Archive for July, 2011

Interview: Alex Brandsen [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Nico sits down with the “Dutch Drumming Machine” Alex Brandsen, talking about Cryptic Age’s tour and other things.

Nico: Good evening, Alex. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. You’re a drummer in two bands, Ravenage and Cryptic Age, how do you find it drumming for two bands? Is it something that’s naturally easy for you or have you, at times, struggled with it?

Alex: I really enjoy being in two bands, because even though Ravenage and Cryptic Age are relatively similar, I can express different styles and a different overall feeling in the two bands, with Ravenage being more straight, aggressive and fun drumming and Cryptic Age being more subtle, symphonic and ‘intelligent’ if you will. I generally don’t have any problems with drumming in two bands, although I did accidentally started drumming a Cryptic Age riff at a Ravenage rehearsal once…

N: That must have being embarrassing. Speaking of Ravenage, you’re due to tour with them [and Cryptic Age] later this year on the “Warhorns over Aengland” tour. Are you excited about it or are you feeling nervous?

A: Very excited! Really looking forward to touring with Nothgard, and doing some gigs outside of Yorkshire. Not nervous about it really, the nerves usually only kick in 10 minutes before a gig!

N: That’s usually the worse time for the nerves to kick. You recently played Metieval Requiem with both Cryptic Age and Ravenage while sharing the stage with Hecate Enthroned and Skyclad. How was it for you personally to share the stage with two big name bands in the underground metal scene like them?

A: It’s of course a great honour to play with big bands like them, especially Skyclad, as they practically invented folk metal.

N: Speaking of folk metal, Cryptic Age are unique within the folk metal scene due to having a female vocalist. Since the scene is more male-orientated, do you feel that this might be help Cryptic Age become more known?

A: Well there are a couple of folk metal bands that have female vocalists (e.g. Arkona), but the thing that makes Cryptic Age special in my opinion is that Jenny’s got a very wide vocal range, and sings entirely clean. We don’t use any harsh vocals, and that is quite unique I think. I definitely think this is something that works in our advantage, and may well get us some more fans along the road.

N: Cryptic Age recently released the “Homeland” EP. Is there any sort of concept or theme running through the entire EP?

A: Well there isn’t an overall theme or concept to the album, but most of our songs are based on either fantasy and/or mythology, especially Manx mythology and folklore.

N: Is there any reason for the influence from Manx mythology and folklore or is it just something that occurred naturally?

A: It definitely came naturally, although the main reason for the Manx influence is that Jenny is from the Isle of Man. We didn’t really have any influences or themes to go on before writing the songs on the EP. The first part of Homeland (sung in Manx Gaelic) was originally going to be a 1-min intro to the EP, and by then the lyrics of Homeland hadn’t been written yet. Then we put it at the beginning of the track and when we did that the rest of the lyrics about Jenny missing her homeland fell into place. We’ve sort of kept the mythology thing going ever since. Also, instead of writing songs about Norse mythology like most folk metal bands, Celtic mythology comes more naturally to us because it’s closer to our origins, and gives the songs a unique twist I think.

N: Well, Celtic and Manx influences certainly are refreshing for some who are bored of the whole Viking based form of folk metal. Just a few more questions now. Before joining Cryptic Age and Ravenage, did you play in any other bands?

A: I was in a mathcore band for a couple of years when I was still living in the Netherlands, but had to quit that band because I moved to York for my degree back in 2009. I didn’t play in a band for a year, but when I finished my masters in the summer of 2010 I wanted to play live again, and started looking for a band. I found Cryptic Age on gumtree, and soon joined Ravenage as well via Tom, who just joined as their new bassist.

N: You certainly don’t look like a mathcore drummer. Regarding Cryptic Age, are there any events you’re looking forward to partaking in with the band? Aside from the EP release show.

A: We’ve got the Metal 2 The Masses final coming up on the 24th, quite excited about being able to play in front of the Bloodstock judges, and really hoping to win it of course. And then there’s a gig with Old Corpse Road in September, which I’m really looking forward to, as OCR are one of the best local black metal acts out there in my opinion.

N: Sounds like it’s going to be a great year for you and the rest of Cryptic Age then. Final question, are there any bands from both the UK and Dutch underground metal scenes that you’d recommend that our readers check out? Or at least keep an eye out for? Also, thanks again for taking the time to talk with us today, Alex.

A: Except for Old Corpse Road mentioned before, I’d recommend giving Onheil a listen, a blackened metal band from the Netherlands. For a band in the local underground scene, I’d recommend Lost Effect, a melodic metal band from York, who will be supporting us on our EP release gig this Friday.

Cryptic Age will be performing at Stereo in York tomorrow night [15th July] with support from Windrider and Lost Effect. £5 OTD. Doors open at 7.30pm

Sarah Jezebel Deva – The Corruption of Mercy [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on 12th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

Band: Sarah Jezebel Deva
Album: The Corruption Of Mercy
Release year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Metal/Gothic Metal

Sarah Jezebel Deva, well known for her work with bands such as Cradle Of Filth, Therion, Mortiis and Angtoria, is certainly one of the most impressive vocalists within the Gothic Metal and Symphonic Metal communities. Following the success of “A Sign Of Sublime”, Sarah is back with her second solo album “The Corruption Of Mercy”.

”No Paragon Of Virtue” starts the album with an electro-symphonic introduction which is soon replaced by a brutalising guitar section combined with a dramatic orchestrated section. The vocals, as expected, are strong, powerful and immense. The orchestrated medleys blend well with the heavy barrage of drums guitars and bass. “No Paragon Of Virtue” certainly leaves the listener wanting to hear more. “The World Won’t Hold Your Hand” follows after. The intro, for a few short seconds, sounds to be a very slow, calm medley but turns out to be the calm before a terrorising and violent guitar section. The drums are precise to the beat working well alongside the guitar and bass. The orchestration can only be described as epic. Again, the vocals are powerful, which is to be expected. The guitar solo, however, completes the track, making it one of the best on the album.

The third track, “A Matter Of Convenience” starts with a more softer riff compared to “No Paragon of Virtue” and “The World Won’t Hold Your Hand” and it is more synth-heavy as well. The vocals match the softness very well, bringing a very solemn feel to the track. The drum and guitar sections are well composed. “Silence Please” comes next with a very dark, symphonic intro, setting a very tense and dramatic atmosphere for the listener. The vocals sound eerie alongside the orchestration which adds to the tense atmosphere. Unfortunately, the guitars and drums are faded to begin with, struggling to make themselves heard. As the track progresses the guitars and drums can be heard more and more, fortunately.

Like the previous album, “The Corruption Of Mercy” also features a cover. This time the cover is a song called “Zombies”, originally by “The Cranberries”. It is a brilliant cover and Sarah has worked well to make it sound like her own. “Pretty With Effects” follows after being entirely composed of a beautiful piano medley combined with some very impressive vocal work. It certainly is a perfect example of Sarah’s vocal talent. “What Lies Before You” is the only interlude on the track, bringing a touch of eeriness to the album with its orchestration and choirs.

”Sirens” begins with an aggressive and somewhat violently fast paced riff. The drums are precise and intelligently played, while the vocals are still going strong and the guitar sections are most impressive. The second to last track is “The Eyes That Lie”. The intro is different to the rest of the album, beginning with a barrage of double bass pedals and vocals. The track eventually turns heavier with the introduction of a more bloodthirsty guitar riff. However, this track seems lacking compared to the rest of the album. The final track, which is also the title track, “The Corruption Of Mercy” begins with a heavy yet calm intro. The vocals are still going strong and the drums are as good as they have been on the rest of the album. The use of a piano and vocal section about half way through is both unexpected and brilliant. The track does go back to being heavy, which is fortunate for those who prefer heavy riffage compared to calm medleys. “The Corruption Of Mercy” is a perfect end for the album.

It’s clear that Sarah Jezebel Deva has been able to establish her own sound since leaving Cradle of Filth and this album is proof of that. It mixes her wide vocal range and talent with an immense mix of Gothic and Symphonic Metal to create a masterpiece of an album. Hopefully, there will be more releases from Sarah in the near future.

5/5

Nico Davidson

Interview: Lee Rule [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on 5th July 2011 by Nico Davidson

We sit down and speak with the “Lord of Brutality” Lee Rule about his up and coming “release “Alive” and other projects.

Nico: Hello. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today.

Lee: It’s fine, man. Anytime, anytime. It’s all good.

N: It was recently announced that you’re bringing out a new release “Alive” under your name rather than the Obsolete Tomorrow name. Is there any reason for this?

L: I was thinking at first of having it under the Obsolete moniker but I think it would be best on a different name because I think that Obsolete Tomorrow should be kept quite heavy. I think if I had brought out a softer album under that name it would have, maybe, confused a lot of people and might have put a lot of people of the next album which is out soon. So yeah, I decided it would be best under a separate name just to keep the two genres separate. That’s the main reason for it anyway.

N: Is there any lyrical concept behind “Alive” or is it like each track has a different concept [both lyrically and musically]?

L: There’s actually not a lot of lyrics at all on the album to be fair. It’s more of an instrumental album. I think there’s maybe one song that has some lyrics but there’s not really a great deal, to be quite honest with ya. The album is just very chilled, atmospheric sort of album. It’s not heavy or anything. It’s quite progressive and I’m experimenting quite a lot more with different instrumentation as well. So it’s not based all around one instrument. There’s a lot of orchestration and a lot of drums and percussion and not really a great deal of electronic instruments. There’s quite a lot of flutes as well which is quite weird for me.

N: [laughter] Nothing wrong with the flutes. What would you say was the main inspiration for this new release [Alive] then?

L: I’ve always been interested in writing something a bit more relaxed but I could never really get into that frame of mind until last week when I was in America. I was sat in the airport and I was quite surprisingly calm during that situation which was quite strange. Just seeing loads of people rushing around, stressing over which flight they’re trying to get. It was just weird to see, there was me just on my own, chilled out and everyone else is going mental. Then I thought, well people need to chill out a bit, so maybe I should write some chilled out music to try help them chill.

N: Has this been a different sort of experience for you compared to what you previously did with the “Beauty Through Chaos” album for Obsolete Tomorrow?

L: Yeah, it’s been a completely different experience really. Obsolete Tomorrow [Beauty Through Chaos], I wrote that very quickly. I’m surprised at how fast I wrote, it was a quite fast paced writing style – I probably wrote a song once a day kind of thing and got it finished within maybe a month. This one is a much more relaxed approach. The song structures aren’t very consistent. It’s very progressive, there’s not really an intro, verse, chorus, it’s more like one big instrumental along with different sections of stuff. Like I was saying, there’s a lot of atmospherics on it and once I get that down as a bass line, it chills me out as well ‘cause I can sit back and experience that as I’m writing the next part like a flute bit or something.

N: You have another album in the works, a more Zombie Metal orientated album based on the concept of a zombie apocalypse. Is there any reason for this? And will it be like a musical?

L: I wouldn’t say it’s a musical at all, it’s more like a film without the picture really. Just a big epic soundtrack to it – Every other song is like a skit with the voice actors doing their part. After that sort of scene or skit, there’ll be a song that will cover that skit. It’s just so over the top, it’s unreal. In the skits, we got stuff like chainsaws going off and people going crazy.

N: Sounds like it’s going to be a very interesting album.

L: I hope it will be.

N: You’re working on a lot of different albums [such as The Burden of Forever and Theatre Of The Damned] and you recently helped to produce the recent EP from Driffield based band The Dials and you’re a university student as well and you run your own record label [Xeroxed Records]. Where do you find the time to actually be able to do all this?

L: I had to quit my job to be able to manage this year’s scale of things I’m trying to do. As cliché as it sounds, I have my hands in a lot of pies at the moment. I’m pretty much covering every genre of music possible and every sort of aspect of the business. I work quite weirdly, I can’t just work on one project at a time. I’ve got to do something else as well just to keep myself sane. I think that’s the reason why I started writing “Alive” as I was doing that zombie thing. It’s more chilled out while the zombie one is very complicated, there’s a lot of stuff going on in it, so I just needed something to sit back and relax on. It p*sses of my neighbours and my mum ‘cause I’m just constantly in my studio making noise. [Laughter]. But I’m sure after the next few months, when the next few albums [Alive and Theatre Of The Damned] are finished, I’ll keep it down a bit and just chill.

N: With your future albums, be them under the Obsolete moniker or your own name, do you have any plans to tour in support of them or just have a release show?

L: I’d love to, I really would. I think my only problem with that is jut being able to be a decent frontman – Obviously it’s my voice on the album but doing it live is a completely different thing. I’ve never really been a frontman in a band since I was about 13. I’m sure if we got enough practise in we could do it – I’ve got a band together for the Obsolete Tomorrow album [Beauty Through Chaos]. It’s some friends but we’ve never practised anything yet but it’s there just in case we do need to tour or something but yeah, I’d love to it. As of yet there’s no real plans. There might be a surprise show in October but I’ll have to see how that works out. Everything is just studio based at the moment but I think once I’ve got more songs under my belt, I could put on quite a long show. I don’t think I’d go on a full tour though, maybe a few shows first and then just build it up there.

N: That sounds like quite a sound plan. For the Obsolete Tomorrow album [Beauty Through Chaos], you’ve stated before that it’s based on a rough part in your life. Would you say that writing the album changed you emotionally? Or spiritually even?

L: Definitely! I think if I was younger, having been through that situation and not being able to write or record music, I would have taken away the anger another way like going on a massive binge with my mates. But writing the album made me understand that there are better ways of using that energy, rather than wasting it, just make it into something positive. It was quite a weird sort of experience, writing the album ‘cause it was emotionally draining because I had to go through all those situations over and over again in my head to try and capture the emotion I was going through which was quite draining but I think it came off alright. I hope anyway. After I finished it, I felt nothing but pure happiness.

N: You’re quite involved with the local music scene, are there any bands that you’ recommend to our readers? Be they metal rock, electronica, are there any musicians that you’d suggest they’d keep their eye out for?

L: Absolutely! In Hull, especially, there’s a lot of bands like Pastel Jack, Infernal Creation, stuff like that. Obviously there’s the two bands I’m working with, Windrider and Ravenage. I think Hull has got a lot of talent right now, it’s quite promising to see. In Driffield, there’s a few bands but they all kinda stick with one genre of music. I don’t know if they’re afraid to do their own thing but I think they need to branch out a bit more. There’s one band that’s really good called “Parkmoor”. They’re like a hard rock band.

N: Sounds good, sounds good. That’s all really. Thanks again for taking the time to speak to with us today, Lee And good luck with your future albums.

L: Anytime, man, anytime. Take care.