ONE WITHOUT “Numbers”

ONE WITHOUT
“Numbers”
(OW Records)
I’v been meaning to check this band out for the longest of times but I don’t seem to get round to it. Until now that is. I have no idea what to expect. All I know basically is that they use dual vocals, which kinda makes me hope that they are akin towards Draconia. Only a three track digital only release this might just be the introduction that I need to this band. Well it didn’t start too bad. Although I got some metalcore vibes to begin with this is more along the way of the tried and tested Gothenburg sound with the added feature of a female voice. It wasn’t as awful I had feared. Actually I came to like it. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before but they do it well enough to stand out (a bit). Anders Ekdahl

SATELLITE BEAVER “The Last Bow”

SATELLITE BEAVER
“The Last Bow”
(-)
I really liked the whole stoner rock thing when it happened even though I never got round to checking out Kyuss. I liked that whole groove thing that these bands got going. It was so much better than grunge because it lacked the whole slacker attitude that grunge had. This time around they let the music do the talking and left the posing to others. I liked that laid back attitude. Don’t know where it stands in 2012. But Polish Satellite Beaver (strange name) has got a Monster Magnet feel to their groove (don’t know how much stoner that is) that I kinda fell for. I like that this swings back and forth in a comfortable manner. This is only an EP but it does show promise for a full length album. Anders Ekdahl

SWITCHBLADE ROSIE “Nocturnal Guest”

SWITCHBLADE ROSIE
“Nocturnal Guest”
(-)
Switchblade Rosie sound like it could be an AC/DC cover band or a sleaze band from LA circa 1986. And I wouldn’t mind if it was either of the two. But the truth is something completely different. When I see jazz mentioned in connection with metal I get a sense that it could end up an even stranger Dillinger Escape Plan. I did not have to fear that with Switchblade Rosie. This is nowhere near as strange to decipher as I feared. It is in fact quite easy to understand. There is a progressive metal side to this that makes it enjoyable and frankly really good. Don’t know if it will appeal to Tool fans but I can see fans of Opeth going for this too. Or if your ears are tired from listening to Meshuggah all day long. Then you can rest them listening to this. Anders Ekdahl

VIPER VENOM “In Venom Veritas”

VIPER VENOM
“In Venom Veritas”
(-)
I really hope this doesn’t sting too badly. No, I take that back. I really hope this one stings like hell. Anything but being dull is appreciated. I’m not going to hope for this to be like a cross between the bands Viper and Venom because that I do not know if I want to hear. This Italian band might prove to be what the doctor ordered. Luckily the music is anything but a bad. This is heavy metal with a female voice that doesn’t try to bring forth vision of angels. I can’t help thinking of bands like NY’s Meanstreak or Wench or even PMS that too had that rough edge to their metal. Which is kinda strange because I thought I was the only one that remembered them today. And perhaps I am. Any which way this turned out to be just what the doctored ordered. Anders Ekdahl

ABSOLACE

ABSOLACE came from out of nowhere and knocked me out. I had to find out more about this band so an interview was set up. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Absolace are totally new to me. What can you tell us about your humble beginnings?
-The band was formed in about late 2008/early 2009, to track our debut album ‘Resolved[d]’, which was released in July 2010. The songs though, go back quite some time. It started off kind of as my own writing project, then I got Jack (guitars), who is an old friend of mine, to jam some of the songs with me. We actually went into production just before approaching the rest of the band.

When you come from a place not known for its music scene does that make it harder to be taken serious by the rest of the music loving world?
-Well I wouldn’t say harder to take seriously. Actually people kind of get a bit curious when they hear of a band from Dubai. Its more that its harder to get your music out there, just because of the difficulty of touring in places like Europe and US when you live so far away.

Have you ever felt that you’ve had to prove yourself worthy in a way that you would not have had to had you come from Europe or the US?
-Well yes it does get very frustrating being stuck over here. Believe me all we wanna do is just get our music out there. But we are cooking up some plans, I think you’ll be seeing us very soon.

When you release and album does it feel like you’ve made and can sit back or is it now that the journey begins? Take us through the emotions that run through you?
-No not at all. I think the positive thing about our lack of touring schedule means that we can still ourselves busy with writing music. We already have some ideas brewing for even more music to come.

When do you know that you are ready to release an album? Do you go on gut feeling or are you more strategic?
-Hahahah no not much strategy I must admit. It’s more like, we all get writing, and when we feel we have enough material, we go into production for however long it takes. We try to stick to a schedule as much as possible, but other things do end up getting in the way. We finish when we finish, and once it’s all ready to go, we release it.

How hard is it to find the right kind of people to work with? How do you avoid all the big talkers that promise wide and deliver short?
-Well actually, most people we work with, ranging from all the band members, to designer, to people working for our label, etc, are mostly people we have known for a while. We trust them, and we know they are realistic people. We rarely get ourselves into a situation where someone promises everything and we are gullible enough to fall for it.

We live in a day and age that almost requires that everybody has a computer and broadband connection to not be out of the loop. How can you best take advantage of the social media to further the band?s cause?
-The internet is great for what we’re doing. I mean a few years ago, the pre-myspace/facebook/twitter/youtube era, everybody’s internet time was spent all over the place, and spread very thin. It was difficult to pinpoint where to focus all of your promotion. Now most people’s net time is 90% spent on the above mentioned social networks. That’s where a lot of bands are discovered and made into what they are today. Not only that, but it gives great feedback and insights into your fanbase. We can tell everything about our fans, where they’re from, what age they are, how they heard of us, etc.. It’s great!

How do you reach all those people that still don’t have access to the net? What ways are there still left outside of the electronic in reaching people?
-Well not many people are left out from the internet these days to be honest. Having said that we don’t stick entirely to the internet to promote ourselves. We keep trying to push our radio play. We try to encourage people to buy merch at our shows to wave our flag around. When we throw gigs, we do the traditional flyer and poster thing too. The internet is great, but it’s not absolutely everything.

What would you say has been the greatest experience being in a band so far?
-We’ve had our fare share I think. For me, our two trips to play in Lebanon were the best. That’s just my opinion. The first was opening for Anathema in Beirut, and the second was playing at the prestigious byblos festival. Also I’ll never forget it.

What future do you see for Abosolace?
-Well we’re not done yet, not by any stretch of imagination. Ideally, we would like to see a couple of European tours, and a US tour, under our belts in the next couple of years. Plus another full-length album. We’ll just see what happens.

DERIDE

Norway might not be synonymous with thrash metal but look deeper and you’ll find a great thrash heritage too. DERIDE has nothing to be ashamed of. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Why does a Norwegian band decide to play heavy/thrash metal?
OLE: Well why not ? It doesn`t matter where you come from or what
background you have. There`s many bands over here doing all kinds of genres, not just black
metal. We`ve been playing thrash metal since `95 so this is no news to us.

Norwegian metal in the 80s was pretty much a joke but now in the 10s it is looked upon with awe. Do you notice that you get respect just from being Norwegians?
OLE: I do notice some interest since we`re coming from Norway and all. But DERIDE don`t exactly fit in the black metal genre either. By the way Artch, Equinox, and Whitchhammer were great bands from the late 80`s J

When you sign to a label what is it that you look for? What would not have made you sign on the dotted line?
OLE: Well first of all it isn`t easy to get signed nowadays. So I think one needs to lower the expectations a bit, especially compared to the earlier days when bands were actually selling albums. Of course there needs to be a mutual respect and understanding of both the musical aspect and the business side. And to have an open dialog with frequently updates doesn`t hurt either. I don`t know what would have made me not sign the contract.. If a label has a bad reputation I wouldn`t have contacted them in the first place.

I have to admit that even though I Swedish I haven’t heard of you guys before. What have you been up to previously?
OLE: I`m playing in The Batallion, God Seed and Grimfist (which currently is on hold). Kjetil (drummer) is playing in Audrey Horne, and Tony (bass) is playing with Sahg. We like to keep ourselves busy over
here hehe..

How do you come up with a band name that is representative of the style of metal you play?
OLE: I don`t hehe. I`m not good at that stuff. But all kinds of band-names could work nowadays, as long as it sounds cool..It doesn`t need to have a deeper meaning or anything. Our original vocalist Børre Michelsen came up with the name DERIDE.

We often hear of how great the metal scene is in Bergen or Oslo butwhat is it really like to be a metal band in Norway?
OLE: In Bergen the metal scene (and music-scene in general) is quite healthy I think. We have quite a diversity which is really cool for a small city. We don`t make loads of money that`s for sure so it can be a struggle at times. As long as we`re having fun being creative it`s all worth it!

What kind of live scene is there in Norway? Is there any point to going a national tour?
OLE: As a metal band you could do the biggest cities; Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Haugesund, Tromsø etc. They all have solid metal support. But it`s not easy to do gigs on the country-side playing extreme metal hehe..

When you come back after an 8 year break away from the album scene what do you expect to get from it?
OLE: Well we don`t expect big album-sales nowadays, since everybody`s downloading. But there`s always a demand for quality music, and live acts. We feel that we still have something to offer in that aspect. If you `re into high energy and brutal attack do not miss out on a DERIDE gig!

How different is the scene now compared to when you last released an album?
OLE: There`s many bands out there these days, doing all kinds of stuff. It`s more difficult to get attention I think. We`ve had quite a few solid reviews on the new album ?The Void?. But we definitely need to get out and do more gigs to get the attention we deserve.

What prediction do you have for the future?
OLE: It feels really great to get this album out and available to the listeners, so that we can start to work on new material. There won`t be another 8 years for the next album that`s for sure !! But for now, make sure you guys check out our new album “The Void” out through Massacre Records!!

EL CUERVO DE POE

I came upon EL CUERVO DE POE by chance seeing a flyer on Facebook about a female metal voice festival. I looked them upon, checked them out and knew I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I do not speak any Spanish so could you please explain the choice of name?
-Well basically the name is inspired on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”. As we all may know, this was one of this author’s prime creations. We felt pretty identified with this one, mostly because of the subjects it talks about, which are, in some way, the subjects we tend to handle in our lyrics.

This is something that I keep returning to simply because I find it fascinating to find out why people play the music they do. What was it that drew you to gothic metal?
-In our most personal point of view, I’d say it was the beauty-and-the-beast-kind-of feeling you get with this genre, for it is rough, yet it’s got beauty within all of it at the same time. It’s balanced. And balance, if you get to know us better, you’ll find that it’s something that defines us and our lives.

Where did you look for inspiration? Is there a Mexican gothic tradition to speak of?
Yeah, I guess every culture around the globe has got it’s very own dark side. We humans, we all got a dark side within, it’s part of our nature. And we know that gothic style tends to embrace in some way, that dark side we all got, so you could say we Mexicans got a bit of that as well. “La Llorona” (or “The Crying Woman” in English) could be some sort of a Mexican gothic legend, so we made a cover song, metal version, out of it.

Had I not come upon a flyer on Facebook I would not have known of you. How hard is it to reach outside of Mexico and into the conscious of the rest of the metal world?
-As with pretty much everything else, it is hard, pretty hard I guess, but it’s all about education in the end, it gives us the means and options to follow and work on it. We get contacts, we work on it. We are forced to be disciplined with this if we want to move on forward, and we all know that is not an easy path. Especially nowadays that bands around the world are forced to be independent for a wide variety of reasons, and being independent basically means: “you gotta work your ass out of it if you want to get known”. But we fully enjoy it.

How do you use the social media the best to maximize the outcome?
-Social media has become one of the greatest tools for every project nowadays (if not, the best tool). We use it to inform our fans of our gigs in their city, we use it to sell merch, our albums, among many other stuff. Hundreds of people get to hear our music and know our name daily just with a single click. We can even get money out of those clicks sometimes. So yeah, social media is something every band or project needs today to maximize the outcome in every way.

I do not like digital releases. I am a physical kind of guy. What is your opinion about digital v/s physical?
-It depends, sadly, on the budget. Like I said before, having an independent band sometimes means you gotta make the best of it with a limited budget, so if it allows you to distribute physically your album, it’s awesome. But we all know that IS expensive and not every independent band is capable of that. Of course we’d love to give such a thing to our folks all around the world, yeah, but until that happens, the best option is digital distribution/releases.

Whenever we in the rest of the world hear anything about Mexico on the news it is either about the drug wars or the war on drugs. What kind of place is Guadalajara to be a metal band in?
-Well fortunately, Guadalajara is one of the three biggest cities in the country so that helps a lot. Yet, we still got a lot of complications, for rock and metal music is not one of Mexico’s main music genres. Fortunately as well, the rock and music scene in the country is far from being touched by the drug wars and that stuff. Or at least that’s what we all see.

I must say that had I not had an interest in underground metal I would not have heard of a single Mexican metal band. Is it hard to reach out to the rest of the metal community?
-Yes, specially because whenever you think of Mexico, you do not think of a rock/metal music scene, but you rather think of the drug wars and stuff, so that deviates the attention on underground metal here in Mexico, it aisles it from the rest of the world and that makes it a bit harder for us. But hopefully, it will all get better soon.

What opportunities do you get to play with other bands, both national and international?
To get known, to get followers. Specially with international bands, for some reason, can’t tell exactly why, but that’s just the way it works.

What are your plans to make the band known worldwide?
– To get gigs out of the country, tour around, have fun while playing, being truly us onstage, that has being working just fine for us, people really get us when we are real onstage. And when that happens, they come looking for us. It’s every musician’s dream reward.

GRÁ

I knew absolutely nothing about Swedish black metal band Grá until I received their album. After having heard it I knew I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I get a feeling that you want to be something more than just a black metal band. What kind of “ideology” do you subscribe to?
-Well, actually we are not trying to be anything at all. We just are what we are.
To put it short we are satanists. A big word that can mean a thousand different things but still the easiest way to sum it up with. I am personally also very interested in the dark aspects of Germanic Heathendom (and also hellenic heathendom).
Hell Charon!
Hell Satan!
Hell Loke!
Hell Kaos!

I get a very gray feeling when I see your album art work and listen to the music. What kind of images do you want to conjure up with your music?
-Well you mention the artwok and the music but miss out on the lyrics. The lyrics are quite explanatory about the imagery of Grá. The only thing we can look forward to in this physical existence, the only thing we know, is that it is transient. It will pass. We have been mistaken by some as some depressive/suicidal band but that’s far from the truth. The whole idea about Grá is to tribute the passing, to salute Death. Not with self pity, but with pride and honour.

When you are being praised by everybody and his mother how much do you listen to it? How easy is it to get caught up in the praise and forget the bigger picture?
-We are very confident in ourselves so we don’t get hubris when we get compliments or good reviews. We know what we are doing and we know that we are fucking good at it! In Sweden there’s this christian invention called “the law of Jante” which means that you should suppress and restrain yourself. All kinds of self-assertions or free will/thought is met with envy and back talk. Fuck that shit!
We have such pride in ourselves that we wouldn’t release an album that we are not 100% satisfied with and we wouldn’t play live if we weren’t 100% sure that our performance would give us the desired satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that anything comes for free, we work our fucking asses of when rehearsing or writing music. We are our own worst critics but when we succeed in pleasing ourselves, when we feel that our minds drift away, on to gloomy paths, or float on dark currents merely by our own achievements, then it really doesn’t matter what anyone else think or say about us. Praise or not.

Can we speak of a Swedish black metal aesthetic? What would that be?
-Difficult question which I don’t think I’m the right man to answer. I have very little relation with the rest of the Swedish black metal scene. I’m not intentionally distancing myself from anything but still, I have no clue about what others do and how they see things.

When you are a part of something that has so many sub-genres how do you set yourself apart? Is the music alone enough?
-I don’t give a fuck about what people call their music, I listen to all kinds of music. If it appeals to me, why bother what genre or sub-genre it is? We claim to play Scandinavian Black Metal and for us that is what we do. If we were to change that, we would also change the name of the band.

With an album out what kind of plans do you have for world domination?
Our music fits the live form very well so we intend to be out playing as much as we can. This is only the beginning…

How black metal are the social media? How do you promote the band?
-It has indeed replaced the old ways, everything is online these days. It was many years ago I actually got a real letter from someone (and probably equally as long time ago since I wrote one myself). I am one of few who actually refuse to join the Facebook-slavery. Dimman and Isengrim handle those parts for Grá. I do suppose it is necessary today to be visible on social medias since there’s where people gather information. Even “old school” websites has played its role it seems. I don’t like it but I think that I have to accept it to some extent. If it’s black metal or not? Well, how black metal is paying a postman employed by the state to deliver your mail really? One good thing about the internet is that it has reduced all forms of human contact. You talk to a screen, you write on a screen, you send mail through a screen. Hell, you can even have sex over a screen if you want to. I wonder what would happen if the internet suddenly just crashed and vanished into oblivion… I know that I wouldn’t be mourning, that’s for sure.

Is there a point to being exclusive and reclusive as a black metal band?
-I think that if you are into these kinds of dark paths, the reclusiveness comes natural.

When does black metal stop being black metal? When do you lose your cred as a black metal band?
-When you stop practicing what you preach.

Do you have any future plans? What are they?
-We are preparing for a gig in Stockholm in July. After that, I’m off to the woods in northern Sweden to gather strength and inspiration. When I’m outdoors and the strongest sound I can hear is my own tinnitus, then I know that I’m home. The plan is that after the summer we will slowly start touching the subjects for the next Grá album which will be far more epic and atmospheric. We aim to set foot on the other side of Styx and wander through worlds separated from this one.

GRIMFAITH

I love melancholy in music. I have nothing against “happy” music but I feel at ease the most when I hear something really sad. Grimfaith managed to bring out that feeling when I listen to their metal. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

How hard was it to come up with a band name that would fit the idea of the band?
-It was not really hard to find out a name for our band. We wanted the name to sound good and not to mean something particular. Finally the name “GrimFaith” fits well to our genre and spells nice.

When you are in a band is there a greater feeling of being a part of something big?
-Being in a band gives special opportunities – something, that you cannot get living a normal life. It satisfies some egoistic needs, brings a lot of energy when you are on tour but also lays some responsibilities on you.
I can compare being in a band as being a father – a lot of pleasure and lots of troubles 😉
But also it gives a feeling that you are not just wasting time in this world but making something important.

Do you feel that you take one step forward with each new song you write? Do you feel that you?ve written the songs that will be your big break?
-We usually feel that the best song is the one that we are working on at the moment. Looking back we have some favorite songs but for every musician these priorities differ. I think the new staff is more experimental and it brings more possibilities for us to realize our most ill-natured ideas.

Is there a specific point in the band’s history that has been more important than any other?
-It is our first live performance of course, then it’s the release of our first album. And there are also some dark points of our history connected with the changing of musicians in the band.

How do you as a band find your own sound? Where do you go looking for inspiration?
-We have our own base were we have plenty of time for experiments with our sound. I prefer simple and readable sound of my guitar; don’t like to use a lot of effects etc. We usually think about the sound of the band in a pack rather than about specific sound of a single instrument.

Where do you feel you fit in the Ukraine metal scene? What kind of metal scene are you a part of?
-I think we don’t fit to a specific scene because we have lot of experiments in our music. That’s why we cannot be classified as a part of some music style. We like to participate in gothic, metal and some alternative gigs. We feel fine on stage as long as we feel that people like us. It doesn’t matter what subculture these people represent.

Is it hard or easy to realize the vision you have? Is it easy to find the right kind of people to work with in order to take the band as far as possible?
-We don’t have enough possibilities in Ukraine for the perfect realization of our vision of music, but I think we are moving step by step in the right direction. It’s really hard to find good and professional people to work with the band. We are really glad to work with our manager, our live sound director and our sound producer at the moment. I think these people will help us reach the highs.

When you have a clear vision of what it is you want what lengths would you go to in reaching that vision?
-I always try to get what I want because I love myself a lot. I think the life is given for pleasures and suffering only enlightens the moments of happiness. So I will get more satisfaction in reaching my goals if it takes me longer and harder to reach it.

When you work with outside musicians what is it that you are looking for?
-We worked with outside musicians twice – with Detonation on “Grime” album and with Draconian on our upcoming “Preacher creature” album. This cooperation was rather spontaneous but interesting and I think it gave us some opportunities to be heard by more people outside Ukraine.

What kind of future is there for GrimFaith?
-You’d better ask this question to the guardian devil of our band. I hope he’s planning some wicked future for us all.

HYDROGYN

HYDROGYN should be a familiar name to those of you into hardrock with an attitude. With a new album out there was no better time than now to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Hydrogyn has been going for some time now and you have a couple of releases to your name. Do you feel that you’ve gotten everything out of the band’s potential so far?
Julie: Yes and No. We have in all 8 releases. “Best Served with Volume”, “Bombshell”, “Strip’em blind Live”, “Deadly Passions”, “Judgement”, “Phase 1”, “Deadly Passions Remastered and Remixed” and “Private Sessions”. We are not your typical band. We are not interested in the big label machine and like doing it ourselves. Now if the right offer came along we would think about it and entertain it for sure but we love what we are doing and proud to say that we make a living doing it so it is great for us.

What is that you feel is lacking for you guys to really break into the big league?
Julie: Funding is low sometimes but the big problem is if you are not part of a big machine you can be ignored and that has happened to us at times but we keep grinding and have no intentions of quitting any time soon. I can think of a lot of bands that had similar situations as us like Judas Priest in the early days and others but their persistence got them what they wanted so we keep moving.

Will we ever see bands as big as Guns’N’Roses or the whole 80s hairspray scene? Has the map for bands been totally re-drawn?
Jeff: I think it is always possible but the map has been re-drawn as you put it to a degree. I never thought GnR deserved to be as big as they were or are but who am I, right. I think the days of KISS, Crue, Aerosmith, Def Lappard, Sabbath, Maiden all ruling at one time will not ever happen again but there is room for a couple real big acts and then a lot of mid level bands who could make a great living as long as they keep control of their products and careers.

How much has the digital download scene changed the way people consume and listen to music these days?
Jeff: I think it obviously changed the landscape of how music was sold but I don’t know if I am in 100% agreement with the pirating thing. I know as a kid me and a friend of mine would always plan out how to buy new releases. We would split them up and then I would go home and record the ones I bought onto a cassette tape and give them to him and he did the same for me so pirating was going on then as well. True Album or CD sales are down but there is also a lot more bands with product out there now then there was in the 70’d and 80’s and that too has to have an effect of sales because it is split in more ways. I do thing though that it can be governed better to help control pirating but for this band it is a strong thing for us and our pockets,

Would you consider yourself an album band or are you more about writing songs that are potential hits?
Julie: Both. We have a lot of great songs that could be hits on the radio …just go listen to it but we also take pride in making sure every song on every release gets the same amount of attention and it is thought out and not just a filler. We take great care in these releases and we also try to make every one different from the others so the fans have fresh things to listen too.

You guys seem to have a strict discipline in releasing album on a pretty constant schedule. How important is it that it doesn’t take too long between albums?
Julie: We don’t have a schedule per say. We go into the studio when the mood hits us and we are ready to create it just so happens to be real often. Jeff Westlake writes non stop so there is always material around to work on and we love to write any way so I see no changes in our schedule any time soon so look for it to continue that way.

How quickly does people forget you if you aren’t in their face constantly?
Jeff: I don’t know. IF you are good they tend not to forget anytime soon. We have a loyal fan base and they buy our music and merch often so we are fortunate in that way. But if you did not put out stuff and do some touring at all you would be out of sight out of mind for sure.

Your latest album has been out for some time now. Have you noticed that there is an increase in interest for the band or is on the same level as before?
Julie: The new CD came out May 4th and it seems to be a new interest in the band as sales have been better than normal. That was already good but doing really good this time out and we again are fortunate to have the fans out there spreading the HYDROGYN word.

Do you notice that being American brings with it a head start? That you are more interesting for non-Americans to check you out?
Jeff: I don’t know about that. Sometimes being American is not a good thing and that is for sure. IT is a shame that some of us have made it hard on the rest of us by being assholes but it is what it is and we go out of our way when on tour in Europe and other countries to show that we are not like all Americans. I love Europe and the Europeans as a whole as does the rest of the band. I can tell ya that being American in America is not even an advantage ahahahahahaha.

What plans do you have for the future? How do you avoid standing still?
Julie: We are going to look at doing a lot of touring and head back to Europe early 2013. We have a DVD in the works and already been doing rough tracks for the next recording so we are moving and will continue to do that period.