With the exception of the South African Metal scene, the vast swathe of national scenes across Sub-Sahara have either come and gone or are on the rise just at a slow pace. Sure countries like Botswana might just be behind South Africa, but between them and the other scenes is a gap as wide as the African plains.
GMA spoke to Kenyan Metal musician Martin Kanja (Lust Of A Dying Breed and The Seeds Of Datura) about his native metal scene, which although isn't too far behind Botswana in terms of progression, still has a long way to go to make it's recognition internationally known; in doing so also sheds light on metal's spread across Sub-Sahara Africa.
So firstly how did you get into metal music? What do your parents think of metal music?
"I started out listening to rock and roll since high school. After I left high school I moved to Nairobi with the desire of forming a band as I am from Nakuru. I was just a teenager and I needed something heavier than rock. There used to be a show I would tune into called 'Metal To Midnight' hosted by one Shiv Mandavia, vocalist of Blackened Death metal act Abscence Of Light. I had started to formerly research about metal and I just got into it really good as I love the energy and positive power. My parents know I've always done what I love but the opposition was there. I can't fake so I just continue being myself."
Can you tell us the histories of Lust Of A Dying Breed and The Seeds Of Datura.
"I formed LOADB together with its bassist Timothy Opiko soon after I moved to Nairobi. He came up with the name and I dug it and we wanted to play metal in a fashion never seen here before in Kenya, let alone the world. Abdalla Issa Khalid came through after 4 months of it's formation. He was a student at JKUAT (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology) and he had passion like I never seen in anyone for metal. We got our permanent drummer Larry Kim after a lot of hardship as good drummers are so rare. We met guitarist Sam Kiranga sometime in 2011 and he settled in nicely as we loved his playing and dedication, and then year we went ahead and wrote the record "Cat Of Nine Tails" and released it in 2012; we formed LOADB in 2010.
We went into hiatus after its release due to various personal and economic issues in 2014. I Went into the sales and logistics end of the security industry until 2015. I became self-employed in 2015 and I could now relax and think what I wanted in life. I love metal and had always been writing music like everyday and every week. I met Dani Kobimbo as he wanted to interview me for a magazine he ran called 'Heavy And The Beast' that gives coverage on the Kenyan Rock and Metal Scene and our friendship took off. We found ourselves in studio one time in Kiserian ran by Last Years Tragedy's vocalist David Mburu, we jammed out and I was surprised how well he could sing. We decided to collaborate and and continue jamming. I went to manage my family's tourist camp in Masai Mara at the end of 2015 and I had a burst of creativity and I wrote lyrics like crazy. So I returned to Nairobi and we moved in with Dani and we wrote music and articles.
Our current drummer Lawrence Muchemi comes from my home-town and he had always hit me up, we hang out and he doubles up as the vocalist of Irony Destroyed. So we started hanging out looking for places to jam, just the three of us. Shortly after we went to Tigoni, to a studio called Realm Of Mist in June 2016. The owner Harvey Herr invited us to jam and chill at the studio and that's where we met our first guitarist Sultan Rauf as he worked there. On the same day we met Slammy Karugu whose is also bassist for the punk band Powerslide and our current bassist Mordecai Ogayo who was playing violin. We started regularly and Wilson Muia came through a few months later and we made a whole song the first day we met. The name Seeds of Datura came about one afternoon. To embody out our individual energies as one family and our thought provoking music for mankind."
What is it like being a metal musician in Kenya? What challenges are there? What is the public perception of metal music?
"First of all it's all about the degree of focus and passion you have for your art. It's not easy or anything but we don't do it for that. We do it for the love of it all. There are many challenges, Kenya being a dominantly Christian country has a negative perception towards Rock let alone Metal. Also getting equipment is also a challenge when bands are starting out. Shows don't happen all the time too and most times we have to organize shows ourselves. The scene is steadily growing and venues are steadily getting packed. The recording is also a part that musicians find a challenge in as getting the right sound for metal and getting a good producer who understands the music. They are a quiet few but The Powers have blessed us with always bumping into the right people. "
What do the authorities think of the music? Are youth encouraged to learn music?
"The authorities don't support our music of course because we embody a millennial counter-culture contrary to the popular. The youth have access to the internet at a very young age and they begin to get exposed really early. They are encouraged to do a lot of other stuff they don't like but they are seeing how much a waste it all is with all the corruption and extortion going on and they are choosing their own paths and thinking for themselves. At least from how I see things and what I've been exposed to."
How long has the Kenyan Metal scene been going? Do you know of any bands from South Sudan, Tanzania, Ethiopia or Somalia?; Could you see metal music reaching every African nation?
"The earliest I've heard that metal has been around must be around the early 2005's. Further back like the 70's, rock bands were In circulation. Yeah I know Threatening and Vale Of Amonition from Uganda. Haven't heard of metal bands from the other countries you've asked. Yes I do. There are very serious scenes in Mozambique, Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa, Egypt, Angola, Morocco, Guinea, just to name a few. Personally I think Africa is the most Metal place on Earth with how we are portrayed in international media and shit. It's quiet different, but the dark spirituality and ancestral roots tie very deeply with the real issues that metal chants about."
For metalheads visiting Kenya, what sights and attractions could you recommend? Are there any places that aren't generally safe to visit?
"I'd recommend the Masai Mara, Tea Fields of Limuru, Aberdare Forest, Obsydian Studios, Sanctuary Farm Naivasha. Lol"
What plans does both bands have for 2018? and are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Content, content, content, releases, releases, releases. Yeah shout out to all the real ones in the scenes doing their thing. Shout out to Tshomarelo Mosaka of the Botswanan Death Metal band Overthrust. Shout out to Austine Nwankwo of Nigeria's Audio Inferno. Shout out to Patrick Davidson of Metal 4 Africa. Shout out to Truka Kasser of African Metal. Got a lot of shout outs but I'll take all year. Keep it heavy my people. It's either a pinkie or its metal horns \m/"
Not many people could envisage Bhutan having a metal scene, for a landlocked country high up in the Himalayas, some would question whether this Buddhist country could ever spawn off a metal scene. Well despite the band Forsaken seemingly being inactive, they were fundamental to the scene nonetheless.
Kinley Phyntso was more than happy to give us a brief interview of how he got into metal music, the state of the Bhutanese Metal scene and how Forsaken came about.
How did you become involved in metal music? What do your parents think of the music genre?
"My entry into metal (music) would have to be back in 2006 when a friend of mine brought Linkin Park's 'Hybrid Theory' to class and made me listen to it. It was pretty heavy compared to what I was accustomed to (mostly 70's and 80's music thanks to my mum). Now I listen to way heavier stuff than Linkin Park but they definitely were my gateway band into metal. My parents and family being the open people they are have never had any issues with the genre. They don't particularly like it but they don't tell me to switch it off when it's blaring through my speakers either."
Could you tell us how Forsaken formed, the band history and challenges faced as a metal band in Bhutan?
"I was contacted around 2012 by Ujwal Pradhan to do vocals for a band he was putting together for a battle of the bands. That was where I met the rest of the guys; Arpan Tamang, Singye Namgay, Lhakpa, and Sangay Khandu. We took part in the competition, won it and kept playing at our local pub here, the Mojo Park.
Being a metal band in a small country such as ours which is still developing, it was and still is hard to stay afloat. Many people didn't really get why we headbanged on stage or why I was growling and screaming into a microphone. They just never considered it music and we were not really in demand so we did what was the logical thing to do. We started adding some well-known rock songs into our metal set-list so that we could get shows considering there are not many venues for any band to perform at here in Thimphu."
Could you tell us what the Bhutanese Metal scene is like? (studio's, venues, bands, media, metal music following, etc)?
"The Bhutanese metal scene is a very, very small niche of people. There are no metal radio stations or even metal played on mainstream radio. It's just guys and girls who have metal playing on their phones and iPods, wearing their favourite band shirts (which are hard to come by) and musicians who just play in their bedrooms. It is not dead but it is not thriving either. We maybe have like one or two festivals in a year but that is about it. There are not many venues which entertain metal music and metal bands that do form have mostly fallen to obscurity. "
How did the Bhutanese Metal scene start? What challenges are there on a wider scope, rather than band level - government opposition per se?
"In a year we try to do at least two metal festivals called 'Painkiller' in the winters and 'Namchag Duitoen' (Sky Iron Fest) in the summer.
And the turnout is about 100 to 150 people which is good by our standards. Budget is always a hassle since we don't have sponsors, mostly because we do our shows in small pubs and business owners don't see much of a point in investing money in a festival being held in a dimly lit setting. Outdoor festivals cost way too much money and just requiresway too much paperwork to get through.
Since the metal scene here is a very small one, finding bands to fill up a two day festivals bill can be tough especially since a lot of the bands cancel at last minute or don't even have proper equipment of their own. These festivals survive because a few of us put money in to proper advertising and getting the word out there as well as asking our friends to lend their guitars or amps or jacks to some of the bands who don't really have very good gear. Like I said, it's a very small scene with even fewer people who actually play this kind of music and the scene is usually very quiet until the festivals come rolling around. Then silence again."
Whitechapel. To some it's the area of East London famed for Jack The Ripper, but in metal context it's an American Deathcore band with a splattering of various influences pocketed here and there from Black Metal to Groove Metal. However this quintet (drummer Ben Harclerode left this year) are more than your generic breakdown-laden, riff chugging clone that seems to dominate the ever-exasperated Deathcore genre. They are the leviathan of the genre, avoiding the cliches and common aesthetics found entrenched in most Deathcore bands and thus pose themselves as truly unique.
They were welcomed back to Bloodstock this year with open arms and certainly gave the punters their monies worth.
GMA took time out to talk to Gabe Crisp, the Whitechapel bassist about the band's history,
"I'd love Whitechapel to be part of a video game, that would be cool. I'd be down for something action-packed for sure."
Whitechapel has been going for 11 years now, what has been the most challenging part of the band's career so far? Did the band name originate from the East London area?
"The fact that you're constantly leaving home and things like that, we're all home buddies... things like driving 5 minutes to work is a lot easier than flying across the world you know? But nah we love it, it comes as part of the territory.
Our band name came from the Whitechapel area in London, I was proposed to be the man to go on to call our band name and Phil said 'Whitechapel', I was like 'what the f*ck?' Why would you call it Whitechapel?' It's weird because that's where Jack The Ripper killed a bunch of sluts back in the day. I was like 'oh shit that's pretty hard, that's metal as f*ck' and so here we are.
I mean another thing, I'll give you this one, Whitechapel is kind of like in a similar way; not saying we're in any way like the band, but the name Black Sabbath... I thought about this a couple of years ago, Whitechapel, see it's like black and white, Sabbath and chapel and it's like it works, I think Whitechapel works, I don't hate our band name. Some bands they're like 10 years in and man I f*cking hate our name, it sucks."
Whitechapel is often regarded as a Deathcore band, but on 'Mark Of The Blade' you leaned more towards Groove Metal right?
"Yeaahh so, I mean we've been a band for 11 years so we try not to write the same record twice, we don't want to do that, we never have, what we were into and writing you know ten years ago... I don't know it's kinda hard for us to not evolve, that's pretty much what it all is - growing up and changing, we just want to be a metal band and not really sub-genre it and all that sh*t, keep it fun for us and try to play shit that people had gotten in to.
Whatever you refer to us I don't care, to me that term [Deathcore] reflects our early years kind of vibe. It's just 10 years ago for us, we already done that kind of sound you know what I mean? Not that there's anything wrong with it, but we just can't write the same record over and over like we're going to be on our 7th record. If you're talking 10 songs a-record, that's 70 songs sounding exactly the same and if you're putting yourself into that genre, defining yourself as such - there's sh*t all you can do there right?"
Aside from metal music, do you have any influences from outside of metal? What does your family think of your music?
"Yeah I was telling a guy earlier about this stuff, when I was 14 I started playing bass guitar and that lead me to become a part of this band. The first band I fell in love, went to see and why I got into guitars was Green Day actually and not a metal band. I was a big fan of Green Day back in the day, just thought that the bass, being loud and proud in that band was super sick, it was cool man.
My parents are awesome, they know I do big sh*t, they're stoked. It's not the greatest job in the world I guess for some people, but it is to me and that's how it works. My family usually come to the out-of-town shows once every a couple of years or so they'll come to a show, my dad loves to have a few beers and watch me play and my mum has no idea what's going on - she has a good time."
Would it be fair to say that Phil Bozeman is one of the fastest Death Metal-style vocalists out there?
"I hope so, sure why not? I think he's the best for sure, I don't know that's just me. I think he's the best for sure. I like watching some frontmen from other bands, but as far as vocals go yeah he's a bad ass - he's very good at what he does. I think he can stand beside anybody in anyway."
Regarding your song 'The Saw Is The Law', what does the song title actually mean?
"I have no idea man, honestly all it is we use that song live as like our logo, those two words rhyme and makes sense I guess? I don't write the lyrics but I think it was just a kind of play on words that kind of rhyme and everybody seems to like it so it works out. There's a lot of saws, we have a lot of saws in our designs, in our album artworks, something like that."
Are there any major festivals in Knoxville?
"No we don't really have anything like that, we play our home town once a year usually, and it's not really a metal town by any means. We're a local band that travels a lot, we have our fans but as far as metal music goes in general, there's not much going on. If there was a festival it would not be metal, how about that? Yeah we'd play a non-metal festival without a doubt, I mean we played Warped Tour which is considered non-metal, it's more metal than it used to be for sure. But yeah we'd play anything, we like good music but it has to be metal for sure; if they want to listen to us then we wouldn't want to play in front of people who wouldn't want to hear us but at the same time we'd love to play anything."
Credit goes to the Bloodstock Open Air Festival Team
You've just finished your set, how was it?
"It was a great time, it was early but at lot earlier than we're used to but everything went well, because we were having a good time. It was easy, played all the songs well so can't really complain. It would have been cool if it was a little sunnier out but I'll be honest, it's not hot right? It's not raining so I'm not going to complain."
For the New Blood Stage bands, some have only just started out, some have never played a major festival before, what advice could you give them (and future unsigned bands at Bloodstock)?
"I'm assuming that the shows are going to be bigger than they're used to or something like that, for me I never had a problem with the size of the crowd. Don't even worry about the crowd, it's easy just play your show on stage and whatever is happening down front don't even worry about it. Just play your show on stage, that's what I'd say."
Is it relatively hard for American bands to go on tours across the States?
"Nah nah, I mean for us we've always been lucky I guess but at the same time it's fairly easy as long as you have a somewhat of a following and, maybe starting up is kind of hard - I think that would be for anybody, shows in America go well."
When Whitechapel is on tour, what do you guys get up to to occupy yourself whilst travelling?
"PlayStation 4, some of us try to go to the gym every now and then if there's a way to get out and get the pump on, get a shower you know? Let's see, yeah usually just PlayStation, we play a lot of PlayStation. We've been playing a lot of NHL 17, Uncharted 4, but I'm usually watching Zach (Householder) whilst drinking beers - it sounds boring right? But it's what we do."
Speaking of PS4, if a game developer was to ask Whitechapel to provide a song for a new PS4 or Xbox game would you do it?
"As many as would, forever, why not yeah. I used to learn about bands who liked Tony Hawk back in the day, that had awesome soundtracks. I'd love Whitechapel to be part of a video game, that would be cool. I'd be down for something action-packed for sure."
Does Whitechapel have any plans confirmed for 2018 so far?
"So far I don't know if I'm supposed to talk about it, I talked about it earlier though in some form of it, but we're going to be back early Spring of next year and I don't want to say who we're coming back with, but yeah we'll be back early next year. I think it's mainly Europe stuff, maybe some UK stuff but it's very early stages but it looks like we're going to be over here next year, early next year."
Gabe, have you got any hello's, greetings, etc you wish to send out to fans, family, etc.?
"Well yeah I just got married, so I'll say hello Corinna, what's up girl? I'll figure out that she manages to read / listen to this, it's awesome. Anybody that listens to Whitechapel, that would be cool I feel like I'm a pretty lucky person in talking to you guys so, I just want to say thanks to anybody who has checked us out, liked us or not, who cares, I appreciate it - thanks to the bands."
Having already arisen from the fairly-ignored Irish Metal scene and pushed themselves onto newer plains be it Bloodstock or Japan, Dead Label are certainly one band that cannot be ignored - any reason given will be invalid upon deliverance. Having this year dropped their infectious second album "Throne of Bones", GMA wanted to discover what drives this three-piece force. Naturally seeing as Claire was at one point our Irish correspondent, she duly answered our questions - we promised to go light on her, but this was not to be...
For those who do not know your band, could you please give a brief background of the band and what your band name means
"We started eight years ago, just writing songs and playing local gigs. The three of us were in previous bands together too, but this was our first real one! After doing an EP we then went to record our album 'Sense of Slaughter' in the UK. This was our first step into the real world. We travelled to Japan for our first big festival and it all kind of came from there. When we started it was around the time of the murder of Sophie Lancaster. We wrote a song about her murders, which was called 'Dead Label'. When trying to think of a band name, we were saying we didn't want to be labelled within metal, just being metal so we ended up taking the name Dead Label, and we renamed the song called 'Rest in Pieces'."
Things have certainly sped up since your Bloodstock appearance, do you feel it's grass-root festivals like BOA that give bands that platform to gain exposure more easily?
"Bloodstock is an amazing festival. The people who run it are very helpful from the beginning, before you even book a festival, they can be seen helping bands with Metal to the Masses. They create a platform for bands to flourish and they encourage all the things you need in getting a band to the next level. I hope we can return to play Bloodstock for many many many years."
Claire, there seems to be an increase in female musicians over the years, do you feel that the stigma towards female musicians is still there or has it gone?
"I think the stigma is dwindling big time. There are still people who are surprised but in a more pleasant way. They're has been a big change in the attitude to girls in metal. Its not just about the vocalists any more, there are female musicians being treated equally to men, which is all anyone ever wanted!"
You released your album 'Throne of Bones' this year, what was the response like? What track(s) are your favourite and why?
"The response has been massive! We had been sitting on this album for some time, so we were nervous as to how it would go down, but all the reviews have been over and above what we expected! Everyone seems to really be liking it which is amazing and we are very excited by how into the risky things on the album! Like 'The Cleansing' and 'The Gates of Hell', these were both somewhat risky for us, we obviously liked them but we weren't sure how people would react!"
With the UK pulling out of the EU are you concerned it may hinder your chances at playing in the UK?
"Yes, when the vote came in my first worry was touring. Right now, it is so easy to come back and fourth to the UK. Also were bigger bands touring is concerned, if they do not go to the UK, they may not come to Ireland. I am hoping there will be provisions to ensure the ease of musicians playing in the UK. After all, it hosts some of the most amazing festivals and bands tour all the cities. They simply have to come to good method of maintaining the ease of musicians travelling in and out of the UK!!!"
Taking interest in the Irish Metal scene, what is the current status of the scene? Is the scene still going strong? What challenges specific to the scene are there?
"The biggest challenge for the metal scene here is the population. with the amount of people who live here, you have to consider how many like metal! Don't get me wrong, the metal heads here are die hard but its just not as many as you would find in other countries. There are a lot of amazing bands though and when you do find yourself at a gig it tends to be full of energy! But there are not many options within the scene itself. Hopefully the increased number of bands here will encourage the fans to get out more and go to gigs."
What plans have you got for the rest of the year and into early 2017? Have you got any greetings you wish to send out?
"We have a lot of touring plans in the works, and we are in talks with some cool festivals for next year! We hope to tour Throne of Bones as much as possible now that people have a chance to check it out before we come to their city! We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that supported us, particularly fans that took us on board on the Fear Factory tour. We played to a lot of new faces and so many people came up afterwards and bought merch and talked to us. That means a lot to a band and it helped keep us alive on the road!"
"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
"A part of what makes a piece of art beautiful is that it is one of a kind that is meant to be experienced a certain way"
Since the American Metalcore / Post-Hardcore / Screamo unit Alesana unveiled the second part of their "Comedy of Errors" music video / mini-movie, GMA decided it was about time to take the band to the grill and interrogate them via the use of pincers. The conclusion of this chapter highlights a critical turning point of "The Annabel Trilogy" (the story in which their three album concept was based on). "Comedy of Errors" (from the new full-length, "Confessions") and it's accompanying video series is complete with an intriguing storyline of love, mystery, and time travel.
Let the interrogation begin...
Overall how hard (or easy) was it to construct and release the "The Annabel Trilogy"? Will there be any more trilogies?
"The trilogy was definitely an involved venture but one that has been very rewarding. I think that over time fans, both new and old, will really begin to appreciate the level of care that went into writing these albums and stories this way. I've been finishing up the complete short story and it has reminded me just how cool and involved this idea was and how proud I am that we were able to stick with it and see it through."
As you guys call yourself 'Pop Metal', do you feel the term has had backlash over the years? Is there a stigma towards pop music that metalheads generally have?
"If there has been I have not witnessed it first hand. Genres are, and always have been, a way to categorize and pigeonhole art. On one hand, it allows for people to siphon through things and get to new things that they may appreciate more quickly. On the other hand, it causes pre-emptive opinions to be formed. For me, if somebody doesn't like my art or music solely because of a genre lent to it then that is most likely a person I wouldn't want to invite into our creative world anyhow."
You've just released your second part of the "comedy of errors" music video, would fans of your music need to listen to the trilogy to understand the mini-movies?
"It certainly wouldn't hurt. I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys the videos to try to submerge themselves into the whole universe that we have created."
What plans do you have for the year ahead? Any tours over in the UK / in Europe?
"This year we are scaling back and taking a break to focus on our families and some other ventures. You haven't heard the last of Alesana just yet, however."
What challenges do you feel up-and-coming bands these days face more than ever? Is social media too heavily relied upon?
"Social media is 100% too heavily relied upon. Back at the beginning of our career we were immersed fully in the MySpace revolution. It was a huge help for us but that is because we used it to compliment our grass roots approach, we didn't rely solely upon the internet. A lot of young bands these days write a record, record it, take some photos, slap everything on Facebook and Bandcamp, sit back and wait, and then wonder why their band isn't blowing up. Playing shows, meeting people, and building relationships both with new fans and other bands is so important and a point that I think too many bands are missing these days."
A Heavy Metal movie hasn't really been done before, so could you imagine a film being made with purely metal musicians acting out characters? If you could remake a film, what one would you choose and why? Who would act the parts?
"That sounds like a fun idea. I'm a huge fan of movies and good television and honestly I do not like remakes. A part of what makes a piece of art beautiful is that it is one of a kind that is meant to be experienced a certain way."
Finally have you got any hello's, greetings etc you wish to send out?
"Shout out to my entire Revival family of artists! You can check everything out at revivalrecs.com"
BAND: Descent From Aten
LOCATION: Clacton-On-Sea, Essex (England)
GENRE: Technical Progressive / Deathcore
During the night of brutality, GMA's Rhys Stevenson slipped outside to have a natter with fellow county-men Descent From Aten. A five-piece Progressive Technical / Deathcore group who are progressing currently with the re-mastering of their EP and are also cementing the foundations for their new album. So this is what happened (you can hear the whole interview above, below are 6 questions we hand picked that we liked most):
Hey guys, so how long has the band been going and what does the band name mean?
Artis and I were researching conspiracy theories about Ancient Egypt and aliens, things like that and so we had written down a few names to do with the conspiracies and (another member takes over), the main meaning behind the band name is basically aliens ruling over Egypt at the time of
Akhenaten, when head binding began and all of that paraphernalia. The songs we do are about aliens ruling over Egypt so we try to get Egyptology in there as much as possible, I would say 'The Apostasy' kind of follows this because this means to lose faith in something. But basically the alien god Akhenaten told everyone to stop worshiping the other gods, so basically they are apostatizing because they are losing faith in all of the other gods.
Would you consider yourselves the harder or softer version of Nile?
(all moan), well they're Death Metal and we're more Technical Metal I'd say, (like Born of Osiris?), yeah that sort of Born of Osiris style really, we're more drifting towards that area of music, even Veil of Maya. Theme wise, well Nile for sure as the lyrics are near enough the same topic.
What non-music influences do you take on-board into your music and general life?
Perry King: I take a lot of influences from philosophers, I like philosophy a lot and like the Dalai Lama has a lot of things you can learn from.
Member 2: I'm sort of an agnostic at the moment, I don't really care to be honest, I don't have any religious views apart from the band and games (laughs), I'm a bit of a nerd and guitar is my life so I don't really, I guess I'm just a guitar nerd and I don't differ out so I just play guitar, that's all I do basically. I play a lot of war games so I would liken myself to a chaotic guy, I just like to kill everyone... kill everyone... (laughs), as a guy I'm just a f**king joker, life is a big joke, that's me
Member 3: Well for me I'm not into much religious stuff either, I don't take many public figures really (another member interjects with 'Justin Bieber, another quips afterwards 'who doesn't?').
Patrick Barker: I agree with Perry and the whole philosophy thing because well I sort of appreciate people who can say things that mean something, that's just outside metal but with me I'm mostly just into music and stuff, playing bass and gaming as well, we're all nerds basically (all agree), I actually game quite a lot surprisingly, too much. (So you would have your own avatar in Skyrim if you could?): pretty much haha. (another member quips 'That's where I wish I was Trevor Phillips from GTA, he just gets away with everything, he probably wants to kill you just doesn't want to!'). Yeah again I'm not really religious, I can appreciate why people believe in religion but it won't make me believe in it, but honestly if someone said to me 'I believe in God because this random thing happened to me and since then my life has been great', I'd be like well fair enough, other things could have caused that (all laughs) but yeah I play a lot of games still, I'm just like a massive gamer like I'd also say slightly political at mind, sometimes maybe, but especially if it's to do with UK politics and American, so like what's going on in America, the whole Government shut down thing I thought that was ridiculous, that's given me an idea for a song (bus screeches). but yeah with the whole NSA case (libel remark made), they are going to know what you are looking at on the internet. (Perry interjects with: 'this is what happens every time Pat and I sit down, we'll always talk about one thing and then he'll divert and go onto something else like the surveillance, Xbox one, camera spying, etc, he's like this all the time').
Member 5: As for religion I don't really believe in anything, I was born as a Christian and was baptized and everything, but as I grew up I don't really follow it by heart, I'd definitely stay with the gaming as I play Skyrim, Battlefield and GTA quite a lot, (another member interjects with 'I'm not a gamer and that's because I can't afford a console', another replies with 'you're missing out white herbert, oh and if anyone's listening into this audio Perry looks a lot like Wade from GTA 5 (see below), if anyone plays GTA 5 and sees Wade he does look like him a lot, he just needs the clown paint and that's it, he'll be Wade').
^ Perry vs Wade, yup we see a resemblance
So as a group does it matter where a band comes from, so you have bands coming out from Africa, Asia, etc people say 'yeah its music that's all that matters', does it really matter where they come from?
I wouldn't say so, if you make music you make music man. Music is for everyone, I wouldn't say it was for someone who was from a specific country or area, do what you want to do, music makes you feel good about life so f**king crack on with it. (Even when you got countries with political regimes who state if you play metal you're dead?). Really? Oh, I wasn't actually aware of that, but my view on that personally is that's ridiculous, (members interject: 'to be honest if that's the case I would want to do it more', 'I think the whole point is it's about people rising up against the Government', 'I think music is everyone's right, it brings everyone together but yeah there's not many people in our home town, but when you play at a metal gig loads of metal people come from all over, you know it should be everyone's right', 'its like we've just summoned them', 'If you enjoy music in any form, then just do it, I don't understand why people are like 'urgh metal, going to kill that person now' (laughs); 'well no because everytime you walk down the street, you hear someone playing rap on their phone loudly, you know you don't just get the urge to stab them' (laughs).
So you know 2014 is practically upon us, what plans have you got next year?
New album. In the start of December (the 6th) we're going to be sorting out the drums for the album so yeah we're going into the studio to record our full length album, which should be out around Spring-Summer time really, but that's sort of a rough estimate of when it's coming out. I mean we've written it all out, but the thing is we have to line it all and perfect it basically, it's all written out theoretically and so we have to practise and learn it, some of the stuff we end up writing it takes time and so it could end up taking longer because of how technical the album might be. Compared to the EP the album is a lot more different, it blows it out the water and so we feel people will rate us more than they did with the EP.
Finally have you got any hello's, thank you's, greetings you wish to issue to your friends, fans, family, maybe your boss at work?
I just want to thank the metal community in general, I've had a lot of random metalheads add me on Facebook because they've heard our music and thought that we were good.
I'd like to thank people like Lewis cause he 'naked Lewis', because he knows who he is, all the fans who come to our local gigs, the main ones that got us going really so I would like to say thank you to them.
I want to say thank you to some of my band-members as well because they never really like my music but they're there to support the band the whole way through, I'd also like to thank my mum as well for giving me the courage to go on.
I'd thank my family, my nan and my grandad for just being supportive and I know they think the music is a load of s**t but there's no way to sugercoat that, I know they're always supportive and I'd probably thank my mum whose probably looking down at me like 'learn to sing normally', but also the guys in Acrania for putting a word in about us to get us on Night of Brutality, the fans for sure, all our supportive friends and basically the general metal community for being such awesome people.
I'd like to thank my friends for supporting me, with the band and everything and also the bands we gig with because all of the guys we meet are cool to get along with and we enjoy their music as well.
Cheers guys and stay metal \m/
“The ‘core’ sub genres did come from Metal, so they are still Metal. It is up to people to think what they think is Metal”
Deathcore, often dubbed as the illegitimate derivative of Death Metal, has built up its own legion of followers all over the world in recent years. Despite every dispute, its popularity is rising day by day. Enter Abandoned World, a young Deathcore / Metalcore band hailing from Sweden. Founded in mid 2012 and on the way to releasing an EP, the band toured Bangladesh last month and played at the Eastern Dark Fest. GMA's Bangladesh correspondent Nabil Abaddon had a rendezvous with Bnar Aziz (vocals), Samuel Talebi (guitars) and Kim Liljendhal (bass) just before their performance, right outside the venue.
Is this the first time that Abandoned World are touring outside of Sweden? How excited are you?
Samuel: Very excited! Everything is new to us here, like it’s a new culture, so far from Sweden. Totally on the other side of the globe for where we come from.
Bnar: We feel amazing to be here! It's such an awesome opportunity and an honor to be here in Bangladesh.
Do you guys have any knowledge of the scene here in Bangladesh? Have you checked out any of the bands before leaving for Bangladesh?
Samuel: Not too much. But we knew a little because we have a friend from Bangladesh. He lives in Sweden now. He told us about the scene here. There are not many opportunities but there are a lot of die-hard fans I heard.
Kim: When we got this opportunity to play here, I checked out some of the bands in the line up and we were like “man we gotta get down there!”
So how did you guys form the band and how long have you been playing together?
Bnar: Well it is a funny story. It all started like a mini project, basically it began with my former guitarist and I. We met on the internet and we were looking for bands. So we started practising together. I knew Samuel from before, so I just asked him if he wanted to play with us and he said yes. So we three started jamming together. The band grew from there and within a short time we got our bassist and drummer. We have been playing as a band for almost a year now.
Kim: We are trying to be patient and just take up the opportunities that come in the way. When this tour came up, we were just flabbergasted. It was unbelievable for us. It is an honour for us to be here and we really want to show the crowd why we are here and give our best shots.
Does Abandoned World want to play here more often?
Samuel: Of course we do! We want to show the crowd what we are made of and we want to keep coming here. We are talking with the organizers and we are planning on touring some other countries around Asia as well, may be some time around Jan / Feb next year?
Kim: It is still in the planning stage. Lets see what happens.
So Abandoned World has got a single on YouTube? Are you guys planning / working on your EP or album, or something else?
Samuel: What we are going to do now is to shoot a music video and we are looking for a good studio to record stuff. We have our materials ready now, may be we’ll write a bit more. Then we’ll hit the studio. We will release another single, then the album. After that we will probably just tour around! I recommend you to check out another single we have out now, it's called "Madness from Within".
Kim: Yeah that song is a pre-production and we just want to show the people that we are working on some new heavy material. We are going to play this song tonight and trust me it is going to be mayhem!
Although sub-genres like Deathcore, Metalcore, etc are rising quickly all over the world, these “core” sub-genres often get bad rap from Metal fans who are purists. They often do not consider these sub-genres as Metal or ‘real Metal’. As Abandoned World is a Deathcore / Metalcore band, what is your opinion on this?
Bnar: Personally I think that if they do not see that as metal I do not have any problem with that. I mean that's their perception of what they think is metal. The “core” sub-genres did come from Metal, so they are still Metal. It is up to people to think what they think is metal. It is totallty fine to us. That's what we feel about it. We do what we feel like doing and we are doing Metal music that we know. Deathcore / Metalcore is what people labelled us as.
Samuel: Well I think they love it how it is you know. I think you are missing out! (laughs)
What are your influences as a band? Can you suggest a few albums that inspires Abandoned World?
Samuel: Well loads of bands I would say. It starts from Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera to Suicide Silence, Born Of Osiris, Lamb Of God etc etc…… Ummmm the albums would be :
Deep Blue - Parkway Drive
Sacrament - Lamb Of God
The Discovery - Born Of Osiris
Tomorrow We Die Alive - Born of Osiris
Thank you for giving us your time. Any words for the fans and readers?
Samuel: Get ready! It's just the start! We have a long way to go and a lot of times to be here! We love what we do! We are loving Bangladesh! The crowd is awesome. Thank you!
Bnar: Like Samuel said, we are just getting started, so get ready! Basically we love all our fans. It would not have been possible without all our fans. We thank all our fans and it is an honour to play here.
I interviewed Jonny Davy of Job For A Cowboy to catch up what is new with the band, what's in the closet for the quintet and what is the path behind them like. Tune in for future plans, past events and much much more.
I caught up with the local Colchester lads Thames Burial (former Echoes Fall) outside, yeah outside as that's where they wanted to do it. I spoke to them about their latest release, gig supporting Sacred Mother Tongue and their latest antics. Naturally we had giggles on this one. Have fun.