Kazakhstan has come a long way since the fall of the Soviet Union, generally it feels freed from the shackles of it's Communist past ruling within the dark days of the USSR. Now it stands tall and proud as a booming nation within the Central Asian region, exporting heaps of oil and other natural gases to the world. Yet culturally it's rock and metal scene is growing with renewed vigour and purpose, from the early bands of the 90's like Holy Dragons to the modern wave featuring bands like Zarraza; of whom released their third EP 'Rotten Remains' back in November last year.
With this in mind GMA spoke to Zarraza about the current state of the Kazakh Metal scene, their new EP, the challenges faced of being outside the European and American markets and how neighbouring countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turmenistan fare when it comes to touring and having bands arrive from said countries to play in Kazakhstan.
"The [Kazakh] fans feel connected to a global scene! We are not isolated any more."
Guys for those who have not heard of Zarraza can you give us a brief history of the band?
"We are an Extreme Thrash Metal band from Kazakhstan. We released our debut album "Necroshiva" back in 2018 and our recent EP "Rotten Remains" last year – fully re-recorded songs from early demos. Both efforts received positive reviews from Metal Hammer, MetalSucks, AngryMetalGuy and other webzines all over the world. It helped us to step on stage as opening act for Sepultura, Ektomorf, Arkona, Tyr.
We cannot be labelled as Old School Thrash Metal because we added some other flavours to our extreme cocktail. Try to listen to just two songs to get an accurate impression - "150 words" and "Failed Apocalypse". Check out our video for "Apocalypse" on YouTube – it was filmed at an altitude of 3300 meters (10,826ft) in snowy mountains!
And last but not least — we practise tour trades and brought a lot of underground metal acts to Kazakhstan: Katalepsy (Russia), God Syndrome (Russia). I proud of it."
You released your new lyric video "Bullets & Beliefs'19", what was the reaction like, who designed it?
"Some people here in Kazakhstan never heard the story of what the song is about and won’t believe it. The song is not just about the first infamous robbery of bank collectors in Kazakhstan in 2001 - it's a song about people who do it for religion... back in the day, 19 years ago, it seemed nonsense in Kazakhstan - but today we live with it and call it "religious terrorism". Attackers claim they did it to finance some terrorist groups...
The lyric video was created by our good friend Nikita Cherevko. He is good friend of ours and filmed almost all our videos — Shadows, Necroshiva, The Grudge, Failed Apocalypse…"
In recent years it seems the Kazakh Metal scene has grabbed attention from people all over Europe, in your opinion, what changed? Would you say Holy Dragons were one of the early pioneers?
"Of course it is great! Metal fans here are proud of some bands — now they have the proof that Kazakhstan has some good metal bands and the fans feel connected to a global scene! We are not isolated any more.
As far as I'm concerned, the first real Kazakh metal band was Accent, formed by the Tarnovsky brothers in the middle of the 1980’s. The band played Heavy / Speed Metal — they not very active now but played some gigs recently. In the 90's there were many more bands – from classic Heavy Metal outfits to Death-Grind brigades. Izverg, Deathtrack, Requiem, Holy Dragons to name a few... the last one survived through all these years and are still active which is cool."
Tell us more about the Kazakh Metal scene, it's history, challenges, support (oppression?), festivals, venues etc.-
"Some people believe it does not exist at all but now we can perform with “Necroshiva”! The metal scene is very small and independent. We are outside of the mass media radar which is not so bad I think because the media is full of prejudice towards rock music in general. So we build the metal scene here by ourselves – it's not easy but I love it because it is our scene! We practice tour trades with bands from different cities and even countries and it works very well!
You can see – the scene is a wholly underground thing. As a result even the most active bands release one or two releases and then stop. Very few bands are persistent through time. My favourite band from Kazakhstan is Doubleface. Their “Falls and Decline” album is available on Bandcamp and it should be checked by every Chuck Shuldiner fan!
Another class act is Seven Sins – their latest Symphonic Black release is very impressive! And they worked through years of fighting all obstacles which is a great example of persistence. Metalcore band Tishina (inactive now) worked with producer Tue Madsen from Denmark and the result was good! I was happy when their bass player Eugene Hablack joined Zarraza in 2018 and helped to record “Rotten Remains”. Unfortunately he moved to other city and left.
I told you we are doing tour trades – and we also running our own metal fest. Metal Clan Fest was held in 2017 and united Kazakhstan's extreme metal acts. Then it was transformed into Hellmaty Metal Fest in 2018, headlined by Ektomorf from Hungary. Also we did a Metal United Worldwide (MUWW) gig in 2019 with Katalepsy (Russia) as headliner. MUWW is a special event which started a few years ago in Australia with one simple idea: different countries and cities, hundreds of bands but on the same night – we all performed metal as loud as possible!"
I assume you have bands from neighbouring countries come to play in Kazakhstan? Especially from the other 'Stan' countries?
"First of all let me speak of the misconception behind the "Stan". It’s just a word from a map of the world but in reality we don’t have a lot in common with other Stans. Kazakhstan almost doesn’t have any connection — political or economical — to Pakistan and Afghanistan. A wholly different culture, history, traditions, politics and economy. Relations with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are not very active also, but Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan — yes, we have shared common history and heritage.
We played a lot with bands from Kyrgyzstan there, they play in Kazakhstan very often and I like a lot bands over there. Kashgar, Shahid, My Own Shiva to name a few. Uzbekistan just started to open for us — we played there twice, last time in May 2019. The gig and whole travel experience was great — you can find the video diary on YouTube. The rock scene over there is really strong and interesting. I hope they will come to play in Kazakhstan and we will go there again."
On that note on a larger scale, do you feel there is a gradual increase in attention being given to bands from Central Asia?
"Yes. We see that a lot people are surprised that a metal scene here is existing at all, haha. We have a lot of hungry active bands who wish to surprise metalheads all over the world and I hope you will hear a lot of new impressive releases from Central Asia."
What plans do you have for 2020? Are there any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
"Our main goal is a new release — we are demoing it right now. That’s why we don’t have any big plans about gigs — just a couple of local shows in mind. If you watched and liked our videos filmed in the mountains – stay tuned for more! We got some interesting ideas to be released as soon as new songs will be ready.
Just keep listening to some metal! The music erases borders created by politics, religions and other alienating cults – so keep it going!"
Watch the "Bullets & Beliefs 19" video here: https://youtu.be/Veif3-hBlkM
The Chinese Metal scene can be traced all the way back to the days of Tang Dynasty, which set the ball rolling for the metal scene to flourish. From the first wave of Chinese Heavy Metal spawned even darker and more extreme bands... the Black Metal sector for example is perhaps the darkest in the global metal community.
But China plays host to all metal variations and it's bands like Explosicum who keep the Thrash Metal alive in China... having signed to Italian label Punishment 18 Records this year, this could well be the dawn of China finally being accepted as a major player in the global metal scene. Qiu Jian Hua spoke to GMA about the band's history, the Chinese Metal scene and what it's like in the band's home city of Nanchang.
"The biggest challenge is how can we make music... without sounding like pure copying of classic bands."
For those who do not know Explosicum, can you give us a brief history behind the band and the name?
"We were founded in 2005 and in the same year, signed with Area Death Productions. The Chinese name "爆浆“ is from the Hong Kong movie "The God Of Cookery" which was directed by Stephen Chow, Our friend Guo Ya Fei helped us to translate it into English; he created the word "Explosicum" based on its meaning. In 2008, we released our debut album "Conflict" and released the second album "Raging Living" in 2014, we then released our third album "Living's Deal" in 2017.
How does it feel to be signing with Punishment 18 Records? This surely has to be one of the best moments of the band's career?
"Yes, we never thought we could sign with a European label. We know that Punishment 18 Records is a very famous label, and we feel excited and proud to achieve this. It was definitely one of the highlights of our band's career."
Talk us through your latest album "Living's Deal', what is the theme of the album and how was it received in China?
"Most of our songs are about our social environment, our feelings in life, our anger and helplessness, including the dark side of human nature, someone who knows China's history in recent decades can relate to this.
I don't know how to describe the word "received", after all, Thrash Metal is not a popular style now. But I think there are many people who like our album, they have their own views on society, and like speed and aggressiveness as much as we do."
What is the Chinese Metal scene like right now? What challenges as musicians do you have to overcome or have overcome?
"From what I've seen, there are many metal bands that are active in China, some for a long time, some for a short time. In China, metal music still has a large audience. It just can't become the mainstream of society.
We all have jobs, don't need to make money by playing metal music, so we don't need to do music just to please others. To us, the biggest challenge is how can we make music that we love and that thrashers love, without sounding like pure copying of classic bands and music."
Do you feel that more labels and media should pay attention to bands from that part of the world? Not just China but the Far East in general?
"Yes of course. We have been to other countries and regions in Asia, where there are a lot of good metal bands, I hope they will have more opportunities to let more people know."
For metalheads visiting your city of Nanchang, what sights / attractions could you recommend? What is the local metal scene like? Any bars, clubs?
"In Nanchang, rock and metal music has a big audience. Most metal shows don't have more than 500 people. The only place where rock music is regularly performed is the Blackiron Livehouse, which is run by our lead singer Tan Chong. Any metalhead visiting Nanchang should be there. It's one of most famous live houses in China, touring bands and artists perform every week, metal bands included of course."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and leading into 2020?
"We don't have a specific timetable, we just take it step by step. We're working on the next album, we rehearse every week, the songs will be modified and improved during rehearsal. Unfortunately, we're very slow, so we don't know when the next album will come out. If we are invited by the organizer to perform, we are all happy to attend."
Are there any hello's, greetings, etc that you wish to send out to friends, family,
"Thank you to all our friends and family, including the directors of the various labels and all the organizers who invited us to the show. Without you, we might not have been able to make it this far."
Interview Interrogation: Iris Goessens & Steven 'Gaze' Sanders from Spoil Engine (Belgium / Netherlands)
Spoil Engine have been rampaging in the Belgian Metal scene for 15 years and yet it's only in the recent years that they caught the attention of the more well-known labels, Arising Empire (owned by Nuclear Blast) in this case.
Their unique slant on the Melodic Death Metal / Metalcore crossover has made them distinguished guests in the world of metal and yet despite their original vocalist leaving in 2014, they've maintained their brutality through Dutch vocalist Iris Goessens. Word of warning, don't let the fact being the new vocalist is a female overthrow you or undermine this new instalment of Spoil Engine, because her vocals and charisma is ferocious enough to leave you spit-roasted inside and out.
Here Iris and Steve spoke to GMA about their crushing new album 'Renaissance Noire', it's meaning and origins. How they come to meet at their rendez-vous point of Antwerp (as Iris and Matthijs both live in The Netherlands), the Dutch and Belgian Metal scenes respectively and why the single 'Riot' has arguably come at the right time for the band...
"I think music is a beautiful way to make people aware of important topics."
You must be stoked to release your fifth album 'Renaissance Noire', could you tell us about the meaning behind the album title and give us an overview of the album topics?
"Yes we are! We’re very proud of what the album has become. The title translates as “Dark Rebirth”. After our last “Stormsleeper” shows Bart had to make the decision to leave the band (work & family were too difficult to combine with SE). We decided that we would move on as a 4 piece band and started writing. This whole process was a “rebirth” for the band. Also we felt inspired by the “Renaissance” age, which you can see in the artwork. We think this album is darker than the previous one so that’s why we added the “Noire” in the title. The song topics are very diverse but they are all about evolving (as humans and/or as a society) so it basically became the overall topic though the album."
Iris, having come from Maastricht would it be OK to assume you moved to Belgium instead of travelling to and from The Netherlands?
"No. I still live in The Netherlands. Our drummer Matt is also from The Netherlands. For rehearsals we meet in the city of Antwerp which is in the middle of where all the band members live. Before we do this we arrange as much as possible online & everyone rehearses and writes songs at their home studio’s."
Steven do you feel the Belgian Metal scene is often overlooked by the music industry as a whole? Iris the same for the Dutch Metal scene?
"I think there are many Dutch bands and musicians who made it big in the international metal scene. So I don’t think we’re overlooked… It just takes lots of time to build a brand."
"Well, I guess the scene wouldn't be overlooked if we had bands who really get all the promotion. We have some great Belgian bands (Aborted, AmenRa, Evil Invaders, Carnation,...) but these boys must work very hard to get something done in the global scene. If you compare with our Dutch friends (Epica, Within Temptation,..) they get much more support and credit from the bottom-up, meaning from their own country and their promo channels like BUMA. Dutch bands tend to help each other more where Belgian bands are more lone warriors. But it's good to see the Belgian scene is rising!"
Do you feel your single 'R!ot' has come at the right time when climate change protests, social unrest across the European Union and hatred towards the Trump administration is rife? Is the single a political statement?
"Yes, it just came together like that. We wrote this song at the beginning of 2019. I think music is a beautiful way to make people aware of important topics."
With that in mind, do you feel metal music offers itself as a way of venting fury, anger and discontent in a constructive way?
"For sure. Metal has a great energy to spread messages. I think most metal fans are conscious people who think for themselves. So it’s nice to spread messages through our music for a better world. "
For metalheads visiting Maastricht, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any good bars, clubs?
"We got some nice pubs here in Maastricht. Most of them are overflowed with students though. Same for the “clubs”. I’d rather recommend Maastricht for day visiting than overnight partying. We have many nice restaurants and a beautiful city centre."
What plans have you got for the rest of 2019 (along side the album launch) and into 2020? Do you have any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
"We’ve launched the album and we’re ready to hit the road! Thanks for the interview. And to all the fans who read this: We hope to CU soon on tour!"
Pop Metal? Melodic Heavy Metal? Finnish Metal? However you want to describe Segmentia is down to you, but the truth remains that they are one of the fresh products coming off of the Finnish Metal conveyor belt. Only having formed this year, devised and unleashed their debut EP 'Shanghai' and signed a deal with renowned Finnish label Inverse Records, things certainly are going well for this quarter. But as Jere explains, their humble beginnings have provided some guidance for this new beast to follow by...
"Rumours say that Alvar (Aalto) wanted to paint the coffin shaped church black!"
Give us a brief background of Segmentia, were you in previous bands? What does 'Segmentia' mean?
"We started playing together with Arttu in 2012. During that time we were playing only covers and the line-up changed a lot during the years. I had already composed a few songs of my own but before that I proposed that we started to create own music, with the band I wanted to have line up that works. I think it was around 2015 or so when we recorded our first demos with that line-up. After that the line-up still changed a lot but we still decided to start recording the songs for our EP.
All the recordings were ready at the end of 2017 but we were still struggling with our bassist and vocalist. Finally in the end of 2018 when Sami joined the band I was sure that the 3rd member was found and soon after that Laura joined to complete the line-up. I personally have played in many bands, but before Segmentia my main band has been a Power Metal band called Celesty. Actually when we decided to end Celesty it took like a couple of years when I started to look for a new group.
Segmentia doesn’t mean anything. Our first name was Seventh Segment, but we wanted to have a band name with only one word so I came up with the idea of Segmentia.
You play Pop Metal, would you liken yourselves to Dead By April or how would you describe your sound?
"When I start to compose a song I never think about the genre or any other band. I just create what’s in my mind and basically clear my head from melodies to my computer. Then I start to write vocal lines and add rhythms etc. then I go to my rehearsal room’s studio and start to produce the song. I know Dead By April and I listened to their first album a lot when it came out, but they might be like one of the 100 influences I have when I create music."
Shanghai' is your debut EP and so what was the response like? Will you tour in support of the EP? Any shows outside Finland?
"The response has been great. I only have heard good things and when we play live, people really seem to enjoy our performance and music, even if they don’t know our songs well. We have done some shows in Finland and yeah we are planning to play worldwide. This is only the beginning of Segmentia and we have lots of plans for the future, so we’ll see what is going to happen. Anyway I’m very excited about the future."
Talk us through 'Shanghai', what do the tracks mean and why is the EP title borrowed from a city in China?
"Shanghai reflects the light that comes when there is someone whom shares the joys and sorrows of this life. We are quite alone here on Earth called "The Dark Sea" in the song, and when there is someone whom you can share that life, the shores of the dark sea shimmer. Geographically, Shanghai is an island in the middle of a dark sea, and thinking of that actual island maybe can help to see this idea.
I almost ended my entire musical career after Celesty about 7 years ago. Then my current wife told me to stop those crazy talks. This gave me the courage and the spark to try and start a new band. Shanghai's lyrics are not only a tribute to love, but also a tribute to my wife. The song also tells us how each of us should have that bright person in our lives. We called the EP Shanghai also because every song tells a story in its own way from different parts, from the trip to a band and family. We have to be able to share joys and sorrows because that sense of security really has a lot to do with how our band holds together."
How does it feel to be a part of the Inverse Records family? Surely this is a dream start for the band?
"Well this was very natural choice for us. I have studied their work a lot and I know the guys who work there. Also we decided to try to do a lot of ourselves for the release and that we didn’t try to get any labels behind us or anything like that. We just started this by ourselves and so that we can do a lot of ourselves we choose Concorde Music Company and Inverse to help us out."
For metalheads visiting Seinäjoki, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any pubs, venues?
"Actually Seinäjoki is like other cities in Finland as well, it's at it's greatest in the summer. Here in Seinäjoki is quite little sight so see but one of our sights is the church in the down town who has designed by famous Finnish Architect Alvar Aalto. Rumours say that Alvar wanted to paint the coffin shaped church black!
We also have many quite big festivals here in summertime. Provinssirock is one of the coolest and biggest festivals in Finland and the venue called Törnävän Saari is also wonderful sight to see. Also we have Tango music festival here, which also brings a lot of people to our city. Then there is also Vauhtiajot rock and race festival which is music and rally on the same weekend. Then we have the famous club called Rytmikorjaamo and a legendary pub called “Warttibaari” Bar 15, where also Segmentia played their first gig on 6th April 2019."
With 2019 coming near to a close, what plans have you got for the rest of the year leading into 2020?
"We have planned a lot. Priority one is to finalize our own website http://www.segmentia.net. Also this end of the year we are planning to play at least one gig and also we shoot our second music video from one of the EP songs but I won’t tell you yet which one. Also I have started to record demos from new songs I have composed and I believe that we start the pre-production of Segmentia debut album in year 2020.
Also, we are going to be active in many ways to keep the name Segmentia familiar in people’s ears. Play lot of gigs in Finland but hopefully also in approach, maybe support some bigger bands."
Are there any greetings, or thank you's that you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
"Hello all Global Metal Apocalypse readers! Greetings from beautiful Finland, the land of the thousand lakes! I hope that you enjoyed our interview. Go and check Segmentia music, follow us on social media, tell us to your friends and families and most important, remember to say kind words to your loved ones!"
Order the CD: https://www.recordshopx.com/single/segmentia/shanghai/#654877
Australia has always had a rich history in rock and metal music, from the days of AC/DC to the modern reverberation of the Metalcore and Deathcore contingent alongside the hellish Black Metal underground. But aside from that, one genre that seems to be simmering underneath is Industrial Metal and it falls on to bands like Darkcell to keep that burning flame alive. Having released their self-titled album this year, vocalist Jesse Dracman was happy to chat to GMA about the band's history, the local scene and future plans among other things.
"Our annual Psycho Circus this November will close one of our most exciting years to date."
For those who have not heard of Darkcell, could you give us the back story to how the band formed and the meaning behind Darkcell?
"Darkcell formed around 8 years ago initially as a studio project born from the ashes of a previous band Matt (guitars, electronics, production) and I had. We wanted to create a more Industrial heavy style that we love and grew up with. The debut album was half written when we got a call to open for Combichrist and the rest is history.
What is Darkcell? It’s open to interpretation and while we don’t claim to reinvent the wheel, we’ve certainly put our own definition out there. We’re the best band you’ve never heard!"
As an Industrial Metal band, do you feel the genre is not as prominent as it once was or is it amidst a revival?
"It never went away. People just got distracted and missed a lot of good music."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genres?
"Like a 4th of July fireworks extravaganza with all the intensity and finesse of a James Brown concert if he was possessed...was he?"
You released your self-titled album this year, what was the reception like?; have you had any fans get in touch from outside of Australia?
"It was the best reaction we’ve received yet. The streams and reviews have been our finest yet. It’s been an exciting cycle for us."
Will you look to play outside of Australia in the foreseeable future or have you done already?
"Always on our minds and we’ve toured Europe this year as well as the USA in 2015."
For metalheads visiting Brisbane, what sights / attractions would you recommend in seeing? What are the best bars and venues?
With 2019 closing up, what plans have you got between now and going into 2020?
"New music, bigger noise. Ain’t that always the aim? Here’s to a rad one. Our annual Psycho Circus this November will close one of our most exciting years to date."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc that you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
"We are forever grateful to the fans that continue to support us and to those just finding us, welcome. Hail!"
Like most of the countries in Eastern Europe, the metal scenes are thriving and delivering some remarkable talent, yet they get largely ignored by the West. Take for example Belarus, the Extreme Metal scene there is extraordinary and yet can you name one band from there without googling? No? Then the point just made is well and truly proven. Hoping to shake the foundations of metal is Pagan Black Metallers Massenhinrichtung, sure the band has been around for 15 years but they've steadily been gathering a following in the underground and have landed a deal with Darker Than Black Records 4 years ago.
Rest assured they are NOT a NSBM band (said record label has some bands associated with the genre on their roster), they may show Belarusian patriotism but let's be honest, aren't we all patriotic at times? Massenhinrichtung's drummer Ksaltone spoke to GMA about their national scene, their new music video and the sights of their capital city Minsk and other places in Belarus.
"I could say that Belarusian Metal becomes stronger with every year."
Firstly could you tell us how Massenhinrichtung came about, who came up with the band name and what it means? Also why a German name and not a Belarusian name?
"Hello! I created Massenhinrichtung in 2004 when I was extremely influenced by horror and wild Pagan culture. I decided to name that project as “Massenhinrichtung” (mass execution) because I saw it as the most extreme form of protest against the modern abutments. In my opinion, nothing is more cruel than mass killing. Why German? German sounds tough, while Belarusian sounds soft and melodic."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genres and what influences do you look towards for your music?
"I would describe the sound of Massenhinrichtung as a reflection of deep emotional crisis and a hurricane of sad and aggressive energies. We just erupt tons of feelings via such kind of aggressive but eclectic songs. And yes, we are not into any genre, I think. It’s some kind of authentic metal from Belarus with blackened basis and surface. What about influences, so I take my inspiration from perfect nature and idiotic society."
You filmed your 'Distances' music video at some Orthodox locations in Belarus, how challenging was it to secure the permission to film at such sensitive sites?
"We didn’t get any permission from anyone. We came and filmed our background for a video boldly, without asking any kind of authorities. But we don’t have to do it, actually! It’s ours, hehehe. Those places are symbolic to me so I decided this lyric video must reflect the atmosphere of ascetic Belarusian vast land as I imagine it."
Can you tell us more about the wider Belarusian Metal scene? What the challenges are, are there any festivals, venues or bars you could recommend?
"To be honest, nowadays I have a little contact with metalheads, just with my teammates and old friends. We have been introverts for a long time. But anyway I could say that Belarusian Metal becomes stronger with every year. We have a small amount of annual festivals here, only 1 open-air fest, but almost every month we have there a gig of famous metal bands from EU and USA. Metal music has no cultural support here so every f*****g thing here is made by enthusiasts. Ideological enthusiasts. I could recommend you to listen to the bands Extermination Dismemberment and Serdce."
Outside of the band what hobbies or interests do you have?
"My main and only hobby is music. Making / listening to / composing – everything. And maybe travelling, but fortunately we united that with my music hobby, when we had started playing gigs outside our country. And every one of us have, of course, has constant work to earn for a living."
For metalheads visiting Minsk, what sights or attractions could you recommend in seeing? Is it relatively easy to navigate Minsk?
"I would recommend them to visit some calm Belarusian picturesque historical places instead of Minsk's stone jungle. Minsk is a big and wonderful city with plenty of attractions for the young blood, but personally, I like quiet places like ruins of castles (for example Novogrudok and Ruzhany) and lakesides like Braslav. I think metalheads will rate them better that our capital city. Minsk was destroyed during WWII, so all of the buildings are new and not prayed yet."
What plans does the band have for the rest of the year and leading into 2020?
"Now we are in the progress of making a new record, we’ll do our best to release it in summer 2020. We will show some changes and refreshments in Massenhinrichtung and will film one or two music videos. Follow us on any social network, soon we’ll put out the fresh news."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc., that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"First of all a big thank you to Global Metal Apocalypse for an idea of making this interview! I’m sure European metalheads could be interested in discovering something new and extraordinary. In Belarus we have plenty of good music, so I recommend you to get to know the Belarusian Metal dialect. And of course cheers to all people in the EU who know us and support us! We appreciate it very much!"
Those who know their geography will know that Moldova is a small country to the East of Romania and yet whilst their flags are similar, they both speak Romanian and share the same name for their currency, do not by any means confuse the two. Whilst their neighbours Romania have had the pleasure of bringing out Negura Bunget as flag-bearers, it's now up to Infected Rain of Moldova to shoulder the responsibility of being flag-bearers to the Moldovan Metal scene.
Here is a band who has been around for the past 11 years and yet only now has a record label picked them up, it should have happened a lot sooner. None the less, having signed with Napalm Records and gearing up to release their fourth album 'Endorphin', it's fair to say that this quintet are not resting on their laurels as Lena goes on to explain when speaking to GMA...
"There are no good opportunities to play and share our music... It is really challenging to be a musician in Moldova in general."
Things are looking good for Infected Rain, with a record deal with Napalm Records and subsequently a new album coming out, all of you must be chuffed to be where you are at now?
"Yes we are really happy and excited for what is there to come."
Some of your new fans will not know you have been around for 11 years, will you look to re-release your three previous albums '86', 'Embrace Eternity' and 'Asylum'?
"It is possible but, it is not in our closest future plans yet. We just want to create new stuff."
You're heading out in November and December on tour with Eluveitie and Lacuna Coil, how does it feel to be in the presence of metal greatness?
"We are super excited about it. Both bands were always good to us and I think it’s going to be fun to share the stage and the whole tour experience with these great people."
Not many metalheads will know about metal in Moldova, do you feel you have become the flag-bearers of the scene? What can you tell us about the scene (festivals, support for metal, etc)?
"Unfortunately Moldova is not really famous for metal. We do have a lot of talented musicians and bands but, unfortunately there are no good opportunities to play and share our music. We don't have any support for the young musicians, no clubs or festivals to perform at. It is really challenging to be a musician in Moldova in general."
How does it feel to be working with such a highly-regarded vocal coach in Melissa Cross?
"I feel super honoured! We are old friends now. Melissa is not just a vocal teacher, she is my mentor. I love her with all my heart and I consider myself lucky to know her."
Would you say that your style of music is best called 'Modern Metal' or do you have a preferred way of describing your music instead of genre-tagging?
"Honestly I really don't like to put our selves in a box. We like to be free to compose and write without following any tools of specific music ganders."
With the end of 2019 in the not too far distant future, what can fans expect from Infected Rain up until the end of the year and into 2020?
"We are going to surprise everybody with our fresh new album that is going to see the light on October 18th. Right after that we are going on a big European tour supporting Eluveitie and Lacuna Coil. During this tour we are planning to visit 43 different cities in 20 different countries. Super excited about that!"
Are there any greetings, thank you's, etc, that you wish to send out to fans, friends, etc?
"We are absolutely grateful to all the people who support us, for their love and constant encouragement, is a proof that what we do is worth doing. We regard our music not as a marketable product, but as a way of doing what we love and sharing it with all the people who are willing to become part of our world. We would never have been able to be where we are now, to be who we are without our faithful fans and we are proud to say that we have always been and will always be true to ourselves and to them."
In a series of posts, GMA will be speaking to bands worldwide about film soundtracks they feel that could have been written using metal music. Up first is Gothic Metallers Winter Storm who hail from the West Midlands, England.
1. Silence of the Lambs - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6Mm8Sbe__o
"I don't think this soundtrack gets the credit it deserves. It's some of Howard Shore's best work by far; it's not all about Lord Of The Rings. I would love to have his insight when putting together a piece of music to set the tone for a scene / movie."
2. A Clockwork Orange - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN-1Mup0UI0
"I adore this soundtrack and the approach Walter (now Wendy) Carlos brought to it. I'm a huge fan of neo-classical music, so to have a soundtrack that so heavily relies on reworked Purcell and Beethoven pieces is fine by me! To bookend a film of that nature with Queen Mary's funeral march and then Singing in the Rain is a touch of genius."
3. The Lion King - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hY7xBISLBIA
"I'll be 34 in February, but listening to this soundtrack takes me back to being a fascinated 8-year old kid watching the film at a local cinema for the first time. It is, in my opinion, quite possibly the best soundtrack ever written."
4. The Never-ending Story - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeFni9dOv7c
"Who doesn't love a classic cheesy, 80s film? This is another film that fascinated me when I was a kid and that was largely down to the soundtrack. It's the first time I remembered paying specific attention to character themes/leitmotifs, and how certain instruments used in certain ways can evoke particular emotions: the joy of riding Valkor, the sadness of losing Artax, the fear being stalked by Gmork..."
5. Saturday Night Fever - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyJDYTG5leQ
"The Bee Gees are literally some of the best songwriters of all time. Sadly, they're mostly lost on my generation, but some of the material they wrote - especially before their disco phase - is incredible. It's not surprising to me that they went on to write, what was then, the most successful soundtrack of all time."
Winter Storm have also released the first single 'Astral World' today, here is a link to the video.
One of the UK's finest melodic metal bands, Winter Storm, are back after a short break with their third full length album. Their latest offering, 'Relapse in Time', follows on from the story that began with their second album, a concept album, 'Within The Frozen Design'. The story begins with the protagonist believing he is designing his own universe, but, as events unfold, it turns out it was all a coincidence and he spirals into madness. The story continues in "Relapse in Time', where the protagonist awakens with no idea of where he is, in a strange land of deserted plains, and a Mars-like terrain.
After forming in 2008 Winter Storm have moulded and changed their sound to make their own unique form of Melodic Metal, which is displayed in the new album. They wished to fuse metal (including 7 string guitars) with melodic keyboards and vocals. Winter Storm have been seen supporting the likes of Delain and Leaves' Eyes as well as performing at Bloodstock Open Air, Hammerfest, HRH Metal and Wizzfest Belgium.
Quote from Hannah, the vocalist of Winter Storm:
“I am very pleased to announce Winter Storm will be bringing out our long anticipated third album Relapse In Time on the 11th October. First of all I would like to thank all of our friends and fans for waiting so long to hear this album. With this record we are planning to bring a new sound forward; fusing our melodic metal sound with a symphonic and more technical edge.”
‘Relapse In Time’ will be released at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton on Friday 11th October and will be available on all digital platforms.
Winter Storm on the run up to the release of ‘Relapse In Time’ will be releasing a teaser trailer every Friday until the release date, you can check out the first teaser here: https://youtu.be/XbM4f3iGhSM
Whenever you think of Canada, the usual stereotypes come into being. Maple syrup, South Park (Blame Canada), the vast forests and of course ice hockey. But among all of that is a metal scene that has been chugging along nicely, just like their railways, their metal scene is vast, widespread and as solid as the rails their trains travel on. One band who over the years has grown and improved themselves to become one of Canada's most exciting exports in the past decade is Unleash The Archers. This Heavy Power / Melodic Death Metal leviathan is roaring and ready to unleash their latest EP 'Explorers'. Vocalist Brittney Slayes filled in the details of the new EP, their journey to where the band is now, their home city of Vancouver and what films she would have loved to written metal soundtracks for.
"Don’t you feel like in these new [Star Wars] films there should have been heavier riffs? Imagine if Kylo’s theme had been metal!"
Ten years have passed since your first album 'Behold The Devastation' saw daylight, the band has come a long way since then, what is it would you say has driven the band to where they are now?
"To be honest, there was never some grand scheme for greatness, never a plan or even a purposeful direction, we just keep writing new music and getting out on the road to tour it. We have always taken it day by day, album by album, just seizing the opportunities when they come and working as hard as we can to create something new and exciting each time we hit the studio. Music is our passion, we will continue to play as long as we can and if a little success comes along with it then that’s great, but it’s not why we do it. We just want to play our songs live in front of an audience that enjoys them as much as we do."
Canada seems to keep producing exciting and fresh bands, is it safe to assume the Canadian Metal scene is buzzing right now?
"Absolutely! The advent of digital music has allowed a lot more bands to get their music out there in front of a lot more people, whereas in the past it would have been up to the labels to pick and choose which bands get recognition and which don’t. I think Canada has always been full of killer musicians, it’s just hard to be noticed when you have huge markets like the USA and Europe constantly getting all the attention. You do have to go the extra mile in order to get your name out there, you have to tour those major markets as much as you can and look for coverage wherever you can get it, and I think a lot more bands are doing that nowadays. You have to be willing to put the time and energy in, no one is going to do it for you, and there are a lot of young bands up here that are finally understanding that."
If you had the choice of writing metal soundtracks for 5 films, what 5 films would you choose?
"When I was watching 'Aquaman' I felt like the soundtrack was so wrong, it should have been way heavier, it should have been metal, so I suppose that would be my first choice. I think Annihilation and the new Predator movie should have had metal soundtracks too. Of course, Star Wars has some of the best song writing of all time, but don’t you feel like in these new films there should have been heavier riffs? Imagine if Kylo’s theme had been metal! So perfect. Lastly, I would love to do the soundtrack for the Alien franchise, I think the last two films were so fantastically dark and would pair well with some progressive or even djent-y riffage. Could you imagine that in theatres? Just awesome."
What have you done differently for 'Explorers' in comparison with 'Apex'?
"The biggest difference is that ‘Explorers’ is just a two-song covers EP, not a full length, so we didn’t do any original writing, just some rearranging. ‘Apex’ is full of imagination, but ‘Explorers’ is full of heart. We are heading into the studio pretty soon here to do another full length, a sequel to ‘Apex’, so we will be returning to the same writing and recording style for that one. This EP was just a little something to keep the fans engaged while we write the next album."
You've covered Stan Rogers's 'Northwest Passage' for the EP and said it (quote) 'brings us right back home', do you feel it's important for bands to turn to musicians who epitomize a cultural identity in context with Stan travelling nationwide through the Rockies, forests, etc?
"We are all really big fans of Stan, and not just because he toured the same highways that we do, but because he has such a strong sense of Canadian identity inherently surrounding him. All of his songs invoke a reverence for our Canadian heritage that make you almost want to explode with pride for the beauty of it. He reminds you of where you’ve come from, and inspires you to use that as fuel for the fire. We knew that there were going to be tons of people that had never heard of Stan before, but we didn’t care, we wanted the metal community to hear the song and love it just as much as we do, all the naysayers be damned ;)"
Speaking of which, for metalheads visiting the city of Vancouver, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any festivals, bars, also?
"Number one on the list should definitely be to stroll the seawall through Stanley Park, from Coal Harbour all the way to English Bay and beyond if you can make it, maybe rent a bike because it pretty much surrounds the whole of down-town Vancouver and keeps on going! Granville Island is cool too, but save that for a weekday because weekends it’s PACKED. The Vancouver Art Gallery is worth it if there is an interesting exhibit going on, and there is tons of shopping around there as well so it’s easy to make a day of it. The Musuem of Anthroplogy out at UBC is worth checking out, as is the grounds of the university in general. Oh and you definitely want to check out the Capilano Suspension bridge! Super rad, unless you’re afraid of heights and a wobbly bridge packed with people ;).
As for festivals, we have Hyperspace each spring which is all power and melodic bands, and then we have the Modified Ghost festival in the summer that is all super heavy death and technical bands. As for bars, you definitely want to hit up the Moose! Cheap, tasty food and heavy metal music all day long!"
Aside from the EP, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
"We have begun the writing process for the next album and will be hitting the studio at the end of the year. We are hoping for a late spring 2020 release, and after that it will be tour, tour, tour! Plus, as many festivals as we can get our hands on."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc you wish to send out?
"Just wanted to say thanks to our fans for their amazing response to the ‘Explorers’ EP so far! We can’t wait to share the second track with everyone on October 11th! Keep an eye on YouTube ‘cause we’ll be releasing another cool video for that track as well J If you haven’t checked it out yet, the video for ‘Northwest Passage’ is up on YouTube right now, and make sure to bring your thinking cap because it’s a wild ride ;)
Thanks for your time everyone!"
For Black Stone Cherry things cannot be any sweeter, for a band who has stuck together like a band of brothers for the past 18 years and yet not had one single line-up change, it's evident they are closer than you think. The great thing is they've stuck to their roots, hailing from Kentucky famed for it's chicken (obviously), this Alt / Southern Metal / Hard Rock band have been churning out albums left, right and centre. A total of six albums have been released and their latest effort 'Family Tree' is an absolute blast, has to be said. Now the Edmonton-natives make their second pilgrimage to the world of blues as they gear up to unleash their second blues-tribute EP 'Black To Blues Volume 2', rhythm / lead guitarist and backing vocalist Ben Wells was more than happy to talk about their year, including an unforgettable headliner at Ramblin' Man Festival in Maidstone, Kent, in addition to their love for the Appalachians and of course their affinition for blues music.
"We love Appalachian music... it's a big part of Kentucky’s culture and heritage."
Guys you played at the Ramblin' Man Fair festival in Kent this year, what was the reception like and what did you like most about the festival?
"We love Ramblin' Man Festival! It’s one of our favourite festivals! The atmosphere is electric, but still very relaxed. The mix up of bands from old to new and different genres is also really cool. We love that!"
Whenever you perform, what are your emotions like when the crowd reacts in the way they do to your songs and performance? (Question sent in from Black Stone Cherry fan Emily Williams)
"It’s overwhelming, really. When you write songs you never “expect” a ton of people to sing along or wave their hands in the air, or cry, etc. so when those emotions start happening... it’s the most rewarding thing for us."
Now you're set on bringing out your second tribute EP, ‘Black To Blues Volume 2,’ it's evident blues plays a huge part in your sound, but on a wider scope how important is blues to heavy rock / metal music?
"I would love to hear some Bluesy Heavy Metal! Haha. Honestly though, without the blues we wouldn’t have Rock 'n' Roll. And without Rock 'n' Roll we probably wouldn’t have Heavy Metal or Hard Rock. So I still think it’s very important."
Outside of the band, what hobbies or interests do you have? How did you get into playing music?
"I like playing golf when I get the chance! I love to run and have recently picked up swimming as well! But music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been drawn towards [playing the] guitar and entertaining people."
How tricky or easy was it to pick what songs you wanted to cover for your second tribute EP?
"It can be difficult at times because we are fans of so many different blues artists. We knew we wanted to do “Big Legged Woman” and “Death Letter Blues”. The others we kinda decided on the spot whilst in the studio. It’s never easy!"
Do you feel connected to the Appalachian section of Kentucky and does the cultural heritage play a part in your music? For those visiting Edmonton, what sights / attractions could you recommend in visiting?
"We love Appalachian music! It’s so great and yes, it's a big part of Kentucky’s culture and heritage. As far as Edmonton goes, there’s some cool little shops and stores and a great little place called Genes Freeze!"
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and leading into 2020?
"Touring the rest of 2019! For 2020 we plan to record and have a new album out, then back on the road!"
Do you have any greetings, or thank you's that you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
"We always want to thank anyone who has supported us, listened to our music, been to a show, bought a shirt, etc. "We literally can’t make this happen without them! So, thank you!!"