry and I grew up speaking Māori, we went to a Kura Kaupapa which is a Māori language school... I went to a Māori kindergarden and then I went to Kura Kaupapa for about two years and Henry went about for four years, but then we switched schools and Henry and I, Henry not so much but I lost the language quite heavily so actually singing in Māori now is actually... I'm still in the process of learning the language. I feel like singing in Māori is encouraging a lot of people to discover their own heritage and learn Māori, which is not really a common thing in New Zealand."
Would you hope that bands follow Alien Weaponry in terms of tapping into their indigenous culture and expressing it through metal?
"Definitely, I think that's one way we're trying to keep the culture alive in New Zealand and spreading it through music, people are pretty passionate about music and I guess the culture comes with Alien Weaponry. I feel like it's a great way to educate people and add something different to what you do"
If you were invited by the New Zealand rugby team to perform before a game, would you accept it?
"I think we probably would because that would be an amazing thing to play to a packed-out stadium before a rugby game, and I feel like that the energy we would bring would suit quite well, so yeah that would be really cool to do."
How has the New Zealand Government reacted to metal music?
"The New Zealand Government how has it reacted to metal music? Hmm. That's an interesting question, I guess the music industry is probably the closest thing... because the Government hasn't really said anything to us. I guess everyone in the music industry in New Zealand has been supportive of what we're doing... it's a hard question to answer because I actually don't know what the Government feels about what we're doing."
Tell us what the New Zealand Metal scene is like?
"There is a bit of a New Zealand metal scene but I feel like there's not many people in New Zealand (population is around 5 million; around half of Greater London), I guess there's not the hugest metal scene in New Zealand... put it this way there's probably more metalheads at Wacken than there are in New Zealand. The New Zealand metal scene is weird, it's hard to describe - there is still a metal scene in New Zealand. New Zealand's more known for it's reggae and R&B, Lorde and Lord Of The Rings. There is a metal scene in New Zealand with bands like Devilskin, Seas Of Conflict., there are quite a lot of good bands but I feel like there does seem to be a little bit of bickering from genre to genre, I feel like that's a little bit negative, but all in all scene's not that bad in New Zealand."
For metalheads visiting New Zealand, what sights and attractions could you recommend doing / seeing?
"If you go to New Zealand you've got to go to the beach, but before you go to the beach you've got to learn how to swim properly (laughs). In New Zealand there's a tradition that a lot of New Zealanders do it's called 'popping manus', which is basically jumping into the water and making the biggest splash possible, that's something we do in New Zealand and is pretty unique to our country. New Zealand is a beautiful place and I'm like feeling kinda homesick".
What exactly is the haka? Could you explain it's meaning please? If a crowd member was to haka before Alien Weaponry started playing, would you feel offended?
"A haka is a traditional Māori war dance, if two tribes were going to fight they used to do a haka to each other beforehand and I guess if you did a good enough haka, you might be able to scare the enemy into backing down so that it potentially doesn't have to be war. It's really designed to be in your face, scary and powerful and I feel it really works well with what we're doing.
I would not feel offended because if you do a haka to someone, if they have achieved something or if they have done a performance, that's what you call a 'haka tautoko' which is basically in support of what someone is doing, it's an honour to have a 'haka tautoko' - I feel it would add to what we are all about.
It's all about context, haka these days is mostly used in a theatrical, performance kind of environment and basically sometimes what happens is a couple of haka groups that perform and do well, will see a group in the audience jump up and do a 'haka tautoko', kind of instead of an applause and that's something that happens in New Zealand".
What are some phrases metalheads should shout at your concerts?
"A lot of Māori at our concerts say 'Tu Meke' which is kind of saying 'too much', which I kind of guess is a way of supporting someone, you say 'Tu Meke' it's like saying cheers.
Outside of Alien Weaponry what hobbies or interests do you have?
"Me personally I like to make music outside of the band and metal, I mess around with my friend and making lutes and sh*t. I also do a bit of drawing and painting, I'm quite a creative person so, I'm into that kind of stuff. I'm also into long-boarding which is pretty fun, basically just floating around, hanging out with mates and doing whatever."
What plans do you have after Bloodstock? New album? Any thanks?
"We're basically just continuing our European tour, that's the plan. Regarding a second album we've already got some concepts, I've already started coming up with riffs, I feel like you can definitely be expecting a follow-up album and another follow-up after that, everyone stay tuned.
Thanks to everyone who has been supporting us thus far, you guys are f*cking amazing and keep it up, because at the end of the day we wouldn't be doing this without everyone who supports us, so cheers!"
Often when it comes to the metal scenes of Europe, the smaller countries tend to get left out of the mix, countries like Malta have spewed out a fine array of metal bands from it's small scene. Bands like Beheaded, Abysmal Torment and Twenty-Six Other-Worlds have all made a name for themselves in their own respective ways with perhaps Beheaded being the most famous Maltese Metal band.
But it's the big bands who depend on smaller bands to carry the scene forward, bands like Bound To Prevail who keep the Maltese Death Metal style afloat and going for years to come. GMA interrogated the five-piece about their scene, their debut EP 'Omen of Iniquity' which came out last year and their future plans.
"Bound To Prevail will shortly be the first Death Metal band to headline a mainstream festival in Malta"
For those who do not know of Bound To Prevail, could you please give us a brief history of the band?
"Bound To Prevail was founded in the fall of 2014, and we quickly set our sights on staking a claim on the local underground Metal scene. We had a well-received debut live performance at the
Malta Xtreme Metal Assault Festival in the summer of 2016 which was quickly followed by a number of shows, including supporting slots for renowned international artists such as Fleshgod Apocalypse and later with Vader, Suffocation, Venom, Inc., Entombed A.D and Mayhem."
What do your families think of your music? Are they into metal music themselves?
"Most of our families are into some style of rock but are not exactly into metal themselves. That
being said, we’re glad to say that they fully support us in our endeavours to promote our style of music and that obviously helps when creating our songs and dealing with all the stress which is part and parcel of sustaining a fast-moving band nowadays."
What is the general public opinion towards metal music, is it supported a lot?
"As with other countries, metal music is not really a mainstream style of music in Malta. The reactions from non-metalheads when told that we play Death Metal are usually still quite hilarious. The stigma which is associated with metal however may be ebbing somewhat; Bound To Prevail will shortly be the first death metal band to headline a mainstream festival in Malta."
You released your debut EP 'Omen of Iniquity' last year, what was the reception like? Did you do a launch party?
"Since 'Omen of Iniquity' was self-released, we had the flexibility of planning and executing the
launch ourselves. The official release was at the Death Feast 10th anniversary in Andernach,
Germany. We also organised a launch party at a local rock club for additional promotion which was met with quite a favourable reaction from local fans who really appreciate the album. Since the release we have seen our fan base grow both locally as well as abroad through our efforts in promoting the band and our music using all means available to us"
St Helen's Basilica, Birkirkara / source: Wikipedia
Could you tell us briefly what each song title means and what the inspiration behind them are?
"'Omen of Iniquity' can be perceived by some as a concept release, but of course the lyrics are
written in a way which is subject to each listener’s imagination on how they are interpreted.
The first song on the album is about a rotten world by the hands of greed and power which at some point all become meaningless and civilisations cast into desolation and what still exists must venture into utter brutality to endure and survive, a 'Survival of the Sickest'.
'The Throne where Gods Bleed' is an unfolding tale about how the feeble always need to believe and worship something divine by creating a pure godlike personification, yet its roots are corrupt; in the end someone always has to open their mind and prove that such gods breathe, feel and bleed like everyone else!
The third song, 'Aeons of Carnage', inspiration comes from the centuries and times of vast religions with all their idols and saviours of hope only bringing on conflicts among those fools surrounded by hypocrisy who prefer to exist in an illusion of order rather than live in reality and at the final peak only the downfall of those contradicting faiths struck by chaos shall bring stability.
'Contorted Divergence' narrates the different path every individual may take yet still convene on the same sinful path, making us understand who we really are... after all we all want to dominate the pit.
And finally 'Irreverent Progeny' is about the ultimate being whoever it may be; to rebel against existence and its laws, gods and whatnot, to bring them to their knees and unleashing the bringers of ruin and conquering devastation in all its lethal glory."
What challenges as a metal band from Malta do you face? Surely it must be hard to tour abroad?
"One of the biggest issues we have is travelling to foreign gigs since the only option is air travel
which obviously presents challenges in the form of additional expenses and time. One of our
goals for 2019 is to organise European tours which make more sense for us in terms of travel
time and costs, however if a good opportunity presents itself to play in a festival or a single gig,
we’ll surely take it."
For metalheads visiting Birkirkara what sights, attractions and bars should they visit?
"Well, Malta is a pretty small country (with Birkirkara being the second largest village) so you can’t really go anywhere without bumping into a great bar or club. Malta has 2 bars dedicated to metal
music (Kickstart in Sta. Venera & The Garage in Zebbug), so if you’re ever in Malta, they’re definitely worth checking out. Other than that, there’s always some event going on every weekend, not to mention that, as with all Mediterranean islands, it’s a really great place to visit in the summer months!"
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
"We are currently working overtime to promote Bound To Prevail beyond our shores and we’re also in talks with a number of booking and management agencies to help us organise European tours and gigs to establish Bound To Prevail as an up and coming pillar of Maltese death metal. We’re also writing new material for a new full length which we’re planning on releasing under a solid label."
Usually when you think of The Caribbean you think of white sandy beaches, palm trees rustling in the wind, coconuts laying on the floor, brilliant blue seas and the unmistakable sound of carnivals, steel drums and tropical storms.
But among all of the cliches associated with this area of countless islands is a widespread plethora of metal scenes... metal music naturally. The Dominican Republic is one such country (on the island of Hispaniola; shares border with Haiti) who along with the likes of Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago and Cuba are the leaders of the Caribbean Metal movement.
One of the most notable Dominican Republican bands Archaios gained some fame for being the first Dominican Republic Metal band to be signed to an American label... but our attention is not with them, it's with the instrumentalists Metalurgia of whom released two albums this year: "Dimensiones: Espacio" and "Dimensiones: Tiempo". We interrogated their bassist Guillermo Armenteros about his native scene, the album releases and what their band history is among other things.
For those who do not know of Metalurgia, could you please give us a brief history of the band?
"The band started in mid 2012 as bassist Guillermo Armenteros's solo project. He is the driving force and main composer. He played in a number of punk and hardcore bands and decided to create an outlet for more complex music. At the initial stages of the band vocals were considered, but the idea was abandoned in favour of writing material that would not have the worries and constraints of fitting in vocal melodies and arrangements. The band released "Aleaciones" in 2013, recorded, mixed and mastered by Joel Duarte at JDS Studios. Alejandro Chahin (Macabra, Medulah) and Francis Cronox participated in this release handling drum and guitar duties. There are plans to record and revisit this album again in the future as it is currently not available.
Fast forward a couple of years, and Guillermo has more ideas and a better grasp of music and arranging in general. Elementos writing and creation process begins in April 2016. This time around Carlos Yael Santos Pantaleon (Macabra, Odioso) is at the helm behind the desk recording, mixing and handling guitar duties. Daniel Acosta (Nameless Absolution, Progenitus) has guest solos on a couple of tracks and would later join the band on a permanent basis. Mario Luis Ventura (Antihippie, Cosmic Hell) joins the band as its permanent drummer. The mastering process is outsourced to Brett Caldas Lima at Towerstudios. The band releases "Elementos" in early 2017 and take the stage the previous December at Destruccion Masiva, one of the biggest metal festivals in the Caribbean and the largest in the Dominican Republic.
The band then heads into the studio in April 2017 and begins writing and recording "Dimensiones: Tiempo y Espacio". Recording and mixing duties, as well as additional production and guitars are done by Ariel Sanchez (Nux, Epsilon). Miguel Sosa (Macabra, Medulah) joins the band after being a live guitarist during some time. The album is mastered by Brett Caldas Lima. "Dimensiones" is released the following year, to much critical acclaim.
You released your double album "Dimensiones: Tiempo y Espacio" this year, what was reception like? Will you do a Caribbean tour in support of the album?
"The reception has been positive, with many people praising its flawless execution and atmospherics. It is a huge undertaking in this day and age to release a double album, and the cohesiveness of the material is something that a lot of listeners have given us credit for. Another element that was unexpected and appreciated was the additional instrumentation (theremin, acoustic guitars, banjo, minor percussion, synths and pianos) not common in mainstream metal.
We have no concrete plans to tour at the moment, but some local shows and an album release show are planned in the near future. The cost of travelling and booking shows from the Dominican Republic to the United States, Europe or other major markets are very high. We highly value the opportunity to share our music online on all major platforms because getting out on the road is something out of our reach or cost effective at the moment."
You included some non-traditional metal instruments like the theremin and banjo, what was the inspiration behind the decision?
"The inspiration behind this was the need for experimentation and trying to set ourselves apart from the pack in metal and electric guitar driven music. Each additional instrument was over analysed and given much consideration as to where it would fit. We feel that the additional layers add to the listeners experience."
As a metal band from the Dominican Republic, what challenges are there? You share a border with Haiti, do you know of any rock / metal bands out there? What is your scene like?
"The main challenge we face is that there are no dedicated studios for the type of music we make. Some previous members who have been a part of the band no longer operate in the country and have moved abroad trying to make a name for themselves. That’s why we record and mix the material ourselves with whatever means we can come up with. There are bigger more expensive studios available that handle pop and Latin music, but we feel they don’t offer us what we are looking for in terms of expertise in our genre and we feel more comfortable handling the production ourselves, as we live and breathe this music.
I know there are some bands in Haiti, but other than that we don’t know much else about them. If its tough to make music in the Dominican Republic, I imagine our neighbouring country of Haiti, which is more impoverished, must be next to impossible.
Our local metal scene is very small compared to major markets like the USA or even some Latin American countries like Mexico or Argentina. We also don’t have dedicated venues for our genre. The members of our scene know each other as we are a tight knit group of people and its been the same group for the last 10 to 15 years, with few people and generations coming along. Local shows have an average of 100-150 attendance. If a band wants to make it, they have to move abroad. Most shows are put on by our friends and we have a collective called Santuario Producciones which organizes Destruccion Masiva, the show to play if you’re a metal band in the country. Destruccion Masiva has been held every year for about 15 years and has grown to about 1500 in attendance."
La Puerta Del Conde, Santo Domingo / Source: Diario Libre
The Caribbean has produced many metal bands from Trinidad & Tobago to Cuba, from Aruba to The Bahamas. Could you see every inhabited island in time having a metal scene and a possible Caribbean Metal festival?
"The thing about metal is that it is so divisive that either you hate or love it. There is no in between. The people that like the genre generally are in it for life and feel very strongly towards it. With internet access and global connectivity ever so more present in our daily lives the reaches of metal surely are present in every country with internet access. This is why we feel that eventually, if not already so, every country will have a flourishing metal scene, with bands putting on live shows and having original material and releases. As we mentioned before, Destruccion Masiva by Santuario Producciones, books international bands as headliners, besides the local favourites."
For metalheads visiting Santo Domingo, what are some of the places, sights and attractions they should go and see?
"Sadly, there aren’t any metal hang outs I’d recommend as must see. We’d just go to wherever a show is taking place at the time. It may be anywhere from a dive bar at la colonial zone to some mini-market or bodega. If its December, then Destruccion Masiva is the place to be. Each year its held at a different venue, but its an outdoor festival."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
"For the remainder of the year, we will be writing and recording an experimental EP titled, "Paradigmas" (Spanish for Paradigms). The name is a reference to a shift in what it means to be a progressive metal outfit. Our goal with this release, which is slated to be out by the end of the year, is to incorporate symphonic elements to our music. We are writing string and horn sections and one day would like to perform with an orchestra live. We feel that the music we are focusing on now could greatly benefit with these additional layers."
Whilst metal music is still condoned in some Islamic countries, there are some countries who have opened up and began to accept that metal music is not a form of devil worship but more so a safe and creative way of venting anger, hatred and ridding oneself of all negative thoughts and vibes. That it is a truly majestic and awesome way to express feelings without causing harm to others.
Algeria like it's Arabic-African neighbours has a metal scene that is growing and expanding out of it's own turf. Tunisia has Myrath, Egypt has Scarab, Morocco has a slightly quiet scene, Libya had a scene (but is rekindling), but now it's Algeria's turn and it is Lelahell who is flying the flag for the Algerian Metal scene, it is Lelahell who we interrogate regarding this shift and of course their music activities - new album mainly.
Redouane (Lelahel) filled us in with all the details.
"When you play metal there are no frontiers... the metal community is one big global family!"
For those who do not know of Lelahell, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"Lelahell is an Algerian death metal band founded in 2010. Our music is death metal with native melodies. We combine the English and Arabic languages and sometimes use other languages (Spanish and French). We actually have 3 releases (1 EP and 2 albums) and played many shows abroad (15 countries). We are 3 musicians, Ramzy on bass, Slavebaster on drums and myself Redouane on guitar and vocals."
You just released your latest lyric video, 'Ignis Fatuus', what is the meaning behind the song and what was the reception like?
"Ignis Fatuus is that phosphorescent light seen at night over marshy ground due to combustion of gas from organic matters. All those things created by humans: the money, the success, the power, and more... are fake, are illusions, an erroneous perception of the reality! It was the first song published before the official release, and people liked it a lot! You can see the positive comments in the YouTube video!"
What was the reception like for your second and latest album 'Alif'? Will you tour in support of the album?
"We got an excellent response from the audience and the Media's. All the reviews we got are very encouraging and positive: Foto Conciertos (9.5), Broken Tomb (9), Hintf webzine (8.9), Rock Hard SK (4.1/5), and many more… we have a release party in Algiers in August and a Euro tour in November, please get in touch for more information."
What challenges and problems as an Algerian Metal band you face? Is Metal music frowned upon by the general public, are there any instances where people were arrested, etc?
"Algeria is not a radical Islamist country, it is more liberal than you can imagine. We never had been arrested for playing metal. We just got some stupid manipulations from some Media's that claim that metal is the music of Satan, but it is the same problem in Western countries. The main problems are the likes of non-metal countries: no venues for shows, few rehearsals studios, no support from government, equipment and more…"
Makam Echahid, Algiers / source: World Monument Guide
It seems the entire MENA region has been touched by metal music, do you feel it has brought people together regardless of religion, culture, politics, etc?
"When you play metal there are no frontiers, we listen to the same bands, we buy the same albums, and we wear the same shirts. The metal community is one big global family!"
Do you feel it's a matter of time before the rest of Africa develops their own metal music scene? Could you envisage an African Metal festival?
"When you see the map of metal bands by country you notice that Finland, Sweden, and Norway are clearly outpacing the world when it comes to metal bands. Finland and Denmark are two of the three least corrupt countries in the world and Sweden is the most socially advanced country in the world.
That means that the development of metal music is directly linked to the social and political situation of a country, so wait and see…"
For metalheads visiting Algiers, what sights / attractions could you recommend to them to go see / do, what customary should they also know i.e. what is considered polite and what they should not do (as to not offend).
"I don’t know maybe go to the casbah (the old city), or Tipaza to visit the old Romanian ruins, go to the beach, it depends on your main interests. About the second question it is the same as in your country."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
"Starting the writing process of the third full length, an euro tour in November and working on a big tour in 2019!
Support Lelahell or die!"
Spain has always had a decent metal scene manifesting in itself, with a handful of bands going on to establish international recognition. But what about it's Metalcore sect? It's hard to think of Metalcore existing in the Iberian nation, but it's bands like Flames At Sunrise who make it known - their infectious blend of Metalcore, Post-Hardcore, Nu Metal and Heavy Metal all come together to create a sound that is truly modern yet truly distinct as it cannot be easily classified as any one genre.
Having signed to Wormholedeath in support of their debut album "Born In Embers", this ten-legged rampaging bull needs to be tamed and thus it was right for GMA to give Flames At Sunrise a right grilling interrogation.
"In Spain, most media attention goes to the greatest hits of the 80's and 90's and to the new stars of programmes such as Operación Triunfo."
For those who have not heard of Flames At Sunrise, could you please give us a brief history of the band?
"We are a metal band from Barcelona who formed in 2011. We always wanted to bring our personal visions of music, based on our influences from different modern metal styles, and create a new message from the sound experimentation.
After 3 years on the stage, we released our first EP called “Never Coming Home”. This EP contains 4 songs: “Never Coming Home”, “Take It Down” and “Bitch” (with a video-clip for each one), and “Grievance”.
The release of "Born In Embers" came out with two video-clips: “III Faces” and “Ark Flesh”, and a lot of good news. The first one is that “III Faces” got more than 1,000 visits in less than 12 hours and is proposed as one of the best Spanish video clips in 2017 by “METAL ESPAÑOL"
How does it feel to sign with Wormholedeath? What is the support for Catalonian / Spanish Metal bands generally?; do you prefer to be referred as Catalonian?
"We are very proud to have signed with Wormholedeath and it’s a real pleasure to work with people who take our project as seriously as we do. We really hope we grow up together.
About the support, is something a bit hard to talk about. There’s a real fan base who support a lot of projects in the underground, but, obviously, metal is not a mainstream in our country, or at least, not modern metal. But we try to stay optimistic and work so hard to offer something special to everyone who wants to listen to us a few minutes.
We don’t really mind nationalities. Is up to everyone consider where they came from, and where the want to belong. We belong to our music and to every place where we play it."
How would you describe your sound, sounds like you have elements of Nu Metal, Post-Hardcore, Metalcore and Heavy Metal in your music.
"We tried a lot to put a genre to our music, but it got no sense. Everyone in the band got their own influences and their own way to understand music and work with it. We just try to put all of our ideas together and get to an agreement. Maybe is the time to kill all those genres in metal and talk about something more global. We like to call our music capsule core because we like Dragon Ball and ‘cause it contents a lot of different kind of genres in a song."
What challenges as a band have you had to face thus far and as musicians personally?
"As a band we still struggle with the Spanish metal tradition of the eighties. It's hard to get a new audience to listen to your songs and get involved, but little by little we are seeing results.
Each one of us has had problems dedicating ourselves to music, bearing in mind that we cannot live professionally from it yet. But we are still training as musicians and trying to expand our knowledge to become self-sufficient as a band."
Barcelona Cathedral / source: Spain Attractions
What does the song title 'Ill Faces' mean? Did you have any ideas to put forward for the music video itself?
"'III faces' refers to a Japanese proverb that speaks about the three faces that each person has inside them: the first is the one you show to the world; the second is the one you show to your friends and family; and the third is the one you only know and defines who you really are. Thus, in the music video we try to expose the three faces of a character and how the real one, the one that defines you, drags you and ends up showing itself."
Will you go on tour in support of your debut album? What was reception like for the album?
"Yes. We’re going to be touring in Spain and some places in Europe in the next few months. The reception of our album was better than we expected. We knew we were releasing an album with strange ideas and we didn't know how the public would react, but we were surprised by the wide acceptance of a single like 'III faces'."
Would you say the overall Spanish Metal scene has had more attention drawn towards it over the last decade or so?
"We don’t think so. In Spain, most of the media attention goes to the greatest hits of the 80's and 90's and to the new stars of programmes such as Operación Triunfo. The metal scene continues to be nourished by old groups and tributes, but little by little it opens up to new experiences."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
"We’re going to be touring and we’re going to be working on some new things that, with luck, you’ll be able to hear and see in September of this year. Thank you very much for the interview!"