Desultor – “Master of Hate”

Desultor – “Master of Hate” (Abyss Records)

Holy f–k, how fast is this album!?! With names like Mack Murder (Guitar & vocals) and Ragnar Rage (Bass), odd man out is drummer Michael Ibrahim and its little wonder he’s drumming so fast – just to get away from the other two I imagine cos they call this Murder Metal LOL!!! This is an album of contrasts characterized by hyper speed technical death riffing mixing melodic virtuoso soloing, Halford-esque vocals that combine soulful with death with screaming – and of course, that aforementioned relentless double bass precision drumming. Even weirder are the songs themselves, like ‘Black Monday’, ‘Division Insane’ or ‘The Luxury Of Pain’, which times are ambient or melodic, yet with this underlying brutality that somehow Desultor pull off, just like their ancient ancestors from which their name derives, that of a skilled charioteer who would leap between galloping horses! An awesome album and musical accomplishment, this is extreme metal supreme bar none!

Ivory Gates – “The Devil’s Dance”

Ivory Gates – “The Devil’s Dance” (MS Metal Records)

Search for something and tell us? Hmmm, how about Fates Warning? With a tinge of Queensryche in the Geoff Tate vocals? Well, no matter as these Brazillians play a decidedly modern progressive heavy metal – with a special emphasis on heavy! From Hugo Mazzotti’s crunching bass to Matheus Armelin’s heavy riffs, songs like ‘Beyond The Black’ and ‘Under The Sky Of Illusions’ form the perfect backdrop for Felipe Travaglini’s clean, wailing vocals and Fabrício Félix’s technical drumming. If this wasn’t a showcase in musical dexterity then the epic 21 minute closer ‘Suite Memory’ will leave no doubt in your mind, bringing back memories of those early Rush days of lengthy multi section concertos, tempting even the devil himself to dance LOL.

ANGUISH

Swedish doom is a well known force to reckon with inside the charred walls of metal. Think Candlemass, Count Raven as well as Draconian and you get a pretty broad picture of what the Swedish melancholia can do to you. Anguish is another of these sad and mellow mindsets put to music. Being a Swede I have this inherent in my genes. I might seem odd to some Mediterranean European, but it makes me happy listening to sad music. The sadder, more doomier the better I feel. No, I’m not some sort of masochist. I am Swedish. So when I heard Anguish’s album “Through The Archdemon’s Head” it made me feel like I’d won a million on Lotto. This is so sad and heavy that I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven, or pretty close to heaven at least. I feel like I can carry the burden of the World on my shoulders so why not an interview with them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Let us start with the standard question of why doom metal? What’s so special about it?
-You can put in much more feeling into doom metal than for example death metal.

How important is it to have a band name that fits the mood of the music?
-It’s for the listener, who after has read the band title, can predict what the music and lyrics are about.

When you write music do you have to weed out bits pieces that wouldn’t fit or does writing music for Anguish come as easy as your ABC?
-Not exactly like that, but we do pick out the best parts, but it is not very much parts that have been erased.

How much of an effortless chore was it to record the album? Do you enjoy the whole studio experience?
-It’s really boring when you have done all your parts, to just sit there and wait for all the other members to play their parts. But after all, I do enjoy being in the studio.

How do you distinguish yourself from all the other doom metal bands with an album out there trying to be heard?
-I don’t know how they do, but we trust in the label to do all the promotion, and Dark Descent are very good to promote our album.

What kind of world domination agenda have you mapped out now that the album is done?
-Now we are just waiting for Doomsday 21 december 2012.

Sweden’s been quite leading in doom ever since that first Candlemass album. Can you benefit from that when you try to expose the band to the international metal scene, in that being Swedish is synonymous with quality?
-I can’t say Swedish is synonymous with quality, just take a look at Trouble from Chicago, professional musicians who plays quality Doom Metal. Or Black Sabbath from Birmingham, which are the biggest Doom metal band in the world.

I guess every Swedish town with any sort of pride has a metal scene. Whats it like in your hometown?
-Mostly Death metal like Degial, Invidious, Reveal, Veternus, Graveless. And some thrash, like Die Hard. Then of course Watain. I think it is some glam/sleeze and other shitty bands here too.

Swedish towns are not exactly known for catering to the music fans with loads of places to play. What kind of live scene are you a part of?
-There are some small places where you can play, like clubs and so on. I’m not a part of it.

Are you the one to carry the banner of Swedish doom high now that Candlemass are on its swansong?
-Yes, but Anguish and Candlemass are not the only ones who plays Doomsday music in the cold north.

ANN BOLEYN (HELLION)

Everybody with the slightest of interest in heavy metal should know the name ANN BOLEYN. If not it’s about time you got to know of her and the band she’s fronted for many years; Hellion. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

You’ve been in my conscious ever since that first Hellion MLP. What are you up to now?
-I live in the Los Angeles area and am involved in many things. First, I have run about 30 marathons and was a marathon coach for about ten years. I am getting ready for the Los Angeles Marathon and am helping a friend train to complete her first one. I am also a trial attorney. I spend a lot of time helping people who have been treated badly by their employers and bosses. In the Los Angeles area there are many people who come to the USA from different countries. Employers often take advantage of these people, especially when they are from Mexico or South America. Sometimes companies will fire workers who are injured at work. Other times the company won’t pay their employees fairly. I help people in those situations. I also occasionally write music, still.

From what I understand Hellion has been an on/off thing for the past couple of years. Do you notice that Hellion has made an imprint in the history book of heavy metal?
-Thank you for that. I appreciate that people are still interested in our music.

With a career spanning 4 decades (or more) you’ve been through both highs and lows. What would you say has been the high-points/low-points of that career?
-There were a number of high points, so it is hard to talk about just one. First, it was an honor to be able to tour in the former Soviet Union and do the Monsters of Rock in Moscow. No American bands had ever toured in the USSR at that time, so it was really exciting. I met Valeri Gaina from the band Kruiz, who is still a friend of mine. Those were really exciting times. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, and the tanks came into Moscow, the people who owned stereos put their speakers them in the windows of their apartments and protested by blasting heavy metal into the streets. Most heavy metal music was banned, or was only available in the black market then. So this was really amazing. People often forget the importance of music and how, especially in the case of the former Soviet Union, it was used for protest. A second high point would be working with Ronnie James Dio. I know everybody has told many stories about him, but, for the record, he was a really nice guy. Because of Ronnie, Hellion was able to perform with Whitesnake. I met Cozy Powell, who was one of my favorite drummers. And, I remember singing on stage and having David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio both watching me and giving me thumbs up. They were two of my favorite singers, so that was thrilling. As far as low points, there were quite a few, also. Most were in the early 1990s. I remember one time when myself and Lita Ford were voted by the viewers of VH-1 TV channel as the Top 100 Women in Music. Both of us placed in the top-40, if I recall correctly. VH-1 was doing a TV special with short interviews of the winners. I did not know that I had made the list until when the manager of Lita Ford called me and told me I was on the list. I had my publicist at the time call and introduce herself, in case they did not know how to contact me and wanted an interview since Hellion had just been dropped from Enigma Records. The person at VH-1 told my assistant that VH-1 was not going to feature any of the “toilet mouth heavy metal women from the 80’s” and that they were only focusing on the up and coming artists, such as Sheryl Crow, and the “dead ones.” That was pretty depressing. After all of the hard work, and the discrimination that the female musicians of the 70’s and 80’s were faced with, it was sad to finally be recognized by the viewers of a national TV station, then be ignored because we were no longer the flavor of the day.”

I’ve always wondered about your alter-ego. What was it that made you choose this as your stage name?
-I have a lot of friends from England, and some like to call me “Annie”. My legal name is the name of a character in a movie, and some people used to think that my real name was fake. I chose to use the name Ann Boleyn because my family line is traced back to the royalty of England and Scotland, and because I am a fan of history. Also, Anne Boleyn was accused of being a witch, and I have been called far worse things, so we had that in common.

When was the first time you became aware of hardrock/heavy metal and what was it that made you devote your life to it?
-I started playing music when I was 13 or 14. I was a big fan of Deep Purple and had a Hammond Organ by the time I was about 15 or 16. I was initially recruited by Tommy Bolin to play in a band called Zephyr, but my parents would not allow me to go because I was too young. A while later, I was recruited by Kim Fowley to go to Hollywood and play in the Runaways.

You’re not only a famous musician. You’re also are (was) a label manager. What was it that made you start New Renaissance Records?
-Hellion made a demo and we started selling cassettes of the demo at our shows. Making copies of the demo eventually burned up too many cassette recorders, so I decided it was cheaper to just press the demo onto a 12-inch record. A distributor ordered lots of those records and shipped them to Europe. A while later the mini-LP was a top selling import in England. Hellion next signed a record deal with Music For Nations, who also signed Metallica, Anthrax, and Merciful Fate. We ended up with a Record of the Year award in Kerrang Magazine, and in Sounds, which were the important magazines then. But, we could not get a record deal in the USA. Due to the success in Europe, the distributors wanted me to bring them more heavy metal. I didn’t have the money to put bands into the studio initially, so I started releasing people’s demos.”

With the label you built a reputation as a label releasing albums by a variety of bands, not always to great reviews. What did you think about the reactions some of your releases received when released and the accolade some of them receive today?
-It is very funny. The bands that received the worst reviews are often regarded as the most innovative bands today. Sepultura is a great example. The critics hated Sepultura. But, I liked the music, and Max and the guys in the band were really nice. Myself and my staff then spent hours and hours promoting the band to the magazines and to college radio stations. The reviews were terrible. I lost a lot of money on Sepultura. Then, just as they was starting to be appreciated and we were getting orders, they went to Roadrunner.”

During the 80s you were very much a part in bringing the second wave of thrash metal to the masses. What memories do you have of that time?
-I don’t know what you mean by the “second wave of thrash metal.” New Renaissance Records was releasing thrash bands right from the beginning.”

This is a gender specific question that I feel even in this day and age is relevant as women making a name for themselves in all branches of life often are looked upon as strange. As a woman you have most probably faced a lot of doubt and critical voices doing the things you do. What advice do you have to bands/artists facing adversary?
-Anything that is worth doing, is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it and the result would not mean much. Gender should have nothing to do with it. As a performer, or even as a professional in business, you are competent — or you are not. And, even if you are very good at what you do, there are going to be people who don’t like you. That is just life. As a singer, there are people who like my voice — and who hate my voice. For example, Ronnie James Dio liked my voice. On the other hand, I was told that Gene Simmons from Kiss hated my voice. And, it is my opinion that if you are hated and loved at the same time, you are probably on the right path! However, no matter what you do, you should always be trying to improve.

Where do you see the future taking you?
-I have been talking with some of the people that I know from the 80’s, some of whom were involved in Dio. Angelo Arcuri, the sound engineer for Holy Diver and Last In Line, among others, has been encouraging me to do some recording with some of the guys who played with Ronnie. I am also still in contact with some of the guys from Hellion. There are no concrete plans yet, but there is a good chance that I will be doing some recording soon, and maybe a couple festival appearances.”

CYANIDE SCREAM

It’s always a pleasure to find a new band that really can rock your socks off. Cyanide Scream is one of these bands. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

How hard is it to name your band? What makes a great band name?
-A band name is difficult to get right. You want to try and convey a meaning or a vision but in the end it will always mean something different for the individual. If it’s the meaning of a song or the name of a band. Its up to the individual to interpret what it means. A great band name is something that needs to get someone’s attention to make them want to investigate it further. I think the artwork needs to get your attention as well. The first time I saw Iron Maiden’s Eddie, I had to find out more about the band and the art alone made me buy it.

For those like me that have no clue about Cyanide Scream could you please give us an introduction into the band?
-We are a straight ahead hard rock/heavy metal band that does not shy away from what made us want to play music in the first place. Everything we do or will do is based off what made us want to listen to music in the first place. Something that is really hard to describe in words. Its more of a feeling and attitude. If the music makes us feel a certain way and we can get that feeling across to our fans then we have done our job.

What is your theory on why British heavy metal differs from American heavy metal, especially during the 80s?
-British Heavy Metal seems to be a little more honest and has a darker aggressive feeling to it. 80’s metal kind of took the edge off of it and made it more accessible to the masses. More women got into it during the hair metal days of 80’s for all the pretty boys and to me for all the wrong reasons.

Where do you derive most of your influence from? Anything in particular that you get more inspiration from?
-I grew up listening to Ted Nugent, Foghat, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, Angel, UFO and Kiss to name a few. Later discovered bands like Diamond Head, Saxon, Motorhead, Angel Witch, Helloween, Accept, Riot, Raven and the list goes on…. The heavier it got the better it got to me. As far as inspiration goes with the music I really enjoy German metal bands with lyrics its varied from personal experiences to things going on in the world around me.

What is the heavy metal scene like in the States? How does it differ in different regions/states?
-The metal scene is varied but it’s not what it used to be. I can’t really comment on all the different states or regions but some bands continue to do well in areas that they always have. On the same tour they will play in front of a crowd of 1500-2500 one night and the next to maybe twenty. I am talking major acts that have been releasing albums for years that don’t come to the USA that often. Maybe its promoters not really pushing the shows, bad management, money issues for fans or all of the above. If you’re a band on the radio and have a song being rammed down everyone’s throat everyday it’s a different story but those bands are to mainstream for me.

“Unfinished Business” is your first album as Cyanide Scream. What have your experience from older bands brought to this new one?
-I think everything I have learned along the way as far as song writing, recording, performance and every other aspect of music gets better with each release. That’s my goal at least. I try to do better and learn from any mistakes that I made previously. The one thing about me is that it sticks in my head so it doesn’t happen again. It’s a learning process and as a person or a musician you can only get better by correcting things that are wrong so they don’t happen again. We all learn something new everyday.

What is it that makes people keep trying, writing music and releasing it year after year when the rewards are so small?
-If you are doing it for the rewards meaning money you are doing it for all the wrong reason. I didn’t get into music for money or fame it was something that was inside of me that needed to get out. I never had a way to express my emotions until I picked up a guitar. Once I did I could let every emotion flow. It didn’t matter if it was happiness or anger it was released. I feel sorry for people that don’t have an outlet and have to keep all those emotions locked up inside.

How much influence does the place you live play a part in the music you create? How different is the desert of Arizona to the urban environment of a big metropolis like NY?
-It all depends on the environment around you. If everything around you is perfect you’re not going to write and aggressive song. You’ll probably write about flowers, your dog or truck and maybe throw in the blue sky which is good for some but not for me. The Arizona desert is very different from New York. When I first came to Arizona I thought I was on another planet. No real change of the seasons and its hot or way too f-ing hot. I do miss the change of the seasons but I do not miss the snow.

If you could only rescue the 5 greatest American and the 5 greatest European metal bands from a fire what would they be?
-Wow that is a hard one and I don’t want to make anyone feel left out but here goes. I’m not sure if these would be considered metal.American Metal Bands: really more hard rock but I have to go with what started it all for me and made me want pick up a guitar
Kiss-Ace Frehley and Peter Criss version.
Foghat
Ted Nugent
Cheap Trick-not metal but an all time favorite.
Megadeth
?
European Metal Bands. Not enough room here because I could come up with a ton more.
Primal Fear
Motorhead
Accept/UDO
Iron Maiden
UFO-Schenker version. If not UFO then Judas Priest or Saxon. I’m going to save them all if I can.
?
From what I understand you are hard at work on your second album. What can we expect from Cyanide Scream in the future?
-The new album is completed. I took a break from it so I can listen with fresh ears. I want to make sure the mixes are good and the running order of the songs flows together. It’s funny because I put the CD in today to listen again today and so far so good. I really don’t know what the future holds. I can only hope that people will go out and buy it and help spread the word so we can continue to put out new music for our fans. On a last note I want to thank you for your support by doing this interview. To all my fans thank you and see you soon if all goes well.
Steve/Cyanide Scream

D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F. Entertainment
http://www.stevecone.net
http://www.myspace.com/stevecone
http://www.reverbnation.com/stevecone
http://www.cdbaby.com/artist/stevecone
http://www.cyanidescream.com
http://www.mypace.com/cyanidescream
http://www.reverbnation.com/cyanidescream

VERITATE

The amount of Swedish bands popping out of every possible crack has become too many to keep up with. Which is why I felt a need to interview VERITATE to get to know something about them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I must admit that I know very little about Veritate. I can’t remember that I’ve read any greater articles about you in the bigger Swedish metal magazines. Are you bad at promoting the band the correct way?
-I wouldn’t say we’ve been particularly bad at promoting Veritate in the past although lately the promoting efforts have been a bit lacking. One could call it a matter of bad timing I guess.

Just from looking at the images I’ve seen (cover artwork etc.) I get a distinctive ARN feeling about your music. What is it that inspires you to write the music you play?
-If by ARN you mean the work of Swedish journalist/author Jan Guillou, then I would have to say it’s purely coincidental. The artwork on the “Straight Into Hell” album and “The Chosen One” single is original work done by Vicente Feijoo exclusively for Veritate. The concepts for the covers were something we came up with ourselves. On the “Straight Into Hell” cover you see people falling, so to speak, straight into hell from above and the boat with its main character is inspired by Greek mythology. As for “The Chosen One” cover, well, if you read the lyrics to the song I would say the artwork isn’t that far-fetched. Manowar was probably somewhere in the back of our minds when we came up with the ideas. There could be way worse influences, eh?

Why does anybody want to release a two track single “The Chosen One” with the same song twice, only in different languages?
-For many reasons, one of which is the fact that heavy metal of Veritate´s brand is rarely done in any other language than English. Viking metal has gone this way, as have other genres, but we felt it would be interesting to see what the result would be. The lyrics were translated or perhaps rather rewritten and we really liked hearing the song in Swedish as well as in English. We tried it, we liked it and we decided to release it. It’s up to the fans to decide which version sounds the best.

As I’m new to the band I have only found two releases to your name. What can you tell us about the past recordings of the band?
-We started out by releasing two demos. The first one, “Exploitation of Human Disturbance”, shows a band trying to find its own style, which I think we did. Reviewers had a hard time defining the genre it belonged to and that is usually a good thing in my opinion as it suggests we might have found our own thing, not trying to copy any other bands sound. After that came “Medical Miracles”. That demo continues in the same vein that “Exploitation…” started but perhaps with a touch of experimentalism that the first demo lacked, not to mention a way easier title to remember. The theatricality of these demos was refined and, I’d like to think, came to its pinnacle on the album “Straight Into Hell”. After a change of singer for the later two-track single this theatricality was toned down a bit but made way for better craftsmanship in the vocals-department. “The Rise of Hatröss” combines the two first singles in a limited strictly-vinyl release with new artwork for the diehard fans. The demos had been sold out for quite a while so it’s also a way to give everyone a chance of hearing the really early material.

When you release records on smaller labels, how much work do you have to do yourself in order to promote your records?
-Smaller labels usually have limited funds but are run by true driving spirits on the other hand. This means that we’ve had to handle more of the promoting ourselves than we would have had to do if we were signed to a bigger label. It also means that the feedback and contact with the label i smoother and more personal and I would say that Jens, who runs the label, has been very helpful in many ways. We have nothing to complain about and appreciate Killer Metal Records and what they have done for us very much.

Being from Sweden, do you notice an interest in your music based on that fact alone? What benefits can you gain from being Swedish?
-Being from Sweden is no doubt a positive thing if you’re a heavy metal band but what can be gained from it shouldn’t be exaggerated. At the end of the day it’s all about playing great music and attracting great fans. Add a bit of luck on top of that and you can come very far in the scene. That said, I’m sure there are some people who found our music by searching explicitly for Swedish metal bands. For that we are of course grateful.

How hard is it to get on the right kind of tours/festivals in order to spread the band’s name the right way?
-Being a relatively unknown band its way harder of course than for famous acts with a strong label to lean back on. It’s by no means impossible but I guess one could say that the more unknown you are, the more time and effort you’ll have to put in if you want to play the bigger venues. This is primarily a good thing as it becomes a natural way of separating the true believers from the posers, or whatever you want to call them.

In what way have the channels of promotion changed with the introduction of new technologies?
-Well, Myspace wasn’t around 20 years ago. Neither was Youtube. These are both excellent platforms for promoting your music. Whatever way you can get people to listen to your music is a good way. Playing live shows is for the same reason still one of the most important ways to promote your band. Not the least because you get a chance to meet your fans and talk to them about your music. Some of our most die-hard fans are old friends. Some of them have become friends of us over time. I would think this is common for many bands.

Are there any disadvantages to the ways of promotion through the social networks? What can you benefit from being interactive that you lose the old way?
-The disadvantage of social networks is the distance and the ease-of-dropping-out, so to speak. If I talk to someone who is listening to Veritate I can explain some choices, share mutual influences in a way more direct way. Social networks makes the world a smaller place so we can do this with people from all over the world, but, at the price of lost intimacy or whatever you want to call it. In essence, being interactive is great, but live interactivity is always better than the online version.

Where do you intend to take Veritate in the future?
-No one knows. Hopefully further than we ever expected. Cheers from Björn Ahlström and Annika Argerich of Veritate.

DECAYED “Lusitanian Black Fucking Metal”

DECAYED
“Lusitanian Black Fucking Metal”
(WAR Productions)
Decayed is one of these bands that I’ve seen around in different places but never got a chance to check out, until now that is. This Portuguese band has been going for some time now and could best be described as cult to some. To expect anything but dirty, raw and pretty basic black/death metal would be to fool yourself. This is a blast to the past. This is so basic that it makes all South American black/death bands past and present seem overly technical, or something close to that description. Decayed play the kind of raw metal I heard the first time back in the 80s when Sodom, Kreator and Destruction totally changed my world view on how metal should be played. Therefore I revel in everything raw and dirty that comes my way. This is like behind electro shocked back to life after having suffered a heart attack after too much exposure to bad metal. Anders Ekdahl

MORTUUS CAELUM “Ad Libertatem Per Mortem”

MORTUUS CAELUM
“Ad Libertatem Per Mortem”
(WAR Productions)
WAR Prod. seems to have a very specific sound that they are looking for. Nothing fancy or extravagant. No, it has to be basic and raw for them to get into it, it seems. Not that I mind. As long as it is good it can be as basic and raw as it wants to. Mortuss Caelum is black metal the way it started, No big symphonic arrangements, just guitar, bass and drums. I am a big sucker for anything that is simple while still being highly entertaining. Which is why I still think Hellhammer’s “Apocalyptic Raids” is one of the best records ever released. Mortuss Caelum are black metal the way Mayhem was black metal before they ventured onto the avant-garde path. It is guitars that cut like hot knives in butter, it’s vocals that roar like the hounds of Hades and it is drums that bang harder than a non-repentant sinner in heaven. Cool stuff all in all. Anders Ekdahl

OMISSION “Merciless Jaws From Hell”

OMISSION
“Merciless Jaws From Hell”
(WAR Productions /Xtreem Music)
You might now this from the CD version that Xtreem released. This is the tape version of it. For those of you not old enough to remember tapes it is what music used to come on in a time when there was no mp3s and internet was nothing but an idea in some scientist’s head. Vinyl spun in every home and life seemed so much simpler. And we traded tapes with new and exciting metal across the world by snail mail. No immediate delivery, we had to patiently wait for the mail man to come to our doors. Don’t know how much the members of Omission was a part of that scene but part of the death/thrash metal they are. This is death/thrash metal that has more the (old) German scene than the Swedish to thank for its sound. This is another piece of raw and unpolished metal assault that brings back a feeling of a simpler, less constructed time. I kinda like this “don’t think just act” approach that Omission have to their music. No bullshit, just pure attitude. Anders Ekdahl

OPHTHALAMIA “Dominion”

OPHTHALAMIA
“Dominion”
(Soulseller)
I reviewed this album for a Swedish zine when it was released in the late 90s and as far as I can remember I liked it back then. Now it gets a rerelease and it still holds up. It is just as good as it was back then. Ophthalamia was never just another black metal band. Not on “Dominion” or on any of their other albums. There was always way more to their sound to be type casted as this or that. They managed to mix the primal with the symphonic, the raw with the sombre. And they made music that has become timeless. Describing Ophthalmia in ordinary black metal terms will not be done. This is music that goes beyond any restrictions. This is metal, pure and simple. If you missed out on the album the first time round you ought to rush out and buy it. For the rest of us that do remember it there’s only one thing to do; buy another copy of it – this time with different art work. Anders Ekdahl