The number of releases by Indian metal bands has increased rapidly since the year 2000, and that can be easily attributed to both the home recording tech revolution and the rising popularity of the genre. One of the first such albums that I recall buying was 2005’s A Darkness Descends by Mumbai based death/black metal band Demonic Resurrection.
If you’re a scenester from back in the day and own the album, I’m sure you’re reading this and wondering “Huh, it’s almost 10 years since it released?”
The album was a landmark release for its time when it came to the production, artwork, marketing and promotion. In fact, the promotional aspect came to be synonymous with Demonic Resurrection front man Sahil “Demonstealer” Makhija. I caught up with him recently to find out more about the album, its recording process and a lot more.
“We started writing material after the new line up of the band (Mephisto and JP) came together in 2003,” says Sahil reflecting on the early days. “We started jamming on new material as they said they did not want to play any of the old songs.”
‘A Darkness Descends’, ‘A Frozen Portrait’ and ‘Spirits of a Mystic Mountain’ were the first few songs recorded. The first 2 tracks also featured on the Resurrection compilation that was released by Demonstealer Records.
The line-up for the album was Demonstealer on Vocals/Guitars, Mephisto (Keyboards), Husain (Bass) and JP (Drums). “We used to jam every weekend back then and spent the rest of the year writing the rest of the songs except ‘Where Shadows Lie’ and the ‘The Summoning’ which were completed in the studio.” says Sahil, describing the writing process for the album. The album was funded by prize money from college festivals such as RAIT, Mumbai and NSIT, Delhi.
Makhija, an upcoming music producer then was working at Farhad Wadia’s Power Studios at the time. Havin recorded demos for nu metal band Pin Drop Violence, 90’s alt punk act Kinky Ski Munky amongst other bands, it was a no brainer for him to produce the album himself. It was the first time for most of the band members at a professional recording studio.
“The idea was not to hold back on the production. It was not about can we do this live or not, we wanted the album to be the best that it could be,” reveals Sahil. “Working at Wadia’s studio gave me a chance to collaborate with a lot of people.”
Some of the collaborators were: Warren Mendonsa (Blackstratblues/Zero), Pozy Dhar, Prashant Shah (Scribe) who played guitar solos and Taufiq Qureshi and Nimit did guest vocals.
Complementing the production of the album was the exceptional artwork that was designed by Prashant Shah. Each of the 16 pages of the album inlay had a different design, a first for an Indian metal band. “We wanted to create a product that was of international quality,” says Mephisto. “The initial idea for the cover art was a concept that Sahil had in mind, however Prashant’s idea of a Dark Lord overlooking an army and its rendition is something that blew us all away.”
The album was released on 29th October 2005 at the 4th edition of the Resurrection festival at Vashi Marine Centre. The festival was organized by Barcode Entertainment [a venture between Sahil and Husain] and had an impressive line-up featuring acts Exhumation, Kryptos and Myndsnare (both from Bangalore). The show saw a good turnout and everything went off quite smoothly, by Indian metalhead standards. Sahil reminisces of the camaraderie he shares with the Bangalore metal bands. “It was so much easier back then; all we had to do was book their train tickets”.
Prior to the album release the band had a pre order sale at a special price of Rs. 120 (Rs. 150 for those who lived outside Mumbai), something that was done for the first time by an Indian band. The album went on to sell out their initial print of 1000 copies within the first year, an impressive feat for a metal album that was self-released, and one that most bands can only dream of in today’s ‘industrialised’ scene. In the days before blogs, NH7 (the website or the festival), Rolling Stone, Pepsi MTV Indies or any of the music-related media and infrastructure we take for granted these days, it was Sahil’s incredible drive to succeed and his unabashed commitment to promoting his band and his music that led to such numbers
“I sat at home every weekend writing to labels across the world and do trade with them. A lot of CDs went out there. I think we sold around 500 CDs in India,” says Sahil about his distribution strategy for the album. ‘’Ï made sure all the Futardo’s had the album, also another other music stores. There was even Musicyogi.com, if anyone remembers that website”.
Sahil also deployed Facebook, e-mail campaigns and even a short-lived forums in his efforts to get his music out to as wide an audience as possible. At a time when few bands were interested in putting in time and effort towards self-promotion, Sahil not only made it an important part of his regular routine, he also experimented with a lot of the ideas that are now de rigeur for artists trying to get noticed. Of course, at the time he faced a lot of flak from scenesters annoyed at his ‘spamming’, and not all of those experiments worked out well, but the album did go on to sell another 1000 copies in the next 3 years.
Since the release of this album Demonic Resurrection went on to release an EP “Beyond the Darkness” (2007) and a album “Return to Darkness” (2010) to complete the “Darkness” trilogy. The band also played at some of the biggest metal festivals in the world like Inferno (Norway), Brutal Assault (Czech Republic) and Bloodstock (UK). Next month, the band will be releasing their most ambitious album yet, “The Demon King” which is being distributed in India by Universal Music and in Europe by Candlelight Records. The band will be also be playing a 6 day tour of UK and will also be performing at the Mecca for metalheads, Wacken Open Air. All of which would not have been possible without the success of this album, and the promotional strategies he came up with in trying to sell the record.
In conclusion, when asked if there anything he would like to change about the album, Sahil remarks “As a musician and producer, I wish I could re-record everything to match a different production, not necessarily a modern one. Maybe one day down the line, I will do a classic re-recording of the album.”
Cheers and stay demonic.
(Thanks to Bhanuj Kappal for his inputs and also editing the article)
Dusk are the oldest metal band in Pakistan and founder Babar Sheikh has seen the band through changes in line ups and also musical directions. Last week, Cyclopean Eye productions released ‘Through Corridors of Dead Centuries‘, a split album featuring Dusk and Indian death doomsters Dying Embrace. I spoke to Babar Sheikh about their latest release and their future plans.
Where did the idea to do the split come about? Did Sandesh from Cyclopean Eye productions have anything to do with it?
Dusk has always been open to the idea of collaborating with other acts and performers from the genre. Its been a great pleasure for us to be associated with some very celebrated names of the underground scene through our career. I guess it comes more naturally as an idea to people who have been associated with the true underground scene for the past two decades or so because back in the day splitting a record was the thing to do even being on compilation tapes was the cult thing to do! Dying Embrace for us have been brothers and partners in crime as far as the Sub Continental metal scene is concerned. Both Dusk and Dying Embrace have existed since the mid or early 1990’s (actually Dying Embrace are seniors) and this really was a dream come true for me. Both bands had somehow gone toward a more dormant mode since the past few years, Dusk decided to hit it back with our trademark Death / Doom sound and Dying Embrace were gearing up on releasing some of their previously unreleased stuff and at the same time incubating the idea of recording fresh material and this was the time when the hammer struck. The carrier of the hammer was none other than Sandesh Shenoy, long time friend, metal brother, fellow warrior in the underground arts, and now label owner for Asian Metal Underground Label – Cyclopean Eye Productions. I would give a lot of credit to Sandesh for helping Dusk realise the journey back to the trademark Death / Doom sound and full credit for making the split record killer idea a reality. It was really him (since the past two years Sandesh has also been managing Dusk and Dying Embrace) who pumped both the bands to a point where inspiration was sighted and finally it got Real!
Tell us a bit about the songs your side of the split. What are they about?
The songs on the split, as I mentioned before are a comeback for Dusk to our older sound, the sound which the underground associated with us so it was lots of memories coming back to the writing phases and right from the preliminary stages of the song writing I knew what I was wanting to achieve and how the songs would sound like at the end. The themes around which the lyrical content is based are also heavy like the sound itself. The opening track Shadow Poet speaks about the silent observer who lurks in the shadows of everyday life and paints a portrait of perceptions based upon his gatherings of life and reality. This is the solitary traveller who appeared earlier in Dusk lyrics sometimes as The Tragedian and sometimes as the habitat of the Fortress Of Solitude. Forged in the Fires of Duality is a heavier theme which taunts at society and splits in the face of those who live by their double standards, the content goes further to comment upon the addictition of power and the love for material possessions, something that has driven humankind away from their natural habitat – The Soul! For the end of the record we wanted to create a drone like tune or melody that would repeat itself, actually the time spent between recording the last track on the record ‘For Majestic Nights’ and the rest of the material is almost an entire year, and the more I listened to the other tracks the more I felt the need to have a definitive album closer which finally took form. Lyrically there is just a few lines which praises ‘The Night’ for being the time with higher spiritual expanse and power! However sound wise I believe we really found something special with this tune, many people who know the previous Dusk records will know that we never sounded this way but I believe this is one of the new sides to Dusk that we will further explore in the future.
The songs on the split release move into the direction of Doom metal compared to Thrash metal on your previous release. Any reason behind the shift in direction?
After we released our EP titled Dead Heart Dawning in 2006 (and a release on the three way split titled Rise of the Eastern Blood) Dusk was unknowingly moving into unexplored waters. This was also a very special time for me as an artist and musician since I joined Asian giant metal band Impiety and partially recorded with them for their Formidonis record. During this time I met fellow Impiety band mate and drummer Halim (Tremor) who agreed to join Dusk and together we wanted to jam some tunes that had more leaning towards the eighties thrash and death movement. Primarily this was a homage to more primitive sounding death thrash that made its mark from South America in the 1980s. Our toying around with these sounds got more and more serious and before we knew it we recorded 5 – 6 songs that we released with fellow Asian Crust / Punk / Thrash legends Distrust on a split record titled Eastern Assault. This was released by Pakistan’s only extreme metal label GMH Records. After the release of Eastern Assault things simmered down for Dusk and I got a sense of perspective, I realised this was good for a one off release (and believe me we gained some great fands by short lived 4 year Death/Thrash era) but Dusk will always be associated with tunes that made a mark from our earlier records. Sound wise a lot also changed a lot in the studio this time around when we recorded for the split. In the past it was more like a pattern but this time it felt more like a full blown production. During the death/thrash era I denounced lot of fancy gadgetry and gear and moved more toward the primitive approach for recording and of course that sensibility came along with me when I recorded the songs for the split. I feel the sound has much more body to it. Our engineer and my co producer Mr KK Wong (Ah Boy) a legend from Singapore’s underground movement really hit it home as far as the production and sound for the new Dusk is concerned. Tremor had never played drums for a doom record before (since when he joined Dusk we were already playing faster) so that was a great experience and I am happy that everything falls well into place at the end. The only part where one can catch a glimpse of the death/thrash era of Dusk on this split is our cover for the legendary Motorhead tune Bomber. This is where we blast everything into oblivion!
What are you plans for the rest of 2014?
Cyclopean Eye Productions just released the Dusk / Dying Embrace split titled ‘Through Corridors of Dead Centuries’ at Doom Over Bangalore II last weekend. I am sure the next few months we will hear much more of what comes as feedback. Looking forward to that! Unfortunately Dusk has not been the luckiest when it comes to live performances, as we were set to take the stage at the Ventbox fest in Singapore but due to personal and logistic reasons we had to cancel our appearance a month before the festival took place. But we are geared up on making some surprise appearances in festivals before the end of the year hopefully. Already starting to write new material for Dusk with long time collaborator and band mate Tremor however at this point I have no idea whether this will be another split or an Ep or a full length!
Any Final words?
Don’t follow trends – stay true to your art since this is what will help you survive and help you make your mark in the underground! Rock n Roll Thunder!
Listen to a track from Dusk’s side of the split below
Yesterday while checking soundcloud I found out that Feathers of Jatinga released a 4 track instrumental EP here. Going through my emails today I found an interview I did with Vishal J Singh and Vedant 3 years ago for Indianrockmp3.
Feathers of Jatinga is a new project of Vishal Singh (Amogh Symphony) that features Vedant (Shades of Retribution) on vocals. They have released 2 singles, “Frozen Lies” and “Master who Bleeds” and are currently working on their debut album. I had a chat with Vishal and Vedant about their new project, what to expect from the album and if we would see them live soon.
Hi Vishal and Vedant, Hows it going?
Vedant: We guys are doin’ great! We are really happy with the way things are shaping up….
You know each other for some time now since you are childhood friends, when did you decide to start “Feathers of Jatinga”?
Vedant: Exactly! We are from the same town, Duliajan (Assam). We are great family friends.
So it all started very young for us, I would say from the very basics. We wrote songs together, rehearsed together, played in our first band together,(Infinite Ashes),shared the same apartment together in Pune…..So…Yeah!
Vishal: Actually, Vedant and my brother Vikram are childhood friends and that’s how I met him. We are more like blood brothers. The understanding between us is very naturally mutual and we trust on each other’s decisions in songwriting. I think back in 2000, it was Iron Maiden that influenced both of us. We used to play almost a whole setlist of Iron Maiden covers during weekend rehearsals.
We decided to start Feathers of Jatinga last year when Vishal came home for a few days and we were having beer on my terrace. It was In July and the next thing we knew…we were writing and composing left and right….hahaha.
Vishal: Yes. We were actually talking about all those earlier songs that we wrote together between 2001 – 2003 for our first band “Infinite Ashes” but we never got the chance to include them in the setlist. It was because of differences in thoughts and ideas between us and the rest of the band mates. In September 2003, I remember it was Vedant’s birthday. There were many friends and another band in the party. I was so badly drunk with the rest of the band mates and I had a fist-fight with Uday (Bassist of Infinite Ashes). The situation turned worse. Vedant and I also had a big fight and argument. That evening, I said goodbye to the band and moved back to home (Duliajan, Assam) for a month. We all were young and a little wild. I was the youngest member in the band (I was 18 years old) and a complete hot-headed teenager. I regretted about it much later when I started missing my band members especially Vedant with whom I was so close like a brother. Then I heard Vedant also decided to quit Infinite Ashes and joined death metal band IIIrd Sovereign in New Delhi as their new front man. I knew that IIIrd Sovereign got the best death metal front man for their line-up. Few years after that incident, we met at my Late Father’s last ritual in our hometown. We share a common story of life (Vedant, who was also very attached to his Father, lost him when he was very young). I think since then we started talking to each other once again and finally in July 2010, we recalled everything during that beer session on his terrace. Feathers of Jatinga was actually a song that we made in 2002. We both agreed to keep this name for this project because it’s related to our personal experiences in life.
Tell us a bit about then Album, what are the songs like? Similar to “Frozen Lies” and “Master Who Bleeds”?
Vedant: The sound gives you a cold and dark ambience of the North-Eastern winter in Upper Assam which will be heard on most of the songs. The songs I would say will be mostly about the sing along choruses, clean atmospheric vocals and very importantly, melody playing a key factor.
Vishal : All I can tell that if you are sick of hearing extreme technical death metal, progressive metal and djent and looking for atmospheric metal with simple structures for a change, I am sure you will love this album. Instrumentally, the songs are all about straight-in-your-face arrangement and Doom influenced riffs. I would honestly say that Amogh Symphony fans would not enjoy this album so much if they are expecting anything like Abolishing the Obsolete system or The Quantum Hack Code. This album is for the listeners who are philosophers and thinkers in their daily life. It’s dark but yet very positive. Positive thoughts of our mind that makes us a human on occasions. It’s all about realization in life. Everyone has a story just like mine and Vedant’s. And this album is a fuel for those positive thoughts about life.
What are the songs about?
Vedant: The songs are based on human instincts, paranormal behavior, parallel existence, mixed emotions and feelings and personal experiences as well. For example, “The Master who bleeds” talks about a Pupil’s sacrifice of all his master’s preachings, principles, moral ethics and values and above all, his oath to follow the light of truth. All these turns to dust when the pupil stains his hands with sins to eradicate evil from the society which the Master cannot bear and banishes him from his life and wisdom.
Since you live in cities in two different ends of India, how are the songs written?
Vedant: Vishal comes up with the melody and the pattern of the songs, mails it to me with the arrangement sheet, I write the lyrics and the vocal melodies, record my vocals in Guwahati at Lucid Recess Studios (thanks to Siddarth Barooa from Lucid Recess), mail it to Vishal who finally does all the overall layering, mixing and mastering.
Vedant, why the shift from IIIrd Sovereign and Shades of Retribution to something mellow like Feathers of Jatinga?
Vedant: Not a shift really… I always had these ideas and concept written down for such projects and Feathers of Jatinga is the perfect ground for executing these ideas and concepts.
Vedant on clean vocals is a bit of a surprise to those who know you from IIIrd Sovereign and Shades of Retribution.
Do you have any formal training? Do you have any practice rituals or exercises that you do for your vocals?
Vedant: Naaaaahhhh……it was just the tapes for me! The loo is the place for me that provides me the practice pad…hahahaha.
Vishal: You guys should listen to Vedant when he sings Bhojpuri songs. His Bhojpuri vocal version of Iron Maiden’s “The trooper” is just insane.
Vishal, you always manage to get a clean and polished sound on all your projects. Where do you record and what equipment do you use?
Vishal: I used to record at my buddy Prashant’s home studio setup. His equipment is very awesome. I don’t rely on too many Equipments and plugins for production because it’s a very bad habit for a composer/arranger. Mixing is all about how you and your own ears want to hear it. I made a very simple setup for Feathers of Jatinga track arrangement. In DAW, I use Nuendo 4, Wave effects plugins and in Synth, Omnisphere by Spectrasonics. I used the same Aria Pro II Custom made Cardinal Series Guitar in the songs with Pod XT bean.
If given an opportunity which Bollywood music producer would you like to work with?
Vishal: Oh well! I am not sure about Producer. I think Benny Benegal (my former Trainer) is one great Bollywood producer with whom I would love to work with. Talking about music composer, I would say Vishal Bharadwaj (not because we share the same name). Even though A.R Rahman gets all the praise and support from thousands of fans, I think Vishal Bharadwaj is another phenomenal Bollywood music composer/producer who is kind of underrated. It’s a similar situation like Periphery and Animals As Leaders (if you understand what I mean) in Djent. Consider Rahman as Periphery and Bharadwaj as AAL.
Will the Album be released through a label or independently? What are the plans for distribution of it?
Vishal: Well, we are talking to few labels here and there. Not really sure about that but least we can do is printing some CD’s and distribute everywhere. Digital copies will be up as well.
Since you both are based in India, is there a possibility of doing live gigs after the release of the album?
Vedant: Haven’t planned anything yet. We will keep you guys updated though.
Vishal: Depends on our extreme busy schedules. I am very greedy when it comes to gigs. We need good money first and then we are on. We are not living in the past era of “Playing metal in the name of unity”. Like I always say, I want the session musicians (Drummer, Bassist, and Second Guitarist) to be paid well on time after shows. There are many great bands in our country who are still unpaid and they face such problem everyday. I love each and every fans and friends but before any legal work related to decent payments on time, doing live gigs will be suicide for us. If you guys buy our album and support us, may be Event Groups will show some love to us. Just like Amogh Symphony, everything depends on CD sales. It’s really a bliss to have greatest fans and friends who supports your music. But “Support” doesn’t help a band or artist to grow up financially. And there is no point in sacrificing your lifestyle just in the name of “supporting the scene”. I am totally against of this thought.
Are you working currently on any other projects?
Vedant: Yeah…I’m with shades Of Retribution as well and soon we will be releasing a new single produced by Vishal.
What are your plans for the rest of 2011?
Vedant : Let us release the album first…that’s what we are concentrating on as of right now!
Any final words?
Vedant : Hope you like the album.
I’ve was going through my old emails and found this interview I did with Rishu Singh from ennuidotbomb.com for Indianrockmp3 4 years ago before the release of the 4th edition of Stupid Ditties, India’s premier unmetal indie compilation. Manage bands, organise gigs, release compilations, he has done it all. Read on to find out more about Stupid Ditties, ennui.BOMB and his thoughts on the indie scene in India.
Hey Rishu, Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule, what’s new in the ennui.BOMB camp?
Well there is something happening in the ennui camp after a while. So that’s what’s new!
We’re busy with the launch of the 4th installment of Stupid Ditties, launch concerts for the same in Mumbai and Delhi, managing a new hardcore punk band, The Riot Peddlers, and kicking off a new gig series called ‘Kill The Weekday’. Most of this possible due to an ankle fracture, lotsa time at home and my considerate employers, Rolling Stone India.
Congrats on SD4 release, what can you tell us about it? How different it is from previous editions of the compilation?
Thanks! Frankly, there’s nothing new about SD4. It still is exactly what we started out as, “an unmetal compilation of original Indian music”. I doubt that will ever change! In terms of music, its got some genres we’ve never touched like hip-hop and ska. Overall, it’s heartening to see various artists all over India try their shit. Just the fact that we have musicians who are making music they believe in is good enough to put them on a compilation and/or listen to them. It’s the song that counts. Fuck recording quality! The Stupid Ditties series is a leg up. I hope someone somewhere (do A&R people still exist?) loves that badly recorded song a band has made and signs them on for a multi-trillion dollar contract!
Free CD giveaway?? What’s the Catch? Doesn’t it hurt the pocket?
Hahaha! There’s no catch bro. Both my wife Aditi and me have jobs, are rockers and have grown up in this scene. We’d rather spend some money on something like this. And frankly it’s best doing it without a sponsor to retain the creative control of what we want to do in terms of art and promotion. Though a sponsor with the same sensibilities wouldn’t hurt! But I guess I’m too lazy to go around asking!
One question I have been dying to ask you, what’s the story behind the name ennui.BOMB?
I think when you get too fucking bored, there’s bound to be some sort of a huge energy release. It could be constructive or destructive depending on your frame of mind. ennui.BOMB is that energy release. To bomb some of our fucked up boredom away! Hahaha!
Going back in time, you have had a bad experience with releasing ‘We Are The Scene 2’. Yet! You have successfully released SD series both physically and Digitally, What kept you going?
There’s never been a “bad experience” as such. WATS2 was supported financially by Throatlatch Records. I think they gave us Rs.5000 which was a big deal at that time. It’s just that WATS2 made me realize what exactly I wanted to push/promote, which was all the other music apart from metal that was not being looked at.
Stupiditties 1 was sponsored by Bhargava’s Musik and we took a small load to make the CD look and feel like a great unmetal CD. Eventually, we got super support from indiecision.com (now nh7.in) to release the next 2 compilations. So there has always been encouragement and support. And obviously the more time you spend in the music business, the more you know where costs can come down. That helped too.
A few years ago ennui.BOMB was managing bands like Medusa, Tripwire, Split among others, then you quit managing bands and now you are managing Riot Peddlers. What is the reason behind the move? Change of heart?
See, when I joined Rolling Stone India managing events, there were times when RS was looking at say a Medusa to play a gig. From RS’s perspective I could only pay the band X. At the same time, as the band’s manager, I knew that my band charges Y. So effectively I was negotiating with myself! Which didn’t make sense to me.
And the intention was always promoting these bands wherever I could because I know they are great. For example, Medusa has toured the UK and recorded with John Leckie. Split is doing fabulously for themselves now.
So I decided to quit as band manager but promote them wherever possible.
With Riot Peddlers, it’s a different story. The band is not as mainstream as most of these were. It requires a niche audience and I don’t see handling business for them clashing with my responsibilities at RS. Not to forget that they blew me away from the first scratch version I heard of their demo. So yea..
From organising gigs on terraces to now organizing gigs in bars/clubs for Rolling Stone, how did you make the transition?
I guess I can say I’m lucky to have found the job I am passionate about.
SD1 had a kickass launch gig at razz and finally there are more launch gigs happening for you with this release. How did you manage to crack that?
Most of the ennui gigs you will see are good offers for everyone involved. The bands get paid, people get free gigs with/without freebies like CDs, and the venues get a crowd. As long as everyone’s happy with the business/exposure they are getting, that’s what ennui.BOMB is about. I don’t want to make money from it. At least not right now with a job and all.
So the task is approaching people and sounding off ideas. If a venue sees potential for business or exposure, they will pick it up. Try it.
Do you think Punk is dead? And metal is taking over?
Metal has always been the biggest rock subculture in India. That and classic rock. Punk in India is a very haphazard tiny tiny vibe right now. Bands need to get their music out to people, connect with other bands in other parts of the country, go down and play different cities to get the whole punk vibe booming. It will happen. It’s inevitable.
What you think about current Indie India? What (Indie India) bands have you been listening to recently?
I think this is the best time to be involved with the music culture/business in India (where most artists are independent). There has never been a more fruitful era for rock music here. I really enjoy music by Medusa, The Supersonics, Pentagram, Split, Sridhar/Thayil, Bhayanak Maut, Hipnotribe and Scribe. Among recent discoveries are The Pulp Society, Lazy River, Underground Authority and Zygnema. It’s great to hear their music. Even better catching them live.
This is your space, anything you want to say ..(Shout out/ Thank You note/ Abuse)
Just some advice for anyone with a dream/a vision/an idea: JUST DO IT.
And don’t wait for people to help you out.
Do it yourself.
Last Famous Words are..
Music should be free.
In addition to listening to metal music, I also enjoy reading up about the genre. One of the books I have been reading lately is Not Just Tits in a Corset: Celebrating Women in Metal by Jill Hughes Kirtland, a Music journalist and band manager.
The book is a good read for metal geeks like me. I discovered quite a few metal bands that I had not heard before. I spoke to Jill Hughes Kirtland about the book, the writing process and a lot more.
Was there an idea or incident that made you want to write the book?
JHK: The idea really stemmed from my own experiences being a manager of a progressive metal band (2007-2010) and being on a road as a tour manager for Shadow Gallery in 2010. I saw how stereotypes can really play into how a woman is treated in the metal community.
When did you start working on the book? How did it take to finish?
JHK: I started working on the book in the summer of 2010. I spent a good 3 years conducting the interviews and research and taking photographs, and then I had to take about a year off because I became pregnant with my daughter and the pregnancy really killed my creativity. I was so tired all the time. So when my daughter was a couple months old and started sleeping through the night, I would stay up late to finish writing the book.
Were there any highlights during the writing process?
JHK: I think just finding the abundance of female musicians and all the female fans who love metal was overwhelming and surprising. When I go to concerts, women seem like such a minority but after writing this book I found out women are everywhere, all over the world, in love with metal and involved in metal. Hearing their stories was refreshing.
The book features a large number of artists. How did you manage to get in contact with all of them?
JHK: It helps that I already had a lot of contacts in the metal music business. I have a lot of PR acquaintances and so they put me in touch with the female artists on their rosters. It was a win win situation for them – more exposure for their artists! Also some of my music friends put me in contact with females they knew and I used my network to reach out to fans all over the world.
Did you interview any of your favourite artists?
JHK: Yes, I am a huge fan of female-fronted metal so interviewing many of my favorite artists such as Doro Pesch, Lita Ford, Sharon den Adel, Cristina Scabbia, Anneke van Giersbergen, Amanda Somerville, Charlotte Wessels, and so many others was a lot of fun.
As someone who worked in the metal industry, could you relate to the stories from the artists?
JHK: Absolutely. That is why I wrote the book!
How did you get into metal? What was the first band you heard?
JHK: My love for metal started fairly young when I started listening to bands like Guns ‘N Roses and Def Leppard but I was not really aware that was “metal”. I grew up in a very religious household so I couldn’t really listen to anything heavier than that but when I was 17 I heard Dream Theater which really started my love for prog metal and then as I listened to more prog, symphonic, and power metal as a young adult then I got into the much heavier bands and I also started to listen to some of the older classic metal bands like Iron Maiden.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
JHK: To promote the book, and then rest from the endless hours I put into it! I don’t really want to start any other projects for awhile. I’d like to get back out there and do more concert photography but for now I am just going to attend a few concerts and festivals as a patron rather than as press, and enjoy the music!
Any final words?
JHK: I appreciate all the support for the book so far – all the Indiegogo campaign contributors, artists who have promoted it, and friends/family who have encouraged me to write a book!
Buy Not Just Tits in a Corset: Celebrating Women in Metal here
Benevolent are a Dubai based progressive metal band. Started by brothers Hadi and Fadi Sarieddine in Kuwait, they moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 2011 after the release of their EP “Divided”. The brothers are joined by Mohammad Gad on rhythm guitar. The vacant drum throne has been filled by Andols Herrick (Ex-Chimaira) on their new release. It has been a great year for the band so far, their album “The Covenant” released last month and then they were added to the lineup for the Euroblast festival. I spoke to Gad and Hadi about the album, Euroblast and a lot more.
Hi guys, it’s been a great month for you, first the release of your album “The Covenant” and now you’ve been added to the line for the Euroblast festival. How does it feel?
Gad: I cannot find words to describe how hearing this news made us feel. It has been surprise after surprise with Benevolent so far and we must say that we are very grateful for the things that have been occurring with us prior to and post releasing The Convenant. We are very happy with the pace that we are moving at and are very overjoyed to see our name on the Euroblast roster. Not to mention that we really look forward to sharing the venue and stage with bands whom we have been listening to for several years now. It is a dream come true.
Hadi: It’s been absolutely amazing, we feel really grateful. When you create art you’re really opening yourself up and committing chapters of yourself into the pieces that you work on and when you find that this work resonates with people and listeners who experience the record pick up on the vibes it’s truly humbling and very gratifying. With the album’s release, the reviews we’ve been receiving, being confirmed to play at Euroblast, and continuing to work on more exciting things we are really happy and inspired right now!
Tell us about your new album “The Covenant”.
Fadi: Our debut full-length album “The Covenant” is an emotional ride and a journey of sound as moments of anger and aggression are followed with a groovy melody and an awe-inspiring atmosphere.
The album constitutes of 11 tracks with ambience being the main component onto which everything else is structured upon. ‘The Covenant’ is very diverse in its sound as it combines elements of Djent and Melodic Death metal with moments of groovy beats and very catchy clean choruses.
Lyrically, we actually wrote the lyrics separately and although the album is not and was not intended to be a conceptual album after the lyrical creative process was concluded, we realized that the tracks sort of complimented each other. Overall, the album discusses the warfare taking place individually within each and every one of us but with a positive twist.
You released your EP “Divided” in 2010. How long did the writing process for “The Covenant” take?
Hadi: We started working on ‘The Covenant’ straight up after Divided EP was released, but that was a really early stage in the writing process and we didn’t end up using any of the songs that we demoed back then per se. However, the first two songs that shaped the sound of the new album were ‘The Seeker’ and ‘Metamorphosis’, those two songs were the first two solid tracks that were completed as far as the writing goes and they set the tone forward for the rest of the tracks.
The album was recorded and produced at Haven Studio in UAE and mastered by Acle Kahney at 4D Sounds in the UK. How was the recording process? How long did it take?
Hadi: The record was recorded and produced at Haven Studio which is the studio that I run in the UAE, this was one of the best decisions we’ve taken because it allowed us to truly get intimate with these songs and add a lot of depth to them as we went along.
The way we work is that we actually record as we go along in writing, the way it works is that we write songs on our DAWs straight up and most times we record the final takes from the get go, unless a riff requires us to do some work to nail it down at a 100%. Precisely what happened was the riffs would be written / recorded and then MIDI bass and drums would be written along and those would serve as ‘tabs’ for us to refer back to in case we wanted to make sure about the right notes or whatnot. Both bass and drums were obviously re-recorded at a later stage.
The very last elements that went into the recording were the guitar solos and all the production clean / layer guitars. A lot of those elements were actually recorded from the get go as well but a few layers were added later.
Gad: The recording process was a bit unorthodox on this album yet very enjoyable to say the least. There were times when we as individuals would record our parts/takes individually and send them across to one another (given that we reside in different countries) and times when we would all do so in the same room. A substantial portion of the bass parts on this album were written during the bass recording sessions, meaning the creative process and the recording sessions were pretty much the same thing with respect to bass as well.
Recording and producing ‘The Covenant’ at Haven Studios and later Mastering at 4D sounds was the most we could ask for for this album. We have looked at a few other options beforehand and in turn decided that those 2 studios could gave us the most desirable output sonically.
How does the album compare to your previous release ‘Divided’?
Fadi: We believe that the music that comes out is always a representation of the artists behind the writing process and ‘The Covenant’ certainly is exactly that as it represents how much we have changed over the past few years since the release of our EP Divided.
The band featured several line-up changes since 2010 and we are certainly more tightly knit as unit due to these changes. Furthermore, we have greater believe in ourselves as musicians and with what we can bring to the table when compared to the writing process of Divided. Our personal musical influences have also changed over the past few years.
For me ‘The Covenant’ represents the band’s natural growth as the album is very atmospheric and that is what we intended to achieve when the writing process started.
Hadi: Just to add on to that, we are really honest in the way that we create music and we work toward serving the true essence of the song and the message that is passing through it whether it is on the instrumental or lyrical level.
Each and every song on this album is an audible translation of experiences, thoughts, feelings, or stuff that we simply come across as we live our day to day lives. Every person perceives things differently and explains them different and ‘The Covenant’ is our way of telling the stories of things related to internal anxieties, fears, discovering ones truths, and other internal warfare topics as Fadi put it.
“The Covenant” features Andols Herrick on drums. How did he become part of the album?
Gad: We have comically discussed the idea of bringing in a drum icon to record one of the songs on this album (only a thought to be entertained back when we first brought it up). Then we decided why not actually give it a shot?
The band then approached drum icon Andols Herrick and sent him the songs off of ‘Divided EP’.
To our surprise, he enjoyed the music and expressed his interest to work with us as well on this record, and seeing that reaction was mind-blowing for us.
Initially, we had agreed to have him record one song with us (that being Metamorphosis). But we collectively decided that all the other tracks on the album should be recorded by him.
Outside the realm of music, we took great notice on how great and humble he is as a character. He was also very supportive and went out of his way to truly share and spread the album to his fan base both before and after the release. To have developed this rapport with him during the course of the recording process is a thing that we are truly honored and proud of.
I would like to think that the release of this album is not the last chapter of Andol’s and Benevolent’s association, so let us see what the days bring.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any live shows planned other than Euro blast?
Hadi: We’ve got a bunch of different things that we’re working on right now. Those most revolve around playing shows and getting our music out to the world. More and more details on what we’ve got cooking will be surfacing in the time coming.
Any Final words
Hadi: We would like to thank everyone who is supporting us and inspiring us in multitudes of ways, we look forward to seeing you all out on the road!
Listen to “The Covenant” below
The second release by Woods of Ypres “Pursuit Of The Sun & Allure Of The Earth” is now available for pre-order on Earache Records. The album is a special on for me as it is the first Woods of Ypres album I heard. In March 2005, just over six months after the release of the album I did an interview with front man David Gold. It appeared in The Frequency, a publication of Fusion Radio which is the internet radio station for the Scarborough campus of University of Toronto.
How did you come up with the name Woods of Ypres??
The original Woods of Ypres was formed in May of 2002 as a 3 piece in Windsor. The name came from a song title from another Windsor band called “Fact of Death”. We heard about it at the same time we were searching for a name and they gave us permission to use it. It meant a lot of things at the time, having reference to the park on Ypres Rd. in Windsor (when we all lived in Windsor), the battle of Ypres in WWI which had significant Canadian involvement (making reference to us as Canadians and our history), and the “Woods” part of it having reference to traditional ‘black metal’ themes (of being inspired by nature, etc…).To my knowledge, Woods of Ypres is the first black metal band to ever originate in Windsor.
Describe the band and its music
I like to describe Woods of Ypres ongoing style as Black & Doom metal, because we are both, and not completely one or the other. “Pursuit of the Sun…”, the latest CD is in more of a doom vein than the “Against the Seasons” demo which was more “cold” and black. It comes across as comparable to the band Opeth to a lot of people with the frequent use of the acoustic guitar and the light to heavy dynamics, but the Opeth style is only a reference point.”Pursuit…” was more of an experiment on how the same themes of black metal would be expressed in a summer setting as opposed to winter, which is more traditional for black metal. For example, whereas it’s easy to find comfort and collect your thoughts in the darkness of the winter, it can be an agonizing experience if you find yourself miserable in the summer when the sun is shining and there’s nowhere to hide from it, and everyone can see you suffer. It is the soundtrack for those emotionally heavy, hot and humid, sad summer days.
The next CD (due out by the end of 2005) will be a full return to our “cold” black metal sound, similar to the “Against the Seasons” demo, but more developed by experience. We have 12 new songs that we’re working on right now and I can already say that it will be the best Woods yet!
Tell me about your first album “Against the seasons”. Is it going to be re-released??
Our 1st album “Against the Seasons: Cold Winter Songs from the Dead Summer Heat” will be officially released for the 1st time ever this summer! It has only been available in CD-r/Demo format up until now. The whole album has been re-mixed and re-mastered and it now sounds HUGE! Way bigger than it ever did! It will be available direct from us at http://www.woodsofypres.ca, at any CD retail store in Canada and at The End Records Mailorder (www.theendrecords.com). We are very excited to finally have it released properly, almost 3 years later after it was recorded.
Are you signed with any label??
Woods of Ypres is being released by the new upcomming music label “Krankenhaus Records” here in Mississauga. This label will do big things this year!
How would you come up with the lyrics in your songs?
The lyrics are always inspired from coping with terrible stuff. They are a mix of sadness, frustration, disappointment and hope. They are definitely not your typical ‘heavy metal lyrics’ but they are true to us, and have become a big part of the reason why we bother to make music.
How has the Response been to you music in Toronto?
I interpret the overall the response as good from the way that so many people feel inclined to spread the word about Woods of Ypres after they hear us. They recognize what we do as something special, because the can see that the music is also very special and meaningful to us. I also like the fact that people who bother really analyze our music realize that there is much more to this band than what can be said with comparisons to Opeth or Ulver. I appreciate that because thought there may be a few similarities on the surface, we are inspired from very different places and the end results are in fact very different. We never went out to be anyone else but ourselves, Canadian kids raised on metal who are now Canadians who make metal.
An old friend of mine used to have a theory that because there are so many bands in the world that you’ll probably never hear the band you and your brain would like the most (based on your own unique characteristics).From the reaction we have been getting, I think it’s okay for me to say that we have found some of “our people” because we hear from a lot of listeners who just “get it” and can immediately identify with it. The music, the themes, they effortlessly get it. It’s as if their brains were craving something specific, that didn’t yet exists and we fulfilled the demand. To them, “Pursuit of the Sun…” is more than just “Weekend Heavy Metal Purchase #666″ and we really like that. Though surely, we realise that WOY is not for everyone, but it seems that the people who like it, really like it!
Are you going to be playing live soon??
We were set to play at the Northern Lights Festival but it was recently canceled, apparently due to slow ticket sales and the fact that a corporate metal tour booked their Toronto date on the same weekend as our festival. Woods of Ypres doesn’t have any shows currently scheduled.
What are the future plans for the band?
Dan Hulse (bass/recording engineer), Jessica Rose (keys) and I will be concentrating on developing songs for the new album right up until recording begins this summer. We are planning to do some serious gigging once Woods: III is released. 2005 will be another ‘writing year’ but we plan to make 2006 a ‘working year’ and play a whole lot more live shows. We don’t plan on doing an album next year, but who knows. We are always writing so something may come up anyway. But for right now, our focus is making the next album as good as we possibly can. “Against the Seasons: III – “The Deepest Roots & Darkest Blues” will be out at the end of this year.
Any final words??
Check out http://www.woodsofypres.ca for news and updates. + Visit the forum!