SKELETAL REMAINS “Beyond The Flesh”

Skeletal Remains
“Beyond The Flesh”
(FDA Rekotz)
Californian death metal has for the longest of time been Autopsy to me. And although I’ve heard countless of bands from that area I can’t seem to remember a specific sound making any kind of impact on me. But maybe Skeletal Remains (not to be confused with Skeletal Earth) will do that, or not. It did start with a very promising track that made me thing of early Death and perhaps Autopsy too. Having grown up with that sound I can’t help feeling like this is da shit. This is the kind of death metal that is the closest to my heart. I simply love the basicness of this kind of metal. No fussing about, just to the point death metal with guitar solos. This is the classic stuff. I’m so happy that more and more bands are picking up on this sound again. These are the records that I treasure the most when I get them. Anders Ekdahl

VEXILLUM “The Bivouac”

Vexillum
“The Bivouac”
(Limb Music)
There used to be a time when Limb Music where quite cutting edge, when they had bands like Rhapsody that felt fresh. Can’t say that I’ve felt like that for the label over the last 5-10 years. But I gotta hand it to them for sticking by with what they started with. Vexillum is another progressive Italian metal band. And given the standard of all other Italian progressive metal bands you can never get too many of that kind. Vexillum is another fine example of why progressive metal can be so good. If you love metal that is musical and done with the inside of the brain instead of from the gut then you might as well check out Vexillum. The weakest point is usually the vocalist. I’m not too fond of the lighter side of voice the singer has. But when he doesn’t try the high notes he fits well into the sound picture. Leave the operatic to the opera singers. That minor complaint aside this is another Italian progressive metal album to add to the collection. Anders Ekdahl

Geoff Tate – “Kings & Thieves”

Geoff Tate – “Kings & Thieves” (Inside Out Music)

Given the ongoing debacle with his former band mates in Queensrÿche, I did wonder if there was something in Tate’s second solo album’s title lol. Still, it’s a marked departure from the proggy metal of the ‘rÿche, being more melodic power rock with some kick ass funk rock sass to boot! Tate himself sounds remarkably at ease vocally, probably not having to hit those highs as frequently but instead pouring his very passion into making songs like ‘She Slipped Away’, ‘The Way I Roll’ and ‘These Glory Days’ as soulful as possible. Indeed, soul is the word here on “Kings & Thieves”, what with the liberal use of subtle female backing harmonies and a prominent use of the Hammond organ. But when he’s feeling jestful, Tate kicks it big time with the use of subtle sax’s and funky Glenn Hughes rhythms to bring the sex in there babaay! Whatever the outcome of matters related to Queensrÿche, this album proves that Geoff Tate is still one of the top rated vocalists in the world, and best of all, that “Kings & Thieves” is no mere token offering in the meantime, but a top rock album in its own right!

Trail Of The Dead – “Lost Songs”

Trail Of The Dead – “Lost Songs” (Superball Music)

Awesome – these guys are probably my fave US alt punk rock band of all time! With a name derived from the Mayans, formed in Hawaii and members residing across the globe from Cambodia to LA to Texas their music is equally diverse ranging from inspirational legends like Hole, Fugazi and Sonic Youth as well as estern harmonies and melodies – truly a gift from the gods indeed! Likewise, their wrath is also to be found in the unbelievable power and intensity of songs like the crashing ‘Open Doors’ or the spiraling guitar work of ‘Heart Of Wires’ and ‘Bright Young’ that will simply bounce you off the walls of your room! Conrad Keely’s adolescent vox find their niche amidst the raw guitar frenicity and pummeling ferocity of no less than two drummers! Best of all, there is a trippy feel to the songs not necessarily in the hippy sense but in terms of spiritual strength that draws both from the light and dark aspects of one’s soul – truly music from heaven that radiates an inspirational beauty showing a path of light thru the world’s tumultuousness!

Early Graves – “Red Horse”

Early Graves – “Red Horse” (No Sleep Records)

Rest In Peace mah brutha. In the summer of 2010, this San Francisco noise core crew suffered the tragic loss of singer Makh Daniels, killed in a van accident. After a year of mourning and no doubt wondering if the band should continue given the daunting task of replacing Makh’s considerable vocal and onstage presence, as fate would have it Funeral Pyre’s John Strachan (who bizarrely were in the same van during the accident!) decided to step up to the plate. “Red Horse” is his baptism of fire and brings the same fucked up beyond shit, feedback drenched pummeling noise core that brutalized us to musical ecstasy the first time around and now does the same again on obnoxious songs like ‘Skinwalker’, ‘Days Grow Cold’ and ‘Apocolyptic Nights’. Loud, dirty guitars, distorted bass and pummeling drum work form the backdrop for Strachan’s tortured, throat strained vocals – which although higher than Makh’s – lack no less the intensity of his much missed and legendary predecessor. Early Graves live on, carried thru the darkness by the steed known as “Red Horse”.

Orden Ogan – “To The End”

Orden Ogan – “To The End” (AFM Records)

Widely known as the successors to Blind Guardian and Running Wild, Germany’s Orden Ogan predictably play melodic power metal although touring with the likes of Grave Digger, Van Canto and Freedom Call has certainly enhanced their sound on this superb album! Along with their galloping speed comes a more epic and even singalong feel to songs like ‘The Things We Believe In’, ‘Till The Stars Come Out’ and ‘Mystic Symphony’. They even venture into djent territory on ‘This World Of Ice’ but thankfully keep it to this one song – although competently played, I don’t feel it’s Orden Ogan’s forte. Elsewhere racy melodic guitars, soulful Seeb’s vocals and epic choirs combine with pianos, violins and acoustics on a big sound production to create a sense surround symphonic experience full of passion – a magnum opus par excellence indeed!

Velvet Star – “All Or Nothing”

Velvet Star – “All Or Nothing” EP (www.facebook.com/velvetstarband)

Named after the tatt on vocalist Danny’s butt, this is what street punk rock n roll is all about! Mix the adrenaline kickin rock of GnR with the high energy fueled roll of Hanoi Rocks and an amped up Iggy Pop and Velvet Star is what u get. Four skanky dudes glazed in rocker sheen (that’s sweat to you & me boyo lol – Ed), covered in tatts and a liberal use of eye liner – but can they kick it! Songs like ‘Crash & Burn’, ‘Overrated’ and the bruisin’ opener ‘Bring It On’ show a powerful, lean n hungry machine built to destroy pussy and burn your town to tha ground!

Depth – “Waiting For The Waves”

Depth – “Waiting For The Waves” (www.facebook.com/depththeband)

This young mellow core band from England have already been making waves on a Red Bull Bedroom Jam competition with a fair number of endorsements following suit! Paul Hardy’s rumbling bass brilliantly contrasts his high punkish vocals while the Holliday brothers’ dueling guitar work matches in ferocity meets melody on songs like ‘Hope In Mind’, ‘All I Know’ and ‘Whispers’. Inspirationally, it takes elements from Funeral For A Friend and Killswitch Engage and mixes them in with other mello punk bands like say, Billy Talent whilst still retaining enough of their own touch to warrant some cred.

ADORNED BROOD

You might have seen the name ADORNED BROOD float about in the sea of metal that we all swim in but for some reason never really bothered to check them out. That is until now. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Adorned Brood is a band that I’ve been aware of for a long time but haven’t bothered to check out. How would you like to sell me the band in order for me to rush out and check out your back catalogue?
-We are a band that always wants to improve their style and add new elements to the music. As a result we have a continuous progress in our music.
When we started the band in 1993, Black Metal had a strong influence on our music. But due to the fact that we use a concert flute, there was and always has been a folkloristic and more classical approach in our music. From album to album we concentrated on the progress of our song-writing and improved the arrangements to always come out with killer songs which kick ass. Therefore every album has its own character and each of them represents an important stage of our development as a band. E.g. on our “Erdenkraft” album we had very present female vocals, on our “Noor” album we used accordion tunes and on our new album “Kuningaz” we have a guest musician which plays the viola.

To me Adorned Brood has always been folk/pagan/heathen metal long before these sub-genres were even thought up. How would you describe your sound?
We play a style that could be described as Pagan Metal. But we additionally use certain elements such as the classical flute, acoustic instruments plus extended and atmospheric parts which add a really special and unique character to our music. Another very strong element in our music are the vocals including the self-made choirs, especially on our last three albums. The guitars have a very elaborated riffing and we always place some progressive parts in our songs. Despite all that facts, we use catchy melodies in our songs and most of the time deliver choruses that invite to sing along.

What kind of developing curve do you feel that the band has taken over the years? How do you keep evolving without losing touch with original idea of the band?
-Over the time we experimented with a lot of new elements and influences and added them to our sound. The pure Metal attitude of the first songs we wrote still builds the strong fundament of our music, but the riffing and the arrangements became more diversified.
Throughout all albums you can hear the progress, but the genuine spirit is still alive and vivid.
Our upcoming CD “Kuningaz” will feature more acoustic instruments than we ever had before and, as a consequence, a lot of instrumental parts. Nevertheless it is a very hard album and could be seen as a link between past and present Adorned Brood songs.
We also re-recorded our old song “Totenmarsch”. It is a bonus track on the limited digipak edition of “Kuningaz”. We added it as a special thanks to all our fans out there. Though it’s an old song, it fits perfectly to the other songs on the album.

With your long history you must have made decisions that in hindsight might not have been the best ones. What has been the worst decision you’ve made in order to further the band and what did that decision do to hinder the band from moving forward?
-It is always hard to find good partners which support the band and give their best to push things forward. That concerns labels, booking agencies, managers, etc. In the past we had several negative experiences which caused a lot of trouble. But we came over these times and are now very happy with our new partner Massacre Records. They really kick ass.

Have you always had titles and lyrics in German? What does the German language bring to the music that English can’t do?
-Yes, German lyrics have always been an important element in our music. On some older CDs about half of the lyrics are in German. For us, being a German band, German lyrics of course are very natural.
But it is hard for us to tell how German lyrics are perceived by someone that does not understand them. Over the years we were told that the German language seems very harsh to non-native speakers. For that reason, we think that songs with German lyrics sound harder than the ones with English lyrics. On our upcoming album you will also find German lyrics besides the English ones.

When you don’t sing in English does that limit your potential reaching more fans worldwide? Or is it enough to just reach out to the German speaking audiences?
-It does not seem to limit our potential to sing in German. Actually some of our German songs are global favourites of our fans. Especially our cover versions of German folksongs.
And we personally like to listen to other bands with native lyrics that we don’t understand, e. g. Alcest (fr), Kampfar (nor) or Arkona (rus).

How much a part has the German folklore played in shaping the band? Do you draw influences from old German music too?
-Folklore in general is a good possibility to get an impression on the way our forefathers lived and to understand it in a better way.
We used this knowledge to form the band and keep it going for almost 20 years.
A big variety of musical influences builds the background of our song writing skills. Of course old Germanic music also has an impact on this.

I understand that there a number of renaissance fairs in Germany during the summer. What is so fascinating about that era and where does Adorned Brood fit into that whole scene?
-Nowadays a lot of people live in a full industrialised country with a very technical surrounding. Although live is very comfortable now, it also can be very stressful and complicated. In our opinion it is the human need to be or feel close to nature, that arouses peoples interest in the way our forefathers lived. People need a connection to nature for their balance.

Is there a specific German mentality of embracing the old or is that found all over Europe too?
-No it is not a typical German mentality. It is more like a European continental interest in our history and our shared and multi-facetted culture.

What future do you see for Adorned Brood once the new album is out?
-We are focusing in playing more shows outside of Germany and outside of Europe. In December we will play in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In general we will concentrate on playing live to present our new songs to a growing audience. Next year we celebrate our 20th anniversary as a band and a tour is already being planned. Check out our new album “Kuningaz” which will be released on 23rd of November and see you at our shows!!!

https://www.facebook.com/Adorned.Brood
http://www.adornedbrood.de/

AT THE LAKE

AT THE LAKE. Just the name alone got me interested. And after having searched the net for their music too I knew that I had to interview them. Read the interview to understand why you too should check them out. Anders Ekdahl ©2012.

What was it that made you want to be in a band yourself and not just be the spectator?
Milena: This is an interesting and… tricky question. The idea of setting the band up was found accidentally. When I was 17 years old I was listening to Rhapsody. I liked their arrangements so much that I started to dream of writing a song and sending it to the Rhapsody. Then I though maybe they would like to perform it. Yes, I am a dreamer. But! When I told my mother about this idea she asked me one question, which later showed to be one of the most important and carrying the biggest change questions in my life. It sounded: “Why are you going to waste you ideas for someone else? Why won’t you set up your own band?”. My own band? My own band! Holy God! I’m setting my OWN band!” – that was more less my rea_ction. Next steps like searching for people who would like to start this journey with me, first song, first rehearsal went on very smoothly. Like everything was so obvious.

Do you feel that the band name has to match the music you play? How important is the band name compared to the music?
Milena: Band’s name should be somehow connected to its inspirations. At least it is in At the Lake’s case. Both me and Krzysiek were fascinated with Scandinavian culture, especially Finnish one. I was reading many books written by Finnish writers, we were listening to all kinds of Scandinavian music. Finland is called the Country of Thousand Lakes. That’s the origin of our name.

When you write music what kind of process do you go through?
Milena: Usually it is a melody or a chord sequence which comes to me first. When I have a melody I start to fit it to the chords. If I have chords I am searching for a melody. This is very exciting stage of the process because you suddenly realize that literally you made something of nothing! I’m always enjoying this fact like a child – I run, I scream, I cry and laugh at once… but okay. What next? When the whole song is ready, a mean, the form is ready – chorus, verse, bridges and so on, I record it at home (yes, I sing – I officially beg my neighbours pardon… poor creatures) and send it to the members of the band. When they finish digesting the audio file that I sent them we start to arrange it together on a rehearsal. And this is the second most exiting stage of the process – suddenly from imagination we move our ideas to the reality, so again… I run, scream, cry and laugh at once and the rest of the band looks at me like I was crazy. However, I wish everyone have such a moment of total ecstasy when he realizes that the dream comes true, as it is with music in my life.

How do you find the right words to go with the music? Do you try a lot of words to see if they fit?
-Milena: No, I never try words. Words carries very strong message. I always know what I want to say by the song’s lyrics. Usually the first words come with the line of melody or a chord sequence. It happens simultaneously.

How important are titles? Should they tell what the song is about? Or are they just a necessary evil?
Milena: Titles are very important. They cannot say too much about the song, but only turn the listener’s imagination up. Sometimes it takes a long time after the song is ready to find a good title. However, sometimes it comes first, even before the first word of lyrics or a melody.

What kind of feelings does holding your finished record in your hands bring out?
-Milena: Very ambivalent. The recording session is very tiresome, but… one could not live without it. When I was holding our “Maya” album first time I suddenly realized, that… this is over! I was so amazingly happy about that! But in the same time, the consciousness that from now nothing can be changed was like first notes of Beethoven’s symphony no 5. God! That was thrilling and terrifying. I know the weak points of this album and I took my composing lesson of it. But, there are many bright notes on the album, many succeeded experiments. I am proud of it.

How does the digital V/S physical consumption of music affect smaller bands? Is there a future for the physical product?
Krzysiek: I’m certain that physical records will never be killed by mp3. Just like with books and e-books. I agree that digital media are much more convenient for daily usage but when you really want to enjoy reading or listening you take a book or play a CD. Digital distribution simplified the process of music production especially in foreign markets but I doubt if our society is ready to switch to digital consumption. I’ve got orders for CDs from all continents, maybe except of Antarctica, so it proves people still need to keep the music on their shelves and not only on hard drives or mobiles 🙂

Illegal downloading has become a massive problem. What can you do to stop people from robbing you of your intellectual material?
Krzysiek: Actually, we support the pirates 😉 But seriously speaking we consider this kind of obtaining our album as a sort of promotion. We believe that people who really enjoy our music will sooner or later buy it. Of course it’s great support for us when someone decide to pay for our songs and we strong encourage to do so as we’ve got no financial support of any main labels or sponsors but we won’t sue anybody for downloading ‘Maya’ from peer to peer networks. 🙂

Do you think that the social media soon will have played its role? What is there beyond the social media?
Krzysiek: Social medias are great way of communication with our fans. We always listen to their feedback after shows. It has in example impact on set lists. I guess there are songs we’d give up playing long time ago but they became fundamental parts of concerts because people still ask for them 🙂 Moreover, Facebook is obviously a great tool of spread the word promotion.

What future do you see for At The lake?
Milena: Tons of good music. Unforgettable adventures. Strong friendships.