Thursday, February 20, 2020

interview: Verikalpa

The Finns take special care to create folk that is way more fun than people know and a lot more metal than you have a right to expect. After all, this is folk metal, right? It’s usually not that metal, it’s kind of cheeseball music and mosh pits don’t tend to form when folk music plays; it’s more like people in funny skirts grabbing each other by the arm and doing the Texas two-step macarena. Step aside for the Verikalpa boys; they play songs that even a Slayer crowd might like: fast, headbanging and lots of electric guitar. Were you expecting accordions, fiddles, harps, whistling, yodeling and furry boots? Accordions are cool and all, as Los Tigres del Norte are happy to show you, but these old boys like headbanging and thrashing around. This music is melodic black metal and folk metal joining together for plenty of fast songs, including blasting, and some medieval/folk vibes done through the keyboards for the righteous humppa feeling. Put it all together, and it is the recipe for a good time that lasts some 46 minutes with songs between 3:30 and 5:00 minutes, more or less. No big segments of silence, no spoken word stuff, no poetry readings, just tune after tune of headbanging folk melodic extreme metal. The lyrics are in Finnish; therefore, we can tell you exactly jack squat about they growl about. Anyway, the new 2020 album is called Tuoppitanssi and it follows the 2018 debut Taistelutahto. We conducted an interrogation and they responded by throwing beer at us. This is how it all went down.
We are enjoying your new 2020 album a lot! It’s fun, headbanging metal music. How is life in the city of Oulu’s snow storms?! Ever feel taking a break from your winter and take a vacation?!
Hey, what’s up, Seattle! Good to hear you’re enjoying the album! That’s what we were going for, headbanging while trying to balance the beer to your mouth at the same time! Oulu at the moment is like a shithole from a gothic novel: Dark, bleak, misty and rainy. Usually we get a lot of snow with tough minus degrees to freeze the hair out your ass, but now it’s plus degrees with constant rains. A short break on a beach in Southern Europe with a tight grip on a Pina Colada sounds very plausible!
Speaking of taking a break from the Finnish winter, what information do you have about touring in 2020?
Unfortunately, no tours outside of Finland are planned at the moment, we’re a young band (the band, not the old farts playing in it) so we have to start building up everything from the ground up, including promoters so we could get a tour set up. A few weeks in a tour-bus in USA with cold Pabst in our hands would be so nice!
Congratulations on the new album! It is very melodic and rocking, too, with a bit of black metal vibe. Can you tell us who are the members of the band in 2020? Besides guitars, bass, drums and keyboards, did you use any other instruments on the album?
Thanks a bunch! Verikalpa consists of these happy campers: Jani Ikonen (vocals), Jussi Heikkilä (guitar), Sami Ikonen (another guitar), Sami Knuutinen (bass), Jari Huttunen (drums) and Jussi Sauvola (keyboards). All of the lads played on the album except Jari since we were already heading to the studio when Jari joined the band so the drums were blasted to the harddrive by our ex-drummer Aleksi Heiskanen who also did some production work for the album! We didn’t use any actual folk instruments on the album so everything came from Jussi’s keyboards
The lyrics come from Finnish folklore, correct? Are they stories like Hansel and Gretel, but from a Finnish tradition/perspective?
We didn’t use any actual stories, just old myths about Finnish creatures, mostly trolls and elves. Not any fantasy/Tolkien stuff but a Finnish view of elves called Tonttu, mythical creatures that were worshipped and respected and were closely tied to Finnish traditions like the sauna. We also have some old folk saying that we built the songs around, “Mettäväinö” for example is an old hermit that lives in the woods gorging on mostly his own homemade spirits called pontikka. That shit’ll burn the color from your eyes!
The album artwork depicts a battle fought with beer, instead of swords. Is that right? Actually, it is dance, and not a fight, correct? Some bands like to think that they have a serious message about politics or religion, but your band is about beer and partying, right? Maybe you are a Finnish folk/extreme metal version of AC/DC or Motorhead?!
You’re absolutely right and fuck politics in general! Politics flood out from every channel and it’s always shit, we’re here to make people forget about all that stuff and have fun! Drinking beer and dancing knows no gender, color or creed! Being the Finnish folk/extreme metal version of Motorhead sound like a solid plan to me!
What are your plans for official videos, lyric videos and playthrough videos? What about things like sessions of live Q&A, questions and answers about the band and the new album?
We already released our first music video about the second song from the album “Talonväen Teuraat” and you can check it out on Youtube [watch the video below at the end of this interview] or streaming platforms like Spotify! Another video might be coming before the release so stay tuned on our Facebook page! A live Q&A with a few beers sounds like a blast, we’re open for offers who wants to listen to our drunk rambling!
It looks like your band used to be on Inverse Records (Finland), but now you are on Scarlet Records (Italy). How did you begin the business relation with the Italian label? Is this part of your masterplan to begin taking over Europe?
We actually contacted Scarlet Records when our drummer Jari recommended them, he had collaborated with Scarlet with his band Requiem back in the day and said they were tight! So we made a short promoletter, sent them the album so they could have a listen and they liked it and wanted to sign us to their label. We certainly hope that we’ll have a bigger presence in Europe and think we have a lot to offer to our beer drinking brothers and sisters across the globe in general!
Your music is very melodic. How much of your melodies come from Finnish traditional music? How much of your melodies are Finnish melodies, from folk, pop or other Finnish music? Is there such a thing as Finnish country music and do some of your melodies come from those other genres of music? Or, your melodies come from metal music and the decades of Finnish and folk metal music?
There certainly are some elements from traditional Finnish folk music that we combine with massive, heavy riffs and boombastic drums to make the mix that is the Verikalpa sound! Oh yes there is a strong folk/country scene here in Finland but it has a pretty different sound than what other countries offer, that’s the reason I think that Finnish folk metal is so celebrated around the globe, it has its own distinct sound. Even though we have some folk elements, we concentrate more on the metal side of things so some people think we’re quite hard to be classified as a folk metal band generally.
We keep hearing about political tensions between Europe and Russia. In your opinion, do you have any concerns about the future of Finland and peace in Finland?
War unfortunately seems to be an integral part of the human existence, there’s always violence going on. You have to try to keep a positive mindset about the future and try to be the best person one can be. Finland hasn’t seen wars in a long time and we most certainly would like to keep it so, we always try to be as neutral as we can be.
What can you report in terms of merch?
We’d like to print more shirts this time around! We only did one batch of shirts with the last album and they sold like hotcakes! We also try to keep things more fresh and offer more non-traditional merch, Verikalpa beercases would be the shit! Also bands seem to be making their own beers but they’re always some fancy IPA/APA shenanigans. If Verikalpa would make a beer we’d try to push the cost to a minimum so people can enjoy it in bulk, the cheapest shit money can buy!
This is a zine in the Seattle region. What would you like fans in the U.S. to know about your music? How do you feel about the tradition of Finnish bands that have come before your band and how you fit in that tradition?
Verikalpa combines groovy riffs with melodies that stay in your head for good, the combination is known to cause thirst for fizzy, golden and intoxicating beverages so listen when you’re not driving! We know that Finnish metal bands are well liked in the US of A and we’re very honored about that thank you guys! We’d like to think Verikalpa wouldn’t be an exception to that, the genre question is always so hard to answer since we’re not a traditional folk metal band and we’re not straight up groove metal either. I think troll/beer-metal summarizes us the best, twisted melodies and beer is a constant in our lyrics :D
Thanks for answering the interview!
Thanks for the interview, hope you have an awesome year!
VERIKALPA - Talonväen Teuraat (Official Video)
facebook.com/Verikalpa/

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

review: Odious Mortem

Odious Mortem
Synesthesia
Willowtip Records
January 17th, 2020
This blasting technical album is meant to be a comeback for the California-based outfit that has two previous albums under its name, but they have not had a new work, according to Metal Archives since 2007. Their 2003 demo and 2005 debut album were full of promise, but given that people do judge a book by its cover, those works, despite the good execution, painted the band into that corner where gore, horror, shock, and brutality are found. The band was not a low-intelligence musical execution, but you were forgiven for thinking that they were a teenage horror-movie zombie freak battalion due to their gore-like imagery/artwork and some of the lyrics. The 2007 album seemed like a better-presented work overall; despite some low IQ lyrics in some spots, the artwork was better and so were the lyrics, generally speaking. Even so, the package was lacking something.
Look at the new and improved Odious Mortem 2020 strut their stuff. They’re back in black and ready to deliver the technical metal attack. Now this is more like it. Whatever they were missing, they obviously have figured it out, because if you love fast, technical metal and you want it to be presented in an intelligent way, then open this door and walk through it.
For instance, the lyrics have improved tremendously. The lyrics seem like writing exercises from having read books or watched documentaries on genetics, existentialism, science or general matters along those lines. They are, you could say, lyrics that make people say, “What are these lyrics about?!” It’s not the usual metal lyrics about egomaniacal ramblings, movies, the news, cheap political statements about “the resistance” or whatever. It is true that you might think that Odious Mortem lyrics seem like a math teacher talking to a geneticist talking to a philosopher talking to a conspiracy theory nut at a cocktail party, or something! What does this mean?:
Timeless memories still breathing, imprisoned behind new eyes
Choking on stale air, stagnant poisoned state, shackled to the DNA
Or, this?
Glaring at the perilous infinite
Soon taken to the main room, forced to face absurdity
Distractions slowly retract then vanish, after being trapped and banished
You may not know exactly what they are growling about, but if you read the lyrics, you may reach your own conclusions, which is probably just fine with the band. Go do your own research on extraterrestrial genetics modification theories, and see what you come up with!
Another example is the artwork. Take a look at the cover. What do you see? The cover is not making a statement. It’s more like asking a question: What is your response to this artwork? Do you see chaos? The same could be said of the music. Do you hear noise, chaos and ugliness? Do you hear the music within the high-speed blistering noise?
Everyone has their preferences, so let’s end with two key questions. 1.Do you or do you not have a keen interest in blasting, technical extreme metal? 2.Does it matter to you whether it sounds like sampled drumming or like real drums?
The band prefers drums that sound real (but whether these actually are the real, live drums from the studio or if it’s just a different drumming program, that’s something that the band can answer). They have chosen a sound that is not clicky, and the result is a thicker, more robust drum sound. The difference between this drum sound and the clicky, soft, plastic-toy sound of lots of technical metal is obvious for fans of the genre. Online the band has posted a segment of raw footage of the drummer recording his parts for the album. In that video the drums do not as muscular as on the album. Therefore, it is not clear what is sampled on the album and what is not.
On the other hand, fans of technical metal should certainly find out for themselves if they notice the difference between this band and the überrobotic sound common in technical metal. This album is ridiculously fast and crazy and all that stuff. Odious Mortem 2020 is basically perfect for fans of fast, technical, brutal, headbanging death metal, especially if you are searching for a drum sound that seems more genuine than total drum programming/sampling.
odiousmortem.bandcamp.com

Friday, January 17, 2020

review: Mindless Sinner

Mindless Sinner
Poltergeist
Pure Steel Records
January 17th, 2020
Mindless Sinner was a 1980s rocking heavy metal band in Sweden, at a time when young bands in the country were wild and crazy about the new heavy metal music taking the rock world by storm. Today, to the U.S. metal fans, this generation of bands is largely unknown and forgotten, mainly due to the fact that the younger crop of Swedish bands coming behind Mindless Sinner (and their contemporaries Nemesis, Europe, Heavy Load, 220 Volt, Torch, and a bunch of others) would take up extreme metal, and that particular trend would gain international prominence within the worldwide rise of death metal, leaving behind traditional heavy metal as untrendy, which often happens as young people tend to create false oppositions—in this case, traditional heavy metal versus death metal, and feel the need to declare one unfashionable and the other one as cool. That’s a shame because Mindless Sinner’s 1986 album Turn on the Power is such a fun, rocking album that you have to be a real anti-heavy metal stiff neck to not hear the tons of rocking going on.
Decades later Mindless Sinner has been active releasing new music and 2020 finds them doing well with their status as a cult band. The new album is a headbanging traditional heavy metal work with the classic-style riffs and the high singing that has been their brand. It’s a pleasure to report that they keep it rocking and have that great young-heavy-metal energy. It is even more exciting when you consider that these gentlemen are now grandfathers or old enough to be. Don’t expect a bunch of ballads, long slow introductions, tired songwriting and all that stuff. Expect rocking heavy metal for headbanging. If you did not know the ages of the band, you’d be hard-pressed not to think that these are bunch of rockers in their 20s who love Scorpions and Judas Priest, and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which of course, actually, they once were. At any rate, the young energy of the album is contagious and the band should feel pretty proud for making such a good album. They have a little less hair (or, a lot less, in some cases) than they did in the 1980s when they were a bunch of handsome young men, but their hearts are still in heavy metal and the music sounds awesome, whether it’s 1986 or 2020.
facebook.com/mindlesssinnerofficial

review: Porta Nigra

Porta Nigra
Schöpfungswut
Soulseller Records
17 January 2020
Porta Nigra is black metal from Germany and they seem to have been around since 2010. This is their third album. Expect the traditional vocals (with a bit of variety in some places), guitar sound, speed and overall feel of black metal. Given this fact, there are at least two crucial points of interest for fans of serious, traditional extreme metal. First, the seriousness in the execution of their craft is very attractive. The tightness of the music and production is a great advantage for the listener. You can be confident that is not some loose-goose, tomfoolery job by people with nothing better to do than making loser’s metal music. This album sounds like it is made by people who are serious about their music as music (not as a “political” statement), hungry to prove themselves to themselves and to the knowledgeable audiences, and hungry to take their music to the highest level possible for them. This is all very good news because we do not have time for losers who don’t take their craft of being musicians as a life-long art. This band wants to be good at their instruments, and they are. In addition, the vocals are done very well. Harsh and extreme and all that, but the production makes it sound good to ears. This is professional-level musicianship and we are pleased about that.
The second point that we want to make here is the songwriting. The album is a good balance between the intensity and speed, on one hand, and finding ways to make the songs intelligible to the black metal audiences and to those lifer fans of extreme metal in general. For instance, throughout the album there are moments for the guitar melodies to come through, including places in which the soloing offers a substantial amount of memorable melodies, in ways that seem a bit surprising due to the catchiness therein. In January 2020 this album deserves for fans of headbanging black metal to investigate due to the overall quality and skill of the work in its entirety.
soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/sch-pfungswut
facebook.com/PortaNigraBand

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

interview: DarkTribe

Fans of melodic metal with good singing and progressive vibes will need to check out what the French veterans have in 2020 with their new album Voici L’Homme. The quality and skill of the music speaks for itself. Here is an exchange with the band.
Greetings, DarkTribe! We are listening to your new 2020 album Voici L’Homme! In 2019 there were lots protests and political turmoil in the streets in France. How is your mental health during these unstable times in France?
Hi all, thank you to listening our album. It's a pleasure to hear that you like it! Life is good in France and you know, protesting is a true French game, we are Master of Protests!! Here you don't need to be afraid by that, French people hate change and that's why every political or other decisions bring turmoil in the streets. Our country is based on values that go back several centuries and it's very difficult for French people to understand a change.
How does everyone feel now that the album finally finished?! Your previous album is from 2015, so it has been a few years, maybe a bit longer than you would have liked.
We are a little bit tired because it was a very long adventure to release Voici l'Homme (4 years). Meanwhile, we are also excited to get feedback from our listeners. After The Modern Age we really wanted to release a new album in the two years that followed but, personal and especially family obligations blocked the composition process, that's life.
What are the plans for 2020?
We are preparing everything for 2020. What I can only tell you today is that we are going to visit several European countries like Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and, of course, France. You need to stay tuned.
Where—outside of Europe—has DarkTribe played live?
We played in Japan, it was a fantastic time, really. We hope to play in United States as soon as possible and South America, too. I don't know if we will try to play in Eastern Europe and maybe Russia for 2020, why not.
Can you help us to understand the artwork and the title? Is it Jesus walking on water?
The cover and the album concept is based on the overall picture of a prophet. It's not necessarily Jesus, and as you can check in our lyrics, you will never find his name, we call him Prophet. Yes, the story we tell is inspired by the New Testament but with a generic approach. We wanted to do this, not to rewrite history, but in order to allow to our listeners the possibility to bring their own way of thinking.
Voici l'Homme is «Ecce Homo». The expression lent to Pontius Pilate, Roman Governor of Judae, when in Jerusalem he presented to the crowd Jesus of Nazareth.
What can you tell us about the first song “Prism of Memory”? Is it the oldest song?
“Prism of Memory” is our pure music style, like “Taiji” or “My Last Odyssey” on our first albums. It's not the oldest song, “Back in Light” is the oldest. “Prism of Memory” tells us the link between this Man and his mother, despite hatred and a certain death. Each song on the album will tell you a part of his/her story. As always Loïc sends us a general idea of a composition, very quickly I write lyrics and vocals, then step by step we build the song together.
Song number two is the title track. This song has a bit of French language in it. Would you explain why this is the title track, and its relation to the modern world?
There's something funny about this song. Two months before we entered in the recording sessions, the song “Voici l'Homme” did not exist. We hadn't decided on the title of the album yet. Loïc told us: «Guys, what do you think about this guitar riff? I don't know if it's good for the new album.»
Bruno, Julien and me were amazed. What a groove!!
I went back home, took my headphones, my recorder and after one hour of work, the verse and the chorus of “Voici l'Homme” were written. I found the title in stride and everyone loved it.
Singing in French was automatic, nothing had been prepared, it came like that.
The song talks about the difference between a father and his son, education, family link and also about this Prophet who wonders why life on Earth makes him suffer so much, why his father God doesn't help him.
It's hard to talk about the world and the link with our album. Each human lives the present day with his own desires, fears and strengths. You don't have to think about tomorrow but remember past mistakes to be better in your future.
We like the church bells in the song “Faith and Vision”! The prayer in the middle of the song adds to the sensation, also. Do you remember how you came up with the idea of adding church bells to this song?
Thank you so much! Songs are 95% ready when we go back to the studio but we always try to improve all songs until the last second of our recording session. The church bells are one of this last adding.
How much are you concerned with making sure that the second half of the album sounds as good as the first half? For this album, did you reject some songs that you felt were not as good as the others? In your opinion, which songs on this album were more frustrating to finish?
We attached great importance to the album being homogeneous from the first to the last minute. We abandoned three songs because their quality was not sufficient. In reality, we composed more than 20 songs before finding a balance, it's a very hard job to do. The most complicated songs were “The Hunger Theory” and “Symbolic Story”. We did not all agree with the structures, vocals, keyboard, duration, etc., but you need to make concessions, Darktribe is a great story of respect and friendship. Our music sounds what we like, what we are, with humility and honesty.
Why is the penultimate song called “The Hunger Theory”? What do you have in mind as the symbolic elements of the story, as you view it, and the social issues of today?
“The Hunger Theory” is a special song. We tried do to something different. We know that this song could divide our listeners. The main theme is the protection of our heritage, the prayer of unity between men, we are all the same and together we are stronger, so, why do we move away, we separate? Why do fairy tales make us dream and reality makes us cry? Through these questions the Prophet expresses himself.
I don't want to talk about problems in the world, my religion opinion or importance of Jesus/God, I'm a human being, that's all.
Did your band have any concerns about releasing an album with the themes of Voici L’Homme? Did your band worry that some people are going to judge and reject your band based on the cover?
We're not a religion band or members of those fucking sects, as I said, we are four men who played metal music, who love their family and friends, people who likes Darktribe know this. If you look further than the cover and the texts, you will see that Voici l'Homme is a criticism of our past and our present. We love the typical metal theme, too, but we prefer to leave that to musicians who choose this path.
How can people support your band?
World is connected, you can hear Darktribe everywhere, after the 17th of January you will find Voici l'Homme on major streaming platforms or by ordering it from your favorite music websites. Help us by buying it!! Support us and don't hesitate to contact us to get show tickets.
Thanks for answering! Take care.
Thank you so much, it's a real pleasure friend:) facebook.com/DarktribeOfficial

interview: FROGG

The technical extreme metal of FROGG is pretty new to the world. The high-paced music sounds perfect for hyperactivity and doing everything fast, but what is FROGG? Here are some answers by Sky Moon Clark, the commander-in-chief.
We are currently enjoying your recording A Reptilian Dystopia and trying to keep up with the high speed of the music. So, friends, who are you?
Sky: Glad to hear you’re enjoying the EP! This started essentially as a one-man project, where we’ve had various people contribute to it. The current members of FROGG are myself (lead vocals & guitars) and Emma Rae (background vocals & keyboards), though FROGG’s intention is to be a full band. For recording the EP I reached out to some friends; Anthony Barrone (drums) & Siebe Sol Sijpkens (bass) to lay down their parts for the EP, but I’m seeking permanent bandmates for this project.
Where are you based?
Sky: We’re located in Stamford, CT, which is luckily only 45 minutes outside of New York City. Connecticut has killer bands and venues, too, though, like Shadow of Intent putting on shows at Webster Underground in Hartford.
Was the music all played by Sky? With drum programming or sampled drumming, right?
Sky: I did 90% of the guitar work, with some snippets by Liam Zintz-Kunkel. The drums were done by Anthony Barrone, who wrote and learned the parts in about a month and then slammed them out in the studio in a day and a half. There’s some sampling going on with the snare hits and he recorded using a MIDI kick which was later edited, but the hand and footwork are all there and the guy absolutely killed it in the studio.
I think drums being sampled over and somewhat programmed has become the norm in a lot of metal music because it just pushes the sound to the next level. I’d imagine it only makes the recording engineer’s job easier when the drummer behind the kit can also legitimately play the parts tight like Anthony did.
How long have you been preparing this music before the release?
Sky: FROGG started in high school, that’s when I really started getting into playing this stuff. A lot of this EP stems from my first two years at Berklee College of Music. The initial ideas for “Ancient Rain,” “Ranidaphobia” and “DNA” were morphed over the last couple of years. “Nuclear Storm,” however, was a little more recent. I was tweaking the songs fooling around with arrangements and minor details all the way up until a week before we hit the studio.
Did Sky graduate from Berklee? How was that experience, particularly as a guitarist in technical, fast metal?
Sky: I did graduate from Berklee and learned a lot about music, and it was an incredible experience. What music meant to me evolved. I was forced to learn and play completely different styles, which only made me a stronger musician. I got to make connections with talented and ambitious peers, like Anthony Barrone. We would meet up and jam to some of The Faceless songs like The Ancient Covenant, and things like that would happen all the time at Berklee.
In hindsight though, if your only goal is to play technical death metal, I don’t think Berklee fully encompasses their “you can learn every style” philosophy as much as they should. The school needs to increase their metal staff if they want to attract more serious metal players. Granted, the metal staff they have is amazing, it just lacks variety and resources that other genres are granted at the school. Being a metalhead kind of felt like being a second-class citizen at times. Not to say I regret attending, even with the astronomical tuition cost the learning experience was incredible and I consider myself very lucky.
How many years has it taken to achieve this level of guitar skill? Did you think that technical extreme metal was ridiculous when you first heard it or did you love it immediately?!
Sky: Funnily enough, I didn’t enjoy technical death metal at first. I started playing guitar late in the game as a self-taught freshman in high school. I fell in love with Alexi Laiho’s riffing and soloing and that’s what really got me hooked. Laiho has a great, recognizable style and I would spend endless hours practicing to bring my playing to the next level. Once I developed more theory and experienced Necrophagist in the right mood, my mind shifted. I also drew inspiration from bands like Necrophagist, Obscura, Arsis, The Faceless and some heavier, lesser-known bands such as The Zenith Passage, Soreption, Virvum, Exocrine, they’ve all contributed to developing my ear.
I think people hear the word technical and get the wrong idea or feel overwhelmed. And the sad part is a lot of technical bands don’t pull off a great live show. My biggest fear with writing FROGG songs is falling too heavily into the whole “djent” scene and losing originality with my guitar playing. I don’t want my music’s potential to be entirely dependent on savvy studio engineering. Live raw talent is still my priority.
What type of place is a reptilian dystopia? For instance, what are the inspirations behind the lyrics of “Ancient Rain”?
Sky: A Reptilian Dystopia paints the world in a place where big corporations go haywire and everybody ends up paying the ultimate price. Ancient Rain is about the polar ice caps melting and coastal cities getting ravaged by violent storms carrying prehistoric pathogens killing us off by the masses.
Of course, “Nuclear Storm” as a title does make people imagine a dystopia. “DNA” has some catchy melodies for sure. That is the longest song on the EP. We did not know, so we looked it up and it turns out that “Ranidaphobia” is a fear of frogs. Put it all together: reptiles, dystopia, frogs. Thus, what are we looking at? A world of fantasies and fears? Are all the songs connected as part of a concept, including in future albums?
Sky: I like your line “world of fantasies and fears,” that pretty much sums it up.
The fantasy world of FROGG is one that is dominated by the world ending in post-apocalyptic fashion. It’s kind of tongue and cheek and points to how we, as a collective species have been slowly pushing the earth’s limits and even our own limits as humans, slowly contributing to our own end. I’d love to do a fully-fledged concept album down the road, and that’s a lot what the songs for the album I’m writing are looking to be like.
Some fans are not into technical metal because they say that it is just show-off speed. What would you say to fans that have not given technical metal a real chance?
Sky: It feels like this question is mainly pointing out a “technicality vs. musicality” argument. You know, I’m not too sure. I personally don't write songs for the sake of difficulty or using a specific technique, but rather to just express what I’m feeling. I can sing and play all of the songs on the EP close to what you’re hearing, and I plan on releasing a live playthrough of me doing so down the road.
My dad passed away suddenly three years ago, and that heavily influenced my writing. My own ambition and mentality have been that I’m ready to pull this all off on a live stage and put on a show.
I don’t really have much of an ego and I don’t want to make it sound like this music is a cakewalk for me, because playing this fast with the right feeling takes a crap ton of effort. Hearing that my music is “difficult” just feels a bit tired. I guess I’m sort of a guitar geek and it comes out in my writing. I don’t personally feel that the songs are that fast, and they definitely don’t come from a place where they’re written just to be “technical”. I’ve spent years of endless practice to be able to execute my ideas with flow. I feel that if you’re true to yourself as an artist, then there’s a deeper connection made between you and your craft. Right now, I’m young and I express myself often at a high speed.
What’s funny is that we ended up slowing down “Ancient Rain” and “Ranidaphobia” by about 15-25 BPM, because I wanted to be able to execute the songs close to perfect while screaming and to match the record. It also allowed for a few sections in the songs to shine in a nicer light.
How does the support help you to continue making music? Where can fans keep up with your activities?
Sky: Fans are everything to a musician, and FROGG’s fan base is still in its infancy. I’m hoping to swing that around by filling the final seats in the band and playing live shows. I’d also love to meet up with other bands and well, and just make friends. The album will be on Itunes, Spotify, and is available now for pre-order on our Bandcamp (froggofficial.bandcamp.com/). The best spot to stay up to date is our Instagram (Instagram.com/Froggband) and Facebook (Facebook.com/Froggband). Thanks for taking the time to chat, and thanks everyone for reading!
Keep it metal,
Sky Moon

interview: Rat King

This January 2020 the Washington State, U.S.-based band Rat King issues its second album Vicious Humanity. If before they were considered a sort of sludge doom band, people are going to find a different animal, so to speak, this time around. Let’s get some details on the changes.
The new album changes the preconceived notions about your band. What has happened that the band has taken some new turns towards fast, headbanging extreme metal?
(Ricky). Hello, thank you for taking the time to talk about our album. I think there are 2 reasons our sound has evolved into what it is. 1.The addition of our new drummer (Carlos Delgado). Our first practice with him we ended up playing all the Sepultura songs we could, and it felt great playing fast! And I think we bonded on that. So it was just a natural step forward. 2.The music was just getting more and more aggressive and fast. The song title ideas we were coming up with just demanded it, I think.
Another change: you now have some Spanish lyrics (“Matanza,” “Borratanico,” “Chaleco de billetes,” “Soledad,” and “Chanchito”). Living in the Seattle area, how was the process of arriving at doing some Spanish in your music?
(Ricardo). Again, I think this started with Carlos being in the band. At practice, we speak Spanish and English to each other. Song titles in Spanish started popping up and we just embraced it! The only song that is all Spanish is “Soledad.” Once I wrote the first verse in Spanish it just went that way. We’ve never done this before and it fell amazing to scream in Spanish! It gives us “rock en español” vibe, but obviously metal and much more aggressive, so that’s definitely something we would like to expand on. We weren’t worried at all about screaming in Spanish, Seattle is a pretty diverse place, and people seem to have taking a liking to that aspect of the band. It’s just natural to us.
Who is in the band in 2020? Does everyone speak Spanish? Did anyone of you grew up listening to rock and metal music in Spanish? Mexico and Argentina have had scenes for decades and decades, but nowadays Central America has quite a few scenes, too.
(Ricardo).The band is: Ricardo Racines (guitars, vocals); Daniel Racines (bass, vocals); and Carlos Delgado (drums) and we all speak Spanish. Daniel and I are brothers. Rat king was formed by us and our former drummer Tyler when we met after moving to Seattle from Arizona. Growing up Daniel and I listened to some rock in Spanish, Soda Stereo (Argentina), Sal y Mileto (Ecuador) and metal in Spanish for sure. ANIMAL (Argentina), Brujería (Mexico, USA) Rata Blanca (Argentina), Criminal (Chile), Transmetal (Mexico), to name a few. I’ve seen the rise of metal bands in Central America, and bands touring there as well. Latest one I remember was Noisem going to Guatemala. I thought that was great! Hopefully we can get down there. Carlos parents are from Nicaragua.
Your 2016 album Garbage Island’s dirty, grey, marine album artwork gave the impression of environment concerns. Now in 2020 in the artwork there seems to be the theme of a big, angry octopus bringing death. Where is your head for lyrics at this point in the history of the band?
(Ricardo).We didn’t have many lyrics on Garbage Island, I think because Daniel and I had just started screaming and finding our own voices. Our lyrics on Vicious Inhumanity are about frustration with the current state of the world and what we are witnessing. Poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, suffering, greed, racial hatred, and there are so many things that come with that frustration, like pain, sadness, solitude and I think that’s another reason why the music evolved to this unhinged visceral release. I know my vocals aren’t the greatest, but the emotion is priority number one for me. That release is something I treasure now.
Do your lyrics take sides between the twin parties of capitalism, the Democrats and Republicans?
(Ricardo). We don’t really go into politics, and the different parties, and which is better or worse. Honestly it seems all the same to me. It’s a game they play. Our lyrics deal more with personal struggles, and relating to the suffering that we see around us.
What is Within The Mind Records? How many bands area there in WTMR? What are the advantages and disadvantages of WTMR?
(Ricardo). Within the Mind Records was formed by Daniel and I in 2012. At first it was an outlet to release projects that we were involved in. that slowly changed to us releasing music by friends and people we’ve met along the way. For 2020 besides the Rat King release, we will be releasing the debut album by Seattle Metal band Izthmi, which we are really excited about. It’s amazing! We usually do a few releases a year, if we are capable of doing it. It’s just Daniel and I so it’s a small DIY thing, nothing more than putting music out that we love. We’re not paying the rent with this. The advantages of it are being able to control every aspect of our music, from artwork to recording, promotion, etc. The disadvantages would be the financial part of it, and probably the contacts and experience that more established labels have. But we’ve been working with PR people that we like and have helped us spread the word.
Rat King is now sometimes speeding up to blast beats and also doing more melodies. Exploration seems to be on your agenda, like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath in the 1970s, going all over the place, from folk, blues, psychedelia, heavy rock, classical and more. How do you feel about categories and genres at this point?
(Ricardo). I personally love when bands experiment and go on a trajectory and evolve. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t know if we’ll go on a path as diverse as Led Zepellin, or Black Sabbath. I think for now at least the music will stay aggressive, with different styles of metal seeping in. Between the 3 of us we listen to a wide variety of music, but right now the energy that I feel and love in these songs is the most important thing for me.
Will there be shows in the West Coast, other parts of the U.S., and outside of the U.S.?
(Ricardo). For now we are planning a string of dates in February with Izthmi. Just PNW dates that we’ll announce soon. We’re also working on a West Coast tour in the spring with our brothers in Rhine, another Seattle band which Carlos plays drums for as well. We’d love to play outside of The United States and it’s something we’re gonna work on. Hopefully with the release of this album we can get some interest in having us play in other countries. That would be a dream come true.
Thanks for answering the interview!
(Ricardo). Thanks so much for listening to our album and doing this interview. We really appreciate it. We can’t wait for people to hear the new album.
Ratkingband.bandcamp.com
Facebook.com/ratkingseattle
Instagram. @rat_king_seattle
For physical copies: Withinthemindrecords.bigcartel.com

Monday, January 13, 2020

interview: Wormhole

Guitar magician Sanil Kunar took a break from the hustle and bustle of their new album The Weakest Among Us to give readers more insight into the workings of the machine. Sanil also says that they have “lots of playthroughs to come” so it’ll be fun to see as the death metal band continues to roll them out in 2020.
Greetings, friends in Wormhole! Are you going to be taking the new music on the road throughout 2020? Do you plan to make your way to the West Coast in 2020 (Seattle?!)?
Yes! We just played in Seattle in 2019 as part of the Tech Trek tour along with Archspire, Inferi, and Virvum, and it was incredible. The crowd in Seattle is always one of my favorites. As for 2020, I can’t give too much information, but we will definitely be on the road a lot and back on the West Coast.
Your band used to a project spread out between the U.S., South Africa and Scotland, but everyone now is in the U.S., right?
That is correct, the entirety of Wormhole now lives in the United States. The band started between my brother Sanjay and I in 2015, we put out our first album Genesis in 2016. Since it was just the two of us, we had programmed the drums and done bass ourselves, and had our pal Duncan Bentley from Vulvodynia handle most of the vocals. Since we planned on touring in 2018, we needed to get a live line-up together, which eventually became the line-up for The Weakest Among Us. We still did not have a bassist until this year, so bass on the new record was written and recorded by our favorite bassist and person Alex Weber (Exist, Defeated Sanity (live)). Going forward the names of these amazing people and musicians that now make up Wormhole are Anshuman Goswami (vocals), Matt Tillett (drums), and Basil Chiasson (bass).
It’s cool that we hear the bass lines rather clearly in such fast, intense music. How would you explain the good results in allowing the bass guitar such room on the album?
There was a lot of time trying to get the bass in there just right. We knew from the beginning that we wanted it to be audible even before we had gotten the bass tracks from Alex. Once we heard what he was bringing to the table there was no question that it needed to be audible.
We all see the bass as an integral part of the sound, no question. For me, the coolest music comes from different instruments or voices comes together to make something bigger than what any individual instrument could create, and the bass guitar is a big part of that. Like, you could give me a sandwich that is just two pieces of bread and pork and I would probably enjoy it, but I would also much rather have a sandwich that only had little bit of meat, a little bit of lettuce, etc.
Speaking of production, where was the album recorded? How many guitars, in general, would you say that there are on the songs?
The vocals and guitars were recorded at me and Sanjay’s place. Recording did not take too much time, but we had a big delay between recording the drums and the vocals that set us back some time. The drums were also recorded in-house, in the same room in our drummer Matt’s house that we practice. We just took the computer and set it up there. Alex Weber also recorded the bass guitar in his home, and just sent us the tracks when he had finished. Matt and Ansh had recorded drums for their band Noisays just a few months before, so we knew more or less what to expect.
For guitars on the album, there are only ever two guitars playing, and then of course 3 during the solos. Sanjay and I are big into counterpoint in death metal and techdeth and we wanted to incorporate that into the Wormhole sound in a clever way, so sometimes the left and right guitars will “split up” and play their own things for a bit. Two guitars and a bass really isn’t that many different voices in the grand scheme of things, so we wanted get the most out of them.
The artwork looks like it is right out of a scary sci-fi movie with evil aliens that have to come to enslave the human race, and the situation is not looking too good for the humans! Do you provide guidelines to the artist?
We went to Lordigan Pedro Sana for the artwork on both Wormhole albums, and we were definitely more picky this time around. We had given him a sketch of what we wanted, which was just a little guy standing up to a big monster, as well as what kind of color scheme we wanted. There were some clichés we wanted to follow and some clichés we wanted to break. We like slam monsters so we needed a slam monster, and we wanted a lot of color – but not necessarily vibrant. We were going for grim. There were a couple weeks where we were sending the art back and forth asking for little changes here and there, but that stuff is important to us. One person may only see a few of those details, but the collective will see all of them.
What inspires such crazy titles like “Wave Quake Generator Plasma Artillery Cannon” or “Quad MB”? The song “rA9/myth” makes us think that we are going to need our calculators to do some equations while banging our heads!
The lyrics for the songs are connected, some more obviously or loosely than others. It was tough coming up with titles for some of the songs, as dumb as that might sound. Every piece of the album works together to make the final product, and the song titles are part of that to me. The song titles and artwork together create a vibe or atmosphere for the album, it is what the audience sees even before listening. The music and cover art for The Weakest Among Us is slammy, spacey sci-fi, and maybe a little unconventional sometimes, so the song titles needed to reflect that. Hence names you just mentioned.
Finally, thank you for remembering to make the album a reasonable duration time of just under the 30-minute mark. At that duration, with eight tracks, it is so much better to really dig in and get into what the band is doing on the album.
We noticed that most of our favorite albums were on the shorter side, mostly because of exactly what you just said. For a slam and techdeth especially, the music is either so intense or so dense that after a while it can be a little draining. We want the audience to finish the album and feel very satisfied like they heard the whole story, but still want to hear more.
laceratedenemyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wormhole-the-weakest-among-us
facebook.com/wormholemetal/
instagram.com/wormholeslam/