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."
It's hard to know how long the Czech Metal scene has exactly been around as the Czech Republic (aka Czechia) has only been an independent nation since 1993 following the breakup of Czechoslovakia; originated from the Austro-Hungary Empire back in 1918. Despite it's obvious youthful existence the Czech scene has been a hive of activity for the past 2 decades. With MetalGate being such a prominent record label, bands like Awrizis, Godless Streams Of Elegy and Cruadalach springing to mind, and festivals like Brutal Assault and Metalfest Open Air becoming staple festivals within the metal music calendar, there is a bright future for this Central European nation. Awrizis filled us in with their scene knowledge.
"(Czech) bands want to be famous and rich after the first album and two gigs, it doesn’t work like that.""
For those who do not know Awrizis, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"Awrizis was created back in 2011 just as a side project for our previous bands. Then we released our first EP "Shapes of Imagination", which was very well received, we then signed and started to take this band more seriously. Our debut album "Final Hybridation" was released in 2013 and it received a lot of awards and nice reviews. After some line-up changes we started to work on a split album and went on the road again. After years of touring and some changes we could finally work on the second album…
There are no other words to describe Awrizis. If you have like 15 seconds, open YouTube, write our name and there are some evidence of who we really are. That’s the best way to describe our name."
It's been 5 years since your debut album 'Final Hybridation' and your new album 'Dreadful Reflection', what have you done differently on this album?; your original drummer left the band, was it on good terms?
"Yes, it seems like a long gap between two albums. But we’ve been busy with touring, also we recorded a well-accepted split album "Damnation & The Rotten Brood" and we wanted to do the best for our second full length album and don’t rush it. That was the main difference on this album - patience and hard work.
Our original drummer left the band after recording this album. Life on the road and work that is necessary with being in a band is not for everyone. But there is no bad blood between anyone around the band. New members are the main reason for developing this band, comparing to old times this is something completely different and better."
Will you be touring Europe in support of your new album? If not where will you be playing?
"We are right now on the road in our country doing release shows to support our new album. There are certainly some plans for the second half of the year and of course we want to bring our music to all our fans."
What struggles do most Czech Metal bands face these days? What is the scene like at the moment?
"Actually the Czech scene is right now very promising. There are some really great bands compared to the rest of the world. But the main problem is that people in or outside the bands don’t know that only patience and hard work brings the fruit… everyone wants to be famous and rich after first album and two gigs … and it doesn’t work like that."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genres? What do your parents think of your music?
"I am doing what I feel. There’s no analysis or need to describe. I write music for open minded people and I don’t force anyone to listen to it. I am fortunate to have great support from people around me."
For those visiting Havirov, what sights or attractions could you recommend?
"Whole part of Czech Republic called Silesia is well known for it's industrial environment, but there is also a beautiful nature location called Beskydy. So this unique contrast can be attractive for people I think."
What plans do you have for the year ahead? Will you looking to the play in the UK?
"There’s a lot of work to do. We need to support our "Dreadful Reflection" album. But I really can’t wait to start jamming with actual band members and bring to life some new fresh tones. I love the UK! A lot of awesome memories from touring with Dissolving Of Prodigy back in the day. It would be an honour for me to go back with Awrizis but also my second band Postcards From Arkham as well."
Are there any greetings or thank you's you wish to send out?
"Thanks to all, who feel music and passion."
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."
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
Looking towards Eastern Europe and there are a load of bands out there with very little Western attention, but occasionally a band will trip the switch and cause such a surge throughout the underground that they'll make the media stop sipping their coffee and latch on to the disturbance. The latest product from the farther side of Europe is Ukrainian Metallers Jinjer of whom bolt together elements of Groove Metal and Metalcore to make something heavier than you're last hangover.
Bassist Eugene obliged to take GMA and guide us through the world of Jinjer...
For those who do not know your band, could you please give a brief background of the band and what your band name means
"Well, talking about the music seems to be a bit ridiculous, it's like describing an image to a blind person. You have to listen to Jinjer to understand fully what we are. But if you insist I will say the following... you will definitely like Jinjer if you are open-minded and enjoy diversity in music.
As for the name. Well, it's just a name. Originally there was no real meaning behind it... you know, when parents name a child John they don't usually put anything into it, just a good name. Though later on fans found some meaning, namely associating it with a distorted guitar sound: "jin-jer-jin-jer"."
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?
"It is still on, but it tuned the wrong way in my mind. Too many voiceless chicks started doing peep-shows on stage instead of music... personally I try to avoid being tagged “female-fronted”. I see no real sense in differing bands by the front person's gender... we'd rather pick bands by their talents and creativity"
How did you all become involved in music? How have your parents reacted to your choice of music?
"Well, I come from a musician's family. My father used to be a bassist. And he brought me up with old-school rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and others... at the same time my elder brother was a guitarist and he introduced me into punk and grunge. So my family took it normally when I formed my first metal band. Of course the others were not so lucky. I know that Eugene was suffering from his parents blames till the recent time. "
You just recently released your latest offering 'King Of Everything', can you tell us more about the album in terms of what it regards, how long it took to make, favourite songs etc?
"The album has a certain conception. We as humans were born free and happy. No attachments to religion, state, society... We are free to choose our way, to express ourselves, free to act as we want to (unless we harm one's existence). But once we were tricked by some "king", we were fooled and enslaved. According to the "King of Everything" they are several. Choose yours):
- time (Captain Clock)
- past and other individuals left behind (Just Another)
- censorship (Words of Wisdom)
- ideology (Sit, Stay, Roll Over & Under the Dom)
- money and power (Dip a Sail)
- personality itself (Pisces)
'I Speak Astronomy' was written as a total opposition to those "kings". It is ruled by physical laws which are natural.
In general we spent about 4-5 months writing all of the songs... we were quite limited in time. When we signed the contract we only had a few songs, we were about to release a short EP, but Napalm needed a full length album, minimum 40 minutes. So we had to compose 7-8 songs during a short time. But the band managed to accumulate all the energy, creativity and inspiration... to some extent it was positive pressure – we made a very sincere album, we didn't have time to work out the material for a year or so. We expressed what we had in us honestly.
My favourite songs are definitely 'Pisces' and 'I Speak Astronomy'... these are very private songs for me. In some ways these are my confessions.
Will you be undertaking a tour in support of the album? With the UK pulling out of the EU are you concerned it may hinder your chances at playing in the UK?
"It seems that for us it didn't make any change! We are out of the EU, anyway we have to deal with British visas, which are extremely complicated! But we will do our best to visit the UK, believe me."
Taking interest in the Ukrainian 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 scene is growing and developing little by little. We've got several super-cool bands, like Megamass, Zlam, Space of Variations and Joncofy, they are able to kick ass, believe me. The biggest problem is audience... we just don't have people going to live shows. There are only 5-6 cities where it is possible to bring 400-500 to a gig, and maybe 2-3 more where we can have 150-200... and that's all for a country of 42,000,000 population. And of course there are not many good clubs and venues."
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 will tour non-stop till the end of 2017. This is out priority. We kindly send our regards to every British fan of Jinjer, stay strong, friends, one day we will hit the stage in your neighbourhood."
"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
Interview by GMA's Israel correspondent Liram Golibroda
Shredhead are a new wave Thrash Metal band from Israel and are considered one of the best new bands there. They started their music career together in 2009 as a Slayer and Megadeth cover band, a couple of years later they released their first album "Human Nature" and could be regarded as one of the best Israeli Thrash albums. In 2012 they went to the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle for Israel and now, just before releasing their new album, GMA spoke with Yotam and Lee about the band, the new album and well… if you want to know more just read the interview:
Ahron Ragoza - Vocals
Lee Levi - Bass
Roee Kahana - Drums
Yotam Nagor - Guitars
Hi guys, what are you working on now days?
We have just finished recording our new album, the album has been mixed and mastered by Tue Madsen who has worked with bands like Aborted, Betzefer, The Haunted and many more. And now we're getting prepared to send him to some record companies. Besides that, after we finished the new album we have already started writing for the next one, and also we're planning some shows in Israel.
How can you summarize everything from the beginning of the band up till the times after recording your second album?
We've been through a lot, starting with new members to setting our own style of music. It was a long process but nowadays we feel like we're strong and stable, and are all friends with those who enjoy playing together with us ever since the first day. We have had some amazing experiences that we couldn't even imagine ourselves achieving, such as the WOA metal battle and recording our second album.
How do you create new songs?
90% of the time, Yotam writes the riffs and tries to make them link together into a song, later on he sends the riffs to the rest of the band so we can work on it during future rehearsals and everyone gives their own style to the song. It can be with Kahana's drumming or Lee's bass playing and writing lyrics that will fit the song in the best way. In other cases we just improvise and hope for the best.
How does the new album different from "Human Nature"?
In every possible way! It the beginning we only searched for music that allowed us to be faster, more brutal and louder. When we started writing "Human Nature" we were just kids that loved playing with no music experience, but now a couple of years later after "Human Nature" we've all had some musical experience that made us better musicians. The new album is more aggressive and more melodic than "Human Nature", and the lyrics are more thoughtful and intimate.
Are you planning any surprises for us, maybe plans to go on tour?
We have a lot of plans, not only for the new album but also about where we'll stand next year as a band. Everything else is a secret. As for tours, we have a lot of plans and we hope everything will go on as planned.
What live show do you remember as the best one you have had up in till now?
Two weeks after we came back from WOA we celebrated one year since the release of "Human Nature". As with every Shredhead show we invited special guests, made some funny covers and even had a boxing fight between Lee and Ahron. In general that was a show that felt more like a huge party and it was great.
What can you reveal about your upcoming album and where can you see Shredhead in 5 years time?
The new album will include 11 aggressive songs and will feature this concept of an instrumental song before the last song just like in "Human Nature". The name of the album is "Death Is Righteous" and it describes what we've been through in our personal lives over the past two and a half years, and our understanding of why does death everyone deserves death.
As for looking five years ahead, we envisage it with a third or fourth album, non-stop tours and hopefully with music as our only career.
What is Shredhead for you?
Shredhead is the frame that holds our lives together, everything we are going through lately is for Shredhead, we work to support the band and we work hard to promote her. Meaning every second we have we put into the band as without Shredhead we are different people.
How could you define your music?
MMMMEEEETTAAAALLLLL!!!!!!!! People can describe our music as Thrash Metal or Groove Metal. We don't describe our music because we play what we love and believe in.
What is your message to the fans?
We want to thank every single person who supports the band, without you we would not exist and we would not have the strength to move on.
As DevilDriver sharpen up their axes and brush off their gold-coated selves after their well-received Bloodstock appearance, I caught up with Dez Fefara (Vocals) and spoke to him about the plans they have for the year, their time watching a marriage proposal take place in the Bloodstock Signing Tent, past events and how he believes work ethic is a key to success.
We have selected a number of questions from the interview for your reading pleasure, but please also find the audio version above.
Hi there Dez, so at Bloodstock you witnessed a marriage proposal take place, what was that like for you?
That was a good time man, I mean any time people will go to a gig and coming together as a couple and enjoying music when, they were tying the knot at a Metal concert and I mean that is a damn good time. You know what I mean? (laughs).
Was that the first time you saw something like this happen?
No, actually that has happened quite a few times with DevilDriver, it happened after playing in Berlin and Australia and it is a wonderful thing to see people come to a gig and tie the knot, basically it's a cool thing. [Then refers to the Bloodstock occasion and reflects on his thoughts]: I was thinking this could go one way or the other (laughs), nah like I said it could be a beautiful thing or it could be turned down, but I always wish everyone the very best and I've been married for a long time so I know what a beautiful day it could be but I've also been a part of scenario's which were not so good. But I wish the best to people.
Now you released "Winter Kills" back in 2013, have you got any plans for a new release this year?
No, I mean if I had my way we would put a record out about every year and a half, it's just impossible so we're pretty much on a two and a half year cycle right now and we can very much keep up with that, that being said later on in the Fall (Autumn) of this year we will be recording and then sometime next year I will be recording vocals. But just the way we learn to write together is what made "Winter Kills", "Winter Kills", it's what made the six records perform well on the road, we're glad we're using this new writing style and by starting now we want to get ahead of the game to make sure we have a real quality product to go in and record.
Of course you're coming over to the UK in April and are touring with Sylosis and Bleed From Within, is it the first time you've played alongside these bands?
No, playing alongside Sylosis they were on tour with us and they got into a little horrible accident in America, I'm not sure if you know about that so they were in an RV and they got wrecked pretty bad and were pretty lucky to be alive, but I mean they had to redirect their tour so it was kind of like 'hey guys lets get together and kick shit up, we're glad your alive', they've got their own and sound and brought a lot to the table.
I always like coming to the UK, there are certain places as a musician you can make it or break it, in that stage we were looking at Los Angeles and the UK. We're very loud over there, it's a great time and I have a lot of friends and I know the shows are going to be off the hook, and that is going to be important for me, when you know the shows you're going to perform at are going to be crazy, it makes it all the better and we got to make sure that we will be ready to do it.
In regards to your song 'Not All Who Wander Are Lost', there's a section where the band-members are subject to x-rays, was that your idea or another band-members?
No no, that was an idea I had and when I tried it out the director was like oh this can easily be done this way and that way and so we ended up putting that in the video. I've worked alongside some really cool people so.... [listen to the audio at the top for a more in depth answer to this]
Thinking back to when you were a child, did you foresee yourself with DevilDriver as big as you are now?
Oh no I don't think it's the matter of being big or small, it's about being a musician. So now it's kind of a different scenario in relation to listening to a record collection because now you would ask 'hey mum, dad, let me borrow your iPod for the day', which is not going to happen because they're going to need it for work, or to go to the gym or whatever. In my house, all those kinds of records I got into them early on so now I have 60's stuff like The Doors, Steppenwolf's 'Born To Be Wild and other stuff like that I got into when I was really young, so I saw myself being a musician but didn't want to think in terms of being big or small and instead just getting up on stage and being a musician and that is really worked out for me.
Regarding "Winter Kills" which debuted #32 on the Billboard, could you perhaps shed light on why Metal music does or does not tend to get high positions on the Billboard?
Well metal tends not to get in to Billboard top #40 and it is extremely hard to get into, especially when you're against someone like Justin Timberlake and just not getting into it, but this is starting to change and I'm really proud to say that we made #32 and that's with no clean singing or no clean vocals, nothing good on the radio and as a result making it onto the radio means that it shoots onto the Billboard chart, that with requests for airplay pushes you further up the chart. But the chart is mainly a lot of pop music, a lot of pop punk and to see this shift with metal now making the chart's, it's something rather special, as metal is seen as the disproportionate and I don't know why it is happening, but it's happening.
Out of all the albums you own, what album would most people be shocked at in knowing that you own a copy?
(laughs), well I listen to a wide range of music so from everything including blues to punk rock, to Black Metal, to psychobilly and I love it all man, as far as being shocked I think you would have to take a look at my record collection and see that I have some Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Black Sabbath, Emperor, Dio, Sepultura, Black Flag, etc. and crazy opera stuff, you know I collect music as I am a music musician, not a metal musician and I'm very far from the purest in that anyone who knows me knows that I love Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy as much as I love Black Sabbath and Black Flag. So, I wouldn't say they would be shocked, more so I would say they would be like 'Oh that's a Sinatra CD, didn't know you like that music and I'd say yeah been listening to it a lot'.
What would you say to those unsigned bands who don't quite understand yet what being in a metal band is about, in respect to investing time and money? What of those bands who think promoters should bow down to them and give them gigs instead of working for them?
If you're getting into an underground art, and I mean anything that's an underground art like painting, sculpting, playing the Blues, Punk Rock, Heavy Metal, don't get into it for the money, and basically you will always have to put something into life in order to get something out and so that means you would have to pay for gas, food, hotel accommodation or you'll probably have to go one or two weeks without a shower and so there's always going to be different kinds of scenario's on the way up, but if you stick with it, you know you keep your day job and you keep yourself sane, you stay away from the problems that will kill your band and stay away from hard drugs and all of the things that are going to destroy your future, then you might have a future. Don't go following a scene, you should be making your own style of music and do it for your heart and yourself, and those who like your band. Believe in yourself man, that's all you got to do just believe in yourself and those kinds of people who have done that have started all kinds of bands, if you believe in yourself you will be able to do things.
People who believed in me helped me out and those that didn't, I am no longer friends with and most of them are no longer in the industry any more so it is also not only important to believe in yourself, but others too as they are the ones who you will want to spread the positivity around.
Those bands (laughs) who think that people should bow down to them are stupid, you know you're just a f**king musician. You're not a world leader or whatever, you're a musician. Here's the thing right, I come from what you would call a working-class background, ok I was on a construction site for years and I know what it's like to work my ass off. With my dad, I would go down there around 5 in the morning (a.m.) and still be working when before the sun goes down and you're so tired. I've never lost that work ethic because I believed in becoming a man, and not through buying houses, or cars or having a beautiful wife. So no, no one should ever have to bow down to you even if you're a musician.
Finally are there any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
Yeah well, for anyone who has supported me from the beginning of my career up till now, in any number of my bands thank you very much and I'll never ever let you down, not through my music nor through the live shows, so come on out to the shows, get in the pit and have a good time with DevilDriver and throw away the chairs for a night with us.
DevilDriver are on tour in the UK from the 3rd to the 10th April and are hitting these following cities (in order): CARDIFF, LONDON, WOLVERHAMPTON, GLASGOW, DUBLIN, MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON.
Tickets are on general sale now and you can pick them up at www.kililive.com and www.seetickets.com (Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton), www.ticketmaster.ie (Dublin), www.triplegmusic.com (Glasgow) and www.wolvescivic.co.uk (Wolverhampton).