"A great social and musical influence had the fall of the Romanian communist party and the transition to democracy. "
If Dracula had ever listened to metal, it would definitely have to be an extreme kind of metal, something like Underwaves. Mixing various types of metal together, the quartet muster up a sound that is far more piercing than the vampire lord's fangs. Lashing together the genres of Melodic metal, Metalcore, Nu Metal, Alternative Metal, Groove Metal and Deathcore, you basically end up with Modern Metal Romania-style. Having been going since late 2017, the band has won the Rock'n'Iasi Festival Bands Contest last year whilst in the same year releasing their debut album. They are sure to make a name for themselves throughout the European underground metal scene. GMA spoke to them about their origins, the challenges Romanian Metal bands face and what to do in their home city of Brasov... home of Dracula. No vampires were hurt in the making of this interview.
Ana Ignis (vocals) and Carol Alexandru (guitarist) gave us the insight.
For those who have not heard of Underwaves, could you explain how the band came into being and where the name came from?
"I made the decision very spontaneously, while I was at work and listening to music. I played in a few bands before, but none of them resonated musically with me. Whenever I was at concerts and saw the bands playing, I imagined what it would be like to be in their place. It was quite difficult for me to see others living their dream on stage, so I decided to do something about it. That day I picked up the phone, called our bassist, Bogdan, and asked him if he was willing to play with me in a band. We knew each other before, because we had a few more projects together. The next one I called was Dan, the drummer, and the last one was Carol, the guitarist, who initially rejected the idea.
"The name Underwaves implies duality, mystery, the fact that what is seen always has a meaning inside. The visible part of things hides certain factors that define those things. What is on the surface hides what is underneath. So is our music, it hides our feelings, emotions and feelings."
Seeing as the band had a good career start, what are your next batch of plans once the COVID-19 pandemic has calmed down?
"We had to cancel our entire spring tour due to this pandemic and we are planning to reschedule all the dates, maybe add some more tour dates in it."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tags?; seeing as you use Metalcore, Deathcore, Groove and Alt Metal.
"Usually the genres are used in order to fit a band in a specific label, I wouldn’t say that we can fit in one single genre. Honestly, I don’t even know what we are playing if we take the word “metal” out of the description :) ) I would call it simply “metal”, nothing fancy."
What has the band been doing at home during the pandemic? What other hobbies / interests do you all have?
"We were a little bit stressed due to our jobs and we had to focus more on the financial part unfortunately. We still wrote some pieces of music, riffs and we have 2 new songs in progress. Regarding the hobbies, our drummer plays video games, our bassist is a movie watcher, Ana is shopping online and I do sports."
Would it be fair to say that there has been greater interest in metal bands from Romania and Eastern Europe over the past couple of years?
"Maybe so, Eastern Europe has always seemed to us the edge of the world in terms of underground music. Indeed, there are a lot of good bands on this side, many of them already big, some underrated. And in Romania there are a lot of strong bands with great potential."
Tell us more about the Romanian Metal scene, when did metal arrive in Romania? What is the public opinion of metal? What challenges do bands face?
"Rock music made its appearance in the Romanian music world in the early 1960s and continues to exist today. A great social and musical influence had the fall of the Romanian communist party and the transition to democracy. Lately, more and more festivals have started to appear (obviously, we are talking about the period before the pandemic) and this is gratifying. Although it is a style with a niche audience, we still have many followers and many prestigious metal music festivals in Romania. I don't know what the other bands are facing, let's hope they are luckier than us, but the biggest problem we have is the financial one. It is very difficult to support yourself in music, this is the reason why we all have day jobs."
For metalheads visiting Brașov, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Definitely the emblem of Brasov when it comes to metal music is the Rockstadt bar. It is the bar in the heart of which Rockstadt Extreme Fest, the largest metal festival in Romania, also started. As for points of interest, we have several museums and cultural points, and 40 km away we have Dracula's castle which is not to be missed."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"I don't know how we could thank all those who have been with us all this time and who will be. It is clear that family and friends have supported us from the beginning, but the people who come to our concerts, buy our T-shirts and listen to our music are the real stars. All the people in this industry that we have known and who have helped us deserve our respect, from sound engineers, stage technicians and lighting technicians, to bartenders, bar managers, tour managers and bands and musicians that we met."
"Do not think that there was no heavy music in the USSR at all. Groups such as "Aria" and "Master" were prominent representatives of heavy metal and due to the fact that it was difficult for people to get albums of foreign bands, they became incredibly popular."
Promising Russian Melodic Death Metal outfit Drops Of Heart are set to unleash their second album "Stargazers" on the 22nd July and arguably is a huge step up from their debut, not just in terms of writing as the band went on to explain, but also the fact they recruited well known Swedish vocalists in Richard Sjunnesson from The Unguided (on "Frost Grip") and Bjorn Strid from Soilwork (on "Starlight"). 12 years have past since the bands inception and with this new album on the horizon, it was only fair for GMA to give the band a grilling... vodka was involved.
They divulged about the album writing process, challenges Russian Metal bands face in terms of recognition, touring and networking and how heavy music existed back in the Soviet Union era.
Guys you must be excited to drop your 2nd album "Stargazers", what (if anything) was done differently in comparison to "New Hope"? Will the new album be released on vinyl? Is Vinyl popular in Russia?
"It’s hard to explain, how much we are excited! Honestly, work on “Stargazers” was fundamentally different in comparison with “New Hope”. When we wrote our previous album, we suffered from a lack of professional experience. We didn’t know exactly how to do this. We tried to blindly imitate a sound of bands that influenced us and didn’t pay enough attention to the arrangements. Now the situation has changed radically. In “Stargazers” we wanted to reach the maximum of songs arrangements, make the whole album diverse and as entertaining for metal fans as it possible.
We can’t say anything about vinyl right now, but situation may change in the near future. If we talk about attitude to vinyl in Russia, it’s not as popular as in Europe or the USA, but this market is developing now, in comparison with CD."
Obviously COVID-19 has put a halt on a lot of events bands had planned, what events did you have planned that are no longer going ahead?
"Of course we planned a tour in support of the album, but the world situation made us stay home and deprived some of us of work."
On a greater scale can you tell us what the COVID-19 situation is like in Russia? What have you been doing outside of music in the mean time?
"The situation sucks. Not only because the number of infected is growing rapidly but also people's scepticism and dubious decisions of the authorities (the Government didn’t declare a state of emergency and made people stay home without salaries). Some of us work remotely, some stay home and have to wait."
Do you feel that Russian Metal has come a long way since the fall of the USSR? Do you know if rock / metal existed during the Soviet era?
"Metal in Russia was under a lot of pressure. The censorship of the USSR didn’t allow this genre to fully develop until the second half of the eighties, therefore, after its collapse, the bands had to create everything from scratch.
But years passed, globalization did its job, and the genre raised its head. But do not think that there was no heavy music in the USSR at all. Groups such as "Aria" and "Master" were prominent representatives of heavy metal and due to the fact that it was difficult for people to get albums of foreign bands, they became incredibly popular.
Unfortunately, there’s no world famous modern metal band from Russia nowadays. It’s really sad and we tried our best to make the world talk about Russian metal scene."
Looking towards the back end of 2020 and into early 2021, what plans do you have?; COVID-19 depending.
"After release of the album we will promote it online as possible. New merchandise, online live shows, maybe b-sides album. And, most importantly - due to the lack of tours, we plan to to record new songs as soon as possible. We recorded “Stargazers” for 3 years, and during this time we have accumulated a bunch of new material, which we are already eager to record and release."
It must be challenging to do a tour of Russia; do such tours exist? Given Moscow is 18 hours away?
"This is the biggest problem for beginner bands in our country. Big cities are located at a distance of 500 kilometres or more, and even a small tour can turn into a real adventure, for which new people in the field may simply not be ready. At the same time, problems can carry on if you have already covered this distance - today metal in Russia is going through difficult times, and it is sometimes very hard to gather a sufficient number of people in a not-so-well-known group."
For those metalheads visiting your city of Ufa, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any venues, bars, etc?
"Our city is full of Bashkir folk influences and bars with pop-cover-bands, so it’s probably the most difficult question, huh. But we have a really nice historical centre and some really good pubs like “Harat’s” or “Jagger”. By the way, our vocalist Denis brews great beer himself!"
Do you have any greetings, thanks, etc that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"First of all, we want to wish all people in the world to be strong and brave in this hard time. It’s important not to bow down and support each other. And we will try to make you a little happier with our music. Stay metal!"
"There's stuff happening (on band releases), and hopefully 2020 will end up being a golden year for Faroese metal."
Having released their 2nd EP 'Ódn' last year to widespread acclaim, the Faroese Melodic Doom / Death Metallers Hamferð are eternally grateful for the achievements they have made during the past 12 years. Sadly however 2020 marked a tricky time for the band as guitarist John Egholm left the band, that but also the global pandemic the whole world is grappling with in COVID-19; putting a halt to the vast majority of the bands plans. We speak to guitarist Theodor Kapnas about the reception their latest EP attracted, the challenges Faroese Metal bands face, the inspiration behind their on-stage attire and the COVID-19 situation on the Faroe Islands.
You released your 2nd EP 'Ódn' last year, what was the reception like and will there be a new album in 2021?
"The EP has been very well received. It does feel different from our other records though. One of the songs is a live recording of "Deyðir varðar" from 2015 which we did during the total solar eclipse, and the second one is a live recording from our release show in 2018 of our oldest song, "Ódn", which we've performed live extensively but have never released until now. So even if we released it as a new EP it's technically older material. People seem to have enjoyed it, and we're really happy to have the tracks out there.
We are working on new material and have quite a bit written, but it's too early to promise any release dates. I do hope that it'll be in 2021 though."
You may well have been asked this many times, could you tell us about the idea behind your stage attire (being suits) - who came up with it, etc?
"The stage suits are part of the original idea behind Hamferð. John founded the band because he was inspired to create Doom Metal in Faroese, and one of the main ideas was that our live show should be inspired by the atmosphere of a funeral. Traditional funeral wear in The Faroe Islands is either traditional Faroese clothes or a black suit, white shirt and black tie to a funeral. So the suit idea came quite naturally. It's something we feel works well for our shows, so we've stuck with it and probably will keep on doing so for the foreseeable future."
For those who cannot speak a word of Faroese, can you offer some tips in how to sing along to your music?
"That's a tricky one. I guess you can just learn the songs phonetically. We've all sung along to songs while having absolutely no idea what the lyrics were about. One way would also be to make your own version of misheard lyrics of the songs. And if someone does that please let us know, we'd love to see them!"
Are the Faroe Islands in lock down? If so what have you been doing at home both musically and in other hobbies?
"First and foremost, The Faroe Islands isn't in lockdown. Large gatherings are banned and social distancing rules are applied, but shops are open and a lot of people are still going to work. But it does of course leave you with more alone time than usual. This has given me time to be able to finish a few musical projects which have been laying around for too long, which now lets me focus fully on continuing with writing the next Hamferð record. I was supposed to do quite a bit of touring as sound engineer during the spring, but that has obviously been cancelled. The rest of the guys live in different places and have been affected in different ways, but this situation affects all of us.
When it comes to hobbies I've done the usual, I love being outdoors and now I suddenly have time for a lot of hiking, fishing, diving etc... The main difference is that people are now trying to avoid seeing other people and are therefore heading out of the towns. So hikers have appeared absolutely everywhere."
Would you say the Faroese Metal scene is growing stronger each year or has it been a rocky journey?
"The Faroe Islands is a very small place, so the metal scene moves in waves. A few years ago we had a lot of active metal bands, but as our generation has been getting older more and more guys have stopped playing that has obviously affected things. I don't think kids feel that it's as cool to be in a band as we did when we were teenagers, so there have been fewer new bands popping up.
Having said that, we still have some really good bands in The Faroes, and 2020 is looking like a very strong release year for Faroese metal. I can recommend checking out the band Ótti, which features two Hamferð members. They just released their debut album, definitely worth a listen. Impartial and Asyllex have also released new stuff, and I know that Goresquad and Iron Lungs are releasing new stuff this year. So there's stuff happening, and hopefully 2020 will end up being a golden year for Faroese metal.
What (in your opinion) are the biggest challenges facing the new crop of metal bands coming up the ranks in the Faroes?
"The challenges are the same as they have always been. The audience in The Faroes is limited, and it's harder than ever to find a rehearsal space which is a challenge for a lot of bands. However, the work that Upp Við Hornunum has done with local events and the Wacken Metal Battle competition has really helped. Bands have been given an incentive to perform live, and it has never been easier to get in contact with people from the international metal industry."
What plans for the year ahead do you have (COVID-19 depending); did you have before this pandemic?
"We have a few shows coming up later this year, if that will be allowed by that time. But apart from that this year is set aside to write a new record. We can hopefully start recording that later this year or early next year. So that's where most of our focus lies at the moment."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out? Any final words?
"Stay safe out there everyone, wash your hands and we'll hopefully see all of you when this virus situation is over..."
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!"
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!"
Having won Metal 2 The Masses - South Wales this year and slaughtered their set at Bloodstock, GMA felt it was time to grill the quintet known as Democratus. Stepping up to the plate was frontman Steve 'Moomin' Jenkins who divulged into the rapid resurgence of the South Wales Metal scene, what it's like being at Bloodstock, how important it is to support unsigned bands and the love for the Metal 2 The Masses initiative.
"Metal is like football, it's a universal language; there's always someone you can go up to in any country and go 'Judas Priest?'.... 'YES!!!', 'Iron Maiden?'... 'YES!!' and that's beautiful"
Steve what was Democratus's set like having played Bloodstock?
"It couldn't have gone much better to be fair, we kicked in and it just all sort of clicked together. We had plenty of people watching us, I do think the rain made a better promoter out of it because it had just more people in it that were trying to get out of the rain, but then I think once we got them into the tent they were like 'ooh I like this' and yeah it just went absolutely off the wall. We had pits, we had walls of death... when I said 'jump' they said 'how high?'; I love that because I love my crowd participation - I've always preferred putting on a show, I can't be one of those people who just plays staring at their feet throughout a set, so I like it when we get the crowd involved."
And what does the band name Democratus mean? When did you first get into metal music?
"I go by 'Democritus' and the reason for that being early incarnations of us thought right we need a band name and I suggested we need a couple of names to say what we're on about and they were like 'eeh not fussed' and I turned round and said that we all need to decide on something, we're in a democracy not a dictatorship. Our guitarist at the time turned round and said 'what about Democratus'? We all looked at him and went 'wooooh', so it stuck and given the nature of some of my political lyrics and stuff like that, it kind of ties in. I did a search to check there were not other bands with that name and it turns out it was a Greek philosopher; he was the foundation as it were of how democracy was set up.
I was a bit of a latecomer to it, I had friends who would try to play Korn to me when I was 13, 14, and at that point I didn't quite get it. I started to get into Hard Rock and then tiptoed into metal when I was around 18, 19 - I found Killswitch Engage and Slipknot and so it went all downhill from there. It's a kind of ongoing process because the people who say metal is dead, there is always new stuff to discover - you're just not looking hard enough if you think it's gone stale because it has not."
Do you feel at times that politics and music should not mix?
"Not at all, for starters you wouldn't have bands like System Of A Down or Rage Against The Machine, to be honest metal, rock, blues, it was all born out of the frustration of being angry at the man in question. If it's all about your art and when personal leanings come into it, then everything is open - if people don't want to listen to political lyrics, that's where free speech comes in, in that the choice of listening to something political or not comes into play. But the message is there, if people like it and want to hear it, if people want to respect or disagree with it, then I'm open to debate and it's a case of I do what I do.... A. because I enjoy it and B. because for me personally I prefer having lyrics that have some kind of meaning. I can't write throwaway nonsense, it's not me."
What sort of metal style does Democratus play?
"When I started us out I had the definition of wanting to go into Melodic Death Metal, that's where my favourite bands lie, the likes of Soilwork, Insomnium, In Flames (well early In Flames, they're not a Melodeath band anymore), but's that where my love lies and so that's where I kind of wanted to stick us. Since then with the line-up we've got, the music we've written since the first EP has branched out and is not strictly Melodeath, it's still heavy and brutal and still has it's melodies, but it opens us up to more options on where we want to go with writing music and more potential offers from promoters wanting to work with us and I'm happy with that. "
Tell us about the Welsh Metal scene, what's it like?
"What do you want to know my friend? At the moment it's good and buzzing, Sodomized Cadaver, Cranial Separation and us are at Bloodstock this weekend alone; Cranial finished as runners up to us at the Metal 2 The Masses final, straight-up Brutal Death Metal. As far as it goes there is a bit of everything for everyone, over the last couple of years (3-4) it's felt like a proper community; it wasn't always like that, there was a lot of bitching, a lot of sniping and that's just the way scenes fall apart basically.
With the closure of venues and things like that, it made a lot of bands realize that actually we're probably better off getting along with each other, support each other in order to get ourselves ahead of the game. The whole Metal 2 The Masses thing, I'll give a shout out to my boys in Incursion, Blind Divide and Cranial Separation who absolutely walloped us in terms of how they played, they pulled out sets of their lives."
Do you feel Bloodstock are leaders in supporting the underground by giving bands opportunities to play to vast numbers?
"Absolutely! I can't thank Simon Hall, Rob Bannister, all the crew here enough for helping us, even today and through helping us plug ourselves in terms of getting media sorted and things like that. There is no other festival that I can think of in the UK that gives unsigned bands and self-signed bands that platform, and it absolutely sets Bloodstock apart. What intrigued me the first time I came here in 2008, was the potential of seeing one of my local friends The Dirty Youth; I used to go to school with their bassist and I've seen bands like that who small at that time but have grown. It's always something that's intrigued me at Bloodstock, and they've got the Metal 2 The Masses stuff going.
I've entered it with previous bands for years and I've always tried to see the positive in terms of yeah we haven't got through until this year, but I've always networked and made friends, got new likes out of it; it's always the additions that some bands may struggle in taking the advantage of, I'm fortunate in the fact of I've pestered enough people and kind of think I know what I'm doing to make the most of opportunities I get. I hear of bands who win Metal 2 The Masses and think that things will come their way, no way, this is just the start of it and I just hope now that the opportunities keep coming.
Do you believe Bloodstock brings people together regardless of culture, politics and social differences?
"Absolutely, you only need to look at the list of bands who are playing this year, you've got Demonic Resurrection from India, Lovebites from Japan, bands from all over the place. Metal is like football, it's a universal language there's always someone you can go up to in any country and go 'Judas Priest?'.... 'YES!!!', 'Iron Maiden?'... 'YES!!' and that's beautiful, I love it, this festival in particular as well just has the good sense of community. Like I said I've been coming here since 2008, and there were friends who I've made in 2008 that I still see and came out to see us yesterday, that's humbling for me as a band but also it's really nice to know that the place that I know I can guarantee you'll make friends ever year."
Could you ever see a metal band sing in Welsh about Welsh mythology?
"I believe one of my friends from Agrona is already working on a project that does exactly that, I can't remember the name of them because it's a really complicated Welsh pronunciation, but yeah there is something actually in the works so again it's reason to keep an eye on the Welsh scene. (Most people trip over Llanfair PG in it's full name right?) I was born in Southampton, but moved to Wales when I was 2, I'm actually OK with Welsh pronunciations, so you're referring to 'Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch' (just rolls off the tongue), it's lovely when drunk haha (I can imagine!!) - don't ask me to say what it means, that I can never remember.
Welsh is a great culture, I'm proud to be in Wales but I don't do the nationalism type of stuff unless it's in sports, but at the same time there's always cultures and heritage that's always interesting to look at."
Are there any hello's, greetings, etc you wish to send out?
"Massive thank you to everyone who has bought Democratus t-shirts over the months and years, everyone who has supported us to get through to the final. Massive shout out to Rachael Harrison for doing our media / PR stuff, also the usual Bloodstock crew; loved you for years and being behind the scenes has given me more respect for what you guys have done. To my friends who have turned up to watch us play, thank you, and for the rest, they know who they are :)."
Chile on the western side of South America has always had a vibrant metal scene with some notable musicians and bands making their names known far and wide, with bands like Mar de Grises and Criminal ending up with record deals with European labels in Season of Mist and Metal Blade, it's no surprise that the Chilean Metal scene goes on with bolder and greater ambitions. Leading the next wave is Weight Of Emptiness, a Doom / Melodic Death Metal outfit who released their debut album "Anfractuous Moments For Redemption" last year physically by themselves and digitally through the British label Sepulchral Silence. It was then later reissued through the Mexican label Sun Empire Productions. Thus showing their never-ending attempts to explore markets outside Chile.
Drummer Mauricio Basso (also plays in the Melodic Death Metal band Letargo) agreed to talk to GMA about the band's history, their complex sound, touring Mexico and life as a Chilean Metalhead.
"The main obstacle is that there is not much formality and guarantees for musicians in Latin America"
For those who do not know of Weight Of Emptiness, could you please give us a brief history of the band?
"Three individuals from Buin (a town near the capital of Chile) plus two friends and musicians from Santiago gave shape to Weight Of Emptiness, all of the members came with experience from being in other bands, we came together to give shape to this new experience."
You've only been going two years and yet released an EP and an album, surely that's a dream start?
"It has been a lot of work and focus, besides that it is not our only activity, but there is always strength for what we want to achieve and everything so far has gone well. It has been a lot of work these last couple of years."
Your debut album "Anfractuous Moments For Redemption" was released last year, what was the reception like?
"It has been quite good from the public and the media in general, we are very grateful for that too. We have played many shows to promote it and the reception has been incredible, even with many interesting proposals going around."
You toured Mexico last year, how hard is it to tour Chile let alone organize a Mexican tour? What difficulties can you face?
"Well, the main obstacle is that there is not much formality and guarantees for musicians in Latin America in terms of contracts and that kind of thing. Everything is based enough on trust and goodwill, especially if you're not very well known, but with great effort they put on a lot of shows and quite a few producers were interested in the band.
In Mexico, there were also previous contacts with friends from a radio program there. It was an incredible experience, lucratively speaking it was not something important, but the experience was magnificent, the people were wonderful and there were very good vibes."
What would you say Weight Of Emptiness brings to the table that other bands have not? What makes you different?
"In truth I think that influences that are not very common together in the same band can be something that distinguishes us, and the other thing is that we care enough about the sound and the effect it has on the perception of the listener."
How did you get into metal music in the first place? Are any of your family members musicians?
"Well since I was little there was a lot of music in the house where I lived, the radio was always on in the morning where there were also radio theatre programs. My uncle's had enough vinyl's and cassettes with plenty of bands from the 70's and 80's era's, and that was what I was trained with. My dad is a drummer too and that's where the drummer comes from as an instrument of worship."
For those visiting Santiago, what sights / attractions would you recommend to metalheads?
"There are quite a few shows of national Metal bands playing. Locals like the Oxido Bar are frequented almost every day of the week. I recommend Pablo Neruda's house, that has a very special vibe and is full of beautiful objects. There are also interesting museums and parks, the restaurant El Hoyo and especially outside Santiago there are interesting landscapes."
With 2018 closing up what plans do you have for the rest of the year?
"A lot of work. Another album is waiting, a new process is coming full of interesting things, new people on this trip, presentations outside of Chile, video's, we hope to surprise you with this new stage of Weight Of Emptiness"
Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"A special greeting to all those people who take the risk of looking for new sounds and forms of expression and take them to extreme metal. Also to all the people who read your media I propose to know our band and join us on this trip. Cheers"
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"
Whenever attention is directed towards the Americas, we usually as metalheads think of USA, Canada and to an extent Brazil. But it's the countries in between the northern and southern ends of the vast continent that we tend to forget about. Bordering the USA, Mexico has a vibrant metal history with a plethora of bands coming and going, with perhaps Brujeria being the most internationally-recognised bands to emerge. But like all scenes, the hive of activity resides on the streets i.e. the underground. One such band Doxa MX (originally called Doxa) knows all about this and as they prepare to release their latest album in 4 years, GMA spoke to Manuel Rojas (Vocals / Lead Guitars) to understand what makes this scene tick, what the bands plans are, challenges within the scene and a taster of what torta ahogadas is like.
"It (C3 stage) is in a street filled with bars and restaurants to which you can go before and after seeing some great international bands."
For those who have not heard of Doxa MX, could you give us a brief history of the band? Were you in bands previously?
"The band started in 2012 with my friend Erick (Doxa's bass player until this day) and I, one day in college we decided to form a metal band, I had been playing guitar and working on my harsh vocals for a few years up to that point and he was already a very talented multi-instrumentalist. After that we recruited the rest of the group and after a couple of line-up changes, we had a stable formation. We started playing regularly in the local circuit and managed to record and digitally self-release our debut album in 2014.
In early 2015, we had to put the project on a forced hiatus due to various personal problems that needed attention at the time, until late 2017 when we reformed with a new line-up (with Erick and I as the original members), an updated name and logo (in order to avoid confusion with other bands with very similar names), as well as an updated cover for our first album. Currently we are getting ready for our second LP and playing a few warm-up shows before returning to the live setting with full force."
You play a blend of Heavy and Melodic Death Metal, who or what gave you the inspirations to play such music?
"Honestly, that tag doesn't apply 100% to us, but it is the closest I could think of regarding our sound, as well as "Experimental Death Metal". We chose it because, well, we had to have one tag associated with our music and we play Death Metal-based music, while our biggest influences are Heavy Metal giants like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, although we like to seek and gather influences from everywhere inside and outside the metal realm. We basically do what we like, without worrying about sounding a certain way in order to fit a certain mold, to me that is just limiting your creativity, and I don't want to do that, besides, it would become boring for us after a short while to play straightforward death metal, thrash, or whatever style all the time."
It has been 4 years since your debut album 'Aniquilación', will you be releasing a new one very soon?
"Yes! We are almost done with the composition process (I would say around 90% done) and hope to record it and release it sometime in late 2018 or early 2019. It's about time!"
You sing in Spanish, would you consider singing in English to expand out into the wider metal scene?
"It is something we are not completely against, but I as the lyricist, decided to write the lyrics in Spanish because it seems like a more honest approach, as well as a more distinctive one. Basically I asked myself "Where is this band from?", "What language is spoken here?" however, we are all bilingual to different degrees and don't rule out making entire albums in English in the future, it depends on what feels right at the moment."
What is it like being a Mexican Metal band? What challenges do you guys face these days?
"Basically there are two kinds of challenges: economic challenges and scene-related challenges. Regarding the economy, Mexico is one of the countries with less average vacation days a year and more average hours worked per week, so there are lots of times it becomes really hard to find the time to focus properly on a project like this, due to the fact that we all have jobs and bills to pay, and we are young and... well, everyone knows that it is really hard for our generation to come by these days all around the world and here is a bit more rough, I think. Also the costs are an issue, it takes a really high percentage of one's pay if you wish to book a studio, buy a new amplifier or get a new microphone here, basically because salaries are way lower that those in the U.S. or Europe, among other places; and the cost of them is even higher than in those countries, so it is a considerably bigger sacrifice.
Scene wise, I have read comments stating that it is very similar in most places, in the sense that here there are very few venues for local metal bands and many of those require you to sell a lot of overpriced tickets and / or bring your own amps, microphones, P.A. and everything, and even those who don't do such things usually never pay, not even with a few beers. It is easy to say "well, just don't accept it" but without that we simply wouldn't play a lot. Also, one huge problem is that most big opportunities (I would say around 95% of them) of opening to big bands, playing big festivals and so on, are only either for a couple of bands who are family members and friends of people organizing the gigs, people who can give favours to the promoters or simply pay-to-play scenarios."
For metalheads visiting Guadalajara, what sights / attractions would you recommend seeing? Are there any customs that tourists should be aware of (so not to cause offence)?
"I would recommend to them to eat some Torta Ahogadas (a delicious meal only available in this state [Jalisco]), some good tacos and basically spend all day eating, because Mexican cuisine is one of our biggest prides and is recognised as one of the best in the world. You can also check ahead which gigs are going to be happening in the city those days, there's a venue, the C3 stage, that every month has really good metal shows and it is in a street filled with bars and restaurants to which you can go before and after seeing some great international bands.
Tourists should take the precautions of planning their activities well, because it is very easy to get lost due to the fact that our traffic signals are very bad and, in many places, non-existent, so, if you bring your car, try to stay on the highways most of the time to avoid getting terribly lost. Also, avoid the yellow cabs, they are not reliable nor safe at all, just take Uber everywhere, it is cheaper anyway."
What plans do you have for the year ahead?
"We are currently working on our second album, which is our main focus for these year. We'll also play a few shows here and there."
Are there any greetings or thank you's you wish to send out?
"To all the people reading this, please keep on supporting Global Metal Apocalypse."