Forever Still are a young Danish Alternative Metal band who have without a doubt came out of nowhere, having released their debut album 'Tied Down' and then end up signing with Nuclear Blast; 'Tied Down' was then re-released', to then secure a slot on the Ronnie James Dio stage at Bloodstock is a tremendous achievement given the band has been around 7 years... well actually it's Maja Shining and Mikkel Haastrup who lead the front-line and are supplemented by live musicians (who include Rune Frisch).
Despite their seemingly sudden explosion onto the metal circuit, they've been around since 2010 and have released 3 EP's prior to their big break. Denmark has had a decent record of metal exports from Artillery to King Diamond and from Mnemic to Raunchy and are still delivering more and more top notch metal bands like Akoma and of course Forever Still.
Mikkel was up for the task of informing us what makes the band tick, the state of the Danish Metal scene, Mikkel's music tastes among other things that make Forever Still as equally if not more important than Denmark's biggest exports besides metal... bacon and Lego.
"In Denmark, we have this 'jante law ' which says that you can't think you're anything, it's just a weird concept [regarding the lack of Danish music exports'.
How long has Forever been around? What does the band name mean? What style of metal do you play?
"We released our first EP ["Breaking Free"] in 2013, and have just been going on from there.
It's a long explanation [meaning behind the band name], Maja came up with it, we talked about it and it's just the feeling of being stuck, you feel like you're forever standing still but also the feeling of when you feel at ease, you're 'forever still' - so it's a double meaning, Maja is apparently very poetic I guess :)"
It's definitely melodic, so it's like we're one of the softer bands at this festival [Bloodstock], if not the softest. But we've always been into these pretty huge choruses, that's what we really focused on the first album [Tied Down]. Maja played a concert with another band, I was like wow she's just amazing and I wanted to focus really on the vocals, so that's what we did on that.
The new one we're writing now we're trying to focus still on the big choruses, but we want to do heavier riffs cause we're really into that, and our new drummer is really really f*cking cool... I love playing with him I play bass myself so you like love him with the drums so... it's going to be like heavy riffs and big huge choruses."
So Mikkel how did you get into metal music?
"Ah, I had just started when I was really young, I started listening to... I can't even remember, I think I started off with softer bands like Placebo and then I just went into liking Nine Inch Nails, and then I got into heavier stuff like Marilyn Manson... it's just a gateway into heavier stuff and it's been an upward slope like heavier and heavier, but still I think this band [Forever Still] is into softer things as well... I enjoy listening to all kinds of music, I've been listening to a lot of electronic music lately and I really enjoy that. For me it's just melody and that's what I sometimes miss in metal right, for me at least I miss the... like if it's only screaming I get a bit bored so I like a combination."
So as a band you're Melodic Metal, but have different sounds going on at the same time?
"Yeah yeah, on the new album we want to like focus on... like I said I'm really like into electronic music so I want to make that a bigger part of the next album, but like I said still focus on the riffs and I'm into really interesting rhythms at the moment so we do a lot of songs and try to play in different time signatures that are really weird but try to make them sound easy to listen to"
Is the Danish Metal scene still as strong as it has been? Would you say it's the smallest in Scandinavia?
"Nah I think it's getting better, but like we're really focused on getting out of the country because there's not a lot of like... the audience there is too small so we really enjoy in playing outside Denmark especially in the UK, you've got such a strong community for metal.
Yeah I think so, Denmark didn't used to be that much into metal, I think when we started there was like this feeling that you had to sound like an 80's metal band to be anything big in Denmark and it just doesn't work outside the borders. But in Denmark, we have this 'jante law (Janteloven)' which says that you can't think you're anything, it's just a weird concept and I think that's the reason why you don't see that much music coming out of Denmark"
So what do your parents think of metal music Mikkel, what support do you get from your family / friends?
"My parents aren't into music, actually my mum really hates music so she's like if there's any kind of music... when I grew up she was like 'can you f*cking just turn that off!'. My dad is really into jazz and stuff, but really doesn't like heavier music so yeah I didn't get anything from them heh.
The way we built this band it's just Maja and I doing everything ourselves without any support from anyone else and that's how we started, I think the first album has quite an isolated sound as well and that's just because we were like 'we can do this'. We just do everything ourselves, so we recorded it and mixed it, shot our own videos and everything. I think that it worked out really well"
Having just finished your set, opening the main stage at Bloodstock, what plans have you got for the rest of the year?
"We're playing Sabaton Open Air next week [was 19th August], then we're going back to the studio to just record and write, so that's the plan for the rest of the year and then hopefully the album will be out early next year and we'll start touring a lot. We've been on some amazing tours at the end of last year and at the start of this year with Lacuna Coil and Children of Bodom, so hopefully we'll get some great support for us and then do a headline tour as well"
Aside from the core Scandinavian countries, would you play in the Faroe Islands? What do you know about the metal scene there?
"Yeah I would love to, they've got the G! Festival up there, I would love to play that and I would love to see the nature up there. My best friend is from the Faroe Islands, so yeah, we'd love it.
I don't know a lot about the music from up there actually, they've got all these strange names as well because they call themselves something from their own language [Faroese]"
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Yeah I would just love to thank Bloodstock for letting us play this festival, it's been amazing!"
'Tied Down' is out now via Nuclear Blast.
Italy's metal scene is a flourishing one, sure it has household names like Lacuna Coil, Theatres Des Vampires, Exilia and Fleshgod Apocalypse to name but a few, it does however have a vibrant underground scene stretching from the Alpine regions right down to the Sicilian lands, bypassing the Sammarinese (San Marino) metal scene along the way.
Currently causing a buzz in Tuscany is Progressive sextet MindAhead who just last year dropped their debut album 'Reflections' via Revalve Records (http://revalverecords.bigcartel.com/product/mindahead-reflections), GMA checked in with this uprising ensemble to find out what carries this band forward and their unique connection with... San Marino.
"the issue [in Italy] is that there is not a huge live culture... local venues have no audience and so close and the groups are not known and do not emerge"
How did MindAhead start out? Were members of the band in previous bands?
"MindAheaD were born in 2010 at the behest of the guitarist Nicola D'Alessio (previously Athena and Hellrage). Firstly, guitarist Matthieu Angbeletchy joined the project, then the vocals composed by the aggressive voice of Francesco Novelli and the sweet voice of Kyo Calati (Evergaze Eternity), in the end and at the beginning of 2013, with the arrival of the bassist Matteo Prandini (Humangled) and the drummer Matteo Ferrigno (Exsecror).
With this line-up, MindAheaD created songs that composed their first studio album. In 2016 Matthieu left the band for personal reasons and was replaced with Guido Scibetta (now with Room 6 and Phalenae as well).
This band is formed by senior members and others much younger, and has been for many of us the first live and studio recording experience."
What is the metal scene like in Tuscany?
"There are a lot of metal bands in Tuscany, because there's a lot of passion for metal music. We're proud to know and to have shared the stage with Str8, Vision Divine, Domine, Felon, Deathless Legacy, Lab Eleven, Panic0 and many others and soon we'll be on stage with Norhod.
There are also several local venues: Borderline (PI), Theremin Live Music (MS), The Cage (LI), Deposito Pontecorvo (PI), Circus (FI), Cycle (FI), Patatrack (LU), Exenzia (PO) and many others.
In spite of all these bands (and many others), the issue in Tuscany and in Italy in general, is that there is not a huge live culture. People want to be reassured and so listen to music they already know (hence the birth of the cover and tribute bands), the local venues have no audience and so close and the groups are not known and do not emerge."
What sights / attractions could you recommend to metalheads visiting Tuscany to go and see?
"Tuscany, like the other Italian regions, is full of museums, buildings and great places to visit (more than 50% of artistic heritage is in Italy). We have the sea and mountains, the sun and the art... unfortunately often we don't know how to manage them. Tuscany is a great place to visit, we live in Pisa, where the leaning tower and the cathedral is, where were born and lived Galileo, Fibonacci, Pacinotti but everywhere you can find something great."
What is the meaning behind your band name? Who came up with it?
"Our band name is wordplay and is composed of two words: Mind (thought) and Head (anatomic part), as a (musical) creature that expresses herself through the rationality of the matter and the irrational power of the madness, underlined by capital letters M.A.D.. she looks "AheaD" to satisfy new expressive needs, exploring new frontiers and mixing together a lot of musical influences. We think that our music should express all these aspects, currently through the notes of "Reflections", maybe tomorrow in a different way, but always true to herself."
Your album 'Reflections' was mastered at Domination Studios in Republic of San Marino, were you previously aware of a metal scene in San Marino? What are your thoughts on metal's global spread?
"Not at all, but Simone Mularoni, great guitarist of DGM, is a guru for mastering metal stuff. Relating to the second part of your question I have already answered earlier just in part. Italy is a very conservative and traditional country, so it's very hard to change the behaviours. Radio stations bombard the people with hits and blockbusters, and this is normal and common across the world, but here there's no alternative... we have almost just pop music, or jazz if you are a scholar. The people should be free to know every kind of music and the decide what prefer to listen. This leads to a lack of musical culture.
From this point of view the social networks are a great resource for the diffusion, but all depends from the curiosity of the listener."
What has the reception of 'Reflections' been like from media and fans alike? Will there be a UK / EU tour in promotion of it?
"We've received a lot of really great reviews, from the UK as well, and we've been in Spain for a mini tour. It would be wonderful to be able to come and play in UK and we hope than one day this will be real in the future, but for now we have to promote "Reflections" here and try to make a UK tour possible."
Speaking of the UK, are you worried about Brexit and the challenges that you might / could be faced with?
"We're very worried about all the instability that we can feel during this time. We don't know if Brexit is the right way to solve the problems but we have to do something for sure. Brexit and other issues (see Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy etc...) are the consequence of politics, not the cause of problems. We think also that journalism is not (or no more) very reliable and responsible, then it creates fear in people and the results are that we divide us. EU is a great thing, although with a billion of problems to solve, but it certainly helped to circulate a lot of culture between the countries: with Brexit we're afraid that UK could be isolated from other countries."
What can fans expect from MindAhead in the year ahead?
"We'll try to promote "Reflections" as more as possible, but we know that we're making our first steps. In May we'll be on stage for two dates at Circus (Florence) and Traffic (Rome) with Moldova's Jinjer. Meanwhile we're working new material for the next album; we have already got a lot of riffs and grooves ready to be assembled :-)
Thank you so much for this interview and for the time you gave us. We really hope to have the possibility to play our music in your wonderful country. Stay MAD!!!"
'Reflections' is out now via Revalve Records
What many could argue as Russia's answer to Hollywood Undead and Disturbed, Slot (Слот) have been rampaging Moscow's streets for 15 years with the gritty style of Nu Metal / Rapcore. Having released their latest album last year (SEPTIMA), Slot are leading the new wave of Russian Metal with fellow compatriots Save and MagnetiC forming a new breed of metal band.
Arguably they're part of a wider 'Eastern European' Nu Metal movement with the likes of Jinjer and Infected Rain from Moldova being the latest to bring a new edge to the seemingly dead Nu Metal sound. Slot however were yet to break into the wider international metal arena... until now, as they sign a deal with Sliptrick Records to distribute their album outside of Russian territories; additionally they're releasing online a compilation of their best songs marking their 15th anniversary.
Vocalists Igor "Cache" Lobanov and Daria "Nookie" Stavrovich were more than happy to share an insight into Slot's world.