When you think of the Scottish Metal scene you tend to think of the likes of Alestorm, sure their Pirate Metal sound is popular among the masses but they aren't the only Scottish Metal band with a sumptuous sound. Entering the affray is Dumfries' own Turbyne, whose mix of Melodic, Death, Prog and Metalcore have left the Bloodstock faithful in awe, with their sound not like anything that has been heard before but yet use the very basics of said metal genres, what they done with those genres is bent and snapped them to pieces, to create something they can call their own.
After rampaging on the New Blood Stage, GMA caught up with the now sextet and explored their past, what two vocalists bring to the band and the current status of the Scottish Metal scene.
Answers given by various members; indicated where possible.
(on song lengths):- "It's nothing to do with how long the song is, it's all about the ideas and how well you get them across".
Hi guys, firstly tell us who you are, what you play and how did you become involved in Turbyne?
"Hey I'm Calum, I'm the guitarist and I was here at the start; started the band with a few of my friends. Hey I'm Gary, I joined the band in 2012, I sing and I also play keyboards.
Hi I'm Brian, I play bass and I think I joined around like 10 years ago or something, I'm not quite sure, but through a friend; they were looking for a bassist and so I joined.
I'm Kyle the drummer and I'm co-founder with Calum here as creator of the band, the one and only. Hey I'm Keith, I'm the vocalist and I joined way way back in the day in the beginning.
I'm Jamie, I was the last to join and I kind of just invited myself into the band, I didn't actually be asked to join, I just sort of said I'll come along and play keyboards for you, so yeah that's what I do now."
So you have two keyboardists? Who is best at playing them?
"Absolutely Jamie, I (Gary) just pretend to play the keyboards, ah he's just started. It's a new addition that we're actually bringing to Bloodstock tomorrow, so it's the first time that it's done properly and Jamie holds the whole fort in terms of solo's and proper synth, I just kind of fill in with my backing strings, so hopefully its goes well tomorrow - I'm not nervous at all... I absolutely am.
Before I played keyboards you had two vocalists, so erm Keith and I were full-time vocalists so that's something we introduced when I joined the band really. But yeah we're trying it out to see if we can push ourselves to make a bigger sound and push ourselves harder basically to add more on the stage show or to the live sound as well, so we're going to be adding more live guitars as well, we're all going to be very busy."
What's it like being a sextet when recording music? Hard and tricky surely?
"Ages, ages and ages. We do all what we can before we hit the studio, there's a lot of demo's, a lot of kind of coordinating... maybe I'll have a practise with Jamie and we'll go over what we're going to do and the singers will get together and they'll practise their bits and then it all kind of comes together in the practise space. So yeah it takes a long time before we're ready to record anything, but it works for us."
Who came up with the band name and what does it mean?
"....erm, (silence), Kyle can answer that one. I believe it was actually Kyle who came up with the name, there was a bit of a catch of course we created the band during the Nu Metal years when it was invoked to spell your name incorrectly (laughs), hence the 'y' rather than the 'i' but at least it makes it original. There's not a literal meaning to what it is, we like to leave it interpretable, but it means certain things to us, there's not a concrete origin if that makes sense?"
What was going through your minds when you were confirmed to play Bloodstock? What did you parents say?
"I was actually at work, which is quite a formal job - I wear a suit, I won't mention what I do, but I was sitting with a client at the time and I think I made some sort of an excuse to leave the room to do a small to big lap of the office, kick over one of the desks and go back to the client and finish the interview that we had. I couldn't contain myself, I couldn't send enough text messages at the same time, not to mention we couldn't actually tell anyone at the time. So yeah it was insane to be fair, because we got the invitation as oppose to you know winning on our Metal 2 The Masses night, so to actually be asked to come along and play we feel is an absolute privilege and pleasure, to have someone say we want you to come along and showcase what you can do. It was a magnificent moment for me anyway, it was almost like a mark of approval from people we've been waiting to hear from for a very long time.
They were happy aye, they've supported us through... well my parents have supported us through Metal 2 The Masses heats and have been gutted when we didn't get it so they were chuffed.
I think my mum had to ask what Bloodstock was (laughs), it took about 45 minutes to explain, I probably went through the whole roster of the bands that are playing and not one rung a bell, so we just ended up with 'it's a big thing mum, be happy for me' (laughs), so she was.
My parents are into music anyway, so they were happy for us yeah.
Aye they were chuffed, my family have always been big supporters of what we do and they travel to come and see us at gigs, and yeah just happy.
I'm adopted... (laughs), no my parents were over the moon as well and I think as well as our close family and friends who were elated just as much as we were.
Yeah I've been getting congratulations from around the world, people all over the place and well none of them know what Bloodstock is, but you know it's the words festival, stage and playing that hit the net, so yeah they're really thrilled for the band. Lot of support from people who talk to us and are with our music so that's really good to have."
Sum up Bloodstock in two words and no more.
"Big deal", "enough said", "f*cking awesome", "pretty decent", "i'll take three - ask me sunday", "I really have no idea, all that can come to mind is 'pretty decent', 'f*cking awesome', so yeah I'll go with 'f*cking awesome' too" (laughs all around).
Can you tell us more about your eclectic style of metal?
"It's heavy and kind of based in experimental progressive metal, but with this kind of NWOBHM stuff going on as well, there's a lot of metalcore... basically it's what we've come up with, with a kind of collective styles of music that we all like and that we're all into. We just play the kind of music that we want to do and that we think would be interesting and new, it's very hard to describe as there's a lot of different substances in there. It's all very diverse and we keep ourselves guessing never-mind, there's nothing off-limits when it comes to the style of the band, nothings off-limits with us. The best way to define it is to listen to it and then decide for yourself what you actually think it is, and then if you put a label on it then you can identify it easily.
For the six years I've been in the band, we've been called how many different genres? We've tried different genres... but we bring out the next song and then all of a sudden they'll define us as something else, so as Jamie said it's best to listen to it and decide what part of it's new and pick your own genre, we don't mind - we've been called a lot of things.
I like that... (all laugh), if somebody else started to play 'Turbyne Metal' I think that could become a thing, yeah that would be nice if that was a thing to kind of lead a trend or something by everyone."
Most Prog Metal bands tend to deliver 7-10 minute songs, what are your thoughts about that?
"To be genuinely progressive I think that sounds about right, there's a lot of ideas and in our case anyway there's a lot of ideas in one song and it's difficult to pick the ones that are right from the ones that are wrong, so in our case yes we do tend to be a bit longer, but we do try and chop them down so they don't seem indulging you know what I mean? I love prog music but some of it is drawn out, we try and be cautious of not making item seem too much for what we're going for.
I think we try and find a balance between your heavy part and as that starts to draw out, we'll change it up for something that might suit someone else in the same song and I think that comes across really well with us, I think you can really break it down into a nice clean sound and then bring it right back as heavy as you want to... as long as it doesn't betray the song, as long as it feels right and feels natural in the progression of the song.
To be fair Turbyne has always been known for the length of it's songs but I don't think when Calum our main songwriter is writing a song that the clock is a big factor, I think the narrative of the song and what he's trying to express is more important than how long it's going to take to do it. But yeah having said that songs reach between 3-10 minutes, maybe over, there's a real diversity in what the band plays.
I'm used to playing classical music as well so I also play 45 minute symphonies and two-and-a-half musical theatre shows, so a 5-7 minute Turbyne song is a pretty short space of time (all laugh) to fill in with noise so I'm quite glad that they just end nicely, it doesn't matter anyway as long as the idea is strong, that's the main part - it's nothing to do with how long the song is, it's all about the ideas and how well you get them across in delivering them to your audience - if it takes a while, it takes a while."
What challenges do Scottish Metal bands face these days?
"Getting out there really, we're from quite a small town so the biggest obstacle we often face is getting onto bills and expecting to bring in people, that's a problem because you know we're from a smaller town, it can sometimes stand in our way. I'd say getting a fan-base and getting out to new people, new fans, new areas is the hardest part for our fans from Scotland.
I think our biggest problem is locations, so even if we head northwards (we're on the borders of Scotland; 45 minutes from Carlisle) up to Glasgow, Edinburgh, then Dundee and Aberdeen, but even driving up to Aberdeen takes us four and a half hours. Don't get me the wrong the band is completely committed so we will travel everywhere, anywhere that wants to hear us, we'll bring the sound to them, but it is the hardest part is getting on bills, finding that niche market where people are doing to appreciate what we're doing and finding out bands that are similar to us which is very, very difficult with the type of music that we are.
Because of the music we play as well we don't really fall into one category or the other, we're not the heaviest metal band but we're too heavy for non-metal music as well, so I think that is another obstacle as well is that exactly where we sit in the market and bills that we can play on, bands that are likewise with the fans that might go out to see, bands like us.
I think playing this festival is exactly what we need though because you're playing in front of people that would never see us otherwise, so this is the best opportunity you've got."
Have you had any fans from outside of the UK get in touch with you?
"Yeah there's a Finnish guy, I could probably name a bunch of Australians who listen to our music now, but yeah erm remember... was it Finland or Norway that guy was from?
I think it was Norway, his named sounded Finnish but was from somewhere up there, yeah he got in touch through Facebook saying he came across us and really appreciated what we done and hopefully we would go over there soon and play and we were like alright, that's good stuff.
It's always nice to hear from people that are that far out and either have stumbled across us or someone's told them about our music, it's nice when they feel they have to message us and say they enjoy it; it's crazy to have a few people from the USA, mainly Florida just to say they love the music, so if anybody wants to give us a contract to Florida (laughs), I'm due a holiday so anytime.
Business class right?
At least business class and I'm expecting our own private jet, maybe Air Force One, I might settle for that."
What are your plans after Bloodstock?
"We've got a few more gigs mostly in Scotland and north of England, we're just going to keep padding for shows, we're preparing for our second album so the song's are nearly there, we're still kind of writing and perfecting them - we're hopefully going to start tracking by the end of the year, hoping for a 2019 release so that'll take a lot of attention, a lot of energy, but yeah just keep looking for shows and stuff like that, see if we can chase this and hopefully get a few things out of it as well. Trying our best to network over here as well, see what comes."
Finally guys are there any greetings, thank you's or hello's you wish to send out?
"Yeah just to everyone that has supported us, those who get us here you know we had a lot of help from the people down our way, we owe them a lot of thanks, all the fans back home as well and everywhere else. Everyone that has supported us, watched our videos, listened to our music, bought our album - yeah it's all for them, we just hope we can do them proud.
Thanks to every single person who went out their way to give us that one step up or just spread our music about, talking about and supporting us. Thanks to everyone around us, they're always supportive and it's a nice environment to be in.
Same again thanks to everyone for supporting us, every listen counts so.
Aye just everybody, everybody who has ever been to a gig or has supported us.
Perhaps a big shout out to Simon for taking a chance on us, it's beyond appreciated and we plan on to corner him and tell him that in person. To take a risk on a band who is kind of different as us, it's a big leap of faith but we fully intend to live up to and exceed his expectations.
Simon and also anyone else who has seen the band live and just take a chance with, we know these guys are good, but will they be the right act for the stage. Our road manager deserves a shout out too."
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/"
Emphasis are not holding back nor are they slowing down, the Estonian Progressive / Symphonic Power Metallers have signed a deal with Japanese label Red Rivet Records. Thus giving the band the momentum to reach deep into the Asian market and help expose not only their music, but the rich vibrant sounds the Estonian Metal scene has to offer. It has been two years since the sextet dropped their debut album "Revival" and now they're revelling in their latest offering "Soul Transfer", deviating away from the structural guidelines laid before them in search of a truly inspirational sound for the album as the band go on to explain... it did not happen by sheer accident.
How does it feel to release your second album 'Soul Transfer'; especially on Japanese label Red Rivet Records? Where does this place itself in terms of the band's history and the wider Estonian Metal scene?
"Estonia is a small country and our metal scene is very small as well. Actually, there's only one metal label – Nailboard Records. Many years ago they signed bands, but now they work more as a distribution company. So it means that we have no choice and it's pretty common that Estonian artists sign deals with foreign labels. So, as you know, our previous album was released on the Italian label "Underground Symphony". This time we sent our record to a list of labels over the world and we were happy to get positive feedback from Japan. Red Rivet Records offered us reasonable conditions and we're still happy about our co-operation. And yes, for us every action and step forward is kind of achievement."
Regarding the 'Soul Transfer' track-list, could you explain the meaning behind the percentages?; Assuming it ties in with the album title?
"Soul Transfer is a concept album, an entire complete original story where the order of the compositions are arranged in a certain meaningful sequence. All the tracks are combined through smooth transitions or short instrumental sketches, which underlines and complements the full picture of the idea. In order to understand what we wanted to convey to the listener, you need to listen to the disc from start to finish in one session: from zero to one hundred percent with a total duration of 73 minutes. So, in the album, three main lines are closely intertwined: the inner world of feelings and memories of the character, the world of virtual reality created by a super computer, and the real material non-industrial world and its society, manipulated by gadgets and social media.
Using non-tradtional metal instruments can sometimes be considered unorthodox (in this case a saxophone and trumpet). What gave you the inspiration to include said instruments? How was it working with Raul Sööt and Allan Järve? Can we call the album 'Avant-Garde' or 'Progressive Jazz Metal'?
"I expected such a question... creating music for "Soul Transfer", initially I did not think about jazz instruments, as well as about violins. The album was at the stage of mixing... there were a lot of instrumental parties and it did not sound boring. But one evening, when the light at the end of the tunnel was already close, I went to the shower. Standing under the hot water, I thought: damn! I want to add something else, why not the jazz sounds? After two beers I opened my computer, sketched out my ideas, and messaged one saxophonist. In the morning I got a negative answer from him. I was quite mad and decided to make a last effort. I wrote a message to one of the best musicians in Estonia - my former harmony teacher and tenor saxophonist Raul Sööt. Next morning he answered me that it will be interesting for him to take a part in this project.
After that I was thinking about trumpet. Then I messaged to Allan Järve, who was my friend at the Viljandi Academy of Culture. He quickly came to my studio and we recorded a trumpet for two tracks in an hour. Raul Sööt took the task very responsibly. He recorded his parts at the studio with Cristo Cotkas, there were several sessions. When I mixed the album, including their parts, I realized that this is exactly what I would like to hear in the end. The other members of the Emphasis were shocked. They listened to the songs several times and said that it sounds cool, albeit unusual. Avant-garde it or not – let the reviewers to decide :) But for me this record is exactly what I always wanted to record, even at those times, when in our group were only three members - me, Katya and Vsevolod. Ten years passed and we did it! I want to say a big thank you to all the musicians who shared this work with us - Raul Sööt, Allan Jarve, my friend from Moscow - Oleg Lutskevich, and also my colleague Julia Mets and my student Alexander Smirnov."
Assuming there will be a tour to support the new album, are there any countries you would want to target? Will there be a music video released in support?
"Currently, we don't plan any tour activities. Our album release party took place in Rockstar's club in Tallinn on April 14. The most of the songs we played for the really first time in our lives and we really enjoyed that! The crowd was amazing. We decided to focus on promotional stuff. Yes, we have some great plans about music video .. but let's see! :)"
For metal fans travelling to Tallinn and wider Estonia, what sights / attractions could you recommend seeing?
"Rockstar's club – the oldest rock club in town, actually! Hard Rock Laager Open Air, of course. If you want to discover more, I totally recommend you to visit Narva, home town of three of our musicians, and got Art Club "Ro-Ro“. Believe me, there's really special atmosphere :)"
What plans does the band have for the rest of the year that have not already been indicated earlier?
"We are planning to open our online-shop, finally! There you can find our musical stuff and some really cool merchandise. As Anna said, we also have some plans about music video, but.... now we're not ready to discuss it. However, GMA will be the first source who'll get a link ;)"
Anna (vocals): "In autumn, we plan to play more shows. This spring was really hard for us!"
Max (guitars): "And we also plan to continue with the new material."
Pavel (guitars): "... 3,5 of the songs done :D"
Are there any greetings you wish to send out to fans, friends, family, etc?
All: "We wish you to visit more live shows and support local underground scene!"
Metal music is unmistakably global, we've seen the rise of metal bands from all corners of the globe, from Brazil's Sepultura to New Zealand's Ulcerate and all the countries in-between and... basically everywhere. However it's multinational bands and projects that just show the solidarity this music brings irrespective of religious, cultural, political or societal traits... Metal is the Mecca of open-mindedness. Akheth, a project generally central to Canada features members from American, Dutch, Iranian and Mexican backgrounds and as they drop their debut single it's only right that they get all the attention they deserve because Akheth are not just a band, they are a prime example of 'metalisation' (a portmanteau of metal and globalisation; I just made it up); that is the power of metal music bringing different nationalities together under one roof.
Akheth gave us an insight into their world, their new single, their paths to metal and the challenges of being a project separated by vast lands and open seas.
How did Akheth come about? What does the band name mean and how did that come about?
"The band started from the first demo of 'The Asylum' we did back in 2015. It was a song that I had written in 2011 for my band at the time. When I saw a few YouTube videos of Mahafsoun singing I asked her if she'd be interested in recording vocals for the song. We finished that demo but didn't create Akheth as a band until late 2016. The name of the band is an Egyptian hieroglyph that represents where the sun rises or sets. I chose this name for the band because I was looking for something original and short and Akheth was the name of the first song I ever wrote back in 2006, so it has a special meaning."
Seeing as you all live in four countries, do you send recordings over the net or do you meet up on occasion?
"Mahafsoun and I have met a few times but most of the work we do is through the internet. I send the guys complete demos with guide vocals or just the skeleton of a song when I'm still working on it. From there they learn it and add their own thing to it. There is also a new song that we are working on for the EP on which Mahafsoun wrote the main piano parts, it is the first song we are writing together. Next month (April) Mahafsoun and I will meet and practice the vocal lines for the new songs."
What (apart from the previous question) challenges do you face as an international band?
"Sometimes communicating ideas over the internet is difficult, you can't really explain for example a melody or a complicated section over an e-mail. Besides that recording everything separately, specially with a low budget is hard because you have to take all those different tracks recorded in different places and make them fit together. Of course with the technology we have these days it's a bit easier but some of us are still learning and getting more experience as we work more on recording music. Lastly the cost of getting all of us together in the same place, every time we want to do it one of us has to get a flight somewhere."
Mahafsoun, what was it like growing up as a metal fan in Iran? What does your family think of metal music?
"During the time I lived in Iran, I was only eight years old. Because of this I never got to experience what it's like to be a metal fan growing up in Iran. However my mum and dad nowadays enjoy some metal. In the beginning they didn't really care about it, but after I showed them the different sub-genres of metal, they each found one that they really enjoyed listening to. I believe that for each of them, they enjoy metal more nowadays especially because they know that I have such a strong connection to the music and the culture."
You released your debut single 'The Asylum' this year, what has the reception been like and how did you come up with the single title?
"At the time of writing The Asylum and other songs I had the idea of making them all fit together in a concept album. The story is about the human mind and how insane it can sometimes be. So at the beginning of the story everything is somewhat abstract but getting to this song, The Asylum, you start to figure out what it was all about. At this point we aren't even talking about the full length, since we are working on the EP, so we'll have to see if we keep the same subject.
So far the reception has been great! People from all over the world ordered our CD's and merch, as a new band we didn't really expect that so we are very thankful for the support. Not only that but people also liked our music and we were lucky to have Mark from Epica as a guest on the song!
Will the single be included on your impending EP / debut album in the future?
"Our EP will contain 5 new songs and we will include 'The Asylum' as a bonus. Although for our first full length album we talked about re-recording the song because this single was basically home-made and we had some comments about our production quality. So yes! we will have a much better version of 'The Asylum' but it'll have to wait until we record our full length."
How would you describe your style of metal? Who influences you?
"Right now we only have that one song out so it is still too early for people to really know what our style is. However in a review for Metal Injection they called us Progressive Symphonic Metal and we really liked that term because it doesn't limit us to play the same thing all the time. We have so many influences that go from Progressive Rock all the way to Black or Death Metal and everything in between. I think our music will definitely reflect that. Also each one of us has different tastes and styles of playing our instruments or singing.
The good thing is that we are all open minded and so is most of the metal community, our core will always be metal so I think most people will find something that they enjoy in our music. For our EP we are working on a ballad, also other longer songs with middle eastern vibes and instrumental sections. Some songs have more orchestra and others are more riff oriented so you guys can get an idea. The beauty of Symphonic Metal is that you can do so many different things with it and when you throw in the progressive part you get even more variety.
As far as specific bands that influence us I'd personally say Opeth, Dream Theater, Tool, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Evergrey, David Gilmour, Steven Wilson to mention a few. Mahafsoun likes Deftones, A Perfect Circle, Septicflesh, Moonspell. There would be too many to mention them all!"
What plans do you have for the year ahead and are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Our plans for this year besides the EP are making our first official videos together! We'd like to thank you and everybody for supporting Akheth and we hope you keep an eye out for our EP towards the second half of the year!"
Although metal music has been around for the past 4 decades (40 years), it is yet to fully touch every country in the world, and whilst Europe, North America, South America and Asia, with the addition of Australia and New Zealand have embraced metal music and it's culture (with the exception of the Vatican City and a handful of Caribbean islands), the African continent and Oceanian nations have yet to join the global legion.
However, there are a number of African countries who have metal music history established such as South Africa and Egypt, but, there are some Sub-Sahara countries like Uganda who are very underground and regularly get omitted from the New Wave of Sub-Saharan Metal.
Enter Vale Of Amonition, a Progressive Doom Metal band who have been romping the streets of Kampala for nearly a decade. Having released countless singles, 3 demo's, an EP, a compilation and their debut album, the Ugandan metal flag-bearers return with their second album "Those of Tartarean Ancestry", a solid effort given the slew of drummers who have come and gone over the last decade. GMA spoke to frontman Victor Rosewrath about Vale Of Amonition's current position, the Ugandan Metal scene and his thoughts on metal music.
"Metal has a rebellious energy attached to its ethos and construction... Metal will always find its people"
Vale Of Amonition and Threatening appear to be the only active metal bands in Uganda, what is new in the metal scene?
"There's probably a bit more underground or starting bands than we are aware of because we haven't really kept tabs on the development of the scene. I was aware of a few musicians trying to get things started here and there but I really can't say for sure."
How was 2017 for Vale of Amonition?
"2017 was one of the best years for the Vale. We released our long awaited second album, we headlined the Nairobi Metal Fest, I worked with an exciting new band called Doomcast with whom I released an E.P titled "Farewell To The Flesh" and we partied like crazy. It really has been thoroughly awesome."
You have just released your latest effort 'Those Of Tartarean Ancestry', what was the reception like?
"The reception for "Those of Tartarean Ancestry" has been great. We've matured tremendously as a band and we are in a much better position as songwriters to express the darkness of the Vale. I'm glad our fans and supporters are able to understand and appreciate what we are doing."
What do the Ugandan authorities think of metal music? What does society think of it? What do your parents think of metal music?
"They all hate it. But we never cared in the first place. We're not going to start giving a shit now."
Growing up as a musician, what challenges did you face? What challenges do you face these days?
"The challenges I faced were access to the equipment I needed until I realized there's ways around that and there's magic in making the most of what you have. I think my biggest challenge now is separating myself from the Vale and the Vale from me because I am really getting worried about my mental health."
There is a metal scene in Kenya, but do you know of any rock / metal bands from Rwanda, DRC or South Sudan? Do you envisage metal music to be present in every African country one day?
"Yes. I know metal will spread from one end to end of Africa someday. It probably won't happen but I'm an optimistic man despite what you might have heard."
What would you say attracts people to metal music? Living in war-ravaged areas? Corruption? Poverty? What are your thoughts on how metal has an affect on people?
"Metal has a rebellious energy attached to its ethos and construction. It's in the wiring of the music and the culture it has spawned...even the more depressive, introspective metal has a loner, me-against-the-world quality about it. That is very relevant today as it has always been. Metal will always find its people."
What plans do you have for 2018?
"More shows, more music."
Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Not particularly. I keep in contact with most people I care about. Maybe a shout out to Peter Steele in the nether regions. Thank you for the music, Green Man."
It's always nice to see individuals or groups giving the their input towards a relief effort and Omotai are no exception. Having provided a track for the Hurricane Harvey Benefit Compilation, this Texas unit are committed to bringing charity to those affected by the hurricane in late August / early September.
GMA had to catch up with the guys to talk about this sensational venture, their origins and the extreme weather Texas has to deal with, that being tornadoes as well as hurricanes.
Vocalist / Guitarist Jamie Ross gave the honours.
"Just the sheer number of people that lost everything is hard to wrap one's head around [from Hurricane Harvey]"
Hi guys, firstly could you give us a brief history of how Omotai came about as a band? What does the name mean?
"It all started back in 2010, when Sam Waters (vocals / guitars) enlisted the help of Melissa Lonchambon Ryan (vocals / bassist) and then-drummer Anthony Vallejo to record the debut EP, Peace Through Fear. That line-up remained unchanged through the next two releases, 2012's Terrestrial Grief (the debut full-length) and 2014's Fresh Hell--both released on local label The Treaty Oak Collective. I joined the line-up as a second guitarist in 2013, pretty soon following the recording of Fresh Hell, but prior to its release.
Anthony left soon after, his final show being at a 2014 SXSW appearance. Danny Mee took over drumming duties in time to complete some touring in support of Fresh Hell in 2014 and 2015. We've been hard at work ever since, writing and recording our latest double LP, A Ruined Oak, which is set to debut on October 6th on Tofu Carnage Records. A West Coast excursion is planned to promote the record. The name Omotai is the Japanese word for "heavy," which Sam felt was an apt designation given the artistic direction of the band. Credit for the idea goes to our friend Evan Jones, who taught English in Japan for a spell."
Would you say that the 2017 hurricane season has been one of the worst in recent years?
"Most definitely. Sam's family tragically lost their home in the Bellaire section of Houston, which was hit especially hard. The season would have been horrific enough if Harvey and its aftermath were the extent of it. But Irma came along and devastated much of the Eastern Caribbean and Florida, then Maria recently ravaged Puerto Rico (which is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis). Houston's had its share of weather-related disasters--especially in the last few years. But here we are a month out from the date that Harvey made landfall, and many areas are still impassable. Also, the waste from homes being gutted has built up into a logistical nightmare for removal companies that are still struggling to make inroads."
As you're from Texas, a state within tornado alley, have you ever seen a tornado? Has there been any notable ones hit Texas?
"We're a bit close to the Gulf of Mexico to be in the heart of tornado alley, but there were several in the area while Harvey was stalled over Houston. One hit the neighbourhood next to mine on that first Friday night--I could hear, but not see it. North Texas is the unlucky recipient of most of Texas' tornadoes."
Tell us about you getting involved in the Hurricane Harvey benefit compilation, where are the participating bands located? How can people donate?
"We were approached by Miss Champagne Records about contributing a track to the benefit record, Making Waves, the week following the Harvey disaster. It was the brainchild of the MCR staff and Mercy Harper from Football, etc. All of the bands are local to Houston, so the cause is obviously very meaningful to us all. We think it turned out wonderfully and we're honoured to be in the company of so many stellar Houston bands included on the compilation. All proceeds from the benefit comp go straight to Harvey relief, so it's a perfect way to donate AND listen to some rad music."
Did you sit out the hurricane or did you evacuate further inland? What were your thoughts at the time of Harvey's landfall?
"Danny was safely in Austin for the storm, but everyone else toughed it out here. When the storm finally hit, we knew that we were going to be in for an extended confinement at our homes (fully anticipated by the Houston masses, as evidenced by the the local grocery and liquor stores being completely fleeced), but no one anticipated how crippled the city would become. Just the sheer number of people that lost everything is hard to wrap one's head around. "
Would you agree that extreme weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes are a staple part of Mid-West and Southern American life?
"For sure. And, to make matters worse, the events are becoming more frequent and increasingly destructive."
Given the damage caused by Harvey, I can't imagine there being much band activity this year - please correct me if I'm assuming wrong and inform what you will be getting up to?
"There are several benefit shows sprouting up in the area, so the music community has been surprisingly resilient. As for Omotai, we've been concentrating on getting A Ruined Oak released, and we'll be embarking on a Western U.S. tour starting this Friday, September 29th. All of the dates are posted to our social media for those that would like to come out and hang."
Finally are there any hellos, thank you's you wish to send out?
"Firstly, our thoughts are with the Waters clan and all of our other Houston friends and family that are dealing with the loss of so much property, and coping with the resulting emotional challenges. Special thanks to Sean Mehl and Tofu Carnage Records for helping us put out the LP. And, finally, thanks to all who have supported us over the years--it truly means a lot."
Essex is known for many things, some of them and some bad. It's metal scene is one of the good things and then there's TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex) which is the worst thing to happen since My Chemical Romance being classed as a metal band.
But focusing on the metal scene, it's had the likes of Tides of Virtue, Forged In Black, Sanctorum, Dismanibus, etc grace the fertile soil from Southend and Colchester respectively. However when one speaks of Basildon, one thinks of Depeche Mode, chavs, Basildon Bond paper, Denise Van Outen., etc, and now there is Raze The Void.
GMA caught up with the Essex mob to find out how they fared with Bloodstock, the Essex Metal scene, debut EP and plans ahead.
"the title itself 'Obsolescence' covers what the current state of the world really is; the system is obsolete"
Raze The Void has only been going a year, were you all in previous bands prior? How did Raze The Void come to be?
"We have all been playing together for around with each other for 15 years nearly and just managed to get together and start a band from that after realising we all wanted to start playing and touring and seeing the world. RTV literally came from out of a dustbin a few years before we started playing the scene."
The Essex Metal scene seems to be a little quiet at the moment, could you tell us the current state of the scene?
"From Essex, apart from it being quiet, to really. There are some amazing acts in and around Essex, but you just have to sift through the venues and have a look out there and see for yourself."
Having played Bloodstock, what was your experience like? How did you end up winning a slot? What advice could you give Metal 2 The Masses bands next year who are vying for a slot?
"Bloodstock and everyone who we met from it and regarding it were amazing, very supportive and the feedback from everyone and all the reviews have been awesome and extremely positive.
For anyone out there who is going to go into it; be serious but have fun. If you believe what you do it the best thing you do, you have fun doing it and you all have fun playing with each then do it, go for it, be the best band you can band!
If you doubt anything you say or do or if you're not professional enough or not having enough fun, the crowd will sniff you and not like what they are smelling. They are as much a part of you as you are of them, so be there with them, get them involved. That okay?"
As a band are you worried at the lack of local venues with only Chelmsford's The Asylum, Southend's Chinnerys, Harlow's The Square and the Colchester Arts Centre being the sole main ones?
"It's not a worry when you can book outside of Essex and in fact, to just book in Essex, from experience, people then just seem to feel like that they will miss that one and go to another one as it's only up the road or whatever. Bra chin out into other places and leaving home has not only proved well for us, but is something that everyone should do and we in fact recommend. The live music scene is dieting but it's not dead."
Outside of music, what other hobbies or interests do you have?
"We all work full time and between that and the band; writing, playing, re-writing and down time there isn't a lot between, but some of use do things like cycling, rock climbing, wind surfing, extreme ironing; mainly physical activities. We are all very involved in quizzes and chess and some of us have other music projects going. We are generally very busy."
Tell us more about your debut EP, where was it recorded? What does the title mean?
"We recorded the EP with one of the most talented and hard working men we have ever worked with who we honestly consider family now, a man named Dan Kerr or Avenue studios; absolute genius!
The EP and from that flowing into the upcoming album is all conceptional, revolving around human error, greed, the rising of the underground movement, corruption and the title itself 'Obsolescence' covers what the current state of the world really is; the system is obsolete."
What plans do you have for the year ahead? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"The album is being written literally as this being typed out to you....now. We will continue gigging and getting the RTV name out there to people and then launching the new album along with more media stuff and hopefully some new merch. It's all going UP!
Shout out to Quimby, everyone who has helped us get this far, turned up and sung along with us, Nick Plews, Bob from Club 85, Ross, Phil and the boys for all their support and love and physical moves and to Neil- we hope you recover soon. "