Spain has a very vibrant metal scene that sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to what bands emerge from the sun-soaked nation, so when the Symphonic Metal 'forajido' group Diabulus In Musica joined up with Finnish Neo-Classical Metal exports Amberian Dawn, it was only right for GMA to grill this five-piece ensemble and interrogate them as if they were our amigos (of course they are!).
Having been around for a decade and only two founding members remaining in keyboardist / growler Gorka Elso and vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez, it was the latter who stepped up to the plate to share their thoughts on their tour, the critique of their latest album "Dirge For The Archons", music, politics and the much 'beloved' Eurovision...
Hi guys, firstly how was your UK / EU tour? What were the highlights?
"We had a blast! We really enjoyed every show, but we keep special memories of London, Pratteln and Haarlem. In general they were very enthusiastic about us playing there. We had lots of fun with our label mates Amberian Dawn and our great crew."
You released your latest album 'Dirge for the Archons' last year, what was the reaction like?
"The reviews were really great! And the fans wrote us several messages telling us 'DFTA' is their favourite album so far. We are also very happy with it. We also have had the chance to play some of the new songs live and the reactions of the audience have also been great."
How did you gain inspiration for your band name Diabulus In Musica? Who came up with it?
"I founded the band and chose the name. “Diabulus (or Diabolus) In Musica” is a Latin medieval word which means ‘The Devil In Music’. It was like that as they called the triton or the interval of the augmented fourth. The medieval ear was used to hearing perfect fourths and perfect fifths, (early music instruments are tuned different, in mean-tone tuning). The augmented fourth, being half-way between these two most common intervals, was about the worst discord imaginable. That’s why they thought that the devil was inside the triton.
The reason I chose this name was because of my music studies and my passion for early music. I studied classical singing but I’ve been above all focused in historical singing. The name was perfect for us not only because of the meaning it has to me, but also because it sounds a bit dark, as our music sometimes. We like this ‘dark romantic aesthetic’ as well as early music (actually we have included these elements in our music more than once), so we thought Diabulus In Musica was the name that fit us the best."
With Eurovision coming, as a band would you ever put yourself forward to represent Spain?
"I don’t think any of us would dream about going to Eurovision, but if we were proposed to go we would probably accept because it is a good way of promoting ourselves. However we all know Spain always ends up in the low-scoring positions hahah so it probably would not be a good idea. We all know all the results are manipulated, so it’s not a very “fair” contest. Anyway, I admit I usually see it, it’s a good moment to gather for a dinner with friends and have a good time and some laughs."
With Brexit impending, as a band are you concerned about touring the UK or fairly calm about it?
"For the moment we are calm and we hope it will not be a problem in the future because the UK is one of our favourite places to tour. We have only played twice, but the reactions have always been so great. The best part of our European tour last year was the one in the UK. It was a pity that last year our guitar player couldn’t come because he is from Russia and he couldn’t get his visa to enter UK.
This year he finally got a visa and could come with us. It’s weird and a backwardness that nowadays it is still so important to get papers and papers, bureaucracy is really annoying, above all when you go just to play a couple of shows. I’m not going to give any opinions about politics, but I only hope things are easier and faster in the future."
What is the Spanish Metal scene like right now? Any bands you would suggest to your fans to check out?
"Well, I honestly don’t follow the Spanish scene, so I don’t really know very much about it. What I can say is that the metal scene like in every country is a small one and here, people prefers to listen to the typical “Spanish Metal”, which is generally heavy music from the 80’s sung in Spanish. That’s what you get in every metal festival in Spain. There is also a new scene, but it is not supported enough to grow, at least for the moment."
You hail from Pamplona, home of the famous 'running of the bulls', what are your thoughts on the tradition? Have you ever participated?
"No and I will never do so. I’m personally totally against the bullfights and I hope they are forbidden one day. I simply cannot understand that any human being can call that tremendous brutality “culture”. Regarding the running of the bulls, well, that’s different because bulls and people are on the same conditions and bulls don’t get harmed. It’s a very settled tradition in our city and in that case the bull doesn’t suffer, so I don’t have problems with that, but of course I have strong feelings against bullfights."
Finally what are your plans for the year ahead? Any greetings, thank you's that you wish to send out?
"We are headlining three festivals here in Spain in spring and we hope to play more until the end of the year. We will also start writing new material. Thanks a lot for the interest and your questions and thanks to the readers also for taking the time to read. We hope to meet you all on the road!"
There are very few Dutch 'Symphonic' Metal bands that have made a name for themselves or indeed established themselves as truly unique in various ways. Delain is one of them, well, one of the big four Dutch Symphonic Metal bands of whom stand alongside Within Temptation, Streams of Passion and Epica in this almost-exclusive group. Having released their latest music video 'Suckerpunch' back in February this year, their new EP 'Lunar Prelude' and album 'Moonbathers' in February and August respectively, the sextet from Zwolle are poised to celebrate the anniversary of their debut album release 'Lucidity', which dropped 10 years ago.
Martijn Westerholt, Delain co-founder (along with Charlotte Wessels) and subsequent keyboardist / lyricist, was more than happy to spend time with GMA and to talk about the current state of the Dutch Metal scene, Brexit, their forthcoming anniversary show, tours and much, MUCH more.
What is the current status of the Dutch Metal scene, is it still as strong as years past?
"Well, there is always a good basis for metal.. a scene for it, but I think that support from radio stations is really, really poor and that they totally forgot about what kind of events they have. For the scene itself it's really good and also the venues, there are a lot of really good venues - that regarded it's really, really good".
Regarding the whole Symphonic Metal movement in The Netherlands, aside from Delain, WT and Epica, is there a bright future for it?
"Well there's also a new band, End Of The Dream (www.facebook.com/endofthedreammusic/) which is upcoming and there will always be some bands, but in general it's those three bands indeed. Of course there's also Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering, The Gentle Storm) who is doing a lot and is also involved with Ayreon; I'd call them progressive 'sci-fi' metal, but those I think are the main active bands in the genre and certainly regarding the future because the musicians in those bands are not very old, so I would say yes (laughs)".
Regarding Delain, upon releasing the 'Suckerpunch' single (Lunar Prelude EP) and 'Moonbathers' album, what has the reception been like? Was the production plain-sailing?
"Fantastic, absolutely fantastic, firstly with 'Suckerpunch' which we released in February just before we went on tour in the USA with Nightwish, that was really good as people asked for new material and this is why we released this prior to the record... and then of course the record itself in August which I think has been received well too; accompanied with really good ticket sales for our European tour (a good sign of favourable response).
Every album recording I love album productions because you learn every single time that there's new stuff. This time we really learned that to not record everything in one big chunk and not mix everything in one big chunk, but split it up into pieces because it makes you far more flexible, you have tours in between it doesn't matter you can go on tour and on top of that, which is more important you are flexible because if you write a song, record it and then immediately mix it, then you can take a step back and later on look at it again and say 'oh I love this, this is a really good thing' which we should do more.
Or I don't like what came out, you have to go back to the drawing board and so it makes you very flexible and there's not a lot of pressure like we have to record now because THIS IS IT and there's no second chance, so it will also reduce a lot of pressure and it's also a more modern way of writing intense music. People write a song, they immediately record it and master it themselves even and put it out. I wouldn't go that far to master it myself, but I would like to do it song by song and that's a very new thing I discovered which works really, really well for us.
We also had Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz guest on 'Hands Of Gold', she was really easy to work with and was so wonderful. We of course meet each other when on the road now and then, when we're touring, she is also present when we played with Nightwish and Sonata Arctica in Montreal (Canada) where she's from.
In this song we really wanted a really heavy growl, a really heavy grunt in there and so it was very easy for us to ask Alissa for that because we know her and she was very open to do that, we sent her stuff and she recorded and sent it back and I tweaked around with it, and it worked fantastic - it's very nice that she will be at our Amsterdam show in December as a guest for our 10th anniversary, and so she can do the song live; concert is sold out and will also feature Liv Kristine, Burton C. Bell, George Oosthoek (Delain session member) as guests, as well as 'potentially' more guests, however Marco Hietala (Nightwish) and Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) won't be present.
Marco has shows already confirmed in Finland, a Christmas tour with another artist and Sharon has privately a lot of stuff on her plate, so she's not available either otherwise I'm sure she would be very open to guesting".
Over the years many people have labelled you as a Symphonic Gothic Metal band, would you agree with that genre-tagging?
"Well this is where you will get the cliche type of answer for this kind of question, I don't really care that much about the genre-labels, I never understood the term 'Gothic' and I also don't like the term 'female-fronted' because what does it actually apply? That there is a female fronting a band? Well there are a lot of females fronting a band and there are a lot of males fronting a band, why don't you say 'male-fronted band'?
So I never understood this terminology in general anyway, I do understand the 'Symphonic' part because this is really applying to the music itself, there are a lot of 'Symphonic' elements and melodies in the music and of course also 'metal'; although some people would not agree to that because they are into 'true metal' - they would say "this is not really metal, this is just pop", but if you look at the kind of guitars used and that we make riffs based on rhythm, that's definitely metal.
So I think Symphonic Metal is a very accurate term, the only thing with Symphonic Metal is that it doesn't cover other sounds in the music, for example there are a lot of electronic elements in the music and this doesn't cover that. We also have got a lot of pop influences in the music, in the themes, in the structures of the songs; how they are built, so I do think 'Symphonic Metal' is a better term to use but it doesn't cover everything".
Do you agree the term 'female-fronted' could be considered sexist?
"I think Charlotte would say yes. I don't really care about that, I'm so feminist that I would say that for me it's given that both sexes are equal, I just don't understand the whole terminology of 'female-fronted' because why say 'female-fronted'? It doesn't even say what kind of music it is, you can even say that Janis Joplin was an artist of a 'female-fronted' band, it doesn't say anything and I do have some people who want to say "we mean a metal band with a female singer", but still that doesn't mean anything... I think it's a stupid term and on top it's not all about the singer, it's about the music and personally I don't really care if a male or female does it, just as long as it is done well and I like the voice, that's of course that's a matter of taste.
Take Nightwish for example, what makes Nightwish 'Nightwish' for me is the guy writing the music, of course you need a good singer and I think Floor [Jansen] is a really good singer, I think Tarja (Turunen) was a really good singer, but to me that doesn't make the charm for it, to me the music makes the charm".
With that crossover of electronic and pop elements with metal, do you feel metal needs to tap into other music genres in order to constantly evolve?
"Well it needs to do nothing, I think people should make what they want to make and if they like to make music that has been there a long time, then that's fine, there will always be people liking that. If you want to have something brand new then yeah you have to think of crossover combinations and this is still done today with really modern approaches, you see bands tapping into that and with that way it does evolve. I don't have a judgement about either way, but if you want it to develop into new things you have not heard before, then of course it's really good to use new elements."
On the new album 'Moonbathers', Delain did a cover of Queen's song 'Scandal', are you personally a Queen fan? How did this come about?
"Absolutely yeah I love Queen, Queen has been a childhood thing of mine; discovering Queen end of the 80's when I was like 8-9 years old, the song 'Scandal' I noted that in the early 90's so far after the release of 'The Miracle' and that song really appealed to me. It wasn't a well-known song - not a lot of people know this song from Queen and then I lost track of it, but then later on I rediscovered it again and I thought it has a really good Delain vibe, but I actually don't like touching Queen songs because I think it's musical suicide by doing that, and if you take Freddie Mercury's voice it's one-of-a-kind. Don't try to get to that level, his voice is not of this world (and he is not any more of this world either man, of course).
The only thing I wanted to do was to take this song; I actually asked Brian May for permission and we got it, that was fantastic and was such an honour and we just tried to give it the Delain 'sauce' without trying to 'cover' a Queen song by respecting all the elements in there, that's what we did.
The contact was from the manager and he didn't know the band (Delain), he checked us out and said it's really good, I'll give you permission up-front. Normally a label or publisher will say 'well let us first listen to the song', because if they don't like it then you've spent all that time, money and energy in doing a cover for nothing and Brian May said he liked the band (Delain) so much that he you already get permission up-front and the only thing the publisher can do is follow. I recently sent the result to him, but I don't have a response yet so I'm very curious... but he will get it still (laughs)".
As 'Brexit' is such a hot topic at present, as a band are you worried about possible issues arising when coming to the UK to tour?
"Nah not at all, I'm very interested in politics and look for example Norway, Norway is not in the European Union but there a lot of treaties that we don't even notice when crossing the border and I think it will go the same way with the UK.
I do wonder if there is going to be a separation between Scotland and the UK, if that's that the case then of course Scotland would enter the European Union again I think, but I do think that this is not a very likely scenario and that it will stay more or less the same in terms of immigration, visas and stuff, i don't see that happening because of treaties that I think will be the same or similar to those in Norway".
Surely with that in mind, countries would keep borders open for musicians because of the revenue that they generate?
"Yeah that too, although I wonder if this is even on the agenda of politics, probably not I don't think so... this is peanuts in comparison to other industries but ah it will be OK, we even toured the US and the US has a very elaborate Visa application system and with the UK I don't see that sort of thing happening anytime soon".
With 2016 coming to a close and 2017 beckoning, what plans does Delain have for the rest of the year and beyond?
"Well this year was the most crazy hectic year ever for Delain, we did so much - toured the US, Europe, released an EP and album, a headline tour across October and November. What we have left is an anniversary show in December at the Paradiso (The Police and Nirvana played here) in Amsterdam. This show is going to be recorded both in audio and video formats and is going to be released on DVD next year so we will be preparing for that, it's kind of a birthday party as it's the 10-year anniversary since our first release, so I'm really looking forward to that.
We deliberately haven't booked any support because we need all the day, the time to prepare for the show as we have a lot of guests and effects in the show, so we didn't want any distractions with support bands.
2017 will be festivals and tours, we will be doing a couple of Dutch shows in the Spring I think six. We are going to tour Russia, Greece and Italy will follow and then indeed it's the Summer season and so we are going to do festivals, so we're busy with that right now. The past festival season was fantastic, best festival season we've ever had with Download, Hellfest, Graspop, a couple of big ones in Germany, we went to Finland, Spain, so yeah next year I expect a festival season with big festivals, really looking forward to that".
Obviously touring is strenuous and a tiring lifestyle, so how does Delain chill out and keep calm when on the road? Any advice for smaller bands?
"That's a very good question, last tour for example I think was the most heaviest one I ever did and I've done a lot of tours; think about over 20 tours in my career. It was really heavy because it was long, it was a headline tour, it was a very successful one but often was very demanding, a lot of production things had to happen that had to be decided every day and so the 'off-days' were really needed, and on those days for example I take a hotel room and be asleep in the room all-day, watching a film or playing a game and for the rest absolutely nothing (laughs) and that really works, but sometimes an off-day we use as a travel day in the tour bus so it's sleeping time.
Very boring actually but it's nice, sometimes when you're in a nice city for example I can remember being in Madrid and we went to a restaurant, eating tapas in these classical Spanish dishes which was really nice. However, whilst touring you don't really get to see much because what you see is another venue every single day, when you wake up you're at a new venue and you don't have time to see the city, you only have time for that on off-days. To give you an idea on this tour we had 9 off-days, of which at least half were travel days and so that means in 5 weeks you have about 5 days to see cities and that's not that much, also most of the time those are cities you've already been to on previous tours.
For example, Budapest I've already been there about four or five times, so if you really want to see something for example we did Dublin for the first time, so I saw Dublin for the first time it was really, really nice and so next time I will have to hire a rent car and drive through the countryside and there you really see something, but the thing is you need those days to rest so much for the time you take in the hotel and do absolutely nothing, and again you don't see much then (laughs)....".
I love my job, I think it's the best job in the world for me at least, it's fantastic I really really enjoy it very much, I appreciate it very much and feel spoiled and privileged. But it's very, very hard work and people only see the glamour part of it, they don't see the problems they don't see the building up part and so if you have ambition to tour, yes go for it it's fantastic it enhances your experience in life, meeting people from different cultures, etc, but you have to really work hard for it and it's not a given that you can earn money from it, it's a very crazy job and so don't expect to drive a Porsche with it, anyway expect to have a huge debt and if you're lucky your band will do well and then you can earn a little bit of money with it.
But that's the thing, you're not a musician for the money (at least some aren't), you're a musician for the kind of job you want to do and if you achieve that then really appreciate it, because you're there because of the fans, they pay your sandwich, your meal let's say, treasure them because without them you can't do what you do".
Regarding culture, Delain's fanbase in particular, are there any countries you were surprised at for having a huge support for Delain?
"Well the UK for a start, I remember when we were at Roadrunner they didn't want to release our first or second album and they said 'you're also not playing here', but when I said I wanted to play there, they said 'but you don't have a release, it doesn't make any sense' so it was kind of the chicken and the egg story and at a certain point we thought 'you know what, screw it, we're going to play there (UK) and I don't care if we have a release or not' and so we played there and were received so warmly... leading onto Roadrunner releasing our debut album. So in the UK it really took off really fast and I love to tour the UK, so that's an example of a country where we're special and has a huge support... I also experienced this in the US; they're very enthusiastic there as well...
Most of the the time the venues are of poor quality and there is not a money supporting system like there is in The Netherlands for example where the venues are really new and really luxurious, so that's another cultural aspect difference, but it doesn't really matter in the end because it's about the fans and if they support you then you can come there and play there.
We did a support tour for Nightwish last year in South America and we were received really warmly there as well which was fantastic, so you are surprised that how truly widespread the support is and how far people travel to see you. It's absolutely astonishing, we had people from Korea coming over to Europe to see us, and Japan, Chile etc., so yeah it's fantastic.
It shows that metal music has a very loyal fan-base too, there are not a lot of other styles of music that you can say something like that to so we should really cherish that".
What hobbies do you and the other members of Delain have outside of the music world?
"I love to watch documentaries about history, I'm a big history addict. I love to play games, especially strategy games like Total War which is a big favourite of mine. I also love to ski, I'm into winter sports - I remember last year we toured the USA and I managed to ski in the Rockies which was fantastic and near Calgary in Canada. Oh by the the way I'm also a Trekkie, I love Star Trek and Star Wars as well, so I'm a sci-fi geek.
I know that Timo & Ruben (respective guitarist and drummer) are very much into gaming, Ruben is also a big food fan, he loves to eat and Charlotte loves to read... that's it really.
Speaking of Star Wars actually I thought that 'Star Wars - The Force Awakens' was fantastic, it has a little bit of the vibe of the first three films (Ep 4-6), I personally don't despise the films that came out in the last decade (Ep. 1-3) I like them too, but I do understand why some fans really like this one (Force Awakens), it has captured part of the vibe which was missing in the first three of the trilogy (Ep.4-6)... which is of course the last three actually (laughs).
Moreover Kylo Ren struck a chord in my heart because I'm curious to see how the character will develop. Maybe you could write a song about him on the next Delain album? (laughs) well yeah of course because what inspires you, you start making music about so perhaps I should!"
Martijn wishes to express his gratitude to thank readers and fans for taking the time in following and giving support and interest to Delain. Without them Delain cannot do what they do so you might actually call our fans our 'boss' when it comes to our job so they are very important to us.
It's conceivable that the Finnish people are metal-music crazy, with a hole host of bands making names for themselves and achieving mainstream success. From Children of Bodom to Nightwish and HIM to Lordi (who won Eurovision 2006) and Apocalyptica who still to this day remain as the sole Cello Metal band. But gnawing at the latter's heels is the nonet Ravenia of whose self-styled Symphonic Metal sound takes on an epic dramatic twist, with the symphonies being engulfed by film-score/operatic elements that leave the listener entranced by this sensational outfit.
Having released their debut album "Beyond the Walls of Death" back at the end of April, it was about time GMA locked the group away in a Lapland cabin, waited till dark and under the night sky watched the Northern lights dance away whilst we interrogated Armi Päivinen, Ravenia's vocalist. It begins with the background story of Ravenia's past...
"I don't think that metal music is very well represented in the the history of soundtracks but maybe we can fix that"
"Back in 2013 Samuli Reinikainen asked me to sing on a couple of his songs, so I wrote the vocal arrangements and lyrics for them. The vocals had already been recorded when he decided that he no longer wanted to work with me. Well, we figured why waste the vocals when they were already recorded, so we decided to compose new songs around them. Hence Ravenia was born. After that we started composing music for our full-length. Samuli knew our other violinist, Ville, so we asked him if he wanted to be a part of the album, he also recruited the other guys.
We previously worked with Veikko in the group In Silentio Noctis, so we really wanted him to be a part of this as well, he was an obvious choice for us. Samuli has also played together with our bassist Toni Hintikka, so he asked him to tag along, we felt that his style would fit our album perfectly. After we finished recording in the summer of 2015, the album was then mixed at Sonic Pump Studios and mastered at Chartmakers. Finally, our debut ”Beyond The Walls of Death” was released April 29th via Inner Wound Recordings."
Ravenia is called a 'Epic Film score Metal' band, what is inspiration behind this and do you hope it will enable you to create your own genre?
"Who knows, it would certainly be cool. We really love film score / trailer music and we really wanted to get a chance to do that ourselves. Since metal has always been the thing closest to our hearts, we didn't really want to stray too far from it, so we figured why not combine the two. The trailer music elements are definitely our main focus, so the guitars and drums are there really to support that theme and not the other way around."
Because of your distinct sound, could you see Ravenia writing the score for a film? What upcoming film(s) would you love to pen the score for? Do you feel that metal music is not well represented in film soundtracks?
"We could definitely see ourselves writing a score to a fantasy or a war film. It would have been fun to be involved in writing the music for the Assasin's Creed movie but since it's already coming out in December, it's a little late for that. I don't think that metal music is very well represented in the the history of soundtracks but maybe we can fix that, hahhah!"
As Ravenia is a nonet (nine-piece), is it hard to maintain stability and write music together? What challenges has the band faced?
"Since Samuli and I write all the songs together, it makes it a lot easier than having nine people all pitching in with their ideas. We've had quite a few challenges, of course budget wise and more than our fair share of difficulties with the studio computer not working because of the massive amount of tracks. Sometimes we are forced to do things really slowly and it's wasting a lot of valuable time, so we certainly hope that once we start making our next album we would have been able to fix that issue."
Your debut album 'Beyond The Walls Of Death' is now out, what has the response been so far? Do your plan to tour the UK / Europe in support of the album?
"So far the response from most people has been absolutely incredible, it's truly wonderful to see that the emotion is coming through in our music. I have never really heard such beautiful things that
some of our listeners have said, it is very touching. We don't have any touring plans at the moment because of the size of our group, also we have quite a large amount of backing tracks, so unfortunately the venue needs to be quite large in order for those things to work well in a live setting. We have kind of dug a little grave for ourselves with that."
Could you give us a brief breakdown as to what each song means, which was the easiest and hardest to record and what one is your favourite?
"Here it goes, I'll do my best to break them down..
Hmm, the hardest one to record for me was probably ”In Silence”, I don't know why, it just took the longest. The easiest one for me, I would say was ”For Those We Forsaken”. It's hard to name a favourite, parents love all their children equally but ”Into Oblivion” has always been close to my heart musically, it really has the best of both worlds I think."
Your music video 'We All Died For Honor', what is it about? Is it about the Lapland War against the Soviet Union in WW2? Or something else?
"We didn't want it to be about a specific war, so it's more of a general description. The point of the video is not so much on the war itself as it is in those that were left behind to mourn. We wanted that to be the main focus."
Barack Obama acknowledged Finland's long history of successfully exporting metal music at the Nordic summit, what is it do you think that makes Finnish Metal music so popular? With Lordi's Eurovision win arguably being the most outstanding achievement for any Finnish musician, let alone metal, would Ravenia contemplate putting themselves forward to represent Finland at any forthcoming edition of the ESC?
"For some reason, you are not the first person to ask us that. Lately quite a few people have been
asking the same thing. We can't really see ourselves participating in the contest at this point but who knows what crazy plans we'll come up with in the future! It's kinda hard to say what makes Finnish metal so popular but it might have something to do with that that it's cold and dark almost all year long and what else is there to do in Finland besides making music?"
Finally have you got any hello's, thank you's, greetings you wish to send out?
"First of all thank you for the interview and to all our listeners a huge thank you for all the kind words and support. Stay epic."
Ravenia's debut album "Beyond The Walls Of Death" is out via Inner Would Recordings
Lithuania despite it's relatively well-positioned geographical position, seems to have a metal scene devoid of western attention with the exception of a few metal bands. One band who fits that category is Blackened Thrashers Dissimulation, whilst on the other hand of the spectrum it is arguable that Žalvarinis is another band who has garnered attention outside of Eastern Europe. But what about the new generation?
Well, with the latest news concerning Berserker's signing to Sliptrick Records the future looks bright for the Lithuanian Metal scene. This female-fronted melodic metal outfit have been around since 7th March 2009 and are set to release their latest offering and debut album "Dark Worlds Collide" this year. Having already performed in Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and Poland, it's only a matter of time before they reach British soil.
But before they get that chance, GMA decided it was only fair to give the two ladies and four gents a brush over and interrogate them...
What does it feel like signing to US label Sliptrick Records? Where does this go in terms of the bands achievements?
"Dark Worlds Collide“ is our first released album. Our debut album, the digital version of it was released after 6 years since the band was founded. We gathered old songs, wrote new material, arranged intros and interludes. Now that this task is behind us, we are excited to have the opportunity to release this album not only in digital format, but also in physical format together with Sliptrick Records. We believe that this is only the beginning and with the help of Sliptrick Records we can further develop as a band, and share our music with broader audience.
Could you give us a brief background history of the band?
Berserker was founded in 2009 by classmates Romeo (bassist), Krzysztof (guitarist) and George (drummer). Over the years we as a band suffered line-up changes that held us back from playing more gigs and finishing the record earlier. Our current singer Agnieška and second guitarist Mažvydas joined the band in 2013, Kristina – keyboardist in 2015. Now we can say that we have a stable line up.
The Lithuanian Metal scene appears to be very small (from a UK perspective), what can you tell us about the scene? (can talk about clubs, labels, media, successful bands, public perception of metal, etc.).
There are a lot of interesting metal bands, playing and incorporating very diverse styles into their music. The Lithuanian metal scene is quite small in terms of places to play in / at. There are a handful of clubs and a couple of festivals where you can play such music. Therefore bands tend to write English lyrics and share their work with audiences in other countries.
With Eurovision 2016 have been and gone, has Berserker ever considered (or thought about considering) entering the contest? What are your thoughts on it?
We have not thought about participating in the Eurovision Song Contest. For now we have many other
goals to achieve and to grow as musicians. Maybe we will when we get older.
Kristina & Agnieška, what are your thoughts on female musicians playing metal? Would you agree that the stigma towards female musicians in metal is not as oppressive as once was? Would you agree that modern society is more appreciative of having diversity in music be it gender, race, religion, etc., that there is very little oppression towards the mentioned traits?
I believe that gender does not matter in music nor that it ever did, female musicians can be as good as their male opposites. Although sometimes female musicians do not get a whole lot of respect from some metal fans, there are a lot of strong and respected female-fronted bands out there. I always felt good being a female singer in a metal band, for me it is fascinating to be a part of a band playing strong music.
Metal music lets you express your inner energy, spiritual power, emotions and rebellion – traits, which every person has, regardless of their gender. Of course, not everyone can play this kind of music, but if metal is not only in your ears, and makes your heart beat faster and lets you feel the passion, it means you play the right music – that’s what I feel. Modern society is very diverse, meaning its tolerance to a wider spectrum of music styles, I believe, that we are living and playing in the right time, when people want diversity, when it is pursued to be tolerant in all of aspects, because it gives a freedom of choice and actions. I can’t argue, there is always some disapproval, but without it, it would be harder to improve.
Where has Berserker got lined up to perform in support of the album re-release (via Sliptrick)? Is the UK on the table? (in contention).
We did a "Dark Worlds Collide“ tour in Poland, performed in Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and of course Lithuania with the purpose of promoting the albums digital release. Now the planning stage concerns
how can we support the re-release and find time to work with new material and other projects. Gigs
are being planned in Lithuania, Latvia and Poland and we can say, that the UK is planned for November. With proper support there is a bigger chance we will actually do it!
What would you describe your sound as without using genres in your answer? What sets you apart from other similar bands?
Our music combines epic melodies, apocalyptic lyrics to bring every listener to his own unearthly, magical, fantastic reality.
Finally have you got any hello's, thank you's etc you wish to send out?
We would like to thank all the people that support us, that attend and have fun at our shows. This is the main reason that pushes us to go forward and create music.
"Dark Worlds Collide" is out via Sliptrick Records date tba
"We still have that spirit of exploration, but we've definitely found our groove and we can't wait to show the world"
Immoralis are a Symphonic Metalcore / 'Orchestral DETHcore' sextet arising from the dark and dampened streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having already unleashed their ferociously powerful effort 'The Great Collapse' and just dropped their latest single 'Burden', it was clearly overtime in respect to giving these four lads and two lasses a proper interrogation. We recommend the track 'The Great Collapse' from their album of the same name as a starter point to get into what is poised as the newer Bleeding Through. Let the fireworks begin, we spoke to the band as a whole and also addressed two questions to them individually, surprised to see the UK was not mentioned in this interview....
Hey guys, first of all how did Immoralis come about, how did you meet and what does the name mean?
As far as our lineup we all met through Craigslist ads, YouTube, mutual friends and being in the right place at the right time. As far the name Immoralis goes it actually has no real meaning but was thought up and it just happened to stick.
You call yourselves Orchestral DETHcore Metal, what influences make up your sound?
Between each individual member we have such a varied difference on what we each listen to personally that we all bring something unique to the table and are able to come up with our sound.
Who would you say was the party pooper of the band, who is the leader or daddy / mummy of the band? (That is who makes sure everyone is happy)
Each of us have been the party pooper at one point or another, Jens and Adam would be the leaders / father figures and Matt would be the comforting mother of the band. As far as everyone else in the band Jesse is our networker, Tori is our swing vote whenever our democracy is at a tie, and Jace is our social butterfly / wild child.
You released your debut album 'The Great Collapse' last year, did you all come up with the songs or was some songs thought up individually?
Jens and Adam pretty much had the foundation of the songs written and as each of the rest of the members joined they were able to add their instruments to the songs to create "The Great Collapse".
What plans have you got for the year? Please explain the meaning behind your new single 'Burden'?
We will hopefully be working on a new EP as well as doing some touring. "Burden" was inspired by the TV show "Dexter". The song can be viewed as a stepping stone towards the direction we're going.
Finally are there any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
We'd like to give a collective shout out to everyone that has supported us so far. It means the MULTIVERSE to all of us and we're excited for what's to come!
The rest of the questions were directed at each member with two questions each.
So Jens, how long have you been playing guitar and what do you currently play with?
I've been playing guitar for 17 years now... wow, how time flies having fun! Currently, I have 3 guitars that I use live, my two mains are a Tobacco Sunburst Gibson Slash Signature Les Paul and a Black Dean ML Custom Run. My backup guitar is a Gibson '67 re-issue Flying V. All of the guitars are down tuned to Drop-B. I use DR DDT .12-.60 strings. My amp is a Peavy 5150 EVH signature Blockletter run through a Carvin 4x12. My pedal board consists of a Morley Bad Horsie 2 wah wah, Boss TU-2 Tuner that run in front of my amp, with a TC Electronics Flashback Delay, TC Electronics Hall of Fame Reverb, and a ISP Decimator in my FX Loop to clear up all the nasty unwanted noises that come from a cranked 5150... I also have a Sure Wireless system that I use depending on the day and venue.
What is your favorite Immoralis riff and why?
My favorite Immoralis riff? Well, that would probably have to be in 'The Value of Nothing', specifically at 1:49. It's a pretty basic riff that only happens for a few short measures, but it just brings me back to the old (Master of Puppets / And Justice for All) Metallica shred days, so you better believe I down pick that shit for full Hetfield authenticity.
Jace, as backing vocalist and bassist, who do you take influence from?
Influences for me have come from all around considering singing and playing. My parents are huge influences on me, being musicians themselves they've always been able to help, teach and inspire me with anything I do music related. Vocally I would have to reach out to Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, Pat Benatar and Amy Lee of Evanescence. I love the feeling they all release in their singing and all their different styles. Bass wise, I really enjoy playing fast, so Geddy Lee of Rush and Ryan Martini of Mudvayne were two of my first influences that really reached out to me on that instrument for two reasons, they weren't your average 'root-note bassist' and I never got bored listening to them play. Then I got into Tal Wilkenfeld, and she is definitely a top inspiration for me along with John Myung from Dream Theater. Flawlessness meets tastefulness. I don't care what anybody says, there is nothing like a good, solid, funky fresh bass solo.
If you could sing a duet with any musician from any time in history, who would it be and why?
If I had the chance to sing a duet with any musician in history, it would definitely be a tie between Sharon from Within Temptation and Amy Lee from Evanescence. Their impressive range, feeling and over-all talent is just flawless! I have been listening to both groups from each ones beginning and I definitely believe that the passion, drive and talent we all would share could definitely be combined into one of the most breath taking musical pieces yet. It would be such an amazing honor.
Matt, how did you train to become a drummer, was it natural or did it take time?
I've never had a formal lesson before so I guess you could say I took to the instrument pretty naturally. I was inspired to learn by watching other drummers before I had even touched a pair of sticks, I just knew I wanted to play the drums instinctively in a sense. But as far as getting to where I am today it's come from years of listening to music and learning other drummers parts as a way of figuring out how certain things are done. Very trial and error then figuring out what works best for me and our songs.
If you could take Immoralis to only 3 countries (except USA), where would you take them and why?
Definitely Australia, Germany and Canada. Those music scenes as of late are pumping out some sick bands and just seeing how shows go down from seeing other bands in those locations the appreciation for our genre over there is just insane and I would love nothing more than a first hand experience of that.
Adam, did you and Jens share guitar playing tips in the early Immoralis days or was it very easy to do?
We were both semi experienced at guitar and writing music when we met. Jens has always been an exceptional guitarist with his formal training, schooling, and how he constantly pushes his skills and in the time of knowing him and playing with him I've grown tremendously by learning from him. When we first started writing together it was difficult. We were both trying to pull the music in a certain direction which is strange because we actually share many of the same influences that got us into music like Pantera, Metallica, Etc. Where the magic began was when we both let go of control and just let the music flow. We gave everyone a chance to finish an idea before criticizing or changing it. We also adopted early on that no idea or direction is off limits. We don't have to be strictly brutal or melodic. We love the duality of both. We never know where the next song will go.
What would you say makes Immoralis who they are?
I think our secret sauce is our diversity and that everyone contributes. If you put four guys who all love Death Metal together then they'll make a Death Metal band or Thrash, etc. The truth about us is that there are bands we all love but there's such a range of influences between everyone and we really encourage every members input. When we first started writing we didn't really know what kind of band we were gonna be so we were really experimental and just figuring out what we wanted to be. Our first record "The Great Collapse" is in my opinion a good example of us exploring what sound we want. Since then we've definitely honed in on what we think will make Immoralis the best band we can make it. We still have that spirit of exploration but we've definitely found our groove and we can't wait to show the world.
Tori, how long have you been playing keyboards and do you feel that more bands need to explore this instrument further? (As in does it create atmosphere so that the whole song sound changes?)
I've been playing piano for probably around 16 years, keyboards for 10. While I love the extra layer that keyboards add, I wouldn't equate that to saying more bands need to incorporate them. I wouldn't be opposed to such a movement, but there are tons of amazing bands out there already that utilize keys, and in vastly different directions! However, I will fully admit that if more bands want me to listen to them, keyboards are an easy way to do so. That's where I get my giggities.
Who would you liken yourself to playing wise? Who influences you?
My biggest influence is easily Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish. The sincerity, talent, and imagination behind his songwriting are what first inspired me to attempt fitting my classical background in the metal scene. If it hadn't been for a good friend of mine showing me the "Once" album and coercing me to form a metal band, I certainly wouldn't be where I am now.
Jesse, what made you become a vocalist, was it a childhood passion?
I actually grew up playing the guitar and playing in a garage band with my older brother Pat. I was 14-15 years old covering Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Korn, etc. Then I started writing my own music and lyrics so our band began writing original music. That's when I started singing. I would always sing along to songs when I was little. But growing up my main focus was the guitar. When I turned 17 I started writing music that was to technical for me to play and sing at the same time. I found a guitar player that I could teach the songs to so I could mainly concentrate on vocals. I really got into the screaming side of music after hearing the "Deftones", my favorite band ever ha. Then America Head Charge, Dry Kill Logic, Chimaira, etc. I took a break from vocals and got back into the guitar for a few years. I then took a break from music all together to pursue other interests. I stumbled upon Immoralis, heard some songs that were just instrumental and after hearing them I had so many sick vocal ideas running through my head. That's when I decided to get back into the music scene. I think my passion is music in general, whether it be vocals, guitar, bass, anything that helps get the ideas out of my head and into a written song. That is my passion.
What advice could you give to those learning this type of vocals?
As far as advice for anyone trying to learn screaming / singing vocals. I would say nothing happens overnight, it takes years and years of learning, practicing and making mistakes to learn how to scream properly. Nothing of worth comes easy. If your voice is gone and your running out of breath then your doing it all wrong. Control your breathing! Also be open minded, just because you're into metal doesn't mean that other genres can't help you become a better musician or vocalist. I practice singing to anything from Bruno Mars, City In Colour, Periphery, then screaming to Veil Of Maya, After The Burial, Elitist, Whitechapel, etc. It all helps me become a better vocalist and I'm always learning new things. Last but not least, be yourself. It's good to practice to other music and learn from it but be original. Which means let everything you scream and sing come out naturally. Don't try to sound like someone else and most of all don't over-think things.\m/
On about Symphonic / Gothic Metal:
I caught up with vocalist Charlotte Wessels of Dutch Symphonic / Gothic Metallers Delain about their history, talking about the change of record labels that has been going on, festivals and tours they are playing at or have played in the not so distant past and questions about the Dutch Metal scene. Apologies for the unwanted noises in the background, I believe it was due to connection issues.
The interview can be heard above.
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