THE VEIN “Scouring The Wreckage Of Time”

THE VEIN
“Scouring The Wreckage Of Time”
(Shadow Kingdom Records)
It is nice to see that the doom metal scene is still alive and healthy. I have a special place for doom in my heart. I used to paint everything black. I used to see the world through a pair of dystrophic glasses. And one of the things that could get me in a good mood was an album full of melancholic metal. I still love really gloomy doom metal even though I don’t paint the world in as dark a shade as I used to. THE VEIN are as heavy as it gets. This is to me what funeral doom is really about to me. Slow, heavy and letting you know the burden of being buried six feet under. There is no future, tomorrow doesn’t exist, yesterday was a burden unloaded and life as you knew it is no more. Everything is black or white. All colours in between have been eradicated. Anders Ekdahl

YOUR LAST WISH “Desolation”

YOUR LAST WISH
“Desolation”
(Maple Metal)
In my world there used to be no melodic death metal. Then along came bands from the west coast of Sweden and showed me that there could be melodies on death metal. From that point on there has been no return. No I can’t imagine a world without In Flames or Dark Tranquillity. I’d say that YOUR LAST WISH is more along the lines of Arch Enemy. Still melodic but a bit more heavy metal in their death metal sound. And I don’t mind really. This album turned out to be a really nice surprise. If you like your death metal on the not so heavy side of things this is the one to check out. You’ll get the aggression of death metal but with the added bonus of melody. This is metal to the bone. Anders Ekdahl

Megadeth – “Super Collider”

Megadeth – “Super Collider” (Tradecraft / Universal)

Let’s face it, Dave Mustaine isn’t a man that has ever been without controversy. In fact, some might say the two go hand in hand! Earlier this year, Mustaine announced that Megadeth would be parting ways with Roadrunner and his 14th album would instead be released on Tradecraft, his own label. Seems they both musta known something. “Super Collider” has caused huge controversy since its release and it’s easy to see why: this isn’t the Vic Rattlehead thrash that Mustaine has been dishing out since 1983 that made his name legendary. Rather, “Super Collider” lives up to its name in every way – a veritable melting pot of different styles (yeah, he said styles – Ed) from the slide geetar country rock of ‘The Blackest Crow’ to the 70s hard rock of ‘Burn!’ to the old school HM of ‘Built For War’. So what happened to da thrash?! Well, if you can bring yourself to get over your initial shock then look closer at the epic ‘Dance In The Rain’ – which has gotta be one of the best Megadeth tracks I’ve heard in years in all Vic Rattlehead’s classic glory – or the piston pounding ‘Don’t Turn Your Back’, which again has classic ‘deth written all over it. It’s all still Megadeth and certainly identifiable from Mustaine’s drawl which has gotten deeper and darker, and there’s still heaps of sarcasm and cynicism plastered all over the 14 tracks here so even the keyboards on ‘Dance In The Rain’ do little to lighten it up ha ha! Additionally the technical musicianship is still up there as Mustaine does fine justice to a cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Cold Sweat’, but I guess if you’re not used to the idea of Megadeth actually doing covers then of course it’s gonna cause unease. And that’s it really, after nearly four decades of dishing out the thrash the fifty something Mustaine has tried to do something a little different – and once again courted controversy – so I’m up for giving the guy a break cos “Super Collider” is indeed a fine all around metal album.

The Black Dahlia Murder – “Everblack”

The Black Dahlia Murder – “Everblack” (Metal Blade Records)

With over 10 years under their belts, it’s hard to talk about melodic death metal and not mention this Michigan crew. Driven by relentless blast beat drum work, fast chopping riffs and the screech / guttural vocals of Trevor Strnad, “Everblack” continues the band’s six album career with no signs of any wimp outs or compromise! Since we last heard from ’em there have been a coupla replacements in bassist Max Lavelle (formerly of Despised Icon and Goratory) and drummer Alan Cassidy (formerly of Abigail Williams) who have certainly added value especially in Lavelle’s dirty, growling bass lol! Brian Eschbach still brings out the most amazing melodies to add soothing splendor to the raging torrent of songs like ‘Phantom Limb Masturbation’, the Evil Dead inspired ‘Raped In Hatred by Vines of Thorn’ and opener ‘In Hell Is Where She Waits for Me’, which sees the band for the first time lyrically tackle their infamous namesake unsolved 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short (aka Black Dahlia) in vivid prose as it’s written from the point of view of her killer attending her funeral. “Everblack” sees The Black Dahlia Murder come of age in all aspects and in many ways even more blissful and brutal than they ever were!

Masterplan – “Novum Initium”

Masterplan – “Novum Initium” (AFM Records)

Formed at the turn of the century when guitarist Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch were asked to leave Helloween following discussions about a side project, whereupon their destiny came into being – hence Masterplan! Driven principally by Grapow, the band has featured a variety of line-ups although always made up of high calibre veterans including Riot’s Mike DiMeo as well as their on again off again relationship with vocalist Jørn Lande, who was himself replaced in 2012 by Rick Altzi (At Vance, Herman Frank etc) and joined by drummer Martin Škaroupka (Cradle Of Filth) and ex-Stratovarius / Devil’s Train bassist Jari Kainulainen. Together, this solid line up embodies Grapow’s master plan to get the band touring a lot more and if anything, “Novum Initium” reflects this in its epic, melodic songs like ‘Keep Your Dream Alive’, ‘Pray On My Soul’ and ‘Return From Avalon’. Soaring vocals, powerful rhythms and most of all, heavenly guitar and keyboard melodies executed to perfection by superior musicianship are the order of the day here, yet graced with a catchy and in some cases singalong feel. Altzi’s vocals are not a million miles away from Jørn’s and if anything they are rockier, indicating once again Masterplan’s desire to get moving on the live front. With Grapow demonstrating his finger talents equally off the fretboard in mixing and mastering the album in his own studio in Slovakia, “Novum Initium” wipes the slate clean in favour of a new start.

From The Vastland – “Kamarikan”

From The Vastland – “Kamarikan” (Indie Recordings)

Metal from ancient Persia! You really haveta admire people who struggle against the odds to follow their dreams: such is Sina, the creator behind the one man metal project known as From The Vastland. If that wasn’t enough then when I found out that he’s based in Teheran – that’s in IRAN by the way folks – then you gotta be wondering if he’s risking life and limb to do this?! Well, Sina’s been at it for the best part of 10 years and escaped so far to produce this amazing album, which took the best part of a year to achieve. Playing all instruments, singing, as well as handling all the technical aspects I’m astounded by how good “Kamarikan” came out and truly puts some bands in the free world to shame. From The Vastland is raw black metal from the mix of cat screeching and belching vocals to the evil fretboard warblings and of course, plenty of blast beats! Amidst all the furor Sina has sensibly chucked in melodies and slow Marduk-esque riffs that take songs like ‘The Ahriman Wizard’, ‘Vortex Of Empty Cosmos’ and ‘Night Sentinel’ to a very high standard indeed and up there with his international compatriots, enjoying the support of Thor Anders Myhren (Morbid Angel, Myrkskog, Zyklon), André Kvebek (Pantheon I) and Vegard Larsen (Keep of Kalessin) in delivering his live set at the Inferno Festival this year! Drawing heavily from Persian history, mythology and Zoroastrianism, Sina has wisely stayed away from the traditional anti religious stance normally associated with black metal, which may be why he has remained tolerated by the Iranian authorities. Given this I would have liked to have seen more of his country’s musical influence coming across in the music, which for the most part is typically western, but it’s a minor gripe given to have even gotten this far should be gratitude in itself.

Summoning – “Old Mornings Dawn”

Summoning – “Old Mornings Dawn” (Napalm Records)

This Austrian duo have been going since the mid 90s when this type of dark ambient or atmospheric black metal was being pioneered by the likes of Mortiis. Heavily keyboard driven, it sorta reminded me of some of the early programmed music on computer games back then, although it ultimately evolved into a style of its own that Summoning still purvey to this day – this being their 7th album – which coincidentally took 7 years to make! With a heavy Tolkien presence always inspiring both the band’s music and lyrics the overall atmosphere of songs like ‘The White Tower’, ‘Earthshine’ and ‘Of Pale White Morn’ is very earthy and based on folk sounds like horns and violins albeit ironically reproduced using synthesizers. Still, as with all solo / duo projects, Silenius and Protector focus their strength of composition into creating wonderfully epic songs that don’t rely on power as such, but a poignant blend of heavily reverbed sounds from black metal vocals to creatively programmed drum work also integrating guitars as well as those aforementioned traditional influences. Delicately mixed so that no one sound is overpowering, “Old Mornings Dawn” presents its multi faceted effects both majestically and in a style befitting Middle Earth!

Diamond Drive – “Temporality”

Diamond Drive – “Temporality” (Noiseheadrecords)

Diamond Drive hail from Denmark and seem to take inspiration from their bigger brothers in Volbeat. Playing a fusion of aggro metal mixed in with powerful melodies, they have been growing steadily since their inception in 2007. Troels Pedersen’s vocals happily shift between screamo and soulful to the max whilst the rest of the band follow suit mixing brutal riffing with magnificent melodic warblings amidst a punchy aggro beat. It’s not unheard of, but Diamond Drive’s success comes from wrapping all of this in a catchy and commercially appealing package that has garnered them music awards, touring Europe several times and being invited to play the big summer festivals, where songs like ‘Soaking Wet Sun’, ‘Nineteen Eighty Fear’ and ‘Down The Drain’ seem engineered to perfection for! Now working with some of industries best, “Temporality” was produced by Jacob Bredahl (The Burning, The Kandidate, Koldborn), mastered by Tue Madsen ( The Haunted, Sick of It All, Mnemic), with cover artwork by Mircea Eftemie (Soilwork, Strapping Young Lad, Nevermore) and photos by Stefan Wessel (Rammstein, Chris Cornell, Timberland) – now that’s Formula One in my book.

BREACHED

BREACHED m ight have a name similar to the Swedish act Breach but that is as far as similarities goes. This Canadian band is a completely different beast. Interview answered by Bobby Noakes. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

OK, perhaps a short introduction might be in order just to let us know who we are dealing with.
-Breached is: Bobby Noakes – vocals, Mike Diesel – guitar, Ryan Alexander- bass and Neil Uppal – drums. We’re a hard rock band from Toronto who came together just over 2 years ago.

Your band name got me thinking of a Swedish band that was called Breach. How hard is it to come up with a band name that hasn’t already been used or sounds similar to something already used?
-Extremely hard! Especially now with the internet playing such a big role in promoting the band, it’s important to for all of your sites to have the same name which played a big part in how we named the band. We tried a few others out, then Breached just kind of came to us and struck us with some great ideas for imagery.

Today you can hardly tell the difference from a regular Joe and somebody in a band. How do you set yourself apart style wise from the public? How important is it that you stand out from the masses?
-Being in a band the music always comes first. But when it comes to the show, your image is a huge part of it. It’s important to look good (whatever your image might be) and have confidence in what you do. Standing out from the masses is something we leave to our music and the image we portray through our promo pics. We want to show that it’s still fun to be in a band, it’s not always so damn serious.

I guess that the competition is pretty cut throat when you fight for the same crowd as a bunch of other bands. How well do you stand out locally as well as nationally?
-Believe it or not I think the “competition” is actually really healthy in our local scene. There’s so much mutual support with a lot of the bands so we actually tend to share a lot of the same fans. Locally there’s quite a few rock bands but we all have our own take on the genre. I like to think we stand out, we’re always trying to take things to the next level with our songwriting and shows.

Today there are tons of social media sites that make it easy for a band to get its music out to the public. Is releasing a physical record still a good way of getting your bands name known?
-I’m still an old school guy in some sense. I love peeling off the annoying plastic wrapper of a cd/album and checking out the liner notes and artwork when I listen to it. Obviously when you release something digitally it’s fast, convenient and cheap! They both have their advantages. But for me there’s nothing more satisfying then handing someone our CD. It’s pretty tough to hold an mp3…

What is the difference to you in holding a physical CD in your hand or having a digital file to promote? How much more real does the physical product feel?
-I guess I answered that in the previous question.

Are you being met with different reactions if you come with a physical product to a radio station or promoter than if you come with your USB-stick?
-Some people still prefer to have the CD on their shelf while others prefer to have a hard drive on their shelf. Usually we try to find out what they prefer in advance.

How important are lyrics to you? What kind of topics do you deal with in your lyrics and what kind of topics would you never deal with?
-For me the melody is the most important but lyrics are more important to me now than they were when I first starting writing. I write a lot about relationships and the struggles within. I don’t think there’s anything I would never deal with really. The mood of the song usually dictates what I’ll write about.

What would you say is the ultimate soundtrack to describing the sound of BREACHED? What is that makes you guys tick?
The sound of Breached is a blend of Incubus, Papa Roach, Staind and Emery. We’re huge on melodies and harmonies but we also want to make you wanna throw down. We want you to feel something when you listen to us!

What kind of future do you see?
-We’ve just recorded our third EP and are planning on releasing it this fall and are about to hit the road for our first tour across eastern Canada. When we get back we start filming the video for the first single off the new EP and hope to have it out by the end of the summer.

MENA BRINNO

There are so many sub-genres of metal today that it is hard to follow them all. MENA BRINNO could very well be fitted into the symphonic or operatic catergories. Interview answers by Katy. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Let’s begin with why you play in a metal band? What is so great about metal?
-I love immersive, powerful experiences. What is more immersive and powerful than metal? I play in a metal band because to me metal is the ideal creative outlet. The best ear-trained musicians and the fans who are most serious about music that I meet are always metalheads.

From what I understand you are a classical trained opera singer. How much vocal training have you had and how different is it to sing opera compared to metal?
-I’ve studied opera at Carnegie Mellon University, where I did a BFA in Vocal Performance. I also studied musical theatre there… and I did an MA in Opera Performance at Birmingham Conservatoire at the University of Central England in England. Despite the reputation of opera as straight-laced, opera treats all the risqué themes of sex and death that we find in metal. The two forms are not opposites, but they are very different in terms of attitudes. For example one who performs in opera is restricted to a small number of canonical works, whereas metal offers limitless chances for one to compose and work through the creative process.

I’m not the biggest opera fan. How elitist is the opera scene? How much freedom are you given as a performer?
-That’s ok! I completely understand your feelings! Honestly, it is quite variable. Many are elitist and it’s really ridiculous. You are not given much freedom because you must work within the constraints of what is written and what is considered stylistically appropriate if you want to work! However, I always felt reigned in and uncomfortable in the genre and I learned more about the ‘art’ of music being in a metal band than I did studying opera. That’s the truth. Part of music is making music and letting go. Maybe some are able to do that in the opera world but that release never happened for me UNTIL I joined a metal band.

I can understand the technical skill of singing opera but I do not understand why it has to be pitch perfect and note for note perfect. That makes it more a judged sport than music to me. When was it decided that you have to play it the way it was the first time it was performed and who decides if it is perfectly performed?
-Many decide…audiences, directors, the music director etc. It’s a creative collaboration just as it is in a rock band. However, there are certain expectations that are adhered to based on the academic traditions of opera. That’s where I got stuck. I found it very difficult to enjoy something because it was ‘supposed’ to be a certain way.

OK, enough about opera for a while. Let’s concentrate on the metal. With what intentions did you form MENA BRINNO?
-My intention of forming the band was to finally explore my own creative side. Making music and figuring out how you do that..how to improvise music, how to write..how to play with people from totally different musical backgrounds than myself. Creativity is absolutely central to who I am and I felt like I had a lot to say that I was unable to get out in the opera world. So this was almost a necessity for me. I was inspired by the power and majesty of metal and it allowed me the freedom I desired to express myself. It’s been an awesome experience and greater than anything I ever experienced in opera.

How tough is it to find a sound that works and that hasn’t been done to death already?
-Very tough! Though, I don’t sit around trying to be original…we just create songs based on our thoughts and feelings and musical experiences. I’m not trying to sell myself, I’m just exploring my creativity as a singer and artist and sharing it. I really hate the idea of my band being about a product, no matter what anyone tells you. That’s a horrible thought..it’s an art..period. If I wanted to just be about money and sales, I would definitely choose a different career!!

What kind of scene is there in the States for the kind of metal that you guys play? What kind of scene is there for metal in general in the States?
-Not much of a scene. I’ve gotten a lot of funny comments in clubs before..like “what the hell was that?” It still really has the freak of nature impact in my neck of the woods! However, there are a lot of people that appreciate it, they are just spread out.

How do you avoid being compared to Evanescence or Paramore or any other popular female fronted metal/pseudo metal acts making the rounds?
-I don’t! People do it all the time, though we sound literally nothing like them.

Your album has been out a while now. Where have you noticed that the interest has been the greatest so far?
-From Germany to Russia..definitely.

What kind of future would you like to see for MENA BRINNO?
-Well, we are planning another record and hopefully a visit to Europe in the not so distant future.