Interview – Jaume Antuñano (Eonian)

It’s time for The Headbanging Moose to chat with guitarist, composer and lyricist Jaume Antuñano about his awesome solo project Eonian and his debut EP The Nomad, among other fun topics.

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Jaume Antuñano (Eonian)

The Headbanging Moose: Hi, Jaume! Welcome to The Headbanging Moose, and thanks for joining us for this interview! Can you please begin by introducing yourself to our readers and talk a little about your new project Eonian? How would you label your music?

Jaume Antuñano: Hi Gus! Thank you so much for having me. Eonian is a symphonic black/death metal solo project that I started in early 2020. The pandemic had just hit NYC and we were stuck at home, so I began writing music to keep my mind busy. Originally, this was going to be an instrumental project, but as I started composing and recording, I decided to write lyrics and to incorporate vocals too.

THM: You have just released a fantastic debut EP entitled The Nomad, which I highly recommend for fans of bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. What’s the main idea or concept behind the album, and how long did it take for you to finalize the entire process until the release of the album?

JA: The Nomad is a concept EP. All five songs tell the story of this mysterious, once powerful character who is condemned by the gods to wander for eternity after falling from grace. Trying to tie all the songs together both musically and through the lyrics made it a little harder, but overall it was a pretty quick process. It took about ten months for the EP to be completed.

THM: I personally enjoyed all five songs from the EP, especially Winter Wanderer and Cleansing Fire. What about you? What’s your favorite song of the EP and why? And you can’t say all five, of course! 😉

JA: This is like choosing between mom and dad! But okay, I’ll go ahead and say Cleansing Fire too.

THM: The main band that plays with you in The Nomad is formed by French vocalist DM, Italian bassist Francesco Loconte, Swedish drummer Freddy Ortscheid and Argentinian musician Diego Soldi. How difficult was it to put together such distinct international project, and how did you get to know each one of your band members?

JA: They all did such an amazing job and I’m so glad I got in touch with them. I can compose parts for different instruments, but I can only play the guitar, so I went on Fiverr and contacted these great musicians to record everything else. After I wrote the songs, I sent them a first demo and midi files, and we went from there. This was entirely done via the Internet and we actually never met in person, but despite all that, this was a very easy process and they knocked it out of the park.

THM: There are also seven other guest musicians on the album, as for example Russian violinist Margarita Chernova and Ukrainian pianist Polina Chornaya. Why did you decide to have so many guests on the album, how did you recruit each one of them, and how happy are you with the final result?

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Album Review – Eonian / The Nomad EP (2021)

JA: The reason behind having all these guest musicians is because I wanted to include musicians from different backgrounds. Some of them are used to playing metal, but some others are not, and I think that added some depth to my original ideas. Each one of them brought something to the table that I wouldn’t have been able to come up with myself, and I’m absolutely stoked with the results.

THM: What’s next for Eonian? Can we expect a full-length album from you in the near future? And as you’re basically a virtual band (at least for now), do you have any plans for a tour either with the same musicians featured on the album or with new local ones from the New York area?

JA:   I already have some ideas for new songs, but it is too early to know if the next release will be an EP or a full-length album. As for a future tour, I would really like it if Eonian became a band, so NYC folks, hit me up if you are interested.

THM: How has this never-ending pandemic impacted your work as a musician? And do you see a light at the end of the tunnel for metal bands now that the vaccination is picking up almost everywhere and concerts and festivals are starting to be scheduled again?

JA: Like many other musicians, new and consolidated, being stuck at home for so long really pushed me to start writing new stuff. Luckily, it looks like things are improving rapidly and that many bands are going to be presenting their new material live soon. I can’t wait and I already marked down a few concerts I don’t want to miss, including your fellow Canadians Unleash the Archers at Le Poisson Rouge here in NYC.

THM: When and why did you decide to move from Spain to the United States? Did it have anything to do with your career as a musician, or was it due to a completely different reason?

JA: I moved to the U.S. in 2011 to complete a Master’s degree in Literature. My plan was to stay for two years and go back to Spain, but I met my now-wife and… never left.

eonian-logoTHM: How different is the metal scene in your home country Spain compared to where you are now in The United States? Any local underground bands from both countries you would recommend to our readers?

JA: There is so many different styles and so much talent out there that I find it difficult to come up with major differences between the current metal scenes of Spain and the U.S. Maybe ten, fifteen years ago the difference was more defined, as European metalheads in general were very into the wave of Power Metal bands and also the Gothenburg sound was huge over there. The elitists will probably correct me, but I think that today there is quite an overlap regarding the genres that metalheads from both countries listen to. As for your second question, I’ll start by giving a shout-out to a couple of bands from my hometown of Valencia: In Mute (Melodic Death Metal) and Retribution (Symphonic Black/Death). And as for New York bands, I’m going to go with Valcata, which is another Internet-produced project that features many different musicians and vocalists from all over the world. Check them out!

THM: Thanks again for your time, and congratulations for your amazing debut EP! Please feel free to send your final message and considerations to our readers, and keep up with the excellent work with Eonian!

JA: Thank you for the interview and for your positive review of The Nomad! I would also like to thank all of the session musicians that recorded in this EP, and Fernán Nebiros, from Peruvian death metal legends Mortem, who was involved in the early stages of this project and whose valuable input helped me immensely. And to the readers, I encourage you to follow Eonian on Instagram and Facebook and to let me know what you think of the EP!

Links
Eonian Facebook | Instagram | Linktree | Spotify | BandCamp | DistroKid

Interview – Alex Mancini (Unknown Refuge)

Do you know what it is to grow up in the digital age of expression? Let’s have a chat with Alex Mancini, the talented vocalist and bassist for UK rockers Unknown Refuge, where he talks about that, the band’s debut album From The Darkness, and a lot more.

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Alex Mancini (Unknown Refuge)

The Headbanging Moose: Thank you for your time in chatting with us today! Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers and talk a little about the idea behind Unknown Refuge?

Alex Mancini: Hi I’m Alex, I’m the lead singer from Unknown refuge, we originally formed in 2016. The idea Unknown Refuge really came from us needing a band name for our first gig, we looked around where we were rehearsing and I saw a sign that said refuge point which made me wonder where mine was and that’s where the idea Unknown Refuge came from.

THM: You guys have just released your debut album From The Darkness. How difficult was it for the band to record it, and what inspired each band member to write the songs from the album?

AM:   It wasn’t too difficult for the band to record it, it was just difficult in terms of organizing a time where we were all available to pit aside a few weeks. The songs primarily stem from things I come across in my own life and I reflect these themes through use of ideas such as mythology, wars and some of my own personal experiences.

THM: I had a very good time enjoying each and every track from the album, but of course everyone has a favorite song and in my case it’s I’m Not A Bad Guy. I just love the pace, the punch and the lyrics from this specific song. What about you guys? Which song or songs from the album are your favorite ones and why?

Alex: My favourite is Journey because it depicts a lot of my life and I really enjoy playing it.

Morgan Deveney (drums): I’d say Battle Hymn  is my favorite I just love the energy behind the riff and the drums.

Jack Tracey (lead guitar): I really like playing Palace Walls, I quite like the breakdown and think it gives it a really good feel.

Harry Skinner (rhythm guitar): I’d say my favorite is To The Light,  I just really enjoy that opening riff.

THM: Who are your main idols in music and in life in general, and how much do they influence the band’s style and lyrical content?

AM:   I’d say we take a lot of influence from old metal bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slash and we try and incorporate that with new ideas to form what we believe is a new style of Hard Rock/Metal.

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Album Review – Unknown Refuge / From The Darkness (2021)

THM: You might be tired already of answering questions about the effect of COVID-19 to the music scene worldwide, with of course a huge negative impact on the shows and events industry. How has this pandemic been to you guys? As you’re a fairly new band, do you think you’re suffering more or less than established bands out there?

AM: We’ve definitely been suffering less than bands that completely rely on that income. Fortunately we have jobs on the side as this isn’t our full time career; however it has presented its own struggles with trying to produce new music and get people interested whilst no gigs are available.

THM: When Unknown Refuge was formed back in 2016, you were still teenagers in your 15’s. How have you guys managed the balance between Unknown Refuge and your studies since the band’s inception? Apart from touring, of course, what else in your student’s life is let’s say hampering your work with the band?

AM: Music is something that we all love deeply and I believe that no matter what we’re doing outside of that we’ll always try and make the time to progress our musical careers as much as we can.

THM: All band members are really young and were pretty much born already in the digital era. However, I would like to know your opinion on illegal downloads, on streaming services such as Spotify versus buying the physical copy of an album, and so on. And taking all that into account, how do you envision the future of the music industry in the coming years?

AM: That’s a tough one, I personally love physical copies of music, I do not agree with illegal streaming or downloading and I think places such as Spotify and streaming services like that are slowly killing the music industry. I know that that’s how people consume content nowadays, I can’t see that changing, but for me personally I think physical copies will always hold a place in my heart as that’s what I was around whilst growing up with rocker parents.

THM: Let’s have some fun now and talk about what could be considered a “dream tour” for Unknown Refuge. If you could choose 2 or 3 bands to tour with for one year, who would those be and why?

AM: I’d say Alter Bridge, Volbeat and Iron Maiden would be absolutely amazing. We are all huge fans of these and to play with bands that we admire so much would be a dream come true.

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Unknown Refuge

THM: What’s next for Unknown Refuge? Now that you have already released your first album, which is the most important milestone for any band, what else do you have planned for the band in the short and long term?

AM: As soon as we are able we are going to get out and gig as much as possible, beyond that hopefully we will have new material written and be looking at recording a second album soon.

THM: Once again, thanks a lot for your time and for letting us know a little more about Unknown Refuge! Keep on rockin’, and please feel free to send any final messages you want to our readers.

AM: Thank you for having us, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who has supported us so far, and if you haven’t then please checkout our website and Facebook for updates as to what we have coming up!

Links
Unknown Refuge Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify | BandCamp | Big Cartel

Interview – Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli (Genus Ordinis Dei)

Join us in this awesome interview with Genus Ordinis Dei guitarist and producer Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli where he discusses about the band’s new opus Glare of Deliverance, the series of videos from the album, and what’s next for those talented Italian metallers.

Tommaso “Tommy” Monticelli (Genus Ordinis Dei)

The Headbanging Moose: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the music by Genus Ordinis Dei. Can you please start by introducing yourself to our readers? Who are the guys from Genus Ordinis Dei, and what are your goals with the band?

Tommy: Hi, I’m Tommy and I’m the guitarist and producer of Genus Ordinis Dei. We’re 4 metalheads: Me, Nick (Guitars and Vocals), Steven (Bass) and Richard (Drums). The band was formed in 2008 in Crema, our hometown. We were just a bunch of long-time friends who shared the passion for metal music and we decided to start to play together. We were 20 years old and none of us ever played in a real band before Genus Ordinis Dei (and I personally still never played in other bands). Richard came later in 2012 after changing two other drummers. Our goal is simple: become the most important Italian metal band ever.

THM: Now let’s begin talking about your 2020 album Glare of Deliverance. It’s known that the album tells the story of a young woman named Eleanor, who is persecuted by the Holy Inquisition, bringing the concept art of American author Tom Roberts to life. Can you explain in more detail this concept behind the album? How did you guys come up with such distinct theme?

Tommy: The idea of the story was born years ago too, actually, I still remember us writing down on a notebook the plot of the chapters while hanging out in a pub in our hometown. Then, almost two years ago, we thought it was good enough and we decided it was time to try to make it real. Glare Of Deliverance tells the story of Eleanor in 10 episodes with 10 videos and 10 songs, describing all the steps that bring Eleanor in the grasp of the Holy Inquisition. More in detail, the Hunters of the Holy Inquisition chase after her interrupting a mysterious ritual. The ritual involves a powerful item, a black stone that she calls “The Heart Of Stone”. The stone goes lost during the chase and she is captured and brought to the citadel where the Inquisitor awaits. She’s examined, tortured and finally judged guilty of witchcraft by the Bishop who gives her the possibility to abjure and be forgiven. But the night before the abjuration, a mysterious entity, The Fallen, appears in her dreams and foresees her fate. The story will continue in the next episode 🙂

THM: Also, each one of the ten songs from the album are combined in sequence like a short film or television series to tell that story. How difficult was it to put together those ten songs in the correct order without having any major breaks or interruptions to the flow of the storyline?

Tommy: It’s been tough! We had to deal with the construction of the video series of this story, a totally new thing for us (and also for the fans) that led us to face a lot of difficulties and uncertainty moments, especially in the middle of this pandemic. We enjoyed it and we’re so proud of the final result, both visually and musically speaking. It took a lot of time, considering that we had to create a crowdfunding campaign that fortunately went well. We wanted to create something that mixes a concept album with a tv series, and I think we did pretty well.

THM: Can you tell us how hard was it to produce the album yourself instead of hiring an external person or company to do it? What are some things you wish you could have done in a different way?

Tommy: After all I have to say that it’s been easier than ever. Having the complete control of any single detail at any step of the production is much better than telling someone else what to do and hoping to share the same vision. Obviously you need the right amount of experience and skill to do it yourself and achieve a professional result. We can’t be happier than this!

THM: How has been the whole experience of shooting a special video for each one of the songs from Glare of Deliverance? How are you guys managing all production, costume designing, extras and so on? And which member of the band has the strongest film-making vein, taking the lead in this bold endeavor?

Tommy: Nick is definitely the video guy of the band. Even if we shot a lot of videos during these years, this was a totally new experience for us. We spent months planning the production of audio and video before shooting the first episode. Creating the storyboards, hiring pro artists to draw the concept and create the costumes and the masks, finding the main actress, finding the locations, hiring the videomaker and planning all the logistics and budget took almost a year, considering that we funded everything with a crowdfunding campaign. We were almost beginners about this and finishing this crazy puzzle on our own makes us extremely proud.

Album Review – Genus Ordinis Dei / Glare of Deliverance (2020)

THM: I want to personally ask about the closing song, the 16-minute aria Fire. How special is that song for you and the rest of the band, I mean, did you feel something different while writing and recording this specific song compared to the others, and can we expect to see you guys playing it live one day?

Tommy: If we’ll have enough time on the setlist we’re gonna play the whole album live. In particular Fire is a special song because the first 9 minutes contain all the main riffs and melodies of the previous 9 songs (revisited, rearranged), a sort of moment of reflection of the journey that took to the final act. It also explodes in a choral epic hook that we personally love. We had a great time recording the choir (in another studio, a bigger one :)), another new experience for us. We feel we’ve grown so much after making this album.

THM: As you guys are based in Italy, one of the countries that have suffered the most with COVID-19, how has this never-ending pandemic been impacting your work with Genus Ordinis Dei and your life in general? How are the other bands from your local scene surviving these years with no live concerts?

Tommy: We always wanted to stay positive and keep developing this idea despite all this crazy situation. Also, we knew that people still need music and entertainment, even if the whole damn world is turning upside down. We decided from the beginning that we’d have never stopped working and that Glare Of Deliverance would be released, a way or another. Every band is trying to do their best to keep creating new content but I understand that it’s a tough challenge.

THM: Can you tell us a little about your biggest idols in music, arts and life in general? And how has their music influenced you and the band in the writing process of Glare of Deliverance?

Tommy: Then there’s a lot of bands that inspired me through this journey but I can’t forget how it started: Blind Guardian, Kamelot, Manowar and Iron Maiden are my all-time favourite guys and they’ll ever be. In this exact moment, the most impressive band to me is Gojira, from the songs to the image to the performances: top band right now. They’re so inspiring. In general I love concept albums and artists that try to focus on creating epic and evocative atmospheres.

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THM: Do you think the Italian underground scene is stronger than ever, or do you see it decaying somehow? And what are some bands from your region other than Genus Ordinis Dei that you would recommend to our readers?

Tommy: Italy is not famous for metal bands in general. I’m not into the underground scene so much but for what I’ve seen in the last years, it’s not so interesting. Excluding big bands like Lacuna Coil and Fleshgod Apocalypse, what I would recommend right now are DGM and Nightland. Check them out.

THM: What does the future hold for Genus Ordinis Dei? Can we expect to see more of your epic and atmospheric music in a not-so-distant future?

Tommy: Now we’re focused on the last video episode releases, Dream on March 22nd and the other 3 in the following months. There’s still so much to do before saying “ok, Glare Of Deliverance is done, let’s pass to next one” but I confess that I’m already collecting new melodies and riffs, and we started writing the next storyboard 🙂 But still, we have tons of new stuff regarding Glare Of Deliverance and a couple of great news to spread. We’re preparing for the next live shows, creating a new show from scratch.

THM: Thank you very much for the interview! Any final considerations or comments you would like to share with our readers?

Tommy: If you want something new, something that no one ever did before, follow the first Metal Music Series: Glare Of Deliverance.

Thank you guys for the interview.

Stay safe and stay metal!

Hail!

Links
Genus Ordinis Dei Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

Interview – Andreas Nieratschker (Agony Atlas)

Guitarist Andreas Nieratschker, from Germany-based act Agony Atlas, joins us for an exclusive interview about their new EP Retrogression Part I: Egomania, the metal scene in his homeland, the future of the band (and of the entire world), and more.

Andreas Nieratschker (Agony Atlas)

The Headbanging Moose: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the music by Agony Atlas. Can you please start by introducing yourself to our readers? Who Agony Atlas and what are your goals with the band?

Andreas Nieratschker: One could say, we are a four-person sonically chaotic gathering of people that is actually not that chaotic…

Christoph e.g., my companion on the guitar, is particularly good at collecting tattoos and being a caring father. He simply is our savior when it comes to organising whatsoever. Well actually, everyone is, except Liane and myself (laughter). Organisationally, I mean.

Markus plays like Thor’s hammer when he’s out on his drums. You can feel the concentrated power of the gods, although you hardly see it. – Absolutely smooth playing. Above all, he manages everything when it comes to texting and working towards our famosity.

Liane just has a brute voice, which has impressed me since the first rehearsal of our other band, where we used to play together. I just thought “THIS is the voice I want!”

Well, yeah and I am Andreas.

Together we decided to travel back in time to prevent humanity from its own extinction and to enlighten them about the fucked-up conditions the human kind exposes to our planet. At least, this is the short version behind our story.

THM: Your music is being labeled by fans and the media as “Progressive Metalcore”. Do you agree with that classification, and if so, how would you personally describe it? What other genres and styles can the listener expect to hear in your music?

AN: It’s almost always hard to pinpoint the band’s genre. But I think besides many different influences the term “Progressive Metalcore” describes our music best. Although the progressive part is not extremely present yet, but you will hear more of it in the future songs. Speaking in genres: you can find melodic death metal and metalcore, djent, electro, industrial and thrash metal and sometimes even a hint of black metal.

THM: You have just released your debut EP, titled Retrogression Part I: Egomania. Can you please give us more details about it? What’s the story behind the EP, and what can we expect to see in “the next chapter”, assuming this is just the first part of something bigger the band is planning?

AN: Actually, we don’t have a concrete concept for the EP. It is rather based on the general idea we are pursuing with Agony Atlas. The other publications will lead along this common thread and complement our story.

For a while now, environmental movements have been causing enormous discussions in society. The behavior of people towards one another, towards our living space and towards the world in its entirety has become an important and recurring topic. Now is the latest time for a final change to save our whole future. And that’s exactly what we want to tell with our background story: The time travel from the already destroyed future back to the here and now, to save what can be saved. “Retrogression” stands for the development that we want to prevent – from a future perspective, to a certain extent, for a regression. Therefore we chose the title. We are playing our part in not waking up in a dystopian world, like Mad Max, in the near future. So, we will continue our guiding idea and stick to the band concept.

THM: Let’s now talk about each one of the songs from the EP, starting with the opening track Economy Class, which carries a name that couldn’t be more relevant these days. Can you please elaborate a little more on the meaning of the song and why you’ve chosen such important topic as its main theme?

AN: As I said, the environmental issues are very important. In the EP, we address some of the current problems people have in this regard, such as consuming, digitally induced comfort and an egocentric worldview. The concrete events for the song “Economy Class” were the man-made rainforest fires at the beginning of 2019.

THM: What about Egomania, my favorite song of the EP? What was the process to write and compose this song, and what should the listener take from the music and the lyrics while listening to it?

AN: The irrepressible greed of the people has made them look for another “habitable” or, as I’d like to say, “exploitable” planet for years. Earth alone is apparently not enough. Although it is and was more than sufficient for the remaining living beings. However, because of our curiosity, which we take as a given condition of superiority and as unique selling point of the human kind, it seems that we want to take everything – regardless of the losses.

The song should not only serve through unbelievably good acoustic satisfaction, but also stimulate everyone to reflect one’s own behavior and to question society.

Album Review – Agony Atlas / Retrogression Part I: Egomania EP (2020)

THM: Lastly, the closing song in Retrogression Part I: Egomania, Hymn Of Hatred, is undoubtedly the heaviest and most obscure of all three songs. Why did you decide to end the EP with such dark composition?

AN: For us it’s the most forward moving song. It forges a smooth transition to what the listener can expect in the future. “Hymn Of Hatred” is the newest song on the EP and rather reflects our songwriting. Last but not least: the fact is that future doesn’t look bright, if we don’t act now.

THM: How is it to be fronted by such talented woman like Liane Walter, who certainly makes your music appeal to fans of bands like Arch Enemy and Jinjer? How do you see the importance of women in metal music nowadays, and do you see any type of rejection from fans for having a woman as your lead singer?

AN: The question could also be: What is it like to have such a good vocalist? It’s not about gender, but about skills, human interaction, commitment, creativeness and fun.

By now it should rather be normal to see and hear women in the metal genre. There are already a few more bands than Arch Enemy and Jinjer who sing gutturally in the low frequency range. I haven’t heard of any rejections for now. But in any case, I’m a huge fan of her singing, especially while being in the same band.

THM: Changing the topic a bit, what are your main influences in music and arts in general? And how do you incorporate those influences into the music by Agony Atlas?

AN: I can hardly say where all the inspiration comes from. Christoph, for example, takes part in local cultural associations, plays also in his alternative rock band Karabooza and is involved as guitar sub in a carnival rock band. Furthermore, Markus and I are involved in the jazz genre and beyond. And with Liane, I can only guess, but it seems like she started screaming since birth. Over the years of practicing she must be influenced by all kinds of stuff. But who can really tell? Maybe it can be compared with ideas which are formed by words to be explained. I assume, it’s the same with music. The inspiration comes from memories, visions and random synapse formations, which pop up in your mind. And if you listen closely, you can repeat them to write them down.

If you want to know what everybody of us is listening to, just take a look on our Spotify page. There you can find a playlist of each one of us.

Agony Atlas

THM: We all know the Germany metal scene is extremely vibrant with some of the best metal fans in the world, which probably means there’s more room for underground acts like Agony Atlas to play their music to live audiences there, right? Have you been able to start touring around Germany (and any other countries) with Agony Atlas already, or is the pandemic still impacting your touring plans?

AN: Standing in the starting blocks, we slipped straight into the corona pandemic and the light has not yet jumped from red to green. Well, we just recently formed up, therefore we use the unexpected waiting time to prepare ourselves sensibly with concentrated power to play in front of a trembling audience. At least now we will have an encore in petto.

THM: What does the future hold for Agony Atlas? Can we expect to see more of your heavy and melodic music in a not-so-distant future?

AN: Yes, definitely! We are already busy in the process for the next release. Five new songs are ready for recording and more are on the way. Hopefully, we’ll get them on the road in 2021.

THM: Thank you very much for the interview! Any final considerations or comments you would like to share with our readers?

AN: Thank you for the opportunity. Listen to our songs and start to change the world! Everybody has an impact to make a difference.

Links
Agony Atlas Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

Interview – Angela Di Vincenzo (Secret Rule)

Are you already tired and bored of staying home during this quarantine? Why not enjoying this exclusive interview with the multi-talented Angela Di Vincenzo, talking about her band Secret Rule and their brand new album Against?

Angela Di Vincenzo (Secret Rule)

The Headbanging Moose: First of all, thanks a lot for having time to chat with us, and let’s start with a very simple question: who are Secret Rule? When did the band start, how do you define the band’s sound, and what are your main goals in the world of heavy music?

Secret Rule: Hi and thank you for this space. Secret Rule is a female-fronted metal band from Italy. We have been active since 2014 and have released 5 albums. Our sound is modern metal with a lot of other influences (electronic, symphonic, etc.). Our goal is to find a space in the metal market, and at the moment we’re really satisfied.

THM: Although the band was formed only a few years ago, in 2014, your excellent new album Against is already the fifth studio album in your career. How do you manage to release such amazing amount of music in such a short period of time, what are the main differences between Against and your previous albums, and how do you see the evolution of your music through the years?

SR: It’s very simple for us. We play around 30/40 gigs per year, and the other 10 months, we are free to work on new material. I think that’s a good lapse of time to produce new songs. In addition, as you know, when you do something with passion nothing is boring or tiresome. About Against, I think it’s a more aggressive album than the other ones, and this is what we wanted. For sure, we don’t consider ourselves a symphonic metal band. It would be very limiting for us and not respectful to those who play that kind of music. No doubt there are some symphonic atmospheres in our music, but at the same time, there are a lot of electronic inserts. So in our future the sound will always have something new, and I have to say you that we like this more aggressive approach.

THM: Some of my favorite songs from the album, those being Rise Again, Digital Revolution and Outsiders, bring a high level of energy while at the same time sounding very melodic. How do you guys manage to reach that great balance in your music? Can you give us more details about your writing and recording process?

SR: Andy and I are the main composers of the band. Personally, I grew up with Italian melodic pop music and I met metal music only around my 20s, so all my catchy melodies come from this melting of styles.

Andy was born with metal music in his veins so the heavy aspects come from him! About the writing process, I record all my vocal ideas on my phone each time I have one, at whatever hour and wherever. Andy does the same on his PC when he has an idea for a riff. When we start on a new album, we actually already have a lot of stuff to analyze and in 2 months we work on it and record the album, more or less!

THM: What inspires Secret Rule to write and record heavy music? Do you avoid repeating the themes covered in each song and album, or is this something that’s “out of control” due to the way you create your music?

SR: We can say it’s “out of control” LOL Actually, we like to experiment with new influences and everything comes naturally. We like heavy music but as you can hear, you also can find electronic, symphonic, pop and rock influences in our music, because we are all these things together. For the variety you can find inside, our albums are like a playlist on Spotify instead of a single album.

Album Review – Secret Rule / Against (2020)

THM: As you guys are from Italy, it’s impossible not to ask you about the current COVID-19 crisis that’s having devastating effects on your beautiful country. How are you guys managing the band amidst all the chaos that’s going on there? Also, I hope all is well with you and your loved ones during such difficult times.

SR: Thank you for your question and interest. Here the situation is a little bit hard. At the moment we have been at home just over three weeks. We can go out only to get food or medicine. We have to have a piece of paper with us with our name and reason we’re out and there are heavy penalties for those who don’t respect the government restrictions. It has been difficult for some people to understand they have to stay at home. Now things seem to be getting better in the North of Italy but we have to still wait to have a clearer picture of the situation. About us, we have had to postpone our tour with Semblant in September and we have had to postpone our tour in the UK as well. Since we can’t go on tour and we can’t meet with each other, Andy and I (we live in the same building) have started to work on some cover songs and new stuff. The first music video was released on the 24th of March and was Gets Me Through by Ozzy Osbourne and the second one on the 2nd of April was The Bitter End by Placebo. We already have other songs in mind. In this way, we keep busy and give our fans something new in this difficult period we all are living. We hope to return to normality very soon!

THM: I’ve been following the whole COVID-19 situation in Italy, and during the past couple of weeks I received some videos of Italians playing and singing metal songs such as Slayer’s “Raining Blood” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” on their balconies during this never-ending quarantine. Having said that, how important do you think Heavy Metal and music in general are for everyone in Italy right now?

SR: You have been lucky to see these videos because around my house I only hear people who sing classic Italian music, every day at 6 pm! At the moment here in Italy a lot of newfound musicians and singers are coming out on their balconies every evening hahahaha But this has been fun and it has been a way to give positive vibes in this dark moment. Italian people have great energy and sense of humor.

Unfortunately, this is not the right country for the metal music genre. There are more musicians than fans. But at least they are very good musicians 🙂

THM: How’s the current underground metal scene in Italy in terms of bands, venues and live concerts? And can you tell us about any Italian bands apart from Secret Rule that we should take a listen to?

SR: mmmm…hard question. In Italy there are a lot of metal bands, probably there are more musicians than listeners 😀 ….unfortunately, the scene is not so good. There’s no great cultural movement to listen to new bands. So it’s always very hard to bring people to little shows. Anyway, the few people who follow metal music give a warm welcome and support.

If you wanna listen to THE ITALIAN METAL BAND, you should obviously listen to Lacuna Coil!! Hahahahh LOL

Secret Rule

THM: Who are your biggest idols in music? And who do you dream of sharing the stage with?

SR: Personally, I like a lot of bands and singers but if I had to choose, I would say Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation. Sharing the stage with them would be awesome, a dream. I might cry if I were to meet Cristina and Sharon. I think they have great talent and unique voices. There’s no one like them. First and foremost, I’m a fan of theirs.

THM: As a Symphonic and Alternative Metal band, your whole performance is obviously impacted by your attire, or by the way you look on stage. Who’s responsible for creating all the clothing you guys wear during your promo pictures and on stage during your live concerts?

SR: What you see on us reflects our taste and work.

It’s not simple but for the last album, we made a deal with the fashion brand PUNK RAVE. This has been awesome because they believe in us and we love their style. So it’s been a perfect marriage.

In addition, the mood and the meaning they put in their fashion style fits perfectly with the messages in our latest album “AGAINST”.

THM: Thanks again for your time, and please feel free to send your final message to our readers, to your fans and to anyone else that’s getting in touch with Secret Rule for the first time ever.

SR: Thank you for this opportunity. We invite all readers to get a taste of our music if they haven’t done so before and to trust their perceptions.

You can find our music on the best digital platforms like Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and so on. The album is distributed worldwide so you can find it everywhere.

Links
Secret Rule Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music

Interview – Bastiën Baron (Shuulak)

How about an “alchemical” talk with Mr. Bastiën Baron, one of the founders of Dutch metal act Shuulak, talking about their brand new album Citrinitas and their passion for the occult?

Bastiën Baron (Shuulak)

The Headbanging Moose: Can you please begin by introducing the band to our readers? Who are Shuulak, when was the band formed, and what is your main goal in the world of heavy music?

Bastiën Baron: At heart we’re a heavy metal band, but we’ve given it a modern spin and drenched it in occultism. Our goal is to have a street named after us. Or a small town. Preferably the latter.

THM: Although your 2019 EP Citrinitas might be short in duration, there’s a lot of good stuff in each one of its four tracks. Why did you decide to release such a short album instead of a full-length one, and are you satisfied with the final result of the EP?

BB: Thanks for the compliments! There are many reasons for this. But foremostly, releasing a full-length album is a long and costly process. By keeping our releases short, we’re able to do them more frequently, which I think, people will appreciate. Especially in this day and age. That said, as our audience grows, so does demand for a physical release. We’ll relieve the itch soon.

THM: Can you explain in more details the concept behind Citrinitas and its connection to your previous EP’s Nigredo, released in 2017, and Albedo, from 2018?

BB: The EP’s are connected and are named after the steps towards the alchemist’s Magnum Opus; the goal of which is immortality and ultimate knowledge. It’s an ongoing story we’re not finished telling yet.

THM: What’s the main reason why you guys decided to explore such distinct topic in your albums? And can we expect more of this alchemical side of Shuulak in your future releases, or is it time for the band to venture through different lands and concepts?

BB: Alchemy is an exciting journey into the depths of the soul. There are, however, many more paths to take in the world of mysticism and the occult. So, we definitely won’t stop here.

Album Review – Shuulak / Citrinitas EP (2019)

THM: It’s simply fantastic to see more and more bands all over the world with women in their formation who are not only their lead singers, but also guitarists, bassists and drummers, which is exactly the case with Shuulak. How is it to have two girls on the band, Eve Laetitia and Puck Wildschut, taking care of the guitar and bass duties respectively?

BB: To us it’s quite.. normal. We don’t really think about it, to be honest. Though, Eve is really happy about it. She’s been the only girl for a long time, so it’s refreshing to have Puck around.

THM: How does your creative process work, I mean, do you all work together on the music and the lyrics, or are there any duties that are performed by only one or two of the band members? The process seems to be working well, as the music found in your albums sounds great, but is there anything the band thinks that could be done in a different or better way in the future?

BB: Angelo and Eve write the music, Bastiën handles the lyrics and vocals. Though it’s not set in stone, the process is quite fluid and ever changing. There’s a lot of back and forth. I don’t think there’s a ‘best’ or ‘better’ way to do things. Every song is different, and so is the way we write them. We’re constantly refining.

THM: Who are your biggest influences in music and in life in general, and how much do those influences impact the way Shuulak compose music?

BB: Musically we’re inspired by a great many artists but we don’t copy anyone. We’re all big horror fans and this definitely shines through in our music. Stuff like the books of Clive Barker or Dario Argento’s movies definitely inspire us as well as books on the real life history of the occult and ritual magic.

Shuulak

THM: What’s your opinion about the current metal scene in the Netherlands? Do you think this is a good time for bands like Shuulak to release more and more music and to tour around the country? And apart from the big names like Epica, Within Temptation and Delain, what other Dutch metal or even non-metal bands would you recommend to our readers?

BB: The Netherlands are very small, and so is the metal scene here. It’s very cozy and a good place to be. As for us, we’ve got our eyes set further. We frequently visit our southern neighbors in Belgium, as well as our friends in Germany.

It’s true The Netherlands is known for a blossoming female-fronted scene and you’ll find many wonderful bands here, but I would recommend a German band: Crownfall. We played our very first concert in Germany with them and not only are they amazingly talented musicians, they’re wonderful people too. So check them out!

THM: What does the future hold for Shuulak? And when would fans from other parts of Europe, from Asia and from North and South America be able to witness the band playing live in their countries?

BB: We’re focused on Europe right now, but we’re not dismissing the idea of an intercontinental tour. When demand is high enough, we’ll definitely visit those places.

THM: Thank you very much for your time. Please feel free to send your final considerations, goodbyes and anything else you would like to say to our readers.

BB: We’d like to thank The Headbanging Moose for this interview! To all of you reading this: you’re awesome for making it this far. If you’re curious, check us out on Bandcamp or find us on Spotify. We hope to see you at a show in the near future and are looking forward to finding new friends and disciples.

Links
Shuulak Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | BandCamp | Apple Music

Interview – Alcides Burn (Burn Artworks)

Let us all burn together with the talented Brazilian artist Alcides Burn, from Burn Artworks, in this exclusive interview where he talks about his work, his passion for drawing and heavy music, and more.

Alcides Burn (Burn Artworks)

The Headbanging Moose: Could you please start by telling our readers who Alcides Burn is? When and why did you decide to become a graphic designer, and when exactly did your passion for heavy music start impacting your work as a designer?

Alcides Burn (Burn Artworks): Hi, at first I would like to thank The Headbanging Moose for the opportunity to present my work.

Well, I’m Brazilian, from Belém-PA, but I’ve lived in Recife for many years, I always liked to draw and I’ve always been a fan of horror movies, giant monsters, and stuff like that. In the 1990s it was when I started listening to metal, I remember the first time I saw an Iron Maiden album cover, I was impressed with it and from that time on I decided to create arts.

I started drawing art for bands of friends until I’ve got a computer from an uncle and went digital.

THM:  Did you have any idea of what you were doing in your early days as a graphic designer for metal bands? How did things work in the beginning for you? What were your biggest challenges as a rookie in such competitive market?

AB: In the beginning there weren’t as many artists as nowadays, and I really wouldn’t have imagined that I’d become a well known artist as now. As I said, I was lucky to have a very good computer at a time that it was very expensive and difficult to get one, and I always studied a lot, I used to burn the midnight oil learning and studying hard, then I made an album cover for Queiron, a band from São Paulo. That opened doors, that was when I actually started this work, after that other bands came up.

THM: You were also (and still are) a vocalist for a few Brazilian Death Metal bands like Inner Demons Rise, Next Pain and Subinfected. How did you manage your duties as a musician and a designer at the same time with your previous bands, and what lessons did you learn that you can apply to your active band Inner Demons Rise nowadays?

QUEIRON (Brazil) CD Cover

AB: The bands were not my top priority, I’m also an advertising professional and a concert producer, so these projects came up during my spare time and they were getting harder to manage in my busy schedule. Due to that reason I’m not in a band anymore. I’ve spent 10 years in the band Inner Demons Rise, I had a lot of fun, I learned a lot, a lot of the production experience I’ve learned I used to apply to the band, but unfortunately my work as a designer started to grow and I had to leave the band, but I still talk every day to my bandmates that are also my personal friends.

THM: While checking some works you’ve done for several bands from different parts of the world, I noticed most of the time there’s a lot of chaos, fire, death, demons, darkness and other obscure or evil elements in your art. What attracts you in those elements, and do you think that can limit your reach, I mean, what if a Symphonic Metal band or a Hard Rock band approach you to hire your services?

AB: Well, my mind has always been a little devilish (LOL), I’m a Death Metal fan, mainly from the 1990s, and album covers like Monstrosity (Imperial Doom) and Dismember (Like an Ever Flowing Stream) have always impressed me, creatures, the scenarios, and like I said, horror movies, monsters, I think I couldn’t follow a different path. However I’ve already designed for Melodic Heavy Metal bands, like “The Black Knight” from the band Wizards here from Brazil among other artists, sometimes I feel even lacking in creating such works.

THM: What are your favorite bands, as well as favorite artists and designers? How much have they influenced your work since the beginning? And can you list your favorite album artworks of all time, telling why you like them so much?

AB: That’s a trick question, but let’s go:

Some of my favorite bands are: Paradise Lost, Moonspell, Monstrosity, Deicide, Gorefest, A-HA, Dream Theater, Angra, I think these are the ones I listen to most.

Favorite artists: Seth Siro Anton, Wes Benscoter, Dave Mckean, Travis Smith and Braisl I enjoy many works by several artists, Marcelo Vasco, Gustavo Sazes, Rafael Tavares, Carlos Fides among others.

About favorite albums: Paradise Lost – Gothic, Moonspell – Wolfheart, Deicide – Legion, Gorefest – False, Monstrosity – Imperial Doom, Dream Theater – Image and Words, Angra – Fireworks. There are many (LOL)

THM:  Apart from heavy music, what else serves as an inspiration for you? Any movies, books or other things that are worth mentioning that had a significant impact in the way you draw or paint?

AB: Movies, lots of movies, I’m a movie buff, I watch at least 2 or 3 movies a week and everything around me, if I step on the street and see something that I know can turn some art, I quickly snap a picture.

THM: If I have a band and I’m searching for an artist to design the cover art for my new album, what should I do to contact you? And how does the entire process work, from the very first contact until the final version of the artwork is ready?

AB: Well, you can contact me through my email: alcidesburn@gmail.com or by my Facebook and Instagram: @alcidesburn.

The process is very simple, I usually create the art based on the album title or from a song lyric or an idea that the band has in mind. I have a conversation with the band to understand the idea and then just go for it, I present a draft of the idea to the band and as soon as they approve I finish the artwork.

THM: Your list of clients is quite extensive, including underground bands from distinct parts of the world such as Neuroticos (Japan), Zerozonic (Norway) and Iconoclasm (Belgium), renowned international acts like Keep of Kalessin (Norway), Obituary (USA) and Tim “Ripper” Owens (USA), countless underground Brazilian bands and even some big names in the Brazilian scene like Krisiun, Nervochaos and Torture Squad. From all those bands and artists, which ones do you think were able to extract the best of your art?

AB: I think the one that has had the most repercussions so far was the Keep of Kalessin, that one people still talk about, this art will be part of the second edition of the book Arte Arcana – Lucifero, where I will be among the great artists of the world.

The book can be purchased at this link: https://heavymusicartwork.com/arte-arcana-lucifero. There is an art that I made for Rebaelliun band shirt that I also like it a lot. I recently created another art for them and I liked the result. The ones I made for Krisiun, total respect to the band, I like it a lot and the guys are very good people and Nervochaos that despite being something simple it was a very cool experience.

I have a special affection for all of them, they are important bands that I like so much.

REBAELLIUN (Brazil) T-Shirt Design

THM: There was no social media and the access to the internet was extremely limited when you started around 20 years ago. What are the advantages and disadvantages for you of the advent and unstoppable growth of social media in recent years? How do you keep up to date with everything that’s going on, new techniques, new software or anything else that you can apply to your work?

AB: I usually say that the internet is a necessary evil, and you have to know how to use it in your favor, I try to use it to show my work to the world, I try to forget other subjects, I open my Facebook to advertise my arts and talk about movies.

Other than that the internet made it very easy for people who work with arts. Today you have a multitude of images, plugins, textures and software that helps a lot, but as I said: the real world is there, and if you have a good point of view you can bring a lot for your art.

THM: You were born in the city of Belém, in a region of Brazil not very famous for its metal music (in the state of Pará), and you currently reside in the Northeast of Brazil, where although there are several metal bands the scene remains completely underground. How does that impact your work? And what bands can you recommend form those regions, especially the ones you’ve already worked with?

AB: I left Belém at the age of 1 and I do not know the city until nowadays, but I hope to do it so soon.

The coolest thing is that I have several friends there, I’ve done arts for bands there like Disgrace and Terror, Anubis and Eternal Darkness, the latter two I’m creating for their new work at the moment.

The Northeast is strong, there are lots of bands that I have worked with and I like them a lot like Decomposed God, Pandemmy (both from Recife), Headhunter D.C., Malefactor (from Salvador), Sanctifier (from Natal), there are a lot of fucking good bands here.

I think it’s a little bit hard for me to live in Recife, an example if you live in São Paulo, you have a lot more contact with this world because it’s a metropolis, there are a lot more shows, more producers and more bands, you see. But I love the Northeast and Recife.

THM: What does the future hold for you as a graphic designer and also as a metal vocalist? Do you see yourself working with more and more international bands, or do you prefer becoming a reference in the Brazilian scene?

AB: As a vocalist I only intend to have some projects, I need them, but nothing too serious, just recording, maybe going on stage a few times nothing more than that, nothing that takes my time.

As for the graphic designer, absolutely. I want to show my work to the world, to have more international bands in my portfolio, that would be great!

THM: Thanks a lot for your time, Alcides. It’s an honor for us to interview a metal artist like you for the first time on our webzine. Feel free to send your final message to our readers, including the best ways for bands and musicians to contact you if they’re interested in having your art representing their music.

AB: I’d like to thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about my work. Spaces like these are of extreme importance for the Metal world. Every zine, blog, website is a source of information that never must die.

To contact me, in addition to the social networks I’ve mentioned, my site is: www.burnartworks.com. In it you’ll find my works. Thank you!

Links
Burn Artworks Official Website | Facebook | Instagram

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Interview – Anthony Kaoteon

In this exclusive interview, Lebanese vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Kaoteon talks about his brand new project Death Tribe, his already established band Kaoteon, and his always delicate connection to the Middle-East.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

The Headbanging Moose: Let’s begin with a very simple question, and that is who’s Anthony Kaoteon? When did you begin your life in metal music, and who influenced you the most to follow that path?

Anthony Kaoteon: I am a Lebanese kid who grew up at the end of Civil War, witnessed the Syrian occupation, the religious hatred of my countrymen, the bombs in the streets of Beirut, the Israeli mass airplane attacks on the country to mention a few big events that scarred me as a child and made me realize that the world is blind and needs someone loud enough to hear the truth.

THM: What’s your goal with Death Tribe, and what’s the main difference from your already established band Kaoteon? Can you tell us more about the story behind Death Tribe and the reason for the band’s name?

AK: Death Tribe is more of a personal project where I am experimenting with Metal genres. It is not a side project but it has no restrictions or limitations as it has no genres, not one vocalist or one sound. The only restriction is me as the only fixed member in the band but working with new musicians opens my mind and allows me to explore areas I would have never explored otherwise. If I was a polyamorous guy, then KAOTEON would be my lover and Death Tribe my date.

Album Review – Death Tribe / Beyond Pain And Pleasure: A Desert Experiment (2019)

THM: Regarding your brand new album Beyond Pain and Pleasure: A Desert Experiment, how was the recording process of the album? Did everything go as planned, and do you think the final result sends the message you had in mind to the listener?

AK: The recording process was very lengthy, expensive and time consuming especially that it was recorded in several regions and studios around the world. The biggest impact on sound were the mixing engineer – namely Karim Sinno from The Audioloft in Lebanon. He brought everything together and kept it crystal clear.

THM: Beyond Pain and Pleasure features an array of excellent guest vocalists such as Walid Wolflust, Serge the Slave, Adnan Mryhij, Youmni Abou el Zahab and JM Elias. Apart from Walid Wolflust, who sings for your other band Kaoteon, are they all your personal friends? How did you invite each one of them to sing in the album?

AK: They are all personal and close friends of mine who have their great bands and I wanted to promote their sound through mine while promoting my sound through theirs. We come from a very talented region that is undiscovered and deserves much more support.

THM: My favorite songs from Beyond Pain and Pleasure are the title-track Beyond Pain and Pleasure, Neurotic Breakdown and Nuclear Hate. I personally think they’re very powerful and rebellious, which I believe is what you want the listener to feel while listening to the album. Having said that, what song from the album better represents yourself and your never-ending fight for freedom?

AK: That is the beauty of an album like BP&P, every person will have a different favorite. I enjoy Hollow, BP&P and Implode Explode a lot but this varies every now and then. The overall sound of the album is rebellious so I surely wanted that but what I really wanted is to deliver an eclectic album that brings all genres together under one record.

Anthony Kaoteon (Kaoteon, Death Tribe)

THM: I’m pretty sure the metal scene in the Netherlands, your current home, is a lot more developed than in your homeland Lebanon. Are there any bands you would recommend from the Dutch underground scene?

AK: I am still not very active in the scene due to a lot of shit happening in my personal life that I will not discuss but the bands here are very talented. I see a huge stoner metal movement. I cannot chose one band top of mind as it wouldn’t be just but there is definitely a lot of bands to check that won’t disappoint.

THM: Now talking about your connection to Lebanon and the Middle-East, how harmful do you think the combination of religion and politics is in that region not only to metal and non-metal music, but to all forms of art? And do you see an end to that in the future?

AK: It is detrimental and I am afraid I don’t see an end to it anytime soon. It is a deeply rooted plague that is still being nourished by the west to control its masses and use it when and where needed.

THM: Do you think one day you’ll be able to return to Lebanon and start making metal music again there? And what do your family and friends that are still in Lebanon think of the type of music you play?

AK: Most people don’t know what is metal unless they like it and play it. We live parallel lives so that we don’t get judged. I don’t see myself returning to Lebanon to play music any time soon.

Album Review – Kaoteon / Damnatio Memoriae (2018)

THM: What’s next for Anthony Kaoteon? Can we expect a new Kaoteon or Death Tribe album in a not-so-distant future, and do you have any plans for touring with any of your bands around Europe or in North America? I would love to see either Kaoteon or Death Tribe performing in Canada.

AK: For touring, KAOTEON is the horse of choice and we are releasing the 3rd album soon hopefully as we finished the recording with Adrian (Erlandsson) from At the Gates on drums and Linus (Klausenitzer) from Obscura on bass again. The mixing and mastering were finalized by Tue Madsen in Denmark at Antfarm Studios and the artwork is getting ready with Vincent Fouquet in France.

THM: Thanks a lot for your time, Anthony! It’s always a pleasure interviewing relentless musicians like you who keep the underground metal scene alive and kicking. Please feel free to send a final message to our readers, and anything else you would like to say to all fans of heavy music out there.

AK: Thanks a million for the opportunity to speak and promote the music Gustavo. People like you keep the dream alive and I hope you will keep it up. As for the readers and music lovers, if you want bands to keep making music – support them!

Links
Kaoteon Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp
Death Tribe Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp

Interview – Through The Noise

It’s time for vocalist Jowl Nyberg and guitarist Marcus Skantz to make some noise in this fun interview where they talk about their excellent band Through The Noise and their brand new album Dualism .

Through The Noise

The Headbanging Moose: Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers? How would you define Through The Noise?

Jowl Nyberg: I’m Jowl and I’m the vocalist and one of the founders of the band. We’ve always struggled to define Through The Noise, at least genre-wise, since we’ve never tried to fit in to a specific genre. We’re just a couple of guys who enjoy heavy music and try our best to present our listeners with just that: heavy music. We play metal with a touch of hardcore, that’s as close as we can come when we try to define it.

Marcus Skantz: Marcus and one of the guitarist in the band. To me, Through The Noise is a high energetic with both a lot of aggression and big melodies.

THM: Your brand new album Dualism is a fun and electrifying feast of heavy and hardcore sounds, but also full of melody and very polished. How was the recording process of the album, and did everything go according to your original plan?

JN: We knew from the start that we wanted to work with Erik Wiss at Wiss Music Productions again, why change a winning concept, right!? He knows our sound and we love to work with him, he always pushes us towards perfection and has nice inputs on our work. Although this time around Marcus had joined the band and he have some recording skills and equipment that the rest of us don’t, so we decided to record only the vocals and drums at Wiss Music Productions. The guitars and bass tracks are recorded in Marcus bedroom and then mixed at Wiss Music Productions along with everything else.

We only had like two-three tracks to work with before we booked the studio, so the process to write the rest of the songs was pretty intense, but that’s the way we like it: we thrive under pressure! Marcus and I spent many late nights at his place during this period. This was a bit different than our last album ´Fall Of Gaia´ where we wrote all the songs together in our rehearsal space.

MS: We booked the studio to record our second album just a month after I joined the band by the end of the summer 2017. By then, we just had one finished song and two song ideas to work with but we really needed a sharp deadline to kick our selves in the butt and write some new music. Five months later we had nine songs pre prodded and ready to be recorded. Peter went to Erik at Wiss Music Production and tracked all drums by the end of February and then me, Victor and Martin had about a month to record all the guitars and bass in my home studio before we returned to Erik to finish with all the vocals. The whole recording process went great even though it resulted in many late nights in my home studio due to my day work plus me, Jowl and Peter participating in a short film project where I helped with all post editing of sound and effects.

Jowl Nyberg (Through The Noise)

THM: Which songs from Dualism do you think better represent the band, and do you think your fans get that message while listening to your music or while watching you guys play live?

JN: We’ve always strived for intense, energetic songs with catchy and melodic choruses and I’d say that we deliver on that with all the songs on ´Dualism´ but if I had to pick one, I’d go with Psychomachia. If one truly wants to experience Through The Noise though: live is the way to go!

THM: One of my favorite songs of the album, Maktbegär (which I believe means “lust for power” from Swedish), is the only one sung in your mother tongue. Why did you guys decide to record that specific song in Swedish? Is there a special reason behind that?

JN: You are quite right in your translation, it does indeed mean “lust for power”.

I’ve always wanted to try and write something in Swedish and this is something that I’ve dabbled (and struggled) with at home for some time. ´Maktbegär´ actually started out as a translation and my own interpretation of a song called ´Mercy Me´ by one of my favourite punk-rock bands ´Alkaline Trio´ that I made for fun. The more I worked with it, it turned into something completely different that was too good not to use and the first time Marcus showed me this song I just knew that it would fit like a glove. I’ve also always felt like our regional dialect “skånska” fits well with hardcore-type vocals.

THM: How did you guys invite local Swedish punk vocalist Jahna Lund (from Death By Horse) to sing in three songs from Dualism? She has an amazing voice and matched perfectly your music. Can we expect more of that type of partnership in your future releases?

JN: Jahna and her band ´Death By Horse´ are close personal friends of mine: I love their music and Jahna’s characteristic voice! We’ve joined each other on stage plenty of times and I love collaborations and features on records, so it felt natural to invite her to add another level to our work. On our last record ´Fall Of Gaia´ I did a similar thing with a friend from work for the song ´The Accursed´ which turned out great so it might be a recurring theme on our albums!

MS: Jahna is a personal friend to us and we asked her to do some vocals on Psychomachia. While writing the song Secret Project we realized we needed a lot of choirs so we thought that she could be part of that song as well. The day she was in Erik’s studio she listened to some of the songs that was finished and when she heard the track Beyond Betrayal she got some ideas she wanted to test and that’s how she ended up in three songs of the record.

You just never know! If we write a piece where we think her voice would fit, we would not hesitate on asking her to do some more guest vocals.

Marcus Skantz (Through The Noise)

THM: Do you consider yourselves a metal band with punk and hardcore influences, or a punk and hardcore band with metal influences? How are the more diehard fans from both sides reacting to your music?

JN: This is interesting because we’ve always felt like we’re “in between”, so to speak. We’ve been considered “not hardcore enough” for hardcore festivals as well as “not heavy enough” for metal festivals. This is both a blessing and a burden in my opinion, it makes us somewhat unique but at the same time it alienates us from some gigs and crowds. Since I come from the punkrock/hardcore-scene originally and most of the other guys are more metalheads it’s only natural that our music sounds like something in between and that’s what makes us who we are.

MS: If you ask me we are a metal band with punk and hardcore influences, but that is me coming mainly from a thrash and melodic death background and I write songs in a certain way. If you ask Jowl I bet he thinks of it the other way around. I don’t think it really matters. We are a metal/hardcore band and we blend many different kind of styles into the mix with the outcome that we sound like Through The Noise.

THM: How’s the local metal and hardcore scene in your hometown Lund, in the city of Malmö and in Sweden in general? Can you recommend some bands from the underground scene that you think our readers should take a listen at?

JN: We have a lot of great local bands but not a lot of places for them (us) to play, unfortunately. Most bands around here head for Germany, eastern Europe, the Balkans and so on since there are more places to play and bigger audiences. It’s like the old saying “Big In Japan”, many bands are huge in other countries and almost unknown back home in Sweden.

Eastern High (Progressive-Metal), The Generations Army (Thrash-Metal), Wolves Within (Melodic-Hardcore), Mörbultad (Hardcore in Swedish), Chine (Death/Groove-Metal), Escaping Amenti (Theatrical/Apocalyptic Metalcore), Faithful Darkness (Melodic death-metal), Pandemonium (Symphonic Black Death-Metal) just to name a few!

MS: Both in general and locally, we have a thriving metal and hardcore scene in Sweden with a lot of great underground and up-and-coming bands. Kill The Kong, Imminence, Eleine and Eastern High just to name a few. We have a long tradition of great hard rock, metal and hardcore bands coming from Sweden which inspires us all.

Album Review – Through The Noise / Dualism (2019)

THM: Who are your biggest influences in music, and what inspires you to write heavy music?

JN: My biggest influences when it comes to lyricwriting are Matt Skiba of ´Alkaline Trio´ and Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail. I tend to write deep, often melancholic, emotional and (at least to me) meaningful lyrics with a lot of metaphors that tells a story and I believe that I have these two gentlemen to thank for a lot of that! When it comes to my vocal style I guess Alexander Hagman of ´Raised Fist´, Andrew Neufeld of ´Comeback Kid´ and Tim McIlrath of ´Rise Against´ are some influences but also guys like Jake Luhrs of ´August Burns Red´. Other than that: playing and making heavy music is a great stress and anger release!

MS: My biggest influences comes from bands like Metallica, Pantera, Killswitch Engage and Machine Head in terms of how to build up a song, get the right groove and surprise or satisfy the listener. I often tries to write songs, riffs and so on that I myself would like to hear. I think it’s an honest way to treat the song and keep it real for both the listener and me as a composer.

THM: What about the future of the band? What can we expect from Through The Noise in the short and long term? And how are your tour plans going so far for the promotion of Dualism?

JN: We’re planning and hoping to take the band to the next level with this album! At the moment we are trying our best to book as many shows as possible for the rest of the year, at least, and after that we look forward to the process of making our next album! We’re here to stay and this is what we put all our effort into!

MS: In short term we are currently trying to book as many shows as possible with a fall of 2019 tour in the early planning stage. Of course we’re also planning for a follow up EP or full-length but since, while writing this, we have not released Dualism yet our focus right now is mainly on promoting the record and get out to play.

THM: Thanks you very much for your time! Please feel free to send your final considerations to our readers, to remind them where to buy your music, and anything else you would like to say.

JN: Thank you for taking an interest in our band! We would be very grateful if you visit and follow us on our social media pages and web shop (see links below), add our songs to your playlists and (of course) catch us live! This means the world to us and would really help us out!

Upcoming shows
May 4 @ Helltown Mini Festival at Jutan, Helsingborg, Sweden
June 7 @ Backstage Varberg, Varberg, Sweden

Links
Through The Noise Facebook | Intagram | Twitter | YouTube | Big Cartel | Spotify | iTunes | Amazon | Google Play | Deezer

Interview – Stein Akslen (Minneriket)

Let’s talk about the darkness with the multi-talented Stein Akslen, the mastermind behind Norwegian Romantic Black Metal project Minneriket.

Stein Akslen (Minneriket)

The Headbanging Moose: Can you please start by introducing yourself to our readers? Who is Stein Akslen, and what is Minneriket? Why and when did you decide to start such distinct project, and where do you want Minneriket to be in the following years?

Stein Akslen:   Minneriket is a solo project I started a few years ago to be able to create music focusing solely on atmosphere and an internal dialogue with myself. It’s about being nostalgic but still innovative, rooted in tradition but walking new paths and carving out a whole new beast. As some might know, I started in Blodsgard long before Minneriket and I saw great success with that band where we hold our art to the highest standards truly representing the elite of the genre, but I needed another outlet – something more egocentric, minimalistic and completely without ambitions. With Blodsgard we have goals, but in Minneriket there are no goals – there are only soundscapes, audio therapy and a straight-to-the-core kind of songwriting. The only thing I know about the future for Minneriket is that it will continue to evolve, that no ground is too sacred to tread upon, and that there are no barriers for sound, message or aesthetics.

THM: As mentioned in our review to your latest album Anima Sola, Minneriket plays what can be called “Romantic Black Metal”. Can you explain us what such distinct label truly means? What’s the real definition of it? And do you enjoy having your music categorized this way?

SA:   Well I coined the term, so of course I enjoy it. The Romantic era was an artistic and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century. The Romantic art had an emphasis on strong emotions, individualism and a glorification of the cultural past and the nature that surrounds us. This is a philosophy that resonates with what I do with Minneriket.

Romance is so much more than just the popularization of love. Romance is strong and deep emotional desires, a yearning to connect to something and to grow emotionally attached. This approach, trying to convey the deep longing for something outside of yourself, either in nature or spirit, is the essence of what I wish to achieve with Minneriket.

THM:  The title and artwork (designed by Czech artist Anna Marine) in Anima Sola (or “lonely soul” in English) are based on the catholic imagery of the lonely spirit burning in purgatory. In addition to that, you mentioned you composed Anima Sola because “we need to talk about the darkness”. Can you tell us more details about that?

SA:   “We need to talk about the darkness” become like a tag-line for this release. You know, Black Metal music has become this watered-down version of itself: people compose music in a certain way and sing about certain topics because they’re expected to – because they have this blue-print of what an album should look and sound like. It’s a very shallow understanding of art, and I oppose that with every fiber of my body. You can spew out album after album claiming you’re the Antichrist incarnate, and nobody bats an eye because that’s just “how it’s supposed to be”. I need to make something that’s real. That will speak directly to your emotions. To make you question your existence and reflect on your life and values.

I’m a melancholic person by nature, and decided to dwell in that mental basement for a lot longer than usual when crafting this album. A lot of Black Metal listeners have a very superficial understanding of the darkness they pride themselves in representing and that’s what makes this an uncomfortable album for many; it’s true, it’s real, and it’s challenging. There’s no aggression here, no hatred or other lyrical “staples” – no easy way out – it’s solitude, depression, anxiety and a yearning for something outside of your reach. We all feel this from time to time, some more than others, but I wanted to take the time to really explore this. I don’t respect either taboos nor your perfect presentation of life on social media – I want what’s real, what’s uncomfortable and the raw and untainted emotions… And that is why we need to talk about the darkness.

THM: In Anima Sola, you offer the listener the chance to enjoy your classic Black Metal in both English and Norwegian, with pretty much half of the album being in one language, half in the other.  How do you decide if a song will be sung in English or Norwegian? What’s your process to write the lyrics for a song?

SA:   Earlier I used to think that it was a conscious choice I did. That the songs in Norwegian perhaps were closer to heart, and that the ones in English were more directed outwards to an audience. But I’m not so sure anymore. I prefer Norwegian myself, but I’ve got to be pragmatic about it too – some things just sound better in English. I can’t force it into one way or another, if a translation would diminish the value of the lyrics. So I really just let the songs decide the language themselves.

I always start with the lyrics, or at least some half-finished lyrics. Maybe just a title or a few sentences. Then I build the words and the music around this idea. I’m looking for “What was the essence of this word?”, “What were I feeling when I wrote this sentence?”, then I revisit that place inside myself time after time until the lyrics are done and I can start creating an audio representation of the words, which then turns into the whole song. I go back and forth a lot of course, but that’s the main framework I work within.

Album Review – Minneriket / Anima Sola (2018)

THM:  Although Minneriket is considered a one-man band, you had the help of guest musician Fredrik Rex (Blodsgard) on guitars and bass in two songs of the album, An All Too Human Heart and Det lyset jeg ikke kan se (“the light I cannot see”). How did you invite Fredrik to be part of the album, and how was the recording process with him?

SA:   Well I’ve worked with Rex in Blodsgard for about 10 years now, so it’s only natural that if I’m looking for creative input that he’s my go-to-guy. He’s got a whole other kind of musical understanding than I have, and he’s both very creative and have good techniques. I have pretty deep trust-issues when it comes to my art, so it’s best for me to use him because we’re able to communicate well. So I just invited him over one day, played him some of music I was working on, it was mostly finished already and just needed the right kind of flavor and seasoning, so I asked him for a few lead-guitar parts and a bass-line. Very low-key and informal, just how it should be. After using about 30 minutes to tell me how weird it is that I tune my guitars a half step down, he took about 15 minutes to record the parts.

And here’s where I need to admit a mistake… He actually played on “Tro, håp og kjærlighet” and not “An All Too Human Heart”. That’s a typo in the booklet!

THM: One of my favorite songs of the album, the full-bodied aria Det lyset jeg ikke kan se, feels like a 13-minute descent into the pits of hell. How was it for you to compose such bold song? And is the final result exactly what you wanted it to be after listening to it now that the album is out?

SA:   I’m glad you like that one! It was a very challenging song to do. I needed it to be this kind of huge sonic behemoth, and it’s difficult to maintain the claustrophobic atmosphere throughout 13 whole minutes. The music had to fit the lyrics, which really takes you to the dark corners of your mind. It needed to be repetitive and monotonous, a feeling of hopelessness but still dynamic and drive the song forward, and at the same time without becoming boring or losing the listener on the way. But I think that the way the guitars blend with the different vocal techniques I used here really makes it work.

Hindsight will always be 20-20 (to do some Megadeth-paraphrasing), but looking back on it I’m really proud of that song. It has a little of everything that Minneriket is about, and it’s objectively a great piece of music too.

THM: The closing song of the album, Time for Suicide, seems to deal with a very delicate and controversial topic. The lyrics for this song are dark, pensive and somewhat disturbing, like “Headaches taunt me with flashbacks of the past / Call it fear, but I think it runs deeper / an infection that eats away at my soul / furthering my suffering and doubling my agony”. What details can you tell us about this song? What were your main goal when you wrote it?

SA:   I guess this is a song with no hidden meaning, haha! It’s a pretty obvious thing. “Time for Suicide” is just that, a song about suicidal thought patterns and self-destructive behavior that may have risen above you and become its own entity. The moment where you lose your autonomy and your control. This all goes back to what I said initially about how we need to talk about the darkness. These things build up inside of a lot of people, and it’s controversial, it’s taboo, and even hidden away in shame. That’s not healthy, not at all. We need to face it, own it, and in that way rise above it and take back control. It’s not a song that advocates suicide or self-harm, not at all, but it’s a song that let’s you know that it’s out there, that we shouldn’t hide it just because it’s uncomfortable. There’s no reason to be ashamed of who you are or what emotions you’re experiencing, and I find it very important to shine some light on these subjects. Nothing good comes from keeping quiet.

THM: Now let’s talk about the musician Stein Akslen. Who are your biggest influences in music? And what other sources do you usually go to while crafting your Black Metal music?

SA:   I always credit the ambient albums by Burzum and Mortiis/Vond with being my initial inspiration to start making music myself. This extreme minimalistic synth atmosphere was something unlike anything I’d ever heard when I first experienced it, and I instantly knew that I would be able to convey emotions in a similar manner. The “Stormblåst” album by Dimmu Borgir (the original one of course, not the re-recording) meant a lot to me with how it balances harmonies with rhythms, and “Pentagram” by Gorgoroth have some of the best rock’n’roll drums you’ll ever hear within Black Metal, that was a bold choice and really lifted that album to a new bar.

Lyric-wise I don’t look so much to other bands, as I honestly believe most of the lyrics – especially in the metal genre – is complete and utter crap. There’s a few exceptions, but they are few and far between. I rather look to older poets, like Ulven, Jonsson, Crowley, Ibsen, etc., to see how it’s possible to say a lot with few words. To really grasp just how minimalistic you can be and still present a mountain of meaning.

Stein Akslen (Minneriket) at the legendary Nidarosdomen in Trondheim, Norway

THM: Do you envision Minneriket playing live one day as a full band, with other musicians helping you take your music to the stage? Or is it always going to be a pure studio project? And do you dream of touring with any specific renowned Black Metal band in the future with any of your bands or projects (Blodsgard, V0id&Khaos, Vakslen or Minneriket)?

SA:   I’ll go live with Minneriket when I can co-headline with Burzum and have Darkthrone as supporting act.

THM:  What’s your view of the current metal scene in Norway, the birthplace of Black Metal? Is it pointing to an exciting future? What other underground acts hailing from Norway like Minneriket can you recommend to our readers?

SA:   Mostly just a bunch of self-obsessed drunken party-rockers who thinks spikes and corpse paint gives them some sort of credibility or validity. Doing their best to re-enact the music they like themselves, while completely failing to grasp or present anything of integrity or artistic value. I can’t recommend anyone in good conscience.

THM: Thank you very much for your time, and I hope to hear more from Minneriket in a not-so-distant future as your music is truly captivating. Please feel free to send your final words and considerations to our readers, and to invite everyone to join the dark world of Minneriket.

SA: Thank you. I released the last video from Anima Sola for the song “Alle hjerter banker ei” (Not all hearts beat) a few days ago for a fitting celebration of Valentines day… And after popular demand I also made Minneriket merchandise available for the first time ever, and everything can be ordered through the links on www.minneriket.com.

Links
Minneriket Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | BandCamp