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!!"