Malicious Inc. are set to set the British Metal scene ablaze with their finely balanced sound of Groovy Nu Metal as shown on their debut EP 'Red Flag'; which was released through the Italian label Sliptrick Records. Morgan Weeds the band's lead guitarist filled in GMA with the details of their new release, what the Bristolian Metal scene is like and what metalheads can do down their, how they got in touch with Sliptrick Records and why in the space of 1 year 5 months they've managed to unleash a debut single and follow-up EP.
During the interrogation Morgan referred to Korn, Disturbed, Nu Metal, Bristol, Korn, and some more Nu Metal, Groove Metal and somehow... Bristol. Suffice to say he finished happy as Larry.
For those who have not heard of Malicious Inc. could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"The band was formed in January 2019 by vocalist Kyle Mortiss and myself. I heard him release some solo stuff under the name ‘Of The Wolf’ and has got a very Randy Blythe (Lamb Of God) feel to it and was looking to start a band of that sort of style. We put auditions out, which brought drummer Luke Hill on board. Kyle brought in former band mate Christian Elvins on rhythm guitars and friend Chris Watkins on bass and we began writing. Since then, Chris and Christian have left the band and Luke brought friends Kyle Zehtabi and Matthew Hulin into the band and we’ve been working away ever since. The band name comes from the legacy of vocalist Kyle Mortiss’ previous band “Malicious Intent” combined with the fact that we are a new incarnation with new music, new members, new feel etc and we mean business."
You recently released your latest EP 'Red Flag' via Sliptrick Records, what was the reception like and did you have anyone outside of the UK buy it?
"The reception seemed really positive to be fair. We weren’t sure what to expect from people as it was our first release but people are digging it, the industry seems to love it for the most part from the reviews and interaction we’ve had. We’ve had people all over the world listening via streaming services, downloading and / or buying physical copies which is an incredible feeling for us. To see our music hit everywhere from home turf in the UK, to America, Europe, South Africa and many more is an amazing feeling."
Talk us through the process of creating the EP - how long did it take to curate? Master? Mix? etc.
"The EP didn’t actually take that long to create. We hit the ground running as soon as the band was fully formed. We went from forming in January 19, to writing a stand alone single and the 5 tracks for ‘Red Flag’ and then recording it and producing it by the end of April the same year."
What was it like signing with Italian label Sliptrick Records? How did you approach them or did they approach you? Talk us through the partnership?
"We approached them. We were sent some contact details for Carlo who runs the label. After vocalist Kyle Mortiss made the initial contact, he handed proceedings over to me (Morgan Weeds - Lead Guitarist / Manager) to begin negotiations. They offered us a deal based off the final mixes as at the time we approached them it hadn’t been mastered by Martin Nichols yet. We finalised everything, signed in July, announced it in August and had the stand alone single and music video for ‘Bone & Mortar’ out by the end of September."
Given the UK is in lockdown, what plans did you have cancelled / postponed? What plans will you have late 2020 / early 2021?
"We were supposed to hit the studio this April just passed to begin the recording process for the songs we’d selected to be the singles out of the tracks we’ve created for our debut album, but due to the situation that has been put on hold until we know what’s happening regarding the pandemic and lockdown. The guys at Sliptrick Records are working on and have nearly completed a lyric video for our track ‘Wintered Trees’ so we’ll be putting that out as and when, dates to be confirmed, but basically we’re gonna be hitting the studio and planning on hitting the road around a release schedule for these singles. Sadly as everything is so up in the air we have no idea about when and how these things will come to pass yet though. Watch this space I guess."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging?
"It’s just brutal, honest, hard hitting heavy music. Deep lyrical content and emotive emotive execution."
For metalheads visiting Bristol, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"A lot of venues are close to shutting down right now which is a sad and scary thought, but The Fleece, The Exchange and The Louisiana are great venues that have wicked bands on all the time. The Crown is a kind of Metal / Biker pub with a venue underneath called The Trap. There are club nights of varying genres over at the Fleece and The Lanes. Rough Trade is a record shop opposite The Lanes that also has a stage. We played there back in February and it was a wicked show. We’ve got an O2 Academy.
There’s a fair bit to do if you’re fresh to the area, but with the current economical climate a lot of venues are struggling and a lot of the competing club nights all claiming to be “Bristols Best” can become much of a muchness, same as anything really. People dig it though which is the main thing. There’s always a crowd at these places which keeps the local scene alive which is important now more than ever, especially when things start to normalise. The independent venues will need that ongoing support."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"Thanks to everyone who is continually supporting us and everyone that has helped us get to where we are. We appreciate all the support from our friends, families and fans and we hope everyone is staying well and safe during this time.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us."
"We made a lot of friends at Wacken, and I think the most important lesson we learned there is the value of human connection."
It probably goes without saying that E-an-na are one of the most exciting and original metal bands to emerge out of Romania (if not Eastern Europe) for a while, it's not often you come across a band who mixes Folk Metal with Modern Metal in such a way it becomes mind-blowing. Despite this it's clear that E-an-na take everything in their stride, are very cool about their origins and where they are heading. Andrei Oltean (Vocalist and woodwind player) put himself forward for the interrogation as he discussed how the band was built on traditional Romanian folk music but with a sharp twist, why Wacken Metal Battle was more than just a competition and why as a band they treat their fans more like family (which is rather beautiful).
For those who have not heard of E-an-na could you please give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"“E-an-na” comes from ancient Sumerian and would be translated as something along the lines of “The Home Of The Skies”. When we created the band, we searched a lot for a name that would resonate with the concept, and finally found it in Mircea Eliade’s book “The History Of Religions”. E-an-na started out, like so much art in the world, powered by the concept of escapism, of creating a personal world devoid of all the negative aspects that try to bring us down in this one. E-an-na is a community, and each may feel and perceive it in their own way. Everybody is welcome."
Your sound is quite unique in the mixing of Modern Metal and Folk Metal, how did you come up with this sound? What would you call your sound?
"Well, of course it can be labelled, so we would call it simply Folk Metal. But the thing is, I don’t believe in labelling too much. I mean yeah, some of my favourite bands play Folk Metal, but they don’t generally fit into that labelling when it comes to the cliches. And neither do we. After all, music is movement, it’s not something static that you can point your finger on, and thus, it is ever-changing. You will find works in our discography that have absolutely nothing to do with Folk Metal whatsoever, and the future will make it seem like we are, at times, straying even further from it. Music is a journey of many paths, and it would be a shame to stick to only one just because you already know it."
What kind of Romanian folk music do you use given there are so many different styles?
"You’re right. Mostly we compose our own folkloric-like themes, as a result of listening and assimilating such music for many years, but we also have a few passages taken directly from centuries old songs. They are songs played on traditional woodwinds: “Fluier” (whistle) or “Caval” (which is a sort of low whistle specific to this area). Besides this, I am a huge fan of “Lăutărească”, which is a sort of mix between traditional music with Turkic influences, developed in the last century, maybe a century and a half, and often played by gypsies (to anyone out there knowing better: forgive me if I’m being inaccurate, I’m not an ethnomusicologist).
Again, there are no restrictions, so we will go for whatever we feel is right. In spite of our songs generating sometimes a sense of national pride in our Romanian listeners (which is totally fine, don’t get me wrong), we don’t feel compelled to stick to just that."
You came 2nd at the 2017 edition of Wacken Metal Battle, this surely gave you the boost to drive forward and aim higher?
"Well, yes, and no. You see, we stood true to music, and sometimes this might have been detrimental to the fastest way to, let’s say, success. There are certainly better marketing decisions that we would have taken, but our ultimate goal isn’t that. As I said, E-an-na is a feeling, something rooted very deep inside us, and a community, a family. Of course we do hope, like most of the bands, to get big and tour the world, but we shall get that on our own pace, whilst focusing on our sonic madness primarily. But yes, we made a lot of friends at Wacken, and I think the most important lesson we learned there is the value of human connection."
As you sing in Romanian, do you have any tips for non-native speakers in trying to sing along to your music?
"Just go with what you feel, I won’t judge you, ha ha. I myself just went for the sound without understanding a word for many years, mainly when singing along to Arkona in Russian whenever I caught them live. That actually led to an interesting perception of the human voice as solely an instrument, stripped of the meaning of the words, which I think shaped the way I compose stuff. So yeah, don’t be afraid to pour your soul out, even if you literally can’t put it into words."
Given the current COVID-19 global pandemic, what plans did you have that are either cancelled or postponed? Any plans for late 2020 / early 2021?
"We did have a bunch of shows (some announced, others not yet) that went down the drain... But we’re increasingly more fortunate than bigger bands that had to cancel whole tours for which money had been already paid for whatever reason (logistics, advances, etc.). We are trying to reschedule the gigs, but honestly half-heartedly, because we don’t know if (although highly probable) and when the second wave will strike. That’s why we aren’t saying things like “buy cheaper pre-sale tickets” and stuff like that to our fans at the moment. On the other hand, we are constantly working on new music. In fact, our next single came out on 23.05.2020, exactly the day I turned 25."
For metalheads visiting Sibiu, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Well, Sibiu is not a big city at all. It’s wonderful to visit it, but you will probably learn it in a few days. I totally recommend the village museum, right outside the city. I think it’s the largest in Europe, and extremely beautiful. Also the city centre is quite pretty, if you don’t mind flocks of tourists and pigeons. You can find the Evangelical Church there, right in my high school yard. It’s a nice area. In terms of venues and bars, Sibiu doesn’t have it so great. If you’re looking for metal, you’ll most definitely end up at the Rock & Bike Club, as do we."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, fans, family, etc?
"Stay strong. Each person is different, each reacts differently to such large-scale events. I, personally, besides the gigs and not being able to see my friends and family or to travel, am not too affected, as I work from home and am an introvert anyway. I’ve been composing and practising like a madman, so the time is put to good use. I’m not saying you’re worthless if you’re not productive. Not at all. It’s simply what works best for my well being. Take care of yourself, and don’t despair. Do a little something everyday. Check up on your loved ones. Listen to our music."
"Any kind of content we can do we are doing. I'd argue that the pandemic probably helped our work ethic.""
Arguably Metalcore and Deathcore are genres that are overtly saturated and so it's either the case of either being very good or trying something new, something that Until The Dead Walk have achieved on both fronts. A new sound, a new line-up and a new set of work ethic, the Kentucky natives are raring to go. Not only have they done that, they have also gone and secured the services of guest vocalists Alex Koehler (ex-Chelsea Grin) and Tom Barber (Chelsea Grin & ex-Lorna Shore). Life cannot be sweeter.
One half of the vocals section, Dakota Myers, took it upon himself to be interrogated on behalf of the American quintet. He didn't even break a sweat during the interrogation unlike the chickens that were to become 'Kentucky fried' (sorry!! Could not resist). He spoke to us about the COVID-19 situation in the state along with the mask merch they made, their favourite places to play and why they're itching to get back on a stage ASAP.
For those who have not heard of Until The Dead Walk, could you give us a brief history of the band? What inspired your band name choice?
"Ren Young the other vocalist started the band in early 2014. One of the original members includes Sean Cook; now guitarist for Hollow Valley. They're sick you should check them out. I joined the band around late 2014 / early 2015. Ren and I were in a previous project together but had a falling out right before UTDW was officially named. Many line-up changes led to guitarist Austin Mellick and bassist Tracy Cook being band members, and a recent change of drummer which was a surprise. I don't suspect any line-up changes after this. We have our solid core. Our family.
Ren picked the name. Since I am the left to his right, I always hated it. Thought it was mad corny. But after a while I finally get it. After putting so much work into this. So much time, dedication, hardships, sacrifice, betrayal. We're not stopping. It took us a long time to find out who was really with us and who wasn't. But this core we have right now will make music until the figurative dead walk. Or maybe literally. This 'rona stuff is getting outta hand."
How would you describe your sound without genre tagging, given you play a mix of Metalcore, Deathcore and 'whatevercore' (love it!)?
"Our sound is just whatever we feel at the time, y'know. If we feel like making a metalcore song we make a metalcore song. If we feel like making a beatdown song on the same album. It's going on there ha ha. We try not to put ourselves in a box. Playing music makes us happy. I couldn't imagine playing music I don't like to play. It would drain me. "
At what point did you want to become musicians and were you in bands prior to Until The Dead Walk?
"I personally didn't grow up wanting to be a musician. I've always done vocals, and I've played guitar for about 6-7 years now. But I actually grew up wanting to do art. I still do art. I do a lot of our merch designs and designs for other people. But once I found out what it feels like on stage. It turned from a hobby into an addiction. Something I wake up and crave. I don't think I would want any other job in the world.
I was in a few other garage bands before UTDW but nothing serious. Tracy our bassist is the former bassist of Of Clarity."
You created your own face mask due to COVID-19, do you think this will become a regular merch item (thinking of those in DIY, carpentry, etc)?
"Uhm. I would be wishful thinking here but sure. I think a lot of our fans are really die hard dedicated. They post stories daily with our merch in them. Out and about. At work. Recently while quarantining at home. So I genuinely do think people are going to wear our masks outside of the pandemic. I think people are going to wear masks for a long time in general after this blows over."
What is the COVID-19 lockdown situation like in Kentucky? How did people react to it? How has the band coped?
"I might get in some trouble saying this but from my perspective a lot of Kentucky just doesn't care. If you've ever seen the meme of the guy racking a shotgun outside of his trailer going "I ain't scared no Nader" that's Kentucky with Corona right now. I don't think we were ever really under strict 'quarantine' I see people jogging, walking their dogs, life as usual. Yes there are more facemasks, and yes there less people out. But it looks pretty busy for a city that's in the middle of a pandemic. Yet somehow we are flattening the curve more than other states surrounding us. It's really odd.
We, on the other hand are really pushing hard to not let this affect our work ethic. Wer'e getting new merch out, we're working on new music, we're doing skits, and working on a podcast. Any kind of content we can do we are doing. I'd argue that the pandemic probably helped our work ethic."
What plans have you got for late 2020 / early 2021? Were any plans postponed or cancelled?
"We are looking to go touring as soon as possible. I know that sounds scary and there definitely is an Inherent fear going into that. But that's just another sacrifice for us to live how we want to live. We have all sacrificed a lot for this. Relationships, time with our children, our friends, our families. It's just another sacrifice for us.
We actually had a couple of tours and shows cancelled. Skatopia's Bowl Bash was one. It would've been our second year out and I absolutely love everything about that place. If there ever were a place that screams the do whatever you want unless you're hurting someone else attitude that UTDW strives for its Skatopia."
For metalheads visiting Louisville, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"There's a saying my mum used to say all the time. "Come to Louisville we got potholes and horses" ha ha. But no seriously, we don't have that many venues that I enjoy any more. My favourite venue and second home Trixies was very sadly sold a few months ago. After that we have Diamonds Billiard Hall which has now become my favourite venue in Louisville. We have Nirvana bar and Spinellis for smaller more personal shows. For attractions? Uh. We got. Horses? We got a bridge that lights up. We have a Kaiju themed bar that's really cool. If you're a fan of drama you can go to Taproom. Really any bar in the highlands. If you like art, the Speed Art Museum has beautiful works
that rotate pretty frequently."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"To all of our friends and family I'd like to say thank you and I'm forever grateful for all the support that we get from you. To be able to do what we do is a dream of many. The fact that you all help us do it I can't even begin to explain how"
"The Zambian metal scene is pretty underground. We conjured it here, in 2013 ha ha. There was a Zamrock movement in the 70's, but that was mostly made up of psychedelic and acid rock sounds."
Zambia during the 1970's was bustling with what was then known as 'Zamrock', however that has sadly died away and faded into the background of music history. However one band has set out to bring it back albeit a lot heavier, the first ever metal band from Zambia, their name? Statis Prey. Having released their debut album "Sanguine" last year, the quintet are continuing improving what they have built up since 2013 and are sure to put Zambia on the international metal stage. Much like their brothers Dividing The Element in Zimbabwe, they have a DIY attitude towards it all, after all they're the leaders of the scene and as such hope to lead the way for other potential bands to follow in their wake.
Stasis Prey survived their interrogation, we were kind to them. The Victoria falls however were not.
For those who have not heard of Stasis Prey, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"It all started with Tumelo (vocalist) meeting Lerato (bassist) who then asked Joshua (lead guitarist) to join the band. Then Joshua's cousin Sina (rhythm guitarist) joined later on. The band name is a metaphor developed by Tumelo in relation to the idle mind philosophy, which says that the mind that is in stasis / not in motion, is likely to be prey. So the name is pretty much an anthesis to that."
Last year you released your debut album 'Sanguine', what was the reaction like? Did you have anyone outside of Zambia check out it?
"The reaction was moderately well received online... the fun part was playing the songs on the album live. The energy was raw, organic, honest, and more heartfelt."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging, given you play Alternative Metal; such a broad genre?
"That would be a different answer from everyone... blurring heavy distorted guitars with raspy hyper-tone vocals, and blurring powerful grounding bass with regimented drums..., for the most part."
What do your parents think of your music? Are any of your family members musicians?
"They have mixed feelings about it. Yes, some of our family members actually ARE / WERE musicians. Just not Rock / Metal musicians. Ha ha."
Tell us more about the Zambian Metal scene, when did metal arrive in Zambia? What is the public opinion of metal? Is the scene active?
"The Zambian metal scene is made up of a minority movement. It's pretty underground. We conjured it here, in 2013 ha ha. There was a Zamrock movement in the 70's, but that was mostly made up of psychedelic and acid rock sounds. The public opinion of metal around here is mixed. Genuinely loved OR hated. No two ways about it. The scene is currently active in university dorms and male and female bedrooms laden with angst. Ha ha."
Do you feel there is a current trend of people outside of Sub-Sahara Africa paying more attention to bands from the region?
"Yes there is. A great Zambian band called W.I.T.C.H has been touring Europe for a while now and also had one of their songs featured as the opening soundtrack on an American TV show called "Watchmen" so... "
For metalheads visiting Lusaka, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"We would recommend the Victoria Falls (the city of Livingstone in general), the sinkhole and bongohive in Lusaka... and any dynamic live music show / event / platform... you'll most likely stumble upon interesting bands there."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"We don't have fans... only friends... in many places.... here and across the globe. Ha ha. So a huge shout out and thanks to them for their support. And also a HUGE thank you to you too for your interest in us as well as your support! Cheers!"
"If you throw the towel in as soon things are getting tough, you won’t get anywhere with anything."
For a band that has been on and off since 1984, you could easily forgive Candlemass for considering to take things a little easy... like hell they are. They've just put out their latest EP "The Pendulum" which dovetails their latest album "The Door To Doom" released last year. Pioneers of the Epic Doom Metal style, this Swedish leviathan of the ages shows no signs of giving up even if things like COVID-19 have halted some of their plans, as Leif Edling put it verbatim "If you throw the towel in as soon things are getting tough, you won’t get anywhere with anything."
Take those words of wisdom and imprint them in your mind, especially if you're an upcoming band because these guys have done, seen it, sold the xxxxx amount of t-shirts...
Leif spoke to GMA during his interrogation about how the band has managed to thrive since their inception, why the vinyl resurgence is a huge thing for him and why metal at first in Sweden was largely ignored.
You released your latest EP "The Pendulum" back in March, what was the reception like? Will this lead to an album in 2021 perhaps?
"Oh no, that is too early. The "Pendulum EP" was something of a revived thing after "Door To Doom", so people could hear the whole thing; all of the songs. Now I think the metal world needs to rest a bit after this Candlemass overkill of material 😊. Personally my guess would be 2022 for a new album. But the overall reception was great. We had a terrific year 2019 with loads of great gigs and Grammy festivities."
It was released on vinyl as well as CD and digitally, what are your thoughts on the vinyl resurgence? What was it like growing up with vinyl?
"I love vinyl so it is absolutely super that this format is experiencing a comeback. Sure, some used records are way too expensive, but overall I think that it’s a good thing because vinyl has got a value again, and that means that instead of having the old albums in boxes in the attic or basement, people bring it in the record shops to sell it and get OK money for it. Then all of a sudden, old favourite records are up for grabs again. A bit pricey sometimes, yes, but they are there for you to buy IF you want it. They weren’t before.
It was great to grow up with vinyl. You heard the music in the way it was meant to sound, and also, had a pretty good collection before the prices went through the roof 😊.
Would it be fair to say that Sweden has always been a heavy player in the world of music; all genres? Do you take influence from outside of metal?
"Not at all. When we started C-mass nobody got signed from Sweden. No Swedish label wanted to touch a metal band. We were one of the first “underground” bands that got out of Sweden and got signed to a foreign metal label. The guys from Entombed told me that when they saw that we managed to do it, break out of Sweden, then they knew it was possible and tried even harder to get signed abroad. And after that we had the so called ketchup effect he he….. "
For a band who has been on and off since 1984, what were the toughest challenges you've faced as a band? How did you over come these?
"Through hard work and total dedication for metal! We were born to do this! Won’t stop for any bumps on the road to doom hahahaha!! We’ve been through the book of f**k ups from A to Z many times. Been dropped from labels, changed singers more often than Ozzy’s been to rehab. And it has paid off. We have a pretty good career going now, great gigs, headline some even, Grammies, you name it. If you throw the towel in as soon things are getting tough, you won’t get anywhere with anything."
Speaking of which, what advice could you offer to upcoming bands who are trying to navigate the music industry?
"Don’t give up, get a good manager and GO FOR IT!"
How are you as a band coping with the COVID-19 pandemic? What plans had to be put on hold or cancelled? What have you been doing in your spare time?
"We had to cancel 2 great sold-out shows at a theatre in Stockholm in April. Been moved to August, and now it looks like they have to be moved again, to spring 2021. Crap! We also moved many gigs to the autumn, an autumn that is very intense now with loads of cool gigs here, in Europe, the States etc. Big risk that those will be up for a rain-check too… sucks. But it’s the hard reality.
I read a lot now, take it easy, watch series on HBO and Netflix, sorting my record collection out, take long walks in the nearby forest. If it wasn’t for all the cancelled gigs, I really don’t mind taking it easy. This relaxed situation now suits me quite well actually 😊. "
Obviously there's a lot to do in Stockholm, but what gems do you like the most? What venues / bars and sights and attractions would you recommend to metalheads visiting Stockholm?
"I have no idea. Haven’t been to a metal bar or concert in ages. But some nice attractions are Skansen (the Zoo), the Wasa ship, the view from Kaknästornet and the amusement park Gröna Lund. They also have Ghostwalks in the Old Town that they say are quite popular 😊."
Are there any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?.
"Stay in, stay healthy, stay Heavy!!"
Arguably Cinematic Metal is the biggest and freshest metal genre to emerge in the past few years, although it's closely related to the Symphonic Metal style, it's theatrical nature is what adds to it's uniqueness. Heeding the call and bringing the style to the Swedish metal frontier is Nocean, a quartet from Stockholm with big plans. Having started off in the Hard Rock style and progressively got heavier and more symphonic, Nocean are set to cause a buzz in the underground as they went to explain. They told GMA during their interrogation that they plan on bringing out an animated movie to complement their third album, how art, music and production all filter into their hobbies and job histories and why Nocean are not like any other metal band Sweden has seen before... this is no pantomime, they is the star of the show.
For those who have not heard of Nocean, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"Nocean is a Swedish Cinematic Rock / Metal band who are currently writing our third album, combining music with a gothic, animated short film and a theatrical live show! Kind of like a musical. The band name plays on the words - “Notion” - and “Ocean”. An ocean of ideas!"
Tell us about this venture you're undertaking in 'Who Is The Creature?' and the subsequent saga you have laid out before you?
"‘Who Is The Creature?’ is the first chapter in our saga, our concept album, and with the music video we want to let people dive into the world for a bit. The saga is a gothic tale about a young girl, trapped inside a castle garden..."
How would you differentiate yourself from the plethora of Symphonic / Cinematic Metal bands out there? What enticed you to play this style of metal?
"From my side, I think this is our way to differentiate from Rock and Metal in general. Here in Sweden, there are lots of AC/DC-sounds but not so much Symphonic or Cinematic Metal. We have our own unique sound, attitude and image. We are creating more than just an album, we are creating a world, a saga and a live show that we haven’t seen from any other band at all before. Concept albums are common, but not metal musicals with animated movies made and written by the band members themselves. We are also truly independent, therefore it’s harder but I also see that it’s nice to be doing exactly what we want. It all started when we were discussing our third album, how we should proceed and develop even more. We were a Hard Rock band from the start, going into Alternative Rock / Metal and now this. We always want to think outside the box and when it came to genre, it felt natural as we began to write powerful, film-inspired Metal and all of us like this kind of music very much."
You're writing your 3rd album, what can you tell us about it so far? When will it be out?
"We are about half way through the writing process right now, with lots of ideas. The next single will be out this summer! The whole album is planned to be released during spring 2021, but that is depending on a lot of stuff like when we can finish the movie; COVID-19 depending, etc."
Outside of Nocean, individually what hobbies or interests do you have and do these filter into the band?
Hanna: "I work as a freelance TV editor, so that definitely filters into the band as I am producing almost all of our music videos and video content on social media. I also like to work with animations, so I will be doing that for the animated movie to (background sets and lightning). Other than that, watching movies and especially Tim Burton’s movies are my favourite. For me, his style (and Danny Elfman’s music) is a big inspiration for this album."
"I have been drawing and making art since I was very young and when music became my biggest hobby the two interests started to play off each other and I now usually draw whilst listening to music because it conjures emotions and images. I have created some visuals for this project and I am looking forward to keeping that going and see what these new songs and themes can bring out. I too am a movie enthusiast and John Williams in particular has created some of the most iconic movie scores I have ever heard, so that is a huge inspiration for me whilst writing melodies and cinematic parts."
"Lately I have been really into audio production and would also say that’s my biggest hobby outside the band, it’s just something fun and inspiring about striving for perfection in audio. But I have also always been inspired by great movies and especially the movies with good music in them. My latest job was as a movie theatre manager outside Stockholm."
"My big creative outlet has and always will be music and I’m not exactly talented when it comes to drawing and things like that, even though I would really like to! So right now my focus is on learning new instruments like guitar and piano. Other than music I have a big interest in comedy, mainly stand up comedy which is something I’d like to try myself at some point, gaming, science and movies that are so bad they’re good."
For metalheads visiting Stockholm, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"When COVID-19 is over, you should check out venues like Slaktkyrkan, Fryshuset or go to pubs like Harry B James and Pub Anchor!"
What are your plans in late 2020 / early 2021? Were any plans cancelled / postponed due to COVID-19?
"Our main focus is to write the album, make the movie, plan the tour for the album etc. But we will do a couple of shows as well, and hopefully not only on live streams… We had a couple of shows / festivals cancelled so that was really sad. We really hope to play more during fall 2020. During spring 2021 we hope to tour with the new album!"
Are there any thanks or greetings you wish to send out to friends, fans, family etc?
"Oh yes, a big thank you to all who have supported us through our “Who Is The Creature?”- release (including Global Metal Apocalypse!). Since we are independent, we don’t have the economical muscles as a record label, and we totally depend on our followers to reach out. People have been sharing, streaming, above our expectations and we are so grateful for that! We also just started a Patreon page so if you want to support us there, go to http://patreon.com/nocean."
"The biggest challenge was / is venues, especially in terms of putting on a quality show with lights, staging and adequate space etc. We have to source everything."
Africa is often considered as 'the last frontier' for metal and to be fair, it would seem that way. Even though there are a lot of countries on the continent who have had rock music stretching back into the 1970's, ultimately something pulled the plug on Zimbabwe's rock past... we'll leave you to ponder what that was. But now metal has arisen to revive the angst felt by the natives, too often is it that metal arises from negative events, be it war, poverty, corruption, hatred, you name it, it's on the back of the t-shirt as shamed tour dates. Stepping into the breach is Dividing The Element, arguably founders of the Zimbabwean Metal scene; following in their footsteps is the one-man project Nuclear Winter.
We spoke to lead vocalist / guitarist Chris Van about the band's origins, their new single 'Pakaipa' (it's in the Shona language) and why being a DIY band in a scene that's being built by yourself is probably the most metal thing to ever happen to this country... hats off to them, they make the scene work.
For those who have not heard of Dividing The Element, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"We are a metal band from Harare, Zimbabwe who sings and screams in Shona. The band was founded in 2012 by Sherlic White and myself. After a few line up changes the band settled on Archie Chikoti (Guitar), Nick Newbery (Drums), Mat Sanderson (Bass) and myself (Lead Vocals and Guitar)."
You've just released your new single 'Pakaipa', could you explain what it means and will this be included in an upcoming EP or album?
"'Pakaipa' is in Shona and literally means "It's bad". The theme of the song is about both being underestimated and misunderstood by society. No decision has been made yet as to whether it will be included in an upcoming EP or album. As the primary composer for the band, I don't want to have that kind of pressure on myself at this early stage of writing. Maybe there'll be an EP, maybe there'll be an album, maybe there'll be a bunch of singles. I'd like to see what comes out as it comes out this time."
The band has come a long way, but what about the Zimbabwean Metal scene - what is it currently like, what challenges are there?
"The metal community is still small but has definitely grown. Speaking as someone who has been in the front lines actively trying to grow the scene, it's been satisfying to watch the micro developments, witnessing the gradual increase in networking and turn outs to our shows and so on.
Pandemics and lockdowns aside, I'd say the biggest challenge was / is venues, especially in terms of putting on a quality show with lights, staging and adequate space etc. We have to source everything."
Have you had bands from nearby countries come to play in Harare? Where (if any) has the band played outside of Zimbabwe?
"There have been bands coming from outside [of Zimbabwe], just not metal bands. We were scheduled to play in Ghanzi, Botswana at Overthust's 11th anniversary of Winter Metal Mania Festival on the 30th of May, which would've been our first show outside of Zimbabwe. Sadly, Covid-19 took care of that."
What are the major challenges Dividing The Element has had to face since the band's inception, is metal frowned upon in Zimbabwe?
"Well, the experiences I've had with people's perceptions and attitudes on metal have mostly been positive, but then again the bias is that my interactions are mostly with people who support the genre. On the whole though, Zimbabwe is a conservative society so there are the typical judgements and misunderstandings that happen. I'd say the biggest challenge in the beginning was reaching out to the metalheads who were around and convincing them that they weren't the only ones. They were scattered few and far between and mostly stuck to themselves. Then I would say again... Venues!"
For metalheads visiting Harare, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Sadly there are no dedicated venues for metalheads in Zimbabwe. That said, I'd definitely recommend they come see us if we so happen to be putting on a show during their visit. It may not happen often, but when it does, we try to make it count."
Looking towards the end of 2020 and into early 2021, what plans does the band have left intact?
"Well, that's quite hard to say at this point. As much as it pains me to say it, my prediction is that this is just the beginning of the world's fight with the Coronavirus. There's little evidence to support that we are winning the battle and we're probably going to experience some growing pains trying to return back to the society we had before all of this. All things considered though, everything we've put out as Dividing The Element so far has been self produced, and in this digital age, quite a lot is possible, so I'd say new material would be on the cards."
Do you have any hellos or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"Thank you Dewar PR for your invaluable service and of course thank you to all our family, friends and fans for your continued support."
"We rely on each other’s support and our own local crowds rather than seek approval from labels or people in Europe / the USA."
Readers will know how much GMA cherishes metal bands from all over the world and so our latest interrogation is with Cambodian Thrashers Nightmare A.D. (actually the band has 5 members originally from Singapore, The Philippines, New Zealand, Canada & The USA; basically the United Nations of metal). Back in April they released a cover of the Iggy Pop song 'Gimme Danger' and prior to that released their 2nd EP "Phantoms Of Our Ruin" back in 2018... it was going to come this interrogation and so it did, don't worry they are all fine, we were kind to these guys.
For those who have not heard of Nightmare A.D., could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"Nightmare A.D. was formed in 2014 by Mia (guitars / vocals), 3 months after she arrived in Phnom Penh. Her flatmate Kandhi (guitars) joined the band and he convinced Todd (drums) and Gem (bass) to join the band as well. Nightmare A.D. originally started off as a Misfits cover band but soon evolved to a Thrash Metal / Crossover entity playing original music. The band currently comprises of Mia (guitars / vocals), Todd (drums), Genesis (bass), Jon (keys) and Ollie (guitars).
The band name Nightmare A.D. symbolises the current times we live in: a living nightmare of disinformation, crooked politics, looming threat of civil/global war, climate change, rising right-wing authoritarian governments and viral plagues that might just wipe us all out in the near future.
How did you all get into metal music and what do your parents think of your music?
"Generally speaking, all of us got into Metal music mainly from hanging out with friends / family members who exposed us to heavy music and we did our own research from there. All of us are from different countries (Mia – Singapore, Todd – New Zealand, Genesis – The Philippines, Jon – USA and Ollie – Canada) so there are many variables that affect how our parents thought about the music (some positive some not) and how we got into this form of music."
You brought out your debut EP 'Corruptors' as a digital download, what was the reception like and did you have people outside Cambodia check it out?
"We originally released ‘Corruptors’ as a Pro CD-R under the local label Yab Moung Records, then as a digital download on Bandcamp and then released on pro-tape with exclusive artwork and bonus tracks under Toxic Death Records (China). We have had great responses and support from people around the world (including you Rhys!) and it certainly makes us want to continue performing and record new material."
Mia, female musicians are often subjected to sexist or misogynistic remarks, is this something you've experienced in your time as a musician?
"Definitely. I feel that after a show, the crowd (mostly male) will end up talking to my bandmates rather than me. I get a few transphobic / transmisogynistic reactions at times but it generally doesn’t bother me. Most people tend to be okay but there are some who are definite f***wits."
Do you feel at times that the metal scenes in your part of Asia are often ignored or not looked upon by metalheads in Europe and the USA?
"Well the metal scene in Southeast Asia has always been quite self-contained in a way that is sustainable. We rely on each other’s support and our own local crowds rather than seek approval from labels or people in Europe / the USA. Most Asian bands are generally ignored by most metalheads who are outside of Asia. However, that being said, there is a small market for Asian Metal in Europe / the USA. There are a handful of Asian bands have actually made their names known on the global stage (Chthonic, Impiety, Wormrot, Sigh, Defiled, Rudra, Demonic Resurrection, etc) which isn’t an easy feat to accomplish. I do feel that we have to work harder to get our names out there compared to bands in Europe / the USA."
What challenges do Cambodian Metal bands face these days alongside with what COVID-19 has brought? What is the public perception of metal?
"Well, finding venues to play at is difficult. We do still have the support of two venues which are willing to host Metal shows but with COVID-19 looming in the background, shows have been cancelled until further notice. There is a small crowd of about 100 people in this city who turn up regularly for Metal shows, so that is pretty cool. Most Cambodian people find it either noisy or intriguing. The older generation definitely find it noisy and will complain if the music’s too loud."
For metalheads visiting Phnom Penh, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any good bars / venues?
"I recommend seeing Wat Phnom (temple on a hill), the Tonle Sap river, walking the grounds around the Royal Palace, visiting S21 Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields.
I recommend visiting and buying from: Yab Moung Record Store (https://yabmoung.com) which is partially funded by an NGO and D.I.Y. run (all proceeds go to helping impoverished and disadvantaged Cambodian Youth) and Metal Your Day (https://metalyourday.com/) which is a Metal-inspired art collective.
For bars and venues I recommend: Cloud (http://www.facebook.com/cloudcambodia) which is an arts venue with live music and bar, Zeppelin Café (https://www.facebook.com/zeppelinPP) that is a bar and café playing mostly Rock and Metal on vinyl and Oscar’s On The Corner (https://www.facebook.com/OscarsontheCorner) that has house bands and guest bands playing Rock and Metal music
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"We want to thank all our families, friends and fans around the world for all your love and support and we hope to see you soon! Stay safe and be well."
"A great social and musical influence had the fall of the Romanian communist party and the transition to democracy. "
If Dracula had ever listened to metal, it would definitely have to be an extreme kind of metal, something like Underwaves. Mixing various types of metal together, the quartet muster up a sound that is far more piercing than the vampire lord's fangs. Lashing together the genres of Melodic metal, Metalcore, Nu Metal, Alternative Metal, Groove Metal and Deathcore, you basically end up with Modern Metal Romania-style. Having been going since late 2017, the band has won the Rock'n'Iasi Festival Bands Contest last year whilst in the same year releasing their debut album. They are sure to make a name for themselves throughout the European underground metal scene. GMA spoke to them about their origins, the challenges Romanian Metal bands face and what to do in their home city of Brasov... home of Dracula. No vampires were hurt in the making of this interview.
Ana Ignis (vocals) and Carol Alexandru (guitarist) gave us the insight.
For those who have not heard of Underwaves, could you explain how the band came into being and where the name came from?
"I made the decision very spontaneously, while I was at work and listening to music. I played in a few bands before, but none of them resonated musically with me. Whenever I was at concerts and saw the bands playing, I imagined what it would be like to be in their place. It was quite difficult for me to see others living their dream on stage, so I decided to do something about it. That day I picked up the phone, called our bassist, Bogdan, and asked him if he was willing to play with me in a band. We knew each other before, because we had a few more projects together. The next one I called was Dan, the drummer, and the last one was Carol, the guitarist, who initially rejected the idea.
"The name Underwaves implies duality, mystery, the fact that what is seen always has a meaning inside. The visible part of things hides certain factors that define those things. What is on the surface hides what is underneath. So is our music, it hides our feelings, emotions and feelings."
Seeing as the band had a good career start, what are your next batch of plans once the COVID-19 pandemic has calmed down?
"We had to cancel our entire spring tour due to this pandemic and we are planning to reschedule all the dates, maybe add some more tour dates in it."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tags?; seeing as you use Metalcore, Deathcore, Groove and Alt Metal.
"Usually the genres are used in order to fit a band in a specific label, I wouldn’t say that we can fit in one single genre. Honestly, I don’t even know what we are playing if we take the word “metal” out of the description :) ) I would call it simply “metal”, nothing fancy."
What has the band been doing at home during the pandemic? What other hobbies / interests do you all have?
"We were a little bit stressed due to our jobs and we had to focus more on the financial part unfortunately. We still wrote some pieces of music, riffs and we have 2 new songs in progress. Regarding the hobbies, our drummer plays video games, our bassist is a movie watcher, Ana is shopping online and I do sports."
Would it be fair to say that there has been greater interest in metal bands from Romania and Eastern Europe over the past couple of years?
"Maybe so, Eastern Europe has always seemed to us the edge of the world in terms of underground music. Indeed, there are a lot of good bands on this side, many of them already big, some underrated. And in Romania there are a lot of strong bands with great potential."
Tell us more about the Romanian Metal scene, when did metal arrive in Romania? What is the public opinion of metal? What challenges do bands face?
"Rock music made its appearance in the Romanian music world in the early 1960s and continues to exist today. A great social and musical influence had the fall of the Romanian communist party and the transition to democracy. Lately, more and more festivals have started to appear (obviously, we are talking about the period before the pandemic) and this is gratifying. Although it is a style with a niche audience, we still have many followers and many prestigious metal music festivals in Romania. I don't know what the other bands are facing, let's hope they are luckier than us, but the biggest problem we have is the financial one. It is very difficult to support yourself in music, this is the reason why we all have day jobs."
For metalheads visiting Brașov, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"Definitely the emblem of Brasov when it comes to metal music is the Rockstadt bar. It is the bar in the heart of which Rockstadt Extreme Fest, the largest metal festival in Romania, also started. As for points of interest, we have several museums and cultural points, and 40 km away we have Dracula's castle which is not to be missed."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"I don't know how we could thank all those who have been with us all this time and who will be. It is clear that family and friends have supported us from the beginning, but the people who come to our concerts, buy our T-shirts and listen to our music are the real stars. All the people in this industry that we have known and who have helped us deserve our respect, from sound engineers, stage technicians and lighting technicians, to bartenders, bar managers, tour managers and bands and musicians that we met."
Whenever someone mentions the Mexican Metal scene, usually it's Brujeria that first pops up. But like any national scene, behind the leaders is a vast swathe of bands carving out their own stories, building up their own fan bases and acting as proponents in keeping the scene not only on it's toes, but to serve as the next crop of bands to step up to the plate. One such band is Velvet Darkness who released 3 new singles last year and have been around since 2014, now with big plans in 2020 on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have set their sights on 2021 on being the year they plant the bandera de México and the symbol of Tenochtitlan on European and British soil. During this interrogation we played nice with the los Mexicanos and indulged in a lavish serving of champurrado. The band spoke of the emergence of Mexican Metal on the international stage, how the lockdown has affected the band and Mexican peoples and why Europe is their first international destination.
For those who have not heard of Velvet Darkness, could you give us a brief history of the band and how you came up with the name?
"The band started with Charles and Joe having this dream of making a life out of music. It took a while for them to find the final line-up and went through lots of changes, but finally… here we are! We are a sextet from Ciudad Satélite, Mexico who plays Heavy Metal. We recorded our first EP “Delusion” in 2015, then our first album “Nothing But Glory” in 2018 and then came up with 3 more singles: “Death Eaters”, “God of War ‘19” and the latest, "Insomniac," which will also be part of our next record. The name “Velvet Darkness” is a metaphor about the dark side we all have but don’t often let out."
Tell us more about the quarantine / lockdown in Mexico, what are you allowed and not allowed to do? How is the band coping?
"People are allowed to go out only for very necessary things. Supermarkets are closing earlier, malls are closed and there are driving restrictions as well. However, as many people in Mexico can’t work from home and can’t stop working, the risk is still high.
As a band, we are staying home. We make video conferences each week to catch up and keep working on the new material. Of course, each one of us has been doing great job individually practising our instrument."
2018 was the year your debut album "Nothing but Glory" came out, what was the reception like? Where did you play in support of the album?
"The album had a nice reception. We had a funny listening party and the album presentation at the “Foro Cultural Hilvana” in Mexico City. We also took part in two metal contests and went on two tour dates out of town with Lvto and Erszebeth, and later on with Lvto and Trágico Ballet. That same year, our keyboardist John was named 'Keyboardist of the Year' at the Osmium Metal Awards."
Have you played outside of Mexico? If so where? If not, where ideally would you want to play your first international show(s)?
"We haven’t yet, although we have travelled a lot within the country. Our goal is to play in Europe, especially Germany, the UK and the Nordics."
What are the challenges most Mexican metal bands face these days (COVID-19) aside? Do you feel that Mexico is often ignored by the global metal community?
"The fact that we cannot get together to practice has been the main problem, but we’ve been working online, and we are sure most of the bands are doing the same. Another big problem for the bands has been cancelling shows and postponing recording plans. We really hope this gets better soon.
And yes, we feel that, but we have also noticed that it is changing as we already have some Mexican bands touring and rocking around the world! Hopefully there will be more of us before long."
Kate, it's all too often we hear about sexism in the metal community, what is the attitude towards female musicians in Mexico? Are there / have there been any misogynist remarks?
"Actually, I have never felt that. Lately I have noticed that people like seeing us women singing or playing an instrument. Nowadays, the media and fellow musicians work more in encouraging us to do what we love and that also makes us feel more confident when we go on stage or share something. Of course, I know misogyny is still a big deal, but luckily, I have been treated well in the Mexican metal scene since I joined Velvet Darkness."
For metalheads visiting Ciudad Satélite and nearby city of Naucalpan, what sights / attractions and venues / bars could you recommend?
"Satélite is a very tranquil zone, but still we rock. If you guys come here, you must visit McCarthy's Irish Pub, Rock Son Satélite, The Cross Tavern and ROCKSTORE Satélite."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"First of all, we would like to thank our families for always being there supporting us, no matter what (even if we get a little noisy sometimes). Our friends, who have been doing a great job sharing our music and supporting us on the shows. And our amazing fans, from whom we feel the love and great energy every time we go on stage and through our social networks. Our staff, they never fail, and we have been through a lot together. Thank you!"