REPLOSION

REPLOSION is an Italian progressive metal band on the rise. Be the first to name drop them among your friends after you’ve read this interview with MIKE GALLETTO – drums. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

You are being described as a symphonic/progressive power metal band. What is there in the descriptions symphonic and progressive that applies to your music??
-First of all thank you for this opportunity, we are very proud to talk to one of the greatest audiences in the metal scene. Well, I think “symphonic” is just an influence… It’s not a key factor for Replosion; On the other hand “progressive” represents the main musical reference listeners link to our instrumental sections. I’d rather talk about a “prog-oriented” style as I don’t think we completely comply with progressive stereotypes. We use to explore diverse music genres and turn “non-metal” solutions into a rock or metal sound.

What bands has been the single most important in forming your sound? Where do you get inspiration from?
-Angra, Savatage, Opeth, Queen, Dream Theater, Metallica… These are some of the most listened artists of our “musical childhood”. Today we take inspiration especially from the godfathers of non-metal genres …the inspiration comes from those styles we don’t totally know, that bring curiosity and push to musical explorations.

I keep returning to this with every Italian metal band that I interview because I think that metal should be so much bigger in Italy than it is. Why does metal have such a small following in Italy?
-Italy has two faces…many people listen to metal music, really. And many people play music too. So, you could think that interest in music is huge and this would certainly be the logical conclusion! Well, not in Italy. The other side of the equation is that our country has a musical culture so distant from rock or metal: consider that our parents never listened to Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin. Another point is the obsolete and conservative mentality of media never broadcasting certain kinds of music. Further, there are few places to play original music, you have to set up a tribute band if you want to play and get paid. When we were teens and played Guns ‘n Roses or Metallica songs, parents and friends stared at us like we were aliens. We felt kind of guilty for playing that music.

What is the hardest part of being an Italian metal band? Are there any benefits to being an Italian metal band?
-The hardest part is playing with the awareness that you are doing it just for yourself and your passion… The crisis the entire music-world is living involves also Italy of course, and here the effects are risen by those factors I mentioned before. Another thing is in Italy there is no cohesion among bands. The mutual criticism that bands share make it impossible to develop a strong Italian scene. Benefits? Uhm… Next question please…eheh! This is the reason why we wanted our album to sound as international as possible, and why we are promoting our music worldwide.

Do you see a change in attitude and interest from a younger generation? What kind of music interest the younger generation?
-I’m drum teacher, and I see that teens now don’t listen to metal as much as we did ten years ago. Today many young drummers come to me asking for bands like Alter Bridge, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers… Or something heavier like Avenged Sevenfold or Trivium. Anyway when you go around and see a long-haired metal-boy with t-shirt and patched jeans, you still see Metallica, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Blind Guardian, Ac/Dc shirts… I think it’s a clear signal that nowadays’ music is hitting the bottom.

You use the social media to promote your band. How do you do it the best way in order to reach all those that might have a genuine interest in your music and not just “like” you for the sake of “liking you”?
-Well, we are using our official website a lot (www.replosion.com) and consider social media like Facebook, Reverbnation or MySpace just as satellites. Catching the interest of people with a “hammering advertise” is not our goal. We’ll keep on promoting Replosion through fanzines, webzines, web-radios, our official YouTube Channel and website… And so on…
How hard is it to find the right kind of people to work with? What is it that you look for in people that you work with?
-“The Resting Place Of Illusion” album is the result of a very positive experience… I mean, we managed to find the best cooperation with the producers. It’s not easy when you play music influenced by many different styles and approaches. When we started searching for someone to produce Replosion first album, we paid particular attention to find open-minded people able to work together as a team… This is the key factor.

How much time and effort do you spend on Replosion? What are you willing to sacrifice to make the band a success?
-Replosion is an “home” for us. You can spend some time away from home but you’ll always come back. Then, referring to the second part of your question, well, I’d rather talk about passion not sacrifice. For sure we’ll take into serious account all suggestions and considerations about “Resting Place of Illusion” album.

What kind of support is there for a band that wants to make it in Italy? Do you get cheered on for wanting to pursue a career in music?
-If you pay agencies you get all the support you need… But let me say that we are very determined to spread Replosion music abroad. For what concerns getting cheered on, well, musicians in Italy are considered like people wasting their time. If you listen to an Italian band (no matter good or bad) you can be sure that band is doing-it with a great and genuine passion.

Tell me what do you see when you gaze into the crystal ball?
-I see the reflection of my big nose I guess…eheh…forget-it, I’m just joking. We prefer looking at the real world, doing our best to make good music day by day…
This was the last question I guess, thank you once more for this interview.
Follow us on our website www.replosion.com , and check-out our “Turn The Page” video on youtube!

SACRED GATE

Once upon a time there used to be a strong German power metal scene. Perhaps SACRED GATE can restore some of that glory. Interview answered by Nicko Nikolaidis (guitars). Anders Ekdahl 2012

I remember reviewing your EP and liking it. Now I have an album to like. What are your feelings on the album?
– We are very glad that we could find a label which liked our stuff and released it. It is not very easy for an new band to find so fast a label. We believe we made a good album, there where many reviews we received in which stands that there is no weak song on the album and that we are a big hope in the underground scene.

How much of a progress is the album compared to the EP?
– The first 3 songs on the EP are included in the album, it is the same recording and mix. There are another 3 live songs on the EP. So the EP was just like a sign of life, a way to promote the band before the release of the official CD and maybe to gain some new fans. That’s why I think we cannot compare these two releases.

When you play power metal, does it feel like a lonely journey? What kind of interest is there for power metal in 2012?
– I would describe our music as Heavy Metal, of course we have some power metal elements but we are more into traditional, classic metal. The problem is, there are so many ‘’power’’ metal bands that play this kind of metal where you have these happy melodies and the double bass-drum running all the time, and I hate that. I think Sanctuary’s ‘’Into the Mirror Black’’ is the best power metal album ever. This album is the definition of Power Metal. To come back to the question, of course there is still a lot of interest for the established and well known bands, you can see full halls when bands like Hammerfall for example play here in Germany, but it is very difficult for the small bands to even get some gigs.

What would you say set Sacred Gate apart from all the other power metal bands past and present? Why should we listen to you guys?
– I think we have an album with strong songs, and I am sure that every metalhead will have a good time listening to the album. The songs have a lot of energy and heaviness but also many great melodies. I am a big Iron Maiden fan, I love this band, but listen to their last albums, are you satisfied with that? I am not. So if I would listen to a band like SACRED GATE I would give this band a chance and buy their CD to support them. The underground bands are the ones who need support. But many people prefer to go to a show and pay 100 € than to go to a local gig and support the underground bands, or to buy the CDs of the big bands, even if their material is not good enough.

Is Germany still a great place for heavy metal? What kind of media interest is there for national bands?
– I think it is one of the biggest markets for heavy metal, the biggest metal labels are from Germany and there are many great festivals. But in general there is more interest in the well known bands. There are some magazines dedicated to the underground, that present new bands and help them become more popular. But it is very difficult to get a story or interview in the big magazines, especially when you have released only one album. It is my opinion, but I think the media is interested more in foreign bands than in national bands, I don’t know why, maybe they think that every band from outside Germany is better than the German bands.

When you are relatively small and just have released an album how do you best promote it? Any chance of joining a major tour for maximum exposure?
-The best thing for a band that wants to promote its album is of course playing as many gigs as possible.
But as I said, even getting gigs is not so easy if you are not well known, because many organizers don’t give this chance to the bands. The most times we organize the gigs ourselves or with some friends who also play in other bands. Like every other band we dream of a tour as support for a bigger band, but this is very expensive and you need very good connections or a rich label. So, neither we or our label can afford something like that. Maybe a label like Nuclear Blast or Metal Blade could send a newcomer on tour but this is another story.

How much is it politics and how much a genuine love for metal when it comes to being seen in the right kind of places? How much are you ready to sacrifice in order to get the band seen and heard in all the right places?
– That’s a very good question, politics is very important, this is the truth. There are so many bands that make great music and don’t even get a deal for an album. We played about a month ago a concert with High Spirits, the guys played a day before our show at the Rock Hard festival in Germany. After the concert they said: “Guys you are much better than the most of the bands at the festival yesterday”. It is great to hear something like that, but it also makes as angy, and I think many other musicians feel the same way. We all have our families and jobs, and we live from our jobs and not from the music. We combine these two things and it works. We are not yet a band that goes 2-3 months on tour and I cannot say how it would be to do something like that, to be away from home for some months. But if it was on a professional level and we could pay the bills by earning money with music, then for sure we would do it.

How important has the art work been in establishing an identity for the band? How important has it been that just by glancing at the art work you should know that it is a Sacred Gate album?
– First of all I have to say that our artwork was painted by Jowita Kaminska who is also co-owner of our label. She realized the idea we had about this apocalyptic scenario. There is a connection between many songs on the album and the artwork. I think the artwork is very important, I still remember that when I was 15-16 years old, I bought many albums only because the cover looked great, hahaha. So when you want to sell a product, the whole package must be good. In this case the music, the cover artwork and the booklet design. Of course music is the most important thing, but the fans rather prefer a CD with a nice cover and booklet, than one that looks very cheap. Iron Maiden became so famous because they made great music, and because of Eddie, hahaha. When you see the artworks of Maiden, Manowar, Blind Guardian etc, you know exactly from which band the album is, because most of them work with the same artists since years, and have their own style.

What importance does the choice of band name have to the aesthetic of the band?
– A name that sounds good with a logo that looks good is very important, especially when you want to sell a lot of T-shirts, hahaha. A name must be simple but also has to stick to your mind when you hear it for the first time.

What future is there for Sacred Gate?
– We will see, we always plan things step by step. We want to play as many gigs as possible, but the main target this year is to enter the studio in autumn and record the new songs for the next album. We want to play in summer 2013 in some festivals, so if you read this and you organize one, don’t hesitate to contact us!

SKELATOR

I had not heard SKELATOR before I got the new album. I immediately knew that I had made a mistake and that this was the stuff I’ve always been into. So an interview with Robbie Houston (Guitars) and Rob Steinway (Guitars) was set up. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Skelator is a great band name. It is like some kind of super hero fighting evil? Where did the name come from to begin with?
Robbie: Skeletor is the arch nemesis of He-man. He is a badass villain. We changed the spelling a bit.
Rob: Not a super hero but a sinister villain! Max and Jason came up with the idea when generating band names many, many years ago. From the moment Jason heard the name he knew that it had to be the name for the band.

I get the impression that there is a conceptual part to your new album. What can you tell us about that?
Robbie: The last 12 tracks tell the story of Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone. Elric is one of the greatest most twisted antiheroes of all time. He wields his sword “Stormbringer” that eats the souls of friends and enemies alike. Our album tells the story of how Elric returns to his home to overthrow his cousin Yyrkoon, who has usurped his throne, and destroy his own homeland and race.
Rob: The Elric story has a lot of variety too, which enabled us to really put forth a diverse amount of material on the album. The story itself is an epic tale, highly recommended!

When you do something like that, do you start with the music or the lyrics? How do you fit it all together to make it a cohesive unit?
Robbie: We write little bits at a time. Sometimes a riff or sometimes a chorus. We start with a little idea and add to it. Then as we get progress on a few ideas we look at how they all go together. Slowly the piece takes shape. Then we add more. Then we delete little bits that don’t work. Just bit by bit.
Rob: Our song writing process can really happen in any order. The verse and chorus of the song Agents of Power started off having the vocals and lyrics, and we wrote the musical backing behind it together. We’re very much a band where we spend a lot of time experimenting with different song ideas or the ways the songs go together and determine what flows the best. Sometimes we get frustrated with this process, especially if we’ve been working on a song for a long time, but in the end it definitely yields the best result. Skelator is not the type of band where one person does all the writing and the rest of the band shows up and plays exactly what the writer says to play.

What part does the art work play in this day and age when people download rather than buy a physical album?
Robbie: Artwork is rad. We understand that downloading us very convenient for everyone. We love to have an iPod with hundreds of albums. But nothing is better than looking at an LP sleeve while the record is playing. I hope that more people are actually looking at the digital album covers that come with the downloads.
Rob: Artwork is part of the whole package, just like the lyrics. Like Robbie said, mp3s and iPods are convenient, but physical albums are a whole experience. Metal is less about “singles” or popular songs on the radio (at least in the USA where real metal gets close to zero air time), and more about the whole album. I hope that people that check out our album get to appreciate the artwork and layout!
When you’ve been around a while, having released a couple of albums what is it that still drives you to do the things you do? What motivates you guys to better yourself?
Robbie: The things we do are what drive us. Songwriting, playing live, and recording are the things that we love and want to do. We have always done these things and always will.
Rob: In addition to that, I think seeing excellent underground bands and listening to their recordings is a very driving force. Hearing the new Slough Feg album is very motivating or seeing a performance by Midnight Idols or Phalgeron makes us all want to get back in the practice space and hash out some more tunes.

I get the impression that you’ve seen bands come and go that you could play the socks off that have been offered it all and blown it all. Does it ever feel like you’ve been passed over because you will not bow down?
Robbie: Unfortunately our style of music isn’t at the top of the charts. If our goal was to make a lot of money we would be making screamo or autotuned hiphop. But our goal is to make true metal and to continue to get better at doing so. I am proud that we have always made the type of music that we wanted and that we have gotten as good at it as we have.
Rob: We’re making metal because we love it and this is the type of music that we want to listen to. We might not have a ton of cash or have our own jet to fly around the world and play shows, but for us this is about the music.

How important is it to be true to yourself and not sell out to be able to do it all over and over with 100% integrity?
Robbie: Nothing is more important. If you lie to yourself you lose the ability to love.
Rob: Being true to yourself and maintaining your integrity is king.

Do you feel that if you stick by it your time will come too? How much are you willing to sacrifice to make the band break big?
Robbie: Breaking it big is not the goal. If we can achieve that along with making great music then it is a welcome bonus. There is no sacrifice to play and write and record. Our lives are all structured so that we can make music because that is what we wanted and is most important to us. It would only be a sacrifice if we gave up those things.
Rob: I think of it this way. In the USA, the type of band that makes it big isn’t the type of band that we want to be. Look at most labels and the bands that are on there, they’re popular right now and they’re the type of music that is popular. Give it a handful of years and they’ll fade or change styles to whatever the next trend is. We don’t care about making it big, we just care about creating epic heavy metal!

How much confidence do you have in your choice of metal? Has there ever been a time when you’ve felt like quitting?
Robbie: I only thought about quitting when I was a lot younger, before the love of this art grew to be part of my character.
Rob: Never. Once I learned about heavy metal and I picked up the guitar I’ve been completely hooked. I think we all experience the occasional musical frustration, but that can be remedied through practice.

What ideal future would you like to see Skelator on the future
Robbie: Being able to tour off and on a few times a year and making a great sounding album with well written songs every year or two until we die.
Rob: Continuing to make heavy metal with these gentlemen, put out albums and EP’s (which also get released on Vinyl – yes it sounds better!), road trip around the USA and Europe every so often so we can bang our heads in as many different countries and cities throughout the world.
Cheers and thank you for the interview, Anders. Check out our ReverbNation page for samples of our music! www.reverbnation.com/trueskelator

VITER

VITER are a new and promising metal act from the Ukraine that are on the up and go with their new album out now. I interviewed Yulian – vocal and Bohdan – bass. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I came upon you by chance surfing Youtube. How much effort have you put into getting known outside of Ukraine?
Yulian: VITER is new enough band – recently we recorded our first longplay and a promo-campaign is about to begin. Nevertheless our previous EPs were accepted quite well all over the world we won’t stop at reached at the moment and will continue our expansion to Europe and rest of the world.
Bohdan: Besides, we took a new musical direction at the longplay and now we are by the way bursting through old fans’ conservative unreadiness for changes. Guys, changes are an important part of our musical nature, you take it or not.

What kind of responses have you had so far to you music? How much of an interest have you had from places outside of the Ukraine?
Yulian: We get very diverse reactions on our music – from the most positive to full completion mixing with shit. I think this is normal. We are not too cranky and are ready for any reactions.
Anyway, it’s a great pleasure to receive positive feedback from our the most enthusiastic listeners who send it to us in social networks. You should know – you give us strength in this fucked up world.

You have a new album ready to be released now. How would you say it differs from all your past recordings?
Yulian: Yes, the music of new album is quite different compared to previous recordings on EPs. Honestly, I can’t imagine a band saying “yeah, our musical stuff is fully identical to all our previous shit”. Someone compares us with RAMMSTEIN and IN EXTREMO, and some people just relish what we make. As for me – all these comparisons is crap. The main thing is that music should rock us and roll us, and if somebody else also – that would be great.
Bohdan: By the way, rocking and rolling is the essence of our new aesthetics – now and for some future. Though we play music that sounds heavy and metal-like, in fact we begin to consider ourselves now as a rock band and this tendency is only increasing.

What do you expect that this new album will do for the band? What do you want to get from releasing it?
Yulian: Well, since Ukraine is not very rich country, we want to get a lot of cash. Besides, to win MTV award and receive at least 5-6 million of likes on Facebook. Then we will know that we spoil our lives not in vain.

How hard is it to get things done the way you want when you live so far from all the great producers and record labels?.
Yulian: But we live close to Chernobyl zone. I think, it will compensate everything in course of time.
Bohdan: But we learnt and still are learning how to do many things by ourselves.

What has been the hardest task to achieve so far?
Yulian: For the time being everything goes easily. I don’t even know what to say – maybe to get completed work on CD from recording studio till the end of current era.
Bohdan: Everything goes easily only as a result of hard work. For me the hardest task is to secure safety of kozobas and people around me and kozobas every time during preparations for live performances.

Would you say that Ukraine is your best bet to make it big? It is one hell of a large country. How does a band go about touring such a place? The distances between towns must be huge.
Yulian: I suppose that life of the band here and in Europe or USA has not many differences. On tours everywhere there is always the same shit – you sleep little, eat little and have a fucking lot of road troubles and inconveniences. You just accept this damned circus in your life or not!

From what I understand technology is still a hard thing to get if you live in the Ukraine. Not everybody has a computer at home and internet connections have to be done in coffee shops. How much does this affect the way you can promote your band?
Yulian: Oh yeah, it’s really painful question. You asked what the hardest task to achieve was and now I recollected the hardest one ever – so it was the hardest thing to send these huge amounts of sound files via internet to our sound producer sitting all day in shitty coffee shops, and the sound producer had to receive them at the similar place. But as it’s impossible to buy ample USB flash drives which would accommodate all necessary information, we had to go to coffee shop 4 times every day during the month. It was terrible.
Bohdan: And we’ve got mutual collective hatred of coffee.

Can we talk about a Ukrainian metal scene? What kind of bands do you socialize with?
Yulian: Well, my personal favorites are bands like TIK, Dzidzio and KAMON! I’m not sure that this is all 100% true metal, but it’s ok with a drive there.
Bohdan: No, Yulian, it’s not 100% true metal… Nevermind, he is completely lost.

What future are there for Viter?
Yulian: Well, in the very near future we are planning a tour in support of album, in which I hope we won’t burn anybody with our pyrotechnical devices and leave unharmed ourselves as well.
Also we plan to film one or two musical videos for the new album in the nearest half of the year.
Thanks for the interview and visit our web page – www.viter.org.ua for fresh sounds and videos and our Facebook profile – https://www.facebook.com/faceviter !

ALTAR OF OBLIVION “Grand Gesture Of Defiance”

ALTAR OF OBLIVION
“Grand Gesture Of Defiance”
(Shadow Kingdom Records)
It’s not that often I get to hear new Danish metal. From having been a country to look to for new, great metal (especially if you only lived 20 minutes with a ferry and 60 minutes to Copenhagen) the Danes have trailed far behind. So whenever I get to hear a (to me) new band from Denmark I take the time to enjoy the moment. This is heavy. I don’t think I’ve heard a Danish band as heavy as this before. I’m a huge fan of doom metal and this I think is my first Danish doom metal band. This is doom that has nothing to do with Candlemass. Think instead bands like Revelation and the whole early Rise Above catalogue mixed with bands like Witchfinder General and you get a pretty good idea where this band’s coming from. Anders Ekdahl

BLOOD OF THE BLACK OWL “Light The Fires”

BLOOD OF THE BLACK OWL
“Light The Fires”
(Bindrune Recordings)
This is not a new band for me. I have their previous efforts but I can’t say that I to this day fully understand them in order to get the most out of them. Perhaps my approach has been totally wrong. Instead of seeing them as the savior of American “black metal” I should look upon them as an entity all its own. Forget everything I’ve read and just let the music take me on a journey. But then again this isn’t your typical metal album. Well it isn’t metal in any musical way- more in spirit. There is a more shamanistic approach to this than to most (or all) other albums. This isn’t the type of record you put on if you want to party like there is no tomorrow. In my more somber moments I can fully appreciate this kind of music. This is for those of you with a totally open mind. Anders Ekdahl

EVIL LYN “The Night Of Delusions”

EVIL LYN
“The Night Of Delusions”
(Iron on Iron Records)
Evil Lyn (Evelyn anybody?) is another Finnish metal band. Yet I somehow don’t think we’ll ever see them charting with the likes of Sonata Artica or Nightwish. For that they seem to be too underground. But then again you never know with the Finns. They seem to take their metal very serious. This is metal that has very little to do with the grandiose of Nightwish or the symphonic of Sonata Artica. I guess there is a new generation of classic metal coming out of the woods in Finland these days. I like it. This is heavy metal the way it sounded when I got into it back in the 80s. You could even go as far as calling this power metal. If you like classics like early Savatage then this will fit your taste buds perfectly. Now where did I put my “The Dungeons Are Calling” vinyl? Anders Ekdahl

LUCIFERA/VIRGIN KILLER “split”

LUCIFERA/VIRGIN KILLER
“Unidas en Alcohol, Cuero y Metal ”
(WAR)
It might be wrong and very Swedish to assume that the macho culture still lives in prosperity in South America but for some strange reason I feel excited whenever I get sent anything that has a woman or two in its line-up and comes from South America (yeah, I know it is a continent and not one single country). Both Lucifera and Virgin Killer are all female bands (not that it matters what gender the members are) and that alone get me excited but more so the prospect of this being some really cool South American deathrash the way it was played when I got into it back in the days. Lucifera proves to be just that. This is like listening to early Sepultura or Sacrofago. Just pure thrashing rage. Really cool stuff if you like your metal very primitive and dirty. Virgin Killer are more pure thrash where Lucifera are more deathrash. More melodic in a very raw and primitive Megadeth/Anthrax way. This is so cool that I had to buy this tape (old school!!). Anders Ekdahl

MAD CHICKENS “Kill, Hermit”

MAD CHICKENS
“Kill, Hermit”
(Ladymusic)
When I saw the cover for this album I immediately thought of Mr Bungle and Primus. I expected this to be some of the most flipped out hybrid of music ever imagined and I wasn’t too far off in assuming that. But at the same time my mind drifted towards bands like Guano Apes, bands that aren’t afraid of mixing different styles of music. This album is one of these that will take time to get acquainted with and that will take on different shapes depending on the mode I’m in when I listen to it. And for that alone I applaud it. This is one for those of you eclectic enough to take in all kind of different influences. Anders Ekdahl

NECHOCHWEN “OtO”

NECHOCHWEN
“OtO”
(Bindrune Recordings)
I’m the first to admit that I have no clues sometime what the hell the labels are on about. They can use the most fancy and literate description of their bands and it just flies over my head. Any literary ambitions might be totally lost on me. I didn’t fully get the description of Nechochwen’s previous album but I do remember that I liked what I heard. Now that it is time for a new album I hope that I will be left with the same kind of positive impression. It started promising. Hopefully I’d be in for a grand journey through a landscape so beautiful and vast that I’d be totally blinded. And it did continue in that fashion. But again this isn’t your typical metal album. There is a more subtle side to this, an almost progressive touch/side in all its acoustic splendor. If you liked Opeth’s soft album you’ll simply love this too. I find this a soothing break from modern life’s stress. Anders Ekdahl