Posts Tagged ‘heavy metal’
With just over 2 months to go for the end of the year, there’s been another killer release from the Indian metal scene; Burn up the night by heavy metal band Kryptos. The band are one of the oldest surviving metal bands in India. Over the past 18 years they have released 3 albums.
Burn up the Night released through AFM Records features a straight up 80’s heavy metal sound which will appeal particularly to “old school” metal fans. I enjoyed the album as the songwriting and production contrasts with the sterile sounds of upcoming bands
I (Peter ‘Trendcrusher‘ K.) spoke to vocalist/guitarist Nolan Lewis about their change in sound, music videos and their recent European tour.
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NWOBHM band Mythra have been cited by Lars Ulrich of Metallica as one of his his early musical influences. The band reunited last year after 30 years and released a compilation album Warriors of Time: The Anthology via Skol Records. Mythra are now signed to High Roller Records and are heading to the studio to record a new album album titled Still Burning.
I spoke to the band about their The Death and Destiny’LP, their deal with High Roller Records and also what to expect from their upcoming album.
Read my interview with Mythra on Transcending Obscurity
In the past couple of years, I have discovered quite a few killer metal bands from Pakistan. I interviewed Multinational Corporations and Dionysus last year. I heard about Islamabad based heavy metal band Blackhour through my friend Kunal Choksi. He has released their second album “Sins Remain” through the distribution arm of his label Transcending Obscurity. I was reminded of bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon listening to the album .
I spoke to the band about “Sins Remain”, being a metal band in Pakistan, performing with Bumblefoot and their plans for this year.
Hi guys, you started the band in in 2007. How did you’ll get together? Are you’ll from the same school/college?
Hashim: So Blackhour started in 2007 when I was in college and recently started playing Iron Maiden licks. At that point I had a vision to make songs that people would sing along to and me along with a few friends got to gather to form a band which had no name… Just a school band to be honest. As luck would have it, we were that one bad band which was boo-ed off stage but it wasn’t going to kill my passion for making music
One year later, me and my brother Diam (Drummer) decided to take things seriously and by late 2008 BLACKHOUR came into existence and it wasn’t until 2010 that the final line-up as our fans know it now, was formed with Tayyab Rehman as vocalist, Salman Afzal on Bass, Mashoo and myself on guitars and little baby bro on drums.
Blackhour indeed started as a bedroom project but with newer musicians from outside our college social circle joining in, Blackhour became bigger and in the early 2012 after release of Age of War album, when Manager, Hassaan Ahmed joined the band… shit just went serious Hahaha!
It is not easy being a band in Pakistan. What are the struggles you faced so far?
Tayyab Rehman: I guess to say at a broader perspective, it is not easy being a musician in any corner of the world, and being in Pakistan brings about a whole new level of challenges. With the local music scene mostly dominated by classical and pop genre, to be a musician in a heavy metal band is like playing in a hockey team with a cricket Bat.
To our surprise we had support from our loved ones but some close friends always forced us to adopt urdu as our lyrical content and make songs more “Listenable” but we knew what we wanted to achieve with our music and we took a big leap of faith. At the end of the day the biggest struggle of being a heavy metal band from Pakistan, is the exposure. The music never gets heard at the level we want it to… but we would try our best to break the boundaries and make a mark!
Your second album “Sins Remain” is out now. It takes further the sound from your debut release “Age of War”. Tell us more about your latest release.
Hashim: The second album was a challenge for the band. With Age of War, it was just me, Tayyab and Hasan Rauf (ex-member) who were involved in the writing process so it was easy to carry. But with this one we decided that each member should bring about their creative process into the songwriting and thus, each song is so much different from the other that you get to hear the versatility of each member.
The title track Sins Remain, is by far our favorite track and it is the brainchild of the most silent member of the band, Slaman Afzal, and I will let him talk about the concept and what not.
Salman Afzal: Umm… well I had this melody which I made back in college and me and Hashim used to jam to it, and it just had a nice ring to it.. When Hashim came with the idea that each member has to put in an individual song in the album, I was actually taken aback. I tried working out various licks but nothing had the “IT” factor, so one night while randomly playing my acoustic guitar the riff for Sins Remain was unleashed on the fret board and I knew it, THIS WAS GOING TO BE MY SONG! We experimented a lot on this song and perhaps spent the most time in structuring it and relating the music with the lyrical content. In fact it is the first song from Pakistan and I dare say from Asia that utilizes the Pashto folk instrument “Rubab” in a metal song which added to the progressive feel of the song.
It is the combination of the whole band’s involvement and the versatility that the song had to offer that we went with Sins Remain as the album title!
How did you go about recording “Sins Remain”? Are there many recording studios for metal music in Pakistan?
Mashoo: The Sins Remain recording process was a rather interesting fatigue because at the time we had tied up with other bands to experiment on different live concerts, and while handling concert/show organizing, our manager was up our asses to finalize the recording for Sins Remain album. We started by setting up our own recording studio, so this was a first for Blackhour to record its own music on their own. Two upbeat songs, Battle Cry and Wind of Change were produced at a good friend, Fahad Humayun from Dissbeleif’s (an alternative rock band from Islamabad) studio – Bracket Productions, who did an amazing job at handling them and the raw feel that we wanted out of these two songs.
For the remaining three songs, we recorded them through a series of ups and downs at our own studios. The writing process had been finalized during the start of 2015 and we were perfecting our songs via live performances to know the studio sound we want. Finally in late September we collaborated with Mr. Saiban Khaliq – Vocalist/Guitarist for Revolt (A death metal band from Islamabad) for the production of the three songs and I still remember the late nights Hashim and Daim used to spend at the producer’s basement to perfect the sound we wanted and I think if not a 100%, we managed to get a good 80% of the raw/live feel in our produced songs.
Hashim: As for recording studios for metal music in Pakistan, as mashoo highlighted, such studios are majorly operated by metal band members… because they understand the music and given the resources are able to extract that sound for other heavy metal bands, and these studios are usually home studios. Don’t get me wrong though, there are formal recording studios as well, but for a metal band like ourselves, affording the formal studio is through the roof so it is the community that helps each other with production, recording etc. And pretty sure there will be a Blackhour Studio to look forward as well.
“Sins Remain” is being released by Transcending Obscurity distribution. How did the deal come about?
Hassaan: Well Blackhour is all about creating a community for metal music and with this, we tied up with Tejali, a good friend from India, to act as Blackhour’s representative in India. It was her brilliant efforts while working as a full time Architect that she linked up Mr. Kunal Choksi with the band and I guess he liked our music which took further our deal. What’s interesting is that the relationship with TO Distribution is more of a very friendly and collaborative venture as opposed to a suit and tie formal business deals. Mr. Kunal understands well what the band is capable of and has helped us out reach a bigger audience.
The metal scene in Pakistan is slowly picking up in the past couple of year. I’ve really enjoyed listening to bands like Multinational Corporations and Dionysus. What are other bands from Pakistan that you recommend?
Diam: Pakistan’s metal scene though very underground is still enriched with some really amazing bands ranging from death metal, grind core to some really progressive alternative rock bands as well. Some of the amazing bands that I would recommend anyone exploring the Pakistani Metal Scene will be; Blackhour (have to tell them about my band lol), Revolt, Inferner, Tak-a-Tak, Ehl-e-Rock, Dissbelief and Qayyas.
In August last year, you performed alongside guitarist Bumblefoot at Lok Virsa Open Air Theater in Islamabad. How was the experience?
Tayyab: FUCKING AMAZING! These are the words that kept repeating in my mind, as I went around answering this question. I guess there are no words to define how out of the world it felt. Bumblefoot is indeed a legendary guitar player and to be alongside on the stage with him, well again FUCKING AMAZING. Despite being on stage, the interaction with him off stage and during jam sessions was an eye-opener for the band. We have never met a musician so down to earth and true to music as him. We really hope to share the stage with him soon. And for us it was an honor, that he flew all the way to Pakistan, despite how the country is portrayed in the media, he took the risk and performed and interacted with the musicians here! Honestly, I did not want that show to end to say the least!
What are your plans for this year?
Hashim: We are planning to go about promoting Sins Remain via performing live. In fact last year in November 2015 we did a national launch of the album by organizing Pakistan’s first ever theatrical concert, where each song of the album was complimented by live on-stage theatrical performances (directed by The Insane Production House), while the band performed live. So we are planning to take this setting and perform this show across all the major cities of the country. Along with that we are trying to perhaps play live across the borders as well.. I guess our Manager can help us with that if he moves off of his lazy butt! Other than that, we are also playing at an upcoming music festival of Pakistan (One of the biggest in the country), Music Mela, in late April.
But beyond the live shows we are also planning to start working on a new album. The Writing process has already started during the production of Sins Remain… So there is a lot more of BLACKHOUR to witness this year and the years ahead to come!
Stay up to date with Blackhour on their facebook page and check out their video for the track “Battle Cry” below
Who: Against Evil The band consists of Shasank (Guitars), Sravan (Guitars/Vocals), Siri Sri (Bass/Vocals) and Noble John (Drums). “All of us are from the same city and since there are a very few people who listen to metal in our city, we all knew each other.” said Shasank about the origins of the band. “We formed a classic/hard rock cover band called Echo in 2009 and played a lot of gigs since then. We wanted to compose and play heavy metal music but couldn’t do it cause Echo was already popular as a classic rock cover band in the city. That is when we formed Against Evil in 2014 to compose and play our own style of heavy metal.”
Where: The band hail from the Vishakapatnam, a coastal city in the Southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. “We are the only metal band in Visakhapatnam. There are a few cover bands here, but none of them are really into making original music.” said Shasank describing the metal scene in their city.
What: The band recently put out their first release, ‘Fatal Assault’ EP through Transcending Obscurity Distribution. “Well, its not a concept album or anything like that. It’s titled “Fatal Assault” and has 6 tracks. The lyrics are about war, fighter jets, street racing, etc.” said Shasank about the EP.
How: “We released a song named ‘War Hero’ in April 2015. That was the first song that we had written and recorded. The response that we got for that song exceeded our expectations. Thats when we decided to record more songs and release an EP. It took us three months to write, record and get it mixed/mastered.” explains Shasank.
“After the writing process was completed, we immediately hit the studio to record the EP. We recorded all the songs at a local studio owned by our friend. It took us a few weeks to record all the tracks.” Shasank describes the recording process for the EP.
The EP was mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni (Domination Studio). “It was great working with him. He is a very friendly guy and an incredibly talented guitar player!” said Shasank about working with Simone.
A special mention to Andrej “Maggotmeister” Bartulovic for the awesome artwork. “Our vocalist is friends with the band “Toledo Steel” from Europe. They told us about him. We saw his work and got blown away! We wanted comic book style artwork for our EP which even Andrej was a huge fan of. It was a blast working with him!” said Shasank about how they got Andrej to work on the artwork.
Buy ‘Fatal Assault‘ here and stream the EP below
Who: Corpse Garden The band consists of Felipe Tencio (Vocals), Carlos Venegas (Bass), Federico Gutierrez (Guitar), Esteban Sancho (Guitar) and Erick Mejia (Drums)
Where: Heredia, Costa Rica
What: “First of, ‘Entheogen’ is a chemical substance that is used in spiritual rites or such to aim for transcendence, so, under that premise the record talks about the stages that are performed in the Alchemy’s Magna Opus and also about theories of Individuation by psychologist Carl Jung.” said drummer Erick Mejia describing their second album.
How: “It was extensive, it took from mid 2012 to late 2013 to compose and write the songs for the record and to come up with the concept.” said Erick about the songwriting process for the album. “In between we got the line-up changes that were good for the band but there’s always a little bit of a ‘learning curve’ so to speak, musicians need to get used to the band and hopefully that was incredibly fast.”
“A lot of hard work, we really wanted something very specific for this record and that had a lot to do with our performances on each instrument so we needed to play as good and precise as we could.” said Erick about the recording process for the album. “Also we experimented a lot with effects, ebows, synths and so on and so forth, so, those we needed to be very careful not to over do something and get it just right and just the right amount.Recording took around 6 months all together: recording, mixing and mastering.”
Listen to ‘Entheogen’ below
In the past few months I have been listening to quite a few bands from Australia. One of them is Lord, a kick ass heavy metal band that I was introduced to by Riju Dasgupta (Albatross). He gave me their album ‘Set in Stone‘ on cd and I was hooked. I spoke to Andy, their bassist about their recent releases, the metal scene in Australia and also their plans for the year.
Hi Andy, how are thing in the Lord camp?
Andy : Busy, but good! While we’re still on the hunt for a new drummer which is definitely a tiring process, we are keeping busy regardless with new recordings, booking shows with temp drummers and generally trying to stay in the public eye and keep it all moving. Things are good!
Last year, you put out a re-recording of all your studio albums under the name “Dungeon”. Tell us a bit about the project.
Andy : 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of Dungeon and we were thinking of what we could do to mark the occasion. We had discussed re-recording some of the old Dungeon tracks in the past but the more we thought about it, the more we warmed to the idea of just doing the whole lot. With each album/release having various licensing rights all over the world, it’s been a real mess and difficult to do a great deal with the existing back catalogue, so this was a great opportunity to take ownership of the songs again as re-recordings. It was also important to highlight this songs with the production that they deserved at the time but didn’t receive due to time and budget restraints. We were able to bring this songs up to the same production as the last few LORD albums which has given them a new life of their own. Since its release a few months ago, it’s been a great discovery for LORD fans who have only discovered the band in the last few years but has also been a fantastic gateway for the old Dungeon fans who never bothered to see what LORD was all about. This really was Tim’s baby from the start and his countless hours of putting this together has truly paid off. We’re all very proud of what it became.
For those not familiar with your music, which album would you recommend they listen to first and why?
Andy : I think ‘Set in Stone’ is a great introduction to the band. It’s nice and diverse in content (which is what we’ve become known for) and a lot of the songs have stood up over the last few years since it was released. I think that if you enjoy that album then you’ll love the rest of our back catalogue.
Alternatively, we send out ‘best of’ promo samplers that have songs from all of our albums. We include them with ever merch order we sell through our online store, so if anyone feels like grabbing a t-shirt or something else, they’ll get a cool promo CD that gives you a full taste of what we’re all about.
In the past 16 years, you have opened for some BIG metal bands. What is your favourite memory from these gigs?
Andy : For me personally, the shows we did with Queensryche in 2006 and Saxon in 2008 were my favourities. The shows themselves were fantastic but to be able to share a stage with your idols was a real ‘pinch yourself’ moment. An honourable mention was also doing the first Iced Earth tour in Australia. Amazing band and great guys who I’ve kept in touch with since.
How did you get into metal? What was the first metal concert you attended?
Andy : It would have been through other people at school and swapping cassette tapes/CDs. I didn’t have any older siblings to expose me to it all, so it was really just word of mouth from friends and slowly discovering what was out there. As far as first metal show is concerned, I honestly have no idea! It wasn’t metal but I think AC/DC may have been one of the first ones I went to? That was pretty amazing for me. I also went to a lot of local metal shows in Brisbane when I was young, seeing bands like Astriaal, Carbon, Urgrund, Misery, Catacomb, Tripwire and countless others. Brisbane had such a great extreme metal scene at the time I still listen to a lot of those bands today.
How has the metal scene in Sydney and Australia changed over the years?
Andy : It’s pretty quiet at the moment but that’s been due to a number of venues closing down, local promoters giving up, local bands not putting in as much effort as they used to and punters simply finding better things to do. I do think that things are beginning to slowly pick back up again but it is a long road ahead. The sooner we can get some fresh blood in and some enthusiasm back with the local promoters and bands, we’ll see big improvements.
I’ve only been in Sydney for the past 10 years so I can’t look back too far, but I’ve seen it do quite well and then quite poorly. The big thing has been the closure of venues due to pokies and noise complaints but instead of putting up a fight to keep things alive, a lot of the locals simply gave up and found something else to do instead. As said before, it is slowly getting better so hopefully it continues to go in a more positive direction.
What are you plans for the rest of 2015? New recording? Shows?
Andy : We’re recording at the moment for a release that is hopefully due out in April. Can’t say too much more on that at this stage but it’ll be a bit of a ‘one off’ for us and something very different to what we have done before. We’re quite excited about it and I think a lot of people will enjoy it. While we’re still on the hunt for a new drummer, we’re ensuring that we continue to put music out and keep busy, even if it means holding off on a full length album for time being. Shows wise we’re playing sporadically across the country this year and also looking at touring opportunities overseas. We’re working hard to try and tee up some touring in Europe/US/Asia but will ultimately come down to what is on offer. Either way, we’ll be in everyone’s faces as usual, working our butts off and having fun!
Check out a few songs by Lord below
“Set in Stone”
Here’s a nice cover of Kylie Minogue “On a night like this”
Albatross started as a project of Riju “Dr. Hex” Disgupta in 2008. “The idea was to create music inspired in the traditional side of metal; with different sets of musicians. But after a while, I realized that back in 2008, there was only 1 set of musicians who were actually into this kind of music. Those guys eventually became Albatross.” said Riju about the origins of the band. “Those who heard us back then were confused. ‘Werz the growlz bro?’ ‘Hi hatz ned 2 be louD’ ‘So mani soloz lulz’. But by the grace of Odin, today people not only get the music but look forward to catching us live as well.”
The horror themed music got the attention of King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque who mastered their first EP ‘Dinner is You‘ that released in 2010. In 2012, they released ‘The Kissing Flies’ EP as part of a split CD with American doom metal band Vestal Claret. The EP featured guest vocals from Niklas ‘Viper’ Stalvind (Wolf) and Sahil ‘Demonstealer’ Makhija (Demonic Resurrection).