Lack of money, lack of time... [are] the testing stages and they need to be like this. (On being an unsigned band)
As the Metal 2 The Masses (M2TM) kicks into full swing with heats across the breadth of the UK and abroad taking place, bands progressing whilst some fall by the wayside, it's once again time for GMA to probe the bands who have entered this prestigious competition that allows the eventual region winners to earn a slot at playing the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival near Burton-Upon-Trent.
Third up is Callus from Lancashire; questions answered by guitarist / vocalist Louis Clarke.
Debut EP out now
For those not in the know, please explain how Callus formed?
"Callus formed in early 2013 in Lancaster, Ben and I had been friends since high school and enjoyed the same bands and getting pissed together, so it was only natural that we wanted to form a band. We encountered Mark shortly after and that's when things really clicked for us and when we knew we had the proper line-up. I think we played our first show with Mark in Barrow, Cumbria."
Is this your first time in M2TM? If no when did you previously enter? If yes what are your emotions like?
"This will be our second stab at M2TM, we played last years event in Burnley. We are like a caged violent demon-boar at this point... ready to bust loose and launch an assault on all of your senses."
How important is the M2TM initiative for unsigned bands? Irrespective of whether they win their regional heats?
"I do think M2TM is pretty important for unsigned bands, obviously it gets them in there with a chance at playing the main event. Not only that, but with all the attention that the heats get it makes the nights pretty awesome in themselves, which is still great if you are like us last year getting knocked out in the first round (!). The nights always end up being heavily populated as far as we can tell."
What is the Lancashire scene like? Please tell us about local bands, venues, etc.
"Lancashire's scene is pretty good, we try not to take too much notice on what everyone else is doing in scenes though. We like to do our own thing really, if people enjoy it then that's amazing and that makes our night, if not then that's cool as well we enjoy it all the same.
As far as local bands go Lancaster can boast some pretty meaty bands especially with the likes of Bloodyard (who of course won M2TM a couple of years ago) and Insurgency really starting to break out and make a name for themselves. A favourite band of ours is Boss Keloid although they probably don't know it... it blows my mind that something so original and moving came out of Lancashire, Wigan I think to be precise. Of course Manchester seems to be "Where its all happening" though.
As far as venues we love the Yorkshire House (Lancaster) to bits, and we have grown especially fond of The Dark Room at Roper Hall, Preston. Both killer venues."
Will you be going to Bloodstock even if you don't progress to the finals?
"I think at least one of us may go to Bloodstock this year, but last years line-up was outstanding and pretty hard to top for us... A bunch of us went though even though we didn't get through our round of M2TM. With the likes of Boss Keloid, Foetal Juice, Rotting Christ, Gojira, Mastodon and Slayer it was too good to miss. We also made sure to catch After The Abduction who we have played with before at The Alma Inn, Bolton and The Star and Garter, Manchester (two more awesome venues in Lancashire), who won last years M2TM... those guys bossed the New Blood stage."
What are the hardest challenges of running an unsigned band these days?
"One of the hardest challenges of running an unsigned band has to be a matter of time and money... two of us each have kids, all of us have jobs and responsibilities yeah it can be tough. Lack of money, lack of time... its all a test but that's life its just how it goes. These are the testing stages and they need to be like this. Although if someone wants to sign us and pay for our shit then we will have a chat right?"
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and are there any messages you wish to send out to people?
"The plan for the rest of the year is play as many shows as we can and try to reach as many people as we can. We just released our first E.P. as well called Through, Blood, Sweat, Piss and Pain so we want to support that as much as we can and drill that into as many peoples heads as possible. We have something really big planned for early next year so we are trying to build up as much momentum as possible.
Come to a show if you haven't already, you might be surprised... you might not... still reading? Congratulations if you got this far! Through, Blood, Sweat, Piss and Pain."
Being a female metal musician poses it's challenges in what many would still call a male-dominated music genre, from the underlying threat of sexist commentary to the whole 'they play in a band therefore they're automatically hot' cliche. However bands like Jenner from Serbia certainly don't care about what people think about them, even if they're an all-female band.
Serbia in itself isn't generally a country that automatically springs to mind when it comes down to metal music as a whole, so GMA decided to investigate what is going down in the Serbian Metal scene and what makes Jenner tick along so finely... answers are by their drummer Marija Dragicevic.
"To be an all-female metal band is not easy, not even in Serbia. Prejudice follows us on every step, it’s a kind of etiquette us female musicians must carry."
Hi girls, how did Jenner form and how did you all become interested in metal music?
"Hello, it's nice that we have got an opportunity to chat a little about our band with you. Our story began 4 years ago when Alexandra Stamenkovic (guitars) and I, her older sister, Marija Stamenkovic, now Dragicevic (drums) formed the first incarnation of Jenner. We've already played in an all-female hard rock band, but Alexandra played bass, and since we've had many problems finding a good female guitarist, Alexandra decided to disband that band and learn to play guitar to form another band.
That was Jenner, but it was meant to be a hard rock band first, then she changed it to a old school heavy metal band with influences from Rock Goddess, Accept, Warlock, Judas Priest etc, whose songs we're covered at first. Jenner's first bassist, Jana Bacic was in from the very beginning as she was our friend before that. Andjelina Mitic (vocals) has joined the band shortly after that and over a years time, Alexandra and our friends realized that we should take a more faster and heavier sound, and we've started covering bands like Overkill, Anthrax, Exodus etc.
Unfortunately, Jana could not keep up with our new sound and the pace of work, so she was replaced with Mina Petrovic, our current bassist. Not so long after that, we recorded our first demo, two songs – 'Hear The Thunder Roar' and 'On A Judgement Day', (you can find it on our official YouTube channel) in order to promote the band and participate in the iconic 49th Serbian guitar festival at Zajecar. We made it to the semi-finals and had a remarkable performance which opened us the door towards further success.
Few months after that, our first album "To Live Is To Suffer" was prepared for recording. Since I have left the band during pregnancy, Selena Simic (Nemesis, Vibrator U Rikverc, Goatmare and the Helspades) helped the rest of the band to finish the drum tracks and do a few gigs, and both bands, Jenner and Nemesis, performed as opening acts for the Brazilian female thrash band Nervosa, here in Belgrade. A year had passed, and I have returned, the album is recorded, mixed and mastered at Citadela Sound Production in Belgrade and was released on February 20th via the French label Inferno Records. 1000 CD copies and 100 cassette copies are available for order, from the label and also from us directly.
The two of us (Alexandra and I) were intrigued by metal music thanks to our mum Aneta, who gave us her cassettes, vinyls, old magazines and posters when we were 15 and 12 years old, but we didn't start to play right away. Alexandra started when she was 15, firstly as a bassist and then she started to learn guitar and a little bit of keyboards. At the same time I was 18 and I had a passion for playing drums even though I had no drum-kit. Andjelina started to sing a little before joining the band, and Mina had her influences long before us, by her father Milutin who was a musician but had recently passed away."
What does the band name Jenner mean and who came up with it?
"The one who's "guilty" for the band having the name Jenner is, once again, Alexandra. She named the band after Dr Edward Jenner, who became famous by inventing the smallpox vaccine. She was studying microbiology at medical school, and found out about Dr Jenner, and immediately took a piece of paper and drew the first version of our logo, and we both liked it. When we presented it to the rest of the band, we decided to use that logo and we still use it."
Since you're all females, what are your thoughts on the terms 'all-female' and 'female-fronted' when describing a band? Do you receive any negative comments for being females playing metal?
"To be an all-female metal band is not easy, not even in Serbia. Prejudice follows us on every step, it’s a kind of etiquette us female musicians must carry. To be a part of a female metal band, that’s weird to most people. But we learnt not to pay attention and do what we love, the best as we can. There were some stories we’ve heard, that we haven’t even recorded our own demo. Some people just tend to overlook the real musical skills, not only because we're a female band.
Sometimes it's correct, but usually they just follow some trends and they don't wanna give us a chance. We’re trying to give our best to prove that our work and effort is not just for nothing. Female metal bands are rare everywhere but now, when our album is released and half of the world have already heard of us and have nothing but praise and admiration. In general, most of the people here are surprised by our decision to play Thrash Metal. They say we have a lot of courage for we have ventured into it and they all maximally support and assist us. Stereotypes, of course they’re everywhere, but we’re not worried, we know very well what we are doing and there will always be someone who appreciates it."
What is the state of the Serbian Metal scene at the moment? Popular or quiet?
"The Serbian metal scene is underground, as it's expected for one small country, but it's quite large because we have many bands with a lot of talent, quality and potential who give their best for their bands. Some of them are really successful and fond of touring Europe - Nadimac, Infest, Alitor etc... The thing is that we usually seek cooperation and help from foreign labels; even Serbia has few who are active. We're all making it, helping each other, assisting, supporting, and that's what is most important. It needs a lot of work and sacrifices to be noticeable. But with help of foreign labels and the internet, we're able to promote our music to the world, and it's accepted very well."
With Brexit are you worried about touring the UK and challenges you may face? Are there any problems in Serbia?
"Not exactly. Serbia is still not in the EU, so it doesn't seem to have problems. The only problem in touring the UK is a lack of money and free time. Serbia is a small, poor country, and we have many obstacles here regarding being metal musicians."
What hobbies do you have outside of music and your daily jobs?
"No time for hobbies! Unfortunately, our daily jobs and obligations are the ones we must deal with. I have a family, a 7 month old baby, Alexandra studies medicine, Andjelina is a hairdresser, make-up and tattoo artist, and Mina works with video editing and design. The band is our main hobby, and we always find time for rehearsals and gigs because we're doing it with love and passion. It’s only about the work and effort, as much as our free time allows us for it.
What plans do you have for the year ahead?
"The band will be quite active this year, we have to promote the album in Serbia and across the Balkans, shooting videos etc. We have a few gigs booked, including "Dan Rock Zena" on 11th of March in Ljubljana, Slovenia, with our friends Nemesis and Hellcats (also female metal bands), on 25th of March, we'll be in Skopje, Macedonia for the first time, with The Backdoor Band, and we'll promote the album in our home town, Belgrade, on 15th of April, with the help of famous Serbian bands and our good friends Deadly Mosh and Superhammer. The most important thing for us is that as many people from all around the world hear about us, and that's possible thanks to the many internet portals, webzines, and radios all across the world. We’d like to thank to everybody who supports and helps us!"
Catch Jenner at the following dates:-
11th March - Dan Rock Zena - Ljubljana, Slovenia 25th March - Skopje, F.Y.R.Macedonia 15th April - Elektropionir - Belgrade, Serbia
As the Metal 2 The Masses (M2TM) kicks into full swing with heats across the breadth of the UK and abroad taking place, bands progressing whilst some fall by the wayside, it's once again time for GMA to probe the bands who have entered this prestigious competition that allows the eventual region winners to earn a slot at playing the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock Open Air Festival near Burton-Upon-Trent.
First up is Kill For Company from London; questions answered by guitarist Quinton Lucion
How did Kill For Company form and what is the meaning behind the band name? "We formed in 2014 as our singer Tom got in contact with me (Quinton) to finish off a set of tracks we wrote in 2012. My only stipulation was that I wanted to write with a live drummer and so we found Dan. We solidified the line up in mid 2015 and have been playing live since. We just thought the name sounded cool to be honest."
What range of influences do you take? Band-wise and sound-wise?
"In terms of image we don't model ourselves on anything in particular. Sound wise we take influence from bands like Pantera, Megadeth, Metallica, Pantera, Gojira, Vader, Decapitated to name a few."
Is this your first time participating in M2TM? (If yes are you / were you nervous? If no what emotions were / are you feeling?)
"This is our first time round [playing] the M2TM cycle and are delighted that we are in the quarter finals. We weren't sure what to expect in our heat but it was well organised and we just felt happy to be a part of it."
What is the London Metal scene like right now?
"It's pretty good at the moment. Lots of good bands supporting each other."
What hobbies does the band have outside of music?
"Practising on our instruments if I was to pick between Dan and I. I know that's not outside of music but that is what we do. Tom's hobbies are probably to do with watching films and having an interest in history."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
"To finally release our debut e.p and get back to playing shows. We endured a personal setback this year but are intending to come back with full force."
They've been making a name for themselves since their inception a decade ago, not just because of their age at the beginning but also due to their bold move at performing live in Times Square which took the social media world by storm. Having racked up the press attention, fan numbers and even striking a monumental deal with Sony Music, it was about time that GMA gave the trio Unlocking The Truth an interrogation to find out what ticks these three lads from Brooklyn and what it means to 'unlock the truth'... all three lads - Malcolm Brickhouse (MB), Jarad Dawkins (JD) and Alec Atkins (AA) - gave their answers.
Hi guys, so firstly how did you get into metal music? Are you surprised by it's global spread?
MB: "We got into metal music by hearing the genre through the intro music to WWE and the background music of anime. No, I'm not surprised by metal's global spread. There's a crowd for every kind of music and I know from experience that people can really connect to this music."
AA: "I got into metal music through Ana, me, Jared and Malcolm ."
JD: "I got into Metal music, by an entertainment network known as the WWE. In addition, AMV also known as, Anime music videos, were a source of entertainment that introduced me to metal music. Bands such as, Disturbed, Linkin Park, Three Days Grace and more."
What did your high school friends and your family think of your choice of music? What do you aim to achieve?
MB: "My high school friends support me. They may not listen to metal, but they think it's cool that I am doing something unique and making something out of it. I aim to carve our own path in metal. Making it okay for people who are scared to stand out and be themselves, feel like they can show the world how unique they are. I also want our music to touch people's souls."
AA: "My high school friends think highly of my music and most of my high school friends like my music because in order for you to be considered my friend you have to like what I do"
JD: "They believe my choice of music is unique. I aim to achieve a platinum album, and a few Grammys"
You performed in Times Square, that surely must be a highlight of your career? Would you do it again? Perhaps organize a festival?
MB:"Performing in Time Square was a highlight of my career. It pushed us into the mainstream and got us used to performing in front of a large crowd, but I would not do it again. That was only chapter 1 of our journey. We have to keep improving and moving forward."
AA: "Yeah it would be cool to organize a festival but I don't see us going out to Times Square playing for four hours with a bucket."
Since NYC is steeped in music history e.g. hip-hop being a popular choice of music, was it hard to break out of that social convention and do something different? Do you / have you ever been subject to racial discrimination for playing what some still call a 'white man's music'?
MB: "I think the fact that hip-hop is so steeped in New York City, it was good for us because it helped us stand out from a lot of other artists. Also being black helped us stand out, so I can't complain. We did not necessarily face racial discrimination. We would show up at venues and people would automatically assume we were rappers or called us the Jackson 5. But they were surprised when we started playing metal."
AA: "Yeah it was kinda hard to break out and do something different, but the real thing is people want different so it was easy for us to get our name out there and for people to get in on unlocking the truth. Some people think we play white people's music but that's not true because we know that the origin of the Heavy Metal table comes form rock 'n' roll, rock 'n' roll key from the blues and soul and that's black peoples music so we didn't care about what people said as far as race."
JD: It wasn't hard to break out and, do something different because in NY, people don't really care on what you do until they see it, and the improvements you make for yourself. I've also been subjected to racial discrimination, and it wasn't just for music."
Back in the day
How do you feel signing to Sony Music? Surely this blew you back at the time, signing to one of the world's largest labels?
MB: "Signing to Sony was a huge part of why we are where we are today. It was a great opportunity and even though everything didn't workout, I am still grateful for everything that came along with signing the deal."
AA: "Signing to Sony music was a blessing, even to have the opportunity despite the fact we are no longer with them."
JD: "Signing to Sony gave the band a fresh start to the music industry. Also it gave the band, a new start to the music industry and the people to help you succeed. Furthermore, being independent is better."
Do you have any plans in touring Europe? Where have you played so far?
MB: "We have not played in Europe yet but we are finalizing the deal for two shows in Warsaw, Poland this coming May."
AA: "We do not have any touring plans for Europe as of yet. But we have played at Coachella Bonnaroo warped tour etc."
JD: "Yes we do have plans of touring in Europe. Furthermore we have toured the states and parts of Canada."
You've just released your debut album last year, what was the reaction like?
MB: "The reaction to our debut album was great. We received tons of great feedback too. Now for our next album, we'll just have to capitalize on what we did so far."
AA: "People reacted nicely to the album, gave us good feedback and we gained a good fan base from it."
JD: "The reaction was okay, its our first album and, we have much more improving to do."
What advice could you share with aspiring metal bands or indeed the youth in the metal music community?
MB: "I think that aspiring metal bands and the youth should try to find ways to be different. People want new, not recycled artist. When times are the hardest (and they can get hard), just keep pushing through it and never give up. Thank you for this interview."
AA: "My advice stay true to yourself and do what you want to do and don't do what others want you to do."
JD: "Be the best you can be, don't let nobody stop you from what your trying to achieve. Always do better, exceed the average, never want to be the average. Furthermore, surround yourself with people that want to win and, you'll win."
Having already arisen from the fairly-ignored Irish Metal scene and pushed themselves onto newer plains be it Bloodstock or Japan, Dead Label are certainly one band that cannot be ignored - any reason given will be invalid upon deliverance. Having this year dropped their infectious second album "Throne of Bones", GMA wanted to discover what drives this three-piece force. Naturally seeing as Claire was at one point our Irish correspondent, she duly answered our questions - we promised to go light on her, but this was not to be...
For those who do not know your band, could you please give a brief background of the band and what your band name means
"We started eight years ago, just writing songs and playing local gigs. The three of us were in previous bands together too, but this was our first real one! After doing an EP we then went to record our album 'Sense of Slaughter' in the UK. This was our first step into the real world. We travelled to Japan for our first big festival and it all kind of came from there. When we started it was around the time of the murder of Sophie Lancaster. We wrote a song about her murders, which was called 'Dead Label'. When trying to think of a band name, we were saying we didn't want to be labelled within metal, just being metal so we ended up taking the name Dead Label, and we renamed the song called 'Rest in Pieces'."
Things have certainly sped up since your Bloodstock appearance, do you feel it's grass-root festivals like BOA that give bands that platform to gain exposure more easily?
"Bloodstock is an amazing festival. The people who run it are very helpful from the beginning, before you even book a festival, they can be seen helping bands with Metal to the Masses. They create a platform for bands to flourish and they encourage all the things you need in getting a band to the next level. I hope we can return to play Bloodstock for many many many years."
Claire, there seems to be an increase in female musicians over the years, do you feel that the stigma towards female musicians is still there or has it gone?
"I think the stigma is dwindling big time. There are still people who are surprised but in a more pleasant way. They're has been a big change in the attitude to girls in metal. Its not just about the vocalists any more, there are female musicians being treated equally to men, which is all anyone ever wanted!"
You released your album 'Throne of Bones' this year, what was the response like? What track(s) are your favourite and why?
"The response has been massive! We had been sitting on this album for some time, so we were nervous as to how it would go down, but all the reviews have been over and above what we expected! Everyone seems to really be liking it which is amazing and we are very excited by how into the risky things on the album! Like 'The Cleansing' and 'The Gates of Hell', these were both somewhat risky for us, we obviously liked them but we weren't sure how people would react!"
With the UK pulling out of the EU are you concerned it may hinder your chances at playing in the UK?
"Yes, when the vote came in my first worry was touring. Right now, it is so easy to come back and fourth to the UK. Also were bigger bands touring is concerned, if they do not go to the UK, they may not come to Ireland. I am hoping there will be provisions to ensure the ease of musicians playing in the UK. After all, it hosts some of the most amazing festivals and bands tour all the cities. They simply have to come to good method of maintaining the ease of musicians travelling in and out of the UK!!!"
Taking interest in the Irish Metal scene, what is the current status of the scene? Is the scene still going strong? What challenges specific to the scene are there?
"The biggest challenge for the metal scene here is the population. with the amount of people who live here, you have to consider how many like metal! Don't get me wrong, the metal heads here are die hard but its just not as many as you would find in other countries. There are a lot of amazing bands though and when you do find yourself at a gig it tends to be full of energy! But there are not many options within the scene itself. Hopefully the increased number of bands here will encourage the fans to get out more and go to gigs."
What plans have you got for the rest of the year and into early 2017? Have you got any greetings you wish to send out? "We have a lot of touring plans in the works, and we are in talks with some cool festivals for next year! We hope to tour Throne of Bones as much as possible now that people have a chance to check it out before we come to their city! We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that supported us, particularly fans that took us on board on the Fear Factory tour. We played to a lot of new faces and so many people came up afterwards and bought merch and talked to us. That means a lot to a band and it helped keep us alive on the road!"
Forged In Black have been knocking around the Southend, Essex Metal scene for a fair number of years under their previous moniker Merciless Fail. Having won the Essex heats of Metal 2 The Masses and inevitably heading up to Bloodstock to showcase their wares on the New Blood Stage, the band felt that a name change was the best way to carry on their musical direction. So they adopted the name of their debut album.
Members came and went during the Forged In Black - Merciless Fail crossover period with Josh Moreton and Gabriel Valentine making the cut, Kevin Rochester did leave only to make a welcomed return. The latest member to leave this band of merry men was Tim, and as Kieron stated an announcement is on the table, ready for unveiling in due course.
But as Kieron entered our interrogation chamber, we wondered how Forged In Black he really is. Let's hope the band take our pun in jest, we love them really...
It's been sometime since your Bloodstock appearance, what significant events have taken place in the Forged In Black camp since then?
"Since Bloodstock we've played a whole host of great London venues including: Camden Underworld, Camden Barfly and the Relentless Garage. We've also worked with two acclaimed producers: Romesh Dodangoda (Motorhead, Sylosis) and Chris Tsangarides (Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, Yngwie Malmsteen) which has resulted in the respective releases of 'The Exodus' single and the new 'Fear Reflecting Fear' EP. We also underwent a name change which we feel was much more reflective of the music we play; we have been gigging as Forged in Black for three and a half years now."
Having played at Bloodstock, what advice could you perhaps offer to those performing at a major festival for the first time? Especially the unsigned / M2TM bands?
"The best piece of advice we could give is to enjoy every moment of the experience and take advantage of all the great opportunities that come with playing a huge festival."
"You're due to release your latest EP 'Fear Reflecting Fear' at the end of April, how does this differ from your previous EP 'The Tide'?"
"We feel that 'Fear Reflecting Fear' is a definite progression in terms of song writing. We've tried to keep all the elements that comprise our sound (operatic vocals, guitar harmonies, breakdowns) but we've tried to add a progressive tinge to some of the tracks. This is especially true of the title track and 'Shadows Still Remain' which have a variety of feel and time changes."
How was it working with Chris Tsangarides? With this EP, do you reckon it will catapult you onto the European Metal circuit sharply?
"Chris was an absolute joy to work with; a true professional who made us feel extremely comfortable throughout the process. His attitude and ideas were fantastic. It was a privilege to work with such a legendary producer. We really hope this release will extend our reach across Europe. We feel this release caters for a variety of metalheads, including: fans of NWOBHM, Doom metal and Thrash. There's something for everyone! We really hope Europe can embrace this EP."
Kevin left the band but returned, did he miss performing or what was the reason on his delightful return? On the other hand Tim left, what was the reason for his departure?
"Kev was glad to have a break from the sometimes chaotic atmosphere of playing in a band but as you say he missed performing. He tried a few other projects but realised that Forged was where he wanted to be. It's been great working with him again.
Tim left as he wanted to spend more time focusing on his career. Unfortunately it's not always possible to reconcile this focus with the demands of a band and we fully understood his decision to leave. We wish him all the best. Since then we recorded the EP with guitarist Rowan Beverluis. Unfortunately this didn't quite work out and we have since been performing as a four piece. We have recently auditioned a few guitarists and hope to make an announcement soon regarding the new line up."
What challenges would you say unsigned bands face these days, what challenges have you had and how did you overcome these?
"The real challenge for an unsigned band these days is setting yourself apart from other aspiring artists. Social media allows everyone to showcase their music so you have to think of strategies to stand out from the crowd. We feel the new EP, with all its strengths, is our vehicle for getting more notice."
What is the current state of the Essex Metal scene? Is it vibrant, fluctuating? What do you feel (if anything) is lacking?
"Essex definitely has a strong metal scene. Venues such as Chinnerys (Southend) and the Asylum (Chelmsford) are always showcasing some of the best local talent and these venues are attracting some of the most established metal acts. Chinnerys recently put on a show with legendary thrash band, Exodus as part of their European tour. I think this shows just how reputable the Essex metal scene is becoming."
What plans have you got for the rest of the year?
"For the rest of the year we will continue to promote the EP and we hope to record another set of tracks with Chris Tsangarides. Once these tracks are recorded we will combine them with the 'Fear Reflecting Fear' EP to release our second album."
Finally have you got any hello's, thank you's etc you wish to send out?
"When we started our journey, we did not get any proper platforms for live performances. All the gigs were push-sell gigs which we never did. Things went bitter when our buddy bands started messing things up. Too bad they don't exist anymore! "
Enmachined do not really need much of an introduction to our regular readers or to those who are well apprised of the South-East Asian Metal scene. Enmachined, popularly dubbed as the "bone crushers" are a five piece Thrash Metal outfit hailing from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Having started in 2011, the band has earned massive accolades and reverence from both sides of Bengal as well as other parts of the world.
Enmachined is highly spoken of for their annihilating live performances and have been confirmed to play at the upcoming Banish The Posers Fest 2014, where they will cause mass banishment alongside the likes of Nafarmaan and Orator from Bangladesh, Serpents Athirst from Sri Lanka and the mighty Impiety from Singapore.
GMA's Bangladesh correspondent Nabil Abaddon sat down with Abir Mahmud (vocalist) and discussed live performances, Enmachined's songs and the struggles, the upcoming event and much much more.
Greetings brother! How is the band preparing for the upcoming event banish The Posers Fest 2014?
Greetings brother! Before every live gig, we partake in a couple of rehearsals and this time, there are no exceptions as well. The set list for BTPF has been fixed and that is going to unravel some new tracks and at the same time regular bone crushing numbers will be played. Enmachined is ready to diffuse the madness of Thrash Metal with full force.
Enmachined's set-lists are always well sequenced for the live assaults. There is always a broad array of songs, from mid-paced to fast, from groovy to thrashy numbers. It really seems to click on the audience. How do you go about making the perfect set?
We do consider ourselves as the audience before composing any material, before selecting the set list for a gig and mostly before taking any further actions that are related to any audience. After all, if we do not like the composition, order of the set list, then how can we expect the audience to like it?
So regarding the order of the tracks for a gig, we consider how the order would perfectly enchant us, how the variation of the set list would perfectly be utilized, if we were in front of the stage.
On the same note, it seems that Enmachined’s latest singles have significantly changed in terms of tempo and composition style. Needless to say, they sound “bone crushing”. What do you have to say about that?
We do not try to repeat the same things. Yet, we have not drastically changed to a new dimension either. A little bit of experimenting has always been made before finalizing any composition. Above all, we want to make it BONE CRUSHING haha!
Enmachined have performed at almost all the prestigious gigs this year. We are just a few days away from Banish The Posers Fest 2014. How excited is the band to perform alongside Nafarmaan, Orator, Serpents Athirst and Impiety?
We are really honored to share the stage with the aforementioned bands. Impiety is one of the biggest Extreme Metal acts of Asia. Also, watching them live for the first time will be a great experience.
Do you think being the only Thrash Metal band in this year's bill gives Enmachined any advantage?
Hahaha. I do not know what you mean by the term “advantage”. In my opinion none of the bands of the roster are alike in terms of sound. Everyone on the roster is going to represent their own music. Both Orator and Impiety have Thrash Metal elements present in their music.
You guys like to label your music as "Bone Crushing Thrash Metal". How did you guys came up with this label?
We always try to create something that will CRUSH your BONES. No matter whether it is Heavy Metal or Thrash Metal. A lot of people doubt our genre. Some people term it as Heavy Metal (because of my vocals and the track "Piranha"), some term it is Thrash Metal (I think this is the perfect criteria for our music to fall under), some even term it as Crossover Thrash Metal (because of the track "Thrash Assault", where one can perceive the influences of Crossover Thrash Metal). It really doesn’t matter how we are being termed. Our music will always be bone crushing.
You are very much inspired by the classic Heavy Metal bands. Would you like to tell us as to how you got into Metal music? How old were you when you discovered it and how were you driven to become a vocalist?
Back in my school days, I discovered Iron Maiden. I was 15 years old at that time. Later, I became thrilled by the singing of brother Torsha Khan in a Stentorian single. I thought if a Bangladeshi vocalist like him can show the dexterity with the voice in such an excellent way, then probably I should also try hard to be a good vocalist.
Your Heavy Metal roots are also quite prominent in your own vocal styles. Your frequent use of falsetto and vibrato techniques, squeaky screams highlight you out from all the other vocalists in the local scene. Who are your favourite vocalists that you have always looked up to?
A lot of vocalists have inspired me and yes, this is true that most of them are from a Heavy Metal background. I am mentioning a few names here: Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche) and obviously Brian Johnson and Bon Scott from AC/DC.
Enmachined’s demo “Thrash Assault” was released via Salute Records (Sweden) last year. How has the label helped or promoted the band worldwide?
Salute Records has helped us a lot to spread our music worldwide, and we are grateful to the owner of the label, brother Tony for his immense support. Zines from different parts of the globe reviewed the demo, conducted interviews and featured articles of the band.
What are you guys focusing on after the demo release?
Well we have been working on the next release for a long time, which is going to be the first studio release of the band. Some of the songs we have already done at shows and the feedback was killer!
Enmachined is one of those bands whose journey was no bed of roses. Would you like to tell us about the band's rough journey since 2011? The hurdles you had to go through during the dead era of the local Metal scene?
Initially it was a very difficult situation. We had to practice without a drummer for six months, we couldn't find a permanent bassist either. When we started our journey, we did not get any proper platform for live performances. All the gigs were push-sell gigs which we never did. Things went bitter when our buddy bands started messing things up. Too bad they don't exist anymore! There were good organizers too, I remember each and everyone of them who helped us. But struggling still exists and now looking back to those past memories, a lesson well learned is "you form your own band, YOU fight for it".
The struggle also continued when you were going through the hassle of getting the visas for the gig in Kolkata, India last year, which turned out to be a complete fiasco. The gig was postponed by a few months but the visa issues were still unsolved. Please tell us about the whole suffering.
Some of our members got the visas initially, some did not get it. Members who did not get the visa, applied again. Even, some of them applied thrice. But in the end only two of our members were issued the visa. Despite the postponement of the gig, we could not make it there. That was actually a terrible situation.
We even got an offer to perform in another city in India after that, we were even assured financial assistance by the organizer and you can probably guess the rest of the story. Same issues, visa problem and we could not make it again.
Are you guys aware of the fact that a bunch of young Metal bands are inspired by Enmachined in one way or the other? What do you have to say about it?
We are actually a young band haha. We do not know if we are inspiring anyone. But if we are, that's great! Yet, we have gained some dedicated supporters. Without their attendance at shows and their general support, we would not have reached this far in our musical journey. So hats off to you warriors, who ever and where ever you are.
You are quite an iconic figure in the local scene for your memorable dialogues and stage acts at the gigs! Your dialogues go viral every time! On a serious note, how important do you think its important for any band to pull off a great performance for the audience?
Honored brother. I am still very young and I think the term, “iconic figure” is not really an appropriate one for me haha. I do not know for the other bands. But, first of all we try to be flawless in terms of our performance (vocals, instrumentals or whatever), we probably have not yet reached the level to do everything flawlessly yet. But that is our ultimate target and obviously that can pull off a great performance for the audience. I, personally try to interact with the audience and I do believe that brings enjoyment to the audiences.
It was a pleasure conducting this interview with you. Looking forward to Enmachined's performance at BTPF. Anything that you would like to say to your supporters, perhaps to the folks at Primitive Invocation?
Primitive Invocation is a revolutionary community in our Extreme Metal set-up They have organized a couple of killer concerts in the past and I think Banish the Posers Fest 2014 will also be a remarkable one. Anyways, thanks for the interview, and your endless support. To the local metalheads, show up in RCC on Friday, the 7th of November, 2014!
Machinergy are a Thrash Metal trio hailing from the Lisbon District in Portugal. In September they dropped the physical version of their second album "Sounds Evolution" via Portuguese label Metal Soldiers Records and Greek label Secret Port Records worldwide. Prior to this on the 2nd June, they released the digital counterpart to the second album and this earned them sensational reviews: "From the first to the final breathing, they attack relentlessly with a track-list overall vigorous and brutal, keeping the standards high-leveled with no relevant ups and downs between songs" Rock & Heavy [Chile] "Remember when thrash bands did ten tracks of brutal, fast, pounding music and released it as an album without a thought for appealing to people outside the genre? Machinergy have recaptured those days" The Moshville Times [UK] "They will no doubt blow your speakers" Metal Galaxy [Canada] "This is one bad-ass album" Woodbangers [USA] Following this success, Global Metal Apocalypse decided to take time out to speak with Vocalist / Guitarist Rui Vieira about the album, their award-winning documentary, the Portuguese Metal scene and the destruction of the Euro currency.
Rui Vieira (right)
Hi Rui, now you are releasing your second album this month in CD format, how does it differ from 'Rhythmotion'?
Hi there! Well, one of the things is the speed! 'Sounds Evolution' has faster songs than "Rhythmotion'. Besides that, I think we created more simple structures in comparison with the first record, and because we're a trio we recorded the songs thinking about the playing live part. I could make a lot more solos and leads but if I cannot replicate that live, it's better not to do it. Concerning some reviews, they frequently mention our old school heritage (80's Sepultura, Metallica, Slayer, etc) that is way more declared than the first CD.
Machinergy has been going since 2006, what has been the highlight of the band's career thus far?
I think we achieved some important things in these 8 years but, besides our records, our documentary of 2012 is a big highlight for us. It was something new in the Portuguese metal scene and a fresh way to present the EP 'Rhythm Between Sounds'. The cherry on the top of the cake was the award we received recently in a film festival in our homeland, Arruda dos Vinhos.
Focusing on the Portuguese Metal scene, what do you feel lacks within the scene (if anything)? What is the support for metal like in Portugal?
We have some good publications in the underground, from paper fanzines to webzines, there are some venues and festivals where you can play but in the end, you always reach the same conclusion: You must 'fight' for your band! It's very hard nowadays to top a band, your band. There are hundreds and Portugal is not a big country. So, you must keep the publications updated, play live frequently, have good conduct, try to be active in the scene and do your work as best as you can! And persistence. That's one of the main things that's not easy and only some achieve.
Are there any lyrical themes you tend to turn to for each release? What inspires you to write these lyrics?
There's no criteria for the lyrics. In 'Sounds Evolution', there are some common points but, in general, it's very diverse. Some lyrics are more simple and straight to the point, others are more camouflaged. But I try to write always about something that's worthy of writing and transmitting a message. Some may understand, others may not.
If you could spend a day with anyone from Portugal who is famous, who would it be and why?
Maybe a day with Jorge Jesus, the GREAT Benfica FC (best team in the world) coach. He's possibly the best stand-up comedian we have 'round here!
How (and if) has the change in currency, from the Escudo to Euro, affected the scene with regards to instrument prices, live fees, etc?
The Euro is one of the causes of the current crisis situation we have in Portugal. When the Euro appeared, prices increased dramatically. In some cases it increased 50%! Taking into account the salaries remained the same and we have more and more taxes to pay, you can imagine... concerning the tickets for live gigs, it's curious, the prices have been the same for years. For a medium show with 3 to 4 international bands, you'll pay 25 Euros.
Can you give us the background behind the new album? From the planning to the recording, and to the releasing stage?
We started to write 'Sounds Evolution' in 2010. I don't remember if it was 'Cada Falso' or 'Sounds Evolution' we wrote first but we soon realized the new material would bring outside our thrash root in its plenitude. The first record is more industrial, slower and I think we felt the necessity to do an album like this, straight to the point. We recorded it in our home studio and took the time we need to do all the things, to gain more experience, that's a fact. Concerning the physical release, again our friend Fernando Roberto from Metal Soldiers Records helped us out with it. This partnership extends to the Greek label Secret Port Records. For the next record, I think maybe it would be a good idea to record in a studio and let someone do the job. We've been making everything since 2006 without stopping, we need a rest.
Outside of music, you recently won the best short film category at the Curt'Arruda film festival, can you give us the background behind that, what it entails, what this means for Portuguese metal and the band of course?
The documentary is about our roots, our beginnings in the 80's. We talk about our influences and difficulties that I'm sure are common to the old school metalheads. It was the tape-trading times, the snail mail, the lack of information and money, well... good and passionate but difficult times. We also paid homage to the radio stations and important people that helped us in discovering heavy metal. The documentary was well received in general but, since it was something new and pioneering in our metal scene, I think it deserved a little more attention but... dear friends out there, check it! I'm pretty sure you will like it!
[You can watch the documentary on YouTube here] - it is in Portuguese but has excellent visual representations.
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and into 2015?
Right now, we're committed to bring Machinergy to the world with our new record. Thus therefore, we have just discussed about having a possible live recording to make a DVD. It's a way to fill the gap between albums and keep the band active in the scene.
Finally are there any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
Thank you Global Metal Apocalypse for this nice interview! We also want to thank all our friends around the world that are helping us, especially with reviews and interviews, radio stations and, of course, our closest friends. A special big thanks to Fernando Roberto from Metal Soldiers Records (Portugal) who has been a great friend and professional in the last few years. https://www.facebook.com/machinergy
Following our review of Hybris' debut EP "Blinded Thoughts" released this year, we decided to take some more time out and speak to their drummer Igor "Joey" Zaton about the band's origins, what the Polish Metal scene is like and what future plans they have. By Rhys Stevenson How did you guys form and what makes your band different?
The relatively short story of Hybris started in the beginning of 2012, when the friendship between Ozzy and Johan grew into the birth of their Technical Thrash project, firstly just for pure fun. Time passed and they decided to take it more seriously, therefore after a few member changes, they managed to assemble a full line-up, in the summer of the same year, with Pisston on bass, and me Joey, on drums. A couple of rehearsals, some style changes and every one of us knew that it was a perfect band for him to be satisfied as a musician. From the very beginning, we worked on material and were focused on possessing our unique style, without losing an old-school spirit. We are setting the bar high and we know that. Our task is not easy, but I think we are determined enough to make it happen.
What would you say your metal style is and who or what inspired you to play that style?
We define our style as Progressive Death / Thrash. We draw the inspiration mostly from the music every one of us adores, classical German Thrash and Floridian Death Metal, but adding to it some Progressive, Oriental atmosphere that allows us to experiment with a traditional Metal sound.
What is the underground Polish metal scene like right now? What bands should music lovers pay particular attention to?
Well, to me talking about Polish Metal has always been all about the underground. Surely every local metalhead is proud of our international representants - Behemoth and Vader, but in comparison to Western Europe, the amount of Polish bands recognized all over the globe is rather disappointing. Fortunately, I can’t say that when it comes to the underground which was and will stay strong and totally worth attention. Starting with the past: The number of Polish bands that with no fear could catch up with the Western scenes, but in the past they finished their careers after a demo, or two, because of Communism, poorness and the Iron Curtain is purely horrifying. Check out IMPERATOR - mighty Death Metal from our hometown. Although, they’ve even managed to release an LP, besides in Poland rarely can you hear anything about them. Talking about the current situation, we can easily observe a rapid growth of a young, underground scene - especially the Thrash one. There’s a great deal of new Polish Metal bands who are worth the attention, so obviously I cannot point out all of them here, but if I had to choose the one that appeals to me mostly it would definitely be ThermiT - kickass Heavy / Thrash from Poznań!
What is the meaning behind your band name and does this play a part in your lyric topics? The term HYBRIS comes from the literature of Ancient Greece and it is used to describe the inflated self-esteem of a man that usually leads to some punishment or his personal tragedy. Although, it isn’t the exact topic of our music, it is somehow associated with our lyrics, which are mainly about human mind, it’s mysteries and wild nature.
Do you feel that Central and Eastern European metal bands are not getting enough attention from Western media?
Yes, I think there is some truth behind those words. As I’ve mentioned before I guess it is primarily due to the disability of Eastern European artists promoting themselves in previous decades. Therefore, talking about good Metal music, people usually think of Scandinavia, Germany, USA, maybe UK, or South America. Whereas countries such as Poland rarely come to their mind.
What plans does Hybris have for the future?
Currently we are working on the new material and are spending time on organizing a promotional tour across our country in the autumn. When the tour is over we are planning to release some single(s) and then probably prepare an LP.
Please tell us some things about Łódź, both in music-terms and holidaymaker terms? (such as what venues there are, attractions, what sites should people see, any famous buildings, that sort of thing) Without a doubt Łódź should be connoted with two legendary names: IMPERATOR, which I’ve pointed out before and PANDEMONIUM - the true might of the underground, that I am honored to be part of a the moment! Analogically to the Metal scene, there are two places of biggest touristic importance that obviously can’t be omitted, while visiting our city - “Piotrkowska” - the longest trade street in the Europe and “Manufaktura” - old textile factory adapted to a huge shopping mall. Truly breathtaking!
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
Interview by GMA's Israel correspondent Liram Golibroda
Shredhead are a new wave Thrash Metal band from Israel and are considered one of the best new bands there. They started their music career together in 2009 as a Slayer and Megadeth cover band, a couple of years later they released their first album "Human Nature" and could be regarded as one of the best Israeli Thrash albums. In 2012 they went to the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle for Israel and now, just before releasing their new album, GMA spoke with Yotam and Lee about the band, the new album and well… if you want to know more just read the interview:
Ahron Ragoza - Vocals Lee Levi - Bass Roee Kahana - Drums Yotam Nagor - Guitars
Hi guys, what are you working on now days?
We have just finished recording our new album, the album has been mixed and mastered by Tue Madsen who has worked with bands like Aborted, Betzefer, The Haunted and many more. And now we're getting prepared to send him to some record companies. Besides that, after we finished the new album we have already started writing for the next one, and also we're planning some shows in Israel.
How can you summarize everything from the beginning of the band up till the times after recording your second album?
We've been through a lot, starting with new members to setting our own style of music. It was a long process but nowadays we feel like we're strong and stable, and are all friends with those who enjoy playing together with us ever since the first day. We have had some amazing experiences that we couldn't even imagine ourselves achieving, such as the WOA metal battle and recording our second album.
How do you create new songs?
90% of the time, Yotam writes the riffs and tries to make them link together into a song, later on he sends the riffs to the rest of the band so we can work on it during future rehearsals and everyone gives their own style to the song. It can be with Kahana's drumming or Lee's bass playing and writing lyrics that will fit the song in the best way. In other cases we just improvise and hope for the best.
How does the new album different from "Human Nature"?
In every possible way! It the beginning we only searched for music that allowed us to be faster, more brutal and louder. When we started writing "Human Nature" we were just kids that loved playing with no music experience, but now a couple of years later after "Human Nature" we've all had some musical experience that made us better musicians. The new album is more aggressive and more melodic than "Human Nature", and the lyrics are more thoughtful and intimate.
Are you planning any surprises for us, maybe plans to go on tour?
We have a lot of plans, not only for the new album but also about where we'll stand next year as a band. Everything else is a secret. As for tours, we have a lot of plans and we hope everything will go on as planned.
What live show do you remember as the best one you have had up in till now?
Two weeks after we came back from WOA we celebrated one year since the release of "Human Nature". As with every Shredhead show we invited special guests, made some funny covers and even had a boxing fight between Lee and Ahron. In general that was a show that felt more like a huge party and it was great.
What can you reveal about your upcoming album and where can you see Shredhead in 5 years time? The new album will include 11 aggressive songs and will feature this concept of an instrumental song before the last song just like in "Human Nature". The name of the album is "Death Is Righteous" and it describes what we've been through in our personal lives over the past two and a half years, and our understanding of why does death everyone deserves death.
As for looking five years ahead, we envisage it with a third or fourth album, non-stop tours and hopefully with music as our only career.
What is Shredhead for you?
Shredhead is the frame that holds our lives together, everything we are going through lately is for Shredhead, we work to support the band and we work hard to promote her. Meaning every second we have we put into the band as without Shredhead we are different people.
How could you define your music?
MMMMEEEETTAAAALLLLL!!!!!!!! People can describe our music as Thrash Metal or Groove Metal. We don't describe our music because we play what we love and believe in.
What is your message to the fans?
We want to thank every single person who supports the band, without you we would not exist and we would not have the strength to move on.