The Caribbean, along with Africa and Oceania, is one area where metal music is arguably still in it's infancy in terms of presenting itself globally; it's presence is on the rise with Trinidad & Tobago's Lynchpin having performed at Wacken Open Air, a documentary about the Puerto Rican Metal scene being released and Wacken Open Air: Caribbean Metal Battle which determined what metal band from The Caribbean was going on to play Wacken.
But our attention turns to a fledgling scene, one that is being spearheaded by Avante Guarden. Global Metal Apocalypse spoke to Vallon about the magical journey this band has had.
"I hope that more bands come forward to make the world aware that we exist here"
How did Avante Guarden get started and what challenges (if any) have you had to overcome?
"Lisa Bullard (Jayne Doh) and I (Vallon Thompson) were introduced through a mutual friend from the local music scene. She was writing songs without music and I was writing them without a singer... so we were the solution to both our problems! The biggest challenge we faced at the time was finding like minded (or at the very least interested) musicians from a scene that was mostly Bahamian Calypso, Reggae and Gospel performers."
As you're from The Bahamas, could you tell us more about the music scene over there in general? Are there any rock / metal bands out there, what is the likelihood of a scene emerging?
"As mentioned, the live scene is mainly Bahamian Calypso (known as Rake and Scrape), Reggae, Gospel and some Jazz. There is a rock scene over here that seems to be slowly growing but with limited venues. Lately I've seen new bands emerging like "Foreign Sounds" "The Core" and "We The Few," I'm loving the fact that these guys are keeping the music alive!"
You participated in the Global Battle of the Bands competition, what was this like for you? Tell us your experience, was there any other Caribbean bands participating?
"The year we participated in GBOB we were the only Caribbean band present so we felt the pressure! It was a great experience, we all had such an awesome time and were exposed to international bands (some of which I am still in contact with) and the wonderful culture of Thailand. We travelled halfway around the world... what can I say, it was AWESOME!!!"
Geographically speaking, The Bahamas is in direct line of hurricanes - has Hurricane Irma had an impact? If so what can you tell us? if not, what were the preparations?
"Irma effected the southern islands of The Bahamas, central and northern didn't really get that horrible weather. There was serious flooding and winds that destroyed a great deal of homes and property but Bahamians are no strangers to hurricanes and so we know how to prepare for storms. Also there were evacuations planned, and many relief efforts made after Irma had passed."
As a band have you performed outside of The Bahamas? If so where.
"Its just been Thailand actually, shortly after GBOB unfortunately the band started to drift apart"
Last year Lynchpin (Trinidad & Tobago) played at Wacken Open Air. Regarding The Caribbean as a whole, could you see metal scenes emerging from the likes of St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadies, Antigua & Barbuda., etc?
"Lynchpin? Really, wow that's great! Honestly I wasn't aware of that and didn't know that a metal scene even existed in those more "conservative" countries. As a scene metal has always kinda been underground, a silent scream waiting to happen and so I hope that more bands come forward to make the world aware that we exist here :) !"
How did you as musicians become interested in music? Who influences you?
"My influences were in my family actually: I had an aunt (who passed away when I was like 16) she was a soprano in the national choir and a theatre actress. Also my grandfather played guitar as a hobby so I grew up around lots of music from them. I headed in the rock direction after listening to a special about Queen on VH1, then Black Sabbath and it was all down hill from there lol!"
Finally do you have any plans for the year ahead? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"I'm always working on music but since AG split up I been trying to put a proper band back together (AG technically still exists but as a cover band with only myself and Treco Johnson - the bassist - still around) so I'd like to get back into doing hard rock and metal so I'm searching for another singer... or maybe I'll just screeeeam it out myself lol. Hopefully I'll have some good news for you about that soon :)! Cheers, Keep it Rocking!!!"
Croatia has had it's fair share of rich metal music history, however it has only recently spawned it's first ever Pirate Metal band; the genre itself popularized by Scotland's Alestorm in 2004 although it's antecedents originates back with Germany's Running Wild releasing the album 'Under Jolly Roger' in 1987. GMA caught up with Marko Vučković (drummer and band manager) otherwise known as The Admiral and looked into what makes these scallywags tick, Croatia's pirate history and what the Croatian Metal scene is like.
"We grew out of the cliche that everyone thinks they [Alestorm] are the only pirate metal band that exists"
Could you give us a brief history of Rum Smugglers, how you started out, etc.
"We started as a duo back in 2011, playing a variety of blackened thrash with pirate themed lyrics. We soon recruited the bassist and the rhythm guitarist, to further explain; we regularly switched those band members due to differences in styles and then not being able to comply to the regime of the band. In 2015 we released our demo, 'Hemp Rope Justice', and later on found the new addition to the band, our keyboardist, thus switching to a more folk / power metal method in our songs. He left in the Autumn of 2017, being with us only for a short time, around 9 months. We re-recorded our single during the time he spent with us, and after his departure we are currently trying to employ two violinists. Hopefully they will prove to be better band members then most of the aforementioned."
Presuming one of your influences is Alestorm, what are you aiming to bring to the Pirate Metal movement?
"One of our influences was Alestorm in the beginning but, we grew out of the cliche that everyone thinks they are the only pirate metal band that exists. We also take influences from Skyclad, Running Wild and Swashbuckle, we are trying to freshen up the scene with our more 'thrashy powery' approach on the subject at hand."
What is the Croatian Metal scene like? Tell us about the festivals, media, venues, bands, etc
"It's a bit poor at the moment, there are some great bands here, but everyone's focus is mainly on tribute bands and on some weird avant-garde and experimental type of music, thus disregarding the metal scene as it was a few years back. There are some great venues like OKC Palach in Rijeka, and Insomnia in Slavonski Brod, Epic club in Osijek and Kset and Močvara in Zagreb. The Croatian metal scene is still strong though, pushing out bands like Flesh, Frozen Forest, SpeedClaw, Uma Thurman, Decomposing Entity and many others. Just type in Croatia on the Encyclopaedia Metallum website and hope for the best, and check out YouTube links with the same search.-"
You say you combine gypsy melodies, where do you get your influences from?
"Yea, gypsy melodies, well we are on the crossroads between the Mediterranean and the eastern front, so we get our influences from both sides of folk melodies and folk culture."
Are there any Croatian pirate stories you could tell us?
"Of course there are! Mainly representing bandits in the Adriatic sea but there are also many more, check this link and try to translate it to English :) https://hr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gusari"
What plans do you have for 2018?
"We are currently practising new songs and making new material with our new violinists. So you can expect a new album with fresh and not so fresh tunes to hit the internet soon."
Do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
"Do what you want, cause a pirate is free!"
Fiji is not one country you would associate with rock or metal music and yet it seems there is one band set out to change that, bring forth The Relativ. A six-piece band playing rock/metal music on the tiny island nation in the Pacific Ocean. With a population of just under 900,000 which is just above the populations of Newcastle and Liverpool, you would think they would be celebrated as legends in their own right, in which case you thought right as Benjamin (manager and drummer) Seniroqa goes on to tell GMA... with a surprise regarding the Fijian Metal scene.
"There’s a couple of Heavy Metal fans out here as well and we are one of those people who listen to Heavy Metal".
Can you give us a brief history of The Relativ, how did you meet? What are you aiming to achieve?
"The band was initially formed on November 2015. We all started out recording covers on YouTube then just continued from there. The funny part about this is that we are all cousins hence why we named the band TheRelatiV. There are mainly 6 of us that make the band work, 4 band members and 2 roadies / stage coordinators. When we started the band, we actually had a dream of making it big and be the first rock band from Fiji to make it overseas, we’re still working on that and there have been good responses from our fans and hopefully one day we’d make it."
Names of Band Members:
Josh Tukana - Lead Vocals
Johnny Seniroqa - Lead & Rhythm Guitarist / Backing Vocals / Music Director
Nahshon Fong - Bassist
Benjamin Seniroqa - Drummer / Music Director / Band Leader & Manager
Filipe Lalauvaki - Backing Vocals / Synth / Stage Coordinator
Nelson Cokanasiga - Backing Vocals / Drum tech / Stage Coordinator
What can you tell us about the Fiji Music scene, as you play rock music is the rock / metal scene well supported?
"The music scene in Fiji is quite unique, we were shocked that we had people who loved rock when we started out. If you play it right, people will love it because Fiji is a very talented country in terms of music, the only problem is that there is no proper platform of exposure for many bands out here and hopefully one day there would be a good platform for younger bands to start off from. We play at a club called Traps Bar and they’ve been very supportive with the band, mostly tourists, volunteers and exchange students go there to dance and listen to us play when they get a chance which is so awesome."
Are there any heavy metal bands in Fiji? Any metal music fans? What are your thoughts on Heavy Metal?
"There used to be a Metal band a couple of years ago but most of their members have parted ways to continue living their normal lives. You could also say there’s a couple of Heavy Metal fans out here as well and we are one of those people who listen to Heavy Metal."
Given Fiji's isolation, as a band have you performed outside the country? Do you tour the island or are most concerts held in Suva?
"We’re hoping that one day we’d get to tour the world and play out side of the country but at the mean time, we’ve only played within the country. Mostly for Concerts and Festivals."
Are you aware of any rock or metal bands in other countries in Oceania other than Australia, New Zaland and Papua New Guinea?
"Not that we know off but I’m pretty sure there should be a couple of them. Australia and New Zealand would probably have a lot of Metal Bands for sure."
How did you become interested in recording and playing music? Are there any music schools?
"Most of us were brought up through musical family backgrounds, our parents and uncles used to play for their bands and we used to watch them as we grew up. All of us were brought up and played at church so you could say the interest was always there ever since we were young. All of us love music and we’ve come to a stage where we appreciate all sorts of styles of music. The Seniroqa brothers who also run a media company called Only Idea Studios are the ones who usually record & produce our Music & Music Videos (both covers & originals. There are a couple of music schools here in Fiji where musicians go and learn how to read music. None of the band members has ever attended music school but are all self taught. which is nothing new to most musicians here in Fiji."
What plans do you have for the year ahead? What was 2017 like for you guys?
"This year we’re planning on taking things slow and hopefully get everything right, being in a band is not as easy as it sounds, if you’re not organised well, things will be really hard for you. Last year was pretty crazy, we really enjoyed every moment of it, I’d say we’ve never played so much shows compared from last year than the year before that."
Finally do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
"We would like to thank everyone who has supported and believed in us and our dream through out all these years. Mostly we’d like to thank God for always being there for us, our parents and our families, to Traps Bar for always providing us with a venue to jam all the time and to all our fellow musicians who have become a part of our family."
Madagascar, an island situated in the Indian Ocean off the coast Africa has always been renowned to have luscious beaches and a tropical climate, however recently a film series based on the country emerged and just last year an outbreak of the bubonic plague arose, killing hundreds. Counteracting that negativity is Madagascar's underground-yet-vibrant metal music scene.
It started in the late 80's with Apost and Kazar being the first-recorded metal bands, forwarding onto 2002 and Sasamaso was born, arguably the first female-fronted metal band from this African nation. GMA spoke to Sasamaso about the Malagasy Metal scene, it's history, what the band is up to and the challenges of being isolated from the mainland.
"Often in Madagascar, a person who listens to metal music has a father who listened to rock music in his time"
For those who have not heard of Sasamaso, could you give us a brief history of the band? Band name meaning? Lyric topics, etc
"Sasamaso is a metal band from Antananarivo, Madagascar, created in 2002. Our style is based on thrash metal, often merged with another metal style (heavier or lighter), sometimes also merged with decent Malagasy music. Literally Sasamaso means eye wash:- in Malagasy, sasa = washing, maso = eye. Our lyrics talk about everyday life here in Madagascar, frequently in metaphor."
What challenges as a musician do you face living in Madagascar?
"The situation in Madagascar is that the music becomes too commercialized; most TV and radio channels don't diffuse your music if you don't have enough money. Also, compared to other music, metal music is not yet appreciated by popular mass here. Till now, it's very difficult to find a producer who wants to support a metal band. However, many Malagasy like soft rock. So for a band who plays metal, it's necessary that he has passion, patience and strain to do his best."
How long has the Madagascarian Metal scene been going? Was there any opposition from the Government initially?
"As far as I know, the metal scene has existed in Madagascar since the 80's. In the beginning, the government censored the broadcast on TV and radio of the few groups existing at that time, but afterwards it has improved especially because of the creation of private channels. At this time, there are many metal bands who play well, there are some special metal radio and TV broadcasts, and there are mostly underground metal shows, at minimum once a month since 2017, we can say that after all, metal scene has evolved a lot at this time."
Do you see a time where every African nation has a metal band in it's history?
"If possible, it's really very nice. To prove that metal is an universal music, no discrimination."
Have you had any metal bands from overseas come perform in Madagascar?
"In 2004, Watcha, a French Nu Metal band performed here in Antananarivo; it was great. There was also an American band who played here maybe in around 2014, but I don't remember the name. If I'm not mistaken, that's all."
Are you surprised about metal music reaching Africa, let alone the world? What do your parents think of metal music?
"For us, metal music is among the best. That's why we listened and played everywhere in spite of political and cultural constraints in each country. For us, and often in Madagascar, a person who listens to metal music has a father who listened to rock music in his time, so there is no trouble between us."
What plans do you have for the year ahead and are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"For Sasamaso, for this year we will produce new songs, videos, and also our official album. We want also to convince producers here so that we can get on a larger stage. We would like to thank you sincerely for your interest for our band, and we hope that this interview will help people know that Sasamaso, a metal band from Madagascar exists :) ."
We already know Australia and New Zealand are the most prominent metal scenes in the whole of Oceania, with the addition of smaller scenes in Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Guam... but one surprising scene has sprung up thanks to the Groove / Rock / Heavy Metal band Dropvkal from... Vanuatu.
It seems that metal music is finally touching the hearts of the most isolated island nations on earth, having won a music competition with their song 'Dangerous' (which is about climate change) and seemingly causing a buzz in that part of the world, GMA caught up with band member Braxton Cooper to find out how the band started and what their role in the Vanuatu Music scene is.
"Our aim is to get attention around the world... we have like not more than a thousand fans of heavy metal / rock in Vanuatu."
How long has Dropvkal been going? Who came up with the band name and what style of music do you play?
"Dropvkal is like 3 words joined together:- 'Drop' is for tear drops that our ancestors shed during the blackbirding in the 18 and 19 centuries, 'V' is for vision, the band has a vision of creating something unique that will touch the heart of peoples when they listen to our music. 'Kal- kalja', that's in our local dialect, which means culture, we are trying to mix up today's music with our culture, we even have some local instruments in our music that our ancestors used, we used that too to add some flavour to our music... we the band members came up with that name, We play any type of music, reggae, rock, latino zouk, African zouk, pop music, easy listening, blues, etc., we even have some songs written in local dialect..."
Is it relatively easy being a music in Vanuatu? What challenges are there as a band?
"It's a little bit hard back here, with our style of music tourists enjoy it, cause we played a lot in hotels back here, most of us are unemployed youths and we earned just a little to support us. The two main challenges that we usually face is money and families, we tried our very best in our gigs but we get just a little. Families sometimes they don't support us, we even get cursing words from our wives saying we are wasting our time with music, but its what we love so none of that stops us, we are still together till today for almost eight years."
What are your thoughts on rock and heavy metal music? Are there any rock / metal fans in Vanuatu?
"We have mixtures of music, we even try to mix rock with another type of music, but yes we have a lot of fans back here. They love our music.
In Vanuatu we have a lot of bands, mostly reggae bands, and we decided to play rock, heavy metal; we have few fans here but our aim is to get attention around the world with our acoustic rock. We love rock because it easily gets peoples attention and because it is a way you express yourself or how you do campaigns or fight for something, e.g. like our single 'Dangerous' which was released in early 2016 is about climate change; we won a music competition with that single. You can watch that on YouTube. We have like not more than a thousand fans of heavy metal / rock in Vanuatu."
Have you had any fans outside of Vanuatu get in touch with the band? Surely it would be hard to perform outside of the country?
"We have a lot of fans outside of Vanuatu, we played mainly in hotels so tourists enjoy our music, we have fans in the Solomon islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Caledonia, Germany, England, and many more."
Are Vanuatuans encouraged to learn music? What styles of music are most popular?
"In Vanuatu we have a music festival, called Fest'Napuan music festival and it happens in October every year, and during this festival we try to make it gender-balanced in our music, we don't have too many females in music so we trying to encourage females to take part in music, we don't have any proper music schools in Vanuatu we just learn music anytime or anywhere we feel like we want to, but yes we are encouraging people to learn music in Vanuatu. Reggae music is the only popular music in the whole of Vanuatu with our local music, called string band."
Do you feel music brings the world together? That it speaks a common language?
"Yes I feel that music brings the world together, the way we see when we play in the hotels we meet people from all around the world, we even feel the love and joy we share together with our fans, and even just between us the band members. With music, it is a common language that we musicians speak even if we are from different places around the world with different cultures but with that we understand each other very well, and with that you can see that music always brings people and the world together.."
What plans does the band have for the year ahead?
"One of the main plans for this year is an album. We are already practising for going into the studio by next month and with that we will be looking forward to touring in Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia. We really want to expose our music to the world.."
Although metal music has been around for the past 4 decades (40 years), it is yet to fully touch every country in the world, and whilst Europe, North America, South America and Asia, with the addition of Australia and New Zealand have embraced metal music and it's culture (with the exception of the Vatican City and a handful of Caribbean islands), the African continent and Oceanian nations have yet to join the global legion.
However, there are a number of African countries who have metal music history established such as South Africa and Egypt, but, there are some Sub-Sahara countries like Uganda who are very underground and regularly get omitted from the New Wave of Sub-Saharan Metal.
Enter Vale Of Amonition, a Progressive Doom Metal band who have been romping the streets of Kampala for nearly a decade. Having released countless singles, 3 demo's, an EP, a compilation and their debut album, the Ugandan metal flag-bearers return with their second album "Those of Tartarean Ancestry", a solid effort given the slew of drummers who have come and gone over the last decade. GMA spoke to frontman Victor Rosewrath about Vale Of Amonition's current position, the Ugandan Metal scene and his thoughts on metal music.
"Metal has a rebellious energy attached to its ethos and construction... Metal will always find its people"
Vale Of Amonition and Threatening appear to be the only active metal bands in Uganda, what is new in the metal scene?
"There's probably a bit more underground or starting bands than we are aware of because we haven't really kept tabs on the development of the scene. I was aware of a few musicians trying to get things started here and there but I really can't say for sure."
How was 2017 for Vale of Amonition?
"2017 was one of the best years for the Vale. We released our long awaited second album, we headlined the Nairobi Metal Fest, I worked with an exciting new band called Doomcast with whom I released an E.P titled "Farewell To The Flesh" and we partied like crazy. It really has been thoroughly awesome."
You have just released your latest effort 'Those Of Tartarean Ancestry', what was the reception like?
"The reception for "Those of Tartarean Ancestry" has been great. We've matured tremendously as a band and we are in a much better position as songwriters to express the darkness of the Vale. I'm glad our fans and supporters are able to understand and appreciate what we are doing."
What do the Ugandan authorities think of metal music? What does society think of it? What do your parents think of metal music?
"They all hate it. But we never cared in the first place. We're not going to start giving a shit now."
Growing up as a musician, what challenges did you face? What challenges do you face these days?
"The challenges I faced were access to the equipment I needed until I realized there's ways around that and there's magic in making the most of what you have. I think my biggest challenge now is separating myself from the Vale and the Vale from me because I am really getting worried about my mental health."
There is a metal scene in Kenya, but do you know of any rock / metal bands from Rwanda, DRC or South Sudan? Do you envisage metal music to be present in every African country one day?
"Yes. I know metal will spread from one end to end of Africa someday. It probably won't happen but I'm an optimistic man despite what you might have heard."
What would you say attracts people to metal music? Living in war-ravaged areas? Corruption? Poverty? What are your thoughts on how metal has an affect on people?
"Metal has a rebellious energy attached to its ethos and construction. It's in the wiring of the music and the culture it has spawned...even the more depressive, introspective metal has a loner, me-against-the-world quality about it. That is very relevant today as it has always been. Metal will always find its people."
What plans do you have for 2018?
"More shows, more music."
Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Not particularly. I keep in contact with most people I care about. Maybe a shout out to Peter Steele in the nether regions. Thank you for the music, Green Man."
Ever since Sepultura emerged on the scene, Brazil has been churning out metal bands left, right and centre and whilst a vast majority rarely break out of the wider South American Metal scene, they do in the own right build a name for themselves on their own continent. Mind, one could argue that with globalisation as it is, the novelty of discovering the first ever metal band from a country soon dies off when the scene reaches the echelons that the Brazilian Metal scene has done.
However bands like Leatherjacks are ensuring that the vibe doesn't die and that rock / metal carries on thriving. GMA spoke to vocalist / guitarist Mauro Cordeiro about the band's history, their debut album, challenges of being a Brazilian metal musician and what sights / attractions should metalheads check out in São Paulo.
"I keep on persisting and fighting for what I believe, ´cause THIS is Rock ´N´ Roll!"
What was the inspiration behind the band, what does the band name mean? Why Modern Hard Rock / Metal?
"Hey Rhys, hello everyone at the Global Metal Apocalypse and all of our readers! Nice to meet you all! Well, the inspiration behind the band name, came from lots of names I was trying to experiment during my name elections, you know? At first it was something with Hawks. Then something with Leather... LeatherHawks, Hawkstones, LeatherBones, woof... lots of names ha-ha!
Finally I reached LeatherJacks. It´s the abbreviation for Leather Jackets. It came from the most obvious and simple idea. It was right in front of me ahah! I always used a brown leather jacket. All of a sudden, the little cartoon light popped out in my mind, and it came on. Step by step, I got the idea for the Jacker Army, the Go Jackers scream, hashtag, slogan and stuff.
Modern Hard Rock / Metal, is a term that I use when I define my project. I mean... It´s Hard Rock and Metal. But it sounds modern. So I always entitle LeatherJacks as a Modern Hard Rock / Metal band / project. Dunno if it´s right or not. But it´s cool, isn't it? haah!"
You released your debut album "The Lost Arks Of Rock And Roll" last year, what was the reception like? Was there any attention from outside of Brazil?
"Absolutely, Rhys! It´s been amazing! The album is having a bigger reception outside then inside Brazil, unfortunately. Here, people are not listening so much to Rock or Metal. And those who do, only search for little cover bands, and don't open themselves up to NEW bands you know? But everything is going very well outside Brazil, and people are receiving so much well. I feel very thankful and honoured for it, and it´s extremely gratifying to have this amazing repercussion."
What are the challenges of being a metal musician in Sao Paolo let alone Brazil? Are the authorities supportive of metal music?
"It´s tough... It´s really tough. Because as I said previously, the genre is kinda "dead" here in Brazil, ´cause people don't care about original bands, and the crowd don't search for new stuff. Of course there are people who do like new things and stuff, but... It´s really really rare and difficult. The authorities respect metal and rock music, but they always say it´s not a Brazilian thing and stuff, so... It´s not a priority genre here, you know? But... I keep on persisting and fighting for what I believe, ´cause THIS is Rock ´N´ Roll!"
Are there any areas in São Paulo you would suggest for metalheads to visit; what sights and attractions are there?
"Here In São Paulo, we have great places to visit to listen to a great Rock music. I love these pubs: Manifesto Bar and Stones Rock Bar. Both are really amazing places, great bands, great drinks, and amazing girls (the best part haha!). I also like to go sometimes to Augusta Street, ´cause sometimes there are some cool spins to do. But... Only to drink some stuff. If you guys love IPA or another hand-crafted beers... I totally recommend a place called Cervejatorium. Simply AMAZING!"
What are some phrases metalheads should be shouting at a Brazilian Metal concert? Any phrases you could teach us?
"Yeah! Lea ther jacks! Lea ther jacks! Go Jackeeeeers! Oleeee ole ole ole, Leather, Leather - Kiddin´ hahahah! But I always scream things like: AAAAEEEEEEEEEEEE PORRAAAAA / CARAAAAAALHOOOO (it´s like: OOOOOOOOHHH FUCK! but it´s dirty words haha)"
What do your parents think of your music? Are any of your relatives musicians?
"Yeah! My mom doesn´t play piano any-more, but when she was younger, she was an amazing classical piano student. My grandpa never played any instruments, but he loved jazz and drums. And me too! Then my mom´s cousin (I call him "uncle") - He is responsible for teaching me acoustic guitar, MPB, Bossa Nova and stuff. I was 10 years in 1996, and I never stopped! Here I am now haha!"
What plans do you have for 2018?
"I´m searching for musicians to make a definitive line-up and I think I will write more songs, and release a new album, but nothing 100% sure. Only some thoughts, ´cause I need to tour and to promote the first album. But any news, you will be the first ones to know, for sure!"
Finally are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"I´m really thankful to you Rhys and everyone for the interview! It´s an honour, ´cause I like Global Metal Apocalypse a lot! I thank all of your readers too, and I really hope you guys headbang with LeatherJacks! Let´s F***ING ROCK!"
Formed by three musicians from a number of the most well-known Bangladeshi Metal bands going, Nekrohowl is a Death Metal machine primed and prepared to slaughter anything in their path. Warmonger (Warhound), Sadist (Enmachined, Homicide, Nefarmaan) and Obliterator (Homicide) lead the charge with their grit-laden style of Death Metal, and having only been around for a year yet managing to unleash a demo, single and now their debut EP 'Epitome of Morbid', things could not be any sweeter for the fearsome threesome. GMA caught up with the lads to find out the band's history, the current state of the Bangladesh Metal scene and what the EP entails.
Hi guys, firstly can you give us a brief history of the band and what Nekrohowl means?
"Greetings to GMA. To write about the history will be a total waste of time. Let’s just say that Sadist (Papai) and I wanted to create a different form of death metal which has a unique style. From the urge of playing good music, we decided to start a journey into the realm of death, doom and darkness in the name of Nekrohowl. Our good friends Demodulated (Abominable Carnivore) and Pounder (Dissector) worked on the first self-titled demo. Later on, due to some unavoidable circumstances, both of them had to discontinue and thus we asked Mr. Warmonger (Warhound, ex-Orator) to take the throne duty and thus the pilgrimage to the unholy land of despair and nothingness began!! Nekrohowl denotes the howling of the sufferer from the rampage of eternal obliteration by death itself."
The Bangladeshi Metal scene has a vast amount of bands, but few have seem to broken out internationally, what bands would you say are the most well-known in Bangladesh?
"First of all, I would not agree with the statement that "few of them have seem to broken out internationally". There is Orator and they played overseas multiple times including the prestigious "Bangalore Open Air", sharing the stage with Inquisition, Napalm Death, Belphegor etc. There is Severe Dementia, headlined in KTM ROCKS Nepal around 2012. Even Orator got the chance to play at Maryland Deathfest in 2014. I just named two, but there are actually 10 to 12 bands which are capable of desecrating the European churns of extreme metal. But the only disadvantage of doing extreme metal is "money". With proper financing there are vast possibilities to enrich the extreme metal scene of ours.
There are a ton of bands who are well known in Bangladesh to a particular class of people whom I never consider as listener or music enthusiast. And there are very few bands which has the unique style of song writing, showing true musicianship and staying loyal to themselves. To name a few: Orator, Severe Dementia, Mirrorblaze, Chromatic Massacre, Thrash, Exalter, Infuscation."
How did the Bangladeshi Metal scene start, has it been going long? What challenges are there as a band?
"The Bangladeshi metal scene started back in the early 80's, Waves, a hard rock / heavy metal band initiated the journey and very soon it was flourished by the emergence of bands like Rockstrata, Warfaze, In Dhaka etc. You can easily see that metal is not a new thing in our country albeit not a very popular thing either.
There are lot of challenges you need to face: finance, record labels (we almost have no proper metal labels), recording / sound engineers with proper skills and knowledge, just to name a few."
Would it be fair to say that more and more Asian Metal bands are being taken note of? Did you know about metal scenes in Bhutan, Laos, Nepal and Myanmar (Burma)?
"Asian bands are gradually getting their due recognition, steadily for sure, but finally it’s happening. I have played at Nepal Deathfest with my other band Homicide. I have little or in some extent no knowledge about the scenes of the other mentioned countries."
Would you agree that the Asian Extreme Metal scene seems to have it's own unique sound and style?
"Yes, Asian extreme metal has the most unique sound and style to offer."
What do your parents think of your choice of music?
"Hmm, I need to ask them (laugh)"
Could you give us a breakdown of the EP - what do the songs mean, how was the EP made, etc.
"Well the EP tells the journey of death itself as the supreme entity who conjured his wrath against the mortals. The journey begins with the intro which summons the darkness within. All the five tracks were made focusing on the key aspect of Death Metal, that is to create the uncanny sound of sheer malevolence through a unique way of expressing the nothingness within."
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's you wish to send out?
"Thank you for the interview. It’s always great to see people appreciating our music."
Of all of the most isolated places on Earth, Norfolk Island is not one you would expect to have tasted heavy metal history. Sure it's proximity to Australia and New Zealand would probably argue against that, but it's the same with Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the latter owing to an active metal scene and the former with no metal music history at all.
It's only a matter of time before other Oceanian nations / areas get tinged by metal music, it's progression to Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Hawaii suggests this. But for now our focus is on Norfolk Island, a dependency of Australia with a population of just under 2,000 (the UK's smallest city St.Davids in Wales only matches this with a hundred or so difference). GMA spoke to Ben Boerboom, a former Norfolk Islander about his experience growing up on this almost-isolated island, the struggles of the metal scene and his thoughts on metal music as a whole.
"The [Norfolk] island has a pretty laid back mentality, and the islanders will support anything local, whether it be metal or otherwise"
Can you tell us how you first got into metal music? Who inspired you and what are you listening to now?
"I've been into metal since I was 2 years old (according to family - I wouldn't know!) I used to share a room with my older brother, who would listen to AC/DC & Iron Maiden around me all the time. My dad was also into a mixed bag listening to everything from ABBA & Creedence, through to Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Uriah Heep. Mum was into everything Woodstock plus Led Zeppelin, whilst my older sister loved 80's pop like A-HA, Madonna & Duran Duran. So, I had a very mixed musical upbringing, but it was metal that struck a chord. I don't know whether it was the dark imagery or just the music itself, but everything else failed in comparison. Plus it was always cool to be the outcast at primary school when most boys & girls my age loved music in the charts, whilst I would bring in WASP & Iron Maiden to listen to in class.
As I got older, I yearned for heavier (as I believe most metalheads do) and I discovered Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth & Slayer, which eventually progressed to the darker sh*t like Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary etc.
Iron Maiden was the band that made me want to drum. Metallica was the band that made me want to learn guitar. Nirvana, Green Day & Pennywise were the bands that made me want to form a band. I don't know why, probably the sheer simplicity of punk & grunge made me realise, you didn't have to play like Kirk Hammett, you just need to write a good tune.
Right now I listen to pretty much everything rock / metal and I can tolerate any type of music due to having a 9 year old daughter (except country - although southern blues rock is almighty close, and I don't mind that). Basically my phone has a 64GB SD card full of albums, and it sits on random play. Everything from Richard Cheese (awesome lounge / comedy act) & TISM (Aussie music at it best) through to Whitechapel and Impaled Nazarene."
You were situated on Norfolk Island for a period of time, was the metal scene you were a part of short-lived or is still active?
"Norfolk didn't have a metal scene as such. At one point (around the late 90's) there was a select few who listened to punk & metal - mostly surfers and my mates. It was also around this time I started a radio drive-time show playing rock & metal for an hour & a half, which gained a small, but loyal following. I also started a band with a couple of mates called Caktus. We recorded and sold a demo tape around the island and played a couple of gigs before disbanding due to my mates moving off the island for work / university. Its then I began to write, play and record everything myself, only playing live in cover bands. I haven't lived or been back to Norfolk Island for over 10 years, so whether there's still a following over there, I'm not so sure. However, the island has a pretty laid back mentality, and the islanders will support anything local, whether it be metal or otherwise. Country music is the genre that is most popular."
What are the challenges of being a metal music fan or band in the Australasian continent?
"With today's technology, there really is no challenge any-more. Everything is available 24-7, music videos on YouTube, online shopping etc. When I was younger, things were a little different. Any band that wasn't on a major label was hard to obtain and very expensive.
Live gigs in Australia were limited to major rock / metal bands, and with no dedicated metal festivals, smaller bands didn't have a chance in hell of getting here. Even Iron Maiden, struggled to get out here, I think they toured Australia in '82 then '84 then didn't come back until the early 90's. The only upside to never seeing bands or struggling to get material, was it added a certain mystique. I still remember that at 10 years old, I believed that Alice Cooper killed people on stage. Now, you can watch last night's gig from Montreal, Canada - learn the set-list and buy the tour shirt online. PUT YOUR PHONES DOWN PEOPLE!! ha-ha."
Outside of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia, do you know of any metal bands from other countries in Oceania e.g. Fiji, Tuvalu, etc?
"Unfortunately, no. But there is a really cool metal band in New Zealand that sings in Maori, can't remember their name though (ed. it's Alien Weaponry), one of their songs made the NZ mainstream charts...very cool."
Are you surprised about the global spread of metal music? What for you does metal music represent?
"No, I'm not. Metal was destined to be big. It strikes a chord with people on so many levels. Ask any metalhead what their favourite song is, and most will struggle. It's not a flash in the pan thing, fans genuinely love the music, the scene and the people involved, whether that be the band or other fans. It has longevity, chart music is here today, gone tomorrow. Hell, even I hear chart songs from the 90's / 00's and go "Shit, I'd forgotten about that song!"
However, again, with today's technology, metal may be spreading a little thin. People want shit now now now, and when they get it, they just want more more more. I'm just as guilty. I couldn't tell you the last time I absorbed an entire album over and over until I knew every word and riff back to front - but that's because I'm not a moody teenager any-more, lying on my bed all day listening to CD's! I guess that's just age though, most of the old stuff brings various memories back, so the new stuff has to be really good for me to take notice. (I really liked Decapitated's new album & COF's new one too)
Metal, for me, represents opposition in numbers. Whether its political, social or religious, metal seems to be the perfect outlet / release for anger, negativity or any sort of anti / "f*ck you" attitude. It represents musical freedom, with no set boundaries or rules. A genre that can mix with anything and still kick arse. Rap metal, Symphonic Metal, Metal / Reggae, Industrial, etc etc. A genre that can provide 15 minutes epics and still be taken seriously. Band members can wear codpieces, spikes & weaponry and not be laughed at. As long as the music is good, the fans will follow. That is why I love Metal."
Would you ever try to setup a metal band and or scene on Norfolk Island in the future?
"No, I have no real plans of heading back there, although, I think it would be awesome to organize a huge festival over there. But, airfares etc are just way too overpriced, and it would cost an absolute fortune to do. Also, its hard enough to get bands to Australia & New Zealand, let alone a tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific. But you never know, maybe one day in the future when they have figured out teleportation."
When you think of Cyprus, you tend to think of wine, Greek relations, hot and sand-swept land. But simmering under the Mediterranean heat is a vibrant metal scene with a handful of bands who have graced the international stage, Winter's Verge for example. However closer to the surface is a underground scene that is fresh as the vineyards growing on this rocky island.
Nekhrah are a Death Metal band hailing from Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus and have released their debut album 'Cosmic Apotasy' this year, so it was only fair for GMA to interrogate this quartet and ask them about their origins, thoughts on Brexit, the history of the Cypriot Metal scene, touring and plans for 2018.
".... the size of the scene is an inherent challenge. It’s something niche that has its own intricate ways of functioning."
Hey guys, firstly could you tell us how Nekhrah came about and what the name means?
"Nekhrah is an anglicised version of the Greek word Nekra (Νέκρα) which means dead / deadness emptiness. It is pronounced as Né-kra."
What do your parents think of your choice of music?
"Well, I’m sure there’s regret for paying for music lessons, our mental health has been questioned on numerous occasions before, but overall, they are all very supportive even if it is not their cup of tea. Some have even attended a gig – needless to say, it was the first and last one."
How long has the Cypriot Metal scene been going? What challenges have you had to face as a band, and the scene itself?
"There were a few bands during the late 80’s that I am aware off. The extreme scene came about during the early 90’s and picked up speed during the early 00’s.
The Cypriot Metal scene has an inherent curse; compulsory TWO YEAR army service for Cypriot nationals at the age of 18. Lots of bands that begin during the teen years don’t make it after the members reach their 20’s due to this. As time outside of the army is limited for those two years, members are reluctant to practise or simply lose the spark to be creative and just go into mental slumber for the duration of their service.
Some of our members had to attend the army, then others left abroad for studies so we relied a lot on each individual’s commitment, passion and of course, the internet to keep Nekhrah going during these times.
I recall in 2014, two members flew from Cyprus, another from Scotland and another from Guildford to play a gig in a local Pub in Colchester, Essex alongside two other local bands. With regard to the scene itself I guess the size of the scene is an inherent challenge. It’s something niche that has its own intricate ways of functioning. Part of the challenge has been figuring out what works and how to put it in application."
You just released your debut album 'Cosmic Apotasy', what has the reception been like? Will you tour South-Eastern Europe in support? Or a simple Cypriot tour?; Is it hard to apply for shows in Northern Cyprus and Turkey?
"So far it has been received far more warmly than we had envisaged. It has been featured in Magazines in Poland, Germany and Norway, in a compilation CD, featured on playlists and has been played on various big rock / metal radio stations internationally. Needless to say we are overwhelmed with the praise the album has received.
A tour is currently in the works, although nothing is set in stone as of yet. Hopefully that works out and we can reach out to new listeners through gigs. Seeing as Cyprus is such a small Island the term “touring” would make it sound more grandiose than it actually is haha. But yes, we plan on playing other cities other than our home town.
Getting political are we? Regarding the first part of your question, it is certainly not practically hard to apply for shows in Northern Cyprus since the opening of the check-points on the island back in 2003.
Regarding Turkey, there are no direct flights from the Republic of Cyprus to Turkey which means that to get there one would have to cross over the check-points with equipment etc and leave from the North or get a connecting flight through another country that flies directly to Turkey. In that regard it would perhaps be practically harder to play Turkey should the opportunity present itself."
What are your thoughts on Brexit?
"Brexit seems to be like one of those terrible far-fetched stories that end up being true. Sort of like Trump being elected as head of State. However, without a doubt it does represent the view of current majority (out of the people who voted) within the UK no matter whether the Pro-Brexit campaigners have deliberately misinformed and misled.
Now on the flip side I’m not certain that it directly reflects the views of the majority of the political leadership which (undoubtedly) must now follow through. As a result the political leadership is now faced with the colossal task of negotiating deals that best protect the interests of the UK citizens with a EU that doesn’t seem well disposed to do so.
Currently I feel there is an air of uncertainty and speculation about what turn events will take. Any speculation as to the economic and socio-political impacts of the Brexit are perhaps beyond my knowledge and the purpose of this interview."
Given Cyprus' location, do you have many metal bands come and play across the island?
"Surprisingly we have had numerous big names come and play here. Some honourable mentions (in no particular order): Paul Di Ano, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Scorpions, Sepultura, Vader, Sodom, Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ, Bolzer, Kafros Lord, Moonspell, Sabaton, Mnemic."
What plans have you got for the rest of the year?
"Now that the album has been officially released we are focusing more on promotion and booking gigs for 2018, thus apart from regular rehearsals, writing new material and perhaps recording a new single we don’t have any other substantial plans for 2017. Further, we have an album presentation on the 21st of December where we will be playing Cosmic Apostasy in its entirety as well as a few new un-recorded songs."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc you wish to send out?
"Thank you’s go out to Constantinos Syrimis, Nikolas Prokopiou of ToneDeaf Studio, Alan Douches of West West Side Music and Maciej Kamuda. Greetings go out to readers of Global Metal Apocalypse as well as anyone who has researched the band and stumbled across your interview. Thank you kindly for your time and interest, we appreciate it greatly."