Most people would associate Taiwan as one of those countries you could find labelled on the inside of some of the garments you own, but for metalheads it's known as a vibrant metal scene with ChthoniC as their leading export... following in the Oriental Black Metallers footsteps are a legion of metal bands who are ready to take the Taiwanese scene forward onto newer and greater heights.
One such band is Frost Tears (冰霜之淚), whose blend of Symphonic Gothic Metal and Oriental Metal is so amazing that you would lost in trying to find a band who can be compared to this majestic group. GMA spoke to the group to find out what life as a Taiwanese Metal musician is like, plans for the year ahead among other things. Answers are gratefully and surprisingly received in both Taiwanese and English.
"'Joyous shout' is a song which returns to the pure combination of power metal and symphony metal"
How long has Frost Tears been going and has any of the members been in previous bands?
"冰霜之淚迄今已經㒟立八年，到目前為止，歷經三任鼓手᧤現任鼓手 Ibara 第ℛ任᧥；三任貝㠾手᧤現任貝㠾手 Mone 是第ℛ任᧥；吉他手 Dio 是第ℛ任᧤鍵 盤手 Yu 則在 2016 年離團，主唱 Len
與吉他手 Taku 一直是原始團員。目前並不 積極尋找㠿任鍵盤手，因為㒠們覺得改變樂器編制也許是個有趣的ℚ情。在 2017 年在演出的配置加入了一位大提琴手 Tetsu.
It's been 8 years since Frost Tears was formed by Len (Vocal), Taku (Lead Guitar) and Ibara (Drums). The other present members include Mone (Bass) and Dio (Rhythm Guitar), who are the second members at bass and rhythm guitar. Tetsu, our current cellist, joined us in 2017, which may be an interesting idea or choice to change our band formation due to former keyboardists leave in 2016."
What is it like being a metal musician / fan in Taiwan? What is the scene like and is metal supported well?
都沒᭷幾個金屬樂團ྍ以ᡂ為主流，也因Ṉᡃ們在這八年來所學到的心態，便是 做ᡃ們想做的音樂即ྍ，要跟隨閃靈的 腳 ṉ並不是件容易的事，而即使像閃靈身 為ྎ灣最紅的金屬團，卸下樂手光環ᚋ，
ChthoniC as Taiwan's most known metal band has their own way of standing in Taiwan and so do we. In fact, few of Taiwan's (or maybe countries / religions besides Northern Europe) metal bands became famous. So even if we still try to fulfil our destiny in our own way, our conclusion for Metal in Taiwan is simply make perfect music, and THAT IS ENOUGH. "
You're about to release your fourth EP 'Conscious Being' in a few weeks time, will there be a tour in support of the release?
"目前還在企劃中，ྍ能在六᭶，因為ᡃ們沒᭷足 夠 的經費同時做 夠 多的ⓐ行 和ᐉ傳活動，所以也不急，一件一件的完ᡂ就好ࠋ
Actually, we are planning for a tour in Taiwan to begin maybe in June, so things like funds searching or promotion activity is now in process."
Have you played outside of Taiwan, if so where? What challenges as a Taiwanese band do you face when booking overseas gigs?
"ᡃ們曾經在 2015 年到過日本，2016 年到馬來西亞演出ࠋ對ᡃ們而言，演出內
容與器材ࠊ場地並不是問題，觀眾也都 夠 多ࠋ其實對ᡃ們而言，最困難的是籌ࠋ措旅費
We've been to Japan in 2015 and Malaysia in 2016. Shows were perfect for their own when the most difficult part is still the operation funds."
What did you differently for the new EP in comparison to your previous releases?
"因為團員變動，創作方式自然也會改變ࠋ新的 EP 除了首支單曲 Joyous shout 回到像 power
或 symphony metal 那種比較直ⓑ的音樂型態之外，另外三首則是以 現在的編制去重新改寫第一張
The new single 'Joyous shout' from 'Conscious Being' is a song which returns to the pure combination of power metal and symphony metal. Others are remade versions of 3 songs from our first EP which has improved tones, path of mixing and in some parts a change of lyrics and melody. It's a way for us to face and challenge our past."
For those visiting Taiwan, what sights / attractions could you recommend? What bars could you recommend?
"對於訪問ྎ灣的遊ᐈ，你ྍ以推薦哪些景點 / 景點？你ྍ以推薦什麼酒吧
'Jiufen' for 1 day touring and 'Revolver'͛ for alcohol."
What plans do you have for the year ahead?
The first priority is to complete our next new album despite our slow working progress, but we'll still make a try."
Do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
Hey guys we are Frost Tears from Taiwan! We welcome you to subscribe to us on our official Facebook page 'Frost Tears 冰霜之淚' to get the latest information of us! We wish to see you, Thank you!
It is an undeniable fact that Africa, along with Australasia / Oceania, are the last frontiers of metal music, with the exception to a handful of countries e.g. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc. Of course in Sub-Sahara Africa and North Africa there are far more metal scenes than in West Africa. However with Gabon's Iron Sliver, Nigeria's Threadstone and Ghana's Dark Suburb making noise, it was only fair for Cameroon to join the metal music movement.
Roar Of Heroes are a Symphonic / Gothic Metal unit who are comprised of two musicians - Azra-Freyja and Anarchist 1st), formed from the ashes of a previous moniker - 'Silent Echoes', a six-piece band whose activities did not last long and thus gave birth to this new entity.
GMA caught up with the duo and asked them what it is like to be metal music fans in Cameroon, what challenges there are and where do they see the African Metal movement in the future.
"Our society has never stopped judging this amazing philosophy, they still think metal is one of the devil's creations."
Could you give us a history of Roar Of Heroes, how it started and what challenges you face as a band?
"Roar Of Heroes' story is so long that a message won't be able to tell you the entire story in detail, so we summarize: in the beginning, the band was called Silent Echoes and had 6 members; a complete line-up with 2 female vocalists. The band performed together twice in February and June 2016, but after the June show, the band split-up and 6 months later was reborn as Roar of Heroes, with only two members of Silent Echoes, and this has been the same since then.
The Cameroonian Metal scene doesn't seem to have been around for a long while, when did it roughly start and what is the scene currently like?
"Cameroon doesn't have a real metal scene. We had here, the "Festirock" which we believe started in 2014 and today it's at its 3rd edition. But the last one was more of a "simple live show" than "metal show", including all types of music. So we don't really know nowadays if we can still consider it as a metal scene. But, another scene is about to be born, "Silent Night", organized by A Black Card, the label which is producing our forthcoming album. We all hope this one will be great."
Are you aware of any other metal scenes near you? Would you agree that Africa is fairly young in terms of metal music being produced?
"Personally, we think Africa will have it's place in the future of Metal music (even though 90% of bands we know only do Death or Heavy Metal, excluding South Africa and the Arabic countries!! according to us). Of course, people do not really know about metal bands in Africa, but we are sure, when the occidental communication will give attention to this continent, things will quickly improve. People really have a metal soul here."
How did you become interested in metal music and what do your parents, friends, etc think of it? How does society perceive it? Have you played any local gigs?
"We used to say, "we didn't adopt metal, metal adopted us", meaning that we always had it in our soul. When you are young, and you have the "chance" to see Michael Jackson or Metallica on your parents TV, you definitely know that you won't do country or pop music in your life. Parents and friends encourage us just because they know that we play music, we prefer things to be this way, than them judging us too. Because effectively, our society has never stopped judging this amazing philosophy, they still think metal is one of the devil's creations."
What are your main influences for your music and have you released any EP's, albums?
"Influences? Revolution is for the moment our only influence. We think everyday that things should improve around us, not changing, but improving. We recently recorded an EP, and started recording our first studio album, but unfortunately, we had a "bad wind" in April 2017, which carried with him all our files, and we were obliged to restart everything... from nothing. We finally returned to the studio back in September, and we think all will be okay very soon."
Would you agree that countries steeped in devout Christianity would perceive metal music as a threat?
"Yes we do. According to us, we think that they are focused on past metal images, which was unfortunately dominated by Death Metal and other s (with the satanic side of the genre). But that's not our philosophy, we have one different from that. In our songs, we encourage people to build themselves, to go further, to be free, to exist and so on. We have a simple philosophy: The impossible is unthinkable."
Given the location of your band, have you had any fans emerge from overseas on Facebook? If so where?
"We sometimes receive greetings from Nigeria, South Africa, France, Italy, Belgium and USA. People telling us that they like what we do. So encouraging to read mails and sometimes messages on our Facebook fan-page. We will never thank them enough."
Where do you see the Cameroonian Metal scene in 5 years time? What changes need to happen to support the growth of the scene?
"We are convinced that, in less than five years, Roar Of Heroes will make the Cameroonian metal scene to be known in Africa and all over the world. First of all, people have to assume with a firm conviction their love for metal. Secondly, they have to eradicate every judgement, so according to us, the problem starts from metal lovers, only them can extend the philosophy. But, this is about to happen, our revolution started this way."
Finally do you have any hello's, greetings, etc you wish to send out?
"We would like to send a message to everyone reading this article:- "Firstly thanks for reading, secondly never forget guys that every second in your life is a chance to change your story!!! Never stop believing in what you feel! Revolutionary yours!"
Spain has a very vibrant metal scene that sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to what bands emerge from the sun-soaked nation, so when the Symphonic Metal 'forajido' group Diabulus In Musica joined up with Finnish Neo-Classical Metal exports Amberian Dawn, it was only right for GMA to grill this five-piece ensemble and interrogate them as if they were our amigos (of course they are!).
Having been around for a decade and only two founding members remaining in keyboardist / growler Gorka Elso and vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez, it was the latter who stepped up to the plate to share their thoughts on their tour, the critique of their latest album "Dirge For The Archons", music, politics and the much 'beloved' Eurovision...
Hi guys, firstly how was your UK / EU tour? What were the highlights?
"We had a blast! We really enjoyed every show, but we keep special memories of London, Pratteln and Haarlem. In general they were very enthusiastic about us playing there. We had lots of fun with our label mates Amberian Dawn and our great crew."
You released your latest album 'Dirge for the Archons' last year, what was the reaction like?
"The reviews were really great! And the fans wrote us several messages telling us 'DFTA' is their favourite album so far. We are also very happy with it. We also have had the chance to play some of the new songs live and the reactions of the audience have also been great."
How did you gain inspiration for your band name Diabulus In Musica? Who came up with it?
"I founded the band and chose the name. “Diabulus (or Diabolus) In Musica” is a Latin medieval word which means ‘The Devil In Music’. It was like that as they called the triton or the interval of the augmented fourth. The medieval ear was used to hearing perfect fourths and perfect fifths, (early music instruments are tuned different, in mean-tone tuning). The augmented fourth, being half-way between these two most common intervals, was about the worst discord imaginable. That’s why they thought that the devil was inside the triton.
The reason I chose this name was because of my music studies and my passion for early music. I studied classical singing but I’ve been above all focused in historical singing. The name was perfect for us not only because of the meaning it has to me, but also because it sounds a bit dark, as our music sometimes. We like this ‘dark romantic aesthetic’ as well as early music (actually we have included these elements in our music more than once), so we thought Diabulus In Musica was the name that fit us the best."
With Eurovision coming, as a band would you ever put yourself forward to represent Spain?
"I don’t think any of us would dream about going to Eurovision, but if we were proposed to go we would probably accept because it is a good way of promoting ourselves. However we all know Spain always ends up in the low-scoring positions hahah so it probably would not be a good idea. We all know all the results are manipulated, so it’s not a very “fair” contest. Anyway, I admit I usually see it, it’s a good moment to gather for a dinner with friends and have a good time and some laughs."
With Brexit impending, as a band are you concerned about touring the UK or fairly calm about it?
"For the moment we are calm and we hope it will not be a problem in the future because the UK is one of our favourite places to tour. We have only played twice, but the reactions have always been so great. The best part of our European tour last year was the one in the UK. It was a pity that last year our guitar player couldn’t come because he is from Russia and he couldn’t get his visa to enter UK.
This year he finally got a visa and could come with us. It’s weird and a backwardness that nowadays it is still so important to get papers and papers, bureaucracy is really annoying, above all when you go just to play a couple of shows. I’m not going to give any opinions about politics, but I only hope things are easier and faster in the future."
What is the Spanish Metal scene like right now? Any bands you would suggest to your fans to check out?
"Well, I honestly don’t follow the Spanish scene, so I don’t really know very much about it. What I can say is that the metal scene like in every country is a small one and here, people prefers to listen to the typical “Spanish Metal”, which is generally heavy music from the 80’s sung in Spanish. That’s what you get in every metal festival in Spain. There is also a new scene, but it is not supported enough to grow, at least for the moment."
You hail from Pamplona, home of the famous 'running of the bulls', what are your thoughts on the tradition? Have you ever participated?
"No and I will never do so. I’m personally totally against the bullfights and I hope they are forbidden one day. I simply cannot understand that any human being can call that tremendous brutality “culture”. Regarding the running of the bulls, well, that’s different because bulls and people are on the same conditions and bulls don’t get harmed. It’s a very settled tradition in our city and in that case the bull doesn’t suffer, so I don’t have problems with that, but of course I have strong feelings against bullfights."
Finally what are your plans for the year ahead? Any greetings, thank you's that you wish to send out?
"We are headlining three festivals here in Spain in spring and we hope to play more until the end of the year. We will also start writing new material. Thanks a lot for the interest and your questions and thanks to the readers also for taking the time to read. We hope to meet you all on the road!"
Halloween is once a year, or is it? Not according to American quintet Eternal Halloween whose demonic stature is sure to garner attention from overseas as arguably the States answer to the UK's Evil Scarecrow. Moreover this Los Angeles (or as they might call Los Hellos), California-based horde have only been around a year and are already causing a buzz across the American Metal underground, let's just hope their name is not a reference to the Aiden song otherwise things could get quite confusing. Eternal Halloween were happy to spare some time to answer some questions GMA had in store for them...