"The closest thing to sexism I’ve experienced in music has been having venues put Ironvolt on bills with exclusively other female-fronted bands"
England has a sensational metal scene as a whole and yet if you microscopically looked at each city or region, there are even more metal bands than you can see at first. One such band is Bristolian quintet Ironvolt whose own brand of Groove Metal has caught some considerable attention in the underground, with a band name sounding much like the metallic, groovier version of AC/DC, they are sure to go full throttle after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Vocalist Minka Miles and lead guitarist / backing vocalist Aaron Miles faced our interrogation, we wer kind with them... the electricity was spared in this instance, but they had the burden of being weighed down by ten tonne lead.
For those who have not heard of Ironvolt, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"Ironvolt is literally just iron and volt put together. If I remember right, Aaron and I just made it up because it would have been funny to have two super macho metal-esque words smashed together to name a band that is really not at all super macho or particularly metal. As for a brief history, the band started with just me and Aaron, then Lewis joined, then we went through a succession of drummers and bass players right up until we got the magic blend we have today."
"Well, the actual concept for the band goes back to about 2015, where Minka and I formed the idea and name in the far corner of a Wetherspoons pub. Honestly, the name means very little... if anything it just aimed for a feel of the genre we first went for. Electrifying, exciting and solid in rhythm - we first had major influence from bands like Motley Crue, AC/DC, Black Stone Cherry etc. Of course the genre has since grown, quite substantially, but the name stuck somehow!"
You recently released your album 'Grimm', what was the reception like? Have you had anyone listen to your music from outside of the UK?
"The reception was really good. I think everyone who has given us feedback has been really positive and have a few favourite songs. If anything, only our parents have said anything negative, which is arguably the most metal thing which has ever happened in this band. According to Spotify and all that we have quite a lot of international fans! Places including America, Germany, Spain, Italy, and a fair few others have listeners, which is amazing!"
"People loved it and I love that people loved it! It's awesome to hear that the fan favourites are songs where we collaborated the most. The singles are getting a lot of attention outside of the UK which is always a pleasure to think about - which far corners of the world is our music baby reaching?"
What has Ironvolt been doing during the lockdown; any hobbies or interests? What plans do you have towards late 2020 / early 2021?
"I’ve been writing a novel and sculpting, and also working on other music projects. I think we’re all really keen to get back to playing shows as soon as we’re able to. We might even have new songs to add to our set by then."
"I've been playing more games than I know what to do with and practising almost every day! I'm a key worker so I still find myself up at 4:30 am... and just thinking about that makes me tired. I get home just after lunch time and get a good chunk of practice in before I relax like everyone else in lockdown!"
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging, given you play Groove Metal; such a broad genre?
"I would just describe us as having heavy instrumentation with soul / pop vocals. I don’t think there’s any one genre we can ever honestly say we are. I feel like we just sound like rock / metal covers of pop songs which people can dance and occasionally headbang to, and honestly I’m happy with that."
"I guess it's kind-of unusual that the words Groove and Metal are how we would describe our sound, seeing as the genre tag of Groove Metal doesn't really apply to us when you consider bands like Pantera as your kind-of flagship of the genre - but our sound is groovy and, fundamentally, Metal as f**k."
Minka, do you feel that sexism and misogyny still exists in metal? Have you yourself received any remarks? If so how did / would you respond?
"I think it exists everywhere, although thankfully I haven’t actually experienced it within music myself. I would say the closest thing to sexism I’ve experienced in music has been having venues put Ironvolt on bills with exclusively other female-fronted bands, despite having no similarity besides that. We’ve played with completely different genres because of this and it’s very jarring. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened in a while and we usually get booked to play with similar-sounding bands now, but it used to really annoy me and the rest of the band."
Tell us more about the Bristolian Metal scene, is it stronger than it has been? What challenges do bands face?
"It seems to be extremely tight-knit, everyone knows each other. It’s pretty nice and I think there’s more support within that scene than there is with a lot of others. The Bristol metal scene also welcomed us really openly, despite our sound not being conventionally metal."
"Honestly there are so many good bands coming out of Bristol. There's a lot of unsung talent, sadly with either no means to get places or just haven't been noticed by the right people yet. That's why there's so much love for Metal 2 The Masses in Bristol. The community gets together and welcomes all these faces, some older 'veterans' of the Bristol scene who you just know you're going to enjoy, and some brand new faces with just as much kick-ass as the vets."
For metalheads visiting Bristol what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"For pubs there’s The Gryphon, The Mother’s Ruin and The Crown, I’ve spent a lot of time in all of those. As for venues it’s gotta be The Fleece, The Louisiana, and The Exchange."
"The Crown in St. Nick's market is a great place for all kinds of Metalheads, plus its club venue The Trap, as there's a great range of faces that regularly visit. The Gryphon is a landmark and it regularly tops the local pubs chart. The Hatchet is a super popular venue which hosts all sorts, and there's countless local venues that do regular "fresh talent" shows. The Fleece on St Thomas Street, The Thunderbolt on Bath Road and The Louisiana on Wapping Road are some that we've frequented and always had a great reception. If you just want a great night, though, check out the Fleece's monthly Metal club nights."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"Anyone who is listening to our music at the moment, thank you so much – and to everyone who has come to a show before. And of course, to everyone who is going to come to our shows in the future. Thank you, you’re lush."
"Keep it real homeslices"
As far as the Horror Metal style goes, lyrically it's self-explanatory, musically it's a lethal concoction of pure darkness, ghoulish atmospherics and sounds so spooky that they leave even those in the stiffest form of rigor mortis weak at the knees (OK that's perhaps a tiny bit too dark). Scream Baby Scream don't hold anything back and use their imagery, theatrics and lyrics to seep bleakness into the listener, making them feel cold and at best frozen-to-the-band. GMA gave this quartet a paranormal investigation, we had to make the ghostbusters redundant for these are no match for said group, they needed a proper exorcism... they survived suffice to say.
Well we say 'they' survived, only Becky and Damien awoke from the coffins... perhaps garlic doesn't work after all.
Would it be right in saying your band name came from the 1969 horror film "Scream, Baby, Scream"? If not where did it come from? Who came up with it?
"You are 99% right, in the beginning the idea was started by me with the acronym S.B.S., till now it has been a secret between us - the real meaning being "not everything should be said", and I think it will be for another 10 years at least, then we decided to give a name for our creature, as Charles Butler we have our spooky bloody ideal beauty so this matched perfectly."
For those who do not know of Scream Baby Scream, could you tell us how you formed? Were you in bands previously?
"Oh same old situation, as you know death does not look directly at anyone, so we've been buried in the same cemetery. In the beginning I've asked Damien to help us with first EP, but after 10 years, exhumations and a change of line up he's still there, we try and try to get rid of him, but it's hard... haha. All of us come from different bands and different influences, black metal, 80's glam, punk, power metal and industrial, as I previously told you they really have buried anyone; even the least recommendable."
This year Scream Baby Scream has been going 10 years, what challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
"10 years already...wow, like every band we faced too many challenges, some rookie mistakes, or some changes in our private lives... but the most important lesson we've learnt in these 10 years is that we don't need to play the blame game, and for sure sometimes our worst enemy is ourself, so the most important thing is to never give up!"
You play 'Horror Metal' - could you please explain to us what this comprises of? What is your sound musically?
"Actually the horror component wasn't decided in the beginning, but it came out. There are no rules in our lyrics, sometimes we are inspired by movies, books, nightmares or metaphors, in these days there is much more horror in real life, just look out of the window and there it is. "Too Much Heaven On Their Minds" will especially be an album which is also related to current events."
What plans did you have this year that have either been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19?
"Like all the artists, due to the coronavirus pandemic we had to postpone some gigs until 2021 and the recording of the new album until the end of 2020, but we tried not to stop. During the lockdown we have worked on the new songs and now we are ready to start rehearsing."
Speaking of which what plans do you have for late 2020 / early 2021?
"As you already know, the 10th of April we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the band and we released the video of our single “Mouth Of Madness”, taken from the upcoming album “Too Much Heaven On Their Minds”. As soon as this coronavirus pandemic ends, we’ll record and release the new album, some new videos and plan a 2021 European tour to promote “Too Much Heaven On Their Minds”...
For metalheads visiting Milan, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Our basement, if they are brave enough (laughs evilly)! It can be an amazing experience like meeting the Sawyers or Dr Satan! Just kidding... I guess the best place to visit in town, beside the city centre obviously, is the Rock’N’Roll club near the central station."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"First of all thank you for giving us this opportunity. I’d also like to thank all the witches and ghouls out there for their great and constant support!"
"We hope all of you are safe because the coronavirus isn't a funny thing, a zombie apocalypse is much better so stay tuned for that!"
"Our influences vary from pop to progressive metal and musicals to death metal."
Right now the Modern Metal genre is massively hot with bands dabbling in pop, electronic music and other avant-garde genres that would otherwise make metal purists vomit in their mouth... guy's it's the 21st century, keep up... metal is evolving and so embrace it. Ember Falls have done exactly that and by bolting together the unmistakable sound of djent with pop and Groove Metal, the Finnish horde have crafted a sound that would be the ire of the elitists (who cares anyway, metal is about opening your mind and Ember Falls do exactly just that).
Now they are working on their new album which is destined to see daylight later this year or early next year, depending on the situation regarding COVID-19. GMA interrogated on their current plans, how COVID-19 has affected them, their past blessings in touring, future plans and what their sound consists of.
For those who have not heard of Ember Falls, could you give us a brief history of the band and what the band name means?
"The band was originally formed under the name Mekanism in 2010. We started out as a kind of attempt at a Pantera / Muse hybrid as we can recall. Later it became much 'djentier' and heavier for a few years, and then more and more electronic influences started creeping in. After some line-up changes in 2015 (Thomas joined on vocals and Olli joined on bass; Mikko - who’s since left the band - switched from bass to synths), we changed the name to Ember Falls and released the first song with the new name and image. In a way the Ember Falls sound is sort of a mixture of the earlier “Pantera-influenced” poppy stuff and the later electronic-influenced sound. But a lot better and more compositionally mature, we feel, of course.
Ember Falls is a name we came up with to stand for a fictitious city in an imaginary multiverse somewhere in the distant future. On the newer songs we are trying to paint this into the lyrics a lot more than on the debut, where the lyrics were a bit all over the place thematically."
You've had a good career so far through supporting bands like Amaranthe and W.A.S.P., surely this must have blown you back a bit?
"We’ve had great moments and shows definitely. Sometimes it’s hard to believe what we have actually accomplished so far. But we have also worked hard not just as a band but individually too."
How would you describe your sound as you have an eclectic style of metal music going on? What are your influences?
"Our influences are all over the place. We all share a passion for metal music sure, but our influences vary from pop to progressive metal and musicals to death metal. I think in some of our latest songs you can hear multiple different genres happening."
Were you in bands previously? If not how did you get into playing music, specifically the instruments you play?
"I was, and still am, the lead singer in a metal band called Everwave. I have a history as a drummer when I was younger but nowadays see myself clearly as a singer. I do dabble a bit with the acoustic guitar sometimes."
Jay V & Calu:
"We are brothers and we both started playing guitar as teenagers.We also had a Melodic / Technical Death Metal band called Damaging Fallout back in the days. Jay V was one of the founders of Mekanism and soon Calu joined in as a rhythm guitarist / vocalist."
"I started playing drums when I was 17. Played in one “semi-serious” band in high school / college, but Ember Falls (then ‘Mekanism’) was my first real band so to speak, and here we still are 10 years later."
"I've been a part of various projects ranging from pop to progressive metal but Ember Falls stands out as being the most serious one. I started playing the bass and the guitar at the age of 15 or so. I'm also writing and producing my own music."
You dropped your latest single 'We Are Become Fire', what was the reception like and have you had any listens from outside of Finland?
"The reception has been overly positive. We feel our music is now more “us” than it has ever been and people can probably hear that. Currently United States and Germany outrank Finland in streams but we do have have listeners all over the world at least according to Spotify."
What plans did you have before the lockdown set in and were any cancelled / postponed? What plans do you have for late 2020 / early 2021?
"We did have some live shows planned for the spring, which either got cancelled or postponed to next year. We also were planning to finish our second album which is still on the works. Depending on how this situation develops the album will be released late this year or early next year."
For metalheads visiting your city of Tampere, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Tampere is having a lot of construction done at the moment. Things don’t look very pretty down-town but we do like to sit in the parks and have a few beers when it’s warm out. The basic go-to bars for a metal head would be Jack The Rooster, Trasherie, Majava Bar and the legendary Klubi / Pakkahuone."
Do you have any greetings or thanks that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"Thank you for all the support! We hope you are staying safe and that this situation eases out soon so we can start touring again and say hello to as many of you as possible!"
"I'd be very delighted to see some of my peers turning up to learn instruments and work with me in a band"
It only takes one band or one musician to lay the very foundations for a metal scene to flourish, in some countries it's touch and go, but for others? The process is long and arduous. Take the African country of Malawi for example, here is a country bordered by Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania, the first three have one thing in common - they have metal scenes. Tanzania like Malawi has yet to produce one, however it's musicians like Blessings Chisama who are laying the foundations of change. Through teaching aspiring guitarists, he hopes that others may follow in his footsteps whilst hoping to change this negative perception of the metal genre, that is just a form of music and has no Satanic connotations at all. Perhaps may one one day in the future we will see the first Malawian Metal band... for now we have Moto Buu a rock band.
GMA spoke to Blessings about how he got into playing the guitar, the challenges musicians face in Malawi - mostly hardly a solid music industry and what plans he has for the future in music.
How did you first get into metal music? Who are your favourite bands? What do your parents think?
"I started my music journey in a rather not so conventional fashion for most metal guitarists. My uncles have a reggae band, and I used to be around them whenever they were playing their old box guitars at home whilst growing up at my granny’s house. However, as time went by I began to be exposed to rock through the music mix programme on Voice of America, which was aired here at midnight through Capital FM Malawi. At that time, my youngest uncle used to like leaving the radio on throughout the night in the bedroom. At some point they started recording using Fluteloops and Sonar and it was around that time that I also started learning how to record although I only used to play bass with few fingers.
Throughout this time I’ve listened to a lot right across the spectrum, from Christian metal bands (that uncle Evance had on his desktop) such as Seventh Day Slumber, Krystal Meyer, Jeremy Camp, etc. to ‘real stuff’ to get your head banging, bands like Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium, Andy James, Dream Theatre, A Day To Remember, Animals As Leaders, Killswitch Engange, Stephen Taranto, The Helix Nebula, Periphery and lots more, with Andy James probably being one of my main influences on guitar because of his detailed instructional videos on guitar playing. In addition, anything shred, prog and djent has lately become my favourite!
I grew up mostly with my grandma which was the time when my uncles were all into music and when I moved to live with my mother; I had switched to hip-hop as it was easy to get tapes in my secondary school days. However, in 2008 I moved again to re-join one of my uncles (Peter Chisama) and that's where I started learning guitar. It was on the morning of 1st November 2008, two days after I moved to the house, when uncle Peter brought his Ibanez Guitar, a Roland amp and a photocopied book called “The Handbook for Guitar” by Ralph Denyer into my room when he was leaving for work.
He told me to start learning and ask him anything that am not understanding so the process was rather self learning. He also exposed me to the Famous Frank Gambale and gave me his pdf books and audio's which at that time I found very had to digest. As such I was left to explore without negative remarks and up until now I think it was the best thing to ever happen to me. However, I should say that mother doesn't really believe one can make a big fortune in the Malawian music scene and as such has been of the view that I should vigilantly pursue my education in something else other than music."
What is it like being a rock / metal musician in Malawi? What are the challenges you have to face?
"Rock music is not a popular genre to the masses and as such the fan base is extremely low. It's mostly comprised of the expatriate community and very few middle class Malawians who at some point had little exposure to pop rock music and video games, which is how I first heard the song “Hand Of Blood” by Bullet For My Valentine.
For me personally, it has been a journey I sometimes feel like giving up and thanks to the internet otherwise, I don't think Malawi is ready for it considering the religious stereotypes attached to it. I’ve however devised a different approach to buying in audience which at this level are fellow musicians within and I’ve incorporated element of music education and guitar learning in particular where I’m offering lessons and showing them that actually they can apply the same techniques into other styles of music. I'm a music major and that has been the path I’ve taken.
We don't have music stores that offer descent equipment so getting proper gear is problematic. Most so-called music shops are riddled with cheap and very poor quality instruments. I'm actually lucky that the equipment that I have been using was bought by my younger uncle from South Africa. I buy quality accessories like strings, music books, plectrums e.t.c. through the expat community based here for work coming in from their respective holidays.
What equipment are you using right now? What guitar, effects box, etc?
"My uncle has been kind to buy me the Boss GT 100 and an Ibanez GiO. My first owned guitar is an Aria STG series which I was given by someone I used to teach guitar who is now in the U.K. I’ve lately got the Cort X6 which I bought from an expat. And in additional I am exploring and investing in a couple of computer amp sims and impulses."
What is the general perception of rock and metal in Malawi? Are you aware of any rock or metal musicians in Tanzania?
"Metal music in Malawi is mostly considered a demonic music culture for the average masses and something difficult to achieve among Malawian musicians since music education is limited for many of the instrument musicians around. Adding to the problem is the lack of proper gear in most studios around. As such it is often times misunderstood and the knowledge of creation is almost non-existent.
I’m aware of a very strong metal community in Botswana and South Africa but I'm yet to come across metal music from Tanzania."
Will you look to release your own material in due course? Maybe form the first Malawian Metal band?
"Yes! But as a solo artist through platforms like Bandcamp. I’m yet to meet the right people to work with in a band setup so my performances for now are mostly through backing tracks whether be it my own recorded material or covers. So basically my computer is my band at the moment. I'd be very delighted to see some of my peers turning up to learn instruments and work with me in a band"
For metalheads visiting Lilongwe, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"I’m Blantyre based since birth so I haven’t heard much of Lilongwe in action with metal music except for the Moto Buu which sometimes perform at 4 Seasons. There’s a pop rock / 80's – 90's cover band in Blantyre called Rusty Nails which perform mostly within Blantyre and happens to be a band I’ve worked with in the past."
What plans do you have for the rest of 2020 and leading into 2021?
"Well, I lost my main job due to COVID-19 and I’ve gone to guitar teaching as my last point of standing financially to survive, so I'm back to studying licks and technique to become better."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc.?
"Shout out to all the metalheads all over the world and to my uncles Evance and Benjamin Chisama for their support and inspiration. I'm also thankful for my late uncle Peter Chisama who gave me his guitar, amp and a book to learn from, he was a music genius that our family will leave to remember."
"Nowadays we have promotion going on in our releases, but in the beginning people outside Finland found us mostly accidentally."
Metal has to evolve naturally and in doing so has to embrace what some might see as unorthodox sounds. One such band who is devoid of being restrained and willingly exploring the music avenues in pop music and disco, is Finland's Memoremains of whom released their latest single and music video "Pounding Heart" to critical acclaim. If you were to strip Amaranthe of it's Death Metal influences and inject it with ABBA or the BeeGees, then you get Memoremains. Given their sound, it almost seems inevitable that they will go far and become another Finnish Metal success story.
Filling in the details of their history, their sound, plans and what metalheads can do in their city of Seinäjoki, the band clearly have a roadmap of where they're aiming to go and showed no weakness in their interrogation... determination radiating from this quintet.
For people who have not heard of Memoremains, could you please give us a brief history of the band?
"Memoremains was founded 2016 in Seinäjoki, Finland. The band began to build its career by releasing singles. In 2018 the band released its first EP, “Louder”. Memoremains started touring late 2018. Their first gig in Bar15 was chosen as “The Best Gig of the Year at the Venue”. Since the very first show, the road has already taken the group on an European tour and to summer festivals in Finland - including Provinssi, one of the biggest festivals in Finland.
2019 was a roller-coaster and climaxed with gigs and a new single. Always flirting between metal and pop it was probably just a matter of time when this genre-bending band would release their first pop cover song: Madonna’s “Sorry”.
Memoremains wastes no time and is already fiercely writing new music after COVID-19 cancelled all of the spring and summer gigs. Well received new song "Pounding Heart" was released in early April. As a release party Memoremains set afoot on new territories and dived in the world of streaming as they had their first live streamed gig on YouTube. Memoremains is locked and loaded! Ready to release their debut album this fall and hit the stages ASAP!"
How would you describe your eclectic sound seeing as you bring in influences from Symphonic Metal, Groove Metal, pop and disco?
"We don’t use time thinking about what genre we play or are some musical influences right for our music or not. We listen to a wide variety of music and bring the best parts to our music. We haven’t yet found any limits where we could not lead our songs."
You released your latest single and music video "Pounding Heart" (taken from your debut album out this Autumn), what was the reception like and have you had views outside of Finland?
"Reception was awesome! Thanks to everyone who has given feedback for us! People have said that the song is catchy, fast and well-produced. They have liked the music video as it presents the song genuinely. We have got fans outside of Finland already from our very first releases. It’s actually a bit strange how music can spread nowadays all around the world. Of course nowadays we have promotion going on in our releases, but in the beginning people outside Finland found us mostly accidentally."
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, what plans have you had postponed or cancelled? What have you been doing whilst under lockdown?
"We had a few gigs in April / May and those have been moved to the future. We had to have our support gig with Battle Beast in April in our home city cancelled; it was very sad that it was cancelled. But we have used this time by making our debut album “The Cost Of Greatness”. We still have some recording to do, but we have progressed quickly. We also had a live stream on the 3rd of April when we released the “Pounding Heart” single."
What plans do you have for late 2020 going into early 2021? With Brexit, are you worried about the financial cost of coming to play in the UK?
"Our debut album should come out 16th of October and we have few gigs already agreed during autumn and winter. We try to get some more gigs and plan a tour outside Finland in 2021; and who knows if we write new music also. About Brexit. Well, it makes things of course more complicated, but we don’t think it would be a problem to come to play in UK if we had a chance!"
Do you have any other hobbies or interests outside of Memoremains? How do you unwind at the end of the day?
"We all have jobs because Memoremains is not working full-time yet. So most of our time goes to our work. Music is the biggest hobby in our free-time and some of us has other bands running on. We also try to do sports and sometimes we are just hanging out together, which has nothing to do with music."
For metalheads visiting your city of Seinäjoki, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"For metalheads we would definitely recommend to check out “Rytmikorjaamo” if there would be interesting gigs for you. It’s our city’s biggest venue, you can also find more live shows and underground metal at “Bar 15”. But we recommend to explore Seinäjoki open-mindedly, we have a lot of nice pubs and bars all around the city. There’s not many any mind blowing sights. We recommend to look around and enjoy the rivers, lakes and nature or whatever makes you feel comfortable."
Do you have any hellos or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"Hey everyone! Follow our journey! We have awesome singles and music videos coming out over the coming months. And don’t forget to check out our debut album in October!"
"If you want to release your music legally in Iran and be able to sell it or perform live, you have to get permission from multiple religious authorities for every single release and live show. "
There are so many unsung or largely forgotten (overlooked at times) metal scenes worldwide, one of these is Iran. To think the country has over 80 bands and projects active and yet can anyone name any major ones? Might be worth for the rest of the metal media in the west to focus their coverage more on said scenes, but in the spirit of metal it's bands like Integral Rigor who take the D.I.Y. approach and do what they can to enjoy metal as much as they can.
The band have big plans to try and release their music through a label, potentially tour outside of Iran and in doing so put Iranian Metal on the international stage.
Guitarist Masoud Moghaddari filled us in with the details.
For those who have not heard of Integral Rigor, please give us a brief history of the band, what does the band name mean?
"Hi! I'm Masoud, guitarist of Integral Rigor, the band was formed in 2009 by Reza Rostamian (Guitars,Vocals) in Sari, northern Iran. Inspired by ancient Persian music, Integral Rigor released it's first album "No More Room In Hell" in 2011 and the second one "Alast" was released in 2018 in which our bassist Shahriar Rajabpour and I joined the band. Very briefly, the title of the band means the maximum purity and absolution of everything, in our case extreme music and art."
You released your 2nd album "اَلَست " back in 2018, what was the reception like and did you get attention from outside of Iran?
"I think we received good feedback especially in Russia and eastern European countries despite not promoting and advertising the album that much. I think oriental music sounds interesting to Russian ears. Also almost every blogger and reviewer who we sent our music to, enjoyed it. It takes some time get more attention from the metal fans worldwide."
What instruments or scales do you use to bring Persian / Oriental flavours into your own form of Death / Thrash Metal?
"Well, there are lots of scales in traditional Persian music which we call "Dastgah" or more anciently "Magham" - that are closely related to classic major / minor scales. These can be used to create cool sounding elements which could be unique to western ears. For example there are some scales that have different ascending and descending patterns, or there are some quarter notes in some scales."
Speaking of which you switched to being instrumental, what was the decision behind the change? Will you bring vocals back?
"If you want to release your music legally in Iran and be able to sell it or perform live, you have to get permission from multiple religious authorities for every single release and live show. Originally, the album had lyrics and vocals, but we were forced to remove it due to restrictions from said authorities. I think they do not like growl / scream vocals!"
What is it like growing up as a metalhead in Iran? Are restrictions not as harsh as they used to be? What challenges to bands face these days?
"The most noticeable restriction I think is that no bands tour or do live shows here. So as a kid you would grow up wishing to see your favourite bands live, but this wish would hardly be granted. It used to be harder to even listen to metal music back in the days as there are no metal music stores here! But it's not a problem any more thanks to the Internet. As I said earlier, bands have to get permission from various organizations in order to release albums or do live shows (which rarely happens) and it makes it very difficult for the bands because most of them cannot earn that much to continue doing what they love to do."
For metalheads visiting Sari, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any bars or venues also?
"Iran is a great country for tourists, especially for those who are interested in historical sites.
Sari is located in the north of Iran in the Mazandaran province, which is popular for being the most green province in Iran with having many amazing natural landscapes. There are various forests & mountains like "Badab Soort" which is a stepped travertine terraces and very unique in the world. Moreover, there is the "Shah Abbas I Mosque", "Fazeli Hotel", "Dasht Naz & Miankaleh Wildlife Sanctuary" and many more!
What are your plans for late 2020 / early 2021? Were any cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19?
"We are currently in search of a record label to help us reach a larger audience worldwide. Until then, we will release single tracks every few weeks to stay active and be seen on social media.
Also we have plans to tour outside Iran if possible and are really looking forward to that. About the COVID-10 situation, we had arranged some live events in 3-4 cities in Iran but had to cancel all of them. The annoying fact is that we have to go through the permission process again for future plan."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, fans, family, etc?
"I would like to thank you for this interview and all your efforts, it means a lot to us. Just want to say that do not judge Iranians by what you see in the media. Iranian people are separated from politicians are very lovely and welcoming and love all the people around the world. Hope to see you someday soon! Stay safe!"
Latvia, one of Europe's forgotten metal scenes is alive and well in the underground, however it's on the surface that it lacks international recognition albeit for their torch-bearer's in the Pagan / Folk Metal band Skyforger. Focusing on the underground and you have bands like Stagnant Project, whose Modern Metal sound may be miles apart from the core Folk Metal sound that seems to engulf the national scene, but united they are with their fellow Latvian brothers and sisters. The quartet are not resting on their laurels having released their 2nd album "The Age Of Giant Monsters" back in 2018, they are in no doubt poised to release new material within the coming year, we will just have to sit and wait.
We therefore had to interrogate them, they elected Paul Rutkovsky to be the spokesperson. We spoke about the band's origins, the challenges that Latvian Metal bands face and have to overcome, their scene and what cool phrases fans tend to shout out at their shows.
For those who have not heard of Stagnant Project, could you explain how the band came into being and where the name came from?
"A long time ago in 2010, when we were teens we had a dream to play in a bad ass band without any metal sub-genre limits or something that can cut off our music ideas. We were rehearsing hard and took up a sudden Punk Rock festival participation offer. But we had no name for our band and so we decided to name ourselves Stagnant Project - almost like "just another music project without future". Right after the first show, the next day another gig offer came and we decided to leave it as it is."
Could you tell us more about your latest single 'Khuemraz'? Will it also be re-released in Latvian given it's in Russian?
"Actually, we had some thoughts about English version re-release in nearest future."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tags? What seems to be the more prominent metal genres in Latvia?
"The most prominent genre in Latvia is definitely Folk Metal, then Progressive Metal. But I would say we are influenced by bands from the Industrial, Death, Thrash, Nu and Metalcore genres, I think that it is one of the points why we are not really popular on the local stage. But our last release 'Khuemraz' made us really unique because of the Russian lyrics, that as far as we know, is one of the most popular languages in the world after English. And as we know, the Russian language has a huge poetry base that we can use to express ourselves from."
What has the band been doing at home during the pandemic? What other hobbies / interests do you all have?
"We are very careful under the restrictions and maintain all the distance suggestions, because we really want the live shows and touring to come back. So, the best way to reach the result is to be disciplined and begin with yourself. All of us are working from home and keep the distance. We are working on some ideas separately. Talking about myself, I found the isolation is a very nice time for my family and relationship, I dedicated a lot of time for my guitar tone, mixing / mastering skills and vocals. Also, I have found a lot of time for my comic book collection to be read. Talking about the guys - we have got a constant chat with memes and discussing our future plans and sharing thoughts on random thoughts. But nether the less we managed to print our new merch and continue to write music."
Are there some Russian or Latvian phrases fans tend to shout out at gigs? If not what are some cool Latvian / Russian sayings?
"Really cool question because we have got one like this. This phrase is "ebash", in the Russian language it is a swear word meaning 'working f**king hard', and actually our local fans scream the word during our live shows and to be honest it is more like a motivation word, no matter whether you are a pure Latvian or Russian, the spirit is the same. Also, Stagnant Project is to complicated to shout :)"
Tell us more about the Latvian Metal scene, when did metal arrive in Latvia? What is the public opinion of metal? What challenges do bands face?
"Actually we have got a lot of cool and unique sounding bands here and live shows are at a very professional level to be honest. But unfortunately the biggest part of them don't cross the borders of the country in meaning of international popularity. I bereave each of us, Latvian musicians, we try our best, but only a few names have got the popularity outside the country. But we, as Stagnant Project, really believe in ourselves and we will brake the wall saying "ebash" on our way."
For metalheads visiting Riga, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"The first venue you should visit is Melna Piektdiena, there were a lot of shows by big metal stars like Meshuggah, Vader, Arch Enemy, Cannibal Corpse, Decapitated etc. and even Little Big were here. I don't mean the giant bands stadium calibre, but have to say, it is the legendary metalhead place here in Latvia. Also, Latvia is one of the most green countries in the world, I suggest visiting our castles, ethnographic museums, parks and I have to say Latvia is a very small country, you can cross it in 4 hours by car, but most part of the roads will be across the woods; we are proud of this. "
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"We wish everyone to take care of yourself and your relatives, the most important thing in your life are your family and your friends, because in hard times those are the closest people who will help you and care for you. Don't be lazy or too introvert, call your mum, dad or your best friend no matter what, just keep in touch with people who care for you."
" 00110000 01111000 01100101 00111010 00100000 01101000 01101001 00100000 00110000 01111000 01100101 00111010 "
It goes without saying that metal music from time to time produces some strange bands, some weird bands and then some bands who are so different they stand in their own league, welcoming to that league is the American Djentcore band 001100110010. Yes you read that right, their name is in binary and if you specialise in this section of mathematics, you'll know it means 818 - still trying to ascertain what this means. Arguably if you crossed George Orwell with War of the Worlds and blended the two with V For Vendetta, in a music context this would equal 001100110010. Not much is known about this four-piece anomaly, let alone their anonymity behind the eloquent masks the 'phantoms' wear, one thing we do know is, they will certainly be destined for big things. Watch this space... 001100110010.exe
The band discuss their time on earth, how they're adjusting to human life and showing curiosity in the humans wearing half-masks, something to do with COVID-19... although they themselves don't know what this is. This is one mystery for the ages.
For those who have not heard of 001100110010 could you give us a brief history of the band, what the band name means (it's 818 in binary) and why the masks?
"We have not been here long, so our history here on earth is short. Since our arrival, most of us have spent time learning to communicate and interact with human forms. We are fascinated by all these auditory waves, and they do assist us in relaying and translating messages. Some of us are better at our communication skills due to our design. The communication channel we have among our form does inject interference and doesn’t always allow for effective translation when it comes to talking to humans.
As a result, we tend to isolate and study ways to adapt. The binary numbers here on earth are fascinating and do have ties to our origin. Converting to decimal is one way to interpret these, but not the only way. The answer is an innate quality we received and, therefore, kept private. However, you are welcome to speculate. We also must mention that it is interesting to see humans wearing partial “masks” now. Do humans use these as shielding between their internal binary design and another world? We don’t quite understand…"
What is the message that the band is bringing to the fore; getting V For Vendetta / 1984 vibes from the lyrics, what are your lyric topics?
"We are interdimensional travellers who've come to share the stories from our world. You'll see the struggle and hardships endured, battles won, and lost over time because meaningful change is painful and can be difficult, and many fear it. We feel there is much to be gleaned from our reality, and we share these stories the best way we know how, through music."
You released your music video "Digital Dictator" back in January this year, what was the reception like and how long did it take to make?
"Yes, we did. In a way, the process felt strange. We aren’t used to being encoded in such a way. The reception... Hmmm, it was quite long actually, and I suppose in a way it was a marriage. I don’t think any of us were aware that this was ceremonial to humans."
You play a finely balanced mix of Djent and Metalcore (Djentcore), who are your influences and do you feel that you've created a new genre?
"Well, thank you! We honestly have no idea where that name came from. When it was encoded and transmitted in binary, the result that came back from the query specified that. We think that these labels and descriptions are odd, but humans seem to understand the meaning better than we do. Influences are a strange word for a phantom to understand. It was encoded into our identity."
Given the masks are a cool idea, will this be a form of merch for fans to buy in the future? What merch plans do you have for the future?
"Again, the word “mask” seems like a strange description for us as phantoms, they are a part of our identity and need it to survive outside of our world. Very odd that humans would want to buy such a thing, but perhaps we may. We do need money to travel the earth with this diesel hungry bus we have. The transport systems here are terrible, and the use of earth’s natural resources to do so shouldn’t be utilized forever. Thank goodness you have Elon Musk here."
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, what plans did you have postponed or cancelled? What plans do you have for late 2020 / early 2021?
"What’s COVID-19? Forgive us; we are not sure what this is. We will try to establish a connection to interpret. Our database has had interference lately, and a diagnosis is still underway."
For metalheads visiting Minneapolis, what sights / attractions could you recommend and what bars / venues?
"Metalheads. We did see these people in our databases and in person but are quite confused. They didn’t have any metallic minerals on their head at all. We did a scan for these, and from what we computed, it has the characteristics of a coconut. Overall, Minneapolis, MN, Earth is intriguing to us, but we haven’t had much time to go out; therefore, we cannot provide a recommendation."
Do you have any hellos or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
" 00110000 01111000 01100101 00111010 00100000 01101000 01101001 00100000 00110000 01111000 01100101 00111010 "
"People will have heard a few descriptions over the years... the best one we all remember though was that the music sounds a bit like “Honeycomb in a cement mixer”.
Ireland has a very good metal scene with most well known bands being the likes of Cruachan, Mael Mordha and Thin Lizzy (OK they're Hard Rock / Heavy Metal). But what about the waves succeeding them? Well you have bands like Dead Label and then there's the 16 year-old Lazarus known as Two Tales Of Woe, who this year released their single 'Order Of Lies' which dated originally back in 2011. This proved to be a nostalgia trip for the Dubliners (the city dwellers and not the band), given this news GMA decided to interrogate the group (no guinness involved, nor was Catholicism brought up; even if said drink is a form of holy water). They discussed Brexit, their new single, what there is to do in the city of Dublin and what their own genre label 'Sloom' means.
For those who have not heard of Two Tales Of Woe, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"Truthfully – Two Tales Of Woe has been 16 years of blood, sweat and tears. 16 years of our lives, that helped shape every person who has ever been in this band - past and present. The proof is in the puddin’ so its better to just get stuck into “A Conversation With Death” and work from there – you will feel what we feel in the music that we have created.
The name Two Tales Of Woe was originally intended to be a project that would be two releases – two tales.
The past few months has brought a whole new meaning to the name and it shall go on to completely redefine everything we have ever done. The last 16 years led us all through the first tale personally and we know in our hears that it has been a positive tale that our fans and listeners have enjoyed. Through all that’s been loved and lost – a new Woe has been born and it is, so far, an endless tale and the best is yet to come."
You recently released the track 'Order Of Lies' (unreleased in 2011), surely this was a nostalgia trip? How did this come about?
"Yes indeed, a nostalgia trip like no other! Ha ha! That track was written and recorded during a time that became a big turning point for the band and it was a major milestone that marked quite a significant change in the bands line up – don’t blame the f**kin’ song though, alright?! Ha ha. It was one of the last songs written as part of the original era and line up of the band, prior to Ross’s departure. Its the song both our guitarist Dan and former drummer Kelvin Doran auditioned with and its always been a song that has held importance to us all and was the beginning of our Oak of Memory era – the unreleased album which, to this day is still lying in wait for the world, especially our brother and former bassist Dave Buttner – we owe it to ourselves to get it out there because it really is something else!
Through our Woes – pun intended – we’ve all had our differences as friends and brothers, something that really did take its toll on each and every one of us, but the past is the past and our love for one another and the music we’ve all been a part of for so many years has been resurrected into something that the fans and friends of Woe, really will not be expecting at all. The reunion of friendship and brotherhood with our long time guitarist and Co-Woe creator; Lar Bowler is the reason for the decision to release the song now as it has marked something significant to all of us but especially Carl and Lar, so it means a lot to be able to share that with everyone.
Lar is still working on his own music, which we can not f**king wait to hear in the future. And any other Woes we’ve not yet unleashed – will be freed within the foreseeable future."
You released your EP 'BloodWood' last year, what was the reception like? Did you have people from outside in Ireland buy a copy?
"The reception we received from 'BloodWood' was incredibly positive as far as we are concerned – anyone we’ve shared it with over the last year has had nothing but kind words to say about it so we’re very humbled by that. It was a long time coming as we had really felt we were at a dead end for a while but we never gave up and with the return of Chris De Brabandere on bass, Ross Duffy alongside Dan Walsh on guitar and the return of the badass that is Johnny f**king Kerr on drums, it really turned into something that gave new life to the band.
We’ve met many people from all over the world over the years, who have become friends and fans of the band and we continue to make more and more connections as time goes by so we know they’re listening, no matter where they are!"
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging, given you play Sludge / Doom (or as you call it, Sloom)?
"Haha, Sloom. That was just being too lazy to say Sludge and Doom hahaha. Many people will have heard a few descriptions over the years: Heavy and Slow, the way of the Woe, was the original sound but, throw in some real f**kin’ Thin Lizzy-esque guitar harmonies and solos and some real groove and just a little bit of aggression and tonnes of power. The best one we all remember though was that the music sounds a bit like “Honeycomb in a cement mixer”. Haha
It doesn’t matter what we think though – find out for yourself. ;-) "
Tell us more about the Irish Metal scene, when did metal arrive in Ireland? What challenges do bands face?
"Metal landed in Ireland about 800 years ago, maybe more. The Irish metal scene is one of the most thriving and f**king incredible metal scenes imaginable. The calibre of talent in this country is insane and its absolutely f**king mind boggling how unappreciated and unnoticed it has been. The Irish fans of metal are amazing, like any fan of metal! Any person to set foot on Irish soil and get to experience the bands that are on offer – will never, be disappointed. There are too many incredible bands to start naming just a few – as mentioned earlier – the proof is in the puddin’ so don’t take our word for it – see for yourself. If metal is your friend – you know where to find it."
Probably a topic that hasn't been brought up in ages, Brexit, as a band are you worried about it or not fussed?
"Many people have worried about that but its one “word” that gets on everyone’s f**king nerves to be honest ha ha. There's no force field at the border, last time we checked and any “border” that was ever recognised in Ireland was nothing more than an imaginary line – drawn on a map, and when you cross that line – the road markings change mysteriously from one colour to another and the road signs also transform into something, almost alien..
So, in a nutshell, no. No worries whatsoever.
“Its well for some”, some might say – but we were all born free so unless you intend to kick some unsuspecting soul, up the arse for no good reason – then no one should worry. Ireland is still one of the most old fashioned places in the world in terms of agriculture so we’ve plenty of land and plenty of food - if you’re willing to get up off your arse and make it happen. Just like anywhere else."
For metalheads visiting Dublin, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"All metalheads should be travelling to Ireland in general – there's metal everywhere here. In Dublin – Fibber Magees, Parnell Street – a legendary Rock and Metal venue that has a very long history in Dublin and there's many a tale to be told about it! Bruxelles on Harry Street – home to the infamous Phil Lynott statue that everyone comes to see. Sound Cellar for all your Metal needs.
Belfast brings you Voodoo and Katy Dalys/The Limelight. Sally Longs in Galway. There's many places to see whether its metal related or not and who knows what lies in the future of the metal scene and live music scene in general but we remain positive about the future and so should everyone!"
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"We would very much like to thank anyone who has ever been a part of the last 16 years of the bands existence. Friends, family, and fans – regardless of who you are or what part you played – you played your part in shaping what this band is today and who we are as people so we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
Check us out on all the usual platforms – you know what they are – contact us, say hello, buy something, dont buy something, listen to the music, love the music – or don’t! Hahaha. You’ll be pleased you did though.
Also, Carl has a great podcast called KingWoe’s Court, in which he chats to our friends in metal, far and wide – mainly focussing on the talented bunch of lads and lassies in the Irish Metal scene but there’s a few surprises in store with that too, so listen in and find out for yourself!
And if you like something a bit different – Ross and Dan also played in CausticGod who released the album Sullen Sanctuary. Ross also plays in Strangle Wire – a Belfast based, beast of a Death Metal band, not to be underestimated. Johnny has Okus – something very filthy and nasty. And for the old school – Chris had Run With The Wolf – some of which is available along with other Two Tales of Woe releases.
And lastly, we’d like to thank Global Metal Apocalypse for taking the time to reach out and speak with us!"
"The Welsh metal scene is doing well... we have quite a sense of community and comradeship, which is important"
It could well be that all Welsh metalheads have fire in their hearts and beer in their bellies, well they are of course from the land of the dragon, so it fits. However, Black Pyre bring to the fore the icy atmospherics of a snow-capped Snowdonia in their own brandished form of Black Metal. The quartet released their debut EP "The Forbidden Tomes" last year to international acclaim having scored coverage not only in the UK, but as far away as Australia and sold copies to metalheads across Europe and as far away as Brazil. GMA felt it was therefore only fitting we interrogated the spawn of Cymru and by this we don't mean the sheep or goats that marauder the hills (have you seen those horns?!?!?!?)... we simply mean Black Pyre.
For those who have not heard of Black Pyre, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"We originated from the dark realms (of Wales), forming aeons ago, and created a frosty EP by summoning a daemon and channelling his dark power into our music… We then walked the permafrost to find many other great bands to play with, such as Grá, Arvas, Uburen, Wolvencrown, Necronautical and many more, and even adding another wielder of strings along the way. What does Black Pyre mean? A pyre is a part of ancient funeral rites, whereby a body is burnt on a large pile of wood - the pyre is this fire."
You recently released your latest EP 'The Forbidden Tomes', what was the reception like? Did anyone download it from outside of the UK
"Our frosty little EP was well received, and had excellent reviews and coverage from several outlets, notably Metal Hammer, South Wales’ Musipedia Of Metal, and Australian extreme metal reviewer Kelly Tee. We also had purchases and plays of the EP from Germany, Austria, Norway, Brazil, and Poland. So yes, you could say it had some global outreach."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging, given you play Black Metal; such a broad genre?
"We take influences from the old school Norwegian sound, but also bring our own unique styles to the band. We all like a variety of subgenres of metal and other genres of music and so we like to allow that to influence how we write our Black Metal. Just think of what daemon shrieks harmonising with nails down a chalk board would sound like… That should give you a rough idea of our style."
What do your parents think of your music? Are any of your family members musicians?
"Parents? Ah you mean the elder daemons who spawned us. Yes they approve."
Tell us more about the Welsh Metal scene, what challenges do bands face, is the scene vastly different in the south compared to the north?
"The Welsh metal scene is doing well, both North and South. There are plenty of fantastic bands, and many of us know each other. We have quite a sense of community and comradeship, which is important."
Do you feel that British Extreme Metal is facing a massive revival or has it always been active in the background?
"The British Extreme Metal scene is definitely having a bit of a comeback, but as you mention, it has always been active in the background. It is great to be part of this scene with so many amazing bands and fans."
For metalheads visiting Cardiff, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"In Cardiff there are many great places to visit. Fuel Rock Club is an amazing venue and bar which hosts some of the best underground and grass-roots metal gigs. Tramshed, and The Globe are both fine venues which put on excellent gigs for medium sized bands."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"We would like to thank: Timothy Vincent, Naomi Sanders (and by extension Metal Hammer), Musipedia Of Metal, Gavin Davies (Welsh Hagrid), Carl & Zoe, Sepulchre, Deus Mori, Arvas, Tim & Alyn, Olly’s Big Beard (for being so nice), Chris Bowes, Adam Bell, Janice Clonefield, Papa Johns (for their delicious buttery dip), Ben Smith, Kelly Tee, Victor Marot (he’s the reason Dominus has to take cold showers every day), Marco Silva (for the toilet party), Lewis Read-Jenkins, Jack Wilson, Tabitha Attwood, Step-hen & Gregus Maximus, Kate (I’m not sure what you’ve done but thanks anyway), Sean Bean, Father Grimster, Everyone at Fuel Rock Club, The Gryphon, Global Metal Apocalypse (😉), all our fans."