KIRKEBRANN

Norwegian black metal does not begin and end with Mayhem, Darkthrone or Dimmu Borgir. There is more to it than that as proven by KIRKEBRANN. Interview answers by Draug. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

How controversial is the band name in Norway 20 years after the worst black metal controversy raged on?
-I don’t think it’s that controversial anymore, well it draws some people to it and some hate us even before they listen to us.

What is true Norwegian black metal to you guys seeing how different Mayhem is from Darkthrone from Immortal from Dimmu Borgir?
-I think if you listen to the three first Gorgoroth albums you get some of the best black metal ever been made. It got sound, feeling, darkness, hatred and everything.

How do you take a sound that basically is 20 years old and make something new of it?
-Well I just make the music that comes in to my mind I can’t say its “new” it sound like bm from the 90s. We have a lot of short songs that’s not very typical black metal people tell me, but so fucking what that’s the music I make. Call it punk black if you want he he.

How popular is the kind of black metal that you play today? Do you see a lot of similar bands all around you?
-There is always a lot of underground BM out there but I don’t think it the most popular kind of music. People who play BM do it because they like it not to be popular. It’s just like the blues.

When you play the kind of BM that you play is there things that never ever will appear in your music simply because it isn’t true?
-Well I guess it is to me. If it doesn’t give the feeling and sound it’s not BM to me. I think it up to who makes the music. Some maybe call themselves BM but it doesn’t mean I think it is.

What is it about black metal that has to be anti-Christian? Where does that come from and how do you take it one step further for it to not be seen as a cliché?
-It’s because we are anti-Christian and anti all religion. Black metal is about independent thought and free will a fight against all religion. It was a religion forced on this country.

How important is the aesthetic of the band i.e. how you dress on stage and for photo sessions, the way your art work looks?
-It like war paint. Powerful music and also a visual effect. It’s like when you hear marsh music and see an army marsh to it with uniforms guns. That’s powerful.

What is it that you want to get out of releasing records? Why do you do that?
-To get our music out. Maybe do some gigs around the world.

I’ve always wondered how you take black metal to the stage without losing its original purpose? How do you avoid it to end up a spectacle on stage?
-What you see from me on stage is real. If you don’t believe it fuck off!!

What lays in the future ?
-The world ends and everything dies!!

MOONLIGHT

I’m not too well versed in the Mexican BM scene of today but MOONLIGHT impressed me enough to wanting to find out more about them. Interview answers by Ishtar. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Could you please give us a short introduction into the band that is MOONLIGHT?
-Band started back in 1999, we did a couple of demos from 2001 to 2006 and we recently released our third full-length called “Lucifer’s Rising”

When choosing a band name, how hard was it to come up with a god one? What were you looking for in a band name?
-At that time back in ’99 we were like very amateur on everything so someday I heard “Moonlight” and I like it for being a short name and easy to remember so I took it without any particular meaning.

What does the name represent to you in relation to the music and the ideology of the band?
-Nothing really, perhaps the band name has nothing to do with what play and to our lyrics but what the fuck, I really don’t care, I haven’t change it because its like start over If you do that and the people that follow us have never mention anything about the name, perhaps I’ll change it someday and I‘ll name it “Metallica”.

Black metal today isn’t just one genre, it’s hundreds of genres. How do you know which one is the right one for you? Where do draw your main inspiration from?
-It’s just a matter of inner feelings, I like lots Metal genres and some are present on our sound. Our style has been changing through the years since our formation.

Is there an ideology (not political or religious) to the band MOONLIGHT?
-Not really, just we do what we like the rest we don’t care.

Do you follow a strict regime when it comes to your sound or are you open to include other influences too?
-At first on the demo days we use to write music in the BM style exclusively but nowdays we have different influences. I started the band thanks to Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor, it became my passion to play Black Metal so at the same time I have been a big fan of the Swedish sound ever, some of our Swedosh influences are Bathory, Merciless and Dissection but bands like Sarcofago, Hellhammer, Testament, Overkill inspires the sound of Moonlight as well. I grew up with great Death Metal from the 80’s and 90’s but they are not an influence for us.

What kind of topics is best suited for lyrics? How important are the lyrics? How hard is it to write lyrics in another language and still make you point come through?
-We always write about Satanism and our inner Darkness but trying not to sound like every typical BM band you know, we don’t write “666 the number of the beast” or something, I think people who is into Metal has that really clear hehe.

I use to write lyrics in English from scratch to get the best point and its not that hard now, it was in the beginning perhaps when I didn’t speak English properly.

How much thought goes into art work and lay out, both for records but also for other stuff like photos and clothes etc.?
-We always have wanted to show Black Metal imagery so that’s what we do, it is important for us to feel good with ourselves in that way. If you want to succeed in music you have to care about the image too, that’s what I have learned for years. If you look like a shit band, your music would sound shit for sure so nobody will care to listen to your music and that applies to the artworks too. We always look to show a good artwork to represent our music.

Do you feel that there is a scene to speak of nationally for the kind of metal that you play?
-Of course there is, the most of people just follows European Black Metal bands that’s a fact, especially from Scandinavia, people are more focused on where are you from when buying cd’s, that’s bullshit but in can’t speak in general, there’s always a little group of people that looks for bands from other countries .

What plans do you have for the future?
-Right now we are like doing nothing, I play with another band called DØDSFALL and I am totally focused on that right now, we don’t know when do we’ll start to write music for a future release, right now we are promoting our new album “Lucifer’s Rising” so buy and take a listen.

NACHTGESCHREI

NACHTGESCHREI wasn’t what I expected them to be. So impressed was I that I had to find out more about this German band. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

What is the best feeling about releasing a new album?
-There’s a lot of different “best” feelings about it! At first, it’s the relief: at last we did it. Now is the time to spread the word and promote what we have recorded. It is always very, very exciting to read and hear the first opinions. We also give a prelistening party, which is a very cool way to catch responses. And then, the feeling is: “having released” means as much as “we have to rehearse”.

What kind of expectations do you have when you release a new album? What do you want it to do?
Glory and world domination! Haha, no. We do not really have expectations, but hopes. As it should be, we are really proud of the album and like the songs very much. We want that record to hit the audience the same way as it crashed us. With our new singer Martin LeMar, we had the chance to be slightly different in our development, but still 100% “Nachtgeschrei”.

With so many albums being released each week how do you stand out and grab the attention of those that could possibly be interested?
-We’re lucky to be active in a genre which is very loyal. Fans themselves are reading a lot of internet and print magazines – websites and social media profiles are also highly frequented. That does not mean that we don’t need to do any promotion besides that, actually we have to do more than possible. As you already mentioned, a lot of stuff happens every week – so that’s why we have to keep people updated as often as possible. I think, we’re doing quite good at that, but still can improve a lot. Interviews like this one are a nice way – thank you!

Is it hard to market a band with a German name outside of the German speaking areas? How many times have you had to explain the meaning of the band’s name?
-It can be explained as “hard”, I see it more in the way of being “interesting”. There were a few times we had to explain the name, but in general we are talking more about the music itself outside of German speaking countries. Some people understand the lyrics, some ask for it, some tell us they like the melody of the singing part. It’s exciting and we always learn new ways to interpret what we do.

What is the metal scene like for a band like yours? Where do you fit in?
-Haha, this is a question I like a lot. It’s always a pain in the ass to classify music in general. Even harder, if it is about the music you do yourself. So… all of us, we pretty much like metal music. With our guitar/bass/drums part, we bring the typical instruments to do that kind of thing. And there the folk part joins the game: bagpipes, accordion, flutes, hurdy-gurdy… those instruments not only enrich our songs, but are equal value of the base that pictures “Nachtgeschrei”. So, what do you think: Where do we fit in?

If you were to describe your sound to somebody that hasn’t heard a single note of your music, what would you say to this person?
-Full of emotion, but directly into the face. Sometimes unexpected, but straight in what it is. Heavy. Weak. All of it.

How important is it to be put into a certain genre for identification purposes alone? Is there a selling point in being placed in a certain genre?
-I think, if you start a band it is somehow important to more or less “brand” what you do. People need certain orientation in the beginning. When you release a bunch of records, you automatically start to make experiments and stuff, your’re testing out borders. Not only because of that, but thanks to the time you’re already making your way throughout the album/touring agenda, genres become less important.

Do you feel a need to promote the band outside of the German speaking countries? Isn’t it enough to make a career out of playing Germany and Germany alone?
-There is no need, but the point is… it’s fun! Sure, German speaking countries are our home base and I am pretty much convinced that, also in the future, we will do 99% of our gigs here. But, if there are some people interested we will always be open to play anywhere. We already received emails from all over the world by people ordering our releases. Let me say “hi” to Japan here!

How much support can you actually expect to get from the social media when it really counts?
-As much support as you invest time into it. Social media has become a very important tool, but you also have to handle it carefully. It’s not only to inform people, but to interact. I am 100% sure that there are a lot of people out there, underestimating the power and effect of web 2.0

What would you like to see happen in the future?
-I would really appreciate most to see people having a good time together, preferably while enjoying (our) music. As long as this is possible, we can record our songs, go on tour and have the time of our life.

NAILGUN

You can call your metal modern, retro or whatever you like but if you don’t deliver the goods you won’t last long. NAILGUN seem to have a bright future ahead of them. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

It is no secret that I love band names. How did you come up with yours?
-When we sat together and talked about a band name, we knew that we wanted a short name. As far as possible just one word and the guideline was to have a word with a punchy meaning.
Our singer came up with the idea to call the band NAILGUN. And now we are here to play “Metal” as we do on our current CD “New World Chaos”.

Is it important that a bands name actually match the music that they play? Could a band named Slayer be playing crooners like Frank Sinatra?
-As you can read before, yes it is important to us that a band’s name matches to the music a band plays. You can cover songs as much as you want from crooners like Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka or Burt Bacharach but you can never call yourself “Decapitation” or something like that when you only play love songs.

How tough is it to fight for the attention in today’s metal scene with so many band’s competing for the same spot?
-It is extremely tough. Times have changed and it is not anymore as it was back in the 80`s. Nearly no band has the chance to be pushed to the top as it happened in the past. You are not shown on the covers of heavy metal magazines as the newcomer anymore.
Today you have to fight for every single fan. You have to talk to them. A face-to-face contact is more important than ever. Today you have all the (un) social medias and you can download tons of songs from the Internet. We use the social medias as well but to be honest, the only way to reach new fans is that you stay real and that you stay approachable for them.

How do you set yourself apart so that it is you that the fans discover and not some half-arsed band from a place nobody heard of?
-First of all: Promotion! Your band name und album cover have to be on the spot everywhere, in the Internet, magazines, flyers…….people have to know what`s going on with NAILGUN. The bottom line is that everyone knows that we are here and that we have a fucking great CD out.
And very important are live shows full of energy and power, face-to-face contact with the concert audience. People coming to our shows have to feel the power coming from our music, they should see that we enjoy what we`re doing on stage!

When you have an album to promote what is it that you want to get out of it? What do you want the album to do for you?
It is important for us that an album and its songs show who we are. But we also want that you can hear our influences, where we come from and what kind of styles have accompanied us through our career. But we always want to combine it all into our own style.
When you listen to our songs you must have the feeling that you know NAILGUN for a very long time without having the feeling that “Song A” or “Song B” sounds like band “X” or “Y”.

How tough is it to come up with album and song titles? How important is the album title? Does the song title have to tell something about the lyrics?
-Usually it is not so tough `cause we are all very creative. We never ever had problems to find an album or song title. But an album title is extremely important. It’s like a fingerprint. Imaging no band would give their albums a title? Try to create an artwork for these albums without names? Hard to imagine, isn’t it! Well, but not only the album title is extremely important. The song title is important, too. Our song titles tell something about the lyrics. We want that they arouse interest by the listeners when they hold our CD “New World Chaos” in their hands and read the track list.

Does the art work have anything to do with the title of the album and does the album title have to have anything to do with the lyrics?
-Yes the artwork has something to do with the title. When you look at our artwork it is easy to find out why. We are all fans of expressive artworks and titles and so we wanted it exactly that way, too. Everything must be inherently consistent. New World Chaos is a kind of concept album without being one. Every song can stand for itself and all songs tell a coherent story.

What is the hardest part being a band today? What do you have to work the most on as a band?
-The hardest part being a band today is to share exactly the same goals. Even if we all love Heavy Metal Music, we are still individuals and sometimes interests change into a direction that not all band members like. And here’s the part where have to work most on as band: We must communicate as much as we can. Only by talking we can eliminate a possible misunderstanding.

What are you feelings about the social media? Is it a great tool for promotion or is it just an ego boost with all the likes and stuff?
-As you can read previously, it is a great tool for promotion. But it is not the only tool and it is not the magic cure to success. It is hard to say that it is an ego boost? We play Metal, we cannot allow ourselves to be selfish. We do not give oneself a pat on the back having ten likes or thousand likes on any social media.

What is in the future for you?
-There`s only one goal: world domination. No, of course it`s more like we say in our song “Time is running out”: “The future is uncertain!”. We set our focus on writing new songs and record a new album. We wanna play Metal as long as we can. And of course, we wanna play live as often as possible. Perhaps there`ll be a cool tour package we could join in so that we can show everybody the real “New world chaos” live!

NORSE

NORSE might give you ideas of Norwegian black metal warriors ruinning around in the mountains but this band is as far away from Norwegians as you can come. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Is there any particluar reason for the choice of band name? No fears of you being wrongly labeled for being something that you are not?
Treelo: The band name was chosen back when we were still teenagers. In all honesty, we just chose it because we thought it sounded appealing. We aren’t really worried about people’s reactions to the name; after all, it’s just a name. If you are going to label us, or dislike us based on that, then I guess that’s your prerogative.

Could you please explain the reasons for NORSE to exist?
T: We exist to create music. The bi-product is live performance and recorded medium, but we ultimately thrive on our desire for composition.
Frog: It’s the desire to create and compose that lies at the heart of Norse.

What has been the greatest experience so far being in NORSE? What does it give to you that you can’t find anywhere else?
T: Recording the latest album was a great experience. We felt we got to do exactly what we wanted and in turn, loved the results. This was the first thing we did as a duo, and we feel it vastly over-shadowed any of our previous work, both compositionally and in performance.

How tough is it to come up with a sound that hasn’t been heard of before? Do you even bother with such things?
T: I wouldn’t be able to tell you, as I’ve not heard everything in order to make such a comparison. But I feel that in composing something ‘original’ you need to be honest with yourself. If you think a song requires a heavy beat or breakdown because you know it’s the common thing to do, then you probably aren’t testing your true merits. In my opinion, originality in music stems from the ability to stand behind your ideas without compromise.
F: You may alienate fans who enjoyed previous albums but staying true to ourselves is more important…

What kind of lyrical topics do you deal with in NORSE?
T: We often reflect our interpretations of society and sometimes personal relationships. Generally something that inspires strong emotion. Whether it is positive or negative, it is up for you to decide. We believe notions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are merely subjective points of view.
F: All is Mist and Fog was based on a lyrical concept, but as we progressed we broadened our scope. A lot of concept albums tend to be a bit contrived.

Do you follow any specific thematic ideology when it comes to art work and lay out? How important is it that it looks the part too?
F: We didn’t follow any specific ideology. While the music, being quite chaotic, unpredictable, and unsettling in parts, it is juxtaposed against the quiet, oppressive and somber album cover.

How easy is it to get an idea for art work down on paper, for it to be visually realized?
F: All is Mist and Fog avoided going down the standard black/death metal path, and all the standard ‘rules’ they encompass: heavily distorted instruments, edited drums and overproduced albums. The same rules were applied to the artwork. No pictures of zombies in gas masks were used, or black clad demon covered album art. It’s just not what we are interested in. Following trends is not an option and we’d prefer to try and go against the grain.
All the photos are from where we live. The forest on the back cover is directly behind my house, and the inlay pic is a basement of a huge old decaying shed not far from where I live. The idea of all the music and artwork stemming from the Southern Highlands was important to us. If we lived in the city, there would be too many distractions for us to excel at our instruments and our vision.

How important is DIY in today’s record releasing world?
T: In this day and age, to be technically able in the recording industry is in all aspects, beneficial. A lot of All is Mist and Fog was recorded and mixed through home studios and as a result saved us a lot of time and money.
F: Because record companies cannot afford to hand out large sums to bands anymore, a lot of good studios are just way out of budget for us. So DIY is the only option a lot of the time. We enjoy doing it this way as it gives you complete control and more of a connection with the music.

Has the rules for releasing albums changed with digital downloading? What are your feelings on this downloading business?
T: The digital age has definitely changed the way bands have to run their businesses. Online distribution allows for bands to spread their music on a global stage with greater ease than ever before. We welcome the new age with open arms.
We aren’t worried by illegal downloads. Sure, it happens, but we are happy people want our music. We still get sales and other lucrative business streams are always available. It isn’t like audio piracy is a brand new thing.

What plans for the future do you have?
T: We are currently in pre-production for our upcoming, and as of yet, untitled EP. The music will once again step away from our previous work. All is Mist and Fog has been done, and we intend on drifting into whatever musical realms we feel appeal to us.
F: We want to try and make the process as enjoyable as possible, so we are planning on tracking as much as we can outside in the forests.

STONELAKE

Sweden’s STONELAKE were an unknown entity to me until I received their album. And as I liked what I heard I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Could you please tell us why we should be interested in STONELAKE?
-Because we are a great band with strong catchy songs and we always give 100 % in our shows!!

Is it hard today to get people interested in your music if you don’t have a gimmick like Lordi?
-No , but naturally it is a very hard work for every band these days because of the strong competition!

Something I often wonder about is how you find a sound that is all your own? When do you know that you have a sound all your own?
-We don’t think of it that way when we create! We just do what feels right for us to do and then we just go for it!

When you release an album what is it that you expect to happen? Do you set up grand goals for what you like to achieve?
-At first it is the fun of making a new great album , the second is of course to reach a massive audience with many shows to follow!

How important is it that the album looks the part and not just sounds the part?
-We think it’s important to have a concept you belive in and work with that all the way!

Is it important that the words that come out in lyrics actually say something?
-Of course it’s a balance between reality and fantasy, but we always want some kind of message in our lyrics or to have something for everyone to relate to!

Where do you find the right kind of people to work with? Do you trust outside recommendations or do you handle it yourself?
-Mostly we take care of the business ourselves, but we also have partners we work with in different stages. It’s important to work with qualified people and also to listen to a good advice when you get it.

How hard is it to let other people into what is basically your baby? How tough is it to have to cooperate with other people? Are you of the impression that outside sources contaminate the original idea?
-It’s not hard to work with people at all if we just respect each other and if everyone understand the importance of focusing on the right thing.

Are you good at taking criticism and constructive ideas?
-Yes, we have no problem with that. It’s only refreshing!

What would the ideal future look like?
-For StoneLake it is just to continue to exist as a band with massive touring as a bonus and of course having a great time!! Thank you so much for a great interview from SL Camp!!!

Avantasia – “The Mystery Of Time”

Avantasia – “The Mystery Of Time” (Nuclear Blast)

Avantasia is the rock opera supergroup created by Tobias Sammet, vocalist of Edguy. Despite giving the impression of closure following his last release in 2011, I guess Tobias couldn’t live without Avantasia along with his fans! “The Mystery Of Time” opens a brand new concept into the Avantasia saga, that of how time rules every aspect of peoples’ lives , and if it can be controlled can in turn control them. Powerful stuff, and Tobias has indeed once again assembled a powerful ensemble with Biff Byford (Saxon), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow), Bob Catley (Magnum), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) and Eric Martin (Mr. Big) providing guest vocals with Bruce Kulick (Kiss) and long time collaborator Sascha Paeth on guitars. The album will also feature for the first time the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg, a symphony orchestra very active in TV and film as well as providing live performances of silent films such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Musically, this incarnation of Avantasia reflects its cast in being a combination of modern and melodic rock defined by the flowing lead vocals and abundance of backing harmonies. Added upon this comes the masterful guitar work of uplifting riffs and passionate solos with of course the Babelsberg orchestra delicately bringing in violins, cellos and piano to cap off songs like ‘Dweller In A Dream’, ‘What’s Left Of Me’ and ‘Sleepwalking’. The overall effect leaves one with hope, great hope and positivity from the heart that whatever the challenge people will somehow prevail as they have done thru the ages, and that is no better needed than in current times. Whilst I wouldn’t say I was ever a big Edguy fan, Tobias has truly impressed me with Avantasia, the superiority of which cannot be disputed and now stands on the cusp of mainstream recognition.

Beyond The Shore – “Ghostwatcher”

Beyond The Shore – “Ghostwatcher” (Metal Blade Records)

Kentucky metal core crew BTS may not be as frenetic or OTT as their cousins elsewhere, but they sure know how to write some appetizing enough songs on this short but sweet album! Tempering their speed, the band have gone for mid tempo crushing brutality mixed in with some amazing melodies layered on top, finished off by Andrew Loucks throaty but not ugly vocals. There’s also plenty of quiet reflective passages which also use piano for example to add to the dark but somewhat emo atmosphere of songs like ‘Half Lived’, ‘Homewrecker’ and ‘Breathe On Ice’. But what really grabbed me about “Ghostwatcher” were the killer chundering and rebounding guitar riffs just a yankin and crankin at times almost heading into djent territory – it’s one helluva beat I tell ya – enough to ghost you right outta your soul!

Spock’s Beard – “Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep”

Spock’s Beard – “Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep” (Inside Out Music)

Formed by the Morse brothers in the early 90s, in many ways Spock’s Beard defined modern prog that took inspiration from the likes of Yes and Genesis – not in the least when multi instrumentalist Neil left the band for a solo career and drummer Nick D’Virgilio took up his vocal duties in true Phil Collins style, which also heralded a new era for the band. History over, the new album features yet another line up with D’Virgilio himself now gone only to be replaced by vocalist Ted Leonard and drummer / vocalist Jimmy Keegan. But the surprise is that Neil Morse is back – well at least in a song writing capacity – although the band are adamant this will not herald a return to early Spock’s Beard. Indeed, I would say the newcomers have inspired a move into modern technical rock much in Rush’s vein, although definitely not a shift away from prog. With so many vocal talents now in the band needless to say the new Spock’s Beard have that area nailed with Ted’s smooth voice and heaps of backing harmonies, which are very much the prominent feature of songs like ‘A Treasure Abandoned’, ‘I Know Your Secret’ and ‘Something Very Strange’. Alan Morse’s guitar also rocks out a lot more, with more breaks and dare I say it, wilder solos not forgetting Dave Meros’s crunching Ricky bass and the space age effects from keyboardist Ryo Okumoto. This is a very accessible album indeed for all but the purist progsters and anyone wanting to check out what has been the fuss about Spock’s Beard need look no farther.

Thy Art Is Murder – “Hate”

Thy Art Is Murder – “Hate” (Nuclear Blast)

Furious death-core from down under! These Sydneysiders bring it on full steam on this album from CJ McMahon’s roaring death growls to the heavy chopping staccato rhythms shifting into fast blurring death at a seeming whim! Holding it all together come the pulsating guitars of Andy Marsh and Chris Brown with their abrasive riffs contrasted by brilliantly fluid melodies that add a definite technical – and atmospheric – element to songs like ‘Gates Of Misery’, ‘Defective Breed’ and ‘Shadow Of Eternal Sin’. It’s pretty much a new band from the one that started 6 years ago, but “Hate” is a big step up with a big sound production that has garnered Thy Art Is Murder with lots of support coming from the West Coast which is sure to see these Aussies up there with the likes of Cattle Decapitation and even Hatebreed.