KROH

Say Birmingham and everybody with even the slightest interest in hardrock/metal will know what we are talking about. But that could very well be about to change thanks to KROH. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

The most obvious question would be what it is like to be a doom metal band from Birmingham but I’m more interested in what it is like to be band in this day and age?
-I think it’s the same as it always was, always trying to get more people to hear the music you write, come up with new ideas. People can find out about you and check you out a lot quicker though nowadays.

Do you feel that it is more acceptable to be an artist/musician today than it was 30/40 years ago? Is it seen as a legit “job”?
-Not really no, it’s seen as a total waste of time as you wont make any money, so it cant be a job. It’s more an advanced hobby. Unless you’re an established band already.

How does it work to be only two members with one handling all the instruments?
-Easily, one writes and records and the other comes up with melodies and sings, not much different to a normal band, just less people really. Works well for us and how we are set up.

I can’t help thinking of Black Sabbath’s debut album when I see the cover to your album. How intentionally is the cover?
-That is exactly what we were trying to do, that is one of our favorite albums, so we wanted an image that was fitting for that style, I took that photo while looking for a new base for our studio.

What is the doom scene like in the UK these days? Do you feel marginalized playing the kind of music you do?
-We never feel marginalized, we just play and write what we like, I suppose our base point is doom, but its not our end point.

Is there a specific lyrical theme you need to keep to too when you play the kind of music that you do?
-Again, not really we aren’t limited we write and play what ever comes to us, so we could write about obvious things or about something we just read about in a book.

What is doom to you? How do you take it forward? How do you avoid stagnating?
-It’s been around for 40 years, and it hasn’t stagnated yet, so I doubt it will anytime soon.

What does it mean to be signed to a label today? How important is a label today?
-The label is owned by us, so its important to us, but with bandcamp and websites you don’t really need one, being on our label doesn’t bring us any money. But it does allow us to be totally creative and do as we like.

What future is there for Kroh?
-We are working on album 2 at the moment, and looking to expand our sound and ideas and hopefully tour in the future. so a lot is on the move

NE OBLIVISCARIS

Australia might be far away geographically but when it comes to metal you got the bands just around the corner or more probably by a click on your computer these days. NE OBLIVISCARIS latest album impressed me so much that I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl©2012

I gotta start with the band name. Why chose a name that is hard to understand?
-The name is really not hard to understand if you’ve studied a bit of Latin. In the end we chose something that we liked and felt represented us. Ne Obliviscaris means “Forget Not”, I also like the idea that people remember the band’s name because it simply means that you should “not forget“ it.

When I listen to your music I get strong Limbonic Art and Obsidian Gate vibes. What is it that you want to express with your metal?
-Everything, we want people to jump, scream, bang their heads, cry, throw horns, dance… In my opinion those who are at our shows and have their eyes half closed and a smile on their face have understood everything about Ne Obliviscaris.

How tough is it to come up with a sound that fits all individuals involved?
-Usually someone comes up with the skeleton of a song, which we work on until everyone is happy, and that can take anywhere between 2 weeks and a year. It’s definitely not easy keeping all 6 members happy when our sound is so broad, but that’s why we often take a long time to write songs.

When you live so far away from the rest of the metal community does that bring with it any benefits that you can utilize in your creative process?
-Not really, most international bands come here, in this day and age there are no frontiers to anything, it doesn’t feel like we are “ far away from the rest of the metal community “.

How much of an inspiration is your environment? Where do you draw your greatest inspiration from?
-The stunning sceneries of Australia influence anyone who comes here, and inspires those of us who are lucky enough to live here. We draw our inspiration from every day’s life, frustration, beauty, anger, just like every artist, musician, composer, painter…

When you are in the process of creating an album how much attention do you pay to details? How important is the overall impression?
-Details are everything, music is all about details. The overall impression is of course very important but it is not something we really think about. It turned out great on this album, maybe it means that the 6 of us were always meant to play music together?

When you look for art work to go with the music what is it that you look for? How much does it have to fit the music in terms of colours, emotions and the way it looks?
-Xenoyr does that, locks himself up and then comes up with something tortured and beautiful at the same time.

What are the benefits of being involved with music? Why do you do it?
-We do it for the same reason you do it. Passion is the most amazing thing there is about a human being, if you don’t have one, you are already dead, it is as simple as that. It makes you grow as a person, it is a real accomplishment and the fact that there is no money to be made out of it makes it even better, because when you invest all your cash and time on your passion (no matter what that passion is ) then you can grow richer as a person and your mind will get stronger.

How does the metal community around you embrace Ne Obliviscaris? Do you feel a part of greater body?
-Australia’s metal community is huge and extremely diverse, we always have a great response whenever we play in our hometown. We definitely feel part of a greater body, the Melbourne music scene is astonishing, we play with instrumental post rock bands, mad grindcore, jazz / metal, and we’re all in perfect harmony, it really is a beautiful thing.

What plans do you have for the future?
-Tour the world, write music, record music, do it again.

PSYCHOSTICK

I don’t know why but for some reason I don’t think music and humour mix that well. Perhaps PSYCHOSTICK can prove me wrong. Answers by Josh and Alex. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

When you meet in school and form a band what is that makes you stick to it after school is out?
Alex: Playing in a band like our sure beats living in reality! It’s much more fun to do this than to get a grown up job.
Josh: Rob and I were always like brothers. We had the bond that only two geeks with a mutual love of video games, Monty Python, and Pantera could share.

What kind of ups and downs has helped you shape your sound?
Alex: We have witnessed quite a few bands over the years that have made poor choices with their music. I won’t name names, but far too many groups try to “play the game,” if you will, and end up giving away the only thing that matters: creative freedom! I think after seeing it happen again and again, we collectively chose to simply do what makes us happy. No producers, no bureaucracy, just music we enjoy writing and playing.
Josh: I wouldn’t say that ups and downs have shaped our sound, but the downs have definitely shaped our RAGE. And the RAGE makes for the best Psychostick songs… like “Two Ton Paperweight”, “It’s Just a Movie, Stupid”, “Throwin’ Down” . All inspired by true events. True events that filled us with RAGE. Then we make the rage funny. And HEAVY.

How do you balance humour with seriousness? How do you avoid your music ending up like some sort of joke?
Alex: Good question! On occasion, I hear that people first assume we are half-assing it, meaning we are simply a “joke band.” But really, ask any comedian in the world about how serious they are about their craft. We are serious…about being not serious! Also, the music is anything but an afterthought.
Josh: Very simple: Take the actual music side seriously… lyrics is where the humor mostly is. It’s very important for us to not suck musically. There’s lots of comedy garage bands out there that are terrible. We have to separate ourselves from those.

What band’s would you say you are closest to in spirit and music?
Alex: Personally, I like to think of us as being close to the bands that stick to whatever they choose to be. Don’t take this as arrogance, but perhaps Meshuggah. They push themselves to do something creative and original with every single release, and they never fail to amaze me. For the record, I can only play maybe 5% of the drum parts that Haake plays! So not arrogance, but rather, respect.
Josh: If you like Dethklok, Bloodhound Gang, Tenacious D, System of a Down, or Primus… there’s a good chance you’ll like Psychostick.

Are there any bands that in your opinion have managed to mix humour with metal/rock successfully?
Alex: Yes and no. There are a few bands that are funny that also write great music, but as far as I know, there are no other comedic bands that play heavy music quite like us. If there are, I would love to hear them! I suppose Dethklok sort of qualifies, but they are more cartoon than band. Austrian Death Machine too, but again, it’s not their main focus as musicians.
Josh: Green Jelly, Dethklok, Powerglove, and Austrian Death Machine are a few. But there are not many!

Where do you feel that your music works the best; on stage or on record? How different is record from stage?
Alex: That depends on the song! Some songs just don’t capture the same feel when we perform them live. Our more mellow songs are often like that, so they have become studio tracks. Although, the song My Clingy Girlfriend, (one of my favorites on Space Vampires), happens to work quite well as a live song! We debuted it recently in St. Louis, and it went over really well! I think that one will end up on the set list for a while.
Josh: That’s a hard question to answer. On record, funny lyrics are way easier to understand. Live, it’s harder to understand words (for ANY band because it’s so loud). Many people say that you “get” Psychostick better after seeing us live. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments that we sound just like our records live… so I would say the biggest difference is the crowd intera_ction and our visual performance. We make lots of stupid faces at you while we play… and we love to target people with their arms folded who don’t seem be having a good night. Don’t do that, YOU WILL HAVE FUN AT A PSYCHOSTICK SHOW GODDAMMIT!!!!.

From what I understand you are pretty DIY. What is it about DIY that is so great?
Alex: Control over your own career! Our label, Rock Ridge, has worked with us for six years now, and that is exactly what we need. Any other label would have brought in outsiders and morphed us into some terrible new entity, and we would have broken up years ago because of it. Trust me, we are too OCD to let suits have a say in this band. It would ruin the entire thing.
Josh: The music industry is full of shady bastards. Can I say bastards? Sorry, I meant fuck-faces. By being DIY, we built our own foundation, our own fanbase, and minimize our reliance on others. If we find someone solid, we can work with them. But if we work with someone who ends up being a rat, that person won’t be able to completely wreck our careers (which happens to bands all the time). Of course, we’ve been screwed plenty of times, but it was never crippling, and we were able to recover in no time..

What kind of DIY scene is there in your area? Do you feel that there is a greater artistic freedom to being DIY?
Alex: I’m not really sure, to be honest. We look at the US as a whole now, and we don’t really fit into any scenes. We aren’t really regional in the way that many bands are either. We want to play and meet people everywhere, so we don’t really get too rooted in any localized scenes. We played our first show in Canada recently, and I think we are all pretty obsessed with the idea of expanding even farther now! But yes, DIY bands have far more artistic freedom, without a doubt.
Josh: Absolutely. We were approached about major label deals in the beginning, and turned them down. The bigger a deal you sign with a label/manager/etc, the more leverage they have to to tell you what to do to make it sell. We knew that the first thing they would try to make us change is “Stop doing that funny thing, it won’t sell in metal.” SCREW YOU, WE DON’T WORK FOR THA’ MAN!

How far do you want to take the band? What would you consider a success for the band? What would be a failure?
Alex: My long-term goal is no longer defined in what we accomplish. I want to continue to have fun and play music with my friends. Of course I want to continue to grow and experience new things in new places, but it is less about that now, for me at least. We are already successful in our own way, and I just want to see how far we can take it. The only failure I can imagine would be if something made us stop enjoying what we do. If that happened, we would cease to exist!
Josh: We already consider this band a success… we went from being a whopping TEN-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN DEBT after our first tour to supporting ourselves doing it, we have many awesome and loyal fans, we’ve toured the USA 21 times, we’ve played in front of many huge crowds, we just had our first international show in Canada and more are on the way. So few bands ever get anywhere even CLOSE to doing what we’ve done, and we are very greatful to be where we are. What would be a failure? If we decided one day to stop this, and end up at a career or job that’s not nearly as fun and rewarding. Psychostick has set the bar pretty high for me when it comes to expectations of life. I get paid to act like an idiot on stage!

What would you like an ideal future to bring to you?
Alex: My ideal future would be to continue to grow on our own terms, tour more of the world, meet all of the other musicians I look up to, and to continue to learn and grow as a person. Also, I would really like to hire strippers to be our roadies so we can make them move our gear in high heels. That was Rob’s idea, and I think it is pretty ingenious.
Josh: I want Psychostick to do well enough financially to own a nice house with a badass recording built in it as well as a video studio with our video director Murph. God help you all when this happens…. we will be a factory of ridiculous music and videos. Your eyes, ears, and brain cells will belong to us.

RITI OCCULTI

RITI OCCULTI made me think of Swedish Borås Energi or Canadian Overbass simply because of their rather off-beat music. That alone made me interested in finding out more about the band. Interview answered by NICCOLÓ TRICARICO & SERENA MASTRACCO. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

How much of a musical vision did you have when the band formed in 2011?
Niccolò : The band first took shape as a duo bass/drums and its name was No Name Maddox , the primary mark was more oriented towards a classic stoner/doom sound with strong psychedelic influences. Later on, with the two singers Serena and Elisabetta joining the band and the inclusion of synthesizers, the sound of Riti Occulti started developing into what later became our first record.

What are your position on the play between music and lyrics? Can you write the most beautiful music and not have lyrics that match it?
Niccolò : Our music always come from a well defined concept, so the lyrics become complementary to the music itself. Sometimes it can happen not to be able to express lyrically what you want to communicate with the music, IMPO in these cases it should be better keeping the track instrumental, rather than choosing words at random.

What kind of lyrical topics do you touch upon? How hard is it to write lyrics to match the music or the other way round?
Niccolò : Our lyrics deal with esoteric themes only. In order to deal with this subject in an original way we use allegories and metaphors, else we do it through the Myths storytelling, and this allowed us to create the concept of the first album: the history of a modern man that descends into the abyss, through the nihilistic annihilation of himself and forced self-destruction, in order to be born again into a new spiritual being, following the point of view of the Left Hand Path. If you have a clear head about what you want to express with music and lyrics, and you let those two elements influence each other, it’s not difficult to be consistent.

How organic are you in your sound? What kind of sound is it that we hear when new listen to your music?
Niccolò : For sure our sound feels the effects of various influences, such as Doom, Stoner, Black Metal and 70’s Psych-Prog, all genres we love and that are part of our musical background. To those who listen to our music for the first time, I simply recommend to enjoy it, to have a trip on it and catch those messages and atmospheres we hope to communicate when we write a song, not worrying too much about what genre it is, clearly it is not a Reggae album, you can feel easy about that!

When I listen to your music I can’t seem to hear a guitar. What is up with that?
Niccolò : You can’t seem to hear a guitar because there isn’t a guitar. Our line-up in made up only of bass, drums, synths and two vocals, as you know. That one some people mistook for a guitar is a fuzzy and effected bass.

Is there an upside to being different? Do you get more exposure if you stand out from all the other bands?
Niccolò : Of course having an innovative and personal sound can help to stand out in a musical scene full of bands cloning other bands. But this not always helps getting more exposure because not everyone is open to experimentations and musical contaminations. IMPO I prefer writing original music and trying to always renew myself musically.

How important is the graphic side to the band? Do you spend a lot of thought about how you present the band?
Serena: Music suggests sensations that take shape in a set of forms and colours in the mind of the listener. The graphic of an album should act as an introduction, as if it was a cover of a book.

When you release records on a label what is it that you look for? What do you expect to get out from it?
Serena: We do not expect anything but cooperation and mutual respect for the work of both.

What kind of live scene are you a part of? How many opportunities are there to play live?
Serena: We are part of many genres and no one in particular… there have been several live offers, some of them were acceptable, others less… We’ll see what’s next in the future.

What would you like the future to hold for Riti Occulti?
Niccolò : Actually we just ended up shooting the official video of Alcyone, directed by Alessandro Pontillo, and we’re working on our new album. Hence I hope for the future more and more people can appreciate our music and this let them following our next productions.

SEED OF SADNESS

SEED OF SADNESS is another Greek band that impressed me enough to wanting to interview them. Give èm a listen. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

OK could you please introduce the band to those of us that never have heard of you guys?
-OK, we have the incredible Stellaria on vocals, the precise as a metronome Johny K on the drums, the solid as a rock and my partner in crime Mike G on bass and I’m Jimmy Nore, composer, lyricist and guitar player for the band. On the EP we collaborated with Bob Katsionis, who needs no introduction. Bob played the keyboard parts and he also took the initiative in adding two great solos of his own in two of our tracks, Remnant of A Dying Smile and One Man’s Dream.

Do you feel that you are a part of a Greek underground metal scene? What kind of scene are we talking about?
-Yes we are. It’s a scene constantly evolving with some great new bands out there deserving to be heard. I think there’s a lot more going on nowadays than in the past.

I seem to constantly come upon new Greek bands that are great but yet they don’t seem to last too long or get the recognition they deserve. Is the Greek metal scene bad at promoting itself internationally?
-I can’t be sure why something like that happens. The only thing that I know for sure is that on a business like this there are millions of factors interfering, so nothing can be taken for granted. The road that each band follows is unique and there is a whole chain of things that have to be right so as to reach their final destination.

You have released an EP on your own. Why did you decide to do it yourself?
-Well, nowadays, when you’re in search for a record label you can’t show up with empty hands. You have to show some of your work in order to catch someone’s attention.

What are the benefits of just releasing an EP compared to a full length album?
-As you can imagine, when you are trying for the very first time to make your music known, you have no idea what the reaction will be. We wanted to release a sample of our work, so as to see the impression it would make on fans and media before releasing a full length album.

How much hard work was it to find the right people to help you with art work, pictures etc.?
-I would say that this was a really easy task. We were very “lucky” and fell upon the right people just when we needed them. I think it’s the right time to say that our wonderful cover was made by Alexandra, an artist who managed to convert beautifully a great idea that Mike had shortly after his inspiration of the band’s name.

Is the underground scene returning to a more DIY-scene these days with social media and easily accessible technology?
-Yes, that’s for sure. With today’s technology it’s easier for everyone to make some music, record it and promote it. If you want to make something serious you have to become a part of a record label. But, it’s easier to get started in the first place.

How do you set yourself apart from all other metal bands out there? How do you get people to notice you and not another band?
-That’s a question that I’d like to leave for the fans. We are just people passionate with music doing our best and this is what comes out. There’s no meaning in forcing things in order to sound ‘somehow’. I think that as soon as you start doing something like that all the magic is gone.

How tough/hard is it to actually make it big today? How fierce is the competition?
-As I mentioned earlier each band follows a different path and as we all know there are no guide books to help you achieve your goals. For some bands was really easy and for some others was not. There’s a whole bunch of circumstances that have to be right for a band to make it big, so there’s no meaning in competing with others. I could never see music as a competition. Music is an art and there’s more than enough space for everyone.

What future do you see for Seed of Sadness?
-At the moment we are open to discuss any offer. We do our best in order to be ready for any challenge. I’d like to give a big thanks to all the fans and press for welcoming us in the best possible way. I can ensure you that we’ll do whatever we can to please you and we hope for nothing but the best.

ABYSME “Strange Rites”

ABYSME
“Strange Rites”
(Hellthrasher)
I’m amazed at how many bands there are out there that I still have to discover. And more so amazed at how these bands seem to find their way onto records released from all corners of the World. It’s kinda like it was in the 80s with tape trading. You never knew where you’d end up once you had hopped on a trail. Even if you started in Europe you could end up in Japan or South America. With the help of Polish Hellthrasher I’m taken to the not so exotic US of A. I like the raw guitar sound that this album has. It adds to the old school feel of the music. This is very basic and cruel death metal. Almost like hearing South American extreme metal for the very first time. I can’t help but like it. Try imaging Hellhammer meeting Morbid Angel in a not so well lit alley and you might get an idea where this is heading. Anders Ekdahl

COILGUNS / NVRVD (Never Void) “Split”

COILGUNS / NVRVD (Never Void)
“Split”
(Dead Dead Dead Music / Invektiv Records / Savour Your Scene Records / Hummus Records)
Coilguns? Can’t say that I’m that excited about the name. NVRVD? Not so much either. But as always you shouldn’t judge the band by its name. This could turn out to be one of the greatest releases of 2012. You’ll only know once you’ve lent it an ear or two. Which is what I’ll be doing. Hopefully they’ll give me back my ears. But thankfully these two bands are much more exciting musically than what their names might indicate. This is some sort of post metal/hardcore that I’m not that familiar with. But I’m game for anything once and this is kinda cool in all its chaos. I can see myself listening to this in the future too. I can see how this will work on 10” vinyl disc if they split the sides between the bands. Awesome might not be the right word but somewhere close to that word is where I’m at right now. Anders Ekdahl

CORSAIR “S/T”

CORSAIR
“S/T”
(Shadow Kingdom Records)
Shadow Kingdom Records seem to never tire of picking up and dusting off older albums by bands that I’ve never heard of, or if I’ve done forgotten about. Corsair are about a vivid memory as my first born; non existing. I have no idea what this is or how new to the scene they are simply because I haven’t heard of them before. I’m looking forward to making their acquaintance though. This might be a brand new album released in 2012 but musically this is as old as I am. Drawing from the 70s prog and psychedelia movements this is anything but bland. I’m not the hugest connoisseur of that era’s music but I do enjoy it when I hear it. And what I hear on this album I like. This is the kind of music that I can listen to on my earphones. Anders Ekdahl

DARK CONFESSIONS “Insanity”

DARK CONFESSIONS
“Insanity”
(Art Gates)
As if to really make a statement it wasn’t enough with confessions. They had to be dark too. Not that I mind. I like all kinds of confessions. This is a band that I know all of nothing about. And with that I have no expectations whatsoever on what to come. Which is kinda nice. They turned out death metal. And a rather brutal kind too. Not any melodeath here, no. Just in your face, balls to the wall kind of metal. I gotta admit that this was much better than I ever expected it to be. This is heavy without losing the groove, as much of a groove there is in this kind of brutal metal. What I like is that there is a stroke of heavy metal to the sound. I gives the music a fuller sound. Really cool stuff this is. Anders Ekdahl

DEHUMANIZED “Controlled Elite”

DEHUMANIZED
“Controlled Elite”
(-)
I’m ever so fascinated by band’s names. Most of the times I can match the name with what style of metal that they play but every once in a while along comes a name that is hard to pin down. Dehumanized could be the most brutal death metal band but it could also be a cool thrash metal band or a hardcore band. This turned out to be death metal in the vein of Suffocation and Pyrexia. This is heavy and brutal without once losing focus on the gory details of this heavy death metal. I can’t seem to get enough of this kind of death metal. There is something very liberating about it that sets my mind free. Who needs killing sprees when you have bands like Dehumanized to satisfy that craving? Anders Ekdahl