No one could have imagined that 30 years ago in the small village of Bielen in The Netherlands, that a very successful Black / Death Metal band would emerge. 30 years on and God Dethroned unleash a barrage of hellish brutality with their 11th album 'Illuminati' having completed their 'War Trilogy' (Passchendaele, Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross and The World Ablaze) with such aplomb, especially with the latter album being a struggle as Henri went on to explain in our interview with GD's front-man, he divulged into the challenges of music recording, the Dutch Metal scene and customs checks they had to face, when visiting the UK...
[The] 'Illuminati' were basically a secret society fighting for freedom, it's not so mysterious as it looks to many people."
Given God Dethroned's longevity and line-up changes, what in essence has kept the band going?
"It's because I like to play live and of course make new albums, but for me especially nowadays the reason to make new albums is to be able to play live. Recording an album is OK but it's not the thing that I like the most, I like to go out to play at festivals and shows at the weekend, some cool tours here and there... yeah that's the main motivation and that's still there after all these years"
Having completed the 'War Trilogy' (Passchendaele, Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross and The World Ablaze), what convinced you to shift away to different lyric topic entirely?
"Hehe well you know, back in the day I decided to write a concept album about WW1. I came to that idea because our guitarist Isaac Delahaye lives in a part of Belgium where a lot of the fighting went on; there's a museum, war cemeteries and monuments and things like that, it really intrigued me and so I decided to write 'Passchendaele'. That album was received very well by the media and fans alike, so I made the 'stupid' mistake to announce the fact that I would write a trilogy about WW1 and it all seemed to go very well. We did the second one 'Under The Sign Of The Iron Cross' and then I discovered it was a lot more difficult to write lyrics about WW1, because as you know most of the time people were just shooting from trenches to the enemy's trenches, so not much was going on.
So by album two I covered most of the topics that I could find and then I still had to do album number three, so it was really difficult to write lyrics for 'The World Ablaze' and I was really happy that I could finish that album... but in the mean time our fans started requesting that we would go back to the dark side so-to-speak, to write lyrics about religion, occult themes, etc, so it was a no brainer to do that again and it felt like a relief, to be able to write lyrics about said topics; one topic per song instead of one topic per album, let alone three albums."
With respect to your new album 'Illuminati', could you give us the backstory behind each song title?
"The track 'Illuminati' refers to the organisation from Germany, they were basically a secret society fighting for freedom, it's not so mysterious as it looks to many people. They were a society who wanted to read certain books that were forbidden at that time by other religious organisations at the time, they secretly fought against those religious organisations in the name of freedom in order to read those books that were forbidden, that's basically who the illuminati were. I created a story where it takes a mastermind to infiltrate and replace a new world without religion and that's the story I created around the illuminati."
What was it like working with artwork designer Michal Xaay Loranc (Nile, Evocation, etc), engineer Ortrun Poolman and Hugo Alvarstein?
"Oh yeah pretty good, I mean Ortrun is our live sound guy so he basically did the setup for the drum recordings. Michal Loranc is the Polish guy who did our album cover, the management sent me a list of artwork designers and I liked his the best, so I contacted him and he wrote back to me saying that he is a long-time God Dethroned fan... what an honour it is to ask me to do the album cover. So he came up with this album cover right away which is really beautiful and said 'Henri, this is possibly the most beautiful artwork that I have ever did in my life' and then Hugo is the guy who did the mastering, he is also one of our live sound guys and has his own studio which is really good; the mastering turned out really great."
Focusing on the track "Eye Of Horus", did you dabble in Egyptian mythology for it?
"Yeah I did, I read about the god or half-god Horus and basically the story is about the battle between good and evil, from which I made my own version of it. This is the song that our guitarist Mike Ferguson wrote and when I listen to the composition, it gave me this Egyptian feeling and I thought OK I'm going to write some lyrics that fit the feeling of this song that it gives me, that's how I came up with the 'Eye Of Horus'."
Out of the whole album 'Illuminati', was there any tracks that you could consider challenging and / or ambitious?
"When it comes down to recording drums, bass and rhythm guitars, all of the songs are really doable, I mean when we record the basics, they are finished within a couple of days no problem. But usually when it comes down to trying different things with the vocals, like this album we have of course my main vocals, Jeroen's backing vocals and then we have the choirs (something I did myself together with some other people); that was challenging, along with the grunting and singing at the same time which was challenging. So you have to try different things and that it's not that you don't know how to do it, but if it's something you haven't done before on the songs and you are trying so many different things, then it takes a lot more time.
It's the same with the keyboards, we decided to put a lot of keyboards in the music but not in the foreground, it's all in the background so to lift up the atmosphere and add more layers to the music; making the songs more interesting to listen to in the long term because you will discover more and more things in the music, again those are the challenging things because you're trying something and then you're trying something else here and there, and then decide what you're going to use, this takes a lot of time because this is something you cannot prepare beforehand."
Was the music video 'Spirit Of Beezlebub' easy to create and what is the story behind it?
"Well we wanted to do something different instead of just a regular band video, so we looked at the lyrics and looked at the songs... lyrics that would be easy to put into a music video, so we chose three songs: 'Illuminati', 'Spirit Of Beezlebub' and 'Book Of Lies', all of these have been released with the latter in conjunction with the album release.
What you see in the music video is a short movie which represents the lyrics of the songs and 'Illuminati' was already discussed earlier; in this case you see a priest who shows he wants to abuse children so we bring back to life a mummy who is going to kill the priest. 'Spirit of Beezlebub' is about trying to change and kill evil, but then it comes back to kill you. 'Book Of Lies' is more of a band video but features aspects of the illuminati and is more so about the bible."
Most bands form in either towns or cities, but for God Dethroned's origin is in the village of Beilen, what was it like in the beginning and what can metalheads do there?
"Haha, there's nothing to do there at all. I guess that's why it was so worthwhile playing in a band because nothing was going on there and yeah I found my first musicians back in the day in the area. Nowadays I have to drive all across the country because everybody lives in a different corner of the country, but that's what you get when you get bigger, you get better musicians who live in different places. But for me it was a relief to play in a band back in the day because for the rest, you have just a few pubs and that's it. You just start a band and are not that good in the beginning, finding musicians who are on the same level and from there it develops and along the way you find better musicians; resulting in travelling a bit further."
Regarding the Dutch Metal scene, would you say it's strengthened and grown over the years?
"Yeah I mean there are a lot of bands that are big, back in the day there was us, Asphyx, Sinister, Severe Torture and probably Pestilence, some of those bands sort of disappeared, are still on the same level or have gone up in the world. But in the meantime we have a new wave of bands such as Epica, of course they existed for many years but they grew slowly and steadily and now are a huge band. Another big export band so-to-speak is Within Temptation who are also huge, we have other bands like Carach Angren who play Symphonic Black Metal and are getting rather big at the moment internationally. So I guess we're doing quite well in this country and there's old bands and new bands, but luckily those new bands are getting big as well because one day they will need to fully replace the old bands. Overall I guess we have a pretty strong scene."
With regards to Brexit, are you concerned about the challenges you may face coming to the UK?
"No I'm not, I mean OK we will be checked by customs but that's also the case now, even though the UK is still a part of the European Union (EU). Last year when we visited the UK on tour with Belphegor, we had to go through customs so it was already the case. I guess if we were to go again after Brexit, nothing's changed and I'm not worried about you guys, I'm pretty sure that the UK will manage to get new trade deals with all the other European countries again, the USA and places like that. I think you guys will be fine, of course it will feel like a new beginning but after that it will be business as usual."
Are you surprised about the global impact heavy metal has made, seeing bands emerge from far-flung countries?
"No I'm not, you know in the past you wouldn't know if there were bands in Iran, Iraq, Indonesia or some other far away country from us. But of course there are people there who love to listen to and play metal, maybe for them in the past it wasn't a natural type of music to play... they have become modern societies, they listen to Western music and I guess as there are people who like to play metal, that's what they like now. I think it's great! Why not? You know the world has become smaller because of the internet and so I guess it makes sense."
Outside of God Dethroned do you have any other hobbies or interests?
"Yeah I build guitars through my company Serpent King Guitars, that's what I do most of the time I don't play (The song 'Serpent King' was taken from Henri's company name). One of my friends always called me 'serpent king' instead of Henri so he would be like 'hey serpent king how are you doing', this is what he has said to me for many years, so when I founded my guitar company I thought 'OK what am I going to call it?' and then I thought 'of course, I am the serpent king so it's going to be 'Serpent King Guitars'."
Are there any guitars that you have made that you're specially proud of?
"Basically all of them, but I have made some really special ones: one is called 'The Anubis', which is a really beautiful one... I play them all every once in a while and build a new guitar for myself, which I can show off by playing live and people see that, check out the website and give feedback and say they want to buy a guitar like that and that's how we do it."
Any finals words? Greetings you wish to send out?
"I just want to thank the fans in the UK for following God Dethroned all these years and hope they will check out the new album and hopefully we will be able to play in the UK soon again."
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!"
Demonic Resurrection are one of the leading metal bands from the Indian Metal scene, having been around since the turn of the millennium they have released 5 albums, 1 EP and 1 split and in that time played across Asia and Europe; most notably playing twice at Bloodstock where this year Sahil (vocalist/guitarist) had a chat with GMA about why he was putting not only the band to rest, but his other bands as well. He spoke about his YouTube channel, the scene going forward, what you can do in Bombay and what religion means to him.
"Religion is very good fiction; they're great stories and it's unfortunate that people have taken them literally "
Demonic Resurrection has come to an end, could you tell us how this come about?
"I don't know man I think after 18 years of doing this, I'm kind of a little tired and fed-up with the way things are. I don't mind the struggle and I'm happy to work really hard and put 110% behind what I am doing, but for me I feel like the struggle has been with the same things as opposed to being different struggles as you progress as a band. For me that's kind of where it sort of says it's not working; if you're struggling with the same thing you started 10 years ago then maybe you're doing something wrong. So I kind of need to at least for now just put this behind me and maybe focus on something that is really doing well for me right now, which is my Headbangers Kitchen YouTube channel, so that's the plan right now."
Regarding your YouTube channel, you recently become certified correct? And you contributed to a book?
"Yeah we got certified a while back but we just reached 230,000 subscribers, so it's pretty much become my full-time job now and has kept me quite busy.
I was approached by a publisher last year to sort of edit a book rather than write one, I wrote some stuff for this book but mainly edited a lot of their recipes too make them keto-friendly.
Keto is a sort of way of eating where you deprive your body of carbohydrates and it goes into burning fat for fuel, it's sort of become one of the hottest ways to lose weight because it kind of lets you do it in a more of a free-approach to it, rather than being restricting yourself in terms of what you can and cannot eat; though you are, but it doesn't feel as deprived as most diets do."
Out of all of the dishes you have done, which is your favourite?
"Oh that's a tough question man, I would definitely say one of my most popular dishes is the 'bacon bomb'; that is kind of my signature meat dish, but I'm also very proud of my buttered chicken. The 'bacon bomb' is half a kilo of ground pork meat seasoned beautifully with fresh herbs, stuffed with cheese, peppers, onions, wrapped in bacon, covered in BBQ sauce and baked. That would keep you going for the rest of the day."
So your other bands Reptilian Death, Demonstealer and Workshop are being phased out too?
"If anyone has been following me, I think it was about 2 years ago I put Workshop to rest and then a year ago I put Reptilian Death down as well. I don't know man just things stopped working for the band and like I said I don't mind working hard, but when all the odds are against you then you just need to know when to let go. With Workshop we just come to a point where we were just unable to book shows because whoever booked shows didn't like our music, so eventually we were not able to book anything and it just sort of died down because there were no gigs we could play and the other members became busy with their other musical careers, so we called it a day."
With Kryptos carrying on, what does the future of the Indian Metal scene look like in your opinion?
"Honestly I don't know, but what I do know is it will survive, it will go through it's up's and down's like it always has, I think as a genre metal still holds onto people in some way. Even though the Indian scene is not growing in the way it should, but you know we will have to wait and see the way it goes, but I do believe it will survive and have children always wanting to play metal, so you will always have some Indian Metal bands; whether they last or not, that's a different question."
With the metal band Bloodywood mixing Bollywood music with metal, do you see this as a step forward?
"Honestly, I don't know if that's a step forward but it is definitely a connecting point for people around the world to know that there's metal in India. I guess they've tapped into what I would call the 'YouTube Market' ,which is a huge platform for very creative content and creators to exploit, and I think they have found a formula what works for them. So I definitely think them as a band will do great things, whether they choose to go live or whether they choose to spend their energy on YouTube, it will definitely be and introduction for most people getting into the Indian Metal scene."
So how did Demonic Resurrection come round to playing Bloodstock this time? Do you keep in touch with past members?
"Yes I think Bio-Cancer dropped out and my agent said I could book in for Bloodstock, so I was like let me check the visa situation because the last time we came here we had to get a work permit, which is really expensive, but it turns out that there is a cheaper option and I was anyway planning to visit the UK for friend's wedding so it kind-of worked out. Especially as we have two members in the UK, so that's two people that actually needed to fly in now for the gig; myself and Virendra. As of now we have Shoi Sen and Arran McSporran from De Profundis who play bass and guitar, they're our live session members in the UK.
I'm still in touch with most of them yeah, they're always doing something or the other. Nishith Hegde and Ashwin Shriyan play in Bollywood, they're session musicians and as is Daniel Kenneth Rego, Mephisto chills at home and writes some of his own music but doesn't really put anything out so."
Could you tell us more about your last (and final) album "Dashavatar", what does it mean?
"'Dashavatar' is basically about the the primary avatars of Vishnu, the Hindu god of preservation, it's actually funny that I even wrote something like this because I'm a staunch atheist and I have a lot of disdain for religion, but as stories there are interesting things here and my wife told me the story of
Narasimha the man-lion, and the way it was told to me was... it kind of showed a very brutal side to the story and the truth is I think, religion is very good fiction; they're great stories and it's unfortunate that people have taken them literally and f****d everything up, but they are great stories and they were stories that I thought would be good to tell through our music and I made sure that we didn't compromise the music that we made. I know we do have Indian instruments in the album, but they are there with a purpose, they are not us suddenly going all fusion, trying to create something, so that was an interesting thing to do."
For metalheads visiting India, aside from the Taj Mahal, what sights / attractions would you recommend seeing?
"Well if you're coming to Bombay (Mumbai) it's always good to get a look at the gateway of India, there are these caves called the Ajanta and Ellora caves which are nice to visit as well, you can go to the beach, Juhu beach, Marine Drive, yeah you can go around and eat some good food in Bombay. Honestly I always never know what to tell people to go and see in Bombay because myself I don't really care for sightseeing and stuff, it's all about food."
Signing off are there any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Thank you for having me and for doing this interview, thank you to anyone who has listened to any of my music and bought a CD or t-shirt, I appreciate it!"
Although Trivax originated in Iran, the frontman Shayan S. moved to the UK in 2010 to pursue becoming a metal musician. The rest of the band members are from Birmingham with the exception of bassist 'S' who originates from Syria. So where East meets West and liberalist and conservative cultures clash, Trivax stands strong as a force of nature. Shayan spoke to GMA about growing up as an Iranian metalhead, challenges faced and what it's like being immersed in the British Metal scene.
"If you're religiously or politically against what the Government (Iranian) do or believes in then you can almost be executed"
Trivax didn't form in the UK, so could you tell us it's origins? What is the Iranian scene like?
"Eh no I originally formed the band on my own in Iran in 2009. I can't really say there's much of a scene because it's illegal over there to be doing this kind of thing. There are obviously some musicians who are trying to be active but obviously the quality of what comes out isn't quite as good because people don't really get to exercise the rights for music. So obviously because there's rarely any gigs or anything like that. As bands, they don't really have a great deal to offer but of course there's a lot of good musicians who have come out of there. From The Vastland is an Iranian Black Metal band formed by a friend of mine called Sina who is now based in Norway, and they're doing quite well at the moment.
The name Trivax translates to 'storm', it's a transcription of a war, of a name that's in Farsi and yes it came about nine years ago as I mentioned in April 2009. I just decided that this was what I needed to be doing, I didn't really have the circumstances to be doing it at the time, it's just the hunger to create and play extreme music and to light up the fire that's in you."
So would most Iranian metalheads leave the country to pursue metal music careers, etc?
"I wouldn't say most, no, they would like to but I don't think anyone can do it"
What can happen if someone in Iran was found to be supporting metal music?
"Well it can usually just start off with getting arrested by the culture police which means they'll cut your hair, eventually they'll let you go on bail, or if you're playing live music without permission from the Government, then that can go very badly... they can break your instruments and things, finally if you're religiously or politically against what the Government do or believes in then you can almost be executed."
What do your parents think of you playing metal music?
"I think they might have been slightly sceptical at first, but I have to say that they have been greatly, greatly supportive - it might not be something that they'd listen to themselves, but they really enjoy it, they support that it is something I believe in because they see that it's not just a hobby or just something for me to try to and impress my friends with. This is my life. They're open-minded about it."
Did you face any challenges when you wanted to learn to play metal music?
"None really, it'd a different environment to what it is like here, I was that desperate to actually play and I learned that whatever difficulties that were in the way, I would push through them."
How does it feel to be at Bloodstock?
"Feels pretty amazing, yeah so far everyone has been kind to us and we're very much looking forward to the show."
Do you get nervous when going on stage?
"erm... I don't, I... it's a very strange state of mind, I'm not sure if I can really talk about it and have it make any sense, all I can say is that it gets very intense and excitement."
Do you feel metal music in general and not just Bloodstock, brings the world together irrespective of socio-cultural and political differences?
"Absolutely, that's why we are here, we share this metal music together with people I've never met before, but we're all brothers and sisters in metal."
Are there any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Many thanks to those who have supported us over the years and devoted the time to come, we're only really getting started with Trivax and we're going to do our best to get out there as much as possible, and conquer each one of you".
Beneath the upper echelons of the likes of Slayer, Metallica, Slipknot, Lamb of God, etc., (there are far too many big-name American Metal bands to mention) is a vast swathe of talent that stretches across the American Plains and has greater velocity than a F5 tornado. One band who is set to shake the establishment is Begat The Nephilim, whose infectious blend of Black Metal and Melodic Death Metal is enough to keep anyone orgasmic. Having dropped their debut album "Begat the Nephilim I: The Surreptitious Prophecy / Mother of the Blasphemy" last month and set to go on an East Coast tour, it was only right for GMA to interrogate this quintet.
For those who have not heard of Begat The Nephilim, could you please give us a history of the band?
"I (Cameron Dupere - Guitar) began writing music in late 2011 / early 2012 with intentions of getting a band going after several failed attempts. Later in the Summer of 2012 I came into contact with our soon to be drummer, Josh Richardson and we began jamming regularly. Within a month or so Josh introduced me to Tyler Smith who then became our vocalist and we began playing shows in the fall of that same year. After years of playing shows and several self funded tours, line-up changes (primarily rhythm guitar and to a lesser degree, bass) and a few unsatisfactory recording attempts we are ready to release our first album and play anywhere we possibly can."
What do your families think of your music, and when did you get your first taste in metal music?
"Our families have varying interests in our musical pursuits. They are all supportive in the sense that they don't discourage what we are doing and understand that it is what makes us feel happy and alive and that alone makes it worth it. I believe I must have been 11 or 12 when I received a burned CD with a Slipknot song on it and it blew me away, I couldn't have been less ready for the radical tones of metal since no one in my family had any interest in that style it made it much more appealing to my young prepubescent self."
What enticed you to mix Black and Melodic Death Metal together? How would you define your sound?
"The intention was to simply create a band that had elements of everything I enjoy about metal music. I refer to it as simply "Extreme Metal" since it combines elements of the most extreme genres i.e. Death, Black, Melodic Death, Slam, Deathcore etc."
How does it feel to be soon releasing your debut album "Begat the Nephilim I: The Surreptitious Prophecy / Mother of the Blasphemy", will there be a album launch party?
"It feels nothing short of amazing to finally be unleashing 'The Surreptitious Prophecy' upon the world. It took many long years and even more sacrifices to make this album happen but we never deviated from what we wanted to do and never compromised and I couldn't be more proud of that. We are hosting several album release shows through the North Eastern US and touring the east coast in support of the record in July."
Will you be looking to do an international tour in support of the album?
"We would love to tour internationally. I'm not in a position to say what is in store for us just yet but it is our intention to tour anywhere we possibly can after the album is released."
What challenges as an American band do you face when touring across the country?
"The main problem I personally face on tour is getting adequate rest and nourishment. Other challenges include ensuring we get from point A to point B in a timely manner and keeping morale high because nothing makes a tour drag more than shitty ego / attitudes."
What is the metal scene like in New Hampshire (NH)? What venues, bars, etc are there? What sights / attractions could you recommend to metalheads to go and see?
"There are a few bars and clubs in NH worth checking out such as Bungalow, Jewel, etc., NH was very dead for a while but it finally seems metal is returning to granite state and that is very exciting to see. The thing I would recommend most to anyone visiting NH would be to check out a local hiking trail or to visit the sea-coast, the outdoors and wildlife in NH is by far my favourite part."
What plans do you have for the year ahead?
"We had our album release shows in June and are touring the East Coast in July and after that we are working on plans for the fall that are still up in the air. Our intention as previously stated is to hit the road hard as much as we can and use any downtime to begin work on Begat II"
Tucked away in the Eastern corner of Europe is Belarus, a country born from the ashes of the former Soviet Union. Belarus in it's literal translation means 'White Russia', but the metal music scene it has is far from white, in fact it's rather dark, bleak and atmospheric. Enter the Atmospheric Black Metal band known as Raven Throne and their sixth album "I Miortvym Snicca Zolak", which focuses on Slavic poetry as it's main topic and delves into the Belarusian poetics of yesteryear. GMA spoke to Raven Throne about the challenges faced as a metal band in Belarus, the new album and how they came to use their mother tongue as choice of language for the songs.
"Our late lyrics are in Belarusian, so we are definitely in the segment of Slavic culture"
How did Raven Throne form and what do your parents think of your style of music?
"Raven Throne was formed in 2004 in the town of Polotsk, Belarus, by the people who are keen on the philosophy of black metal. The line-up has changed many times since that time, but the band has been moving forward making records and playing concerts."
Will you be doing a tour in support of your impending new release - "I Miortvym Snicca Zolak"?
"Yes. We are going to play some gigs in support of the new album. Details will be later."
For those who cannot read Belarusian, could you give us a break down of what each song means?
"It was always difficult for me to explain or interpret my own lyrics. There are many personal, many things I have experienced, many images and metaphors in my lyrics. I like the flow of consciousness, images from the subconscious. I can quote Sergey Dovlatov on this subject “I thought I was writing a history of the human heart”.
If we talk about the new album lyrics, then the songs were written based on the poems of Belarusian poets who worked during the most terrible and merciless years for individuals. That’s why the key for understanding should be found in those years."
What is it like being a metal band from Belarus? Easy? Difficult? What challenges are there?
"It happened that Raven Throne was always in certain isolation from the community, hangouts, etc. Is it difficult to be a metal musician in Belarus? Now it is much easier, but there are fundamental differences with Europe still."
For those metalheads visiting Minsk, what sights and attractions could you recommend?
"There are many examples of Soviet Empire architecture style in Minsk. There are some more ancient monuments and very clean streets in the city. Minsk is a very organized. It is not much inferior to other European capitals."
Would you prefer your music to be called Atmospheric Black Metal or Slavic Metal? What are your thoughts on sub-genres?
"We do not attach much importance to genre frames, cliché, labels and titles, etc. Traditionally this is called atmospheric metal but historically our roots are in black metal. The forms of our music may differ from the canons of the genre, but this is the result of our natural evolution and development only. Our late lyrics are in Belarusian, so we are definitely in the segment of Slavic culture.
Who designed your artwork and did you have any input into the design e.g. ideas for it?
"The ideas for the artworks belong to us. Sometimes our friends help us. The label also participates in the realization of the final result."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year? Are there any greetings you wish to send out to fans, etc?
"We have many plans. These are creative ideas, writing of new material, preparation for the future gigs. Stay true, be yourself. Improve yourself in everything."
Romania has a rather solid underground metal scene with perhaps Negura Bunget being the sole metal band leading the scene forward and onwards. Far from it's shackled Soviet history, Romania has emerged as a driving force within Eastern Europe and has offered itself as a rather promising nation on many fronts, metal scene included. One new band on the block is the Post-Black Metal entity Váthos, having only formed last year they have released two singles to date, both of which were met with appraise from the Romanian Metal community but also older, established bands, GMA spoke to the band about their scene, the future ahead, the band's origins and the best things to do in their dwellings, that is the capital city of Bucharest.
Could you give us the history of Váthos, where the members in previous bands? What does the band name mean?
"We are a newly formed band and consolidated our line-up in 2017, when our vocalist and bassist, Radu Alexandru and Dany Ice joined the band to fulfil the remaining roles. As of 8th February, the official line-up is as follows: Ducu Rusul (solo/rhythm guitar), Alexandru Gainusa (solo/rhythm guitar), Gigi (drums), Dany (bass) and Radu Alexandru (vocals). We are fairly new, but the feedback that we received from our community was positive and really exploded as we launched our first single, "Curse of Apathy", it reached 4,000 views in over 4 months. We followed up with our second single, "Shape of..." that received positive feedback as we've tried to "bend" the black metal sound, to add even more of our influences.
We received positive and supportive feedback from local bands, and also multiple invitations to participate and support artists that have 15-20 years activity in the local scene (more about local bands, activity and the Romanian metal scene vibe below).
Our members had previous projects and/or bands but right now Váthos is our main band/project and focus as we strive to add our influences and ideas to project our vision in the black metal genre (more details about this bellow).
Our band name, Váthos means "depth" and it's of Greek origins; original word spelling: βάθος. We wanted to go with a name that reflects the depth and quality that we want to add in our songs, from guitars, drums, bass to vocals, lyrics and of course the image/artwork (that we are starting to work on)."
You released your first two singles, what has the reception been like? Will we see a debut demo / EP this year?
"We released our first single "Curse of Apathy" on 29th November 2017, and the feedback received from friends, family and the Romanian metal community blew our minds to a degree that we could not believe it. It shocked us to hear words such as, "bringing a fresh and unique sound to the black metal genre", "quality of the music and the live performance was on par to a old experienced band from the first live performance" (keeping in mind that we just started our live performances) and also the constructive criticism, words of wisdom if you will, from improving our sound and live performance, interacting with the crowd, improving our equipment and overall idea of presenting our songs and sound to the public, unreal and excited that empowered us even more, we want more it. Our second single, "Shape of.." was released on 3rd March 2018 following the vibe of our first single and we wanted to present more of us and as a follow-up on to our first single.
A brief description, "Curse of Apathy" was written drawing inspiration from the daily life in Bucharest as it reflects the vision in which each individual spawns the feeling of apathy, following the same routine, over and over again. "Shape of.." was written to continue the story of our first single. What would happen if an individual wakes up from their apathetic daily routine? They will see the shape of.. (things that revolve around them). This is where we wanted to leave it open for interpretation as each listener will have their own thoughts to reflect upon when they do wake up.
After our next concert on 18th of May (where we will have the honour to play along side Akral Necrosis and eterans of our local scene Mercy's Dirge) we will focus on our future album to be named "Underwater", from artwork to finishing the rest of our 5 songs as we would like to feature 10 songs in total on the album. We currently do not have a set date for release as our wish is to record the full length album at once when the songs will be ready and we are confident enough that the Váthos sound and vibe is perfectly mastered as we will not settle for less."
You play Post-Black Metal, what are your inspirations behind the choice of sound (bands and lyrics)?
"The post black metal sound came from each member of the band, through influences that our favourite bands inspired us to achieve a sound of our own.
Bands that we love are many and different in genre, a few of them would be, Belphegor, Harakiri for the Sky, Kistvaen (Romanian band), In Flames, Disarmonia Mundi, Kataklysm, Cradle of Filth, Taine (Romanian band), Rammstein, Paradise Lost, Dark Tranquility, Whispered, DevilDriver, Sopor Aeternus, Uaral, Between the Buried and me, Gojira, Carach Angren, Deftones, and so many other bands that are a big inspiration to us and if we continue, it will just make up the all interview of just our favourite bands.
Lyrically speaking, our vocalist Radu Alexandru came in with ideas that reflect the human nature of man, written in a narrative way, in some cases depicted in images that reflect the idea of each song, emphasizing on suiting the inner eye and not just the ear.
What are the challenges that most unsigned Romanian Metal bands face?
"The challenges that most unsigned Romanian Metal bands face are many, there aren't many labels that will sign a heavier sounding band. In our country, extreme metal is still seen as an "outcast" genre as the mainstream scene is filled with pop music that is heavily supported by our media, TV, radio and through heavy publicity.
Metal music is supported mainly through our underground scene which isn't that big to start with even though we have so many great bands and artists covering almost all genres / subgenres and lately the quality started rising up and up as with our favourite bands.
We highly recommend if you want to check some of our bands out, you can do so at the following, Browse bands by country - Romania - Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives"
Would you agree that in Eastern Europe, Black Metal is well supported? What makes the Exteme Metal scene out there special?
"We have our share of black metal bands and the scene is rising in Eastern Europe, that is true and we get more and more exposure and support as we are known for our Folklore, eccentric sounds and instruments. The extreme scene gets bigger and bigger through outdoor festivals and concerts."
What do your parents think of your style of music? Are they into metal too?
"Well, all the members of the band are fully grown adults, each with their own job and responsibilities. Our parents were very surprised and supportive of our band, live performances but had no impact on our decision of making and playing what we love."
For metalheads visiting Bucharest, what sights or attractions could you recommend?
"One of our country's forte would be the beauty of nature, landscapes and our festivals, so why not combine them? We know and recommend a lot of outdoor metal festivals, Rockstadt Extreme Fest (Rasnov, near Brasov County) Dark Bombastic Evening (Alba Iulia Fortress, Transylvania), Ghost Gathering (Rasnov, Valley of the Fortress), ARTMania (Medieval Fortress of Sibiu), OST Mountain Fest (Busteni, Romania) and so many more. Also, we have many indoor festivals in the capital alone."
What plans does the band have for the rest of the year (that have not been mentioned above)?
"Our future plans for the rest of the year, finishing up the album, recording it and creating the artwork that will bring the visual aspect to life. We are currently debating on which of our songs to do our first music video and many live shows as possible as we love to interact with the public and our audience's reaction is really important when presenting new material.
We would like to thank Metal Global Apocalypse Team and Rhys Stevenson for the support and implication in the Metal community, not just in UK but all around the globe."
Croatia has had it's fair share of rich metal music history, however it has only recently spawned it's first ever Pirate Metal band; the genre itself popularized by Scotland's Alestorm in 2004 although it's antecedents originates back with Germany's Running Wild releasing the album 'Under Jolly Roger' in 1987. GMA caught up with Marko Vučković (drummer and band manager) otherwise known as The Admiral and looked into what makes these scallywags tick, Croatia's pirate history and what the Croatian Metal scene is like.
"We grew out of the cliche that everyone thinks they [Alestorm] are the only pirate metal band that exists"
Could you give us a brief history of Rum Smugglers, how you started out, etc.
"We started as a duo back in 2011, playing a variety of blackened thrash with pirate themed lyrics. We soon recruited the bassist and the rhythm guitarist, to further explain; we regularly switched those band members due to differences in styles and then not being able to comply to the regime of the band. In 2015 we released our demo, 'Hemp Rope Justice', and later on found the new addition to the band, our keyboardist, thus switching to a more folk / power metal method in our songs. He left in the Autumn of 2017, being with us only for a short time, around 9 months. We re-recorded our single during the time he spent with us, and after his departure we are currently trying to employ two violinists. Hopefully they will prove to be better band members then most of the aforementioned."
Presuming one of your influences is Alestorm, what are you aiming to bring to the Pirate Metal movement?
"One of our influences was Alestorm in the beginning but, we grew out of the cliche that everyone thinks they are the only pirate metal band that exists. We also take influences from Skyclad, Running Wild and Swashbuckle, we are trying to freshen up the scene with our more 'thrashy powery' approach on the subject at hand."
What is the Croatian Metal scene like? Tell us about the festivals, media, venues, bands, etc
"It's a bit poor at the moment, there are some great bands here, but everyone's focus is mainly on tribute bands and on some weird avant-garde and experimental type of music, thus disregarding the metal scene as it was a few years back. There are some great venues like OKC Palach in Rijeka, and Insomnia in Slavonski Brod, Epic club in Osijek and Kset and Močvara in Zagreb. The Croatian metal scene is still strong though, pushing out bands like Flesh, Frozen Forest, SpeedClaw, Uma Thurman, Decomposing Entity and many others. Just type in Croatia on the Encyclopaedia Metallum website and hope for the best, and check out YouTube links with the same search.-"
You say you combine gypsy melodies, where do you get your influences from?
"Yea, gypsy melodies, well we are on the crossroads between the Mediterranean and the eastern front, so we get our influences from both sides of folk melodies and folk culture."
Are there any Croatian pirate stories you could tell us?
"Of course there are! Mainly representing bandits in the Adriatic sea but there are also many more, check this link and try to translate it to English :) https://hr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gusari"
What plans do you have for 2018?
"We are currently practising new songs and making new material with our new violinists. So you can expect a new album with fresh and not so fresh tunes to hit the internet soon."
Do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
"Do what you want, cause a pirate is free!"
Without a shadow of a doubt, God Dethroned are veterans of the Dutch Metal scene despite having split-up twice (1993, 2012) and whilst some might have cast them off as just 'hanging around', it goes without question that the quartet have arisen once again with newfound vigour, a sense of passion and pride, but above all the feeling that they have left business unfinished.
Starting off back in the old days with Satanism as the core topic of their lyrics, God Dethroned mid-career switched to a more death-orientated stance which transgressed into their modern self as a band who sings about war, specifically the First World War; as shown on their 2009 album 'Passiondale (Passchendaele)'.
26 long years down the line and God Dethroned are set to deliver their 10th opus titled 'The World Ablaze', ending the WW1 album trilogy. In promotion of the album God Dethroned have released three blazingly brutal music videos:-
Fending off the aggression of this Dutch horde, GMA came into calling truce with frontman Henri Sattler who laid out the band's battle plans for the campaign ahead, speaking of their local division, politics and their latest weapon 'The World Ablaze'... prepare for mortar fire.