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!"
Whether you consider yourself a pioneering band or a band who wants to bend a genre so much that the sound evolves itself from the original formulaic infrastructure it's built upon, one thing for certain is that making music requires three solid and key components:- commitment, defiance and the so-true notion of 'patience is a virtue'. Devilment are a perfect example of this, having been freed from the shackles of a demonically-plagued past with in-house quarrels, strived forward to tour with Cradle of Filth of Black Metal fame and rode the waves to summon their second album due to be released this year, it's clear that this Suffolk horde are on a winning run and that no matter what challenges pose them, they're geared to assault these challenges with newfound rigour.
GMA spoke to Colin Parks (Lead Guitarist) to gain an insight into what the future holds for this Witch county brethren, their impending album release and subsequent tour, past relics and some rather dark and disturbing secrets (you filthy animal).
"The United Kingdom is a tough market to crack (on album sales)... if people spent as much time supporting one another as they do slagging every band off... we would be richer musically for it."
What is new in the Devilment camp? How are things shaping up for your new album and impending tour?
"Things in the Devilment camp are great, the unit is strong and we are all very close friends. We have welcomed Matt Alston (Eastern Front, Sanctorum) to the band as the full time drummer and this has really been a fantastic addition on many levels. Matt is a great drummer, a driven person and a good guy, it is nice to be around other professionals who really take their craft seriously. On the other side of the line-up change, Sam S. Junior left the band around 8 months ago, he now performs in Savage Messiah. He left due to travel issues and of course playing in Savage Messiah full time.
The album is something that we all are very proud of, we have worked very hard collectively as a unit to bring this album to you, in its strongest possible form both musically and as a package it is a long way ahead of the debut."
Would you say the shadow of Daniel Finch has been buried and that Devilment is no longer in the shadow of him?
"Of course. To be honest it is not something we really think of anymore, Daniel left the band on his own terms, the band were supportive and despite emotions obviously running high at the time, we tried our best to support him. Some people just realise it is not for them, the touring and the pressure of deadlines along with the realisation that you have to share your dream with other's, is something you either thrive on, or you feel coming down on you in a negative way, everyone is different. Also despite anything you may read in a negative light about the situation, you will never read anything personal from us directed to anyone.
Musically the "shadow" was already being stepped out of on the debut, 'Summer Arteries', 'Sanity Hits A Perfect Zero', 'The Great And Secret Show' were all songs by myself and Nick. When myself and Lauren joined the band, the sound changed drastically from that moment on, Daniel always had a very Industrial, Groove based vibe going on, simple but immediate and catchy. Myself, Lauren and Nick pride ourselves on being as musically diverse and rich as we can be within the given genre.
The new album "II (The Mephisto Waltzes)" is a massive step up in every single aspect, the guitars are way more intricate and full of counter-melodies and harmonies, the keys are thick and exciting, Lauren's female vocals have made a massive difference to this album. I feel that Lauren's input vocally, has pushed this album to a new level for Devilment. I personally spent months writing for this album and Lauren contributed a large amount the whole way through and we both are both from the school of thought of graft, graft, graft."
In relation to previous two questions, will the new album have a different sound to 'The Great...' album?
"Yes and no, the first album had some very strong tracks, a lot of the album was already written before three of us joined the band, so in many ways it had a linearity to the sound that was already in place. This outing has been far far more of a group effort, and we have found our sound as "Devilment". The album transcends genres in many ways, it has a very Progressive feel to the music, the drumming is spine-breaking, the bass has stepped up massively with some technical wizardry on the fretboard from Nick. The vocals from Dani are refined, twisted and crafted. Lauren's chorus work and ambience in truth is f**king amazing and the whole thing is just more mature and more melodic, but also a harder hitting album that will not feel unfamiliar to any of our fans... just different.
The greatest thing as an artist is to continually push the envelope for ourselves, but not alienate our fans who are really in to the first album. The new album certainly has aspects of the first album and lots of nods to other songs from it, but it is just another level in terms of songwriting and playing, the chains were cut off of us and it unleashed a monster! Speaking of monsters, late September we are releasing a lyric video for a song and a full music video the month after of 'Hitchcock Blonde', the bands first single!"
Will you be targeting some festivals next year? Is Bloodstock on the cards?
"Yes we will be hitting the summer festivals hard next year, we intend on touring and getting this album out to you all as much as possible, on the last album cycle the band felt we were not out live enough to make the inroads we wanted to really make. This album we are all pushing to ensure that we are making ourselves a force live and by doing as many shows as possible, we will only become stronger for it.
I can not at this time confirm if we will be playing at Bloodstock, but rest assured there will be some UK ones and many European festivals also. The band are on a UK tour in December around the UK and are hoping to get Stateside in the early part of 2017, depending on sales... so that is down to the fans and the people that kindly support us to make it happen and our team who book our shows."
As you're from Suffolk, what is the metal scene like at the moment? It's gone a little quiet up there.
"It seems to have gone quiet of late, there are some local bands flying the flag, Eastern Front and To The Nines are local bands that are working hard to go places, If I could offer anyone some advice on the unsigned music scene it would be to work as hard as you can. If things seem to not be falling for you, work harder, so hard that you see others around you folding and walking away... remember that those who make it are the ones that would not accept no, those that stay up all night working on music, you got to REALLY want it, not just kind of want it. Stay true and it will come."
Has Devilment ever considered dabbling in the dark side of East Anglia's history? Maybe a song about the 'Black Shuck'?
"We kind of do with the Witch County Suffolk motto, Suffolk has a very rich history and is a very diverse county, in fact I love it to be honest. There are definitely some nods lyrically with regards to this question, just grab out the Devilment album sleeve and have a read through the last album."
With Brexit on the horizon, as a band are you concerned about touring outside the UK?
"Not really, the whole Brexit thing divided a nation, in truth I do not think it should have been put to the public, sometimes the peasants do not know what is in their best interests. It will make things harder with travel and it will in truth be a pain in the ass, but it is what it is, music will always win over politics so I am sure everything will all be just fine."
To the best of your knowledge, where is the furthest your music has been picked up? Are you surprised by this?
"Australia is one of the furthest confirmed album sales, support for Devilment in Australia is fantastic, I have seen the posters and band being played on the TV's in the record stores myself. Funny as it seems to actually be pushed more away from our shores. The United Kingdom is a funny one, its a tough market to crack. There is a lot of elitist bullshit in all genres, if people spent as much time supporting one another as they do slagging every band off in the comments section of what ever post then we would be richer musically for it."
Finally have you got any greetings you wish to send out? (Feel free to add any info as you wish)
"Just to say a big thank you to my fellow band members, during the album process it has been tough for Devilment as a band, loosing Dan originally was a set back, but losing our friend and brother Aaron was a hard one to take for all of us as we are all family, Dani still plays football with azza every Wednesday night!
Want to thank Matt for stepping in and smashing it out the park, we could not have found anyone better for this. Lastly massive thanks to our fans and family for believing in us, for allowing us to do something that we all love with every fibre of our soul, so THANK YOU !!!!!
Now roll on November 18th when you can all hear this monster!!!!!!!"
As Colin said, Devilment's new album "II: The Mephisto Waltzes" is out 18th November via Nuclear Blast
For a band who has only released four albums as of 2015 and have only been going 11 years, De Profundis have been making more than just waves happen from the backyard streets of blackened London. Having stamped their mark on Bloodstock Open Air back in 2014 and taken their name from a song by the Swedish outfit Abruptum (although we suspect Oscar Wilde's letter entitled 'De Profundis' (from the depths) is more credible), De Profundis have established themselves as one of those involved in the new wave of British Black Metal.
For this interview, a candlelit room provided the perfect setting for which Shoi (Soikot Sengupta) entered and placed his guitar down on the table... this was going to be one interesting talk.
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