GHOST “Opus Eponymous”

GHOST
“Opus Eponymous” Picture Disk LP Edition
(Rise Above / Metal Blade)

Very nice debut by this horror/occult metal act taking up the standard of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond’s more mellow and harmonic aspects, most notably the In the Shadows era ‘Fate / House of God era ‘Diamond.  Band comes complete with a costumed cast, one of my favorite things for concept acts! I’m reviewing the Picture Disk LP version, it’s nice and heavy vinyl and comes in a picture disk sleeve with band shot and tracks on the back and different art on the vinyl itself.

-Josh Cook

DEVA

Not knowing anything about DEVA I got Federico Salerno, guitarist and co-writer/composer of all the DEVA music to answer my questions. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Where does this idea of mixing operatic female voices with metal come from?
Federico: The mix came out when Beatrice and I first met and started making music together. It’s not something we really planned, but she comes from classical and opera background and I’m more into prog-metal, so we basically tried to give our compositions just what each of us was really comfortable with. Some ideas looked weird in the beginning, so we had to learn song after song how to make our worlds interact efficiently. But we loved the result and what was coming out was very promising, so we kept following that direction… And here we are!

How closely related is really metal and classical music? How much of the same structures are there in modern music and classic music?
Federico: They appear to be related if you consider that themes, arrangement and dynamics are the key of success for both modern and classical compositions. There are also many differences, of course, depending on the ages and on the authors, both in classical and modern music. In our songs, the aim is not to bring the one to the other, but to create something that could refer to both. In fact, we have to consider also that modern music is an evolution of classical music and that it’s not so rare to hear Mozart or Bach in heavy metal albums. Also progressive music, especially in its very beginning, gives us a lot of examples of modern “suites” (Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer…), so perhaps what we’re doing is to carry on an already consolidated tradition, just in a different way.

When you get together with an already thought out plan for what to play, how easy does it become a band of 5 individuals meeting for the first time?
Federico: In the beginning it wasn’t so easy, but now there’s so much respect for the project that make us comfortable working even in 4-5 people together: we’ve understood that we want to get to the best result for the song and for the band, not for the individual. It’s important to have a good plan before meeting: we always gather with a clear idea of what we need to work on and, of course, before getting together everyone studies the parts on his own. We all come from many experiences with bands, projects, albums and productions, so everyone know how to approach a song and how to give that song what it really needs. So the arranging process is always very natural, especially for Beatrice, Thomas and myself as we have been working together for a while, now. I also know Davide Barbieri (our new keyboardist) from long time and we’ve been composing and playing together in more than a project before he joined Deva, I’ve always found myself comfortable with his musical view. In the single “What Have I Become” you can already hear what he can do

What kind of process do you go about starting to compose songs after you form? Do you come into the process with already finished songs or to you collaborate as a unit?
Federico: Normally, this process starts when me or Beatrice come up with an idea: it can be a riff, a harmony, a melody, a lyric, even a sound or a concept. Then we start working together on the composition section by section (verse, refrain and so on), giving all the ideas an order. It happened also that we met without having ideas yet and developed something totally new jamming or listening to other artists (again, both classical and modern!). After we have a first rough mp3 with basically a guitar and a vocal line, the rest of the band starts giving the songs rhytyhm ideas, orchestrations, grooves, harmony variations, in a word the arrangement. Since we changed line-up after ‘Between Life And reams’, I wouldn’t be surprised if Davide, who is doing a meticulous job on every song, started joining the composition’s process.

Does being Italian and playing this kind of operatic, symphonic metal bring with it any added pressure of really being great?
Federico: I like to think about it as a sort of heritage, more than a pressure, but it’s true that we have a responsibility: our country has always shown to the world great composers, singers, artists and bands. We try to give our best in what we do, but it’s obviously not a challenge. We’re standing on the shoulders of the giants. On the other hand, it’s difficult nowadays to emerge here in Italy, especially if you make this kind of music: a lot of listeners, few venues. It seems our music is luckier abroad, despite of all we said!

I’ve asked several Italian metal bands this but why is it that metal isn?t more respected as a music format in Italy than it is?
Federico: Heavy Metal, like many alternative styles, doesn’t have the mainstream seal, so it’s mainly considered as a sub-category. But it’s a fact that every music shop has got a ‘Hard’n’Heavy’ section and most of the time it’s huge! Big metal concerts are always welcome by italian juniors and seniors metal-heads and internet is full of discussions, forums, fan-pages made by italian guys. Perhaps things will change in the future, but a band like Lacuna Coil (not the only one, though) had to leave Italy, get success abroad and, after years, they started to be recognized also here for who they are. But there are people that don’t even know they’re an italian band, they think Lacuna come from the United States!
I think this is also due to the lack of bravery from some media. They don’t develop, they just take what has been developed somewhere else

I see that you’ve licensed your album to several different territories. Is it easier doing it this way than to have one single label handling all promotion?
Federico: I don’t know if it could be easier for one label to handle all these things, licenses, promotion and so on. What I can say is that I think we’ve been very lucky to get in touch with RNC Music, they made and still make every day an impressive amount of work on ‘Between Life And Dreams’ and on the upcoming album. They’re very experienced, many licences have been done and this is encouraging us to do always better. To be honest I wasn’t sure that ‘Between Life And Dreams’ could have been so interesting for so many labels, but if also some majors expressed positive comments about the project and want to hear the next work, I guess we can be more than satisfied!

What ways are there to get you band’s name heard of throughout the world?
Federico: One of the most important ways, in my opinion, is the internet: it connects people from all over the world, so it’s indispensable for the word-of-mouth of our days. Of course, another important source are labels, that are supposed to promote the artists they’ve signed. Sometimes it happens, sometimes not so much, but when the work of all the people in the different countries is well coordinated, and the quality of the product is good, some results are achieved. Then there are concerts, photos, reviews, interviews, videoclips, articles, participations, radios… All these things can make your name grow, but of course they can’t be isolated: there must be a strategic plan that, once again, coordinates all the efforts. I don’t want to sound too much like a marketing consultant, but today for an artist, for a band, it’s necessary to be very focused on all the aspects of the ‘product’. Especially if you want to make it for a living.

What kind of success have you so far had with the band?
Federico: After the first release of the album, we spent days and days looking out for all the news coming from all over the world about ‘Between Life And Dreams’, so many countries and so many languages talking about us on blogs, portals, social networks… Then the first fan pages on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter: Spain, France, UK, USA, Mexico, Italy… I’m so grateful to all these guys, they have a true passion for music and want to give us the strongest support they can. The licences mean also a lot to me, it’s like another prove that what we do is interesting! There have also been many satisfa_ctions for us as musicians: Beatrice has been welcome by several webzines and magazines as a sort of a new Tarja, as top-voice in the Metal scene; I’ve been compared more than once to great guitar players (for example John Petrucci) for my arrangements and my soloing, and I’m now endorser for Cort guitars and Blackstar amplifiers and effects; I endorse also the italian Triton Custom Cabinets, that build my signature model of cabinets, that we designed for Deva, called ‘FS 2X12’; Thomas also signed a deal with Yamaha and Paiste. Most important, as band we’ve been labelled like the future of the italian Gothic Metal and like one the next big Gothic bands. All this more than a year after the release of the album, when some journalists saw us opening for Trivium in Milan.
We also had to compose a song for an italian Sci-Fi movie inspired to Star Wars, called ‘Dark Resurrection’, but one of the greatest experiences we had, so far, was to open for Trivium in a sold-out venue, it was simply incredible.
What kind of future do you envision for the band?
Federico: I always like to be very realistic and I know that it’s a long way to the top, but I also like to dream about a future where Deva will mean something for the Gothic community and for the Prog lovers. For the moment, we want to come out with a fresh new album, which is going to be very complicated in its structure, so it needs a special kind of work, a different production… We are very positive, since the songs are growing well and we all like very much the shape they’re taking!

DRAKKAR

I have only nice memories of DRAKKAR from the 90s/early 00s. With a comeback and a new album I found it to be time for an interview. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I haven’t heard from you guys in a long time. What have you been up to?
-Well, after the promotion for “Razorblade God” we entered into a spiral of events, both in our personal lives and with the band, which made everything related to Drakkar slow and painful. The main issue was the departure of our original drummer Chris, who relocated to Mexico. Without him in the band, it just wasn’t the same anymore, for several reasons. To this, you have to add that we were all in a moment of transition in our personal lives, so we were basically forced to slow down so much that, at times, we kinda felt like we might as well split and be done with it. But that never happened, primarily because we are friends and we enjoy being together and making music together, so we just thought “Ok, no rush. Let’s just take our time and we’ll be back when we’ll be back. No sense in calling it a day: we enjoy this and we have no pressure from outside the band, so let’s just take our time”. That’s more or less how it went. In 2010 we were finally ready and willing once more, so we started recording the new album, and then it was all a matter of finding an interested label to publish it.

When it’s been so quite about you for such a long time how do you keep the fans interest up?
-Well, in 2007 we did a downloadable EP with 4 new songs, distributed for free through our website. That was a way to say: “We’re still here, still alive”. After that, we thought we could get the new record done in a year or so but once again “shit happened” so we weren’t really able to complete the composing sessions until the end of 2009. From that moment onwards, we always tried to keep the fans informed through our Facebook page, to let them know that we were about to finally come back. It has been tough and I’m sure many thought we had disbanded, so I was pleasantly surprised by the interest that this new release has been gathering. It is a testament to the fact the we did at least something right with our first three albums, seeing how there were still fans interested in us after such a long time.

What is the hardest part in not releasing records while still keeping the band alive?
-Well, when you’re not able to release new records, it’s tough because you don’t have feedback anymore if not when you can do a live show… and we’ve been doing few of those as well due to the line-up issues. So basically the hardest part is to find the energy to do things without having a direct feedback. As much as you do something for yourself first and foremost, knowing that there is someone else interested in what you do is important.

Is an Italian record label a good option if you want to reach outside of Italy with your music?
-My Kingdom Music has a very good international distribution network, so I think it’s a good option, yes. Being Italian, it’s easy for us to get in touch and work with them, and they treat us as a priority.

What is it with Italy and symphonic power metal bands? Is there something special in your water?
-I wouldn’t know precisely, but Italy has a great tradition when it comes to classical music. Symphonic music and opera are an important part of our culture and history, so I’m not surprised that there are many bands influenced by our classic composers. To be fair though I don’t consider Drakkar a strictly “symphonic metal” band. I see ourselves more as an Epic Power Metal band. We have classical influences, symphonic keyboards, intros and the like, sure, but those elements are just one of the ingredients of our sound. We do not build songs around the orchestra (except of course for intros like Hyperspace, but that’s – again – an Intro), it’s the other way around.

How pleased are you that there is a new album to promote? What was the inspiration in writing this new album?
-Mighty pleased, of course. It was never our intention to take such a long time between releases as it has been the case in the last ten years, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. As for the inspiration, well, there were many, especially for the concept behind the record, which is based on classic, pulp American science fiction from the ’50s and the ’60s with some hystorical elements and some interesting (in my opinion) twists. Concerning the music, well, we just wrote what we felt like writing. The fact that the development of the record has taken such a long time has obviously made it a bit different than how it might have been if it was all composed and recorded quickly, especially due to the fact that in these 10 years our tastes evolved and we matured as people as well as musicians.

7. When you named the band back in the days what was it that made you chose Drakkar as the band name? Is it a good band name for a power metal band?

The name of the band was chosen by the original bass player, I joined it when it was already called like that, actually. I think it’s a good name, yes, I mean, it’s the name of a viking ship and that fits perfectly with the epic and “northern” side of our music. We come from Milan, in the North of Italy, where many germanic populations migrated and made their home. Especially in the early days of the band we were getting many questions from people outside Italy that were surprised that we hadn’t taken a name more inspired by Roman mythology or stuff like that, so I always had to explain that Italy is a country that has been split up and dominated by foreign populations for so long that you can really find lots of different influences in our culture, on a regional basis.

You’ve always had very dramatic album covers. What is it you want to say with your album covers?
-We simply want to give an idea, a hint of the epic and powerful music inside. I think it’s important that the artwork communicates what the general feeling of the music is, as it is really an integral part of the experience of the album. At least, it is for me. I’m not too fond of MP3s and stuff like that, I have a very tradition approach to music and records, and to me the packaging, booklet, cover and everything is just part of the experience.

How does the cover tie in with the lyrics? Is it important to have lyrics that say something special?
-I wouldn’t know how to define “special”; what I know is that I care very much about lyrics. Of course there are bands with very silly or “standardized” lyrics that I love anyway, because their music is great, but the best of the best, to me, are those songs where words and music go perfectly together, hand in hand. So basically, what I try to do is write lyrics that are befitting with our musical style. As an Epic Power Metal band, I think our songs benefit the most from having lyrics that help you escape from reality, that bring you into a different world, made of heroes, of great battles, of values like friendship, honor and self-sacrifice. It is an allegoric form of writing. For what concerns the link between lyrics and cover, When Lightning Strikes is a concept album. It revolves around a man who has been transformed by an alien race so that he reincarnates every time he dies. The aliens’ purpose is to use him as a witness of our evolution through the centuries in order to judge if Earth’s people can be allowed to one day travel through the stars, or if we are too violent, and therefore dangerous to other races, in which case they would have to confine or destroy us. The cover shows us this man, a viking sailor, when it’s just about to be taken by the aliens and transformed.

Will it take this long for a new album to arrive again? What plans do you have for promoting the album/band now?
-Definitely not: we are already working on the new record and we want to make up for all those years of inactivity. We have great energy at the moment and we plan to make the most of it!
As for the promotion, apart from doing several interviews and stuff we are starting to work on live dates. We will do our best to play as many shows as we can in the next few months.

FATAL BAND

FATAL BAND came to me courtesy of reverbnation.com. Not knowing anything about them and finding them intriguing enough I had to set up an interview. Here’s the result of that meeting. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I got to ask you about the band name. Why is there a band added to the name? Could you not have come up with a more original name?
-I don’t agree with you! To my mind the name is quite original. In addition, there are no other bands with such name, there’s only one Fatal Band! Usually, the word “band” is referred to jazz music (i.e. big bands) and is often used in names of jazz bands. For me, jazz is the most experimental music, jazz musicians can improvise well. That’s why the word “band” is used in our name, it hints there is a non-standard approach to the music as well as has some irony. Fatal Band plays “fatal”, experimental music. But there’s no jazz, it’s a mixture of different metal styles

How are we as listener to react to the music of Fatal Band? What is it that you want to say with the music?
-The listener can headbang, mosh, drive a car, make love, drink beer or something stronger. Or he can, lie on the sofa, find out hidden melodies, calculate compound meters as listening to the “complex” music is also a rest. Speaking seriously, our listeners are free to enjoy our music in a way which is the most appropriate for them and Fatal band gives the opportunity to think, meditate or dance.

When I listen to the music I get a feeling of a cross between the heavier side of Max Cavaleras’ Soulfly as well as a death/grind touch. What is it that influences you in the creation of Fatal Band’s music?
-I agree with you about death/grind elements. But you have your own associations while other people may have different opinions. We wanted to make the sound of our last album a modern one, maybe that’s why it reminds you about the band you’ve mentioned. But in fact we didn’t intend to sound like Soulfly and, of course, we don’t copy the music of our favorite bands or their styles! Moreover, sometimes people tell me they hear some elements of bands which I even don’t know! It’s metal and some elements and clichés are used by all metal bands, that’s why we all have something in common.

What kind of intentions do you have with Fatal Band? Is this to be considered a long term project?
-Fatal Band is a long-term project. It was created in 2004 and it will exist, at least, until all my ideas are recorded. That’s why my intentions are serious.

What climate is there for this kind of music in Moscow/Russia?
– In spite of the fact there are many metal bands in Russia and Moscow in particular, this kind of music is alien for the majority of Russians. Only a small percent of the people living here really likes and understands metal. Local gigs have a low attendance. I don’t speak, of course, about gigs of the major foreign bands, they gather great audiences and fans from the whole Russia.

How much of an importance do sites like Reverbnation.com play in the spreading of the music? Are there other ways for you to spread the music?
-Reverbnation.com gives an opportunity to promote music. It’s not crowded yet but people are interested in new music. Reverbnation.com has promotion functions which help to share information on the musical project on other Internet resources all over the world. Now, the Internet is the main source for sharing music. Also I can mention radios and Internet radios.

How serious are you in promoting Fatal Band? Do you play live? Do you arrange photo shoots?
-Now we do not strive to play live frequently (only several times in a year) as our members are engaged in other projects. Photo sessions are arranged when there is a reason, i.e. magazine interview, etc.

What kind of lyrics do you write for the band? Is there anything you like to say with them?
-Most of our lyrics is written by Jack, vocalist. The topics are quite different, mainly they are issues the modern society is concerned about. My principal statement about lyrics – it must not be stupid and related with politics, religion, fanaticism and alike. Fatal Band is a musical band, not a source of propaganda.

How far are you willing to take Fatal Band? When does the band become a burden and not fun?
-We want to make Fatal Band a serious professional project. Our spare time is devoted to the band, it doesn’t bother us.

Are there any greater plans for the future?
-Now we are in a studio. We have songs for several albums. We shall promote our band as far as it’s possible. These are our plans.

GROSS GROLLAND

GROSS GROLLAND was a very nice surprise. They almost blew my shorts off with their metal. I needed to know more about this band. An interview was set up and this is the result. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

What is life like for a metal band in Kurgan?
-Like a scary tale. It can’t be explained. You have to be a metal band from Kurgan to understand.

How long has the journey been to releasing “What Doesn’t Kill Me Makes A Big Mistake”? What kind of obstacles have you encountered?
-Three years, three drummers, putting a studio together, and then a year and a half to record and do all the mixing.

Now that the album is out how pleased are you with the end result?
-We’re 150% pleased, yet we want 200% from our next album.

How do you intend on promoting it the best possible way?
-Well, we won’t shit in our pants when we’re opening for Slayer!))) and, of course, we put big trust in cooperation with our producer and Metal Scrap Records

When you are a small band on a small label what chances are there for you to join the European summer festival circuit?
Size does not matter. Only goal and zest matter.

How do you about getting the music out to the right kind of people by playing live? Do you set up tours on your own?
-We do gigs in Kurgan and neighboring cities on a regular basis. We only do live shows, and the right people get to see us.

How hard is it to keep a band going if all the members don’t have the same agenda? What is the reason that Gross Grolland hasn’t died totally?
-If a member doesn’t share musical vision of the majority of the band, we search for agreement and accommodation. If such can’t be found, mister leaves the band and carries on on his own. This is how Gross Grolland’s life cycle goes.

The band name has to be one of the better that I’ve come upon lately. It doesn’t say anything about the style of music you play. What was the reason behind going with this name?
-“Gross Grolland” sounds nasty, both meanings implied.

How hard was it to come up with an album title that really says something about the band and the music on the album?
Denis Litovchenko, ex-bassist and founding member: “My brother has a great sense of black humour. We were talking about how we’re destructing ourselves every day and he came up with this wording. It was right on the spot, aggressive and self-ironic at the same time. Also, “Big mistake!” is a quote from Last Action Hero. You have to watch the scene on Youtube to understand what the band and album are about”

Will we get to hear much more about Gross Grolland now that you guys have an album out? What plans do you have for 2012?
-Many gigs are on schedule and even more rehearsals to do. Work on the new material has already started. We’re planning to complete recording of a new album in 2012.

MASSIVE ASSAULT

MASSIVE ASSAULT may be Dutch but that is only by nationality. Musically they are anything but Dutch. This is like the perfect amalgamation of all that is great about Swedish death metal/extreme metal mixed with the greatness of the Floridian death scene. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

You make no secret of the influence that Sweden has had on your music. What is so great about Swedish extreme music?
-Swedish extreme music rocks really hard! I´ve always had the feeling that Swedish Death Metal, especially in the beginning, had this kind of punk-feel in it. Also there is this groovy, rocking feel in Swedish Death Metal that we really like. It must have something to do with the musical upbringing of the Swedish people. And then there is, of course, the crunchy chainsaw sound of the Boss HM-2 that we really like to hear! But it’s not only Swedish Death Metal that influenced us. British and Florida-styled Death Metal also influenced us a lot, as well as crust, hardcore and the good old rocking legends like AC/DC and Motörhead.

What is it in death metal that other forms of metal don’t have that made you want to go this way?
-Death Metal is extreme and brutal. The grunts, growls and screams sound like something from beyond the grave. It can sound hellish, furious and pissed off to the max all at the same time! Sure, I like to listen to other kinds of metal as well, but the Death Metal way is what gets me excited the most! I guess the next best thing, for me as vocalist, is either crust or grind. It’s just the best way to get all the aggression and frustration out, as you can hear on “Death Strike”!

Are you more obsessed with one era of death metal/crust than any other? Can you speak of different eras?
-I’m obsessed with good Death Metal and Crust, that’s for sure! Of course, I’m a rabid fanatic when it comes to the 80s and 90s classics in Death Metal, but my blood also boils when I hear newer releases. Yet, it must be said, most of those newer releases are (from the new wave of) Old School Death Metal, that have that early Death Metal feel to it… I think that you could talk about eras in Death Metal back in the 90s. A lot of Death Metal bands strayed away from how they started out in the mid 90s, because they wanted to broaden their horizon and wanted to try something different. This was of course a logical step for many. But you can also see that a lot of those bands are back at their roots. I don’t know if you could talk about eras in Crust, though. I own many Crust-releases and, just like in Death Metal, there are also different directions/styles in Crust as well. But, one thing that is universal in crust: it all sounds extremely furious! And I happen to like my Crust furious!

How much of a difference does it make in today’s strange world of music consumption to be on a record label compared to doing it yourself? What good is a label today?
-A label can help you spread your music further then you can do yourself. Labels mostly have more and different connections then most bands have. When Massive Assault started out, we released our demo’s through our website, free of charge. But we had to put in heaps of time to get ourselves known. Back then we had that time, since most of us were going to school. Nowadays everybody in the band has a decent job, a girlfriend and a housekeeping. That obviously takes a lot of your time, so you can’t spend that time on going to every concert, visit every website or forum and so forth. Also, a good label takes care of all the things concerning releasing an album, distributing it and all that stuff. FDA Rekotz is doing a great job so far! So, we can spend most of our spare time on the thing we like to do best: play Death Metal and ofcourse stay in touch with everyone as much as possible!

You guys formed in 2003. When did the band become a serious thing and not just something you mess around with in a rehearsal room?
-Well, we did that messing around back in 2002. When our other bands split one after one, we got more serious with Massive Assault. We wrote enough songs to go on stage and continued writing in between gigs. Oddly enough, that’s still how we do it today. It works best with us. We write songs, we improve them along the way and when we’re happy with the results we record them. Simple as that!

What has been the best possible way for you to promote your band? Anything that doesn’t work that good in today’s electronical age?
-Playing live as much as you can, wherever you can and as best as you can is probably the best way to promote yourself. Whenever we play live, we give 200% and that shows! I also think that it is important to be a positive and open person off stage. Being a dick doesn’t get you anywhere (well, at least, that counts for most of us). Another thing that helps is that you keep in contact with people and other musicians. That’s also how FDA Rekotz got to know Massive Assault. We believe in helping each other out. For instance, if you and your band help us out with a gig, we’ll try to help you out with a gig as best as we can as well.’

Is there a specific aesthetic to death metal that has to be there for it to work? Is it more death than flowers?
-I think it all comes down to having the right feeling for and in a song. Almost everyone can create music, but not everyone can put in the right emotions. Death Metal certainly deals with the darker side. I think that it’s safe to say that there is no Death Metal band that sing about peace and love and smelling the roses. That simply doesn’t work. Death Metal is dark, brutal and aggressive. My lyrics about war, death and misery. These subjects fascinate me and they fit best to the sound of Massive Assault.

How death metal/crust is digital downloading and listening to it on your computer? Why would anybody want to choose a mediocre mp3 file over a CD?
-Everybody is downloading and listening to music on their computer nowadays. Internet made everything easier to obtain. Back in the day, when I was a teen, we used to tape records for each other. Call it blasphemy, but wasn’t that the same? The only difference is that back then, you got your music from friends and nowadays you can get it from anyone. I personally would rather listen to a CD then an mp3 file, or better yet, to vinyl! I’m not opposed to downloading. I do that myself as well. Nowadays I also listen to a lot of shit on Youtube in between doing all kinds of stuff. That’s how you also discover new bands. I think that great music is worth buying and supporting. That’s also the reason why I have a large collection of albums on any format. And, in the end, I enjoy listening to music on either CD or vinyl best. That’s what I’m also doing now as I’m writing down the answers for this interview. Nothing beats the real deal!

How important is the packaging to you in this day and age when most people seem to prefer to download instead of buying a physical product?
-I think the packaging has to look killer. Sometimes I think that I’m part of a dying race, but I always get excited whenever I get a 12″ with killer artwork. Of course, the most important thing is the music, but the artwork completes the whole package! We always try to get great artwork. Personally, I like the handdrawn or painted covers best. If you look at the artwork for “Death Strike” you can see that this album breaths Death Metal. Gijs van Hal @ Upper Graphics has done a great job! You can see references to the subjects on the album, as well as the style we play.

How long do you see Massive Assault going? What is it that is so great to be a part of the band?
-Massive Assault is going on until everyone of us are old and grey and buried six feet deep! No, seriously, we’ll continue as long as we like to do so. We haven’t planned any expiration date or something. We play Death Metal the way we like best! That is why it’s so great to be part of Massive Assault.

SO MUCH FOR NOTHING

SO MUCH FOR NOTHING is my new favourite on the Norwegian metal sky. So good that I’m envious of them being Norwegians. Check them out if you like your metal suicidal. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

There seem to be a very anti-human side to So Much For Nothing. What is it about life that is so bad?
-I’m presuming that you are referring to the lyrics. Most people have both good and bad, lighter and darker sides. My lyrics are created following a train of thought through those bad, darker sides, – based on various experiences made through life, everything from single events, to a general discomfort and pessimistic view of life. I see no reason to why one should have less right to express negative feelings, vs. those happy-go-lucky feelings.

Is the album title “Livsgnist” meant to be ironic? Why a title in Norwegian?
-Yeah, I guess it’s sort of an ironic title, but at the same time it’s not… “Livsgnist” means something like “spark of life”, so I guess it depends on how big this spark is… There’s no specific reason why the title is in Norwegian, it’s just that I think that the word “Livsgnist” sums up the whole album pretty well.

When I listen to the album I get a 3rd and The Mortal/Atrox feeling to your blackened metal. Where do you draw inspiration from musically?
-Black metal and pop music, as well as some movie soundtracks. At least this is what I usually listen to myself. Unlike most others, I don’t listen to bands like Kiss, AC/DC, Metallica or Iron Maiden. It’s either some sort of extreme metal, or it’s not metal at all. However, my all time favourite band will always be Guns n’ Roses!

What is suicidal metal to you? Is there a need to compartmentalize your music for it to be sellable?
-For me it’s not, and I don’t label SMFN as “suicidal black metal” or whatever. But I understand if others do. Yeah, the lyrics might seem a bit depressing, but hey! You can find depressed lyrics in “normal” music as well, without it be labelled as “suicidal” something something… So if I have to put a label to this music myself, I prefer to call it metal-pop/rock. But this is how I will label it. I totally understand if the label compartmentalizes the music with something. If not, I guess that no one would ever check it out, as it (at least so far) appeals mostly to the metal scene, and I guess also this so called “suicidal metal”. Finally, to answer your question about suicidal metal; I usually don’t label music like that, but I understand what you’re looking for. So for me this would be some sort of slow, dark and heavy music, with pessimistic lyrics, thoughts regarding life and death etc. And on top of that, some desperate vocals in one way or the other…

How important are the lyrics to the overall impression? Do they have to have a message for them to work?
-Personally the lyrics are very important to me, but they don’t have a certain message to each and everyone. Like I don’t think U2 will save the world by preach to the audience at a concert, I don’t think I’m in the right position to tell people what to do and stuff like that… But of course, if someone finds them interesting, they might have an impact on certain people, I guess. But they are mostly written for personal reasons, as well as a song need lyrics, right?

Does being Norwegian bring with any sort of positive feedback? Are people more interested because you are Norwegians?
-I think those days are pretty much over, but someone might still check it out just because of where we‘re from, I don’t know.. But SMFN is not a typical metal band, so if people want to check us out because we’re from Norway, they’re in for a big surprise! And I don’t think that we get more positive feedback, in that case it must be because we prove that Norwegians can make stunning music besides black metal!

Do you feel that there is any sort of competition between Norwegian and Swedish metal bands? I can as a Swede sometime feel that the grass is greener on the other side and that I wish that some Norwegian bands where Swedish.
-No, I don’t, and I really don’t care either… But it seems like Sweden have more popular die hard black metal bands than Norway these days. Like Craft, Watain, Marduk etc.
In Norway the grass is green usually for four months, June – September, but I don’t know if it’s greener than in Sweden… I think it’s more or less the same.

What kind of label support would you have had if you’d signed with a Norwegian label compared to being signed to an Italian one? Do you think there?d be any difference in the way you?d be promoted?
-It depends on which label I had signed to. If it had been one of the “bigger ones”, of course it would have been promoted different/better, as they most likely would have had more money to spend on it. But if it had been a small one, I think that the promotion would have been better in Norway, but not outside the border. I’m really satisfied with My Kingdom so far, and I have also made a deal with Patricia Thomas Management which really helps the promotion as well!

How does a Norwegian band end up on an Italian record label? What is it that you expect to get out of this contract?
-Uruz suggested me to contact them as he had been involved with a band before who are signed to the same label and only had good things to say about them. So I sent them an e-mail saying that we had recorded an album and were looking for a label to release it. When the manager heard the songs he offered us a contract right away, as this was one of the best albums he had heard for the last years. At least that’s what he told me… We discussed a couple of things and I found out that we shared the same goals for a new band like this, so I took the chance and signed the papers, and so far I don’t regret it at all! My expectations are not too high, as I’m a realist. I’ve released a couple of albums before with my other band Sarkom, and I know that nothing really changes after releasing an album. But I hope that My Kingdom will do their very best to promote SMFN, so that we at least get some attention around this release!

How will you take So Much For Nothing further ahead now that the album is out?
-Hopefully we will hit the stage soon, as we know a couple of guys who want to join SMFN live, but it depends on what offers we get (if we get any). If we could join a tour as support band for someone more known, that would have been great, but unfortunately this often cost too much. Time will show… Besides that we’re planning to start the recording of our second album this summer. “Livsgnist” was finished more than one and a half year ago, so I’ve had plenty of time writing new material, and at the moment I think I have 8-9 songs finished! It’s to early to talk about any release date, but maybe sometime around winter 2013? Feel free to follow us on www.facebook.com/somuchfornothing and you will get all relevant information over there! Thanks for your time and interest in SMFN! Hope to see you at a concert some day!

AGRUSS “Morok”

AGRUSS
“Morok”
(Code666)
OK, so the Ukraine metal scene is pretty much a big black hole to me but the stuff that I’ve come in contact with has so far been good. Agruss doesn’t seem to change that impression with their take on black metal. Celebrating the victims of the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 this is what could be described as post-apocalyptic black metal; the result of having grown up in a fucked up environment where nothing will be as it was ever again and where 5 million people are estimated to die from the disaster in the coming 50 years. This is like grey version of Mad Max, where there’s no hope, just despair and destitution. Agruss music paints a very quaint picture of what that life is like. This is as grey and dull as black metal can be. You gotta live it to fully understand it. Don’t go looking for any hope here. Anders Ekdahl

DEUS OTIOSUS “Murderer”

DEUS OTIOSUS
“Murderer”
(FDA Rekotz)
It seems that death metal is making a comeback. Didn’t know it had been gone. But seriously, we see more and more bands returning to the origin of the genre. No more melodeath or metalcore/deathcore but pure old and often very good death metal. I like it a lot. I’m a sucker for bands that play that old murky death metal that happened in the late 80s. The stuff that made me get rid of all my hardrock/heavy metal albums. Danish Deus Otiosus is another one of these bands that are so heavy and murky that you’d never take them for a melodeath band. This is death metal for all of us who thinks that Autopsy, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Entombed are better the older the records are. This is death metal for all of us who like to get our head pulled off by violent zombies. This is death metal pure and simple. Anders Ekdahl

ETERNAL DEFORMITY “The Beauty Of Chaos”

ETERNAL DEFORMITY
“The Beauty Of Chaos”
(Code666)
Eternal Deformity! Can’t say that it rings any bells. And that’s not because they are Polish. I just haven’t heard of them before despite that this is their 5th album. It would be easy to assume that this too would be another extreme death metal album given the track record that Polish bands have but this is more along the lines of… I don’t know what. It sounds like a mix of death, doom and goth metal and at times it is really good but there are moments when the record dips and it becomes too middle of the road. I get a feeling that this is a record that would suit me when I’m in a certain mood. I really need to be in the right mind set to fully appreciate this album. When I’m in that mind set though, I get a strong Opeth-esque prog feeling about Eternal Deformity, without it sounding too much like Opeth in any way whatsoever. Anders Ekdahl