MASSIVE ASSAULT

MASSIVE ASSAULT may be Dutch but that is only by nationality. Musically they are anything but Dutch. This is like the perfect amalgamation of all that is great about Swedish death metal/extreme metal mixed with the greatness of the Floridian death scene. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

You make no secret of the influence that Sweden has had on your music. What is so great about Swedish extreme music?
-Swedish extreme music rocks really hard! I´ve always had the feeling that Swedish Death Metal, especially in the beginning, had this kind of punk-feel in it. Also there is this groovy, rocking feel in Swedish Death Metal that we really like. It must have something to do with the musical upbringing of the Swedish people. And then there is, of course, the crunchy chainsaw sound of the Boss HM-2 that we really like to hear! But it’s not only Swedish Death Metal that influenced us. British and Florida-styled Death Metal also influenced us a lot, as well as crust, hardcore and the good old rocking legends like AC/DC and Motörhead.

What is it in death metal that other forms of metal don’t have that made you want to go this way?
-Death Metal is extreme and brutal. The grunts, growls and screams sound like something from beyond the grave. It can sound hellish, furious and pissed off to the max all at the same time! Sure, I like to listen to other kinds of metal as well, but the Death Metal way is what gets me excited the most! I guess the next best thing, for me as vocalist, is either crust or grind. It’s just the best way to get all the aggression and frustration out, as you can hear on “Death Strike”!

Are you more obsessed with one era of death metal/crust than any other? Can you speak of different eras?
-I’m obsessed with good Death Metal and Crust, that’s for sure! Of course, I’m a rabid fanatic when it comes to the 80s and 90s classics in Death Metal, but my blood also boils when I hear newer releases. Yet, it must be said, most of those newer releases are (from the new wave of) Old School Death Metal, that have that early Death Metal feel to it… I think that you could talk about eras in Death Metal back in the 90s. A lot of Death Metal bands strayed away from how they started out in the mid 90s, because they wanted to broaden their horizon and wanted to try something different. This was of course a logical step for many. But you can also see that a lot of those bands are back at their roots. I don’t know if you could talk about eras in Crust, though. I own many Crust-releases and, just like in Death Metal, there are also different directions/styles in Crust as well. But, one thing that is universal in crust: it all sounds extremely furious! And I happen to like my Crust furious!

How much of a difference does it make in today’s strange world of music consumption to be on a record label compared to doing it yourself? What good is a label today?
-A label can help you spread your music further then you can do yourself. Labels mostly have more and different connections then most bands have. When Massive Assault started out, we released our demo’s through our website, free of charge. But we had to put in heaps of time to get ourselves known. Back then we had that time, since most of us were going to school. Nowadays everybody in the band has a decent job, a girlfriend and a housekeeping. That obviously takes a lot of your time, so you can’t spend that time on going to every concert, visit every website or forum and so forth. Also, a good label takes care of all the things concerning releasing an album, distributing it and all that stuff. FDA Rekotz is doing a great job so far! So, we can spend most of our spare time on the thing we like to do best: play Death Metal and ofcourse stay in touch with everyone as much as possible!

You guys formed in 2003. When did the band become a serious thing and not just something you mess around with in a rehearsal room?
-Well, we did that messing around back in 2002. When our other bands split one after one, we got more serious with Massive Assault. We wrote enough songs to go on stage and continued writing in between gigs. Oddly enough, that’s still how we do it today. It works best with us. We write songs, we improve them along the way and when we’re happy with the results we record them. Simple as that!

What has been the best possible way for you to promote your band? Anything that doesn’t work that good in today’s electronical age?
-Playing live as much as you can, wherever you can and as best as you can is probably the best way to promote yourself. Whenever we play live, we give 200% and that shows! I also think that it is important to be a positive and open person off stage. Being a dick doesn’t get you anywhere (well, at least, that counts for most of us). Another thing that helps is that you keep in contact with people and other musicians. That’s also how FDA Rekotz got to know Massive Assault. We believe in helping each other out. For instance, if you and your band help us out with a gig, we’ll try to help you out with a gig as best as we can as well.’

Is there a specific aesthetic to death metal that has to be there for it to work? Is it more death than flowers?
-I think it all comes down to having the right feeling for and in a song. Almost everyone can create music, but not everyone can put in the right emotions. Death Metal certainly deals with the darker side. I think that it’s safe to say that there is no Death Metal band that sing about peace and love and smelling the roses. That simply doesn’t work. Death Metal is dark, brutal and aggressive. My lyrics about war, death and misery. These subjects fascinate me and they fit best to the sound of Massive Assault.

How death metal/crust is digital downloading and listening to it on your computer? Why would anybody want to choose a mediocre mp3 file over a CD?
-Everybody is downloading and listening to music on their computer nowadays. Internet made everything easier to obtain. Back in the day, when I was a teen, we used to tape records for each other. Call it blasphemy, but wasn’t that the same? The only difference is that back then, you got your music from friends and nowadays you can get it from anyone. I personally would rather listen to a CD then an mp3 file, or better yet, to vinyl! I’m not opposed to downloading. I do that myself as well. Nowadays I also listen to a lot of shit on Youtube in between doing all kinds of stuff. That’s how you also discover new bands. I think that great music is worth buying and supporting. That’s also the reason why I have a large collection of albums on any format. And, in the end, I enjoy listening to music on either CD or vinyl best. That’s what I’m also doing now as I’m writing down the answers for this interview. Nothing beats the real deal!

How important is the packaging to you in this day and age when most people seem to prefer to download instead of buying a physical product?
-I think the packaging has to look killer. Sometimes I think that I’m part of a dying race, but I always get excited whenever I get a 12″ with killer artwork. Of course, the most important thing is the music, but the artwork completes the whole package! We always try to get great artwork. Personally, I like the handdrawn or painted covers best. If you look at the artwork for “Death Strike” you can see that this album breaths Death Metal. Gijs van Hal @ Upper Graphics has done a great job! You can see references to the subjects on the album, as well as the style we play.

How long do you see Massive Assault going? What is it that is so great to be a part of the band?
-Massive Assault is going on until everyone of us are old and grey and buried six feet deep! No, seriously, we’ll continue as long as we like to do so. We haven’t planned any expiration date or something. We play Death Metal the way we like best! That is why it’s so great to be part of Massive Assault.

SO MUCH FOR NOTHING

SO MUCH FOR NOTHING is my new favourite on the Norwegian metal sky. So good that I’m envious of them being Norwegians. Check them out if you like your metal suicidal. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

There seem to be a very anti-human side to So Much For Nothing. What is it about life that is so bad?
-I’m presuming that you are referring to the lyrics. Most people have both good and bad, lighter and darker sides. My lyrics are created following a train of thought through those bad, darker sides, – based on various experiences made through life, everything from single events, to a general discomfort and pessimistic view of life. I see no reason to why one should have less right to express negative feelings, vs. those happy-go-lucky feelings.

Is the album title “Livsgnist” meant to be ironic? Why a title in Norwegian?
-Yeah, I guess it’s sort of an ironic title, but at the same time it’s not… “Livsgnist” means something like “spark of life”, so I guess it depends on how big this spark is… There’s no specific reason why the title is in Norwegian, it’s just that I think that the word “Livsgnist” sums up the whole album pretty well.

When I listen to the album I get a 3rd and The Mortal/Atrox feeling to your blackened metal. Where do you draw inspiration from musically?
-Black metal and pop music, as well as some movie soundtracks. At least this is what I usually listen to myself. Unlike most others, I don’t listen to bands like Kiss, AC/DC, Metallica or Iron Maiden. It’s either some sort of extreme metal, or it’s not metal at all. However, my all time favourite band will always be Guns n’ Roses!

What is suicidal metal to you? Is there a need to compartmentalize your music for it to be sellable?
-For me it’s not, and I don’t label SMFN as “suicidal black metal” or whatever. But I understand if others do. Yeah, the lyrics might seem a bit depressing, but hey! You can find depressed lyrics in “normal” music as well, without it be labelled as “suicidal” something something… So if I have to put a label to this music myself, I prefer to call it metal-pop/rock. But this is how I will label it. I totally understand if the label compartmentalizes the music with something. If not, I guess that no one would ever check it out, as it (at least so far) appeals mostly to the metal scene, and I guess also this so called “suicidal metal”. Finally, to answer your question about suicidal metal; I usually don’t label music like that, but I understand what you’re looking for. So for me this would be some sort of slow, dark and heavy music, with pessimistic lyrics, thoughts regarding life and death etc. And on top of that, some desperate vocals in one way or the other…

How important are the lyrics to the overall impression? Do they have to have a message for them to work?
-Personally the lyrics are very important to me, but they don’t have a certain message to each and everyone. Like I don’t think U2 will save the world by preach to the audience at a concert, I don’t think I’m in the right position to tell people what to do and stuff like that… But of course, if someone finds them interesting, they might have an impact on certain people, I guess. But they are mostly written for personal reasons, as well as a song need lyrics, right?

Does being Norwegian bring with any sort of positive feedback? Are people more interested because you are Norwegians?
-I think those days are pretty much over, but someone might still check it out just because of where we‘re from, I don’t know.. But SMFN is not a typical metal band, so if people want to check us out because we’re from Norway, they’re in for a big surprise! And I don’t think that we get more positive feedback, in that case it must be because we prove that Norwegians can make stunning music besides black metal!

Do you feel that there is any sort of competition between Norwegian and Swedish metal bands? I can as a Swede sometime feel that the grass is greener on the other side and that I wish that some Norwegian bands where Swedish.
-No, I don’t, and I really don’t care either… But it seems like Sweden have more popular die hard black metal bands than Norway these days. Like Craft, Watain, Marduk etc.
In Norway the grass is green usually for four months, June – September, but I don’t know if it’s greener than in Sweden… I think it’s more or less the same.

What kind of label support would you have had if you’d signed with a Norwegian label compared to being signed to an Italian one? Do you think there?d be any difference in the way you?d be promoted?
-It depends on which label I had signed to. If it had been one of the “bigger ones”, of course it would have been promoted different/better, as they most likely would have had more money to spend on it. But if it had been a small one, I think that the promotion would have been better in Norway, but not outside the border. I’m really satisfied with My Kingdom so far, and I have also made a deal with Patricia Thomas Management which really helps the promotion as well!

How does a Norwegian band end up on an Italian record label? What is it that you expect to get out of this contract?
-Uruz suggested me to contact them as he had been involved with a band before who are signed to the same label and only had good things to say about them. So I sent them an e-mail saying that we had recorded an album and were looking for a label to release it. When the manager heard the songs he offered us a contract right away, as this was one of the best albums he had heard for the last years. At least that’s what he told me… We discussed a couple of things and I found out that we shared the same goals for a new band like this, so I took the chance and signed the papers, and so far I don’t regret it at all! My expectations are not too high, as I’m a realist. I’ve released a couple of albums before with my other band Sarkom, and I know that nothing really changes after releasing an album. But I hope that My Kingdom will do their very best to promote SMFN, so that we at least get some attention around this release!

How will you take So Much For Nothing further ahead now that the album is out?
-Hopefully we will hit the stage soon, as we know a couple of guys who want to join SMFN live, but it depends on what offers we get (if we get any). If we could join a tour as support band for someone more known, that would have been great, but unfortunately this often cost too much. Time will show… Besides that we’re planning to start the recording of our second album this summer. “Livsgnist” was finished more than one and a half year ago, so I’ve had plenty of time writing new material, and at the moment I think I have 8-9 songs finished! It’s to early to talk about any release date, but maybe sometime around winter 2013? Feel free to follow us on www.facebook.com/somuchfornothing and you will get all relevant information over there! Thanks for your time and interest in SMFN! Hope to see you at a concert some day!

AGRUSS “Morok”

AGRUSS
“Morok”
(Code666)
OK, so the Ukraine metal scene is pretty much a big black hole to me but the stuff that I’ve come in contact with has so far been good. Agruss doesn’t seem to change that impression with their take on black metal. Celebrating the victims of the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 this is what could be described as post-apocalyptic black metal; the result of having grown up in a fucked up environment where nothing will be as it was ever again and where 5 million people are estimated to die from the disaster in the coming 50 years. This is like grey version of Mad Max, where there’s no hope, just despair and destitution. Agruss music paints a very quaint picture of what that life is like. This is as grey and dull as black metal can be. You gotta live it to fully understand it. Don’t go looking for any hope here. Anders Ekdahl

DEUS OTIOSUS “Murderer”

DEUS OTIOSUS
“Murderer”
(FDA Rekotz)
It seems that death metal is making a comeback. Didn’t know it had been gone. But seriously, we see more and more bands returning to the origin of the genre. No more melodeath or metalcore/deathcore but pure old and often very good death metal. I like it a lot. I’m a sucker for bands that play that old murky death metal that happened in the late 80s. The stuff that made me get rid of all my hardrock/heavy metal albums. Danish Deus Otiosus is another one of these bands that are so heavy and murky that you’d never take them for a melodeath band. This is death metal for all of us who thinks that Autopsy, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Entombed are better the older the records are. This is death metal for all of us who like to get our head pulled off by violent zombies. This is death metal pure and simple. Anders Ekdahl

ETERNAL DEFORMITY “The Beauty Of Chaos”

ETERNAL DEFORMITY
“The Beauty Of Chaos”
(Code666)
Eternal Deformity! Can’t say that it rings any bells. And that’s not because they are Polish. I just haven’t heard of them before despite that this is their 5th album. It would be easy to assume that this too would be another extreme death metal album given the track record that Polish bands have but this is more along the lines of… I don’t know what. It sounds like a mix of death, doom and goth metal and at times it is really good but there are moments when the record dips and it becomes too middle of the road. I get a feeling that this is a record that would suit me when I’m in a certain mood. I really need to be in the right mind set to fully appreciate this album. When I’m in that mind set though, I get a strong Opeth-esque prog feeling about Eternal Deformity, without it sounding too much like Opeth in any way whatsoever. Anders Ekdahl

EYE BEYOND SIGHT “The Sun And The Flood”

EYE BEYOND SIGHT
“The Sun And The Flood”
(Massacre)
I guess if you throw enough bands against a wall some a bound to stick. I can’t help feeling that that is what Massacre are sort of doing. It feels like I’ve been bombarded by new signings hoping that they are the ones to make it big, most of the m really good though. Eye Beyond Sight have that dragging thrash metal sound that we have Pantera to blame for. This is heavy the way a bulldozer is heavy and slow. There was a time when I thought that slow (and I use that term relatively) was the same as lame. Not anymore. Eye Beyond Sight might not blow my socks off but they sure know how to make my chair rock. This turned out so much better than anything I expected. For some reason I always think of Lemming Project when I hear a band that is this heavy and that I can’t really place musically. All comparisons aside this is thrash metal that I can really enjoy. Anders Ekdahl

GUN BARREL “Brace For Impact”

GUN BARREL
“Brace For Impact”
(Massacre)
Without having heard this album I kinda expected something along the lines of “Blaze Of Glory”-Jon BonJovi. You know the stuff I’m talking about. The bigger than life outlaw mentality. I wasn’t too off in my assessment. This has a hardrock feel much like you could have expected from a name like Gun Barrel. Maybe that the melodies have a contemporary Helloween feel, no other comparison made, or is that perhaps a very European tinged sound. It’s been a while since I lent an ear to this type of hardrock/power metal hybrid. I’d say that if you like bands like Hammerfal, Sabaton and that kind of stuff this will be right up your alley. Or is that a Scorpion or AC/DC on steroids. I get such a schizo feel listening to this album that I don’t know what to think. Don’t even know what Gun Barrel are aiming at. Feels like they are targeting too many with their music. A better cohesiveness would have been appreciated. Why do I all of a sudden come to think of Krokus too? Anders Ekdahl

HYDROGYN “Private Session”

HYDROGYN
“Private Session”
(Rapid Fire Entertainment)
I really liked Hydrogyn the last time I heard them but that was a couple of albums back. What they sound like today I have no idea of. This is hardrock in that classic American way that was big in the 90s. Big melodies and great hooks should be enough to get you to open your ears to Hydrogyn. Add some edgy guitar work and you might even have a contemporary hardrock act to worship by. Like I said I liked Hydrogyn’s previous efforts and I see no reason to change that assessment. There are some bands that you really want to see make it big and to me Hydrogyn is one of these bands that should be given the big break. This is an album that should appeal to a broad hardrock/metal audience. There is something for everyone and that’s no lie. Check it out for yourself if you don’t believe me. Anders Ekdahl

LIGHT “ignition”

LIGHT
“Ignition”
(band)
The first time I saw the band name Light on Reverbnation I thought of the Aussie black metal band Horde and their white metal. An oxymoron in metalland if there ever was one. Light are a Berlin based band that is anything but light in their sound. This EP if not proves that. This is hard to describe in terms of sound but there is a black metal feel to the vocals, a doomy approach to parts of some of the songs as well as a thrash metal up-tempo feel. On paper a rather in-cohesive mix but on tape (mp3) it sound better that it reads. This might be a first attempt but as that it is a really promising one, even a really good one. It will be interesting to follow the bands development curve in the years to come. Anders Ekdahl

SIGNS PREYER “S/T”

SIGNS PREYER
“S/T”
(Red Cat Records)
There are times when I’m left speechless, or wordless. Not because I’m so awestruck over a new album but because I have no fucking clue what to think about an album or a band’s music. Italian Signs Preyer are that hard to understand musically. Listen really hard and you can trace some Opeth-eclecticism. As with Meshuggah Opeth are to be blamed for bands mixing more extreme tones with a progressive touch. Not that Signs Preyer sounds anything like Opeth or even come close to being anything like them but they work with the same kind of palette. There is the same kind of dynamics at work here. Where they go from the soft to the hard within one song. Where they go from high to low and back in a never ending string. It takes a certain person to appreciate this. Somebody that can sit through all the mood swings; from the bluesy to the brightest, from some really thrashy to the more sombre, all the ups and downs without ever getting tired or losing interest. I do not have the patience for it, not now at least. Anders Ekdahl