THE FORSAKEN

Back in the day I remember reviewing a couple of THE FORSAKEN’s albums. Then all went quiet until now 9 years later when a new album emerges. I had to find out more so an interview was set up. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I remember you guys from when you came up the first time around with bands like Soilwork, Darkane, The Defaced and some other bands from the Helsingborg region. What happened to you guys? Why didn’t you make it big too?
-Hard to say, I guess we didn´t have an appealing sound to the wider mass of people. We could always point at a specific reason, but in the end I believe it goes down to being at the right place at the right time! Even though we have fans around Scandinavia we never had a break in the region. We have been doing much better in central Europe and US. We have been quiet a long time though, with no new material to present and the world continue to spin despite our casual drive with The Forsaken, and people have short memories. In many respects it will be a restart for us, and previous good markets might change with the weaker ones – or we’ll do well overall. Time will have its say.

I can’t say that I have too many albums by bands from Landskrona in my collection. What kind of a metal town is Landskrona?
-This is definitely not a metal town. Landskrona sits with coverbands, reggae and prog. Back in the days there were a few such as Hysteriah with Klas from Darkane, Warmonger and Mangler where the later two remained unsigned and all perished in the dust. Warmonger definitely was ahead of their time, and did two real killer demos in the late 80’s, beginning of the 90’s. Historically Landskrona has been leaning more at punk with more or less known bands such as D.T.A.L, Bristols DC and Shitbreed. Things seem to change though, with new younger potentials popping up in the rehearsal rooms. Only at the place we rehearse there are three or four bands rehearsing with heavier tones in mind, as well as you see some hairy youngsters around in the area from time to time, which is a positive development from the last ten to fifteen years of nothingness with regards to metal.

You are now on your fourth album. How much of a progress have you made in the 9 years since you last one?
-It is a cliché to say, but our last effort is definitely our best album to date. Simply put a straight forward punch in the face death metal album. I believe we have matured much as musicians both with our instruments, and in the way we think when we weld the material together. I still like our three first albums, but this album have a coherency and a much more focused approach which I do not think is present in the same way on our previous releases. When we started the process with “Beyond Redemption” we already had an idea of how the album should sound and the writing process itself was very different compared to how we used to work. For the first three albums we were all living in the south-west of Sweden and the tunes were crafted and arranged in the rehearsal room, and the first time we really heard how the songs sounded was when we recorded the albums. Now we are scattered around southern Sweden with less possibilities to rehearse and have been forced to write and record pre-productions, sending files back and forth which gave us a better view on how the songs evolved simply by listening to actual recordings. I also believe the fact that we recorded the whole album ourselves gave us much more time to work on the songs in the studio compared to having booked time breathing down your neck.

I tried looking for you previous albums but it is not that easy to find them. How irritating is it that the stuff you’ve released in the past isn’t easily available?
-Well, it would of course have been killer to have the old albums available on the market. The performance of “Beyond Redemption” and how things will work out next will kind of be what dictates if there will be a re-release of these albums. The only annoying thing is of course that the new fans of The Forsaken cannot get their hands on an actual copy. The albums are available from digital distribution though, such as iTunes Store.

What have you been up to in the years that have passed?
-After the touring ended for “Traces Of The Past” we were kind of drained with three albums in three years. At the same time the sales of the last album wasn´t as expected from the label and there was no one pushing us for the next release. Few years later we also parted ways with the label. At this time all of us had our focus elsewhere with studies, families and work. The Forsaken was never dead though, we simply didn´t put any efforts in finalizing songs for a full album and trying to pursue the options to get a new partner in crime for a new release.

When you are stuck with a record deal that you don’t want how hard is it to get out of it? What does the label want from you?
-We never have had any experience in a conflict with a label. When we parted ways with Century Media there was never a grudge from neither side of the table. But I guess as in any business deal it depends on how the contract has been set up and what conditions it involves, or what kind of goodwill the label has to release a band from its obligations. There are always exceptions, but I believe most bands entering a bad contract have themselves to blame. To make sure the contract you are about to sign is healthy to you as a musician or a group is your own responsibility in the end. Many times young bands are so eager to get their music out to the market they forget about this which may come back and bite you in the ass.

How do you keep the band going when you have to wait out something that you don’t have too much control over?
-I assume it would be de-motivating. As with any scenarios in life, where things are beyond your control, frustration becomes a big thing. For The Forsaken this has never been a factor though as we have been lucky enough to never enter such a state.

How did you end up on Massacre? How much more aware are you of what kind of deal you enter into this time?
-We recorded a four track demo and started to shop around for a new partner in 2011. Massacre was the one with the best offering. We are very well aware of what kind of contract we signed, and it was the best possible deal we believed we could get at this time. This is a license deal and within certain boundaries we are free to do what we want with our music.

How would you say that this new album fits into the discography of The Forsaken?
-It fit very well to the discography in a way where you can hear that it is a natural step forward. The fans will recognize it as a The Forsaken album and the focus I mentioned earlier really means we narrowed the path towards the death metal part of our sound. The arrangements are much tighter and we have been experimenting more with tempos making this a much more dynamic, yet more brutal album. I do not believe we will disappoint anyone that had the horns up for our previous releases.

What kind of future do you envision for The Forsaken?
-There are many offers for tours and shows dropping in right now, but nothing besides Extremefest in Germany has been fully confirmed yet. Besides doing shows to promote Beyond Redemption we will shoot one or two videos for the album. After this we will see, but it will definitely not be another nine years until you see another sign of us.

HELLDORADOS

Sleaze metal might not sound all too enticing but HELLDORADOS do it so convincing that you just gotta love them. Interview with PIERRE, vocals / STEVE, guitars. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Something I often wonder is what it is like to play sleaze/party metal and not come from Los Angeles but from Stuttgart, Germany?
PIERRE: Personally I think it doesn’t matter where you are coming from. Music is about emotions and the question if we are able to deliver and share our feelings we had during the songwriting process later with the fans.
STEVE: every musician is influenced by other musicians, other songs, other places in the world. And by the way; have you been to Stuttgart? It’s a place to party (both laughing).

What kind of sleaze scene is there in Germany? Why did you choose this kind of genre?
PIERRE: I don’t care about other bands and if there is a “sleaze scene” or what so ever. STEVE: we write the music we like best. You should listen to us playing Jazz. We are all inspired by all different kind of Rock music. Old fashioned like Led Zep or Rose Tattoo up to 80s Thrash or today’s new guitar heroes. So I don’t think we choose a genre. The music just found us.

I get a feeling that Stuttgart is more of a West coast/East coast kind of town than a metal town. How are you being treated by those not into hip hop, your kind of crowd?
PIERRE: Stuttgart has been known as the capitol of German HipHop. Even we don’t care that much about that kind of music, all the bands from the early 90s left a lot of creativity in the city to create something new. It has nothing to do with west coast / east cost kind of things. Here is a hell lot of Heavy Metal going on in the whole region. Just take a look at the label scene. We have Nuclear Blast, Metal Blade and of course our label Massacre Records right next door, just to name a view. Steve: most of the time the crowd is going wild at our concerts and I haven’t seen so many HipHop kids there.

When you play sleaze looks are important. What kind of live show do you present?
STEVE: Helldorados are well known to present a high octane Heavy Rock Show. All killer, no filler kind of show with pyrotechnics and great ear catching songs. A show that blows your mind and makes your head spinning around like a rollercoaster. Of course the look is important, but hey we look how we look. Always suitable!

How do you avoid the look from taking over from the music? When does the look become more important than the music?
PIERRE: The show is nothing without the music. But we see Helldorados as something visual, too. If you like the music, buy our album, stay at home and crank up your stereo up to eleven. But if you want to feel and see when the shit hits the fan, be part of the Helldorados family and explore something unique, something special. Well than you better put on your pants and come to one of our shows.

How do you avoid re-using things that have already been done? How do you keep it original?
STEVE: Every musician is influenced by someone else. That is pretty much normal. But all four of us stay always true in what we believe. What you hear and what you see is original. That is exactly how we are. We just don’t copy things, we are not re-using stuff that already has been done. We take a stand for what we are, every day!

Isn’t like suicide to mention ABBA in the same sentence as metal. No matter how great they are, hard they are not. What kind of criteria do you use when you write songs?
STEVE: If you throw away the heaviness of all the great Hard Rock bands it is all about harmonies and good arrangements. And by the way ABBA knew how to write great harmonies and arrangements. PIERRE: So here we go with ABBA, Metallica, old Scorpions, Hardcore Superstar, The Who or Pantera. All great bands by themselves but I bet none of them where just listen to heavy music every day. If you wanna write a unique and timeless piece of music, you got to be a little open minded.

Is there a certain theme to the way lyrics has to be written to be considered true sleaze?
PIERRE: pretty simple answer – No

What about titles. You don’t seem to be too keen on long song titles. What is there to a title that needs to be there for it to be a good title?
STEVE: The message of the song stays the same, doesn’t it?
PIERRE: … and by the way I can’t remember long song titles.

What future do you see for Helldorados?
PIERRE: All four of us know how hard it was to release that first album. Two years of hard work
every day to get to this point. We are pretty realistic but also four very enthusiastic, powerful young musicians with skills and the never ending will to make it bigger and better, step by step. So the future will be great no matter how long it will take us. It only depends on how you look on it.
STEVE: Ask me next year again. (both laughing) Thank you very much for taking the time and doing the interview.

THE INIQUITY DESCENT

THE INIQUITY DESCENT is another Finnish band that is starting to make some noise in the extreme metal scene. Check them out if you like your metal with a twist. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I don’t know why but I get an Impaled Nazarene feel when I see your art work and press shots. What is it that influences you guys?
– There’s a lot of music that has inspired us through all these years. We have all grown up listening to Black-, Death- and all kinds of Metal, but I can assure you that there is no intentional Impaled Nazarene influences in our music.

You are being described as avant-garde. What is there in the definition of avant-garde that fit your sound?
– I don’t really know why we are being described as Avantgarde Black Metal. In my opinion we don’t belong at all in that category, for except maybe our artwork and some of the lyrics.

When you don’t play strict black metal does that diminish your chances to reach the die-hard fans? What are your thoughts of narrow-minded scene purists?
– Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, I don’t really care. We make and play the kind of music we like and we do not play to please any specific group out there. I think that these so called scene purists are entitled to their opinion and if they don’t like The Iniquity Descent, who really cares.

Is there a concept behind the band and its lyrics? What is it that you want to say with the band?
– There’s not really a fixed concept, but I write about what I see around me, my own experiences in the past and how I would like it to be around me. All in the band comes from an area in Finland that is really conservative and religious, so that has influenced us to what we are today and what kind lyrics I write. There’s lots of stories to be told.

How much importance do you place on writing ”catchy” songs and not long and drone like ones?
– The question is all about what we like. We write the kind of music that we would like to hear. Our guitar player Mikael, that writes most of the music, likes catchy and groovy Black Metal stuff and that’s what he writes. I have nothing against “long and drone like” songs, but it just doesn’t fit this group.

What kind of importance do you place on art work and iconography? Is it important to have art work that says the right kind of things?
– Of course it is! That’s why I really like to work with the guy that has done all our covers so far. We discuss the artwork a lot before we start working. A great album can easily be destroyed by tacky and ugly artwork.

How hard was it to come up with the album title ”The Human Apheresis”?
– That was not hard at all. It just came to me on a train ride back to the town where I was born. That train has inspired me to write many of the lyrics you see on that album. There’s something in the air there that makes my cogwheels turn.

As A Swede I often wonder what the Finns have that makes metal band chart that other countries metal bands don’t have. Any explanation to why metal is so popular in Finland?
– There’s many theories for this. Some people say it’s the Finnish mentality, some says it’s because the winter is long and dark. I guess I would say that it’s our musical heritage. All our old songs and hymns are very melancholic and sombre. Metal fits both.

How do you intend to promote the album the best possible way?
– I hope that Massacre Records do that for us! But we try to have the album visible on the internet and local record stores. We are also releasing a new music video soon that I hope will get out there and draw some attention.

Is there a future for The Iniquity Descent?
– The Iniquity descent definitely has a future, how big is yet to be seen. Our kind of music is really marginal and I have no idea how far a band like this can go. We will at least do our best to keep the band alive and produce new music as often as possible.

NATTSMYG

This is a new band to me. Dan was so kind to answer a few questions about NATTSMYG. Here’s what he had to say. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Is the name Nattsmyg a reference to the forest people? Why a band name in Swedish?
-It´s a name without a reference to a certain theme. Nattsmyg means that something is going on during nighttime, which could be anything, and that´s the point with the choice of the band name. If I would have a band name with a strong reference to, let say a viking theme, then it would feel out of place to make lyrics with other themes, and I’ve always wanted to use several themes for the albums. It wasn´t until after 5 demos and 2 albums that I started to write in English, so a Swedish band name seemed natural at the time.

Is there a greater tolerance to bands not singing in English or have non-English names in today’s metal scene?
-I have no idea.

How elaborate is your sound? Where do you draw inspiration from?
-I´m often trying out new things to change the sound since I don´t want to make the same album twice. Linn, for example, did the lead vocals in Fylgja, which I think changed the sound a bit.
When I write new songs, I draw inspiration from keyboard sounds and new ideas I get, song structures, new ways to mix.

Is a smaller label a better starting point than had you been on a bigger one? Can a smaller one do a better job promoting you than a bigger could?
-I don´t have experience from a bigger label to compare with.

How do you intend on promoting the band in order to build a following?
-I don´t give that much thought since I’m happy with recording music and drinking coffee.

What are the best ways of promoting a band these days? Is the social media overrated as a tool?
-I have too little experience to have a good idea what the best ways are.

Does playing live bring with it benefits you can’t receive any other way? What kind of live chances are there for a band like Nattsmyg?
-The live experience is a bonus for me, and It´s a great opportunity to drink beer. The live chances right now are slim, we don´t even have a line-up at this moment, but it would be incredibly fun to perform on a bigger stage some day in the future if possible. When we do have a line-up, there´s often opportunities for smaller gigs.

I often wonder what it is like to be in a band, writing songs and presenting it to the rest. What kind of process do you go through in song writing?
-I´m writing and recording the songs at the same time. So I make some coffee, wait for nighttime, and play and record all instruments, write lyrics, and record demo vocals. I´m also constantly working with the mix as I record new instruments, and mastering. The mix and mastering actually takes more time for me than the writing and recording. When the songs for the album are as finished as I can make them, I show them to Linn. After that we record her vocals, and I put her vocals in the mix and finish the album. If Linn is not on an album, no one will hear the unfinished album but me.

How much of a democracy is a band? Does a band have to have somebody taking charge?
-The songs are almost finished when I show them to Linn, which is how she wants it. I do encourage Linn to come with input, especially to the vocal melodies, but I always have final word since Nattsmyg is my baby.

What future do you see for Nattsmyg?
-Many recorded albums where I try different things, and hopefully bigger live shows since it would be really fun and also a reason for me to drink something other than coffee for once.

PAGAN RITES

I am not much for stage names but I gotta admit that Devil Lee Rot of PAGAN RITES has one of the better ones. Let us hear what he has to say about his band. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Pagan Rites have been going for some time now. What have you achieved so far?
-Yes Pagan has existed since 1992, With lots of member changes. But I can say the line-up today is absolutely the best, I´m really satisfied with the new line up, can´t be better!

I get a distinct feeling that you are pretty hardcore in the way you want your music to sound? What period is the best to steal ideas from?
-We sounds like old BLACK METAL as it was meant to be, We steal(in my opinion) from the NWOBHM, my inspiration. So I can only say back to the roots 80th

When you are as hardcore as you are in your views does that ever bring with it conflicts? How willingly are you to compromise?
-To be honest, we have no conflicts!

You don’t seem to be the most prolific in releasing records. What does it take for you to release a record?
-Today it´s hard to sell records, coz of internet and downloading etc… If we record in the studio it´s like a weekend, we don’t need to spend a month in a studio, one day to record the songs one day to mix it, one day to drink, haha. We don’t need to have a glean sound and spend our time in the studio for one month! You know we a pros, we are best, Sounds better underground, that’s why!

What is the main idea behind Pagan Rites?
-To enjoy what we´re doing, to be satisfied what we´re doing. To release our tunes on Vinyls, to play as much live as possible!! PAGAN RITES is a cult our fans are also members in the band! Without them, we would not exist! HAIL to our fans!!!

How well do you feel that you’ve accomplished this so far?
-I guess 666%. We give all our energies on stage, to satisfied our fans.

What is a live show with Pagan Rites like? What would you like it to be?
-I give all my energies on stage(Drunk or sober), They get what they want to se, 666% power, They get what they want to see. Just like an old Van Halen concert. I wish we could have more, own stage show with special smoke(on stage) effects etc…But time will come

Are you respected by your fellow comrades? Do you even care if people respect you?
-I adore all my fans, they keep me alive, My fans as I meet is brilliant, without them, then I can ask Who am I??? They are as well as me a member in the PAGAN RITES cult!!!

How important is other people’s opinions about you?
-I prefer to live in the wild instead of this confused human zoo! There is only few “Good” people, Better to live with the wild tigers, and wolfs, I guess they are more kind then any humans, humans are one of the most false existed creatures, but animals, there you have a friend forever. I see myself as an inhuman creature, Made Not Born, but sadly in a human form. My soul is one with the ancient one (Root race). Some people are good but mostly the rest are evil, stupid not worth to be my/your friend! DENY them. They are psychic vampires! Energy thief!

Anything to add about the future of Pagan Rites?
-Past is Past!!! PAGAN RITES, The future! thanx for your time reading the interview, check out DEVIL LEE ROT-DAYSTAR(son of the dawn II) on youtube. Join us “ORDO TEMPLI LUCIFERI”. UP THE PAGANS!

PROPHECY23

PROPHECY 23 made me think of Wehrmacht and other fun thrash bands from the 80s/90s. As I’m a huge fan of these bands I had to interview Mario Macaroni (Bass). Anders Ekdahl ©2102

What significance does the 23 at the end have to the band name?
-In the early days of the band we all were into those conspiracy theories. Today the lyrics of the band are the complete opposite – who cares about conspiracy theories when the real life hits you with such dramatic stories like booze running dry?! The 23 remained and has many different meanings. The 23 can stand for B.C. – The Prophecy Beer Crew!

How hard is it to stand out today when there are a thousand bands fighting over the same exposure area? What do you have to do to stand out from the masses?
-We don’t reinvent the wheel with our music, but I think we have some things that people can recognize and that our fans like about us. Our humorous lyrics, the mix between fast and groovy songs and the neon green artwork is what can differentiate us from other bands. We think
that in the deepest inside of every tough metal-fan there is a neon green maniac!

You are on your second album now. What kind of expectations do you have on it? What do you like it to do for you?
-We just feel like partying right now! After all the hard work for this record we are very curious about the reactions on the album. Our aim is to continue with the developments of our first record. Currently we are playing a lot of live shows again – that’s what we feel called to do. Maybe we can manage to do a little tour through Europe – we are checking some offers at the moment…

I noticed that the album has 16 songs. Why so many? Any grand plan behind it?
-During the songwriting process we came into that certain flow where we had tons of ideas and only a small CD to put it on. So we decided to shorten some songs in order to get more tracks on the record. That’s why you only can find the Radio Edit of “No Beer – What a mess” on the album. Our music is not about progressive songs with a duration of 18 minutes – a few minutes of pure fun and nice music is totally enough for every track.

The Germans are not known for your humor. How hard is it to convince people that you are funny and serious while still being German without it ending up as a parody?
-You are right, the stereotype says, that Germans are not funny. But we have experienced that the international audience also digs our humor. Who could for example deny that the Ice Road Truckers are the hardest of men? One song on the new record deals with an serious issue for those guys: Ice Road Trucker vs. The Sun.

How disciplined are you guys when it comes to song writing, studio work and live work? Do you party before or after or even during?
-Yes, we do party! Especially before, after and during the live shows! But partying does not mean that we behave like Axl Rose. We always want to deliver a great show and we want to have a celebration with our fans – that’s what I would call disciplined in relation to our band. We
really worked hard during the songwriting process and in the studio to record an album that rocks the crowd!

Your album cover to “Green Machine Laser Beam” is very green. What made you chose this title for the album and how pleased are you with the outcome of the art work?
-The neon green color was already part of our artwork on the debut album “…To The Pit”. We wanted to continue with the best of all colors. To be honest nobody really knows who came up with the idea “Green Machine Laser Beam”. But the rhyme is a killer and it’s green. We are totally
enthusiastic about the artwork, Marvin Clifford did an awesome job.

How hard is it to find the right kind of people to realize your idea once you have an idea for art work?
-We already worked together with Marvin for the artwork of our debut album “…To The Pit”. We love all these comic-style artworks and that’s why we were looking for some comic artists. We found Marvin Clifford who is known for his work in the German Mad Magazine. After a call we knew
that we are on the same vibe and now you can see on our two album covers that this cooperation was without any problems.

Do you feel that you are a part of greater German thrash metal tradition? What in your opinion has been the greatest German thrash experience so far?
-Of course Germany is known for its Thrash Metal and we just love bands like Kreator or Sodom, but we don’t think about things like German Thrash Metal traditions. We are influenced by many different kinds of music and different kinds of bands from all over the world. The only thing that matters is good music – nothing else.

What future do you see for the band?
-We just want to play as many shows as possible. We love both little club shows and big festival shows like our gig on Wacken Open Air in 2011 – and we want more of it! We are going with the flow and we are curious about the future.

69 CHAMBERS

69 CHAMBERS might not be the most sexy band name floating about but boy is this one exciting band. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Is the band name some obscure reference to some even more obscure Egyptian burial mound?
-Interesting thesis. Since I can’t really answer the question – the band was originally founded as a hobby project and I never imagined having to explain the name in an interview at the time – why don’t I just say yes, why not?

What is it with Swiss bands and three-pieces? Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and Coroner were all three piece bands. What advantages are there to just being three?
-I don’t know if trios are really a specific Swiss thing, but the advantages are clear: Three people that work together well are better than three plus one that doesn’t really fit.

I take that you’ve tried your luck separately as well. What is the biggest difference between your past endeavours and 69 Chambers?
-I founded 69 Chambers like a million years ago, before that I was in a band hardly to be taken seriously. So I can’t really answer this question… But Tommy Vetterli and Diego Rapacchietti sure have had other experiences. Especially Tommy, who’s been with Kreator, Stephan Eicher and of course Coroner has been with much bigger bands on a different level of success, but he especially enjoys the challenge of playing in a much different and musically more versatile band. Plus, both guys have never had a front woman bossing them around ;-).

When you come from smack in the middle of Europe and from a country with no greater metal tradition do you feel that you have to work harder to gain the same exposure and band from Germany or Sweden or the States have to?
-I guess so. The Swiss market is small, plus people only start supporting a local band when it’s already become famous outside the country. At the same time there’s little support outside Switzerland for a Swiss band, but quality music always finds its way out there.

What is the hardest part of being a band in a country mostly known for chocolate and clocks?
-Chocolate will make you fat, and clocks over-punctual. No seriously, I guess the hardest thing is finding a great line-up. People have much to loose in wealthy Switzerland, so there aren’t many that dedicate their time into something as unprofitable as music. At least not when they’re over their teen-age…

The album is 64 minute divided into 14 tracks. What is that makes the album over an hour long? Why not just release a 40 minute album?
-When we worked on the new material there were so many song ideas around that we just couldn’t decide which ones to leave out. Plus, I think 69 Chambers is the kind of band that needs to show the whole range. So why not record a really long album? If you don’t like a song, skip to the next one!

What would you say is the common denominator when it comes to fusing together your individual influences? What bands do you all have in common?
-I wouldn’t exactly know particular bands we all like. The thing is: We all have a metal background, but we’re each open to different music, even pop. Neither Tommy, Diego nor I are the traditional metalhead-type.

How does the album title Torque fit into the picture? Why chose that word as the title?
-The idea came spontaneously. Torque is turning force, and pretty decisive for the power a car gets down on its wheels for instance. Perhaps it’s my day job as an automotive journalist that made the term pop up into my mind, but it just seemed right for us – I believe with the current line-up and song material we have enough ‘Torque’ to get 69 Chambers accelerated.

You are on to your second album. How much of a base did the first one create for you to build on?
-Considering that we were an unknown band with a debut released by an unknown label I think we did pretty well in building up a fan bass that was eager to hear the new album. But there’s still more potential around – I’m sure the second album can reach a wider audience.

What would you like to see the future bring to the band?
-The recognition we believe we deserve. And a decent tour.

UNTIL RAIN

When I don’t get timed-out from Facebook I do occasionally find bands that interest me. Greek UNTIL RAIN enticed me enough to want to check out their progressive metal. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Why is that most Greek bands are of such high quality? What kind of tradition do you have that you have to live up to?
-I think it’s kinda weird! You know, here in Greece we have a very different culture on music. Most people love Greek folk style or a kind of traditional music but not the original, not the archetype. Actually, this music is used from people just to have fun. In contrast with that, we have a lot of great bands in our country and a huge rock & metal fan base. That is so ironic! Many bands were kind of influenced by this situation and became bigger! I think we are people who love music anyway, and that’s what makes us more creative as person. Creativity is the key in art. That’s our tradition!

What is progressive music to you? How do you describe something as progressive?
-At first I believe that there shouldn’t be a strict and short definition of progressive music and if one exists, I have to admit that I am unaware of. Progressive music is the freedom to compose, play, write whatever you want without having to think a label in order to categorize it. It may be something that is a category on its own. Progressive music, always in my opinion, is the music where new things, such as composing techniques, instrument techniques new sounds, etc are elements of a song or album, giving to it a fresh and different feel and signature from all other music and albums.

There are a couple of progressive metal bands that always are mentioned. How do you avoid being compared to Dream Theater all the time?
-We are often compared to Dream Theater, but most of the times, it’s for the wrong reasons. Anyone who plays and composes progressive metal music would be lying if he says that Dream Theater hasn’t got any influence on him. Even if he doesn’t like Dream Theater’s music, I am sure that many bands try to avoid being labelled as “Dream Theater wanna-be” by letting out certain things in their music that are very “Dream Theater – like”. Anyway, I personally like a lot Dream Theater, it is a prototype band of the progressive field and has already showed us how some things should be done. As our music is a mix of 5 musicians’ opinions and remarks, I believe that through this process and filters, that it becomes unique. Now, of course, there may be a part in a song that reminds someone a “Dream Theater – like” part, but in many cases, it is only a “progressive – like” part and many people when it comes to progressive have in mind or are aware of only Dream Theater. This is a major reason we are compared to Dream Theater often and I believe other bands are experiencing it too.

What is that gets you going musically? Where do you draw inspiration from?
-In my opinion, being a musician forces you to have a certain kind of lifestyle. Every day that passes I remind myself that I must improve my skills and my technique, because this is an important part of my toolbox of expressing myself and creating my own music. Also if I don’t listen to new interesting new music but also old favourites I feel a little bit empty and I feel I must draw from somewhere inspiration or make something different. The rehearsals and the process of rehearsing is also an important part of a musician’s lifestyle. It is like small deadlines, where you must be ready in order to show your work to your band mates, and it is very nice when the others picture it the same way and we all try for the best. After a tiring but effective rehearsal I feel refreshed, I change my TO-DO list and I study different things.
I draw inspiration on my lyrics and music from various things and situations of everyday life. Sometimes you can be very inspired when you re-examine a situation in the past with wiser eyes, or just with another point of view. We all know days that are a lot different and special, compared to others and we remember them for a variety of reasons. These are the days that in some way, they define us, they change the way we think, we take decisions and sometimes they keep us moving on.

As I haven’t written one single song in my life I have no idea how to do it. Is it especially hard to write a progressive song compared to a straight one?
-I don’t think that are any major differences, only because we are not forced to write progressive music but it comes out naturally. This is the music we love, the music that expresses ourselves. There are some difficulties when writing a song generally, like choosing the right chords, the right melodies, the right sounds, the way you build all the melodies and the rhythms around the voice and all this stuff. But these things are known to every style. Maybe in progressive music (and every other technical music) there are more difficulties recording the music and making the whole band sound tight but in the concept of writing is just a natural process!

Have you noticed that people are more interested in the band once they find out that you are from Greece?
-It’s normal. Greece always has been in interest of people. Now unfortunately we are in interest because we are the bad guys of Europe who don’t pay taxes and all this stuff. Haha! I don’t know why but this can happen because we are a small country of Balkans and it’s very unusual to see metal bands rising and growing up from down there!! Anyway, the truth is that we‘re very proud for our music history and for the bands we have!

It’s not just enough to write and record music. You also need to get it out to the people. How do you go about getting people to hear about you?
-As it’s widely known, Internet is the big power these days. You have to be patient and promote wisely your stuff through the band pages (Facebook, MySpace etc.) and send your stuff to radio stations, e-zines and everything that can publish your work. Of course without the backing of a major label it’s a hard & long process but it’s necessary if you want people to hear about you. Some of us had spent hours of sending here and there our page (not spamming) just informing people about what we do. We gained some fans all over the world only just by the internet. And of course we started giving for free our 2 first releases only because this would appeal to people and anyone could just give his email and have a digital copy of our album. This way you “lure” people to you!

Are there any advantages to doing stuff on your own instead of having the backing of a label?
-Yes, probably! First of all you hold the rights of all your songs and you can write or ‘’sell’’ your music freely, without someone putting too much pressure on you. The band can also decide for its schedule or anything else. On the other hand, a big label offers to you a lot of advantages, huge promotion and management, sense of security, arranged tour etc. These are the things that can put a band in the public consciousness. Basically, it depends on how big is the label and how far from your country can people hear your album or see you perform live. Sometimes when bands get to their second or third album they can choose if ‘’now’’ is the right time to move on, or keep things as they are.

How much time and effort do you put on the packaging of the music? How much thought goes into selling the package?
-Except from writing good and honest stuff much thought has to be put on the cover, the booklet, the design of a band’s site, the band’s photo-shoot and many more things that will create a nice package of the music. As I previously said, without the backing of a major label all these things require tons of money and it’s a slow process if the band makes everything on its own like us. We try to present something as beautiful as we can to people but we hope after we find a major label things we’ll seem much professional.

What are your plans for the band?
-We’ve just finished the recordings of our new album (second full length release) and the production & mastering are in the hands of well-experienced Jens Bogren from Sweden. When we have the new album in our hands we will try to sign a contract with a major label and do as many shows as we can among Europe. Thanx for the support and for the interview!

THE CHANT “A Healing Place”

THE CHANT
“A Healing Place”
(Lifeforce)
OK another Finnish band to write home about. It seems that under any given rock in the Finland you can find a band that is good enough to put on record. No, I’m not complaining. I’m not even feeling jealous. Turn a rock, any rock in Sweden and you’ll find a band equally as good. The Chant could very well be the next big Finnish metal export if they play their cards right. This wasn’t quite what I expected. I had hoped for something in the vein of Synergy but this turned out more like Katatonia. Not that I’m complaining. This is mellow and somber and melancholic in a way that I don’t associated the Finns with. With this being the band’s third album you think I’d heard of them before, and perhaps I have, because this is the kind of music that I like the best. Dark and moody. Anders Ekdahl

DANTALION “Return To Deep Lethargy”

DANTALION
“Return To Deep Lethargy”
(Unexploded)
Spanish black metal might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world but you should have learned by now that there are no borders in metal. We are all brothers and sisters united by a common love. Where you come from doesn’t matter. It is what you deliver that matters. And deliver Dantalion does. At least in the form of a new CD. I reviewed an album by them not so long ago that kinda impressed me. I hope that this new record won’t disappoint me. I have a favourite in Norwegian Hades Almighty. I can listen to their albums for days and not tire a bit. I love the groove they create. I kinda feel the same way with Dantalion. There is a groove to the music that is hard to resist. You get transported into a different world when you listen to this record. That to me is as good as it gets. Anders Ekdahl