It's a definite fact that Birmingham, or indeed the West Midlands have become a hotbed for emerging metal bands over the decades with of course Black Sabbath setting the trend and metal music scene(s) in motion. Forwarding on to 2013 and a new eight-legged outfit has emerged with sincere intent, the intent to crush sexist and racial discrimination in metal music, but also naturally to pummel out some fine songs that'll give them the platform to slay the masses with... that band is Aramantus.
Aramantus might have got their name from the 'Aramanth' plant... but we won't indulge in that, instead we let the quartet do the unveiling of the facts surrounding them...
How did you guys form, was there any challenges in the beginning?
"Over the years, Aramantus have seen a few member changes, however this current line up was formed in late 2015. With Elijah (Guitar), Cici (Bass) and Alice (Drums) already in the band, a need for a new vocalist arose; a role which Nyah filled in perfectly. In mid 2016 we decided to continue as a four piece after losing a guitarist. At first, we were worried our sound would be affected too much to continue without a second guitarist, however after adapting our originals to fit our new live sound, we found that we work much better as a four piece!"
Do you feel that females still receive stigma for playing metal music? What advice could you give aspiring female musicians?
"This is such a controversial subject still to this day. Of course, we ourselves have had occasions where we have been judged or not taken seriously due to, not only our age, but the fact that three out of the four of us are female. Quite possibly, there are still some people not keen on the idea of women having part in the 'man's world' of metal, however we have found that most people are now very welcoming of female musicians.
With female-fronted / female musician nights being held regurlarly around the UK, it's not hard to find places where you'll be welcomed and not judged. It's only more regurlarly we have found that people are beginning to make less comments on the fact we're "Good for a girl" and more comments based on our playing ability instead. If you are an aspiring female musician, then our advice is just to go out there and do your thing! Play well, rock hard and not care if one person in about a hundred doesn't like you for being female. At the end of the day, you're a musician just like any man, gender shouldn't matter!"
Do you feel that the UK metal scene isn't as strong as once was? Or do you feel it comes in leaps and bounds?
"The metal scene in Birmingham at least, certainly is still going strong. There isn't one weekend where there will be no gigs to go to. With amazing rock bars and music venues, there are always gigs and events happening throughout the UK. The only problem with this, is that with so much going on at one time, gigs can feel emptier with a smaller crowd. But most of the time this isn't because the scene is 'dying' it's simply because people have so much choice that it's sometimes hard to pull an audience. We know for a fact that some of our closest friends and fans, will travel the UK to see unsigned bands through a pure love of music. If the scene wasn't as strong, people wouldn't still be so committed to travelling to see their favourite bands."
Have you had any fans emerge from unsuspecting places? For 2017 are you looking for shows abroad as well as the UK?
"We have met most of our fans at our gigs really. We have had people from other countries contact us online and we always find that really cool! It's crazy to think that people overseas are beginning to hear about us. We are definitely interested in going abroad for some gigs next year, as we feel it would be such an amazing experience to explore the metal community across the world. Possibly Europe for 2017? We'll have to see what comes our way..."
People say local scenes are 'dying', what are your thoughts on this? Who are to blame for the supposed decline?
"We already have touched on this sort of thing, as it's very similar to question three. However, if you were to ask who is to blame for this decline then it is extremely hard to say really. If a gig is empty, then supposedly it could be due to the scene dying. More often than not though, it's due to bands not promoting a gig enough (Admittedly there are times when you can promote and promote and still no one turns up). Sometimes there are just too many gigs happening on one night, and that will have an effect on each gig and the amount of people there. It really is hard to pinpoint the blame of the scene dying on anyone really!"
With Brexit on the cards, are you worried that this will dent UK band's chances of touring abroad? Or are you not phased by it?
"Without looking too deeply into the situation with Brexit at the moment, it could possibly become at least a little more tricky to get abroad. Especially to Europe, for example. If bands all need individual Visa's to travel to Germany, Holland, Finland etc, then it is certainly going to be more of a pain to arrange a tour over there. As we haven't actively sought to book a gig abroad yet, we haven't researched the situation too much yet. However, it definitely would be something to look into for bands and artists wishing to go abroad in the future."
What can we expect from Aramantus in the next few months? Will you consider entering Metal 2 The Masses?
"It's a surprise! We can't reveal too much yet but we can promise a new release of some form in the very near future! It's going to be a taste of our new sound as a four piece, and the start of our journey to our first album, after having released our debut EP in May 2015 with our old line up, we feel it's the right time to show off the new us. We are going to focus on writing and venturing out further in the UK in 2017 and so, unfortunately, we aren't going to be able to compete in Metal to The Masses this year. However we do wish all the bands the best of luck! We thoroughly enjoyed last years competition, and playing the final was incredible."
Finally have you got any hello's, thank yous you wish to send out?
"We would just like to thank everyone that has helped, supported and been with us throughout our journey so far. Everyone that's came to our gigs, helped us with recording, videos, promotion and so much more; well we can't thank them enough. We'd be no where without them! We also would like to thank the people that have been with us from the start, our biggest help over the years, and that's our parents. They've been our guides, and helped us with getting to and from gigs. We feel very privileged to have them put up with our rubbish!"
"French bands are now playing they own style of metal..... now we can feel the “French touch” in metal"
Having set the French Metal scene alight with their brandished form of 'experimental metal' to say the least, let's face it mixing together Groove Metal, Nu Metal, Alternative Metal and in later releases Deathcore into one sound, is a bold statement, not only for craving creativity but also sticking up the middle finger towards convention.
Now with their own signature sound echoing across Europe like a air-raid siren, it was about time GMA contained this unrelenting beast of a band, strap them down and give them our own form of grilling. Unfortunately all except Staif managed to escape, so he was forced to answer our questions, here they are:-
Your new album 'Ankaa' is now out, where would you place this in your discography? Would you say its the best one you've done to date? How is it different?
I guess that each band is pretty proud of its brand new album and thinks it's the best. Personalty, I'm really proud of "Ankaa", it was a huge work and I learnt many new things while doing it! It's my favourite for sure, I contributed my entire self in it as I composed the songs, wrote the lyrics (except 3 lyrics I wrote with my friend Faustine Berardo), engineered the parts and produced the album. I mixed many new styles with our metal and I think the result is described as “Modern Metal”, crossing between violent and ambient parts, but especially I believe it's a sincere and unbending opus. There is more electronic parts and more guests on it, that helped us to give a new vision of what can be ETHS. I tried to keep the essence of the band but, in the same time, to bring it in places where we never been. Each song has its own universe and I have built this album as a walk through these different atmospheres, like a passage from the oppressive darkness to soothing clarity.
French Metal music certainly seems to becoming more recognisable outside of France, could you please comment on what you've noticed regarding this?
I feel that French bands are now playing they own style of metal. For many years, the bands tried to imitate the US bands but now we can feel the “French touch” in metal, I'm really glad of this! We always had great bands who played all over the world (like Loudblast or Mass Hysteria) but since Gojira exported themselves, that, for sure, opened a door for all the other French metal bands playing good stuff. It's like if every one in the world was saying: “hey, French Metal bands can also make good metal, let's listen!” Many thanks to those bands who opened the path for the French Metal over the world!
With Eurovision coming up, have you ever contemplated playing the song contest for France?
No, I don't think we fit with the kind of music they're looking for! You can notice that no metal band has ever played for France in Eurovision. By the way that would be great to prove that France has got talent in Metal, but in France, Metal bands are seen like strange people who like to scream, the path is still long to enforce metal presence in French mass media's...
What language are you singing on your album? Could you give a brief summary of what each song means?
We are mostly singing in French, but also in English on two tracks and some parts are sung in Arabic. The name of each song give a good understanding of the lyrics, and I don't really like to explain song by song. I prefer let everybody find its own interpretation, we always wanted it like that but there are many keys in the lyrics and the artwork. "Ankaa" is the brightest star of the phoenix constellation, it's an idea of rebirth (for the band but also me personally) and in a way, a cyclical vision of time, “we go where we came from through the scale of the universe”. But it's also a vision of the human being, who can be as wonderful and creative than harmful and destructive. I find that pretty disturbing, for example, the song 'Nixi Dii' talks about infanticide, I just can't understand how a parent can kill his own child... some of my lyrics are quite violent because I need to externalize what bothers me.
How was it working with Soilwork's Dirk Verbeuren? Could you see yourselves working with him again?
That was really great, Dirk is a drums genius, it's so easy to work with such an awesome musician! He fed the drums parts and the songs with his incredible musicality, I was really happy each time I received a new song, he gave to 'Ankaa' its final touch. If we have the opportunity, that would be pleasure to work with him again! But I have to say that we also are really happy of our new drummer R.U.L who is doing a great job on stage.
Will you be undertaking a UK / EU tour in support of the album? Or have you got any dates already confirmed?
We deeply hope to make an 'Ankaa' UK / EU Tour as soon as possible! It's on booking as the album was just released one week ago. We have many shows in France for the first step and then we'll go everywhere we'll can to come present our brand new opus. I hope to quickly come in the UK because I really like to play there!
What song is your favourite firstly and for those new to Eths, what song would you recommend?
Hard to say, it's like choosing one of your children, but I would say “Anima Exhalare” which is on our second album “Tératologie”, I wrote the song and the lyrics, it's a part of me and of my story... On 'Ankaa', I like pretty much all of the songs but my favourite is the end triptych “Alnitak Alnilam Mintaka”, the lyrics mean a lot for me and the music is really a new step in our discography, a brand new horizon for the band.
Finally have you got any hello's and thank you's you wish to send out?
First, thank you for your interview and I deeply thank all those who helped us to make this album! I also really thank all of our fans that keep believing in the band despite hard times and all those who gave a chance to 'Ankaa' and listened to it. We hope to meet all of you on stage for the 'Ankaa' Tour!!!
'Ankaa' is out now via Season of Mist
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