THORNIUM “Dominions Of The Eclipse”

THORNIUM
“Dominions Of The Eclipse”
(Soulseller)
Thornium was one of the first second wave of Swedish black metal bands that I got into. I managed to track down their first album in a local record store and I was so pleased with myself for having found it. The music wasn’t perhaps what I had expected but at that time this whole aggressive black metal style was pretty new to me and it took some time getting used to it. Originally released in 1995 this proved to be a whole different beast to the stuff I was used to. I can’t say that it impressed me that much back then. There was something to it that didn’t strike a nerve in me. I thought it was a bit too primitive in sound. Today I can appreciate it better for what it is. There are some really good tracks on this disc and for most part it is a good black metal album. For a debut it was/is decent. As a testament to a black metal scene in being it serves as a fine document. Anders Ekdahl

Cannibal Corpse – “Torture”

Cannibal Corpse – “Torture” (Metal Blade)

Last of the great old school death metal bands, and still goin with OG’s Alex Webster and Paul Mazurkiewicz, this Buffalo crew have boldly gone where others have feared to tread – staying true to that classic death metal style and in doing so earned the respect and admiration of fans the world over as being at the forefront of death metal. Interestingly on “Torture” they have gone right back to their early albums, but befitting their years of experience, instead fine tuned that original style to make songs like ‘Followed Home Then Killed’, ‘Intestinal Crank’ and ‘As Deep As the Knife Will Go’ even more nasty and evil but in a sorta sophisticated way with better musicianship – check out those bone crunching bass runs from Webster and man, George now sounds even more guttural just like Barnes used to, but in his own kinda special way! A big shout must go out to Erik Rutan who has delivered A1 production as per his usual high standard, and really worked these guys to create an album that is uber death metal par excellence – I can’t wait to hear these ditties live cos they will be ripping apart mosh pits! If you wonder how after 24 years these veterans are still able to stand their ground against younger bands then look no further than “Torture”, cos it’s 12 amped up songs from the original so solid crew who still remain true to their hack n slash roots.

Touchstone – “Mad Hatters – Enhanced / Discordant Dreams / Wintercoast”

Touchstone – “Mad Hatters – Enhanced / Discordant Dreams / Wintercoast” REISSUES (Steamhammer / SPV)

No, this isn’t some forgotten band from the mists of time but a very happening British neo prog / melodic metal band whose opening slot at London’s High Voltage Festival in 2010 was enough for Zakk Wylde to comment ‘..Great set – you guys will never be 1st on again!..’. Prior to that, the band released no less than an EP, 2 albums and a double live opus before signing to SPV / Steamhammer! Prior to releasing their much anticipated third studio album, “The City Sleeps”, due out in October, SPV have done the canny thing of reissuing their previous albums. Beginning with “Mad Hatters”, which was Touchstone’s first release, this EP has been remastered and as a bonus features 2 live tracks recorded in Philadelphia and taken from the aforementioned “Live In The USA”album. Listening to the likes of ‘Misguided Fool’, there is a strong Genesis / Pink Floyd influence although the hard rock certainly does give it a hard edge, not to mention the female co-vocal, which adds a touch of Fleetwood Mac in there too! Moving on to “Discordant Dreams” songs like ‘Being Hannah’ mix Simple Minds with Asia’s harmonies whereas ‘Original Sin’ on the “Wintercoast” album mixes the likes of Yes with funky new world Rush! Tremendous diversity indeed, captured by excellent composing and executed by nigh on perfect musical delivery, it’s easy to see why Zakk Wylde felt the heat that day in the park.

Sleepy Hollow – “Skull 13”

Sleepy Hollow – “Skull 13” (Pure Steel Records)

Bob Mitchell. Now there’s a name. Man, this guy coulda been, and shoulda been up there with Eric Adams, John Oliva and Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth! This Jersey City hardass kinda reminds me of England’s equivalent to Brian Ross, having played in a number of underground US Metal acts such as Warloc, Attacker, Vyndykator, Nighthunter and of course Sleepy Hollow. Formed at the end of the 80s, they were one of the first US power / doom metal bands and although only releasing their infamous ’89 Demo’ and self titled album in ’91, created quite a stir on the East Coast opening for the likes of Savatage, Manowar, Trouble, Pantera and Whiplash, as well as reaching cult status in Europe. Shame therefore, that by ’93 they were pretty much burned out and Bob retired the band, going on to become a ring announcer in wrestling no less! History lesson over and 20 years on, Bob has now reunited Sleepy Hollow with it’s original line-up of Steve Stegg (guitars), Steve Brink (bass guitars) and Tommy Wassman (drums) and “Skull 13” is their comeback album. And what a ripper it is too! It’s like nothing has changed since the 80s: same sound, same guys and amazingly, Bob’s voice is still the same as I remember it, like a cross between Udo Dirkschneider, TT Quick’s Mark Tornillo and Metal Church’s Dave Wayne. Musically there’s loads of Judas Priest, along with some Savatage and Riot on songs like ‘Death Of A Horseman’, ‘Face Melter’ and the aptly titled ‘The Legend Retold’. This is an amazing comeback for the man and it’s a true honor to be graced by such a genuine metal hero.

The Union – “Siren’s Song”

The Union – “Siren’s Song” (Payola Music)

The Union is the collaboration between ex Thunder guitarist Luke Morley and vocalist Pete Shoulder – a man who has the notable distinction of being one of only three Brits (the other two being Eric Clapton and Peter Green) to win the prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Foundation award. Needless to say blues rock is what they play (thought u were gonna say death metal LOL – Ed) whether it’s incorporating at times gospel on ‘Cut The Line’ or the driving blues riffs on ‘Burning Daylight’ or a funky 70s Zepp groove on ‘Blame It On Tupelo’. Besides his obvious blues capability, Shoulder also shows his vocal versatility on the light country acoustic of ‘Make Up Your Mind’ and the more heavier Black Crowes like ‘Black Gold’, while being perfectly complemented by Morley’s riffing and slide guitar work, which comes into its own on ‘Time’. With bonus and live tracks completing “Siren’s Song”, it’s nice to see that the 14 tracks bear witness to the musical excellence between these two gentlemen, whose talent goes well beyond their credentials.

Desultor – “Master of Hate”

Desultor – “Master of Hate” (Abyss Records)

Holy f–k, how fast is this album!?! With names like Mack Murder (Guitar & vocals) and Ragnar Rage (Bass), odd man out is drummer Michael Ibrahim and its little wonder he’s drumming so fast – just to get away from the other two I imagine cos they call this Murder Metal LOL!!! This is an album of contrasts characterized by hyper speed technical death riffing mixing melodic virtuoso soloing, Halford-esque vocals that combine soulful with death with screaming – and of course, that aforementioned relentless double bass precision drumming. Even weirder are the songs themselves, like ‘Black Monday’, ‘Division Insane’ or ‘The Luxury Of Pain’, which times are ambient or melodic, yet with this underlying brutality that somehow Desultor pull off, just like their ancient ancestors from which their name derives, that of a skilled charioteer who would leap between galloping horses! An awesome album and musical accomplishment, this is extreme metal supreme bar none!

Ivory Gates – “The Devil’s Dance”

Ivory Gates – “The Devil’s Dance” (MS Metal Records)

Search for something and tell us? Hmmm, how about Fates Warning? With a tinge of Queensryche in the Geoff Tate vocals? Well, no matter as these Brazillians play a decidedly modern progressive heavy metal – with a special emphasis on heavy! From Hugo Mazzotti’s crunching bass to Matheus Armelin’s heavy riffs, songs like ‘Beyond The Black’ and ‘Under The Sky Of Illusions’ form the perfect backdrop for Felipe Travaglini’s clean, wailing vocals and Fabrício Félix’s technical drumming. If this wasn’t a showcase in musical dexterity then the epic 21 minute closer ‘Suite Memory’ will leave no doubt in your mind, bringing back memories of those early Rush days of lengthy multi section concertos, tempting even the devil himself to dance LOL.

ANGUISH

Swedish doom is a well known force to reckon with inside the charred walls of metal. Think Candlemass, Count Raven as well as Draconian and you get a pretty broad picture of what the Swedish melancholia can do to you. Anguish is another of these sad and mellow mindsets put to music. Being a Swede I have this inherent in my genes. I might seem odd to some Mediterranean European, but it makes me happy listening to sad music. The sadder, more doomier the better I feel. No, I’m not some sort of masochist. I am Swedish. So when I heard Anguish’s album “Through The Archdemon’s Head” it made me feel like I’d won a million on Lotto. This is so sad and heavy that I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven, or pretty close to heaven at least. I feel like I can carry the burden of the World on my shoulders so why not an interview with them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Let us start with the standard question of why doom metal? What’s so special about it?
-You can put in much more feeling into doom metal than for example death metal.

How important is it to have a band name that fits the mood of the music?
-It’s for the listener, who after has read the band title, can predict what the music and lyrics are about.

When you write music do you have to weed out bits pieces that wouldn’t fit or does writing music for Anguish come as easy as your ABC?
-Not exactly like that, but we do pick out the best parts, but it is not very much parts that have been erased.

How much of an effortless chore was it to record the album? Do you enjoy the whole studio experience?
-It’s really boring when you have done all your parts, to just sit there and wait for all the other members to play their parts. But after all, I do enjoy being in the studio.

How do you distinguish yourself from all the other doom metal bands with an album out there trying to be heard?
-I don’t know how they do, but we trust in the label to do all the promotion, and Dark Descent are very good to promote our album.

What kind of world domination agenda have you mapped out now that the album is done?
-Now we are just waiting for Doomsday 21 december 2012.

Sweden’s been quite leading in doom ever since that first Candlemass album. Can you benefit from that when you try to expose the band to the international metal scene, in that being Swedish is synonymous with quality?
-I can’t say Swedish is synonymous with quality, just take a look at Trouble from Chicago, professional musicians who plays quality Doom Metal. Or Black Sabbath from Birmingham, which are the biggest Doom metal band in the world.

I guess every Swedish town with any sort of pride has a metal scene. Whats it like in your hometown?
-Mostly Death metal like Degial, Invidious, Reveal, Veternus, Graveless. And some thrash, like Die Hard. Then of course Watain. I think it is some glam/sleeze and other shitty bands here too.

Swedish towns are not exactly known for catering to the music fans with loads of places to play. What kind of live scene are you a part of?
-There are some small places where you can play, like clubs and so on. I’m not a part of it.

Are you the one to carry the banner of Swedish doom high now that Candlemass are on its swansong?
-Yes, but Anguish and Candlemass are not the only ones who plays Doomsday music in the cold north.

ANN BOLEYN (HELLION)

Everybody with the slightest of interest in heavy metal should know the name ANN BOLEYN. If not it’s about time you got to know of her and the band she’s fronted for many years; Hellion. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

You’ve been in my conscious ever since that first Hellion MLP. What are you up to now?
-I live in the Los Angeles area and am involved in many things. First, I have run about 30 marathons and was a marathon coach for about ten years. I am getting ready for the Los Angeles Marathon and am helping a friend train to complete her first one. I am also a trial attorney. I spend a lot of time helping people who have been treated badly by their employers and bosses. In the Los Angeles area there are many people who come to the USA from different countries. Employers often take advantage of these people, especially when they are from Mexico or South America. Sometimes companies will fire workers who are injured at work. Other times the company won’t pay their employees fairly. I help people in those situations. I also occasionally write music, still.

From what I understand Hellion has been an on/off thing for the past couple of years. Do you notice that Hellion has made an imprint in the history book of heavy metal?
-Thank you for that. I appreciate that people are still interested in our music.

With a career spanning 4 decades (or more) you’ve been through both highs and lows. What would you say has been the high-points/low-points of that career?
-There were a number of high points, so it is hard to talk about just one. First, it was an honor to be able to tour in the former Soviet Union and do the Monsters of Rock in Moscow. No American bands had ever toured in the USSR at that time, so it was really exciting. I met Valeri Gaina from the band Kruiz, who is still a friend of mine. Those were really exciting times. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, and the tanks came into Moscow, the people who owned stereos put their speakers them in the windows of their apartments and protested by blasting heavy metal into the streets. Most heavy metal music was banned, or was only available in the black market then. So this was really amazing. People often forget the importance of music and how, especially in the case of the former Soviet Union, it was used for protest. A second high point would be working with Ronnie James Dio. I know everybody has told many stories about him, but, for the record, he was a really nice guy. Because of Ronnie, Hellion was able to perform with Whitesnake. I met Cozy Powell, who was one of my favorite drummers. And, I remember singing on stage and having David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio both watching me and giving me thumbs up. They were two of my favorite singers, so that was thrilling. As far as low points, there were quite a few, also. Most were in the early 1990s. I remember one time when myself and Lita Ford were voted by the viewers of VH-1 TV channel as the Top 100 Women in Music. Both of us placed in the top-40, if I recall correctly. VH-1 was doing a TV special with short interviews of the winners. I did not know that I had made the list until when the manager of Lita Ford called me and told me I was on the list. I had my publicist at the time call and introduce herself, in case they did not know how to contact me and wanted an interview since Hellion had just been dropped from Enigma Records. The person at VH-1 told my assistant that VH-1 was not going to feature any of the “toilet mouth heavy metal women from the 80’s” and that they were only focusing on the up and coming artists, such as Sheryl Crow, and the “dead ones.” That was pretty depressing. After all of the hard work, and the discrimination that the female musicians of the 70’s and 80’s were faced with, it was sad to finally be recognized by the viewers of a national TV station, then be ignored because we were no longer the flavor of the day.”

I’ve always wondered about your alter-ego. What was it that made you choose this as your stage name?
-I have a lot of friends from England, and some like to call me “Annie”. My legal name is the name of a character in a movie, and some people used to think that my real name was fake. I chose to use the name Ann Boleyn because my family line is traced back to the royalty of England and Scotland, and because I am a fan of history. Also, Anne Boleyn was accused of being a witch, and I have been called far worse things, so we had that in common.

When was the first time you became aware of hardrock/heavy metal and what was it that made you devote your life to it?
-I started playing music when I was 13 or 14. I was a big fan of Deep Purple and had a Hammond Organ by the time I was about 15 or 16. I was initially recruited by Tommy Bolin to play in a band called Zephyr, but my parents would not allow me to go because I was too young. A while later, I was recruited by Kim Fowley to go to Hollywood and play in the Runaways.

You’re not only a famous musician. You’re also are (was) a label manager. What was it that made you start New Renaissance Records?
-Hellion made a demo and we started selling cassettes of the demo at our shows. Making copies of the demo eventually burned up too many cassette recorders, so I decided it was cheaper to just press the demo onto a 12-inch record. A distributor ordered lots of those records and shipped them to Europe. A while later the mini-LP was a top selling import in England. Hellion next signed a record deal with Music For Nations, who also signed Metallica, Anthrax, and Merciful Fate. We ended up with a Record of the Year award in Kerrang Magazine, and in Sounds, which were the important magazines then. But, we could not get a record deal in the USA. Due to the success in Europe, the distributors wanted me to bring them more heavy metal. I didn’t have the money to put bands into the studio initially, so I started releasing people’s demos.”

With the label you built a reputation as a label releasing albums by a variety of bands, not always to great reviews. What did you think about the reactions some of your releases received when released and the accolade some of them receive today?
-It is very funny. The bands that received the worst reviews are often regarded as the most innovative bands today. Sepultura is a great example. The critics hated Sepultura. But, I liked the music, and Max and the guys in the band were really nice. Myself and my staff then spent hours and hours promoting the band to the magazines and to college radio stations. The reviews were terrible. I lost a lot of money on Sepultura. Then, just as they was starting to be appreciated and we were getting orders, they went to Roadrunner.”

During the 80s you were very much a part in bringing the second wave of thrash metal to the masses. What memories do you have of that time?
-I don’t know what you mean by the “second wave of thrash metal.” New Renaissance Records was releasing thrash bands right from the beginning.”

This is a gender specific question that I feel even in this day and age is relevant as women making a name for themselves in all branches of life often are looked upon as strange. As a woman you have most probably faced a lot of doubt and critical voices doing the things you do. What advice do you have to bands/artists facing adversary?
-Anything that is worth doing, is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it and the result would not mean much. Gender should have nothing to do with it. As a performer, or even as a professional in business, you are competent — or you are not. And, even if you are very good at what you do, there are going to be people who don’t like you. That is just life. As a singer, there are people who like my voice — and who hate my voice. For example, Ronnie James Dio liked my voice. On the other hand, I was told that Gene Simmons from Kiss hated my voice. And, it is my opinion that if you are hated and loved at the same time, you are probably on the right path! However, no matter what you do, you should always be trying to improve.

Where do you see the future taking you?
-I have been talking with some of the people that I know from the 80’s, some of whom were involved in Dio. Angelo Arcuri, the sound engineer for Holy Diver and Last In Line, among others, has been encouraging me to do some recording with some of the guys who played with Ronnie. I am also still in contact with some of the guys from Hellion. There are no concrete plans yet, but there is a good chance that I will be doing some recording soon, and maybe a couple festival appearances.”

CYANIDE SCREAM

It’s always a pleasure to find a new band that really can rock your socks off. Cyanide Scream is one of these bands. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

How hard is it to name your band? What makes a great band name?
-A band name is difficult to get right. You want to try and convey a meaning or a vision but in the end it will always mean something different for the individual. If it’s the meaning of a song or the name of a band. Its up to the individual to interpret what it means. A great band name is something that needs to get someone’s attention to make them want to investigate it further. I think the artwork needs to get your attention as well. The first time I saw Iron Maiden’s Eddie, I had to find out more about the band and the art alone made me buy it.

For those like me that have no clue about Cyanide Scream could you please give us an introduction into the band?
-We are a straight ahead hard rock/heavy metal band that does not shy away from what made us want to play music in the first place. Everything we do or will do is based off what made us want to listen to music in the first place. Something that is really hard to describe in words. Its more of a feeling and attitude. If the music makes us feel a certain way and we can get that feeling across to our fans then we have done our job.

What is your theory on why British heavy metal differs from American heavy metal, especially during the 80s?
-British Heavy Metal seems to be a little more honest and has a darker aggressive feeling to it. 80’s metal kind of took the edge off of it and made it more accessible to the masses. More women got into it during the hair metal days of 80’s for all the pretty boys and to me for all the wrong reasons.

Where do you derive most of your influence from? Anything in particular that you get more inspiration from?
-I grew up listening to Ted Nugent, Foghat, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, Angel, UFO and Kiss to name a few. Later discovered bands like Diamond Head, Saxon, Motorhead, Angel Witch, Helloween, Accept, Riot, Raven and the list goes on…. The heavier it got the better it got to me. As far as inspiration goes with the music I really enjoy German metal bands with lyrics its varied from personal experiences to things going on in the world around me.

What is the heavy metal scene like in the States? How does it differ in different regions/states?
-The metal scene is varied but it’s not what it used to be. I can’t really comment on all the different states or regions but some bands continue to do well in areas that they always have. On the same tour they will play in front of a crowd of 1500-2500 one night and the next to maybe twenty. I am talking major acts that have been releasing albums for years that don’t come to the USA that often. Maybe its promoters not really pushing the shows, bad management, money issues for fans or all of the above. If you’re a band on the radio and have a song being rammed down everyone’s throat everyday it’s a different story but those bands are to mainstream for me.

“Unfinished Business” is your first album as Cyanide Scream. What have your experience from older bands brought to this new one?
-I think everything I have learned along the way as far as song writing, recording, performance and every other aspect of music gets better with each release. That’s my goal at least. I try to do better and learn from any mistakes that I made previously. The one thing about me is that it sticks in my head so it doesn’t happen again. It’s a learning process and as a person or a musician you can only get better by correcting things that are wrong so they don’t happen again. We all learn something new everyday.

What is it that makes people keep trying, writing music and releasing it year after year when the rewards are so small?
-If you are doing it for the rewards meaning money you are doing it for all the wrong reason. I didn’t get into music for money or fame it was something that was inside of me that needed to get out. I never had a way to express my emotions until I picked up a guitar. Once I did I could let every emotion flow. It didn’t matter if it was happiness or anger it was released. I feel sorry for people that don’t have an outlet and have to keep all those emotions locked up inside.

How much influence does the place you live play a part in the music you create? How different is the desert of Arizona to the urban environment of a big metropolis like NY?
-It all depends on the environment around you. If everything around you is perfect you’re not going to write and aggressive song. You’ll probably write about flowers, your dog or truck and maybe throw in the blue sky which is good for some but not for me. The Arizona desert is very different from New York. When I first came to Arizona I thought I was on another planet. No real change of the seasons and its hot or way too f-ing hot. I do miss the change of the seasons but I do not miss the snow.

If you could only rescue the 5 greatest American and the 5 greatest European metal bands from a fire what would they be?
-Wow that is a hard one and I don’t want to make anyone feel left out but here goes. I’m not sure if these would be considered metal.American Metal Bands: really more hard rock but I have to go with what started it all for me and made me want pick up a guitar
Kiss-Ace Frehley and Peter Criss version.
Foghat
Ted Nugent
Cheap Trick-not metal but an all time favorite.
Megadeth
?
European Metal Bands. Not enough room here because I could come up with a ton more.
Primal Fear
Motorhead
Accept/UDO
Iron Maiden
UFO-Schenker version. If not UFO then Judas Priest or Saxon. I’m going to save them all if I can.
?
From what I understand you are hard at work on your second album. What can we expect from Cyanide Scream in the future?
-The new album is completed. I took a break from it so I can listen with fresh ears. I want to make sure the mixes are good and the running order of the songs flows together. It’s funny because I put the CD in today to listen again today and so far so good. I really don’t know what the future holds. I can only hope that people will go out and buy it and help spread the word so we can continue to put out new music for our fans. On a last note I want to thank you for your support by doing this interview. To all my fans thank you and see you soon if all goes well.
Steve/Cyanide Scream

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