" [On venues] The problem is the same almost everywhere, I think, that the public has difficulty getting around to concerts by local groups"
Mention the genre Nu Metal and the response is either 'I love Slipknot, Korn, Disturbed, etc.' or 'that's not a metal genre, it's not metal'... such a simple diluted argument sparks a wildfire in the course of conversation. Nu Metal is a metal genre. No arguments. Now that's dealt with, time to focus the attention on French-Belgian stalwarts Through The Void who are predominantly based in Brussels, this quartet delivered their EP 'Aria' to well-received acclaim last year and ended up supporting Welsh Ragga Metallers Skindred. Through The Void have future in sights and are shifting from 4th gear into 5th, they tell GMA through their interrogation about their origins, what venues people should go to in Brussels, how they would describe their sound and how they are coping during the COVID-19 lockdown.
For those who have not heard of Through The Void, can you give us a brief history of the band and were you all in previous bands?
"Hey! The group was formed in Brussels in 2019. The group is composed of Chakib (lead vocalist and lyricist), Anthony (composer, guitars and backing vocals), David (drummer) and Roberto (bassist). Chakib and I (Anthony) had a previous project that was in some way the basis for Through The Void. David has a stoner project (Landing Planes) and Roberto before TTV was more into electronic music."
Now you play Nu Metal, do you feel at times the genre is under-appreciated or misunderstood by metal elitists?
"We don’t really care about this kind of thing. We make music that we love and hope that people can love too. We still need to choose some kind of “label” in order to direct people to our music, but we don’t really give ourselves any limit in our creative process in order to adhere to a certain “code”. It’s in any case a large genre, in which many styles contribute. As long as you can headbang to it, it’s good!"
How did you come to play Nu Metal in the start? Who are your influences in and outside of metal?
"Chakib listens mainly to metal, Chester Bennington is a real inspiration for him as a vocalist. He listens to a lot of Enter Shikari, Northlane and Of Mice and Men as well.
David listens to many different styles of metal, from stoner to progressive, his Spotify playlist goes from Monkey3 to Devin Townsend.
Roberto listens to a lot of progressive metal also, Jinjer for example, but also other styles like electro.
As for me, I'm a big fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and I came to metal through listening to Linkin Park, Korn, and today where I love Gojira as much as Nasty for example. Recently I discovered Night Verses, unbelievable. Besides that, I listen to trip hop like Emancipator or Tor.
We tried to take 3 groups we liked and we selected Linkin Park, Slipknot and While She Sleeps as "influences".
You had a dream start in releasing an EP this year and supporting Skindred last year, you must be blown back by what's happened so far?
"We are really happy to have had this opportunity, it was a great night! We received great feedback on the EP which warmed our hearts. Now, we still have a lot of work to do and we are working hard to prepare the follow up to ARIA.."
Tell us more about the Belgian Metal scene, what challenges do bands face, is the underground scene still as strong?
"The number of places where it is possible to play is constantly decreasing, both in Belgium or in France. Most of the places hosting “amateur” groups are managed on a voluntary basis. The problem is the same almost everywhere, I think, that the public has difficulty getting around to concerts by local groups. It’s a very fragile balance. The Belgian scene has very good metal bands, you just have to take the trouble to support the scene by going to see local concerts."
For metalheads visiting Brussels, what sights / attractions and venues / bars could you recommend?
"Well then there is an unmissable bar in the city centre, the "Rock Classic" which organizes several concerts per week in the Rock / Metal style. The Hellhole Project association also organizes concerts in Brussels regularly, check their Facebook page for more."
How are you coping during this global pandemic? What have you been doing during the Belgian lockdown?
"We all respected the confinement measures, so no rehearsals face to face. But we have not stopped composing, and we will very soon release new music composed during confinement. Look out 😉"
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"Thank you to all the people who listened to or bought ARIA, to all who come to see us in concert and follow us on the social networks. Continue to share our music if you like it and talk about it around you, your support helps us a lot! Thanks to André, our sound engineer / producer who brings us all his knowledge and who laughs at our poor quality jokes. Thank you to you for this interview, and to your work which allows to give a great visibility to many groups! We hope to see you soon for a concert as soon as possible."
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!"