"The Zambian metal scene is pretty underground. We conjured it here, in 2013 ha ha. There was a Zamrock movement in the 70's, but that was mostly made up of psychedelic and acid rock sounds."
Zambia during the 1970's was bustling with what was then known as 'Zamrock', however that has sadly died away and faded into the background of music history. However one band has set out to bring it back albeit a lot heavier, the first ever metal band from Zambia, their name? Statis Prey. Having released their debut album "Sanguine" last year, the quintet are continuing improving what they have built up since 2013 and are sure to put Zambia on the international metal stage. Much like their brothers Dividing The Element in Zimbabwe, they have a DIY attitude towards it all, after all they're the leaders of the scene and as such hope to lead the way for other potential bands to follow in their wake.
Stasis Prey survived their interrogation, we were kind to them. The Victoria falls however were not.
For those who have not heard of Stasis Prey, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"It all started with Tumelo (vocalist) meeting Lerato (bassist) who then asked Joshua (lead guitarist) to join the band. Then Joshua's cousin Sina (rhythm guitarist) joined later on. The band name is a metaphor developed by Tumelo in relation to the idle mind philosophy, which says that the mind that is in stasis / not in motion, is likely to be prey. So the name is pretty much an anthesis to that."
Last year you released your debut album 'Sanguine', what was the reaction like? Did you have anyone outside of Zambia check out it?
"The reaction was moderately well received online... the fun part was playing the songs on the album live. The energy was raw, organic, honest, and more heartfelt."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging, given you play Alternative Metal; such a broad genre?
"That would be a different answer from everyone... blurring heavy distorted guitars with raspy hyper-tone vocals, and blurring powerful grounding bass with regimented drums..., for the most part."
What do your parents think of your music? Are any of your family members musicians?
"They have mixed feelings about it. Yes, some of our family members actually ARE / WERE musicians. Just not Rock / Metal musicians. Ha ha."
Tell us more about the Zambian Metal scene, when did metal arrive in Zambia? What is the public opinion of metal? Is the scene active?
"The Zambian metal scene is made up of a minority movement. It's pretty underground. We conjured it here, in 2013 ha ha. There was a Zamrock movement in the 70's, but that was mostly made up of psychedelic and acid rock sounds. The public opinion of metal around here is mixed. Genuinely loved OR hated. No two ways about it. The scene is currently active in university dorms and male and female bedrooms laden with angst. Ha ha."
Do you feel there is a current trend of people outside of Sub-Sahara Africa paying more attention to bands from the region?
"Yes there is. A great Zambian band called W.I.T.C.H has been touring Europe for a while now and also had one of their songs featured as the opening soundtrack on an American TV show called "Watchmen" so... "
For metalheads visiting Lusaka, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"We would recommend the Victoria Falls (the city of Livingstone in general), the sinkhole and bongohive in Lusaka... and any dynamic live music show / event / platform... you'll most likely stumble upon interesting bands there."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"We don't have fans... only friends... in many places.... here and across the globe. Ha ha. So a huge shout out and thanks to them for their support. And also a HUGE thank you to you too for your interest in us as well as your support! Cheers!"
"If you throw the towel in as soon things are getting tough, you won’t get anywhere with anything."
For a band that has been on and off since 1984, you could easily forgive Candlemass for considering to take things a little easy... like hell they are. They've just put out their latest EP "The Pendulum" which dovetails their latest album "The Door To Doom" released last year. Pioneers of the Epic Doom Metal style, this Swedish leviathan of the ages shows no signs of giving up even if things like COVID-19 have halted some of their plans, as Leif Edling put it verbatim "If you throw the towel in as soon things are getting tough, you won’t get anywhere with anything."
Take those words of wisdom and imprint them in your mind, especially if you're an upcoming band because these guys have done, seen it, sold the xxxxx amount of t-shirts...
Leif spoke to GMA during his interrogation about how the band has managed to thrive since their inception, why the vinyl resurgence is a huge thing for him and why metal at first in Sweden was largely ignored.
You released your latest EP "The Pendulum" back in March, what was the reception like? Will this lead to an album in 2021 perhaps?
"Oh no, that is too early. The "Pendulum EP" was something of a revived thing after "Door To Doom", so people could hear the whole thing; all of the songs. Now I think the metal world needs to rest a bit after this Candlemass overkill of material 😊. Personally my guess would be 2022 for a new album. But the overall reception was great. We had a terrific year 2019 with loads of great gigs and Grammy festivities."
It was released on vinyl as well as CD and digitally, what are your thoughts on the vinyl resurgence? What was it like growing up with vinyl?
"I love vinyl so it is absolutely super that this format is experiencing a comeback. Sure, some used records are way too expensive, but overall I think that it’s a good thing because vinyl has got a value again, and that means that instead of having the old albums in boxes in the attic or basement, people bring it in the record shops to sell it and get OK money for it. Then all of a sudden, old favourite records are up for grabs again. A bit pricey sometimes, yes, but they are there for you to buy IF you want it. They weren’t before.
It was great to grow up with vinyl. You heard the music in the way it was meant to sound, and also, had a pretty good collection before the prices went through the roof 😊.
Would it be fair to say that Sweden has always been a heavy player in the world of music; all genres? Do you take influence from outside of metal?
"Not at all. When we started C-mass nobody got signed from Sweden. No Swedish label wanted to touch a metal band. We were one of the first “underground” bands that got out of Sweden and got signed to a foreign metal label. The guys from Entombed told me that when they saw that we managed to do it, break out of Sweden, then they knew it was possible and tried even harder to get signed abroad. And after that we had the so called ketchup effect he he….. "
For a band who has been on and off since 1984, what were the toughest challenges you've faced as a band? How did you over come these?
"Through hard work and total dedication for metal! We were born to do this! Won’t stop for any bumps on the road to doom hahahaha!! We’ve been through the book of f**k ups from A to Z many times. Been dropped from labels, changed singers more often than Ozzy’s been to rehab. And it has paid off. We have a pretty good career going now, great gigs, headline some even, Grammies, you name it. If you throw the towel in as soon things are getting tough, you won’t get anywhere with anything."
Speaking of which, what advice could you offer to upcoming bands who are trying to navigate the music industry?
"Don’t give up, get a good manager and GO FOR IT!"
How are you as a band coping with the COVID-19 pandemic? What plans had to be put on hold or cancelled? What have you been doing in your spare time?
"We had to cancel 2 great sold-out shows at a theatre in Stockholm in April. Been moved to August, and now it looks like they have to be moved again, to spring 2021. Crap! We also moved many gigs to the autumn, an autumn that is very intense now with loads of cool gigs here, in Europe, the States etc. Big risk that those will be up for a rain-check too… sucks. But it’s the hard reality.
I read a lot now, take it easy, watch series on HBO and Netflix, sorting my record collection out, take long walks in the nearby forest. If it wasn’t for all the cancelled gigs, I really don’t mind taking it easy. This relaxed situation now suits me quite well actually 😊. "
Obviously there's a lot to do in Stockholm, but what gems do you like the most? What venues / bars and sights and attractions would you recommend to metalheads visiting Stockholm?
"I have no idea. Haven’t been to a metal bar or concert in ages. But some nice attractions are Skansen (the Zoo), the Wasa ship, the view from Kaknästornet and the amusement park Gröna Lund. They also have Ghostwalks in the Old Town that they say are quite popular 😊."
Are there any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?.
"Stay in, stay healthy, stay Heavy!!"
Arguably Cinematic Metal is the biggest and freshest metal genre to emerge in the past few years, although it's closely related to the Symphonic Metal style, it's theatrical nature is what adds to it's uniqueness. Heeding the call and bringing the style to the Swedish metal frontier is Nocean, a quartet from Stockholm with big plans. Having started off in the Hard Rock style and progressively got heavier and more symphonic, Nocean are set to cause a buzz in the underground as they went to explain. They told GMA during their interrogation that they plan on bringing out an animated movie to complement their third album, how art, music and production all filter into their hobbies and job histories and why Nocean are not like any other metal band Sweden has seen before... this is no pantomime, they is the star of the show.
For those who have not heard of Nocean, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"Nocean is a Swedish Cinematic Rock / Metal band who are currently writing our third album, combining music with a gothic, animated short film and a theatrical live show! Kind of like a musical. The band name plays on the words - “Notion” - and “Ocean”. An ocean of ideas!"
Tell us about this venture you're undertaking in 'Who Is The Creature?' and the subsequent saga you have laid out before you?
"‘Who Is The Creature?’ is the first chapter in our saga, our concept album, and with the music video we want to let people dive into the world for a bit. The saga is a gothic tale about a young girl, trapped inside a castle garden..."
How would you differentiate yourself from the plethora of Symphonic / Cinematic Metal bands out there? What enticed you to play this style of metal?
"From my side, I think this is our way to differentiate from Rock and Metal in general. Here in Sweden, there are lots of AC/DC-sounds but not so much Symphonic or Cinematic Metal. We have our own unique sound, attitude and image. We are creating more than just an album, we are creating a world, a saga and a live show that we haven’t seen from any other band at all before. Concept albums are common, but not metal musicals with animated movies made and written by the band members themselves. We are also truly independent, therefore it’s harder but I also see that it’s nice to be doing exactly what we want. It all started when we were discussing our third album, how we should proceed and develop even more. We were a Hard Rock band from the start, going into Alternative Rock / Metal and now this. We always want to think outside the box and when it came to genre, it felt natural as we began to write powerful, film-inspired Metal and all of us like this kind of music very much."
You're writing your 3rd album, what can you tell us about it so far? When will it be out?
"We are about half way through the writing process right now, with lots of ideas. The next single will be out this summer! The whole album is planned to be released during spring 2021, but that is depending on a lot of stuff like when we can finish the movie; COVID-19 depending, etc."
Outside of Nocean, individually what hobbies or interests do you have and do these filter into the band?
Hanna: "I work as a freelance TV editor, so that definitely filters into the band as I am producing almost all of our music videos and video content on social media. I also like to work with animations, so I will be doing that for the animated movie to (background sets and lightning). Other than that, watching movies and especially Tim Burton’s movies are my favourite. For me, his style (and Danny Elfman’s music) is a big inspiration for this album."
"I have been drawing and making art since I was very young and when music became my biggest hobby the two interests started to play off each other and I now usually draw whilst listening to music because it conjures emotions and images. I have created some visuals for this project and I am looking forward to keeping that going and see what these new songs and themes can bring out. I too am a movie enthusiast and John Williams in particular has created some of the most iconic movie scores I have ever heard, so that is a huge inspiration for me whilst writing melodies and cinematic parts."
"Lately I have been really into audio production and would also say that’s my biggest hobby outside the band, it’s just something fun and inspiring about striving for perfection in audio. But I have also always been inspired by great movies and especially the movies with good music in them. My latest job was as a movie theatre manager outside Stockholm."
"My big creative outlet has and always will be music and I’m not exactly talented when it comes to drawing and things like that, even though I would really like to! So right now my focus is on learning new instruments like guitar and piano. Other than music I have a big interest in comedy, mainly stand up comedy which is something I’d like to try myself at some point, gaming, science and movies that are so bad they’re good."
For metalheads visiting Stockholm, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"When COVID-19 is over, you should check out venues like Slaktkyrkan, Fryshuset or go to pubs like Harry B James and Pub Anchor!"
What are your plans in late 2020 / early 2021? Were any plans cancelled / postponed due to COVID-19?
"Our main focus is to write the album, make the movie, plan the tour for the album etc. But we will do a couple of shows as well, and hopefully not only on live streams… We had a couple of shows / festivals cancelled so that was really sad. We really hope to play more during fall 2020. During spring 2021 we hope to tour with the new album!"
Are there any thanks or greetings you wish to send out to friends, fans, family etc?
"Oh yes, a big thank you to all who have supported us through our “Who Is The Creature?”- release (including Global Metal Apocalypse!). Since we are independent, we don’t have the economical muscles as a record label, and we totally depend on our followers to reach out. People have been sharing, streaming, above our expectations and we are so grateful for that! We also just started a Patreon page so if you want to support us there, go to http://patreon.com/nocean."
"The biggest challenge was / is venues, especially in terms of putting on a quality show with lights, staging and adequate space etc. We have to source everything."
Africa is often considered as 'the last frontier' for metal and to be fair, it would seem that way. Even though there are a lot of countries on the continent who have had rock music stretching back into the 1970's, ultimately something pulled the plug on Zimbabwe's rock past... we'll leave you to ponder what that was. But now metal has arisen to revive the angst felt by the natives, too often is it that metal arises from negative events, be it war, poverty, corruption, hatred, you name it, it's on the back of the t-shirt as shamed tour dates. Stepping into the breach is Dividing The Element, arguably founders of the Zimbabwean Metal scene; following in their footsteps is the one-man project Nuclear Winter.
We spoke to lead vocalist / guitarist Chris Van about the band's origins, their new single 'Pakaipa' (it's in the Shona language) and why being a DIY band in a scene that's being built by yourself is probably the most metal thing to ever happen to this country... hats off to them, they make the scene work.
For those who have not heard of Dividing The Element, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"We are a metal band from Harare, Zimbabwe who sings and screams in Shona. The band was founded in 2012 by Sherlic White and myself. After a few line up changes the band settled on Archie Chikoti (Guitar), Nick Newbery (Drums), Mat Sanderson (Bass) and myself (Lead Vocals and Guitar)."
You've just released your new single 'Pakaipa', could you explain what it means and will this be included in an upcoming EP or album?
"'Pakaipa' is in Shona and literally means "It's bad". The theme of the song is about both being underestimated and misunderstood by society. No decision has been made yet as to whether it will be included in an upcoming EP or album. As the primary composer for the band, I don't want to have that kind of pressure on myself at this early stage of writing. Maybe there'll be an EP, maybe there'll be an album, maybe there'll be a bunch of singles. I'd like to see what comes out as it comes out this time."
The band has come a long way, but what about the Zimbabwean Metal scene - what is it currently like, what challenges are there?
"The metal community is still small but has definitely grown. Speaking as someone who has been in the front lines actively trying to grow the scene, it's been satisfying to watch the micro developments, witnessing the gradual increase in networking and turn outs to our shows and so on.
Pandemics and lockdowns aside, I'd say the biggest challenge was / is venues, especially in terms of putting on a quality show with lights, staging and adequate space etc. We have to source everything."
Have you had bands from nearby countries come to play in Harare? Where (if any) has the band played outside of Zimbabwe?
"There have been bands coming from outside [of Zimbabwe], just not metal bands. We were scheduled to play in Ghanzi, Botswana at Overthust's 11th anniversary of Winter Metal Mania Festival on the 30th of May, which would've been our first show outside of Zimbabwe. Sadly, Covid-19 took care of that."
What are the major challenges Dividing The Element has had to face since the band's inception, is metal frowned upon in Zimbabwe?
"Well, the experiences I've had with people's perceptions and attitudes on metal have mostly been positive, but then again the bias is that my interactions are mostly with people who support the genre. On the whole though, Zimbabwe is a conservative society so there are the typical judgements and misunderstandings that happen. I'd say the biggest challenge in the beginning was reaching out to the metalheads who were around and convincing them that they weren't the only ones. They were scattered few and far between and mostly stuck to themselves. Then I would say again... Venues!"
For metalheads visiting Harare, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Sadly there are no dedicated venues for metalheads in Zimbabwe. That said, I'd definitely recommend they come see us if we so happen to be putting on a show during their visit. It may not happen often, but when it does, we try to make it count."
Looking towards the end of 2020 and into early 2021, what plans does the band have left intact?
"Well, that's quite hard to say at this point. As much as it pains me to say it, my prediction is that this is just the beginning of the world's fight with the Coronavirus. There's little evidence to support that we are winning the battle and we're probably going to experience some growing pains trying to return back to the society we had before all of this. All things considered though, everything we've put out as Dividing The Element so far has been self produced, and in this digital age, quite a lot is possible, so I'd say new material would be on the cards."
Do you have any hellos or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"Thank you Dewar PR for your invaluable service and of course thank you to all our family, friends and fans for your continued support."
"We rely on each other’s support and our own local crowds rather than seek approval from labels or people in Europe / the USA."
Readers will know how much GMA cherishes metal bands from all over the world and so our latest interrogation is with Cambodian Thrashers Nightmare A.D. (actually the band has 5 members originally from Singapore, The Philippines, New Zealand, Canada & The USA; basically the United Nations of metal). Back in April they released a cover of the Iggy Pop song 'Gimme Danger' and prior to that released their 2nd EP "Phantoms Of Our Ruin" back in 2018... it was going to come this interrogation and so it did, don't worry they are all fine, we were kind to these guys.
For those who have not heard of Nightmare A.D., could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"Nightmare A.D. was formed in 2014 by Mia (guitars / vocals), 3 months after she arrived in Phnom Penh. Her flatmate Kandhi (guitars) joined the band and he convinced Todd (drums) and Gem (bass) to join the band as well. Nightmare A.D. originally started off as a Misfits cover band but soon evolved to a Thrash Metal / Crossover entity playing original music. The band currently comprises of Mia (guitars / vocals), Todd (drums), Genesis (bass), Jon (keys) and Ollie (guitars).
The band name Nightmare A.D. symbolises the current times we live in: a living nightmare of disinformation, crooked politics, looming threat of civil/global war, climate change, rising right-wing authoritarian governments and viral plagues that might just wipe us all out in the near future.
How did you all get into metal music and what do your parents think of your music?
"Generally speaking, all of us got into Metal music mainly from hanging out with friends / family members who exposed us to heavy music and we did our own research from there. All of us are from different countries (Mia – Singapore, Todd – New Zealand, Genesis – The Philippines, Jon – USA and Ollie – Canada) so there are many variables that affect how our parents thought about the music (some positive some not) and how we got into this form of music."
You brought out your debut EP 'Corruptors' as a digital download, what was the reception like and did you have people outside Cambodia check it out?
"We originally released ‘Corruptors’ as a Pro CD-R under the local label Yab Moung Records, then as a digital download on Bandcamp and then released on pro-tape with exclusive artwork and bonus tracks under Toxic Death Records (China). We have had great responses and support from people around the world (including you Rhys!) and it certainly makes us want to continue performing and record new material."
Mia, female musicians are often subjected to sexist or misogynistic remarks, is this something you've experienced in your time as a musician?
"Definitely. I feel that after a show, the crowd (mostly male) will end up talking to my bandmates rather than me. I get a few transphobic / transmisogynistic reactions at times but it generally doesn’t bother me. Most people tend to be okay but there are some who are definite f***wits."
Do you feel at times that the metal scenes in your part of Asia are often ignored or not looked upon by metalheads in Europe and the USA?
"Well the metal scene in Southeast Asia has always been quite self-contained in a way that is sustainable. We rely on each other’s support and our own local crowds rather than seek approval from labels or people in Europe / the USA. Most Asian bands are generally ignored by most metalheads who are outside of Asia. However, that being said, there is a small market for Asian Metal in Europe / the USA. There are a handful of Asian bands have actually made their names known on the global stage (Chthonic, Impiety, Wormrot, Sigh, Defiled, Rudra, Demonic Resurrection, etc) which isn’t an easy feat to accomplish. I do feel that we have to work harder to get our names out there compared to bands in Europe / the USA."
What challenges do Cambodian Metal bands face these days alongside with what COVID-19 has brought? What is the public perception of metal?
"Well, finding venues to play at is difficult. We do still have the support of two venues which are willing to host Metal shows but with COVID-19 looming in the background, shows have been cancelled until further notice. There is a small crowd of about 100 people in this city who turn up regularly for Metal shows, so that is pretty cool. Most Cambodian people find it either noisy or intriguing. The older generation definitely find it noisy and will complain if the music’s too loud."
For metalheads visiting Phnom Penh, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any good bars / venues?
"I recommend seeing Wat Phnom (temple on a hill), the Tonle Sap river, walking the grounds around the Royal Palace, visiting S21 Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields.
I recommend visiting and buying from: Yab Moung Record Store (https://yabmoung.com) which is partially funded by an NGO and D.I.Y. run (all proceeds go to helping impoverished and disadvantaged Cambodian Youth) and Metal Your Day (https://metalyourday.com/) which is a Metal-inspired art collective.
For bars and venues I recommend: Cloud (http://www.facebook.com/cloudcambodia) which is an arts venue with live music and bar, Zeppelin Café (https://www.facebook.com/zeppelinPP) that is a bar and café playing mostly Rock and Metal on vinyl and Oscar’s On The Corner (https://www.facebook.com/OscarsontheCorner) that has house bands and guest bands playing Rock and Metal music
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"We want to thank all our families, friends and fans around the world for all your love and support and we hope to see you soon! Stay safe and be well."
"A great social and musical influence had the fall of the Romanian communist party and the transition to democracy. "
If Dracula had ever listened to metal, it would definitely have to be an extreme kind of metal, something like Underwaves. Mixing various types of metal together, the quartet muster up a sound that is far more piercing than the vampire lord's fangs. Lashing together the genres of Melodic metal, Metalcore, Nu Metal, Alternative Metal, Groove Metal and Deathcore, you basically end up with Modern Metal Romania-style. Having been going since late 2017, the band has won the Rock'n'Iasi Festival Bands Contest last year whilst in the same year releasing their debut album. They are sure to make a name for themselves throughout the European underground metal scene. GMA spoke to them about their origins, the challenges Romanian Metal bands face and what to do in their home city of Brasov... home of Dracula. No vampires were hurt in the making of this interview.
Ana Ignis (vocals) and Carol Alexandru (guitarist) gave us the insight.
For those who have not heard of Underwaves, could you explain how the band came into being and where the name came from?
"I made the decision very spontaneously, while I was at work and listening to music. I played in a few bands before, but none of them resonated musically with me. Whenever I was at concerts and saw the bands playing, I imagined what it would be like to be in their place. It was quite difficult for me to see others living their dream on stage, so I decided to do something about it. That day I picked up the phone, called our bassist, Bogdan, and asked him if he was willing to play with me in a band. We knew each other before, because we had a few more projects together. The next one I called was Dan, the drummer, and the last one was Carol, the guitarist, who initially rejected the idea.
"The name Underwaves implies duality, mystery, the fact that what is seen always has a meaning inside. The visible part of things hides certain factors that define those things. What is on the surface hides what is underneath. So is our music, it hides our feelings, emotions and feelings."
Seeing as the band had a good career start, what are your next batch of plans once the COVID-19 pandemic has calmed down?
"We had to cancel our entire spring tour due to this pandemic and we are planning to reschedule all the dates, maybe add some more tour dates in it."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tags?; seeing as you use Metalcore, Deathcore, Groove and Alt Metal.
"Usually the genres are used in order to fit a band in a specific label, I wouldn’t say that we can fit in one single genre. Honestly, I don’t even know what we are playing if we take the word “metal” out of the description :) ) I would call it simply “metal”, nothing fancy."
What has the band been doing at home during the pandemic? What other hobbies / interests do you all have?
"We were a little bit stressed due to our jobs and we had to focus more on the financial part unfortunately. We still wrote some pieces of music, riffs and we have 2 new songs in progress. Regarding the hobbies, our drummer plays video games, our bassist is a movie watcher, Ana is shopping online and I do sports."
Would it be fair to say that there has been greater interest in metal bands from Romania and Eastern Europe over the past couple of years?
"Maybe so, Eastern Europe has always seemed to us the edge of the world in terms of underground music. Indeed, there are a lot of good bands on this side, many of them already big, some underrated. And in Romania there are a lot of strong bands with great potential."
Tell us more about the Romanian Metal scene, when did metal arrive in Romania? What is the public opinion of metal? What challenges do bands face?
"Rock music made its appearance in the Romanian music world in the early 1960s and continues to exist today. A great social and musical influence had the fall of the Romanian communist party and the transition to democracy. Lately, more and more festivals have started to appear (obviously, we are talking about the period before the pandemic) and this is gratifying. Although it is a style with a niche audience, we still have many followers and many prestigious metal music festivals in Romania. I don't know what the other bands are facing, let's hope they are luckier than us, but the biggest problem we have is the financial one. It is very difficult to support yourself in music, this is the reason why we all have day jobs."
For metalheads visiting Brașov, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Definitely the emblem of Brasov when it comes to metal music is the Rockstadt bar. It is the bar in the heart of which Rockstadt Extreme Fest, the largest metal festival in Romania, also started. As for points of interest, we have several museums and cultural points, and 40 km away we have Dracula's castle which is not to be missed."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"I don't know how we could thank all those who have been with us all this time and who will be. It is clear that family and friends have supported us from the beginning, but the people who come to our concerts, buy our T-shirts and listen to our music are the real stars. All the people in this industry that we have known and who have helped us deserve our respect, from sound engineers, stage technicians and lighting technicians, to bartenders, bar managers, tour managers and bands and musicians that we met."
Whenever someone mentions the Mexican Metal scene, usually it's Brujeria that first pops up. But like any national scene, behind the leaders is a vast swathe of bands carving out their own stories, building up their own fan bases and acting as proponents in keeping the scene not only on it's toes, but to serve as the next crop of bands to step up to the plate. One such band is Velvet Darkness who released 3 new singles last year and have been around since 2014, now with big plans in 2020 on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have set their sights on 2021 on being the year they plant the bandera de México and the symbol of Tenochtitlan on European and British soil. During this interrogation we played nice with the los Mexicanos and indulged in a lavish serving of champurrado. The band spoke of the emergence of Mexican Metal on the international stage, how the lockdown has affected the band and Mexican peoples and why Europe is their first international destination.
For those who have not heard of Velvet Darkness, could you give us a brief history of the band and how you came up with the name?
"The band started with Charles and Joe having this dream of making a life out of music. It took a while for them to find the final line-up and went through lots of changes, but finally… here we are! We are a sextet from Ciudad Satélite, Mexico who plays Heavy Metal. We recorded our first EP “Delusion” in 2015, then our first album “Nothing But Glory” in 2018 and then came up with 3 more singles: “Death Eaters”, “God of War ‘19” and the latest, "Insomniac," which will also be part of our next record. The name “Velvet Darkness” is a metaphor about the dark side we all have but don’t often let out."
Tell us more about the quarantine / lockdown in Mexico, what are you allowed and not allowed to do? How is the band coping?
"People are allowed to go out only for very necessary things. Supermarkets are closing earlier, malls are closed and there are driving restrictions as well. However, as many people in Mexico can’t work from home and can’t stop working, the risk is still high.
As a band, we are staying home. We make video conferences each week to catch up and keep working on the new material. Of course, each one of us has been doing great job individually practising our instrument."
2018 was the year your debut album "Nothing but Glory" came out, what was the reception like? Where did you play in support of the album?
"The album had a nice reception. We had a funny listening party and the album presentation at the “Foro Cultural Hilvana” in Mexico City. We also took part in two metal contests and went on two tour dates out of town with Lvto and Erszebeth, and later on with Lvto and Trágico Ballet. That same year, our keyboardist John was named 'Keyboardist of the Year' at the Osmium Metal Awards."
Have you played outside of Mexico? If so where? If not, where ideally would you want to play your first international show(s)?
"We haven’t yet, although we have travelled a lot within the country. Our goal is to play in Europe, especially Germany, the UK and the Nordics."
What are the challenges most Mexican metal bands face these days (COVID-19) aside? Do you feel that Mexico is often ignored by the global metal community?
"The fact that we cannot get together to practice has been the main problem, but we’ve been working online, and we are sure most of the bands are doing the same. Another big problem for the bands has been cancelling shows and postponing recording plans. We really hope this gets better soon.
And yes, we feel that, but we have also noticed that it is changing as we already have some Mexican bands touring and rocking around the world! Hopefully there will be more of us before long."
Kate, it's all too often we hear about sexism in the metal community, what is the attitude towards female musicians in Mexico? Are there / have there been any misogynist remarks?
"Actually, I have never felt that. Lately I have noticed that people like seeing us women singing or playing an instrument. Nowadays, the media and fellow musicians work more in encouraging us to do what we love and that also makes us feel more confident when we go on stage or share something. Of course, I know misogyny is still a big deal, but luckily, I have been treated well in the Mexican metal scene since I joined Velvet Darkness."
For metalheads visiting Ciudad Satélite and nearby city of Naucalpan, what sights / attractions and venues / bars could you recommend?
"Satélite is a very tranquil zone, but still we rock. If you guys come here, you must visit McCarthy's Irish Pub, Rock Son Satélite, The Cross Tavern and ROCKSTORE Satélite."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"First of all, we would like to thank our families for always being there supporting us, no matter what (even if we get a little noisy sometimes). Our friends, who have been doing a great job sharing our music and supporting us on the shows. And our amazing fans, from whom we feel the love and great energy every time we go on stage and through our social networks. Our staff, they never fail, and we have been through a lot together. Thank you!"
"I know that a festival is held every year in Tahiti (French Polynesia). Why not a festival in the South Pacific, this is great! ;)"
When it comes to Oceania, we're fully accustom to the presence of Australian and New Zealander metal bands, but what about the other islands in this part of the world? Well New Caledonia has a metal scene, trouble is it's so small... 6 or so bands. One band has made particular waves across Europe due to their touring and having released music through the French record label M&O Music. GMA spoke to the quintet about the challenges of living on an island 2,000 odd miles away from Australia, how well their debut album "Immortal Voids" fared after it's release last year and why the thought of a South Pacific Metal festival would be awesome.
For those who have not heard of Redsphere, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"Well, Redsphere was created in 2015. At the time the band consisted of 4 people. We worked on a dozen compositions and we chose 6. Then we went back to the studio to record our first EP "Facts" which was released in January 2016 through the label M-O Music. After several concerts in New Caledonia, in 2017 we went on headline tour in Europe with the band Master. In 2018 Redsphere changed line up (current line up) and returned to the studio at the end of 2018 to record "Immortal Voids" released in September 2019 under the label M-O Music once again.
This has to do with anger, an entity that devours everything in its path, like a black hole ;)"
Your debut album "Immortal Voids" came out last year, could you tell us how the album was created; the time it took to make?
"After coming back from touring, we were in an intense dynamic, that can be understood. We wanted to produce other songs in order to make an album. That's what we did. One year of work to compose and produce "Immortal Voids". In hindsight we would have to take more time. I'm sure it would have been even better."
It must have been challenging in the beginning to find a record label to release your music on, how did you come into be signed to M & O Music?
"The meeting with M&O Music was done before the release of "Facts". We were already in touch in 2015. This allowed us to anticipate and prepare well for it. The search for a label is not obvious, it takes time and energy. When we search we find!"
Can you tell us more about the New Caledonian Metal scene, when did metal first arrive, challenges bands face, the metal community, etc?
"Well, I don't know when metal arrived in New Caledonia, what I can say is that New Caledonians love AC/DC and rock in general. Regarding the current Metal scene it is composed of 5 or 6 bands of which 3 are serious; unlike a few years when there were about ten active bands. The difficulty is to endure over time, there may be an audience for this style of music that must represent about 250 to 500 people around. Then there are the places where to perform that disappear more and more. Currently there are 2 clubs where we can play and a rock / metal festival where we can play."
Have there been any bands from outside of New Caledonia come over to play? Have any New Caledonian Metal bands gone to play in Vanuatu and Australia?
"We had the honour of hosting Scorpions twice, the French bands Lofofora and Mass Hysteria, and the Israeli band Viscera Trail. The New Caledonian band Burst has been able to make some dates in Australia and no one so far has gone to play in Vanuatu."
Aside from Australia and New Zealand, are you aware of other metal bands across Oceania? Could you envisage an Oceanian Metal festival?
"Not for my part, I do not know of any other metal bands in Oceania. I know that a festival is held every year in Tahiti (French Polynesia). Why not a festival in the South Pacific, this is great! ;)"
For metalheads visiting Nouméa, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"I recommend as a bar the 3 brewers where the beer is good, Australian tourists love it. I recommend the Anse Vata beach for classic tourists. If you are looking for authenticity you have to go to the bush or the islands loyalties, it's beautiful and we eat well."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"Redsphere thanks all the fans for your support. Be curious, attentive to what's going on around you. The world is changing! Be patient, after the rain comes the sun."
"The fact that bringing a new genre for most in Portugal, sometimes it's kinda hard for everybody to accept it all at once"
If you think of the Portuguese Metal scene, you tend to think of Moonspell (they aren't the only band)... for the best part it does seem at times like the Iberian nations of Portugal, Spain, Andorra and the dependency of Gibraltar become forgotten. Enter the new kids on the block in Downfall Of Mankind, who bring with them a totally new and fresh sound to the Portuguese Metal scene even if the sound is known more widely in the international metal scene. Slamming Symphonic Deathcore is the game and Downfall Of Mankind is the name, with this interrogation we tried to be tame, but in the end we were scorched by this Lisbona flame.
For those who have not heard of Downfall Of Mankind, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"Downfall Of Mankind is a Slamming / Symphonic Deathcore band that was created with the purpose of bringing the best of both worlds together in trying something new. Bringing Slam and Symphonic Metal into Deathcore was something that we didn't expect to work out, it turned out to be something that we all enjoyed and doing, and we are super excited to show what we have got in store!"
Given you play Slam / Symphonic Deathcore, how do you distinguish yourself from the hordes of bands in this genre? How did you come to play this style?
"Our founding member (Lucas Bishop) was the one who came up with the idea of mixing the genres and seeing what comes out of it, given that pretty much all of the members were already fans of Slam and Deathcore, we've decided to come together and add the Symphonic sauce to it."
You recently confirmed that you're playing the 2021 XXXAPADA Na Tromba festival, can you tell us more about this festival? Have you played it before?
"Yeah, it's going to be our very first time at the festival, we are beyond excited to be part of such huge line up, sharing the stage with bands such as Stillbirth, Vulvodynia, Benighted and all the others its pretty much everything that a newborn could wish for, and we are more than happy to be part of the line up for this year's edition."
How has the Portuguese people and bands reacted to the lockdown imposed due to COVID-19? What plans of yours were cancelled / postponed?
"It's been difficult not just for the Portuguese people but for the whole world, see, the music industry suffered and is still suffering a lot from the outbreak situation, we are still trying to pick up the pieces from the damage done, standing tall and striving for the best we can get. We did have a couple of concerts cancelled and others postponed, luckily we are managing to re book most of it, all we want is to go back on stage and show what we are about!"
Given the turn of events, what plans do you have going forward in late 2020 / early 2021?
"We definitely will be releasing new material in 2020 still, maybe a new music video you never know, new merch, all i can say is we have got a lot of new stuff to deliver between 2020 and 2021, including tours."
Tell us more about the Portuguese Metal scene, what are the challenges that bands face, is there a great amount of support?
"Well the fact that bringing a new genre for most in Portugal, sometimes it's kinda hard for everybody to accept it all at once. Given for the time being Downfall Of Mankind has been receiving a lot of love from it's country; which is what's important, it feels good to bring not so new stuff into a country that never paid much attention to it."
For metalheads visiting Lisbon, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"There's a lot of good stuff to see around town, sight seeing and walking around the city its definitely something you want to do while visiting Lisbon. Regarding venues and bars, we'd definitely recommend RCA, its a nice place to go if you want to enjoy some good music from time to time, it's our home and we love that place. If you want to experience different types of music you could go up to Bairro Alto where you can find a bunch of different bars for all kinds of tastes, overall Lisbon is a place for everyone."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"We would like to thank everyone that has been involved in this band so far, everyone that has bought or will buy and support our music and merch, to all the fans out there that has been waiting for some slammy and juicy new tracks, all we gotta say is...
They are coming..
Lucas Bishop / Claudio Melo / Sergio Pascoa / Alejandro Puentes / Franscisco Marques
DOWNFALL OF MANKIND & CREW"
"I would be surprised if North Koreans discover our band. They also know that very few metal bands exist. Metal is banned in North Korea."
As far as metal goes in the Far East, there are a handful of scenes that exist and yet rarely get considerable amount of attention from outside of Asia, one such scene is South Korea. Dwarfed by the colossus of Japan, South Korea has a vibrant metal scene with a wealth of history behind it and it's thanks to bands like LandMine who are propelling it forward again. Having dropped their debut album "Pioneer's Destiny" this year, the Heavy / Power Metal quartet are sure to cause some buzz in the years ahead. GMA interrogated the guys and asked about the origins of South Korean metal music, the challenges bands face in the wake of the musical tsunami known as K-Pop and why it's highly unlikely (for obvious reasons) that North Korea will embrace metal music (we long for the day when it does).
For those who have not heard of Landmine, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"LandMine was formed in March 2012. In the early days of its formation, it released its first EP "Refect The Destiny" on May 26th, 2015, and released its single 'Brake From Route' on September 14th, 2018. Starting from "Pioneer's Destiny" on December 31st, 2019, the genre has been changed to Epic Metal.
LaneMine, which means "landmine", has a strong will to show the power of metal properly, like a landmine that looks calm but explodes when touched."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging, how did you come to create Heavy Metal music?
"Leader Suchan Yun majored in piano and French horn and is composing based on classical music. I think it is right to describe it as Epic Metal, which is a fantasy story that expresses epic poetry, even though it is far from the commonly known Baroque Metal. We were greatly influenced by the music of the famous Korean rocker Kim Kyung-ho and the first-generation Korean metal band Blackhole."
What do your parents think of your music? Are any of your family members musicians?
"My parents cheered for me without opposing my hobby such as music. My sister majored in piano."
How is the band coping during the lockdown in South Korea due to COVID-19?
"In line with Korea's quarantine system, most live performances are being canceled. However, it is showing fans a live performance through live broadcasting in a new way called home-live."
Tell us about the South Korean Metal scene, when did metal arrive in South Korea? Would you be surprised if North Koreans came across LandMine? In your opinion, would a North Korean metal band happen?
"Korean metal bands were born in the early 1980's, and many first-generation metal bands debuted in the late 80's. There were indie bands such as Black Syndrome and Black Hole and major bands such as Sinawi and Baekdusan.
I would be surprised if North Koreans discover our band. They also know that very few metal bands exist. Metal is banned in North Korea."
What challenges do South Korean metal bands tend to face in general? What does the general public think of metal music?
"Unlike in the past, metal in the Korean public is rarely popular due to the influence of idols and K-pop. We are trying to popularize metal, but it takes a lot of time and effort. Although each band is planning performances and looking for overseas performances, no one is active with COVID-19 in 2020."
For metalheads visiting Daejeon, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Daejeon is a bad town with nothing to play. Sungsimdang is the most famous bakery. I also recommend 'Sungsimdang'. But this is all."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"It is a pity that COVID-19 did not allow us to engage in external activities this year. As soon as the situation is settled, I will greet you with a great performance on stage. Thank you."