STORY OF JADE

STORY OF JADE are not as scary an entity as the y might at first appear. If you like your metal tinged with horror or if you just like good metal then this is for you. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I get the impression that there is a greater concept tot Story Of Jade than just being a metal band. Can you please enlighten us to what that concept is??
-Try to look at Story Of Jade as a Horror movie saga… we’ve got Jade, who’s a sexy and crazy narrator and character of her own creepy, black humor stories. The main characters of her stories are the “Demons of Fear”. Fear is a constant presence in our concept just like it’s a constant presence in life. Four ages of life and four demons of Fear: “The Fear in Childhood”, “The Fear in Adolescence”, “The Fear in Adulthood” and “The Fear in Old-age”. “The Damned Next Door (know your neighbors!)” album is like the first movie of the saga, is an introduction to the stories of Jade. The title is a metaphor: Fear’s always there, like a neighbor, and it is way better to know the ones who lives next to you than ignore them… you never know!

Italian horror movies have for a long time been considered some of the greatest. What is it about Italians and horror that goes so well together?
-I really don’t know!!!! Yet, Italy has got a lot of big name in Horror… from Fulci to Argento in movies and from Death SS to Daemonia in Metal, and that is one of the very few things that make us proud to be italians.

What is it about horror and metal that mix so well?
-It is about atmosphere, i guess…. you can’t create a sulphureous, dark, evil atmosphere playin’ pop music ahahaha and then, Metal is the Devil’s music, isn’t it? We’ve always been into Metal and Horror, it’s been natural for us to mix these things up.

Horror movies are the most spat upon film genre and still the most popular. What is it about horror that intrigues so many?
-Someone got scared, someone just have fun with it, it is a very subjective thing.

What has been the most successful melding of hardrock/metal and horror so far in history?
-There are a lot of examples, King Diamond, Alice Cooper, Daemonia, Death SS… but if I should choose just one band… I’d say Snowy Shaw’s “Notre Dame”.

When you are in a studio, a very sterile environment how do you best prepare to get in the right mind to record what will essentially be your masterpiece??
-Redbull, herbs, beers and some rehearsals.

Does the cost of making a video make up for the exposure it generates?
-For a band like us, it was inevitable to make a video clip. It gives a better idea of the concept behind the band and… it was fuckin’ awesome shootin’ it!

How do you bring the whole concept of Story Of Jade to the stage? What kind of set up would be the ultimate to make it all come together perfectly?
-We use to perform our shows with the help of an actress/performer who interpret Jade on stage, to bring more theatrical elements… the “ultimate setup” would be work with an entire theater company!

Are there places to play today that can do justice to the concept of Story Of Jade?
-There are a lot of good venues and club out there, but what “do justice to the concept of S.O.J” is the people who get it!

How far ahead are you in the concept at this point in time? Have you mapped up a full album series already?
-The saga has just begun… hope we’ll be die hard like the motherfuckin’ Freddy Krueger!

WORMHOLE

WORMHOLE came as a surprise to me. With little expectations I was blown away by what I heard. Perhaps one of my favourite metal experiences of 2012. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

With a name like Wormhole and an album title like “The String Theory” I kinda expected some sort of spaced out math metal http://battlehelm.com/wp-admin/profile.phpexplosion. How much of science nerds are you guys?
Wormhole: Not so much. We would say that the band members have always shared a blend of passion for science fiction and love for the scientific research field. A blend which also stands as a never ending search within our inner side. In some way, both our monicker and the album title are the result of a ceremony of opposites, a link between the two main lyric topics of the album, but also between our diverse musical influences. For what it may concern the relationship between Wormhole and science, our approaches differ a bit: some of us bring dreamlike and visionary elements in composition, while the others keep a down-to-earth attitude, which is our best way to shape things in their ultimate form.

How hard is it to come up with a concept for your band that hasn’t already been done? How hard is it to be original?
Wormhole: First, we are not sure that the Inner/Cosmic concept dwelling in “The String Theory” has not been inquired yet. We could quote Voivod as an influence for the choice of two sides for a single direction towards both universal and inner knowledge, especially because the Canadians rewrote the progressive approach of the Seventies within a spaced out electric (and eclectic) soundscape. We could also quote a bunch of literature and musical influences that have contributed to build up what we love to label as our “post-dark” sound, a personal approach to gloomy riffs and vocals with a lot of “post” and wave arrangements. Originality is among our primary aims, still to be pursued in our future efforts.

When you write with a cohesive theme as you guys do on “The String Theory” how hard is it to tie together all songs to make for one unit?
Wormhole: We must say that all the songs of the album don’t tell a story in the true sense of the word. They are rather related to two main themes: a trip inside one’s innermost feelings and a trip through the universe (or, if you prefer, the multiverse). Since those are our favorite themes, we didn’t find it hard to write with that aim in mind. Later on, we linked the songs together so they could stand as a sequence of episodes. The last song, which was also the last one to be written and recorded, came full circle. It was divided in two parts telling the story of the album itself.

How does the String Theory fit in with the concept of the album? Do you believe that the different shapes of life resonate at different intervals?
Wormhole: The String Theory is the heart of the album simply because its mathematical model allows for the existence of a stable wormhole that could be used for space/time trips. Without such theory, the classical physics could only admit unstable wormholes and thus unusable. If you translate this concept into a metaphor you’ll find the reason why the trip is the Freudian “fil rouge” of the entire album.

You seem to have had a set mind that the band should be fronted by a woman. How hard was/is it to keep this idea alive when you face line-up changes?
Wormhole: Well, it wasn’t that difficult even when our former singer left the band. In fact, in 2006 our music slowly started to sound heavier and the choice for a different vocal style seemed to be the best one to underline our new direction. If you listen to our old songs you’ll find that our style has always evolved and changed during all these years. Music is at the centre of the band, not people.

Do you have an image that you like to follow through on too? Do you want the band to look a certain way?
Wormhole: Definitely no. We don’t want to look like goth or metal people do. We don’t care about fashion. We just want to use music as a means of expression and purification.

With a title like “The String Theory” how do you translate that to an image you can use as a cover?
Wormhole: The string theory aspires to become a “theory of everything”, that is a model that connects all known physical phenomena. The idea of “connection” lies behind our lyrics, so we translated this concept into the cover of our last album. Every item you can find in the artwork is a reference to one of the songs contained in the album or to a song from our previous work: a crow, a broken watch, a doll, some leaves, the girl at the window and so on.

When you have a band as successful as Lacuna Coil are world-wide how much expectations are there on you to do the same journey, all other comparisons apart?
Wormhole: Lacuna Coil are the big thing now, and when a group of musicians reaches such popularity though being born in Italy, they deserve unconditioned respect, apart from our personal appreciation of their music. When we started this band, we didn’t have any intention to imitate or resemble anything coming from the female fronted metal scene. It was just that we had had complete different (and male fronted) musical experiences, and we wanted to try this way for a new project. We didn’t even have the intention to play “metal”, “punk” or “dark”, but only to follow our inspiration out of any labelling boundary. In other words, Lacuna Coil never influenced us, but it could be very interesting to share a bit of their popularity!

When one national metal band makes it abroad how much of an inspiration does that become for others to also make it big?
Wormhole: We have always tried to keep our feet on the ground. The only reason why someone like Lacuna Coil made it abroad is because they had a wide perspective, out of the narrow boundaries of our country, which sometimes can make it very difficult to be appreciated for what you are, believe us. However, this represents a good example of professional approach and attitude to the musical thing, something very difficult to find in Italy.

What lies at the feet of Wormhole for 2012?
Wormhole: We hope to promote “The String Theory” with a small tour, and we especially hope to reach as many people as we can with our musical proposal. Contact us, listen to our Reverbnation uploads and, above all, get a copy of “The String Theory”! Last but not least, thanks to the Battle Helm staff for this opportunity!

XENESTHIS

XENESTHIS might play modern metal but fear not that this is another of those despicable NU metal bands that plagued us a while back. This is cool metal. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

In choosing a band name that starts with an X how much of a pronunciation issue have you opened up for? Why go with this word as your band name?
-Well of course, sometimes people don´t know how to pronounce the name at first, but when we chose it we liked the pronunciation as well as its statement and look. The “X” at the beginning and the “S” at the end of “XENESTHIS” sound dangerous, a bit like a hissing of a snake. And there´s also a personal story to it. XENESTHIS is the name for a sort of tarantula. When our drummer joined the band, he told us that he has several of these spiders at home. We liked the idea and were looking for a band name at this time. And as there were no another bands, labels or brands with this name we decided on this word. Snakes and tarantulas make a good combination, isn´t it?

Your music is often described as modern metal. What is that really, what is modern?
-To us, modern stands for adjectives like fresh, free, unbound, to the point. Classifications are of course not the perfect way to describe music, but if you tell people none at all, they think you have no plan about what you are doing – even if this is wrong. As we have so many different influences in our music, “modern” seemed to be a good term to comprehend them all.

Where do you find your influences and inspiration? Any one thing that stand out more than others as your main inspiration?
-Raffael who is writing most parts of the music says he is inspired by bands he loved since his teenage years, like Pantera, Dream Theater, Extreme, but his inspiration also is depended on the day’s condition and mood which is connected to the direct environment – fellow human beings, experiences he had during the day. On some days this mood suddenly condenses in a song – which can be slow and calm on the one day and more aggressive the other day. And as always the own attitude towards life, the whole personality plays a big part in a creative process. My inspiration for the lyrics is also the world surrounding us, the changes in society and the tiny and bigger dramas in our lives. Making music and writing songs has always been a kind of therapy for me. So some songs are related to this very personal topic of being in and out of love, full of passion for someone, the feeling of despair and helplessness, when relationships break up and friends fall seriously ill, the realization that we are not immortal – and fate can strike us when we expect it the least. Sometimes my lyrics have also a socio critical approach, f.e. I wrote the lyrics to “Raised Fist Armed” when students in Austria went to the streets to protest for better education and did a sit-in for month at the university.

In the last decade or more the stage for great metal has moved from Central Europe to Northern Europe. Why is it that so many great bands are now coming from the north and not the south? Does this make you work harder in proving yourself worthy too?
-The support in Northern Europe is stronger than ever. While artist in the North are paid for being in a band, cause it’s obviously considered there as a common job, musicians in the South have to earn their living by doing other jobs. Short spoken: Making music here is considered just as a hobby, it’s a hard and long way to be seen here as a professional, but we are trying our best.

Do you feel like you are a part of a scene or do you stand all alone fighting not only non-believers but also other metal fans?
-It appears that people got very inflexible and uninterested in discovering new forms of music. While Kerry King and James Hetfield are well accepted, young and talented bands have to fight for attention. If you have a look at the current metal-magazines, you’ll find mostly music of the 80’s and even 70’s. It’s time to thank Lemmy and Mustaine and to open up for new stuff. Art needs development.

With what kind of motivation did you enter the studio to record “Thou Shalt Not”? How do you think it all turned out in the end?
-We really wanted to record that stuff as we were doing some heavy songwriting the months before. It´s feels like being pregnant. You know the songs are already there, but nobody except the band has heard them. So you want the baby to be born in order that you can release it into the world. We were really eager to hit the studio and it turned out really well. It also helped that we had a lot of confidence in our producer Nobert Leitner who cares to get the meaning and feeling of the song on tape.

With an album out what is that you want to achieve now? Is everything made now?
-The most important thing for us by recording an album is to make a bit more of our vision of music, of our dream, come true. We got good reviews, the German Metal Hammer magazine named us “Heroes of Tomorrow”, our video got in a short time over 45.000 views and we played some fine concerts with the new material. We had fun and hope other people enjoy our music as much as we do.

I´m so old that I haven´t really grasped the impact sites like Youtube can have. How important have the social media become in bringing the band to the audience?
-Social media are of course a good possibility to gain some recognition from people you wouldn´t reach otherwise. Most of our listeners on Youtube come from states outside Europe, mostly the USA, Southern America and also from Asia. Without these possibilities it would have been very hard to reach them. On the other hand die-hard fans are mostly people you convince during concerts. Especially in a time where you can fake so much in the studio and polish your qualities there, people have become interested to see if the band can perform live as well as on CD.

What kind of future is there for Xenesthis?
-The future of XENESTHIS is full of fun, good music and nice people…and tons of gold bars of course.

YOUR TOMORROW ALONE

Do you like My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema but feel that they’ve wandered too far off the trodden path. Look no futher than YOUR TOMORROW ALONE. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

What is it that is so great about the Bristish doom?n?gloom scene of the 90s with band?s like Anathema, Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride?
-The English Gothic doom scene of the 90’s was great. A key period for the birth of a musical style that would become labeled differently from what had been considered doom up until that moment. The bands you have indicated are to be considered musical pioneers , for being able to blend different musical influences, reinterpret them and create something new!

How does an Italian band end up sounding like an amalgamation of the above mentioned bands?
-We are all fans of the English scene of the 90’s and of the bands you have mentioned, so our sound primarily reflects their peculiar style, although it isn’t the typical sound of our homeland. On the other hand, we feel very influenced by other bands like Opeth or Katatonia, not to mention the Italian progressive rock scene of the seventies.

The album title “Ordinary Lives” is it meant as a critique of modern society? Why chose such a bland album title?
-Yes, the title chosen, “Ordinary Lives” is to be seen as a critique of modern society: precisely, it indicates the union that often intervenes between every day life and the lies in which each and everyone of us is forced to shelter in order to survive in a society that is becoming colder and more indifferent towards the small or big personal problems that afflict everyone.

Where did you draw inspiration from for the songs writing to the album?
-The inspiration comes from the every day life of all the members in the band. This album is to be considered as an entirety of various emotions, all source of inspiration for the band. From achievements to failures, from dreams to illusions: anything that can trap you in a limbo of joy and pain. Changing feelings of hate and love, of hope and desperation aimed at striking the human soul and keeping you alive. On the other hand, every emotion can contain different meanings and be ambivalent

How do you go about choosing cover art work? Does it have to match the album title? Which comes first, the art work or the title?
-In this case, the title came first. It was communicated to our graphic agency (Adhiira Art), that visually developed it, creating the final artwork. Therefore, the artwork corresponds to the title of the CD: the faceless man, dressed elegantly, ready to face the reality of everyday life, must choose which mask to wear, in order to lie to himself and to others.

When you have two vocalists how hard is it to write music that utilizes both vocalists the most? Why the decision to have two vocalists?
-To be honest, we believe that having two singers has made things easier for us. With a growl vocalist alternating to a clean one, we were able to express as best as we could the multitude of emotions and feelings that pervade “Ordinary Lives”. From the writing point of view, such two different vocalists have surely given a great helping hand in the making of the work. This is the main reason why we have chosen to use two vocalists. If we hadn’t, we probably would not have been able to express ourselves to the fullest.

How hard is it to come up with songs that are good enough to end up on an album or works playing live?
-The work behind writing every song was thorough and kept us busy for two years. This is the only way to structure songs that are sufficiently valid to become part of a full length album. The complex arrangements are the product of hard work from all the members of the band. The same goes, naturally, for what regards live activity.

Where does Your Tomorrow Alone fit into the Italian metal scene? Is there an audience for you type of metal in Italy?
-In Italy there are excellent bands that propose a sound similar to our own. Bands that are famous even abroad, like Novembre, The Foreshadowing, Klimt1918. We hope to insert ourselves in the same scene of these bands and to attract a good portion of Italian fans, but also international ones.

How do you view your chances competing for the World’s metal heads with your brand of metal?
-As we have already mentioned, our goal is to attract those that are still interested in gothic and doom metal. Probably nostalgics, given that today other subgenres of metal are becoming important. We are perfectly aware that we are playing music that is somewhat “vintage”, but we are also aware that it is what we enjoy the most and want to continue doing. We hope to do our best by playing the music that we love..

What ways are you using promoting the band to make 2012 the year of Your Tomorrow Alone?
-The bigger portion of promotional activity has been and still is managed by My Kingdom Music, that is that is supporting the release of Ordinary Lives pretty well. From our point of view, we are intentioned to carry out an intense live activity, both in Italy and abroad.

BEGRIME EXEMIOUS “Visions Of The Scourge”

BEGRIME EXEMIOUS
“Visions Of The Scourge”
(Dark Descent)
I have no idea where Dark Descent find all these bands that sound like they’ve been through a cement mixer before they end up on record. I like it. There is something to be said about music that sounds like it has no smooth edges. This Canadian troupe is about as raw as it gets without it ending up sounding like a blender gone mad. I love early VoiVod. “War And Pain” is one of my all time fave records. Begrime Exemious sound nothing like VoiVod yet it is the closest I get to comparing them to anybody. Maybe throw in some Slaughter too and you get the picture of what they sound like. Sick, basic and raw as hell metal on the edge of thrash and whatever. Anders Ekdahl

DEMONICIDUTH “Valley Of Decision”

DEMONICIDUTH
“Valley Of Decision”
(-)
I believe in neither God nor the Devil. I really don’t care if you sing your praise to the one above or the one below. You can whatever religion you may as long as the music you make is good. OK, there are exceptions to the rule. I do have my standards but basically I believe in the right of free speech and we at Battle Helm are strong believers in the right to express yourself any which way you like. Which brings us to the Swiss band Demoniciduth. Whenever I get a letter that says that “we have a stand on our local square where we debate with atheists and Muslims” I know that this will be as hardcore believers as Watain or any other of those black metal bands that take their music as serious as religion. Just on the other side of the stick. So, what do they sound like then? Is this 100% waste of time and effort? This is Christian black/death metal but not anything like Horde. This is quite heavy. And not a waste of time and space. I like it. There is a charm to it and the fact that you don’t really hear any of the lyrics should entice all you into good black/death to check it out. Anders Ekdahl

DISEIM “Holy Wrath”

DISEIM
“Holy Wrath”
(Abyss Records)
OK, so you come from Latvia and you play sludgy, doomy metal. Should that be enough for me to sit up and take notice. Actually it is. Diseim are not as bad as the description make them out to be. This is for sure doomy. Sludgy and not very positive metal but hey, who needs that in world like ours. What is some positive re-enforcement ever going to do to change the downfall of the world as we know it? Why not go out with a big bang. Let Diseim be the soundtrack to the dissolving of everything we love and hold dear. Or not. Just let them entertain you for a moment to get your head off how you’ll survive the Mayan prediction of the end of the World in 2012. Anders Ekdahl

DREAMING DEAD “Midnightmares”

DREAMING DEAD
“Midnightmares”
(-)
Whenever I get a record that reminds me of some of my favourite bands I just have to sit up and take extra notice. When I heard Dreaming Dead’s sophomore album it hit me immediately how much I miss Chuck and his Death. Not that Dreaming Dead are that close to Death musically but there is that same ambience to this death metal that there was on the latter Death records. Add to that Opeth and you get a pretty good picture of what to expect from this album. And expect something great you should because this is one of the better death metal albums on the more technical side (no, it is not another jazzy excursion in futile mastery) I’ve heard this year. This is musicianship on the highest level. Kinda like it was with Death. No showing off for showing offs sake. Just three highly skilled musicians doing their best. And what best that is. Check it out not just because you miss Death but because you love Death. Anders Ekdahl

DRAVGR “De Ferrro Italico”

DRAVGR
“De Ferrro Italico”
(To React Records)
I like Italian black metal. Handful Of Hate has provided me with some of my greatest Italian black metal experience. I don’t know if it is because the Pope lives in the Vatican or what it is but Italian black metal bands seem more inspired in their resentment towards Christianity. Dravgr are new to my ears but I like what I hear. All hell breaks loose from the very first note. OK that there are some symphonic tendencies but that apart this is black metal of the more furious kind. The one that gallops like a mad Arabian about to be castrated. This is black metal that is inspired by all that is black in the world. So there are some folk tendencies too. So what. That doesn’t make it a folk metal album. This is still black metal to strip the paint off walls. Cool stuff. Anders Ekdahl

ELYSIAN “Wires Of Creation”

ELYSIAN
“Wires Of Creation”
(Basick)
With so many bands all over the world and so few chords to chose from I’m surprised that they don’t end up sounding all the same. But thankfully there are still combinations to be found to make it somewhat original. Australian Elysian have found enough original chord sequences to make me sit up and take notice. Perhaps not as hard and heavy (well heavy it is) that I anticipated this is still some pretty cool borderline death metal. There is an esoteric side to the music that makes me think Isis gone death. They seem to work very much with atmosphere and space. I like that. It gives the music a floating feeling. Cool. With so many bands trying not to sound the same you are more likely to end up with a whole bunch of bands sounding alike. Elysian have managed to avoid that trap. This is pretty original and not to forget darn good. Anders Ekdahl