OGEN

There is something to exploring your inner sense through music. OGEN’s black metal was just what the doctor ordered when I heard it the first time. An interview were to happen and here it is. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I know next to nothing about you. Could you please introduce the band to us all?
-Ogen is basically a one-man band born with an interest in the black metal sound active from 2010. So far the band has relesed an Ep, ‘Black Metal Unbound’, via Italian label Kolony Records and it’s right now in the middle of the songwriting process of the next opus, wether it be a full-length album or another Ep (or just some single tracks to be made available only in digital format). The intent behind the band was to create some good black metal, both raw and leaning towards more ‘progressive’ features, what I tried to achieve mainly by means of an hopefully unpredictable guitar approach and rhythmic solutions.

I think that a bands name is a statement on intent. That is where it all starts when you see it in writing or in the record store. How tough was it to pick you band name?
-Actually it was quite easy since it just came by reading a XVIIth century book, where it was quoted as an older form of the ancient Greek word for ‘ocean’. I happened to like it very much, both the way it sounded and the meaning itself, which I thought could easily relate to the idea of something vast and unexplored, be it a physical landscape or something else.

We live in an age where digital downloading is increasing and the album as we know it is about to disappear. How important is the album format to you guys? Would Ogen’s music work if it was released track by track?
-That’s an interesting question. I’m still one of those people that really appreciate the album format as a more complete way of expressing someone’s musical leanings. By buying a Cd or a vinyl you get something where sound, image and lyrics unite, giving strength to the whole musical offering. On the other side, I’m not at all against the possibility of releasing music in a different way, like a single track now and then, which could enable an artist to share almost immediately his creations, skipping the whole pressing cycle. Should it happen that one day Ogen releases its work track by track, it could be for special tracks like, maybe, acoustic renditions of already released songs or for a tune that’s meant to stand out from previous work, or even to offer them for free digital download.

What would you say is the greatest gratification with having a new album out? What is it that you want to achieve with this new album?
-First and foremost I think that he who feels the urge to create a work of art reaches gratification just by satisfying his need to give birth, materially too, to his creations. Then, of course, if you get some recognition for your work it’s not bad at all! [laughs]

I’m a man of very little patience. How hard is the wait for the recorded sounds to finally appear on a physical record? What do you do during the wait?
-I think I’m quite a patient person, but it could get frustrating whenever problems in the production cycle arise, like in the mixing-mastering phase, and then you have to, maybe, postpone events related with the release of the album and which you’d put great efforts in.

How important would you say that the lyrics are to the songs? Do you have a specific theme you use?
-To me lyrics are very important; they kind of set the mood for an entire track, which very often gets born after a lyrical theme is sketched. Ogen’s lyrics mainly deal with mountains, forests and woods, legends and old tales (or even tales that are outlined by me), surrounding them. This particular environment is the perfect theatre to set haunting stories into.

Something I often wonder when I listen to metal is how you know what words go with what song?
-As I told, in the case of Ogen is often quite the contrary, it’s the music that tries to fit an already existing lyrical theme, which at the same time forces and leads the songwriting process. It’s like a challenge where the notes must fit the lyrical framework.

Is Ogen a gig playing band? What kind of stage show do you put on? Is it important to not just enter the stage in your plain everyday clothes?
-Ogen is mainly a studio project, but we are trying to get some exposure by playing selected gigs too. I think it’s important to focus more on the music itself and the way it differs in a live situation from recorded material than the theatrics, still I’d like to have some stage decorations that fit the lyrical themes of our music, which is mainly about mountain’s legends and tales.

Do you feel that Ogen is a part of a metal scene, locally as well as internationally? is it important to feel a part of something bigger?
-Well I don’t think that we are part of a scene as long as we have not been very much involved in live activities so far, playing only a few selected gigs, and we are pretty much an unknown band but, on the other hand, we can of course be easily related to a metal genre, which is black metal, even from the logo of the band, and that’s important because can help the listener have some clues about the kind of music to expect from Ogen.

What kind of future would you like to see for Ogen?
-A future made of composing and releasing good extreme metal tunes, in a constant musical evolution leading Ogen to something really interesting. It would be great to build a fan-base and make the name of the band synonym with good music. Thank you for showing interest in the band and giving Ogen the opportunity to spread its name!

THE ORDER

The first time I heard THE ORDER’s new album “1986” I was taken back to a time when I heard Bon Jovi’s “Runaway” the first time. It was such an innocent time back then that I just had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

When I got into metal in 1982 all there was was hardrock/metal. Today we got more sub-genres than is possible to keep track of. How do you attract the right kind of fans to your music?
-When you look to the Cover of our new Album and when you read the Titles of the songs you should know, that we play Classic Hard Rock. Besides of that I think, that we are also attractive for every open minded Metal-Fan as we can sound quite Heavy. Ok, if you are into Metalcore or Blackmetal, The Order might not fit your taste of music 100%, hehe…

You have named you latest album ?1986?. What was so great about that year?
-First of all, we named the album 1986 just because 1984 and 1987 were already taken by Van Halen and Whitesnake, haha… We are all big fans of that 1980es Metal/Hardrock and we wanted to create an Album that keeps the spirit of the 1980es alive. 1986 was a great year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, a lot of great albums came out then, just think of „Master of Puppets“, „Turbo Lover“, „Reign in Blood“ or „Slippery when Whet“. We just found that the title would match perfectly the Songs.

This is your fourth album. Do you see that with each new album you take a step or two forward?
-Musically, we took at least four steps backwards – back to the 80ies! Seriousely: Every Album was a important step for us. On the first Album, we tried to find our style and experienced with a lot of metal influences, the second album was already very focused on classic rock and with our new album we definitively found our style.

How would you like to rate the progress you?ve gone through with each new album?
Well, we don’t realy worry about that progress. It was always a total natural progress from album to album. We didn’t plan to sound more retro with each album, it just happened. We just want to play that kind of music we like to listen to and that’s all.

When do you know it is time to start on a new album? How do you know that you?ve promoted everything out of the previous album?
-As you might know, our last Album – Rockwolf – was released in autumn 2009. Quite a long time between the previous and the new album. So we started with the songwriting in Spring 2010 and we finished the recordings in December 2011. The Mix was done between January and February 2012.

What can you as a band do to make sure that the new album will be a greater success than the previous one? How much does luck play a part in the success?
-Of course we always try to do everything a bit better than the last time, we work hard on our songs and our performances, but all in all its mostly a matter of luck. Do the Fans like the stuff? Does the press like it? Is it zeitgeistly? Do you have the necessary support of the label? I don’t think that you can really control all those facts. Even if you can, its no guarantee to be successful.

What do you consider to be success?
-Nothing. We just play the music we love and we release albums.

Switzerland might not be the greatest country for hardrock/metal. What kind of reactions have you had to your music from the national hardrock/metal fans?
-We got a lot of great feedback from all around the world and especially from Switzerland. For the first time in our career we even hit the official Swiss Album charts. We played some great Shows here and it seems, that people like what we do. The fact, that the new album sells good and a lot of people come to our concert shows, that we are on the right way.

When you start a band, with what intentions do you do it? What is it that drives you to want to play in a band?
-The most important thing for me is to play music together with good friends. Tschibu (Drummer), Andrej (Bassplayer) and I play together since over 20 Years now, Gianni (Singer) is in the band since seven Years. This does only work, if you respect and like each other. For me, this is more important than commercial success. I am completely happy whit the Situation, I think it’s a great gift.

What would a perfect future entail?
-I hope that the band stay together as long as possible. I am happy, if we can continue playing Shows and recording Albums. That’s all I want.

ZEITGEIST ZERO

I like a band that has cross over potential. Don’t know why but for some reason I feel connected to other people by way of music. ZEITGEIST ZERO seems like a band that could very well unite people through music. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Often I don’t get the intention of the band name but this time I almost figured it out. What symbolism is there for you in the name??
-We wanted something enigmatic that reflected the way that we feel out of sync with the current zeitgeist (spirit of the age). It means that history repeats itself, time is cyclic and we like to take the best pieces from different genres and styles. We amalgamate them into our sound and image to make a familiar, yet new piece of art. Zeitgeist Zero has never been a fashionable band, so we have invented our own sense of sound and style.

How hard is it to put a description on the music you play? Alternative/electro/goth rock doesn’t really say too much?
-Our style of music is quite varied, no two songs are really the same. So we prefer to use the loose term of Alternative as opposed to limiting our sound to a specific sub genre. We draw parallels with bands like Blondie and Faith No More who although it took some time for them to gain recognition, had an original and diverse timeless sound, whilst meanwhile many of their contemporaries painted themselves into a corner by jumping on to the specific sub genre bandwagons of the time.

Do you notice that you have a crossover potential? Do you attract all kind of fans like goths, metalheads, electro buffs etc??
-We have always recognised the potential for Zeitgeist Zero to crossover several music scenes. We love lots of different musical styles and want our music to reflect that. This is the main theme of the song ‘United In Black’, we want to bring different music genres and people together rather than divide them by fashion, hair style or sub-genre.

When you have an ambiguous genre definition to play to does that bring with it a greater freedom in composing songs? Do you feel less limited by conventions?
-Zeitgeist Zero has no label so we are completely free to experiment and play around with our music. There’s no manager or marketing department telling us what to do, so each song can grow in whatever direction it wants to go, in order to reach it’s maximum, unrestrained potential. That means that we can use a wider sound palette of samples, keyboard sounds, guitars and drum beats. On the ‘Dead To The World’ album we recorded a Melodica for ‘Caress’ and an alarm clock on ‘Blood’. On ‘The Blackout EP’ we arranged a sample of a dirty sleazy saxophone for ‘When The Lights Go Down’. On the next album we have so far used doodlebugs, sirens, Big Ben, Lord Haw Haw, a stuka dive bomber and made our guitars sound like an anti aircraft battery, and that’s just on the first track.

But does that also bring with a schizophrenic feeling of belonging nowhere? Do you feel that you are in a no-man’s-land musically?
-Originally when we started playing live it was hard for us to get bookings, because of our varied sound people didn’t often know how to pigeonhole us. However, we persevered and played with metal bands, industrial bands, traditional goth bands, electro pop groups and even folk acts. When we played DV8Fest in York we played all three stages on consecutive days featuring three different styles. Now promoters benefit from our varied sound. When booked to play a show they have a wider range of bands to choose as support for us and we have a wider appeal to a larger audience.

You can call a rose by any other name and it will still be a rose. No matter what style you play you still have the same amount of chords and notes to play by. How hard is it to come up with music that hasn’t already been done?
-It’s not hard at all, finding the time to create is the hard part, in between promoting the band, work and the other interferences that come with life. Zeitgeist Zero have never set out to reinvent the wheel when it comes to writing music. We take inspiration from everything around us, past and present and use this to write songs about how we feel and see the world.

When it comes to artwork and costumes etc. do you have a planned strategy for that? Do you believe that a cohesive look is more beneficial to the image of the band??
-We have a definite set of images we wish to project. We have been described as ‘decaying burlesque’ with a kind of gothic vintage look. For the current tour we have adopted a fetish/military look in keeping with the theme of ‘The Blackout EP’. We believe a band needs to project an image, from the website, CDs to our live shows. We want to look like a group as opposed to wearing street clothes. These days when t-shirt and jeans are so mainstream that your boss wears them to work and you can buy metal t-shirts in a high street fashion store; it’s more alternative to wear a vintage suit or ball gown.

How hard is it to find a look that will work and that won’t feel awkward in a few months time?
-We have an image we are all happy with. The trick is to find classic or interesting vintage classics as opposed to slavishly following fashion. This way you have the benefit of time and therefore can gain some perspective on what works. Fashion is fleeting style is timeless. We take time to work out what we want to project and make sure we have a similar theme worn by each band member together. It can take a lot of time to find interesting pieces but we regularly check out vintage fairs and are always on the lookout for weird alternative, vintage, army surplus, antique and curio shops whenever we travel to any new town or city.

What kinds of reactions have you had to your music so far? What response have you gotten on the record?
-We always get a great response to our live show where we combine an energetic performance from a five piece band with eye catching visuals. Both the ‘Dead To The World’ album and our recent CD ‘The Blackout’ have had a great reaction. Both have been voted album of the month in Dark Spy magazine by their panel of reviewers and ‘The Blackout’ CD has got amazing reviews in recent Dominion and Bizarre magazines. The CD was also the number one seller on the Music Non Stop CD store for several weeks.

What would you like the future to bring to you?
-We want to continue to build upon our success and tour more extensively in mainland Europe. We are currently also working on a 3rd studio album that we hope to release next year.

ABSTRACTER “Tomb of Feathers”

ABSTRACTER
“Tomb Of Feathers”
(Dunkelheit)
I shouldn’t really be that interested in the black metal that is far off the beaten road but somehow I can’t resist stuff like Deathspell Omega. There is something to that kind of metal that pleases my very impatient mind. The trickier the better seem to be the motto when it comes to this kind of black metal. And although I simply love the minimalistic style of a Burzum album I too can find enjoyment in the jazziest of black metal. As for Abstracter. They could be either or. This is the kind of stuff that somehow falls between the seats. It’s neither as abstract as Deathspell Omega nor as minimalistic as Burzum. But as a combination of the two this work wonderfully. There is something to this that is pure evil in an entertaining way. There is an edge to it that simply speaks to a side of my metal heart that is not often touched. Anders Ekdahl

BANE “The Acausal Fire”

BANE
“The Acausal Fire”
(Abyss)
I remember that I liked Bane’s previous album. There was something to that album by these guys that touched all the right places in my metal heart. So with that in mind I expect, if not great things, at least close to great things from this album. I expect to be totally blown away by the sheer power of Bane’s blackened death metal. And it proved to be as good as I had hoped for. This is the kind of death metal that a band like Vader has been known to make. This is the brutal yet melodic death metal that I find so great when it is done the right way. And the right way this surely is. I doubt that anybody into Vader, Hate or any other Polish death metal act of the last years will have any trouble with this Balkan death metal act. Anders Ekdahl

DAEMONICUS “Deadwork”

DAEMONICUS
“Deadwork”
(Abyss)
Deamonicus, Demonic, Demonicus etc. The variation seem endless on the word demon but I’m not complaining as long as each band deliver great music. This Deamonicus are new to me. Just from the name I kinda have made my mind up as to what to expect. If the result matches the expectation I’ll be in for a hell of a ride. If not I’ll have to reassess the situation and come up with a new answer. I’m not gonna go as far as calling this a Dissection for the 10s but I get those kind of vibes from this Umeå based Swedish death act. Nobody will ever be able to touch the grandeur of Dissection but if you just come close to it then you’re on the right track. Throw in some old Entombed and you get a pretty good death metal album. Old School Swedish death metal RULES. I am an addict to this kind of stuff. I can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s in my DNA. Anders Ekdahl

ERUPTED “In The Grip Of Chaos”

ERUPTED
“In The Grip Of Chaos”
(Abyss)
There are so many bands out there that even if I get to hear hundreds of them there are still twice as many if not more that I miss out on totally. Sometime I wish that there were more than 24 hours to a day just so that I could spend my time looking up all the great bands in the universe that we call metal. But since that won’t happen any time soon I’ll settle for the bands that do come my way. As with Erupted. This is another Swedish death metal act. I’ve lost count on how many there are of these acts out there. But as a sucker for anything Swedish death metal I’ll take on this one too. This is more mid tempo and kinda Grave-ish in style yet with an old school feel to it. All of a sudden it feels like I’m back in the late 80s/early 90s again. There are so many new great Swedish death metal acts to check out that it becomes hard to keep track of them all. And I seem to like them all. This one included. Anders Ekdahl

EXECRATION “The Acceptance Of Zero Tolerance”

EXECRATION
“The Acceptance Of Zero Tolerance”
(Comatose Music)
Execration! While not being remotely close to having any sort of relation to this band I still want this to be a brutal piece of extreme metal. But then again I pretty much hope for that with any and all record I get my hands on. Call me indecisive but I’m so in love with anything and all that is metal that I only see the world of metal through rose tinted glasses. I only see the glass as half full instead of the other way round. So for Execration to be a total let down they have to fail miserably. And brutal it is in the Immolation/Incantation school of death metal. I simply love Incantation so any that even remotely touches on that band’s genius is a plus in my book. Execration are heavy in a way that makes a bulldozer seem light weight. This is death metal that crushes rocks by its sheer power. This is the kind of death metal you scare old ladies with. This is some cool shit. Anders Ekdahl

MANILLA ROAD “Invasion”

MANILLA ROAD
“Invasion”
(Shadow Kindom)
I remember Manilla Road from the 80s and the Black Dragon record label. Not that I bothered checking up on them back then but they’ve been in my conscious ever since. And although it hasn’t been by choice I have managed to miss out/stay away from them up until now. But with 2012 coming to an end I’m going to hear my very first Manilla Road album. And what better way to start than with an album that dates back more than 30 years. This is like being there from the beginning. If I had heard this in a time when I only listened to Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and stuff like that I would have thought this was some of the heaviest stuff I’d ever heard. Hearing it now with the reference frames I have this is still some heavy stuff. This is timeless music. If you like you hardrock/heavy metal on the bluesier side Manilla Road is the way to go. But that you already knew, didn’t you? It’s just me that is late in catching on. Anders Ekdahl

MEMORAIN “Evolution”

MEMORAIN
“Evolution”
(Maple Metal)
I’m not that very easily impressed by “supergroups” as most of the time they are more PR- stunts than anything else. And when you haven’t even heard of half of the people involved it just ends up silly. As with Memorain. I know of some people involved (Gene Hoglan) but most of those involved are a blank card to me. This in reality could be a blessing because this way I can listen to the album with a clear mind free of preconceptions. And seeing as I’m not that star struck I couldn’t tell one from the other in the music. This is heavy metal on the harder, edgier side. Maybe a bit borderline thrash. In spirit they remind me of Original Sin but all male. This wasn’t as offbeat as I had imagined it to be. It is actually quite good. I can see myself spinning this disc more than once. Anders Ekdahl