Kazakhstan has come a long way since the fall of the Soviet Union, generally it feels freed from the shackles of it's Communist past ruling within the dark days of the USSR. Now it stands tall and proud as a booming nation within the Central Asian region, exporting heaps of oil and other natural gases to the world. Yet culturally it's rock and metal scene is growing with renewed vigour and purpose, from the early bands of the 90's like Holy Dragons to the modern wave featuring bands like Zarraza; of whom released their third EP 'Rotten Remains' back in November last year.
With this in mind GMA spoke to Zarraza about the current state of the Kazakh Metal scene, their new EP, the challenges faced of being outside the European and American markets and how neighbouring countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turmenistan fare when it comes to touring and having bands arrive from said countries to play in Kazakhstan.
"The [Kazakh] fans feel connected to a global scene! We are not isolated any more."
Guys for those who have not heard of Zarraza can you give us a brief history of the band?
"We are an Extreme Thrash Metal band from Kazakhstan. We released our debut album "Necroshiva" back in 2018 and our recent EP "Rotten Remains" last year – fully re-recorded songs from early demos. Both efforts received positive reviews from Metal Hammer, MetalSucks, AngryMetalGuy and other webzines all over the world. It helped us to step on stage as opening act for Sepultura, Ektomorf, Arkona, Tyr.
We cannot be labelled as Old School Thrash Metal because we added some other flavours to our extreme cocktail. Try to listen to just two songs to get an accurate impression - "150 words" and "Failed Apocalypse". Check out our video for "Apocalypse" on YouTube – it was filmed at an altitude of 3300 meters (10,826ft) in snowy mountains!
And last but not least — we practise tour trades and brought a lot of underground metal acts to Kazakhstan: Katalepsy (Russia), God Syndrome (Russia). I proud of it."
You released your new lyric video "Bullets & Beliefs'19", what was the reaction like, who designed it?
"Some people here in Kazakhstan never heard the story of what the song is about and won’t believe it. The song is not just about the first infamous robbery of bank collectors in Kazakhstan in 2001 - it's a song about people who do it for religion... back in the day, 19 years ago, it seemed nonsense in Kazakhstan - but today we live with it and call it "religious terrorism". Attackers claim they did it to finance some terrorist groups...
The lyric video was created by our good friend Nikita Cherevko. He is good friend of ours and filmed almost all our videos — Shadows, Necroshiva, The Grudge, Failed Apocalypse…"
In recent years it seems the Kazakh Metal scene has grabbed attention from people all over Europe, in your opinion, what changed? Would you say Holy Dragons were one of the early pioneers?
"Of course it is great! Metal fans here are proud of some bands — now they have the proof that Kazakhstan has some good metal bands and the fans feel connected to a global scene! We are not isolated any more.
As far as I'm concerned, the first real Kazakh metal band was Accent, formed by the Tarnovsky brothers in the middle of the 1980’s. The band played Heavy / Speed Metal — they not very active now but played some gigs recently. In the 90's there were many more bands – from classic Heavy Metal outfits to Death-Grind brigades. Izverg, Deathtrack, Requiem, Holy Dragons to name a few... the last one survived through all these years and are still active which is cool."
Tell us more about the Kazakh Metal scene, it's history, challenges, support (oppression?), festivals, venues etc.-
"Some people believe it does not exist at all but now we can perform with “Necroshiva”! The metal scene is very small and independent. We are outside of the mass media radar which is not so bad I think because the media is full of prejudice towards rock music in general. So we build the metal scene here by ourselves – it's not easy but I love it because it is our scene! We practice tour trades with bands from different cities and even countries and it works very well!
You can see – the scene is a wholly underground thing. As a result even the most active bands release one or two releases and then stop. Very few bands are persistent through time. My favourite band from Kazakhstan is Doubleface. Their “Falls and Decline” album is available on Bandcamp and it should be checked by every Chuck Shuldiner fan!
Another class act is Seven Sins – their latest Symphonic Black release is very impressive! And they worked through years of fighting all obstacles which is a great example of persistence. Metalcore band Tishina (inactive now) worked with producer Tue Madsen from Denmark and the result was good! I was happy when their bass player Eugene Hablack joined Zarraza in 2018 and helped to record “Rotten Remains”. Unfortunately he moved to other city and left.
I told you we are doing tour trades – and we also running our own metal fest. Metal Clan Fest was held in 2017 and united Kazakhstan's extreme metal acts. Then it was transformed into Hellmaty Metal Fest in 2018, headlined by Ektomorf from Hungary. Also we did a Metal United Worldwide (MUWW) gig in 2019 with Katalepsy (Russia) as headliner. MUWW is a special event which started a few years ago in Australia with one simple idea: different countries and cities, hundreds of bands but on the same night – we all performed metal as loud as possible!"
I assume you have bands from neighbouring countries come to play in Kazakhstan? Especially from the other 'Stan' countries?
"First of all let me speak of the misconception behind the "Stan". It’s just a word from a map of the world but in reality we don’t have a lot in common with other Stans. Kazakhstan almost doesn’t have any connection — political or economical — to Pakistan and Afghanistan. A wholly different culture, history, traditions, politics and economy. Relations with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are not very active also, but Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan — yes, we have shared common history and heritage.
We played a lot with bands from Kyrgyzstan there, they play in Kazakhstan very often and I like a lot bands over there. Kashgar, Shahid, My Own Shiva to name a few. Uzbekistan just started to open for us — we played there twice, last time in May 2019. The gig and whole travel experience was great — you can find the video diary on YouTube. The rock scene over there is really strong and interesting. I hope they will come to play in Kazakhstan and we will go there again."
On that note on a larger scale, do you feel there is a gradual increase in attention being given to bands from Central Asia?
"Yes. We see that a lot people are surprised that a metal scene here is existing at all, haha. We have a lot of hungry active bands who wish to surprise metalheads all over the world and I hope you will hear a lot of new impressive releases from Central Asia."
What plans do you have for 2020? Are there any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out to friends, fans, etc?
"Our main goal is a new release — we are demoing it right now. That’s why we don’t have any big plans about gigs — just a couple of local shows in mind. If you watched and liked our videos filmed in the mountains – stay tuned for more! We got some interesting ideas to be released as soon as new songs will be ready.
Just keep listening to some metal! The music erases borders created by politics, religions and other alienating cults – so keep it going!"
Watch the "Bullets & Beliefs 19" video here: https://youtu.be/Veif3-hBlkM
The Chinese Metal scene can be traced all the way back to the days of Tang Dynasty, which set the ball rolling for the metal scene to flourish. From the first wave of Chinese Heavy Metal spawned even darker and more extreme bands... the Black Metal sector for example is perhaps the darkest in the global metal community.
But China plays host to all metal variations and it's bands like Explosicum who keep the Thrash Metal alive in China... having signed to Italian label Punishment 18 Records this year, this could well be the dawn of China finally being accepted as a major player in the global metal scene. Qiu Jian Hua spoke to GMA about the band's history, the Chinese Metal scene and what it's like in the band's home city of Nanchang.
"The biggest challenge is how can we make music... without sounding like pure copying of classic bands."
For those who do not know Explosicum, can you give us a brief history behind the band and the name?
"We were founded in 2005 and in the same year, signed with Area Death Productions. The Chinese name "爆浆“ is from the Hong Kong movie "The God Of Cookery" which was directed by Stephen Chow, Our friend Guo Ya Fei helped us to translate it into English; he created the word "Explosicum" based on its meaning. In 2008, we released our debut album "Conflict" and released the second album "Raging Living" in 2014, we then released our third album "Living's Deal" in 2017.
How does it feel to be signing with Punishment 18 Records? This surely has to be one of the best moments of the band's career?
"Yes, we never thought we could sign with a European label. We know that Punishment 18 Records is a very famous label, and we feel excited and proud to achieve this. It was definitely one of the highlights of our band's career."
Talk us through your latest album "Living's Deal', what is the theme of the album and how was it received in China?
"Most of our songs are about our social environment, our feelings in life, our anger and helplessness, including the dark side of human nature, someone who knows China's history in recent decades can relate to this.
I don't know how to describe the word "received", after all, Thrash Metal is not a popular style now. But I think there are many people who like our album, they have their own views on society, and like speed and aggressiveness as much as we do."
What is the Chinese Metal scene like right now? What challenges as musicians do you have to overcome or have overcome?
"From what I've seen, there are many metal bands that are active in China, some for a long time, some for a short time. In China, metal music still has a large audience. It just can't become the mainstream of society.
We all have jobs, don't need to make money by playing metal music, so we don't need to do music just to please others. To us, the biggest challenge is how can we make music that we love and that thrashers love, without sounding like pure copying of classic bands and music."
Do you feel that more labels and media should pay attention to bands from that part of the world? Not just China but the Far East in general?
"Yes of course. We have been to other countries and regions in Asia, where there are a lot of good metal bands, I hope they will have more opportunities to let more people know."
For metalheads visiting your city of Nanchang, what sights / attractions could you recommend? What is the local metal scene like? Any bars, clubs?
"In Nanchang, rock and metal music has a big audience. Most metal shows don't have more than 500 people. The only place where rock music is regularly performed is the Blackiron Livehouse, which is run by our lead singer Tan Chong. Any metalhead visiting Nanchang should be there. It's one of most famous live houses in China, touring bands and artists perform every week, metal bands included of course."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year and leading into 2020?
"We don't have a specific timetable, we just take it step by step. We're working on the next album, we rehearse every week, the songs will be modified and improved during rehearsal. Unfortunately, we're very slow, so we don't know when the next album will come out. If we are invited by the organizer to perform, we are all happy to attend."
Are there any hello's, greetings, etc that you wish to send out to friends, family,
"Thank you to all our friends and family, including the directors of the various labels and all the organizers who invited us to the show. Without you, we might not have been able to make it this far."
Obzidian are a Progressive Death / Thrash outfit situated in Staffordshire and ultimately slammed Bloodstrock with their infectious music, they spoke to GMA about the struggles in their local scene, their music backgrounds and why being social media savvy pays off.
Who came up with the band name Obzidian and what does it mean?
"I was doing A-level geography in college and basically it's a volcanic glassy rock that forms so quickly that it's like a sheet of glass but is black, so it's like a sort of reflective black glass so we thought that's a pretty metal thing, so we'll name out band after it, we just changed the 's' to a 'z' because there is already another band with that name using an 's'."
What was the emotions like in the Obzidian camp when being confirmed to play Bloodstock? Was there any hush-hush?
"Excitement and a little bit of terror because I was at work at the time, obviously our manager Dan just put messages on our group thread saying 'call me, call me', I'm like what's going on? I'm at work. I called him in the toilet and he was like 'mate we're playing Bloodstock', so I kind of had a little dance to myself in the toilet at work. We've been wanting this for ages and it finally happened, it's all a bit of a blur to be honest.
Yeah my dad was our sound-man for a very long time so he's fully engrained into our band, helped us and bought all of the gear we've got at the moment, drove us round the country week-in week-out. My mum's always supportive, she's not a musician herself but has grown up with my dad being a musician and obviously supported music and stuff - they've all supported us 100% and when I told them they were absolutely made up. They've back us through everything.
I'm from a big music background, my father toured the US in the 70's with his band, my brother is a semi-professional drummer, so they're really proud because I found my own way as I don't have the musical attributes they had, I don't have the musical talent they had."
How did you all get into Metal Music?
"I started off with more classic rock stuff like AC/DC when I was around 12, started playing guitar because of them and then just got heavier and heavier, started listening to Megadeth, Metallica and Pantera, then onto Meshuggah.
All of our parents have grown up with rock, classic rock, that kind of thing. My dad was a big Deep Purple and Motorhead fan, then Judas Priest, he got me into all of that and then by growing up with that, I was about 8 or 9 when I listened to the 'Black Album' and then that took me onto a different path and then I found Megadeth, then onto Metallica, then onto Sepultura, it all got heavier from there really.
Same with me the whole classic rock background with my dad, I think it was my brother really who started to dip his fingers into the heavier side of things, to be fair I think Sepultura was the first heavy band I listened to. It was an honour to play with them, so that's one thing ticked off the bucket list a few years back.
Was there any challenges that Obzidian had to overcome in the years past?
"I don't know if there's been any real challenges as such like some bands go through, money is always a challenge, trying to find how to travel, buying gear and merch, making sure we put our finances in the right areas, make some back and make a profit, being able to carry on doing it. It's always a bit of a risk when you want to carry on doing that kind of thing, when you have all those upfront costs. Apart from that not really, the only change we ever made to our line-up was in 2005 when Matty Jenks came in on vocals and we parted ways with our old vocalist / guitarist; more like a James Hetfield kind of character, we wanted to go heavier and he didn't, we kind of changed up a little bit.
For the past 13-14 years it's been this line-up and we really haven't faced anything apart from time and money. If someone has a problem they put it out there, when we need to argue we argue and when we need to complement each other we do. There's no stones or turbulence.
We've known each other for so long, me (Paul Hayward), Baz Foster and Matt Jeffs grew up together and went through high school, we've known each other since the age of 11 and it just formed a solid friendship that you can base music on. "
Could you tell us about what the Staffordshire Metal scene is like?
"Stafford is a semi-rural town, but it's starting to get better, there's not a lot of bands there, not a lot of live music there. There's a venue called The Red Rum where a guy called Nick is really trying to bring Hed P.E. and bigger bands in to the area to try and encourage people to come out and listen to more live music and we can't thank him enough for that as he's put us on 3-4 times already in various venues
I'm from the Staffordshire side of Wolverhampton, right by Birmingham which is the home of heavy metal as everyone says but for so many years there was just nothing there... but the way the underground scene has been rising in the past 2-3 years in Birmingham, it's beginning to feel like a real place again metal-wise. We did a lot of stuff up in Manchester for a while.
There's been times where we've had to drive hours and hours away from home to find a decent show, but now it's all coming back to the Midlands which is a really good thing. There's a lot of good promoters out there just sticking at it and getting the right bands on the shows.
FatAngel who we're with now, the label and promotions who are based in Coventry have really done wonders for the Midlands scene e.g. Mosh Against Cancer Festival, they've just been wonderful for us. Dan Carter who is our manager (also the bassist in Left For Red), he's the man who looks after us now and just waggled his hand just like 'oh you guys' (all laugh).
When growing up when did you realize you wanted to become a musician, what was your first instrument?
"I don't remember the exact point but I used to play guitar originally and used to jam with my dad who also is a guitarist and vocalist from back in the 70's. After about 4-5 years of that, getting my own gear and being in a couple of bands as a guitarist, my cousin who is a drummer let me have a go on his kit and the rest is just history, so I've been on drums ever since. My cousin probably influenced me the most on drums, but for guitar it was probably my dad and I think I was probably 7/8 when I properly started playing guitar and then changed to drums when I was around 12/13 and now I'm 34. For the last 10-15 I went into music production learning how to record etc.
AC/DC, from my dad's old vinyl collection, once I pulled out 'Power Age' it was f*****g awesome, stuck that on and went out to buy some AC/DC albums and that was it, I wanted to be like Angus Young.
I've played drums, I've played guitar, but I was s**t so I went to vocals and started screaming (all laugh).
Summarise Bloodstock in two words, what would you say?
"Bloody raining / awesome metal / absolutely incredible / metal family"
Have you had any fans from abroad contact you via social media?
"Yeah we've had a few guys from Norway, Sweden, those kinds of places, firstly they message us and then buy the album. They say they really love it and will play it to all of their friends. We've had radio play in Canada and the USA, so yeah we've had a lot of international contact - we just need to turn that into shows now and see what happens."
Are there any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Hello to anyone whose bought stuff or who will buy stuff, check us out on obzidian.co.uk and on Facebook. A big shout out to those who visited the New Blood Stage at 10:30, cheers to the crew, everyone who knows us and has checked us out."
When many people think of Iran, either the vast-lands of desert or the historic silk-road springs to mind. But underneath the rich history of this Islamic country is a metal scene that determines to thrive despite facing oppression from the political and religious elite, something of which metalheads despise; the act of creative art and freedom locking horns with the sharia law that prohibits non-Islamic music, so one begs the question.. what defines as Islamic music? Tarantist, a Thrash Metal band originally from Tehran, but now based in the USA, stepped up to talk to GMA about their native scene, their new single 'Ekhtelas' and the general complications they face as being Iranians.
"Back in the day if we wore band shirts, we would have been arrested and raped in the Islamic jail by some jihadists"
For those who have not heard of Tarantist, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"Formed in the basements of Tehran around the year 2000, bitten and toxic by the society's poison, we started to scream out loud and get our frustration heard by the world. Unhealthy situation by the occupying Government of Iran..."
How did you get into playing and listening to metal music? Was it hard growing up as a metalhead in Iran?
"Only through some friends or relatives who have been travelling in-and-out of the country and later on by the help of satellite TV channels, radios and then internet. It was all in the underground and secret scene and was a very dangerous situation, because mullahs have been thought by the puppeteers, to impose the society false and bullshit statements... like the music will rape their profits anally... so, music was banned, joy was banned, happiness was banned, being a human was banned, every f*****g thing was banned, because the f*****g false prophets of some f*****g bullshit lies were supposed to get mad at us and send us to hell if we did so! Sigh... "
You just dropped your new single 'Ekhtelas', what has the reception of the single been like?
"The chorus seems to be catchy and everyone sings and dances with it!"
You moved from Iran to the USA, how easy or hard was the transition?
"It was (and still is) so f*****g hard... you won't believe the amount of horse-s**t both governmental bureaucracies will put in your plate... that was insane... but TarantisT got kind of lucky (although it was not luck, it was because we f*****g rocked hard and we deserved it, then we gained it)... so, we got a huge international exposure, people from major international media were coming to Iran only to meet with TarantisT and interview us! Then the news we were getting viral on the early days of Internet and social media. Then we started to receive invitations to travel the world and perform... so we walked in to the US like rock-stars with the visa type of "Internationally Recognized Artists"! Yeah f**k yeah, young kids as internationally recognized artists... proud of our achievements..."
Do you feel that metal music offers a way for everyone to come together regardless of political, religious, cultural and social differences?
"Metal is life, metal is everything, metal is a culture... humanity comes first, before any Satan-damn thing!"
What can fans expect from your forthcoming album? What is different in comparison to previous albums?
"In the upcoming album, "Fucked Up Generation", words would be in Farsi once again like "Not A Crime" album (2017), but again fresh and new sounds, groovy bass lines and riffs, traditional Persian instruments, and new subjects to bite the f*****g corrupted system."
For metalheads visiting Tehran, what sights or attractions should they go and see? How restricted is metal music in Iran; are metalheads allowed to wear band t-shirts in the street?
"Back in the day if we wore band shirts, we would have been arrested and raped in the Islamic jail by some jihadists, who are scared of their nonsense Allah! We haven't lived there since 2007 so we don't have personal experiences, but it seems it is a little bit better these days. But you won't see any thing related to rock or metal music in public. If you lick the balls of the supreme leader, you might be able to f**k around though..."
For the rest of 2018 and into 2019, what are your plans?
"3 albums in 2019 ready to fire, SXSW festival 2019, new videos, some shows and gigs here and there... all news will be posted on our social media channels, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Apple Music, etc."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc., that you wish to send out?
"Fuck you mullahs".
Metal music and war, the two somehow seem to come hand-in-hand at times and yet it's usually the war-ravaged nations that get ignored in the metal music community. How is it that bands across the world risk their daily lives to not only play metal music, but to survive the climate they find themselves in and yet barely receive little if any coverage from the more-established media? Dark Phantom are a Heavy / Death Thrash Metal band from the city of Kirkuk, Iraq. Having released their debut EP 'Beta' (2013) through the Swedish label Salute Records and their debut album 'Nation Of Dogs' (2016) through the Belarusian label Symbol of Domination Prod., (as well as an independent digital release), Dark Phantom are looking to venture onto greater things, become a beacon of light in the Iraqi Metal scene and show to the world that Iraq has another side to the country other than what is shown on the news. Dark Phantom are more than just a metal band, they are a metal band advocating the voice of peace.
Guitarist Murad explains to GMA the difficulties of being a metal band in Iraq, their plans to tour with their Syrian brothers in Maysaloon and why Iraqi metalheads burden so much oppression in the face of socio-cultural resistance.
"(Metal is) an art and by this art we can send our message worldwide about how we are living in war and corruption"
For those who do not know of Dark Phantom, could you please give us a brief history?
"Dark phantom is an idea that was born after the Iraqi war in 2003, when we listened to rock and metal music. Many bands influenced us, bands like Metallica, Slayer, Lamb Of God, Megadeth, and many others. The two guitarists Murad and Rebeen are relatives, they started playing guitar in 2007 and by practising decided to form the first metal band in Kirkuk. They began looking for other members to join; a bassist, drummer and a vocalist, they found them in University and through social media.
After joining the band, we practised in Murad’s room as a heavy metal band and played our first show in Kirkuk in 2011. It was a good show, playing in front of more than 300 people even when the situation was dangerous in our city. After the show in the mosque during Friday pray, they spoke about our show and that a satanic band played music in Kirkuk and that they did a show. Because of this we stopped playing shows in Kirkuk as we were really worried about our lives and family.
In 2012 we recorded our first EP ('Beta'), the record was bad because we didn’t have good equipment and there wasn’t any experience in recording, we played other shows in the north of Iraq in the Kurdistan region, because its safer. In 2014, 2 other members left the band, the drummer and the vocalist; the vocalist left Iraq because his brother was injured in a car bomb explosion, and the drummer said he must go to find a job. We found new members and a new genre that is more extreme than the old Dark Phantom. We recorded and released our first single and debut album (('Nation Of Dogs') in 2016."
It must be hard to be a metal band let alone a metalhead in Iraq? Can you tell us the challenges both as musicians and everyday persons face?
"It’s definitely not an easy thing being a metalhead with the problems you’ll have to face just for simple things like having long hair, tattoos or just black cloth, these things are seen as bad and taboo in the national culture, and you're faced with bad words, a bad reputation and in some cases death or harassment. Metal is an excellent way to show a unique way or style to people who’re old fashioned and let them know that there are other styles of living and different ideologies from what they’re used to and that everyone is different in it’s own way."
How long has the Iraqi Metal scene been going? Some say Acrassicauda were the first metal band from Iraq, is this true?
"It’s really unclear when or who was the first metal band in Iraq, but it goes beyond Accrasicauda however they were the first band who made some publicity and attracted attention."
What do your parents think of your music? Are they musicians themselves? How hard is it to obtain instruments and equipment?
"No they are not musicians, they are normal people; they think we do satanic work and get angry about it. However when we explain to them metal is not satanic work, its an art and by this art we can send our message worldwide about how we are living in war and corruption, they understand what we do and they become supportive. About the music instruments and equipment, it's so hard to find good instruments and equipment here, we work and calculate money and order it from the USA; the cost becomes very expensive but we do our best because there are no other ways to get it".
Do you talk to other metal bands in the MENA region? Such as Maysaloon from Syria, Belos from The Oman, Nervecell from the UAE, etc.?
"Yes we have a strong bond together and we’re usually aware of each other’s plans"
Arguably the greatest dream for Dark Phantom would be to perform in Europe, how far are you from reaching that goal? What plans do you have for the rest of the year and into 2019?
"Arguably it is the greatest dream for Dark Phantom to tour Europe and the USA, and play with big bands. We are hoping that by 2019 we will be able to play at a festival or two in Europe. We have some good plans, but it’s too early to say and we also hope that we can go to Syria before 2019".
Are there any greetings, thank you's, etc you wish to send out? For those visiting Kirkuk, what sights / attractions would you recommend to metalheads?
"We are thankful for everyone who stands beside us through our good and bad times, special thanks for those who support us by buying our album and who donated for our Syria concert , we never forget them, they are a part of Dark Phantom.
None, there is nothing metalhead-related in our city".
Metal music takes on a variety of different sounds and cultural slants across the world, through the likes of Brazil's Sepultura and their Latin Metal period (think 'Roots Bloody Roots') to Israel's Orphaned Land drafting in traditional Israeli Music (think 'El Meod Na'ala'), metal music has been configured with each metal scene that embraces it.
New Zealand on the other hand is one scene that often gets overlooked by most Western metalheads, either because of it's location on the world map or through the lack of effort to explore scenes other than that what dominate in Europe and North America. Alien Weaponry aim to change that with their infectious and riveting blend of Te Reo Māori Thrash Metal, the sound is combined with a Hardcore-Thrash approach with the battle cries found within the Te Māori language; one the trio are aiming to preserve through metal and one they learned through two ways...
GMA spoke to Lewis De Jong (Guitarist / Vocalist) regarding this, their past and how in 2 weeks Alien Weaponry have reminded Europe that New Zealand is still there.
"I would not feel offended because if you do a haka to someone, if they have achieved something or if they have done a performance, that's what you call a 'haka tautoko' which is basically in support of what someone is doing, it's an honour to have a 'haka tautoko' - I feel it would add to what we are all about."
Alien Weaponry hasn't been going all that long, so could you give us a brief history of the band? Tell us about your Māori heritage and meaning behind the band name.
"Henry and I started the band about 8 years ago and Ethan joined around 6 years ago, so yeah we haven't been going for 'that' long but we've been around for a fair bit.
Yeah my brother and I are descendants from the Ngati Pikiāo which is a Māori Iwi (Maori Tribe) and we have Māori family and blood in us, so that's how it kind of came about doing this. We named the band Alien Weaponry when Henry and I first started and this was before we had touched any of the Māori stuff, that's actually named after the sci-fi film 'District 9'; film had alien guns in it so we called it Alien Weaponry and because of that the name kinda stuck. But now when you think about it, when muskets were introduced into New Zealand, to the Māori muskets were a form of 'alien weaponry', so I suppose that kind of connects a little bit, but it wasn't originally planned like that."
Having played to an overflowing crowd on the Sophie Lancaster stage, what are your afterthoughts of your set?
"I'm pretty blown away by how massive and into it the crowd was, that was a really pleasant surprise."
Having played Wacken and being the youngest band in terms of band-members age to do so, did you feel any pressure whatsoever?
"Pressure? I mean Wacken's been our dream since we started the band, so I guess it's more of a... there's not really pressure, I feel like as long as you're confident in what you do and practise hard out, we feel like we get more of a buzz before going on stage, we're just trying to enjoy the experience as much as possible. But yeah it was a really insane feeling playing in front of all those people at Wacken. The crowd f*cking blew us all away, actually quite a lot of the crowds at these festivals have blown us away because the response has almost bettered New Zealand sometimes, and it's really different because this is our first time touring Europe; it's really great to be doing this."
With your brand of Te Māori Thrash metal, would you hope that neighbouring Oceanian countries become inspired by your music and start scenes up?
"Yeah I feel like we're kind of being a statement to quite a few indigenous cultures that have been suppressed and colonized, I feel like we're trying to reach out to the entire world with this and it's really cool to see the response this big being picked up from it."
Tell us about your debut album "Tū", what do the song titles mean? Tū charted on the New Zealand charts, that's got to be awesome right? Any response from the Māori Iwi?
"The album has a lot of different stuff on it, we've got anything from historic battles to unjust actions by the Government you know hundreds of years ago. Some of our more recent stuff has been more about current issues, like we've got a song called 'Holding My Breath' which is quite personal and is about the feeling of anxiety that a lot of people go through when they're quite young. We've written songs about basically things we feel passionate about, so the album's a really passionate album.
Yeah the album hit #1 when we released it, two other big New Zealand artists released albums on the same day and we were really surprised when we saw that we were ahead of them on the charts. That was a really good feeling when we hit #1, it feel like we've achieved something, something we never thought we would when we first started the band.
The reception from Māori in general has been overwhelmingly positive and when we started writing in Te Reo Māori we didn't quite know how people would respond to it, but they've responded very well and I feel like a lot of Māori are kind of 'coming out of the closet' in listening to metal, Māori wasn't really associated with metal before we started what we are doing."
How long did it take your first music video 'Rū Ana Te Whenua'? What is the meaning behind it and was it easy learning Māori?
"That was probably about two days in the studio and also a day of shooting the music video, that was the first music video we shot, but it was not the first one we released - we've been holding onto that for a long time (eight years) before we released it and when we finally did it was really satisfying for us, because you know we have been waiting all that time.
That was actually based on a battle that our great great-grandfather fought, it is basically a story about triumphing against all odds because the Māori were outnumbered, they had around 200-300 soldiers and the British had like over a 1,000 soldiers, but how they won (Māori) was they built this 'Pā' (which was the first recorded case of trench warfare) with underground trenches and bunkers. The British bombarded the Pā over a day and a half with cannons and when they stormed the Pā there was no-one there, as soon as they rode back to General Cameron who led the attack saying they had captured the Pā, while that was happening the Māori jumped up from underneath the ground and slaughtered them all - it's a brutal but cool story to write a song about.
That was our first song that we written in Te Reo Māori and we really took a chance doing that, but I feel the reception's been overwhelming. Henry and I grew up speaking Māori, we went to a Kura Kaupapa which is a Māori language school... I went to a Māori kindergarden and then I went to Kura Kaupapa for about two years and Henry went about for four years, but then we switched schools and Henry and I, Henry not so much but I lost the language quite heavily so actually singing in Māori now is actually... I'm still in the process of learning the language. I feel like singing in Māori is encouraging a lot of people to discover their own heritage and learn Māori, which is not really a common thing in New Zealand."
Would you hope that bands follow Alien Weaponry in terms of tapping into their indigenous culture and expressing it through metal?
"Definitely, I think that's one way we're trying to keep the culture alive in New Zealand and spreading it through music, people are pretty passionate about music and I guess the culture comes with Alien Weaponry. I feel like it's a great way to educate people and add something different to what you do"
If you were invited by the New Zealand rugby team to perform before a game, would you accept it?
"I think we probably would because that would be an amazing thing to play to a packed-out stadium before a rugby game, and I feel like that the energy we would bring would suit quite well, so yeah that would be really cool to do."
How has the New Zealand Government reacted to metal music?
"The New Zealand Government how has it reacted to metal music? Hmm. That's an interesting question, I guess the music industry is probably the closest thing... because the Government hasn't really said anything to us. I guess everyone in the music industry in New Zealand has been supportive of what we're doing... it's a hard question to answer because I actually don't know what the Government feels about what we're doing."
Tell us what the New Zealand Metal scene is like?
"There is a bit of a New Zealand metal scene but I feel like there's not many people in New Zealand (population is around 5 million; around half of Greater London), I guess there's not the hugest metal scene in New Zealand... put it this way there's probably more metalheads at Wacken than there are in New Zealand. The New Zealand metal scene is weird, it's hard to describe - there is still a metal scene in New Zealand. New Zealand's more known for it's reggae and R&B, Lorde and Lord Of The Rings. There is a metal scene in New Zealand with bands like Devilskin, Seas Of Conflict., there are quite a lot of good bands but I feel like there does seem to be a little bit of bickering from genre to genre, I feel like that's a little bit negative, but all in all scene's not that bad in New Zealand."
For metalheads visiting New Zealand, what sights and attractions could you recommend doing / seeing?
"If you go to New Zealand you've got to go to the beach, but before you go to the beach you've got to learn how to swim properly (laughs). In New Zealand there's a tradition that a lot of New Zealanders do it's called 'popping manus', which is basically jumping into the water and making the biggest splash possible, that's something we do in New Zealand and is pretty unique to our country. New Zealand is a beautiful place and I'm like feeling kinda homesick".
What exactly is the haka? Could you explain it's meaning please? If a crowd member was to haka before Alien Weaponry started playing, would you feel offended?
"A haka is a traditional Māori war dance, if two tribes were going to fight they used to do a haka to each other beforehand and I guess if you did a good enough haka, you might be able to scare the enemy into backing down so that it potentially doesn't have to be war. It's really designed to be in your face, scary and powerful and I feel it really works well with what we're doing.
I would not feel offended because if you do a haka to someone, if they have achieved something or if they have done a performance, that's what you call a 'haka tautoko' which is basically in support of what someone is doing, it's an honour to have a 'haka tautoko' - I feel it would add to what we are all about.
It's all about context, haka these days is mostly used in a theatrical, performance kind of environment and basically sometimes what happens is a couple of haka groups that perform and do well, will see a group in the audience jump up and do a 'haka tautoko', kind of instead of an applause and that's something that happens in New Zealand".
What are some phrases metalheads should shout at your concerts?
"A lot of Māori at our concerts say 'Tu Meke' which is kind of saying 'too much', which I kind of guess is a way of supporting someone, you say 'Tu Meke' it's like saying cheers.
Outside of Alien Weaponry what hobbies or interests do you have?
"Me personally I like to make music outside of the band and metal, I mess around with my friend and making lutes and sh*t. I also do a bit of drawing and painting, I'm quite a creative person so, I'm into that kind of stuff. I'm also into long-boarding which is pretty fun, basically just floating around, hanging out with mates and doing whatever."
What plans do you have after Bloodstock? New album? Any thanks?
"We're basically just continuing our European tour, that's the plan. Regarding a second album we've already got some concepts, I've already started coming up with riffs, I feel like you can definitely be expecting a follow-up album and another follow-up after that, everyone stay tuned.
Thanks to everyone who has been supporting us thus far, you guys are f*cking amazing and keep it up, because at the end of the day we wouldn't be doing this without everyone who supports us, so cheers!"
It's hard to know how long the Czech Metal scene has exactly been around as the Czech Republic (aka Czechia) has only been an independent nation since 1993 following the breakup of Czechoslovakia; originated from the Austro-Hungary Empire back in 1918. Despite it's obvious youthful existence the Czech scene has been a hive of activity for the past 2 decades. With MetalGate being such a prominent record label, bands like Awrizis, Godless Streams Of Elegy and Cruadalach springing to mind, and festivals like Brutal Assault and Metalfest Open Air becoming staple festivals within the metal music calendar, there is a bright future for this Central European nation. Awrizis filled us in with their scene knowledge.
"(Czech) bands want to be famous and rich after the first album and two gigs, it doesn’t work like that.""
For those who do not know Awrizis, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"Awrizis was created back in 2011 just as a side project for our previous bands. Then we released our first EP "Shapes of Imagination", which was very well received, we then signed and started to take this band more seriously. Our debut album "Final Hybridation" was released in 2013 and it received a lot of awards and nice reviews. After some line-up changes we started to work on a split album and went on the road again. After years of touring and some changes we could finally work on the second album…
There are no other words to describe Awrizis. If you have like 15 seconds, open YouTube, write our name and there are some evidence of who we really are. That’s the best way to describe our name."
It's been 5 years since your debut album 'Final Hybridation' and your new album 'Dreadful Reflection', what have you done differently on this album?; your original drummer left the band, was it on good terms?
"Yes, it seems like a long gap between two albums. But we’ve been busy with touring, also we recorded a well-accepted split album "Damnation & The Rotten Brood" and we wanted to do the best for our second full length album and don’t rush it. That was the main difference on this album - patience and hard work.
Our original drummer left the band after recording this album. Life on the road and work that is necessary with being in a band is not for everyone. But there is no bad blood between anyone around the band. New members are the main reason for developing this band, comparing to old times this is something completely different and better."
Will you be touring Europe in support of your new album? If not where will you be playing?
"We are right now on the road in our country doing release shows to support our new album. There are certainly some plans for the second half of the year and of course we want to bring our music to all our fans."
What struggles do most Czech Metal bands face these days? What is the scene like at the moment?
"Actually the Czech scene is right now very promising. There are some really great bands compared to the rest of the world. But the main problem is that people in or outside the bands don’t know that only patience and hard work brings the fruit… everyone wants to be famous and rich after first album and two gigs … and it doesn’t work like that."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genres? What do your parents think of your music?
"I am doing what I feel. There’s no analysis or need to describe. I write music for open minded people and I don’t force anyone to listen to it. I am fortunate to have great support from people around me."
For those visiting Havirov, what sights or attractions could you recommend?
"Whole part of Czech Republic called Silesia is well known for it's industrial environment, but there is also a beautiful nature location called Beskydy. So this unique contrast can be attractive for people I think."
What plans do you have for the year ahead? Will you looking to the play in the UK?
"There’s a lot of work to do. We need to support our "Dreadful Reflection" album. But I really can’t wait to start jamming with actual band members and bring to life some new fresh tones. I love the UK! A lot of awesome memories from touring with Dissolving Of Prodigy back in the day. It would be an honour for me to go back with Awrizis but also my second band Postcards From Arkham as well."
Are there any greetings or thank you's you wish to send out?
"Thanks to all, who feel music and passion."
South Korea is often overlooked as an emerging and strong metal scene in the Far East, of course the metal scene seems to have originated back in the late 80's with Sinawe leading the line, but on an international level bands nowadays are more or less confined to that part of the world. Wasp Sting Danger is a Crossover Metal band whose blend of Thrash and Punk is simply captivating, GMA spoke with the guys about the scene, their band, cultural issues and the recent meeting between the South Korean leader Moon Jae-In and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. We are still yet to find out if metal music has entered North Korea and been listened to by it's peoples - we live in hope.
Answers by (L-R): Seongwu (guitar), Zeztto (bass), Wesley (drums), Alo (vocals) & Woncheol (guitar).
"it is relatively hard to put on shows in South Korea. This, I think, is mostly due in part to the lack of a strong metal culture here."
For those who have not heard of Wasp Sting Danger, could you give us a brief history of the band?
SW: "After I found myself a day job in 2015, I put an ad online to look for band members. That's how I met the guys, except for Alo; my friend told me he knows this dude who broke a karaoke mic with his voice while singing metal, and there he was."
WC: "Yes, the ad was how I came to join the band in summer 2015. At first it was just SW, a drummer (can't remember his name) and myself. I used to be in a K-pop cover band before that, but it obviously wasn't the music I wanted to do. After talking with the guys, I felt that we had similar pursuits in music, so I was in. But the drummer quit before our first practice. A while later, the first official practice took place with SW, Alo, Shane (ex-drummer from Ireland) and myself, where we covered Napalm Death's 'Scum'; I've been the guitarist for WSD ever since."
Alo: "I was introduced to the band by SW's friend after I broke a karaoke mic while scream-covering Korean girl group songs on a very drunk night. After a few different attempts at music (pop, hip hop, alternative rock, musical theatre, etc), I wanted to be in a Woncheol (WC) - Guitar Alo (Alo) - Vocals Wesley (WS) - Drums Zeztto (ZT) - Bass Seongwu (SW) - Guitar band where I could experiment and create with different genres. After meeting SW and WC and sharing our thoughts, I was in."
SW: "Our first show was on summer 2016. I have been taking guitar lessons from Chuck Jenga of Fecundation (Korean technical / brutal death band), who liked my songs and introduced us to Lee Yuying of LxPxP (Korean grindcore) and Sulsa (Korean goregrind), who runs a metal venue called GBN Live House. On the first night, Alo was out of town because of his day job as an AD in film, and we didn't have a bassist; I had to play guitar and sing. Still, I felt like that day was the reason I had been alive."
WS & ZT: "Internet ad brought us here. ZT was the latest to join."
Who came up with the band name and what made you play Thrash Metal / Hardcore?
SW: "Actually it was our ex-drummer Shane who came up with the name. He went hiking on Bukhansan Mountain one day and just spontaneously sent us a picture of a sign that read "wasp sting danger". He was joking about making this our band name, and I seriously thought that it was a pretty funny and unique name for a band; after a vote, it really came to be. Musically, we were influenced by various genres: Thrash (Big4, Lost Society), Swedish Death Metal (At the Gates, The Haunted), Melodic Death (The Black Dahlia Murder), Metalcore (Darkest Hour), Hardcore Punk (Banran, No Turning Back, Things We Say, The Geeks, Comeback Kid). We wanted to put the things we liked from these genres all in one, somewhat random and new, but heavy as fuck.
Alo: "You could say that we were influenced by a whole lot of things. Us bandmates all come from different backgrounds, and we're taking that as our advantage. Genre-wise, it would be hard to put us in a single category, but I believe our experiments will lead us to something fresh, something sharp and entertaining that you could only experience through us."
ZT: "I just play for the sake of playing. I don't care about genre, I just love playing my instrument and being in a band."
You released your debut self-titled EP this year, what has the reception been like? Did you do a show in support of it? Would you / did you tour in support?
SW: "Bands like us rarely draw any attention in Korea. We were invited to do a gig after our EP release, but the reaction was so-so. However, the online sales are doing much better than expected. I guess it's because recorded tracks are more approachable than live performances. As for touring, it sounds a bit unrealistic for us because of our day jobs."
WC: "I would love to tour, but it's hard to take time off my job. However, if the touring country is close enough to Korea, I'd be more than glad to go."
ZT: "I'd go anywhere in the world for a gig. But, of course, my job comes first in priority."
Alo: "I would love to tour, but the country won't let me get out of Korea so easily. In Korea, every male adult is required to do a mandatory military service, for approx. 21 to 24 months; I still haven't done mine, and it's becoming a huge pain in the ass. Every time I want to apply for a passport, I have to run a bunch of papers and shit, and prove that I won't run away. But still, I'd gladly go through all that shit if its for a WSD tour."
Recently the North and South Korean leaders met for the first time, surely this would make most South Koreans excited to see peace is on the horizon? Could you ever see a metal band emerge from North Korea?
SW: "Many people are excited by the idea of Korean unification, but one of my friends pointed out that Trump is trying to retract American troops from Korea upon unification, which is in fact a possible threat on national security. I think that this is more persuasive. We have almost no access to North Korean metal, or North Korean anything. I think I have heard a North Korean death metal band before, but there's no way to check its validity."
WS: "It would be unbelievably awesome to see a North Korean metal band emerge from out of Pyongyang. What would be even cooler is seeing South Korean bands perform in North Korea first, and potentially have an influence on North Koreans to begin making metal music."
Alo: "I would have to go with SW's friend on unification. We were taught in schools to believe that "unification, coming together of the Korean people is our dream", but I think there's much more to think of when ending this politically and culturally complex state that Korea has been stuck in for over 60 years. If two Korea's do unify, it would be awesome to play in North Korea."
ZT: "Give me some of that TRVE Pyeongyang Naengmyun (cold noodles, traditional Korean food)."
What are the challenges that South Korean Metal bands face these days? Is it easy putting on shows, tours (both regional and international) and festivals?
WC: "Metal is very unpopular in South Korea, so a vast majority of Korean metal bands need day jobs to keep the food on the table. In a country with such a shitty work and life balance, that's the biggest challenge; but maybe it's the same for other countries too."
SW: "South Korean listeners don't appreciate metal. Our CD's won't sell and our gigs won't pay, so we all have to work full-time to survive. Being an artist in Korea is tough."
WS: "From what I've observed over the past three years, and also from what I've heard from those living here is that it is relatively hard to put on shows in South Korea. This, I think, is mostly due in part to the lack of a strong metal culture here."
ZT: "Fuck Korean music."
Alo: "Korean culture, even among Asian cultures, is very hierarchy-based, conservative and totalitarian. If a trend is set, it is considered the law to follow it - people take popularity way too seriously. Moreover, Christianity is the most popular religion here, which makes Korea pretty much a barren land for metal bands to grow on. But we wouldn't have started a metal band if we ever gave a fuck about it."
What do your parents think of your music? Are they into metal music?
Alo: "My parents came across one of our videos (this is how I found out my Facebook friends can see the shit I press like on), and now have started going to prayer nights on Friday to pray for my soul. Yes, they consider it the devil's music."
SW: "They often refer it to the sound of a pig being slaughtered. This is the norm in Korea."
WC: "I never let them listen to our music. When I was in my teens, they saw the artwork for Blizzard of Oz in my room, and they fucking hated it (they are Catholic). I have never talked with my parents about music since then."
WS: "My family doesn't like metal the way I do. They can't stand it for the most part. My mom, for the most part, supports it in other ways like feeding the band and showing up to some shows with earplugs at the ready."
ZT: "I'm not close with my family."
Do you feel that metal music brings people together regardless of religion, race, political beliefs, etc? And that it is one of very few interests that do so?
WS: "I find this question rather silly. The whole purpose of music's existence is to challenge people's thoughts and feelings while appealing to certain groups of people. All of it is subjective in nature. However, for the sake of this question, yes. I think the metal community is special in that because it is usually in small groups, we tend to hold onto it and hold it close. It very much is an open group to anyone who wishes to enjoy the same pounding excitement that is metal."
ZT: "There are plenty of idiots out there making heaps of shit about politics or religion. There's no need to say such 'idiotic' things in metal."
SW: "Yes. At least I think us bandmates have become good friends regardless of political and religious preferences."
Alo: "I believe the meaning of music lies in its being a communicator, or, like in the question, "bringing people together". Not just metal, but music in general. In music, sounds and rhythm are put in a specific balance and order to transfer a certain emotion / thought / or something in between: sometimes it overpowers common language, and moves us in a very primitive & intuitive way. As for metal, I believe there isn't a language as energetic and powerful, and the emotions / thoughts involved are also intense. This is probably why closer ties are formed among metalheads than fans of other genres."
What plans do you have for the year ahead and do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
ZT: "Thank you kindly for your attention. My plan for the year is to return to Azeroth 4 months later."
SW: "Best of wishes to everyone who's reading! I'm learning drums, and thinking of starting another band."
WS: "Hey y'all. Peace."
WC: "My plan is to keep WSD going, and do some side projects on grind, power metal, blues rock, etc."
Alo: "Thank you for the interview, and greetings to everyone who's reading! We are writing new songs whenever we can, and I hope we can finish enough songs to put together into an album by this year.
And.... Fuck personal plans. Time is overrated. Eat, drink and fuck more. Be happy. Peace!"
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!"
Madagascar, an island situated in the Indian Ocean off the coast Africa has always been renowned to have luscious beaches and a tropical climate, however recently a film series based on the country emerged and just last year an outbreak of the bubonic plague arose, killing hundreds. Counteracting that negativity is Madagascar's underground-yet-vibrant metal music scene.
It started in the late 80's with Apost and Kazar being the first-recorded metal bands, forwarding onto 2002 and Sasamaso was born, arguably the first female-fronted metal band from this African nation. GMA spoke to Sasamaso about the Malagasy Metal scene, it's history, what the band is up to and the challenges of being isolated from the mainland.
"Often in Madagascar, a person who listens to metal music has a father who listened to rock music in his time"
For those who have not heard of Sasamaso, could you give us a brief history of the band? Band name meaning? Lyric topics, etc
"Sasamaso is a metal band from Antananarivo, Madagascar, created in 2002. Our style is based on thrash metal, often merged with another metal style (heavier or lighter), sometimes also merged with decent Malagasy music. Literally Sasamaso means eye wash:- in Malagasy, sasa = washing, maso = eye. Our lyrics talk about everyday life here in Madagascar, frequently in metaphor."
What challenges as a musician do you face living in Madagascar?
"The situation in Madagascar is that the music becomes too commercialized; most TV and radio channels don't diffuse your music if you don't have enough money. Also, compared to other music, metal music is not yet appreciated by popular mass here. Till now, it's very difficult to find a producer who wants to support a metal band. However, many Malagasy like soft rock. So for a band who plays metal, it's necessary that he has passion, patience and strain to do his best."
How long has the Madagascarian Metal scene been going? Was there any opposition from the Government initially?
"As far as I know, the metal scene has existed in Madagascar since the 80's. In the beginning, the government censored the broadcast on TV and radio of the few groups existing at that time, but afterwards it has improved especially because of the creation of private channels. At this time, there are many metal bands who play well, there are some special metal radio and TV broadcasts, and there are mostly underground metal shows, at minimum once a month since 2017, we can say that after all, metal scene has evolved a lot at this time."
Do you see a time where every African nation has a metal band in it's history?
"If possible, it's really very nice. To prove that metal is an universal music, no discrimination."
Have you had any metal bands from overseas come perform in Madagascar?
"In 2004, Watcha, a French Nu Metal band performed here in Antananarivo; it was great. There was also an American band who played here maybe in around 2014, but I don't remember the name. If I'm not mistaken, that's all."
Are you surprised about metal music reaching Africa, let alone the world? What do your parents think of metal music?
"For us, metal music is among the best. That's why we listened and played everywhere in spite of political and cultural constraints in each country. For us, and often in Madagascar, a person who listens to metal music has a father who listened to rock music in his time, so there is no trouble between us."
What plans do you have for the year ahead and are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"For Sasamaso, for this year we will produce new songs, videos, and also our official album. We want also to convince producers here so that we can get on a larger stage. We would like to thank you sincerely for your interest for our band, and we hope that this interview will help people know that Sasamaso, a metal band from Madagascar exists :) ."