Tombstone Highway – “Ruralizer”

Tombstone Highway – “Ruralizer” (Agonia Records)

Doggone it, this hasta be one of the most bizarre releases I’ve heard in a while – southern fried lickin’ rock played by a buncha Italians lol! Complete with banjo, they infuse Lynyrd Skynyrd and Down to create an awesome southern groove complete with redneck rawk vocals, down tuned geetars and a rollin’ stoner groove that kick ass on ‘Acid Overlord’, ‘Hellfire Rodeo’ and ‘Bite The Dust N Bleed’. Formed at the turn of the century by HM Outlaw (Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Banjo) and Emilio S.O.B. Sobacchi (Drums), the partnership soldiered on for the best part of a decade before adding more more members and recording this album. If you can get over the idea of this being a fine interpretation of an old style – and their cover of Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’ being a prime example – rather than the genuine stars n bars article then “Ruralizer” is certainly a worthy addition to any collector of hillbilly rock.

The Last Shot Of War – “Piece Of Hate”

The Last Shot Of War – “Piece Of Hate” (www.facebook.com/thelastshotofwarofficial)

Ravaged by two world wars, Belgium is a country that has seen its fair share of aggression. If that wasn’t enough, then The Last Shot Of War hail from the near mythical city of Mons, where legend has it that the ghosts of English longbow men came to rescue the British Army from the numerically superior Germans! Playing ugly beatdown deathcore, TLSOW’s style is befitting to their heritage: barrel bottom roars; dirty heavy guitars; pig fart bass and booming drums launch artillery salvos like ‘Beyond The Nightmare Of’ and ‘Bill To The Death’. It may not be fast but it’s like a panzer crushing you slowly under its treads. If that wasn’t enough then they launch their Götterdämmerung of ‘New Unhealthy Order’ which also features heavy dub on top of everything else! Guaranteed to wreck any peace process, this is one of these bands that sound and mean what they say: total annihilation.

ALTER SELF

I love Greek bands. So far I haven’t been let down to badly by any Greek band. I don’t see any reasons why ALTER SELF should be that band. Read this interview to find out why Greek bands are so good. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

I think an introduction to the band would be in order before we set out on our journey?
-Hello and thanks a lot for the opportunity to present our work! Alter Self was formed in Athens, Greece back in the summer of 2007 and we have faced many line-up changes since then. At February 2009 we released our first demo/EP entitled ‘Ashes Over Eden’ which went really well and received great reviews from press and audience. At 2011 we entered the studio again to record our debut full-length album which is entitled ‘Seven Deadly Blessings’ and will be officially available worldwide by Noisehead Records at February 22nd 2013. The musical style cannot be easily categorized but it could be described as a blend of death and thrash metal combined with a wide range of influences.
I’m of the kind that instead of replacing one thing with another tend to stack them all on top of each other, hence my love for all things metal. When you are a band how do you end up with the sound you got?
-Well, you’ve got a point there because that’s exactly what we are trying to do. Our goal is to blend and balance our influences in an attempt to create a personal style. This requires a lot of work because you can easily mess things up. The base of our music is definitely death metal but we listen to a lot of different stuff and always try to expand (and not replace) our influences to evolve and keep the whole thing interesting. That’s why we consider each of our songs to have its own identity. It’s like paying tribute to our love for all things metal like you said.
What kind of response did you get to your debut album? What did the band gain from releasing it
-As I mentioned before, the full album hasn’t been released yet, it will be officially available at February 2013. However, the three-track teaser promo that we released a few months ago which contained three songs off ‘Seven Deadly Blessings’ got some excellent reviews and comments worldwide and that filled us with confidence. We just hope for the best.

I often wonder how do you know when to stop promoting one album and move on to the next?
-I’d say that there is no particular answer on this, you just know it. It’s all about the need to express yourself, you can’t help it, it just happens. When you feel that you have enough material to make a new album then this is the time.

What does it mean to have a label backing you? How much work is it to get an album out and noticed?
Having a label backing you is vital for any band that wants to make a step further. The label definitely knows how to promote and distribute an album and can also support a band in many ways. Creating an album is a slow procedure that requires a lot of effort and hard work to make it right. Releasing it and having it noticed is equally hard because there is a lot of competition and many good bands out there and a label surely knows how to handle these things and make an album stand out way better than a DIY effort.

Is Greece a great place to be a metal band? Or does the audience pay more attention to foreign bands visiting?
-Well, there are actually two sides on this matter. Undoubtedly Greece has one of the strongest metal scenes worldwide. There are lots of good bands and musicians here that constantly put out excellent works but these sadly most times go unnoticed because the vast majority of the audience seems to prefer the foreign bands. However, the local death metal scene has lately managed to build a strong and loyal fan base that supports these efforts by purchasing their works and attending their gigs. Things tend to get better day by day and we get to see even more bands breaking the borders and touring outside Greece.
When you formed the band how far did you expect this to go? Were you prepared for the journey that the band would take you on?
-We didn’t expect anything in particular, we just began to write material hoping for the best. We still do think this way. I think that it is far better to begin a musical journey based on true love on creating and playing music rather than having a specific ‘success plan’. If you are good in what you’re doing and put your soul into it, sooner or later will pay off as long as you keep your faith alive.

Is playing live still a great way to promote your band or has the social media replaced that?
-Social media such as Facebook or Twitter are certainly a great way to promote your work nowadays and they can expose you to a bigger audience if they are used right. However, I strongly believe that playing live is and always will be the best way to promote a band. Nothing can really top this.

How do you get the digital listener to go physical (i. e. buying the CD, coming to a gig etc.)?
-Simply by trying to offer the best that we can in any case. For example the best way to convince the listener to go physical is to deliver a complete package with a good cover and layout that fulfills the general idea behind an album. Same goes for the gigs as well. You have to give your best for all those who come to see you and this way you can gain respect and help your reputation grow little by little. Sooner or later your audience will begin to grow.

What kind of future do you see for the band?
-Our main priority right now is the official release of ‘Seven Deadly Blessings’ and its promotion, mostly through live shows. Also, we are already writing new material for a second album but it’s too early to think about this for now. We have some other plans as well but as I told you before, we prefer to make one small step at a time because no one really knows what the future holds. One thing for sure is that we will continue to work hard hoping that the best is yet to come.

BLACK SOUND EMPIRE

I used to be down with the Italian HC scene back in the 90s but somehow got sidetracked and lost touched with it. With BLACK SOUND EMPIRE it is nice to reconnect again with a scene long lost. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Whenever I see post mentioned in connection to music I get a strong feeling that somebody is trying to sell me air. What does the post description in your case stand for?
-Hi here is Andrea the guitar player , founder and the mind behind black sound Empire, Haahah, yes i agree with you about the true meaning of the word Post, i also hate to put labels on labels on genres, i also feel the same thing you feel every time i read the word sludge….To be honest, SISMA is not a real post metal album..we’ve putted the label post rock on us because now we play post metal..on SISMA you can easily hear one of my biggest musical influence that is the band Glassjaw…new new material (after SISMA) is really Isis and Neurosis oriented…For what I can say about us , is that our mind is post and dilated. This album is produced by 2 gods of this sector : ANDREW SCHNEIDER who worked with bands like Converge, Unsane, Cave In, The Ocean, Zozobra and with JOHN LAMACCHIA , guitar player of the band Candiria. The new material we are currently writing is totally different and we can t wait to record, we used a different music approach..different instruments , new tracks are about 10 minutes each….new Black sound Empire are different than this era…SISMA era, so if post means dilated..yes we are post ahahah
How did you guys end up with the sound that you have? What in the meeting of all the members resulted in BLACK SOUND EMPIRE?
-We decided during the pre production to find our formula to respect the natural songs development , keeping some “American modern music standard” We are 6 guys whom listen to a lot of different music styles and you can easily hear it on the album, in the past all the thing we care was to see peoples move during our gigs we wanted violence we wanted horns up in the air, now our will is that the crowd must focus on us, close the eyes and fly away… and we found a compromise. Even during the production of SISMA our producers gave us gold advices and they had an important role about that.

What kind of scene is there for the kind of music that you play in Italy?
Underground man, underground for the most..there are still clubs whom play metal, but a lot are closed and a lot will close so soon, the situation here?…well it is a tragedy !!!. Bands like us are seriously starting to look away when we can do it , touring places like Germany or east Europe is more easy and rewarding !
How does the band fit into the national Italian music scene? How is alternative music (metal/HC) treated in Italy?
Not well, the most of the time you’ll stay alternative for the rest of your life, it sucks that sometimes you have to play for free ,sometime clubs or agencies doesn’t pay you, you survive only with merchandising and cd sold..very sad, As I said before we look other places where “ run free “, Italy sucks on everything…politics, health, education, art…we’ve ruined this country, only the food is still good ! A lot of time if you are lucky you can find a free slot to pay to open for a big name..sad isn’t it ?
I‘ve never ever written a song in my life but when I think about I end up feeling that the hardest part is the lyrics. How do you write lyrics that don’t feel silly or totally worthless?
I personally write all the music, and i don t “ touch “ lyrics parts, the most of the time i m not able to put down my feelings in words , Marco (our current singer) is an heavy deep person, his feelings comes out..always…ahaha, the only thing i can say that s i love to give strange song names during the writing session.
How pleased are you with album “SISMA”? How much of your ideas and plans for it did actually come to life?
-A lot, I mean a good 90%…we haven‘t lost the focus on the ideas on the whole concept during the recording and mixing process, even if we had to run, because for peoples like us time means money in the studio, we can t stay a lifetime to record we can t loose time in bullshit, we have no people who pay for us, you know what i mean ! We rehears a lot the material and when we go in the studio we are 100% focus on our parts and stuff .We d love to write down a whole album in the studio as the pro use to do…but we can’t afford it for now !
Do you feel that because of the kind of music that you play you have a greater freedom in what you can do aesthetical (I.E. art work, lay out etc.)?
-Oh yes we had all the freedom of this world, our label doesn’t stressed us out. We had the chance to work with one of the greatest local artist for the artwork we are very happy and proud bout it ! If you want to take a look to his jobs go here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/79994899@N02/ . He deserve all the success of this world !
If you look at the band on an international scale where do you see yourself fit in? What kind of bands do you feel close to?
Is not an easy question..you know? Well we feel close to bands they rise up from nothing..spitting bloods through the years !

What do you want the band to achieve for you? What kind of goals and hopes do you have to the band?
-we are building up a very impressive live set with a personal lights set on the stage, we hope the peoples will like it as an addition ..we’ll have visuals and stuff…I m very proud of it…Goals..to continue to have our sequence of tours outside Italy even if they are only a week short as we are currently doing !, we d love they could become more and more !

What future would you like to see?
-A new album…probably an EP, don t now if with this label or not, we will see ,..and tours on tours on tours !

THE CHANT

THE CHANT came as a surprise to me. Not that they are Finnish but mostly because I had not heard of them before I received their album. As I like Finnish bands an interview was in place. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

What kind of reactions have you had to your album so far?
-The reactions to “A Healing Place” I have heard have been mostly very enthusiastic. But of course, considering the deeply atmosphere-oriented and dreamlike nature of the music, it attracts a certain listener and maybe confuses another. It seems those who have liked the album, have really gotten into it.

Has any region shown more interest than others? Where does the album score the best so far?
-I’m afraid I don’t have any figures but it seems the interest towards the album comes from many different regions by people who become inspired by it. Still, the most of the interview requests and reviews have been coming from the Central Europe. Naturally, considering the label Lifeforce Records is German.

When you start a band I guess that you have a plan. With what intentions did you start The Chant?
-Oh, it’s so long ago that I can’t clearly remember what was going on in our heads. But I think one guideline is the same today as it was back then in late 90’s: the respect comes from creating something of your own and aiming at sounding more or less original. It’s not about wondering how many records it will sell. Before anything, the key thing in The Chant’s music is the atmosphere as a whole.

Once you had a band did you start looking for a record deal or did you take it slow, writing songs and playing them live?
-In the beginning we just started playing as a group of friends who had the same kind of thinking about music. There was no greater plan of how The Chant would succeed, more important was to find our musical identity. If a listener sees the constant development, more interest will usually follow.

How hard is it to come with a band name that is to the point and still not too weak sounding?
-The name came to life years ago but I think it is still fitting and very dreamlike as the music itself . As I can recall we wanted the name to be short but at the same time it should have several meanings in it. I think that a band should define their musicalcore and identity when coming up with a name.

I really don?t see a national scene for metal even though we get to hear about how much metal chart nationally. Do you feel that there is a scene to speak of?
-You’re right, there’s no scene to speak off because metal is divided in so many styles and at the same time the bands are doing what they’re doing for so many different reasons, devoted or not so devoted. There’s no scene because metal hasn’t been underground for ages and that’s the reality we cannot change. Is it a bad thing? I can’t honestly say nor care in the end. We’re just concentrating on our own way of doing things.

How much do you look to the rest of Europe to build a career? Where do you see yourself best fitting in?
-We have all civil jobs from where we get the bread on the table. So there’s no pressure of any kind to become big. But of course one of the goals would be to reach that group of people who are inspired by this kind of atmospheric and cinematic expression. I think that would be a fitting place for us.

Is touring still a viable way of building a fan base today? What kind of touring option are there these days?
-I think it’s the only viable way for those bands that are after success. Many people want to hear a band performing live before becoming a fan or buying an album and that seems to be working for part of the bands. Still, the down side is that many of them out there are forced to act in shitty conditions on poorly organized tours just to notice there’s no-one there to watch your gig and in the end you have to pay the expenses. In conclusion, I think there is just so much competition and too much band supply on live venues that there isn’t enough audience for everyone. Even the gems don’t stand out, you have to have contacts to make a decent tour. That’s why a lot has to happen before it would be reasonable for The Chant to think about touring abroad. I think a few gigs would be realistic. We’ll see.

Do you feel that it is hard to get people interested in the band to begin with and to keep them interested for a long time with so much competition out there?
-Yes, it can be hard. Especially if you don’t have anything fresh to offer. A band has to build an own identity in its own terms and be proud of itself before getting attention. It is often a very slow process, but at some point the interest usually just starts growing. I think you have to find yourself and make progress with each new album to keep a listener interested.

What kind of future would you like to see?
-The Chant’s music will keep developing and the next thing we do won’t be the same as “A Healing Place”. But at this moment we are still enjoying the fruits of this album and playing gigs here in Finland.

DESTINITY

DESTINITY is a band that I’ve been aware of for a very long time now. So with a new album out it was time to finally interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

I have often wondered about your name. Where does it come from and what does it mean to you?
Mick (vocals) :That’s a frequently asked question…and also a funny story. Back in the early days of of the band we were on holidays in the South of France and one night we were pretty drunk and one of us started hitting on this hooker whose name she said was “Destinity”…to say the least her look corresponded completely to the music we wanted to play! Beautiful, but ravaged…and brutal!

Do you feel that you’ve contributed to the increase in interest for French metal that we now see?
Seb VS (Lead guitar): Well I hope so!! We are lucky to be now in a metal scene where French bands are valued for the quality f their music. It wasn’t always the case in the past. So I guess that now thanks to great bands like Gojira the metal scene is opening up for French bands to go international. And I’m glad we are part of this movement.

How would you like to comment on your place in the French metal scene?
Mick: The band has existed for 16 years now and we have traveled all over France…I’m not even sure there’s a city that we haven’t played in!! In our specific style (Thrash Death melo) we are lucky to be considered as a reference in France. But now with the release of “Resolve In Crimson” our focus is to play abroad.

What are your impressions of the French metal scene? Is there such a thing really?
Mick: the scene is not as big as in Germany or in Sweden for sure but there is a very devoted and passionate metal scene in France. We are always surprised to see fans who drive 4h from home just to come and see us! So yes, the metal scene is quite active in France!

You’ve released albums over a period of time. How do you view the progress you?ve made over the years?
Seb VS: For each album we have always improved as musicians and song-writers. In “Resolve In Crimson” we have some songs that are very complexly written like “Can’t Stand the Sight”. Such songs we never could have written 10 years ago! Now we are able to use technique efficiently and write coherent songs.

How far are you today from what you originally set out to do?
Mick: We completely surpassed what we thought we would be. We started out 16 years ago as teenagers and I never would have thought that one day I would be playing all over Europe! So this is really amazing and we will keep on doing our doing until we die!!

Where do you intend to take Destinity? How far can you go?
Seb VS: We can go anywhere as long as there’s a stage to play, booze, and chicks!! Nice program, right?! I guess we haven’t thought about limits, we will go as far as possible and now that’s things re picking up it’s a great moment to live.

I guess it would be stupid to not think that your last album is your greatest. How does the new album differ from the previous one?
Mick: On “Resolve In Crimson” we wanted the album to be more catchy than our previous album but still very aggressive ! We’ve being working on this album for almost two years and the process was long and tedious. The plan was actually to come back to the stuff we did on The Inside. We were aiming for more thrashy parts and aggression while emphasizing on the atmospheric elements in choruses which adds a lot of intensity. We tried to make the best mix of what we do which means brutality, a good amount of melodic parts, and high level technical guitar parts.
Needless to say we threw away at least 40 songs that didn’t make the cut… . We were really looking for perfection !

How hard is it to come up with an album that matches or even surpasses the previous one?
Seb VS: I guess we were just lucky that it’s better!! Actually we just wrote music and kept the best stuff we composed to make this album, and it worked. We took the time to do things right and here it is. the writing process was actually easy because we were able to write so much stuff and then pick out the best riffs.

What future is there?
Mick: Yes definitely! We will be touring a lot in 2013, mainly France and Europe, and surely the Summer festivals. It’s going to be a busy year for us but we are really happy to go back on the road! heck our website and Facebook for all our tour dates and much more. Thanks for the interview and hope to see you guys and the road really soon!

ELOA VADAATH

When I first saw the band name I couldn’t help thinking Star Wars but as they music unfolded a different aura came surrounded the band ELOA VADAATH. Anders Ekdahl

When you pick a band name that is in Hebrew and has a greater philosophical meaning you open up for being a rather pretentious band. Is being pretentious a bad thing really?
Marco: Thanks for bringing that out! Since this often seems to be a sort of “open wound” I won’t miss a chance to clear this up. Despite the name means “He who sees and knows everything”, obviously referring to God, this doesn’t imply that we are comparing ourselves to deities or suggesting we are the best thing out there! We are not trying to teach anything to anyone, our only aim is to write music and lyrics which are inspiring to us. I personally feel that this name, for its sound and meaning, is deeply connected to the music we make: it represents our will to be open to every kind of style and influence that built us up as musicians, listeners and men. This is the only reason why we chose it when we formed; no intention ever to be pretentious to any extent with one only exception: trying to get out the best we can from every composition, working out every detail. If taking seriously what you do (even if doesn’t pay enough to live of the incomes) is being pretentious, we’re guilty!
I gather that there is a concept behind the band too. What is that to be precise?
M: When we started we wanted to use the “dress” of black metal and add to it more colors; that because black metal in its basic form shares a natural theatrical feeling, which always proves to be surprisingly flexible to contaminations. We thought it would have been great to experiment ethnic, progressive, electronic drifts from that solid, traditional basement. But with our second full length, which will be released soon, I feel we’ve evolved that “over-extended” idea of contaminations and become more extreme in each direction.
Where do you see the band fit in on the international metal map?
M: The new cd will be radically distant from our previous, as said before. It wasn’t a purposeful decision, it simply turned out to be of a different species. Even if I don’t feel like we’ve repudiated our origins, I would now say we have definitely shifted to a more progressive approach… no, not a ton of solos per song in case you’re wondering 🙂 simply more experimental. And we’ve had a complete spin with vocals too. I feel a certain connection with the music philosophy of Devin Townsend for some aspects but, “from the inside” as I am, I find it difficult to trace a map of comparisons. What I can clearly sense instead is a difference: our sound is still “european” to my ears, while I notice this isn’t a common choice nowadays.
Is it important in this day and age to have an esoteric approach when so many seem so caught up in the rat race?
M: Yes it is. For me it represents a beacon that always keeps you in connection to what is really important, to what you should look for; esoteric studies help me not to be flooded by the insignificance of many things you have to do (or think you have to do) every day to live; things that suck the greater part of life. But it always depends on the quality of it, from my perspective. Being passionate with black magic only, for example, is not esoteric approach. Nor, for that matter, becoming fascinated of single aspects of ancient disciplines and religions. It should be instead, in my point of view, the lens you see everything through. As the alchemy adepts often used to say: “Observe nature for the world is your lab”.

In recent times we’ve seen bands like Deathspell Omega, Ofermod and Funeral Mist take black metal to a whole new more religious level. Where do you see yourself on that scale?
M: Great choice of bands, first of all ?. As I said before, we consistently moved from the sounds of our first work, “A Bare Reminiscence of Infected Wonderlands”. However, the “flavor” of black metal is still perceivable in our compositions and, even though we are now more different than we’ve ever been to those acts, I would dare to say that if not for the general sound, the sense and philosophy of our writings and music has got somehow nearer to them.
The more I think about you guys the more I can’t shake Mortuary Drape out of my mind. What kind of bands has had the largest impact on your sound?
M: The fact that our sound, especially referring to our incoming release, is so difficult to define in a single genre, is not a goal or leitmotif we are trying to convey to the listener: it’s just the result of our different musical tastes. We obviously have a lot in common musically speaking but we really came there following different roads, both referring to metal and not. By the way, there are some pillars who obviously influenced us more than others. I should quote Death, Cynic, Arcturus, less famous (but great!) bands like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and many others inside and outside metal (ex.Genesis).
What kind of history is there in Italy of bands like yours? I get flashbacks to bands like Goblin and its likes?
M: Italy has known a very consistent progressive scene from the early seventies, many of them almost unknown or in any case underrated outside our country: Il Balletto di Bronzo, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Perigeo, Jacula and Antonius Rex just to quote some, along with Pfm and obviously Goblin, much more renown. I think what they taught us is the freedom in composition, in a time in which genre-labels were much less important than the music itself.
How do you take your music to the stage? What do you do to make it interesting live too?
M: As you can figure out easily, our music is tough work to be conveyed from the stage. First of all, being that full in arrangements, it suffers from bad miking… or simply by the fact that the guy behind the mixing desk may not know in advance what is going to happen from song to song (and inside the single song too!). Then I guess it could be way easier to make a show on a huge stage with geysers of fire and concrete scenography ?. Jokes aside, these are problems that every band had but I think they are in general less important for many: in other musical contexts, as far as the volume is adequate and the band really destroys the stage, everything works fine more or less. That said, if all the drifts and the fullness of our music require some heavy work to create an enjoyable show, they also proved to be what makes it effective, even in bad sound conditions; people who never heard our music before were often surprised by the unpredictable variations and dynamic range of each song and that’s a strong advantage I think: you won’t attend to a 2 hours concert of copy-paste songs.
How important is the interaction with the listener? What do you want them to get from listening to your album?
M: We still believe an album should be a complete experience. We always try to create something tailored for the music we make, from the booklet to the style of production. The most demanding part of our work is not on song structures, which we manage to define in a comparatively short period of time. It is spent on working out details, for these are the main possibility you have to express yourself. How can someone think to write an original riff or vocal line after all the uncountable music published every single day? It is mainly the way you treat and arrange that idea that may contain personality. What we try to create is a music that is listenable and remains communicative even at a superficial level of attention. At the same time I think that if you allow yourself to go deep in it, you may find more than expected and that’s all about details. The second attitude is the one we’d recommend but that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy our cd while driving or washing up!

What can we expect in the future from you?
M: I noticed that the interpretations of our music vary a lot, some of them are really far from others. I think it’s quite positive because it means there’s a lot in it and it’s not easy to bind it in a single definition. It’s not predictable and that’s an aspect I like. That also means that I cannot preconize myself where we are going to with the new works; if we are talking of the next future, we are planning adequate promotion for our incoming cd, including obviously all the live activity possible. Concerning releases, we have faced a big revolution in sound and direction with the incoming cd; for that reason we will probably consider an EP before recording another full length, to have the opportunity to explore these unexpected sound solutions and understand where we may go from here… yet time is not ripe to think about that; at the moment we have a new work to promote we are excited of and we will concentrate on that.

FROSTHELM

There are places that makes Hicksville seem like the center of the universe. I have no idea what it is like to come from a small place that is hardly on the metal map. I had some help from FROSTHELM o sort that out for me. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

I can’t say that I know of that many metal bands from any of the Dakotas. What kind of metal scene is there in Minot and N Dakota as a whole?
-Minot’s metal scene is pretty sparse, but if you look hard you might found a few.

How much of an inspiration is the place you come from?
-It’s really difficult to live in an environment like this and it not have an impact. The plague of winter here can be daunting, and outright insanity can ensue. So suffice to say the winter brings plenty of down time to work on our brand of satanic wizardry.

When you come from a place like North Dakota how much of an influence do you draw from the origin of its inhabitants? How much does old folklore play part in the sound of Frosthelm?
-My upbringing was probably a little different being who I am and where I am from, and I grew up listening to old stories; some of them pretty scary. I guess they are a part of who I am, so I would say that has some influence albeit indirectly.

What would you say has been your greatest inspiration sources in shaping the sound of Frosthelm?
-The aggressive sound of heavy metal guitars. The first time I heard an E power chord, I knew that I had to learn how to play.

How would you like to describe your sound? How would you like for your sound to be tagged?
-I’ve always thought of us as an extreme metal band. We draw from a ton of different influences musically and it’s easy to hear that. We could easily be filed under many different genres like thrash, black metal, melodic, death ect., and I use those terms to describe us sometimes. However it’s probably best to come up with your own conclusions.

When you release an EP what is it that you want it to achieve for you? Why start with an EP?
-I think of an EP as a compass of sorts. You give it a listen, and it can tell you where to go from there. Our compass seems to be pointing straight north on this one.

When you release a record on your own how much of a job is that? How do you know what to do and where to find the right kind of people?
-Honestly, it was pure hell. We decided to do it on our own because we had a certain sound in mind. I think we achieved what we were looking for for the most part. We learned a whole lot about the recording process, what works, and what doesn’t work. but most importantly we learned a lot about each other. Being holed up in a makeshift studio you get to see your band mates at their worst, and you also get see them in their most shining of moments.

What kind of live scene are you a part of? What kind of opportunities are there to play live for a band like yours?
-We recently re-located to Bismarck. It’s a lot closer to the cities (Fargo, Minneapolis, etc.), and definitely there is a lot more going on there musically. It’s kind of a pain because two of us have a 2-2 1/2 hour drive to get to practice, but we seem to make it work. North Dakota does have some really awesome metal acts though. Gorgatron, Enviovore, Arrested for Sorcery, and Egypt just to name a few. Bigger bands coming to town are few and far between. Due to hectic schedules our shows average 1 every month or so, but that should change once we get us a little tour schedule going. But as long as we are releasing albums on a regular basis, I can deal with not having too busy a schedule.

What is that you want the band to bring to you? What do you expect to get out of being in a band?
-In all honesty We try to not have any kind of expectations. We are stoked to play whether there are 5 people in the crowd, or whether there are 500 people in the crowd. We definitely aren’t in it for the money, that is for sure. hahaha But we definitely love the recognition we’ve been getting as of late. We just want to get better and better and better as the releases go by. Oh and label support would be awesome.

What kind of future do you envision?
-A world covered in ice, full of death and destruction. We can dream can we not?

MASCOT PARADE

Sweden’s a great place to live in many aspects but if you want to see live music you gotta be prepared to suffer through troubadours and cover artists. Ask MASCOT PARADE about it. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

When you’re debut album is a far back as 2008 does it feel like you are starting anew with this new album?
-Yes, absolutely! We’ve spent a lot of time searching our own sound and we’ve found our sound with this second album.

Why has it taken almost five years to get a new album out? Isn?t that like commercial suicide?
-It’s no commercial suicide since the five years were needed to complete the cycle, so to speak. We released “Deathmatch” in .08 and did some great touring for it. Then we hooked up with producer Chips Kiesbye and started the whole process of writing another album. A lot of soul-searching and digging deep inside took place, to write the best songs possible for the best possible 2nd album.

When you work with somebody like Chips how much can you utilize his knowledge in order to further your sound? How much of his knowledge did you have to leave out?
-We were in endless discussions about the music, the whole band plus Chips. He has a great ear for great music, we just couldn’t lie to him. He questioned us several times, to make sure the songs turned out to be the greatest and not just good, so to speak.

How does the equation for your mix of rock and metal look like? What part is what?
I sing! I don’t scream. We don’t play a a thousand miles an hour. Think the metal part is the heaviness of our music, the aggressive atmosphere, the aggressive melancholy and the darkness of our music. The rock-side of our sound is maybe the melodies, since we always tend to use a lot of melodies. No melodies, no song! Think we use melodies more as rockbands than metalbands.

What can we expect from this new album? How different is it to the debut, for those who have heard it?
-They who loved our first album, will adore this new one. It’s way different from the first album, but it is the same band. If the first album was our first step trying to define our sound, the second one really define our sound!
You can expect a really dark, heavy album, an album(!) full of melodies from a band with their own unique sound.

How hard was/is it to get signed to a good label these days? Has it become easier or is the global economy so fucked up that nobody wants to gamble these days?
-Don’t know really, what others say, but for us it’s been good. Of course you can feel how the music industry is in trouble, but we’ve had loads of offers. We just couldn’t settle for anything we didn’t feel was right for the band.

Sweden is like the capital of rock/metal these days. Does that really show in the interest you get once people discover that you are Swedish?
-Sometimes yes. When we’re on tour we always bump into people that are excited to check us out since they’ve heard we’re from Sweden, even if they’ve never heard us before. And they always walk away with a new Mascot Parade t-shirt!

Sweden hasn’t been known as a great place to play live unless you are a big name band. Has that changed or is the interest for live music still low unless you play covers in a bar?
-No change whatsoever! No interest if you’re not Metallica, Bruce Springsteen or Iron Maiden. You know, dinosaurs.

What do the social media mean in terms of getting the band’s name out there?
-Social media plays a major role for bands getting their names out. A great label, touring and media in general. Plus people you can trust whom you work with.

What future would you like to see for the band?
-Well, we start touring in March and have some great touring plans laid out on the table. So we want to keep on touring as much as possible. And since the album is coming out February 1st we really hope people will get the chance hearing it. It will be worth their while! And album number three is on the horizon, so the future holds more albums and more touring. A simple plan, really!

MYSTERY BLUE

French heavy metal has been with me ever since the 80s when I discovered bands like H-Bomb and Sortilege. MYSTERY BLUE might have a history that dates back to then but they are new to me. Interview answered by guitarist/band founder Frenzy Philippon Anders Ekdahl ©2013

When I got into heavy metal in the 80s France was a huge inspiration. What kind of metal scene is there today?
-Sure, it’s good to remember those times in the 80’s where every known metal band toured unleashed over France and trough the world. Today it is more an of underground scene for metal bands in France, like in most of Europe as well, with festivals and concert in perhaps smaller places but where metal bands can still please their fans with noisy riffs!

When you have a history that dates back to that era how much does that influence you in what you do?
-Of course we had many experiences, good or bad but all I keep in mind is the spirit of metal which rules my life for so many years now. Heavy Metal was carved in us till the moment we‘ve listened the first metal band (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest…), so we live heavy metal every day as a trail to follow.

How do you write songs today when you have a history that dates back decades? Is it only old influences?
-The way we write our songs hasn’t really changed through the year, but since the line-up has evolved the style also opened up a bit, i.e. our drummer Vince coming from the Thrash scene our music has gained a tougher touch since we work together. Singer Nathalie also brings in her own ideas, her influences being more on the side of melodic/prog metal. Then on the practical side, even if we use the new technologies at our disposal, we still need to spend a lot of time rehearsing together, enjoying composing, jamming, exchanging ideas and as well a few beers 😉

How do you keep a band going for so long and not just put it to rest?
-There is a challenge of long lasting that follows you till death, for me it is the faith, the faith in Heavy Metal, in a dream of a band who makes it to the top, and also the never ending pleasure of going crazy with my guitar and my band mates who share the same passion! So for the question to when we’ll put this band to rest, only time will tell….I suppose the day we stop to breathe.

You’ve been through a couple of labels, both bigger and smaller. How different is the recording industry today compared to when you started?
-When we started in the 80’s, a wave of new labels was rising giving each band a chance and the recording industry was on their apogee. All of them earned good money, mainly the bands too, nobody was prepared to face the technology progress of the Internet and we rapidly saw the damage for the record industry and of course even more for the bands, even if I must also say that on another had we gained lots of new contacts throughout the world thanks to the net.

When you are on your seventh album how do you promote it to get even more people to notice you? Do you feel that the fan base is increasing with each new album?
-Of course the number of fans is increasing, as I said mainly through the Internet, millions of metal biters have access to our music. But for the band to go ahead and survive we still need to sell some CDs, so thanks to you crazy Metal heads who still continue to buy our records!!!

When you release a new album these days do you feel that you kinda have to start from scratch because people have forgotten about from the last album?
-Absolutely not! Heavy Metal fans are faithful, they don’t forget so easily. And it’s enjoyable when in our concert you can hear the new generation of metal heads singing along side to side with the previous generation still head banging like mad (sometimes with less hair!!!

I must admit that I totally missed out on you in the 80s. Has the band always been female fronted?
-No it wasn’t always a female singer, we used to have a male singer for a very long time. But when the band split in the 90’s, it was really hard to find a good singer with the same ideas and inspiration, and the day Nathalie knocked on our door for an audition, it was a resurrection for the band, Mystery Blue could rise again with a talented and enthusiastic front woman ready to blast the stage with us!

How has the idea of the band changed over the years? How different is the new album compared to the very first album?
-Well as I said there has been some line-up changes which made our music evolve, mainly from Hard Rock in its earlier stage toward Heavy and Power Metal today. But what will always stay is the same love of metal and we’ll always push this as far as we can!!! To compare the first and the new album, I would say there’s a lot of progress in the way of composing, of course also on the technical side, even if we still surprise ourselves with new fresh ideas. To resume I would say that with the last CDs a more mature band has been able to create a real unique Mystery Blue style.

Mystery Blue has been a touring band from the start. How has the touring circuit changed over the years? Is it more package tours and festivals these days?
-In the 80s there were so much of possibilities, yes metal was ruling the planet, lots of bands were touring so it was easy to share tours, the places were sold out, metal was on the top. Today it’s much harder to get on a real tour and festivals are not always crowded enough to allow organizers to go on the next year, even if there’s still courageous metal lovers to keep on trying, long live Metal!!!!