Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – “Ascending To Infinity”

Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – “Ascending To Infinity” (Nuclear Blast)

Last year Italian power metal band Rhapsody Of Fire split into 2 bands with Alex Staropoli continuing in the aforementioned band whilst founding member guitarist Luca Turilli and bassist Patrick Gers formed a new group: Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. “Ascending To Infinity” is Turilli’s debut with his new band and he has come out with all guns blazing! Bearing in mind that he has always had a penchant for film scores, Turilli’s productions have always been epic and “Ascending To Infinity” is no exception: from bombastic Baroque choirs to insane neo classical guitar solos to exquisite medieval folk melodies the title track is enough to send me into ecstasy while Alex Conti’s superb soprano vocals could lift the roof off any opera house while he’s tearing into the majestic ‘Dark Fate Of Atlantis’ and the suave futuristic ‘Clash Of The Titans’! If you are a fan of early Rhapsody then look no further than Turilli’s work here, for it contains all those classic elements, but ascended to a higher realm, the effect of which is nothing short of breathtaking.

Master – “The New Elite”

Master – “The New Elite” (Pulverised Records)

Holy shit, Speckmann rules man. If you are a fan of old school death / thrash then look no further than the grand meister himself, Paul Speckmann. Man, this guy has been going since ’83 and even now aged 48 and quitting Chicago for the Czech Republic, he is still delivering old school almost 30 years on! Best of all, he still has that underground sound and style that bands like Possessed, Death, Venom and Slayer had way back in their day: dirty, driller killer riffs, rumbling pig grunt bass, bestial insane drumming and if anyone can have more gargled vocals then Lemmy, then it’s gotta be Speckmann!! In the world of Master simplicity is brutality but being expertly crafted by him, songs like ‘As Two Worlds Collide’, ‘Remove The Knife’ and ‘Out Of Control’ are nothing short of epics in that classic old school vein but served fresh outta the vat the only way Speckmann has ever uncompromisingly done – “The New Elite” is a big fuck you to anyone challenging him, now go fuckin’ die!!!!

Whitechapel – “Whitechapel”

Whitechapel – “Whitechapel” (Metal Blade)

Just about every band out there wants a self titled album, and so it has come for Tennessee’s Whitechapel. Well, if you’re gonna make a statement with it, then do so and these guys have: “Whitechapel” is probably their biggest album to date. Big sound thanks to producer Mark Lewis (Deicide, Devildriver), the addition of drummer Ben Harclerode (ex-Knights Of The Abyss), Phil Bozeman’s desire to move from song concepts to just writing straight from the heart to Alex Wade’s desire to introduce more dark melodies indicate a unified desire to evolve and that’s exactly what this album is. Listening to the likes of ‘I, Dementia’, ‘Faces’ and ‘The Night Remains’ it’s clear there’s been a shift from the pummeling deathcore the band have been tagged with to well, a band that has matured and taken a big step up in all areas thankfully without losing their savagery and brutal sound, but instead enhancing it with technicality and gracing it with catchy and sophisticated melodies. “Whitechapel” is an impressive album that will see these guys open their audience and put them up there with the likes of fellow deathsters Amon Amarth and Nile in headliner status!

Merrimack – “The Acausal Mass”

Merrimack – “The Acausal Mass” (AFM Records)

Screaming black metal from the streets of Paris! Merrimack are France’s premier black metal band, starting in 1994 but coming from a scene which is still relatively underground so they still retain the classic trademarks of ‘real’ black metal in terms of nihilistic metallic punk riffola, haunting tortured vocals and pummeling drum work. However, being French they also possess a high degree of style and sophistication in their polished musicianship (having taken the years to recruit a par excellence band) and moreover, in their quality songs like ‘Arousing Wombs In Nine Angles Pleroma’, ‘Beati Estis Cum Meledixerint Vobis’ and ‘Worms In The Divine Intestine’. That, coupled with their divine belief in their Satanic inspirations has resulted in an album that is highly charged not just for its hateful energy, but also a dark passion as if from the fiery pits of hell itself.

Binah – “Hallucinating in Resurrecture”

Binah – “Hallucinating in Resurrecture” (Dark Descent Records)

There’s precious little info on this Brit trio, so much so that while containing members of the underground scene, Binah is almost an underground band within an already little known realm. Alternatively, these guys might be so mainstream they don’t want their anonymity affecting this project LOL! Whatever the case, Binah offer some serious old school death metal that seems to tick all the boxes from filthy distorted guitar with syrup thick Swe-death riffs to primordial growling vocals and a drummer whose feet must be surgically grafted onto his drum pedals! Think Autopsy, early Dismember or Nominon when you listen to crushing visceral slabs like ‘The Emissary’, ‘Crepuscular Transcendence’ and ‘Eminence Of The Sombre’ and whatever their credentials I have to give Binah full marks in delivering a superb album in its own right that gnaws you right down to the bone beautifully!

Zoltar Speaks – “Treatment”

Zoltar Speaks – “Treatment” EP (www.facebook.com/zoltarspeaks)

LOL – when I think of their name, I can’t help but think of that weird creepy arcade machine from the Tom Hanks’s 80s film “Big” – and hey presto, here comes a band named after it! Rolling in from the farmlands of Somerset in England comes the metallised rock band Zoltar Speaks fronted by farm lass Body who looks like she’s been lifting hay bales to match her power vox. Mixing Pantera-meets-Metallica riffs in a combine harvester and combining them with tractor heavy rhythms, Body actually adds a nice feminine touch giving panache to songs like ‘The Best Revenge’ and ‘How Could You Blame’ on this energetic but groovy EP. Big sound, big people and big style is what has been granted by Zoltar Speaks this time round!

CULT OF THE FOX

CULT OF THE FOX is a traditional heavy metal band from the south of Sweden that might not have gotten the attention they deserve. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

What is it like to play traditional heavy metal today with so many new bands keeping the flame alive?
-I have been playing traditional metal in different bands for almost 17 years and it has never been this easy to get attention and gigs before. So I think it’s a very good time for classic metal now.

Sweden seems to have become the torch bearer for this rejuvenation of trad metal. Why do you think that so many new bands start to play heavy metal today?
-Growing up in the 90s scene heavy metal was very uncool, when the 90s passed and the retro scene emerged, it was ok to play heavy metal again. Now I guess that more or less all metal styles exist simultaneously instead of one replacing another. There are a lot of new German and Dutch bands that don’t get half of the attention the new Swedish bands get, I really don’t know why but I guess it’s good for us!

I take it that just releasing an album isn’t enough to get noticed. How hard work is it to actually make a name for yourself?
-I think the internet is the upside and the downside to this. It is easy to put out music and get contacts but since it’s so easy the scene gets over flooded with bands doing the exact same thing!

How do intend to take the band forward? Any grand schemes to make Cult of The Fox the next big thing?
-Our main goal is just to keep the band going, hopefully releasing more albums and getting more gigs. Our next step is recording our second album, “Angelsbane”, this summer and hopefully have it out by October this year.

When you are signed to a German label does that bring with loads of cultural clashes in the way you want them to work and the way they actually work?
-We have never been signed to any other label than German so I don’t know, I think musicians always want the labels to promote the music more and getting better deals and labels want music that sells. Nationality doesn’t make a big difference, I think.

You recently signed to another German label (Rock It Up). Is this a step up or will you still be acting on the same level as with the debut album? What do you want to get out of this new deal?
-We think it’s a step up, to a label with more releases and bigger distribution. Hopefully we can get the new album out to a lot more people.

When you come from Southern Sweden you are closer to the continent. Does the fact that you can be in Germany in just a few hours open up more doors to play live?
-Yes, of course you still have a long way to drive for gigs, but we have to possibility to play somewhere in Germany and drive to and fro in a day. Our biggest problem is getting the gigs in the first place…

Malmö has had a great heavy metal scene. What is the metal scene like today? What places are there to play?
-The scene is very poor in Malmö, even if it’s a lot better than it used to be 10-15 years ago. There are some pubs to play but no really good venues for underground metal bands.

How pleased are you with the response you’ve had to your first album “A Vow of Vengeance”? What could have been done differently for it to be more successful?
-We are overwhelmed by the positive response we got for it! Of course when you play on something yourself you listen to it from a musician point of view and not as a music fan and sometimes you think about what could have been done differently. But we are very proud of the record and the songs!

What does the future hold for you guys?
-First up is recording the new album which we are looking forward to a lot, we learned a lot from the previous recordings so it’s going to be a lot of fun and a good chance to prove our capability in writing new songs! We are continually searching for gigs and we played in Holland and France in January and hopefully we can get some German gigs when the record is out!

CRYSALYS

CRYSALYS take metal and opera and try to make something of it. The end result isn’t too bad. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Why is it that there as so many Y’s in your band name? Any symbolic meaning to the use of this letter?
-Well, you can read the word Cry at the beginning of the name, for example. That’s why some of our fans like to pronunce the name krahys-uh-lis, but it’s just something that makes our band name more personal. The main concept we want to evoke with our name is the chrysalis and the path that will lead it to the metamorphosis into a butterfly.

What is there to the mix of metal and operatic vocals that you can’t achieve with a traditional metal vocalist?
-Some parts of our songs display a good amount of drama and theatricalism that probably we couldn’t have achieved with a different voice. It’s not only because of the voice, but also thanks to the passion, the knowledge and the exprerience that Chiara’s classical soul can provide

When did opera and metal meet to agree on it being a good combination? What is there to the sub-genre opera metal than the vocals?
-It depends on the listener’s ears. The problem is that those who like metal, probably won’t like Opera, and viceversa. If you like Nightwish or Epica it doesn’t mean that you like Opera. Whatever virtuosism or ploy you can try, if the listener doesn’t apreciate (real) operatic voices, he won’t like Crysalys music. Anyway, we tried and we will try again to incorporate more operatic elements in our music, so as to give Chiara the chance to express all the nuances of her voice. We think the next album will explain better what we mean for Post-Opera.

When you have a vocalist with a range bigger than your typical vocalist what kind of challenges does that bring to the song writing?
-Very nice question. Chiara’s voice is something incredible. She can do almost everything. Paradoxically, the challenge is to understand how to get the most out of her voice, choosing from time to time when to use her clean vocals and when to switch to operatic ones. When Chiara reaches the highest peaks of her voice, it gets hard yet necessary to support her with a music that is as much dramatic. Another difficult challenge takes place in the studio and on stage: it’s not that simple for a sound engineer to handle the dynamic and the range of Chiara’s vocals!

How do you avoid that the songs end sounding the same for a full album? How do you write songs that are different from each other and yet not fall out of the context of the band?
-Thanks to keyboards, synths and the orchestra, we can achieve every kind of sound we like, and that gives us the chance to take the listener from a place into another, to take him into the future or back to the past. Anyway, it’s really important for a band to keep a sense of consistency, at least when it comes to record an album; so Chiara’s voice is so personal that she gives a sense of consistency herself.

Do you work from a concept when you compose for Crysalys? What kind of topics do you touch upon? How important is the lyrics/words to bring out the most of the music?
-Yes, we love to work on a concept, it’s something that inspires you and grows with you day by day while working on new stuff, and it also enriches the sense of consistency we were talking about. Most of the lyrics come after the music, but we like to start writing a song when we already have at least 2-3 periods that could express the sense of the song. Listening to The Awakening of Gaia, you can guess the topics we like to touch: magic, nature, fairy tales, and some metaphores from our mythology.

When you are a band that is pretty much up and coming how do you work to get people to notice you?
-We worked hard on internet to promote us: social network, advertising, etc. Internet is now the cheapest and fastest way to promote a band, but it’s not the same thing to play on stage and to capture fans with your music. So, we hope to have more chances to play live, even supporting big bands.

What are the advantages of having a record label that speaks the same language as you do? What disadvantages are there to being signed to a label based in your home country?
-It depends from country to country, We suppose. Concerning communication, to speaks the same language is not important; to be honest, the label often send us e-mails in english language, because there are a lot of band from other nations in the roster, and we have also to write every bullettin in english as well; we have more foreign fans than italian ones.
In Italy, the main problem is not labels (that should have contact in other nations as well), but metal fanbase. Italy is the country of pop music, and it will always be. Italy never had a solid metal fanbase… There are a lot of metal bands in our country, indeed, and lots of them are pretty good, but it is still difficult for them to spread their music out of our borders. Italy will never act as a springboard for metal bands. But no one is prophet in his own land, right? 🙂

How much time and effort did you invest in making a video? Has it paid off and in what ways?
-To realize a good videoclip is not cheapy, though it is not that expensive as you might think, especially if you try to make do as much as you can. For example, Fabio created the storyboard and the scenery and suggested “The Awakening of Gaia”, because the structure and the dynamics of this track would have helped us making a good video. The video has probably been the best promoting action we ever did. We already achieved more than 150.000 views from all over the world.

Where do you see Crysalys going in the future?
-As we said at the beginning of this very nice interview (thank you very much Anders for this opportunity), we hope that Crysalys will soon evolve into a butterfly. Our first goal is to realize a new album and try to become and remain an important name in the genre, one of those groups that the new generations still appreciate and listen to.

DISEASE ILLUSION

DISEASE ILLUSION is a death metal band from Italy. Well worth checking out if you like you death with a bite to it. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I know so very little about you guys that I need for you to introduce the band to me?
-Disease Illusion is an Italian Melodic Death Metal band, formed in 2008 by Dario (guitar), Federico (guitar), Fabio (vocals), Alex (drums) and Michele (bass guitar).We have released our first EP “Reality Behind The Illusion Of Life” in 2008, which was well rated by critics in various metal magazines and webzines (in particular it was TOP DEMO on Metalitalia and appeared on Metal Maniac and Metal Hammer IT ).
We had an intense live activity in these last years, playing all over northern Italy, in Switzerland and Slovenia, and sharing the stage with some of the most important international Metal and Hardcore bands (ABORTED, BLEEDING THROUGH, DYING FETUS, ORIGIN, BENEATH THE MASSACRE, FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, MISERY SIGNALS, YOUR DEMISE, NEAERA, DREAMSHADE, BLEED FROM WITHIN, VISION DIVINE, SALT THE WOUND, THE NUMBER TWELVE LOOKS LIKE YOU, WARBRINGER, REVOCATION, The Modern Age Slavery, Slowmotion Apocalypse, Mainline, Infernal Poetry, Idols are Dead, Mothercare and many more) and in some of the most important festivals in Europe (Metalcamp 2009 and Thrash and Burn 2010). In summer 2010 we have recorded our first full length “Backworld”, composed of 10 tracks, recorded at Regrexion Studios by Michele Trasforini in Bologna and mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni at Domination Studios (The Modern Age Slavery, Stigma, DGM, Empyrios) in San Marino. The artwork was made by Archetype design (Behemoth, The Faceless, Graveworm).
“Backworld” has been released worldwide in November 2011 via UltimHate Records.

?To my ears you have a Swedish melodeath touch only more aggressive. What is it that influences you to play the style of metal you play?
-Yes I think that the sound of our first album “Backworld” has a typical Melodic Death metal mood, with little influences from other genres like Gothic and Metalcore.
Our music is a mix of old and new, because we play a type of music that became famous in the second half of 90’s, but with have a really modern approach since we have also a great passion for modern metal.
We will always try to improve our sound adding more influences and experimenting new solutions.

How hard is it to be a band struggling to get noticed in today’s overkill of bands all over the place (internet)?
-That’s really hard to come out from the underground scene, because there are too many bands on the Internet, and you must have something really cool or original to be noticed by the audience. We do a lot of promotion on social networks and webzine, but the most important thing for us is to write good music: we think that if you concentrate yourself on the song writing and on a good live show, you will get a positive feedback.

How did you end up on a Belgian label? Does it really matter today what kind of label you are signed to when everybody seems to be downloading illegally?
-We managed to get in touch with Ultimhate some years ago here in Italy and last year we thought it was the right label for releasing “Backworld”. Lots of people download illegally but some still buy music, being signed with a label makes the difference for the second ones.

What kind of metal scene is there to speak of in Bologna? What kind of scene do we speak of in the whole of Italy?
-The Italian scene is still full of good bands even if from us we noticed a light decrease of the general interest about the metal, thing that we noticed also in Bologna (there’s no generational transfer!). Among other things i believe that the metal scene is in difficulty, as well as any other musical scenes, and this is due to the difficulty that the bands have in promoting and self-financing.

How hard is it to come up with songs that stand out and doesn’t sound like something that has been done before by others?
-It’s quite hard for every kind of band, but particularly for newcomer bands which tend to be boxed superficially, saying “they sound like that band” and nothing more.

What is it that you want to accomplish with the band? Do you have any greater goals for the band?
-The only goal that we have with the band is to write good music and to play more gigs possible all over the world! We know that’s really difficult to reach “success” playing metal music, so we don’t have any expectations about our “financial future” relating with music, and we concentrate ourselves only on integrity of the band and fun.

How important is it to a young band to get to play with bigger name bands? What can you learn from playing with bigger name bands?
-It’s important because you can broaden your curriculum, and you have the opportunity to get in touch with people that may help your band if they like it. The greatest lesson you can learn is: “it’s a long way to the top”.

What kind of Italian live scene is there for young bands to play and gain experience? How easy is it to set up a tour of Italy?
-Unfortunately in Italy there is not a real metal music scene. In last years fewer and fewer people are interested in this genre, they prefer the dj-set of commercial music in the clubs. We focus to the European public where our music is more appreciated.

What does the future bring for Disease Illusion?
-The first thing we have to do, are more videos. For the “One Last Breath” video clip we have received a positive feedback and we want to keep on this way of promotion. We are working on a new storyboard and the filming will start soon. We are also planning for a European mini-tour, we hope to do that!
In the meantime we are starting to compose the new album.

EYE BEYOND SIGHT

EYE BEYOND SIGHT is another exciting metal act from Central Europe. Check èm out if you thought that all music from that part of Europe is muzak. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Now that you are signed to Massacre can you sit back and reap the benefits? How much of a dream come true is this to you?
-Well surely not! This is the time when after release you have to push the band forward and arrange some tour. We definitely are planning this but considering that we arrange our shows mainly by ourselves its sometimes more difficult.

As somebody who finds band names fascinating I have a hard time to decipher your band name. What’s the meaning behind it?
-Well yes, we can consider that with our lyrics we try to teach people to read between the lines, in other words, to have an additional “eye beyond sight” (hehe) that allows to see more alternatives and solutions than the mass media tells to them. Clearly, we want people to think!

What kind of metal scene is there in Slovakia today? How does Eye Beyond Sight fit into it?
-The scene needs a recovery but thanks to some people and their effort it is on its best way to succeed. Metalexpress , Gothoom Productions are those who really cooperate on the local scene and try to heal it.

Slovakia is really a big blank for me when it comes to metal. What kind of places are there to play live in? What kind of infrastructure is there for bands to tour the country?
-As in each country, in Slovakia we as well have international bands playing so we do not miss big name bands when they are on tour. Sometimes it happens that for instance they play only in Hungary or Austria but those are not far from us so it is not a problem to get there. Regarding the touring we have clubs over the country as well however some of them need better equipment.

Do you feel like you are the success story of Slovakian metal? How much pressure do you feel on making it big?
-We do not think it at all! There are many good bands in our country but we do something differently and that is maybe the one thing that we had a chance and lived with it. Nowadays a band needs as well get involved in management stuff in order to reach something, and many bands are doing this and they get somewhere under local label or even international. The competition is so big that you need to do your best in order to get recognized.

What’s the biggest difference being on a big label like Massacre compared to underground labels?
-Their professionalism!

When you have a finished album that won’t get a proper release worldwide until much later how do you go about keeping up the interest in the band?
-If I bring up our case than we were firstly under a Hungarian label, and considering that we sent out our record to many labels, later we agreed on with Massacre. We didn’t need to keeping up the interest in the band considering that we didn’t know whether we would get a worldwide release.

How boring is it to promote material that is as old as one year? How do you keep it interesting?
-This is a good question, if we consider that this promotion is worldwide it is much more interesting for us now, than before. Now we get comments and fans from worldwide and not just from our country and this is cool ! It fill´s us and force us to make the upcoming album better, heavier that will blast your head off.

What kind of touring plans do you have now that you are backed by a big label?
-We don’t have now exact dates but we are working on it. It seems that we will focus on festivals during the summer, and after will try to arrange an autumn tour.

What do you think the future will hold for you now?
-Well we hope that our cooperation with Massacre Records will be a long-time cooperation and that we will get more support in the future from booking agencies and organizers and we will receive opportunities to tour countries even as a support band. That will makes us really happy! We want to thank you as well your support that you asked us for this short interview. It means very much for us! Cheers to all of your readers and we hope we will play to you live in future!