Archive for August, 2011

Lee Rule – Alive EP [2011]

Posted in Instrumental with tags , , , , , on 30th August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Lee Rule
Album: Alive EP
Release year: 2011
Genre: Instrumental/Chill Out

”Alive” is the newest release by Driffield-based musician Lee Rule. Lee has described it to be more chilled out compared to the stuff he’s written for Obsolete Tomorrow.

The EP begins with the soothing introduction of “Namaste” which eases the listener into a state of calmness with the beautiful flute medley at the beginning. As the track progresses, the use of other sounds and instruments come into play, keeping it calm yet upbeat at the same time. The song just oozes with emotion. “To Dream” starts with a more solemn introduction, the kind that brings a tear to the eyes of the listener. The piano sections are well composed and very touching on both an emotional and spiritual level, stirring something within the soul.

”To Believe” carries on from where “To Dream” finishes, with a slightly faster tempo it seems. The flute section keeps the song very chilled and soulful. The EP finishes with “L.I.V.E”, which begins with the sound of birds singing and a type of chime or bell being played. The flute medley that follows after is amazing. The drums blend, oddly, well with the flute sections. Towards its end the song does turn heavy – Not brutalising heavy but more of a rock-styled heavy that keeps the atmosphere created by the EP.

It’s a shock to hear Lee Rule compose and play something that isn’t metal yet at the same time it’s a welcome. Alive is a well composed and produced EP and a brilliant record to chill out to on those lazy days. Perhaps Lee might release more records like this. All we can do is hope that he does.

5/5

Nico Davidson

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Interview: Ablaz [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 30th August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Nico has a chat with Ablaz [Bassist for Sarah Jezebel Deva and Gods Army] about the upcoming SJD tour, his career with SJD and Gods Army and alcohol.


Nico: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, Ablaz. I hope you’re in good health. You’re due to tour the UK with Sarah Jezebel Deva in October. How are you feeling about this? Excited? Nervous?

Ablaz: You’re welcome. I feel good and I can’t wait to hit the stage again! Our last show was in June in Germany on the Wave-Gotik-Teffen and that’s way too long ago. I’m nosy on how the fans react to our new songs live. We only played some of them on a few festivals and I loved that feeling.

N: Sounds like the stage is like your second home then. Do guys have any plans for festivals next year?

A: Oh yeah it really is and I guess you can see that when you watch our live show. I couldn’t be a studio musician, there’s no special feeling for me – I do music because I love to play gigs and for the after show parties of course. Even after a lot of live shows the feeling is still unbelievable. When I write new songs, I always imagine how they work live. Unfortunately I don’t have any news about festivals next year, but I hope we’ll play some nice ones! Guess the planning starts after our UK tour in October.

N: Well, the tour sounds like it’s going to be awesome. This next question is from one of our readers. What’s it like playing music with Sarah?

A: I guess Sarah will read this, so I have to be careful… [laughter] – I’m joking. This is one of the most asked questions and I have to admit Sarah really is a nice person. Before I ever met her, I was a bit unsure if she may is arrogant, complicated or whatever. But when I met her and especially when we spent a lot of time on our first tour together, I just realised that my fear was unnecessary. I love to work with Sarah and of course also with the rest of my band. I was listening to Cradle of Filth when I was 14 years so at the  beginning it was a kind of strange feeling, playing with someone you  know from other well-known records. But now it’s more than just a musician relation, it’s friendship, too. And when I listen to her old Cradle of Filth stuff now, I always think, that OUR new songs with real lyrics fit much more to Sarah then “ohhh” and “ahhhh”.

N: That’s true. It’s good to know that Sarah is able to use her vocals more freely now. Speaking of music, do you feel that the music you play with Sarah is different to the sort of stuff you play with Gods Army?

A: Yeah it definitely is! With SJD we’re doing Symphonic Metal, God’s Army is a kind of Industrial Rock. Also in God’s Army I don’t play bass, I play the guitar. So there are no overlaps, nor in the music style nor in song writing. And I love doing both.

N: Speaking of Gods Army, a quick Google search on them usually provides our readers with information about the band written in German – A language that not all of our readers can understand. Is there any information you could give to our readers about the band?

A: The most important point: We definitely should do our new homepage in German and English… I joined Gods Army in 2007, but due to BIG line-up problems and a few female vocalist changes we still haven’t released our first album. In 2010 I was very busy with SJD, but now we’re working again on our GodsArmy release and hopefully will have a release next year. If you like to be up-to-date just add us on Facebook: “GodsArmy”.

N: I’m sure your fans will be eagerly awaiting any news on the GodsArmy release – As will us [Valkyrian Music]. This next question is a bit random, on the official SJD website, your favourite beer is listed as “Traugott Simon”. How does British beer compare to it, in your opinion?

A: [laughter] The people who know that German beer will have a laugh now. It’s one of the cheapest beer in Germany – 8 litres for about 5 Euro, that’s about 4 pound – and I love it. Your next question is an easy one: Never ever compare German beer with others, in my opinion the others can’t win. When I came to our very first SJD tour, I tried a lot of new British beer in the pubs every night. At the end of the tour I was asked which is the best British beer. I answered: “There really is one beer I like. It’s much better then the rest…it’s called Foster’s”…  For those who don’t know: Foster’s is an Australian beer. But every beer is better than “no beer”.

N: I’ll drink to that! Or at least I will when I go to the pub. Just a few more questions now. This is one is somewhat random, if you could take the soundtrack from any movie and replace it with your own music, which movie would it be? And why?

A: I guess I wouldn’t replace any film soundtrack or at least I have no idea right now. If  I would, the music and the lyrics should fit into the movie. And I love Zombie movies most, but Sarah’s lyrics are not about zombies [laughter]. But I think “The Corruption Of Mercy” would be a great soundtrack for a sad movie, with a lot of rain.

N: Hmm, true. Okay, final question and once again, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Are there any bands on the UK and German underground music scenes that you’d recommend to our readers?

A: I have to admit, I don’t listen much to the underground scene at the moment, except for some black metal bands [Nargaroth and Fäulnis]. But I guess I will see some nice supporting bands on our next UK tour in October and I also hope to see many of you there!

Ablaz will be touring with Sarah Jezebel Deva in October. For tour dates, click here. More for info on the upcoming tour, check out the Official Sarah Jezebel Deva Facebook page.

Also, to check out Ablaz’s other band, GodsArmy, click here.

Blodravn – Words Of The High One [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 27th August 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Blodravn
Album: Sayings Of The High One
Release year: 2011
Genre: True Texan Folk Metal


”Blodravn” is the project of Texas-based musician Anthony Riddle. The lyrics are described as “Asatru belief inspired” while Anthony himself takes musical influence from bands such as “Falkenbach” and “Ensiferum”. The debut release of Blodravn is “Words Of The High One”, the English name of the Eddic poem “Havamal”.

The first track, generically named “Intro”, begins with the sound of roaring thunder and rain. The thunder is soon accompanied by a solemn orchestrated section. Though the orchestration dominated the rest of the track, the sound of thunder can be heard occasionally, adding a very divine atmosphere. “Of Swords And Honour” starts with a cheery, folk-like section – almost sounding like a song that should have been played during Lord Of The Rings. When the guitars turn heavy, the music doesn’t seem to gel well together after a while. The vocals seem to switch between aggressive-like screams and grunts to clean vocals far too quickly. ”Væringjar” starts with a mixture of acoustic guitar and vocals, making for a superb folk-like introduction. The use of heavier guitars does come into play after a while, mixing well with the flute and acoustic guitar. The vocals later on in the track are a mixture of black metal-like screams and folk-sounding clean vocals, giving the song a very tame Ensiferum-meets-Tyr type of sound. The drums don’t seem to really grab the attention of the listener. The only thing that really sticks out about this track is the chorus.

The title track, “Words Of The High One”, starts with the sound of running water followed by a folk-influenced introduction. When the track turns heavy, it sounds similar to a track from Bathory’s “Hammerheart” album. The screams add a dark yet angry touch to the song, though it does seem the symbols are used a bit too much in sections. The folky section about half away through is both a good break and a great composition. The track does return to its Bathory-like sound, which is somewhat eerie and brilliant. “The Golden Hall” begins with the heaviest introduction on the whole album, mixed in with some epic symphonic riffs. The vocals, despite being raw and powerful, seems quiet compared to the music. The choir sections inject a very epic sound to the song.

”A Spell for Chameleon” begins with the sounds of birds and other animals before being drowned out the acoustic guitars. The guitars do turn heavy for a short while before going back to their soft, acoustic medleys. The acoustic medleys and heavy riffs work together through part of the track, creating a beautiful sound. The orchestration through parts of the song is just beautifully mesmerising. The album finishes with a bonus track which is a cover of the main medley for the legendary game series “Legend Of Zelda”. The cover is done in a very metal way, though the vocals would have sounded better either clean or as screams as opposed low guttural growls. None-the-less, it’s a good cover.

Whilst the first few tracks of “Words Of The High One” leave a lot of be desired, the rest of the album is great. With enough hard work and determinations, Blodravn could easily become America’s answer to Windrider, Ensiferum and Tyr.

3.5/5

Nico Davidson

Bloodstock Open Air 2011 [Live Review] Part Two

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , , , on 26th August 2011 by Hannah

Bands: WASP, Finntroll, Kreator and more
Location: Catton Hall, Walton-Upon-Trent
Date: 12-14th August, 2011

Onto the Ronnie James Dio Stage, then, and the line up for Friday. The first band I saw was Wolf, and just as they were the first time I saw them, they were awesome. They delivered their specific brand of classic, thrash-tinged heavy metal to the assembled crowds with gusto. A special mention must go out to their roadie, who- having hit his head during set up- was the recipient of a special dedication during the track Skull Crushed. They filled their set with both old favourites and new tidbits, hearing Full Moon Possession from their new album Legion of Bastards, as well as premiering a live version of their new track, K141 Cursed. Coroner were as expected; brutal and loud death-tinged thrash metal. I must admit, I am not such a fan of their music, and it seemed a little bland and generic to me. But they put on a good live show, showed a good level of energy, and were excellent for fans of thrash metal. Speaking of thrash, German thrash legends Kreator did not disappoint. They were definitely on form, and gave the Bay Area elite a run for their money. The German giants had the crowds eating out of their hands and absolutely baying for more, and managed to generate the biggest pit of the day so far. Playing a huge range of tunes, Kreator showed that sometimes, the oldest bands know best. What can I say about The Devin Townsend Project, plus a special appearance from Ziltoid the Omniscient? Devin was as bonkers as ever, and shared words of wisdom such as ‘if you aren’t into MMA and you say you are, then my friend, you’re just a poser’ with the enthralled crowd. A trippy guru of progressive craziness, Devin is a proper entertainer who impressed with his cosmic wall of cinematic sound. The man could easily go into business as a stand-up comedian if he ever decides to give up music. He also helped many members of the audience to discover a hidden desire to be a fire engine! Who knew? Friday headliners W.A.S.P. proved they still have it with a set that spanned decades, and provided fuel for every fan of classic metal in the arena. Young and old, male and female; I don’t think there was anyone who didn’t enjoy their set. So what if Blackie Lawless is looking a little bit fatter round the gills these days- his voice and stage presence still exudes that dangerous sex appeal that had parents quaking in their boots in the 80’s. Playing crowd pleasers like Wild Child, and even pulling up an incredibly excited fan to join them in a chorus of I Wanna Be Somebody, W.A.S.P. were the perfect way to round of the first day of the weekend.

Onto Saturday, and Gravedigger were the first band I saw that day. They were awesome, and for such a short set, they played an absolutely packed set list. They really got the crowd going, which is not easy to do at that time of the day, and whilst nursing hangovers to boot. Tarot were excellent. Nightwish veteran and frontman Marco Hietala had the attention of absolutely everyone in the arena, and it wasn’t just because of their music. Keeping the crowd utterly bewildered with comments about BBQs and tractors, as well as encouraging a chant of ‘More Cock’ in honour of sci fi writer Michael Moorcock, Tarot impressed with their particular brand of power metal. Next up was the band that I was personally most excited about of the whole line up. Finntroll were, in a word, incredible. They played a whole range of songs from their entire back catalogue, including from the days without current frontman Vreth, and absolutely treated the crowd with renditions of favourites such as Trollhammaren and Nedgang. The crowd was chanting their name before, during, and after their set, and could not stop screaming for more when their 45 minutes were up. Even though their appearance was fairly toned down, only daubing the snaking, branch-like body paint on themselves, Finntroll were all I had expected and hoped them to be. Plus, Vreth is a very attractive young Scandinavian, and his appearance is only improved by a beard. Enough about that!

Finally, we come to Sunday, and Celtic metallers Primordial delivered a set that pleased the crowd from start to finish. Playing that special brand of Celtic inspired folk metal, Primordial delivered a fantastically put together set that was altogether too short. A shame, as they were definitely on form. Hammerfall delighted the crowd with their ever-so-slightly-cheesy power metal- but to be honest, that’s all part of their charm. Frontman Joachim’s voice filled the arena with it’s powerful tones, and charmed the crowd through a selection from their entire history. From early track Hammerfall, to recent hits such as Blood Bound and Hearts on Fire, they did not disappoint, and managed to get almost everyone singing or dancing along to their fist-pumping metal. Legends of death metal Morbid Angel, surely amongst the names that drew the record number of people to Catton Hall, delivered a rattlingly brutal set of ‘extreme music for extreme people’, generating wave after wave of crazed crowd surfers, and sparking mosh pits that were actually quite shocking in their brutality, rivalling the record set by Kreator on Friday. The crowd that filled the arena was buzzing and feeding off the energy that the veterans gave out, and they definitely satiated the appetites of all those who had come seeking their brand of spine-shattering music. Sunday headliners, festival closers, and living legends, the behemoths of rock and roll that are Motorhead, were the perfect way to end the weekend. Lemmy, nearly unintelligable in his slurring Stoke drawl, delivered classic songs from all over his career in his trademark gravelly snarl, planting himself in front of his microphone with his bass guitar in hand and his cowboy hat firmly jammed onto his head. Fans from seven years old to seventy rocked out to timeless classics, including the obvious Killed By Death and Ace of Spades, and there wasn’t a head that hadn’t banged, or horns that hadn’t been raised, throughout the entire crowd. Pure adrenaline fuelling hard rock and roll, that only Motorhead can deliver. Raise your bottles of Jack and salute the Sex Legend himself, Lemmy Kilmister.

Bloodstock 2011. Three days. Four stages. Over 10,900 metal fans. An incredible weekend full of incredible performances. Same time next year?

Hannah ‘Hammi’ O’Flanagan

Bloodstock Open Air 2011 [Live Review] Part One

Posted in Live with tags , , , , , , on 26th August 2011 by Hannah

Bands: WASP, Finntroll, Kreator and more
Location: Catton Hall, Walton-Upon-Trent
Date: 12-14th August, 2011

Bloodstock Open Air 2011. A whole weekend (and a bit) dedicated to metal, metal, mud, booze and a bit more metal. A weekend full of dodgy food, over-priced but somehow incredibly delicious beer, and bands at every corner. Bloodstock provides the metal connoisseur with three stages chock-full of music to tickle all fancies; from unsigned but ridiculously talented bands at the New Blood stage, the headliners of tomorrow at the Sophie Lancaster stage, and the big names that draw the crowds on the Ronnie James Dio stage. Plus, as an added bonus, Bloodstock provides a temporary home for the Jaeger-truck and its’ low key acoustic stage, with a limited number of bands performing pared down, unplugged sets for the passing crowds. As I spent most of the weekend ducking and diving between bands I wanted to see on each of the stages, as well as gleefully making my way through security at the VIP section to conduct interviews, my experience of the festival was unlike the experience I had the previous times I had been. In some ways, I regret not enjoying the weekend like that sooner! Rather than stand around all day, trying to get a great spot by the barrier, watching bands I don’t particularly like on the Dio stage, I flitted from stage to stage and discovered a number of bands that I would have been oblivious to before. There’s something to be said about taking the time to go and check out the smaller stages; one of the highlights of my weekend took place in the Sophie stage, but I shall come to that in due course!

It makes sense for one to start off at the New Blood Stage, and work my way up to Ronnie James Dio. The first band I saw on the New Blood Stage was Primital, and what a good find they were. Primital filled the stage with an awesome amount of energy, and they really played well to the crowds. For such a small band, they had managed to pull in quite a number of people, and I think this is testament to the accessible, catchy and melodic metal they were playing. I found myself drawing comparisons with both 36 Crazyfists and fellow Bloodstock artists Wolf; they had good, thrashy riffs and melodic hooks throughout their entire set. My next foray into the New Blood world was with Rannoch, the progressive death metallers from the West Midlands. They were impressively technical, as each of their songs was comprised of neatly harmonised guitar lines and several changes in pace, which helped to keep what can occasionally drag on interesting. Vocalist/guitarist Ian cut an impressive figure onstage, filling the tent with his strong, brutal vocals and fronting a band that were well put together and very successful in delivery; although their set was far too short to gauge the fullness of their range, beyond generic technical death metal. Another of my surprise finds was Haerken, the medieval band hailing from Birmingham. I had seen the members of Haerken, dressed in full Medieval gear, handing out flyers throughout the weekend, and I was glad to say that they were more than just their gimmick. Prithee, their music doth enchant the mightiest of the warriors of Bloodstock of Olde, for they hath procured a crowd most worthy of the noblest bands. Their sound was melodic death metal, and they coupled this with their neatly put together Olde English aesthetic. It must be noted; they managed to draw a significant number of people into the tent and away from mainstagers Therion. Their songs proved that they have the talent and the substance to go with their image, and their short but sweet set proved that they are most definitely in danger of becoming a tour-de-force of the metal world. One last point- any band that comes armed with a plethora of inflateable swords and throws said weaponry into the crowd, in order to spark a war between ‘The Normans’ and ‘The Saxons’ will always be a hit with a Bloodstock crowd! Next up were Sheffield’s Northern Oak; and I must say, with a little more experience under their belts, they will be a blackened folk force to be reckoned with. After their slightly shambolic- but nevertheless entertaining and enjoyable- set on the Jaeger stage the day before, I was looking forward to seeing them in their proper environment. I wasn’t disappointed. They have a great energy live, with each member bringing their own eccentricity into the mix- from bassist Richard bouncing around the stage like a whirling dervish of unending energy, to flautist Caitie ethereally standing in front of the crowds, flute in hand and adding that special edge that sets them apart. Their music was at once both moshable and jiggable, and with a little superficial polishing, they will be great. Last but not least was Sanguine, with a unique sound that is truly all their own. The word unique gets thrown around alot; indeed, it seems to be a bit of a buzzword sometimes, but it is definitely one way in which to describe this band. Frontwoman Tarin commands a voice that is both banshee-like and beautiful, switching effortlessly from clean vocals to a haunting scream throughout song after song. Their sound was at times reminiscent of Tool-ish prog, other times reminiscent of classic metal, and other times even punky and violent. They have a groove and an attitude coupled with a spleen shaking metal sensibility, and an incredibly polished live act to go with it. From the moment the sirens started blaring as Tarin waved a Union Jack upon the darkened stage, to the end of fantastically irreverent song ‘Bangkok Nights’, Sanguine delivered a fantastic set. Their short time on the New Blood stage was not enough.

I only really managed to catch one band on the Jaegermeister stage, apart from Northern Oak’s extra set. Obsessive Compulsive, a Manchester-based band that scream high-energy, managed to tone their set down enough to deliver an accomplished and impressive acoustic set. It takes a special kind of talent to fill such a small stage with so much energy and- as singer Kelii put it- to ‘balls it up’ with such gusto. They drew a significant number of people in, to crowd under the awning of the Jaeger truck and listen intently to their well put-together set. We were treated to songs that Obsessive Compulsive would not normally be able to play live, and to raw, toned-down versions of others. A personal highlight for me was the song The Decay of Hope. Kelii’s impressive voice held an incredible raw passion and emotion that made the song both brutal and moving. An excellent band, with an impressive stage presence.

My one experience of the Sophie Lancaster Stage has to be one of the highlights of the weekend, period. Evil Scarecrow. To try and put into words how brilliantly entertaining and- to be frank- fucking awesome their set was seems almost impossible. But try I shall. They were a rare entity- a comedy band with both the wit and the slick showmanship, not to mention pure, epic talent, to back up their intense metal sound. Perfectly put-together, their stage show was full of nuances and choreographed moves that showed they were taking not taking themselves seriously, very seriously indeed. From goose-stepping during their opener, to running through the crowd and launching onto the bar to deliver an epic solo (that nearly eclipsed the four-note solo from earlier in the set, but not quite), they knew what they were doing, and they did it well. When they called for claws to be raised during Vampire Trousers, even toddlers complied. From breaking a Guiness World Record during the genius Robotatron, to covering motherfucking Thunder Cats, there wasn’t a low point during their set. Finishing with an almighty cover of Europe’s The Final Countdown, complete with singalong from the crowd, Evil Scarecrow were amazing. Enough said.

Hannah ‘Hammi’ O’Flanagan

Interview: Sanguine [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , , on 26th August 2011 by Hannah

14/08/2011

Hannah talks to Sanguine during Bloodstock Festival, 2011

Hannah- Hi guys! So we saw you performing on the New Blood stage earlier. You’ve got a very unique sound; I know unique gets bandied about a lot! I was thinking earlier, normally when  you get a female fronted band, they either have the Nightwish style operatic vocals or the Angela Gossow manly vocals. Whereas Tarin has a very femine, harpy sort of sound.
Tarin- Banshee! That’s what I’ve been compared to!
Hannah- So, given that you have this very feminine front to you, how would you describe your sound?
Tarin- I don’t put on a voice, I just sing with my natural voice. The screaming is just something that I found that I could do, and it’s a very high pitched scream. I just love that. It’s two elements of the voice coming together; where you have a really singular note and then a rattle behind it.
Hannah- Yeah, it really adds to the emotion of your songs. Some of them have a really groovy bit, and when I was watching your set, I was reminded in places of Tool and similar bands.
Tarin- You noticed that? That’s insane, because we’re big Tool fans, but we also love lots of other genres, and lots of different bands within the metal scene. We started off as a prog rock band! And then we got heavier, and heavier, and heavier; the second guitarist left because we got too heavy! Then we ended up with the sound we’ve got now.
Hannah- Ah, so obviously Tool and proggy stuff are some of your main influences; who else would you say are big influences on you as a band, and as artists?
Tarin- We’re big grunge fans, so everything from Nirvana…
Nick- Soundgarden!
Tarin- Yeah, Soundgarden, everything like that. And then we’re metal fans, stuff like Metallica.
Nick- I’d say Faith No More is a really big influence for me.
Tarin- Oh, yeah in terms of vocals, he’s my hero. I want to be able to do everything he can do.
Hannah- I liked your range. I know you didn’t have a very long set, but the range of all your songs and stuff, and you’ve got your single and your album coming up… Do you like to ensure you have that? Without trying to haphazardly put it all together, yours seems to flow really well. Do you try to put the many faces of Sanguine on record?
Nick- I think the joy with Tarin is you can always recognise her voice. It gives us a lot of license to play around with different genres. Our default setting is heavy; but that’s more to do with us just happening to be heavy.
Tarin- We didn’t set out and say ‘Let’s go and be a metal band!’ We just set out and said ‘let’s create some sound’; it all happened very naturally.
Hannah- You can tell that, definitely.
Tarin- Thank you!
Hannah- So, is Bloodstock the biggest thing you’ve done?
Tarin- In terms of festivals, yeah. Professionally, the biggest thing I’ve done is work with Adrian Smith, which was a big honour. But in terms of gigs? Yeah.
Nick- We’ve also played with some pretty big bands, like Pitchshifter and Skindred, Evile; all sorts of bands. That’s been really good fun, ‘cos you get to perform, and then watch them afterwards!
Hannah- I guess the good thing about playing with such diverse bands like that, and with festivals like this, is that you get exposure to alot of people that might not look at you and want to pick up a CD.
Tarin- We appeal to all ages and all backgrounds. Our influences are quite eclectic, and with Faith No More being such a big influence… That’s eclectic in itself, with what they did with that project. I think we just want to make songs. We want to continue a theme of ‘let’s write a driving song’ and producing a song that you want to play when you’re driving your car.
Hannah- I think that’s a good theme and a good formula to have. Thanks for your time, good luck with the single and the album!

www.sanguineband.com

Sanguine’s single, For Love, is released on October 3rd. Their as yet untitled album is due for release in January 2012.

Interview: Northern Oak [2011]

Posted in Interview with tags , on 25th August 2011 by Hannah

13/08/2011

Hannah nabs Northern Oak for a chat during Bloodstock Festival 2011

Hannah- Hi guys! You’re playing the New Blood stage tomorrow. Have you guys played this sort of festival before, or is it your first time at something of this size?
Chris- It’s the biggest thing we’ve played. I know a lot of people at Bloodstock will just wander around and stop to see a band; it’s pretty rare that you’d get that anywhere else.
Martin- The other thing we’ve done recently is Pagan Pride, but it’s not quite as big!
Chris- Yeah, that was last weekend. It was quite cool, it was in a bandstand in a park, with lots of people standing around.
Catie- I think we were maybe slightly too heavy for that crowd, though. All the other bands were a lot more folky and rocky.
Martin- There have been quite a few people here at Bloodstock that have come up to us and said ‘Ah! You were are Pagan Pride!’
Chris- Yeah, from our acoustic set earlier you wouldn’t have got that we’re quite so heavy. It was very stripped back. We’re going to play one of the songs tomorrow, Arbor Low, and you’ll see it in full power. It’s a lot more…
Martin- The amps are up to 11!
Rich- I’ll actually have room to run around on the stage.
Chris- He needs a runway. We have to actually plan a runway for him to go back and forth.
Digby- And I’ll be playing keys, which will be nice, because I’ll actually know the pieces.
Chris- Yeah, today we amped up the folk side. We’ve got some really talented multi-instrumentalists.
Martin- Yeah, Caitie can play more than one, Digby can play more than one…
Hannah- I must say, I got quite excited when you brought out the recorders!
Catie- They have a really bad press, because people associate them with squeaky primary school children.
Chris- We definitely upped that. We walked past earlier in the day, and we thought it was an acoustic stage, but there were people that were playing metal! Fair enough, but we’re going to ramp up the acoustic. It was a lot more twinkly than normal, we thought we’d concentrate on the cleaner bits.
Hannah- I think it’s good, because it will give people a chance to see the different sides of your stuff. I think you’ve been described as folk, black, progressive metal! Would you say that was fitting?
Rich- I hope not, because I hate prog!
Martin- I’m with Rich there! I suppose maybe in the mix of things, there’s prog.
Hannah- You can definitely see the the folk and the black sides, and I guess you can see the prog in your instrumentals and that…
Chris- I like prog!
Caitie- There are aspects. Normally when people see ‘folk metal’ I think they expect sort of jiggy Korpiklaani stuff, but we’re not really like that.
Chris- I think it’s the lyrics that are the most progressive part of it. A lot of progressive lyrics explore weighty concepts, and I don’t want to speak for Martin’s lyrics, but they’re definitely heavy! The last album was a concept album.
Digby- But thankfully we don’t do dragons.
Hannah- I was going to say, your music is very English in its’ folk sensibilities, because unlike the Scandinavians and their dragons and monsters, English folk tends to be about people.
Chris- I spent some time looking up a lot of English folk stories, to see what we have over here, and it’s not really got many mythical creatures.
Martin- There is a song about Gawain and the Green Knight.
Digby- Having said that, Chris, the one on this album that you wrote the lyrics for is about mythical creatures, is it not!?
Chris- It is! It is, I will admit. It’s Sylvan Lullaby, it doesn’t sound like trolls and elves and that. I’m reading the Hobbit, actually, and I like the bit about Mirkwood. I thought- I’m not going to write about Tolkein, but I’m going to take the thing about being trapped in the forest and trying to escape before dark.
Hannah- So, when you’re live and you’re all plugged in- it’s not just the mics and the bass guitar, would you say that it’s really different?
Rich- Oh, it’s more brutal. I would say so. There’s also the thing when we have four vocal parts in certain songs.
Chris- He’s very proud about his vocals.
Digby- I can’t sing, so I just play the keys.
Caitie- I can’t sing, but they force me to anyway.
Martin- The good thing about doing an acoustic set is we can do things we haven’t really played.
Chris- The first track was the intro track off of our album, and we haven’t played that live in ages. We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for it- we got told three weeks ago! They rang us and asked if we wanted to do an acoustic set, and we were like great! Now lets work out an acoustic set… argh!
Hannah- No pressure then! It worked out really well, though, you couldn’t tell! Anyway, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me guys, looking forward to seeing you ‘properly’ and plugged in tomorrow.

www.northernoak.co.uk

Northern Oak’s second full-length album, Monuments, is out now.