Archive for December, 2014

Pieni’s Highlights of 2014

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , on 31st December 2014 by Pieni

I’ve been to a lot, but really A LOT of amazing shows this year. But the top-5 wasn’t that hard to choose:

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  1. Sonic Syndicate at Zakk (Düsseldorf)
  2. The End Of Grace at Valand (Gothenburg)
  3. Skid Row at The Underworld (London)
  4. R.A.M.P. at Canecas (Paços de Ferreira)
  5. Equaleft at Metalpoint (Porto)

The downside of attending so many shows is that I lack the time to pay attention to all new releases. Here are the five to which I did pay loads of attention:

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  1. “Sonic Syndicate” by Sonic Syndicate
  2. “Ghost Empire” by Caliban
  3. “Adapt & Survive” by Equaleft
  4. “Vol. 5 – Lost At Home” by More Than A Thousand
  5. “Circle” by Sparzanza

Believe it or not, it was the top videos that gave me a hard time. Despite the lyric video trend, which has also improved graphically (next year I might even come up with a top 5 of those), it’s nice to see that there are still so many videos with such visual impact:

  1. “House Of The Rising Sun” by Five Finger Death Punch
  2. “All The Devil’s Toys” by Deathstars
  3. “Riskbreaker” by BatAAr
  4. “Five Minutes” by The Defiled
  5. “To Hell And Back” by Sabaton

Now the anticipations for this new year that starts tomorrow:

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  1. The End Of Grace – we all know how plans fail, especially when it comes to a new band, so the debut album that they were hoping to release this year was postponed to 2015. So here they are again, topping my expectations.
  2. Through The Cracks – definitely waiting eagerly for this one! And now that singer Tillie Grundel has left, the curiosity is even bigger.
  3. Web – despite my close relationship with this band, it’s all been hush-hushed and I have no idea what’s coming out of there. But I’m sure it will be great.
  4. Hills Have Eyes – it shouldn’t be long until “Antebellum” hits the stores!
  5. Hardcore Superstar – anything that comes from these sleazy bastards is worth it, 10th album or not.

Happy 2015 people!

Renata “Pieni” Lino

Iza’s highlights of 2014 (part 2: Industrial)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on 31st December 2014 by izaforestspirit

Best Industrial albums

1. Combichrist – We Love You
Genre: Aggrotech/ Industrial Metal


I remember when Combichrist announced that the new album was going to feature guitars it sparked endless discussions in the industrial scene. Some individuals hated the idea of an electronic band incorporating guitars and a “metal influence” into Aggrotech music. Not me. I’m a fan of both industrial and metal so I was more than happy with this combination. Their previous release, the Devil May Cry sountrack ‘No Redemption’ was a taster of what was to come. ‘We Love You’ still has many of the catchy, dance-floor friendly songs which make Combichrist so good but like ‘No Redemption’ it also has the aggression of a metal album. Best tracks: ‘Can’t Control’ , ‘From My Cold Dead Hands’, ‘Maggots at The Party’,

2. Nitronoise – No Cure For Apocalypse
Genre: Aggrotech

The main thing that I love about this band is the sheer energy and the intensity of their music. Listening to it makes me feel like I’m participating in a competitive sports event. It gives you that rush of adrenaline, making you want to keep fighting or go that extra mile. I have both their albums and each one has a few songs that I frequently listen to when I’m working out. Best tracks: ‘Want Some’, ‘Censorshit’ , ‘We Demand Better (featuring Nachtmahr).

3. Heimataerde – Kaltwærts
Genre: Dark Industrial/ Medieval Electro


The beauty with Heimataerde is that despite their distinctive style, no two albums of theirs sound the same. This one has a lot of atmospheric undertones but it also features some dance-floor friendly club tracks. Oh and there’s a story too: “the dark antagonist Zebaoth has captured friar Andreas and is now setting out to bring fear and horror unto the world. The brotherhood wants to stop this evil force at all costs and embarks into the cold to destroy the demon once and for all times and to rescue the friar.” Best tracks: ‘Bruderschaft’, ‘Schwesterlein’ and ‘Weiß schwarz’.

4. Nachtmahr- Feindbild
Genre: Aggrotech


I was very busy with some personal stuff at the time when this album come out. I remember when this delightful coffee-table CD book arrived, I simply put it on the shelf in hope of finding the time to enjoy it at a later date. When that time came I gave it several listens and all I can say is that it’s a very good album though not quite as memorable as their debut or ‘Veni Vidi Vici’. Best tracks ‘The Torch’ and ‘Die Fahnen Unserer Väter’ .

5. Ad Inferna – Opus 7:Elevation
Genre: Industrial/EBM with black metal elements


This band is hugely underrated in my opinion. Their style is a mixture of EBM, industrial with a atmospheric elements. They originally started out as a black metal band. If you’re interested in learning more about them, check out my interview with VoA (https://valkyrianmusic.com/2014/06/17/interview-with-voa-from-ad-inferna/). ‘Opus 7: Elevation’ is their strongest and most complex release to date. There’s a bit of everything here, from aggression, dance tracks, atmospheric, movie soundtrack style elements to operatic vocals and black metal shrieks. Best tracks: ‘Non- Existance’, ‘Soumission’ and ‘InVisible’ (featuring Morpheus from Limbonic Art).

6. KMFDM – Our Time Will Come
Genre: Electro-Industrial/ Industrial Rock


This is actually my very first KMFDM album. After several years of ignoring the recommendations from various friends, I finally decided to give them a try. I took a few listens but in the end I’m pleased with my discovery. I like their combination of tongue n’ cheek humour with catchy, heavy beats and powerful vocals. Best tracks: ‘Genau’, ‘Respekt’.

Most Anticipated Albums of 2015

Apocalyptica – Shadowmaker (release date: 15th April 2015)

New albums by Cradle of Filth, Suicide Commando, Alien Vampires and Unter Null.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Iza’s Highlights of 2014 (part 1: Metal)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 30th December 2014 by izaforestspirit

It’s been an eventful year for alternative music. Not only were there lots of great new albums and shows but also some old bands like At The Gates coming back after a long break. For this year’s summary I’ve decided to focus on the albums that caught my attention:

Best Metal albums

1. Behemoth – The Satanist
Genre: Blackened Death Metal

This is without doubt my favourite release of 2014 and the metal album which I’ve listened to the most this year. I simply can’t get enough it. It’s been five years since ‘Evangelion’ but it was definitely worth the wait. ‘The Satanist’ is multi-faceted and very complex as an album but that’s why I like it so much. It combines the brutality old Behemoth with the atmosphere and the “epic” feel of their newer work. Best tracks: ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’, ‘Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer’ and ‘O Father O Satan O Sun’.

2. Vader – Tibi et Igni
Genre: Death Metal

The Polish death metal titans are back. I’ve been a fan of their music for over a decade. While I enjoyed their previous effort ‘Welcome to the Morbid Reich’ it’s no much for this. In my opinion ‘Tibi et Igni’ is their best album after my all time favourite ‘ Black To The Blind’. If you’re a Vader like me then you probably know what to expect: aggressive and brutal death metal with thrash metal guitar mixed in. Best tracks: ”Go To Hell’, Hexenkessel’, ‘Triumph of Death’.

3. Kampfar – Djevelmakt
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

It’s been twenty years since Kampfar was formed and there’s no better way to celebrate the anniversary than with a new album. And what an album it is! ‘Djevelmakt’ is every bit as haunting and atmospheric as its predecessor ‘Mare’. Best tracks: ‘Mylder’ , ‘Swarm Norvegicus’, ‘Our Hounds, Our Legion’.

4. Sabaton – Heroes
Genre: Power Metal


Sabaton is one of the very few power metal bands I listen to. ‘Heroes’ might be a follow up to ‘Carolus Rex’ but it is very different both in terms of the themes and the overall structure. Here each song tells a story, of an individual or small group whose actions left their mark on history. Best tracks: ‘Nightwitches’, ‘To Hell and Back’ and ‘Resist and Bite’.

5. At The Gates – At War Reality
Genre: Melodic Death Metal


It’s been a while…These guys haven’t released an album since ‘Slaughter of the Soul’ back in 1995. What ever their reasons were for such a long break, I’m just glad that they’re back. The new album ‘At War With Reality’ combines the older style with their more experimental phase ‘Slaughter of the Soul’. Best tracks ‘Heroes and Tombs’ and ‘The Night Eternal’.

6. Metsatöll – Karjajuht
Genre: Folk Metal


The Estonian wolf-pack have returned. Like it’s predecessor ‘Ulg’, this album follows their tried and tested formula of catchy heavy metal with traditional Estonian folk instruments. Best tracks: ‘Külmking’ and ‘Lööme mesti’ (featuring Jonne Järvelä from Korpiklaani).

7. Vallenfyre – Splinters
Genre: Death/ Doom Metal


This band first got my attention due to the impressive line-up; it features members of both Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride as well as Adrian Erlandsson on drums. In many ways it reminds me of old Entombed, Celtic Frost as well as as the early works of Paradise Lost. Best tracks: ‘Bereft’ and ‘Splinters’.

Stay tuned for part 2: Industrial edition coming soon.

Apocalyptica release new video for ‘Shadowmaker’

Posted in Misc., News, Review with tags , on 22nd December 2014 by izaforestspirit

Finnish symphonic metallers Apocalyptica have just released a new video for the track ‘Shadowmaker’. Check out here:

The video was made using clips from the silent movies Genuine (1920) by Robert Wiene and Svengali (1931) by Archie Mayo. The song features Franky Perez on vocals and is available now as a digital single via Sony Music Entertainment. ‘Shadowmaker’ is the title track from the upcoming album which will out on April 15th 2015.

http://www.apocalyptica.com/en/
https://www.facebook.com/Apocalyptica

Enslaved reveal details about thirteenth studio release

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 15th December 2014 by Nico Davidson

Norwegian progressive black metal horde Enslaved have finally revealed details about their thirteenth studio album, In Times, which will be released in the UK on 9th March 2015 via Nuclear Blast. Hand-painted artwork is by long-time collaborating artist and “sixth Enslaved member” Truls Espedal.

Enslaved guitarist & composer Ivar Bjørnson shares the following about the band’s latest creation:

I was so deep into the songs and ideas for such a long time (or have my head so far up my own ass, if you prefer more direct language) that it is hard to have any ‘opinions’ about them that is anything else than the high-flying mumbo-jumbo of the introvert song-smith.  The songs are extensions of my inner and outer life, the thoughts I am aware of having, as well as those that lie too deep to register in everyday consciousness.  The songs are the resounds of grandiose altered states and mundane tiny micro-events.  In addition, they are, of course, also the result of inspiration from other music and art.  I do think this new album is the most consistent body of work we have so far: It incorporates our ‘blacker’ past with our influences from prog rock, our present sense of absolute freedom, and the joy of being in this band, if that makes any sense… Ha, ha, ha.  It is higher in energy, more aggressive, yet more beautiful and subtle.  It simply sounds inspired.

The track list for In Times is as follows:

01 – Thurisaz Dreaming
02 – Building With Fire
03 – One Thousand Years Of Rain
04 – Nauthir Bleeding
05 – In Times
06 – Daylight

The new album’s total running time is fifty-three minutes.

Main recordings for In Times took place at Duper Studios to Solslottet Studio in Bergen, Norway with additional recordings sessions at Conclave & Earshot Studios (presided over by Enslaved members Larsen and Ice Dale), and Ivar Bjørnson’s Personal Sound Studios.  Additional experimentation and sonic exploration was conducted deep in the woods of Valevåg south of Bergen where a mobile studio recorded additional sounds.

In Times was produced by band members Ivar Bjørnson, Grutle Kjellson and Herbrand Larsen together with Iver Sandøy.  Mixing was completed by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden.

Enslaved will play Bloodstock Open Air next Summer held in Catton Park, 6th-9th August.

Enslaved online:

http://enslaved.no
http://facebook.com/enslaved

Phal:Angst release new haunting clip for Hardwire

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on 15th December 2014 by Nico Davidson

Austria’s premier industrial mobsters Phal:Angst have recently unveiled the new clip for their upcoming single Hardwire. The track is taken from the band’s new album Black Country. Having worked tirelessly to make a name for themselves in their homeland of Austria, Phal:Angst are now setting their sights on bigger game.

A stark and frightening clip, the band had this to say regarding the clip, which can be viewed down below:
The first video to the new Phal:Angst album Black Country is to the song Hardwire and it was shot in the legendary Viennese café/bar Café Stadtbahn which enjoys a perfect reputation with local bohemians, (sub)cultural people & heavy drinkers. So, a perfect ambience for Phal:Angst.
Also note the sign for "Kat’s Caravan" which was a regular event there and refers to the legendary radio show by Jim Lowe & John Peel. The "story" of the video is social alienation, boredom, voicelessness but also a glorification of slowness. It might not be a coincidence that this one comes out of the city of Vienna, well known for it’s morbidity, leisureliness and psychoanalysis.
It took the viewers of the test screenings usually about 5 minutes to start asking themselves "what the fuck?!”
At the end all questions should be answered.
Phal:Angst is an Industrial/Post-Rock-Band from Vienna, Austria. Formed in 2006, they sit between Industrial, EBM, Post-Rock and Doom; taking influence from bands like Earth, Mogwai, Coil, Front 242 and Neurosis.

Phal:Angst online:

http://facebook.com/phalangst

Hrizg reveal new line-up and begin work on next album

Posted in News with tags , , , , on 15th December 2014 by Nico Davidson

Hrizg have returned with fresh news. Following ten years of solitude, Hrizg’s main man, Erun Dagoth, has conscripted three wandering souls into the band’s ranks: Enserune (Enserune, Neverendinghate, ex-Lucifuego) on bass guitar, Kaornekan (ex-Bittencross, ex-Fatal Portrait) on guitar, and Varkhen (ex-Bittencross, ex-Forestdome, ex-Fatal Portrait) on drums.

Individualism, the third album of Hrizg, released this summer by Moribund Records, has set an end to an era. As Erun Dagoth stated:

This album marks an epoch, an unholy trinity with Oaken Path of Grief [2007] and Anthems to Decrepitude [2011]. Now begins another age. I think the music and essence will go to the next level.

Hrizg online:

http://facebook.com/hrizgofficial

More Than A Thousand w/ support – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 8th December 2014 by Pieni

More Than A Thousand, Devil In Me, Hills Have Eyes, Kandia
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
6th December 2014

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Last Saturday, Hard Club welcomed what is probably the best metalcore band in the country and their special guests, who are also high in the ranks of popularity around here. The result? An unforgettable, explosive night!

 photo _DSC0028_zpsf3c3054b.jpgFirst band on stage was Kandia, the “only local band”, as singer Nya would remark. She would also motivate the crowd by saying something like “let’s show these bands from the south that Porto knows how to rock”. Having just 20 minutes to play (“but sometimes quickies are good too, right?”, she teased), and also to give something different to the fans who have been seeing their recent shows, they’ve replaced “Caution + New Breed” with “Noise + All Is Gone” as the kick-off of the gig. The crowd was very responsive to Kandia, which was really good to see, since the other three bands were much more aggressive and I wasn’t sure how their fans would react to Kandia’s alternative rock.
As I said before, when reviewing their concert at Vagos Open Air, even though all musicians put their heart and soul in the performance, it’s Nya who gets the ultimate prize in stage attitude, enhancing the energy and emotion of the songs – the last one of their short but enthralling set being “Karma”. (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/Kandiamusic

 photo _DSC0095_zps1558035b.jpgHills Have Eyes took some time to get on stage as there was some problem with the sound. People were getting impatient and eventually the show started, even if the tech wasn’t 100% satisfied with the sound. But the crowd clearly didn’t care – when a band puts up a show like Hills Have Eyes does, imperfect sound is a minor detail. Such an adrenaline discharge! At some point singer Fábio Batista asked who was seeing Hills Have Eyes for the first time and a bunch of arms were raised. But that didn’t mean they’d never heard of them before, ‘cause the choir of voices singing along the songs was way too loud. And those who weren’t singing, were vigorously headbanging or moshing – Hills Have Eyes are definitely loved and everybody wanted to shake Fábio‘s hand when he jumped in the pit and greeted the fans.
When you don’t have too much time to play, it’s only natural that you focus on your latest work and neglect the older stuff. That’s what Hills Have Eyes did (as much as I’d have loved to listen to “Daydreaming Isn’t So Good After All”, for instance)– the set was almost entirely focused on “Strangers”, the “almost” meaning a new song called “Bringer Of Rain”. Since “Strangers” was released in 2012, it’s about time its follow-up starts getting shape!
Just like the studio version, Vasco Ramos from More Than A Thousand joined Fábio on stage to sing “Anyway, It’s Gone”, and then the title-track of “Strangers” closed a gig that lasted a bit longer than Kandia’s but still not long enough. Hills Have Eyes have just been added to my bands-to-see-as-headliners list. (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/hillshaveeyes

 photo _DSC0482_zps4ee3ba12.jpgDevil In Me was the only band I didn’t know, even though, apparently, they’re quite big. But then again, hardcore isn’t really my area of expertise… Their light show was poor, so I could barely see the guys. Singer Poli paced around like a wild animal in a cage, guitarist Matos stretched his legs in high jumps… I guess that even if the lights were clearer, I’d still have trouble seeing more than blurs of movement. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I can’t find another way to pass through the idea of the blitz that was going on up there. And down there too, as the mosh and crowdsurfing was soon matching the aggression of the sound.
Three albums out, the fourth, “Soul Rebel”, is on its way. So among songs like “Only God Can Judge Me” and “The End”, we got to hear the title-track of that upcoming record and even sing along the chorus, as singer Poli made us scream “like a lion” in response to his “soul rebel”. The crowd roared like lions indeed.
There’s no hardcore band who doesn’t point a finger to the joke that’s our political and economic situation, but among that Poli said something else, something more positive – “when you’re at home, listening to music, listen to it with open ears, ‘cause music is much more than clothes and appearance, it sends a message”. Nice! (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/devilinmeband

 photo _DSC0573a_zps8488e600.jpgI won’t say that there were “more than a thousand” people watching the show not just because it would be a tacky pun but also because it wouldn’t be accurate – one thousand is precisely the capacity of Hard Club and there was still room to breathe. But barely! And since they’d played at that very venue, for the same number (give or take) of people, just nine months before, that says A LOT about More Than A Thousand. And if we used emoticons here on Valkyrian, here’s where I’d put a heart.
The setlist was pretty similar to that one of March (and this is a mere statement, not at all a complaint), replacing “Lost At Home” for “Cross My Heart”, and “Black Hearts” and “Make Friends And Enemies” for an “old school 5-track medley” – something Vasco claimed that they’d never done before.
And the order of the other songs was changed, like opening with “Feed The Caskets” (my personal favorite) or “We Wrote A Song About You” being played more or less in the middle of the show. For this one, like in March, and in so many others whenever Fábio is available, the singer of Hills Have Eyes joined in. The two bands have been close friends for a long while, and one can tell by the way Vasco and Fábio insult each other – “but we like each other very much. It’s something gay”, said Vasco.
Unchanged were “Midnight Calls” and “In Loving Memory (Life Flashes)”, when Vasco stood alone on stage, playing the guitar himself. And the mandatory “No Bad Blood” closing it up with golden key – hearing the whole room singing “this is who we are, tonight we’ll stay together” is especially flesh-crawling. (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/morethanathousand

Vasco thanked the other bands and everybody who got out of the house to support Portuguese bands, but he forgot someone: the ONLY security guy who did a hell of a job handing the moshers and crowdsurfers all by himself. I tip my hat to you, Joel!

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Moonshade’s “Dream | Oblivion” release party – Porto, Portugal

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 6th December 2014 by Pieni

Moonshade, Destroyers Of All, Survive The Wasteland
Metalpoint, Porto
29th November 2014

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Moonshade’s EP “Dream | Oblivion” has been available digitally on Bandcamp since May, but now they’ve released it in physical format. So a release party was mandatory. Playing melodic death metal, they invited two bands of different death flavors – straightforward death metal and a more thrash-oriented one – bands that “tore down the stage”, as Moonshade singer Ricardo said later on, adding that it was just what they had expected, hence the invitation.

 photo _DSC0057copy_zps25631991.jpgThe first was Survive The Wasteland, formerly known as Suffochate. Already under the new name, they’ve released a 2-track EP (3-track if you count the intro) last year, “Devour”, “Sculpting The End” suitably wrapping up the show. All the other five songs – including “Stolen Ceremony”, to which the band recorded a “live in studio” video – are still a work-in-progress to a future release. A promising one, by the sound of it! Despite the crowd standing a couple of steps back – singer Cláudio and bassist Miguel taking the clearing for themselves here and there – and the moshers kicking their circle just for the last song, one could tell Survive The Wasteland were making an impression, given the constant headbanging and the growing enthusiasm in the applauses. I believe these kids from Matosinhos have a good thing going on here. (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/survivethewasteland

Next came Destroyers Of All. Warmed up… no, heated up by Survive The Wasteland,  photo _DSC0314acopy_zpsaa3eebf6.jpgthe crowd started moshing earlier. The fact that they had a bunch of hardcore fans there also helped, screaming along the lyrics and everything. After all, if you make it to the finals of Wacken Metal Battle (losing to a more veteran act, Revolution Within), you must be good enough to earn followers along the way and get a lively crowd every time you go on stage. “Into The Fire” it’s the only recording so far, an EP with four shredding tracks (plus intro & outro) and its title track seems to be the most popular. Among those songs they played also a new one, “Death Healer”, and a couple of covers, Death’s “The Philosopher” and Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell”. Singer João introduced the first one as a song from a band that “you might have heard of before”, and the trick to make the crowd scream louder came from drummer Filipe, who said “what, am I the only one who knows them?”. And yup, the trick worked. “Astral Projection” finished another great set. (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/DestroyersofAll

 photo _DSC0703copy_zpsb82f2878.jpgDespite their more melodic approach, Moonshade weren’t less intense. They even had a guest keyboard player, Nuno Barbosa, to produce that authentic sound that samplers never achieve.
“Dream | Oblivion” is already their second EP, the first released four years ago with the title “The Path Of Redemption”, so this gig was a mix of them both – quality melodeath made in Portugal. And while the rest of the band keeps a bit to themselves, frontman Ricardo is otherwise very expressive. And amusing. For instance, when introducing “Genesis 3.5”, he warned us they would bore us with those almost eight minutes of a song. Or, close to the end, when a fan picked him up and carried him through the front rows, holding him between his legs, Ricardo would thank him, claiming it had been real fun, although he probably wouldn’t be able to have kids in the future.
When the show was over, the crowd wanted more, but the singer said they didn’t have more songs. Someone asked for them to repeat one song (he was specific about the song, but I honestly can’t remember, sorry) but Ricardo replied they didn’t have any more songs of their own but there were “the songs of others”. And the night ended with a brilliant cover of Amon Amarth’s “Guardians Of Asgaard”. (5 / 5)

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www.facebook.com/moonshadeofficial

Metalpoint celebrated its 7th anniversary the following day and these three bands put up quite a pre-party.

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

One year later – interview with THE END OF GRACE

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , on 2nd December 2014 by Pieni

Formed in December 2012 between Stockholm and Gothenburg, THE END OF GRACE has been under my radar practically ever since. I made sure to be present on their live debut, at Rockbitch Boat 2013, and took the chance to interview them at the time (read it here). Now, exactly one year later, the boys played the same event… and there I went again, and had a chat with them, again. I sat down with Johan (clean vocals/bass), Jimmy (guitar) and Thomas (drums), and eventually Kriss (growls) joined us. And what was supposed to be just a quick catching-u, ended up being quite a long conversation, both riveting and amusing.

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Renata: It’s been exactly one year since your first show, but you’ve played quite a few meanwhile. What was the best and worst experience you’ve had so far?
Jimmy Bergman: The best experience was when we were on tour with OUTTRIGER. It was so much fun!
Thomas Manell: Actually… no! ‘Cause Johan wasn’t there!
Jimmy: Yeah, I know, but it was really amazing for us!
Thomas: What do you have to say about that, Johan?
Johan Hagman: Well, I had the best time of my life when you were out there touring, so… (laughs)

Renata: So for you, Johan, what was your best show?
Johan: It was NOT the OUTTRIGER tour… (laughs). I don’t know. It was really fun last night, actually. It really felt like people stepped out to the plate. After one year we’ve hopefully grown together that much, so it felt good, it felt cool. I think that was one of the best shows. But soundwise it must have been Sticky Fingers because they have the best sound. Now the worst show…
Jimmy: That was also the OUTTRIGER tour (laughs). There were like… four people!
Johan: Ha, now I get it. But we had so many shows with crappy sound…
Thomas: Kryptan…
Jimmy: Definitely Kryptan!
Johan: Oooooh! Sure, sure! Kryptan!
Thomas: It was very well set, we got hotel rooms, food, beer…
Johan: Too much beer…
Thomas: True, we had too much beer. Anyway, they took care of us but the show itself was just… terrible!
Johan: The sound was terrible and we got drunk. After that we decided not to drink again before shows.
 photo _DSC0040_zps5cfc20ac.jpgThomas: Robert (Åkerlund, guitar) was sooooo pissed, yelling at the sound guy. We had programmed all the sound before, the soundcheck took like one hour and a half, two hours – which is extremely long for a soundcheck – and then when we’re supposed to start playing, everything that they had memorized is gone! As for the funniest experience, I think it was with SEVENTRIBE. That tour we played in Linköping, Gothenburg and Stockholm? That was really much fun. And the Rockbitch Boat this year and last year. It’s a good event, there are lots of people… and we get to hang out.

Renata: I remember that last year, your first show was also the first time the five of you were playing together. That’s still your MO, rehearsing separately?
Johan: Didn’t you hear our soundcheck last night?
Thomas: That was rehearsal! (laughs)
Johan: That was the first time we’ve all played the new song (“Final Burden”) together, so that was rehearsal. We can’t rehearse but people can tell that we focus on the positive sides. We do what we do and it works.

Renata: Speaking about “Final Burden”, the reception by the crowd was so great! Were you expecting that?
Johan: I think people are embracing the new sound. That new song is harder and I think people like that. I saw what bands the kids out there had on their t-shirts and it’s right down our alley. And we’ve been talking about sounds for soooo long… So if one song, that no one ever heard, gets that reaction…
Thomas: It’s such a good thing!

Renata: Which reminds me that you, Johan, were afraid of ruining the TEoG sound given your hardcore preference/influence, but after listening both “Beneath The Waves” and now “Final Burden”, I don’t think anything’s ruined at all – just as I expected!
Johan: Ah, but “Beneath The Waves” was written long before!
Jimmy: It was maybe the first song we did with THE END OF GRACE.
Johan: Anyway, it was never a problem. We’re so open now, we have the sound that we’re aiming for. I was unsure at the time but it’s really never been a problem.

Renata: So in comparison to “Lost In Transition”, what can the fans expect from this upcoming new album? photo _DSC0291_zps8ea75ad2.jpg
Jimmy: Faster riffs. And more riffs in the songs.
Johan: Yes, much more riffs! More breakdowns too.
Jimmy: Really fast drums…
Thomas: Yeah, we’ll see about that… (laughs).
Johan: Cleaner. Better.
Jimmy: Harder.
Johan: More… us, in my opinion. More Kriss, more me, more Jimmy, more Robert, more Thomas… You know, we can send a metalcore song to Thomas and then he grooves it up. That’s the funny thing – we want the drums in a certain way but then he… I can’t explain it! It gets groovy! All of a sudden it’s groovy. What the fuck, this works! It’s not supposed to, it was supposed to be a drum machine! (laughs) But yeah, faster, heavier, and even more focused on the choruses.

Renata: On that first gig, Robert was still a stand-in guitarist, replacing Sulan Von Zoomlander. What did he bring to the band when he became a permanent member of TEoG?
Thomas: Yesterday me and Johan were talking about how Jimmy and Robert work together as guitarists. Not just how they play but what they do on stage – taking each side, jumping on the speakers and just giving it all to the audience. That’s one of the things that tells you how well they work together.
Johan: They have a healthy rivalry. If Jimmy does something, Robert has to do it too but he has to do it a bit better. And then Jimmy has to best him… you know?
Thomas: And you said that it makes YOU want to do better!
Johan: Exactly! Hopefully I can make them do what they do and feel comfortable around me, ‘cause I can’t play bass that well, I just focus on banging my head and then they can focus on doing their shit. And then all of a sudden they’re standing on speakers! (laughs) It feels like they get fired up from each other and it’s “fuck it, I have to do better than him”.

Renata: So you’re more consistent, more whole as a band?
Johan: I hope so! But it comes with baggage. We’ve been playing together for so long (Jimmy, Johan and Robert played in ROAD TO REPENT before THE END OF GRACE) and we all know each other so well that it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing it as we used to. The same problems, the same issues, same discussions… That hasn’t been a problem yet but I believe it won’t be as we’re more open now.
Renata: And you’ve been through that before, so now you know how to find a way.
Thomas: You’ve learnt from it.
Johan: And especially with this band, where we never see each other. With the other band it was three times a week, but this time we never see each other.
Renata: You don’t have time to get tired of each other.
Johan: Exactly! It’s a blessing and a curse (laughs).

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Renata: Last time we also talked about making a video (which you ended up doing for “Beneath The Waves”) and how the budget was the biggest obstacle. What we didn’t talk about was – if you had an unlimited budget, how would you like to make a video?
Thomas: Personally, I’m not a big fans of videos where you just see the band standing and playing in a certain scenario. I’d like to try animations and stuff like that. Try to build a story – fiction or whatever. That would be cool.
Renata: Any special storyline in your head already?
Thomas: No, that would depend on the song.
Renata: Something according to the lyrics then. And you guys?
Jimmy: I’m with Thomas. I don’t like to see just the band, I want a story behind it. It’s more fun to see.
Renata: Animation too or… ?
Jimmy: I hope for a big production actually. Girls… cars… you name it.
Johan (while Thomas laughs): What the fuck?! Have you even heard what you’ve said? “We want girls, we want cars”… whaaat??? (laughs).
Thomas: One of my favorite bands nowadays, I think I actually like their videos more than their music… (pauses) well, they’re both good.
Johan: They are called THE END OF GRACE(laughs).
Thomas: They’re called OK GO – definitely no metalcore but I love their music videos. They’re in them themselves where they do all these fucked up things. In one (“This Too Shall Pass”) they have these Rube Goldberg machines and they jump from one to another, just like a domino. They drop one domino and it goes all the way around through the whole music video. That kind of things! So it’s interesting to see the video.
Renata: It catches your attention.
Jimmy: Girls… cars… (laughs).
Johan: BRUDAR (girls in Swedish)! Well I don’t have a problem with a performance video. I think it’s cool, more old-school-ish, but it depends on how you do it. it’s not good to see a performance video shot from one angle, you have to do something else, something special. Like in BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE’s video “Tears Don’t Fall” where they introduce the water, and then you have their song “Hand Of Blood” where they go SLAYER and it’s raining blood and shit like that. That’s cool. Of course I could see something with a storyline and I think lyrical meaning works really well.

Renata: You’ve told me last year how the expression “deathcore popcorn” came about. Tell me now about the “angry pop” hashtag that I’ve been seeing in all your Instragram photos!
Jimmy: Yeaaaaah… that was me. Again (grins). There’s this band that I won’t say the name where the guy hates metalcore. He called it “angry pop”. But I actually think it’s perfect for us! We ARE an angry pop band! So I took it!

Thomas: And Kriss is here! We can do all the questions again… (laughs).

Renata: Is there anything about this past year that you want to share? Something that’s happened or that you’ve planned for the near future?
Jimmy: World domination! (laughs).
Thomas: Jimmy is moving to Gothenburg, close to Kriss, and I only have two hours of driving to Gothenburg from where I live…
Renata: So it’s not world domination, it’s world chaos…
Thomas: Ha ha, yeah, it’s world chaos! But I think that’s going to change a bit how we’ll work from now on. We will be able to rehearse and Johan and Robert can come down once in a while.
Kriss Panic: I happen to know a flashy new studio.
Johan: Progress! We’ve got a practice room! And we’ve got an album…
Renata: Any idea of when it’s going to be released?
Johan: Let’s say… we don’t. It’s better that way. We’ve got the songs. That’s it for now.

Renata: What about “Final Burden”? Will it be released as a single?
Johan: It’s just a new song. I don’t know about the other guys, we haven’t talked face-to-face about it yet, but in my opinion it’s just a new song.
Thomas: You’re so mysterious! (laughs)

Renata: I think it’s good to keep some things to yourselves. Nowadays things are posted on the internet so on-the-spot, every idea that later it doesn’t sound so good anymore or just can’t be fulfilled. I remember, for instance, someone posting “TEoG is so unstable!”, when Sulan left, because you’ve had all those line-up changes before. But that’s common in the beginning. So many major bands went through it but at the time there was no Facebook to post about it and so you’d only come to know the line-up that would be playing a show or recording an album.
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Johan: It’s so easy to post stuff on Facebook. It’s better to be a bit more careful. But when it comes to stability, this band it’s not unstable AT ALL. There will be no more line-up changes. I don’t think any of us would want to keep on playing if someone would quit right now. It’s a special feeling. If Kriss would leave, how would we ever find someone who could… what did Robert say? It was in Swedish and I can’t find the right words in English.
Thomas: Oh yeah, last night! It was so beautiful!
Renata: Call him!
Johan: He’s asleep, he’s hung-over (laughs). It was something like Kriss being able to suck the audience in and make them feel like they’re right there in your face.
Thomas: Exactly! Thar Kriss can make that person in the back of the room feel like he’s in front of the stage. His way of entertaining. He really REALLY entertains the audience. That is something that’s unique and it has become a sort of a trademark for us. We’re a live band after all.
Kriss: This is maybe weird for a singer to say, but my inspiration on stage isn’t any singer. It’s actually Jimi Hendrix. I see myself inside Jimi. I don’t always sing the same way ‘cause I think that makes a better show. If you’ve seen us a bunch of times, and you see the same thing over and over again, I think it gets boring. So I change it. Not all of the time, I’d say 90% of it it’s the same, but I switch things around a little bit. I think music is organic and you can change things, especially on a live show. When you write music, in your head it’s dead on. but once you’ve sung it or played a bunch of times, you think “oh, I wish I’ve done this way, I wish I’ve done it that way” and it’s always a kind of progression. Maybe not so much with the guitars, but with vocals it’s fun to do.
Johan: And there’s room for it.
Kriss: That’s why I love you guys because none of you goes “uh, what the fuck?”. It’s fun, you know? Have fun on the fucking stage! Enjoy what you do! That’s the more important thing. And the crowd sees you having fun and that you’re digging it… We’re on a journey for every show, so follow us!
Thomas: Like yesterday. I think we had a great crowd, considering the fact that we were the first band out and people were still drinking in their cabins or whatever. But we had a great crowd who built a fucking mosh pit! That gives you a special feeling.

Renata: That thing you’ve said of “enjoying what you do” being the most important thing. I totally agree. I think you have to please yourselves first. It pisses me off when some people accuse a band of disregarding their fans just because they wanted to try something new.
 photo _DSC0251_zpsb1e38e02.jpgKriss: I think it’s a fine line. As a band, from a business side – which I deal with (Kriss is a promoter and band booker for Klubb Defused at Sticky Fingers) – sometimes you have to put yourself out for others. We are a metalcore band, by definition, and within those boundaries you can mess around but… SLIPKNOT have made pretty much the same album for four albums but they love it. They’ve now changed their sound and developed it. I think that’s the way forward. I don’t think we’ll be needing to make a radical departure from our sound, we’re not going to turn into SABATON anytime soon, but you can evolve, you can grow the music. And for us, the way we’re set up – living in different parts of the country – we do our best to put up the best possible show that we can. But I think that from day one it’s just been about the energy. Pure pure energy. I believe that if you’re going to do a show and people come and pay money to see that shit, you’re not going to just stand there. We’re not a dance band, we’re not going to be still… we get into it, it’s fuckin metal! You shake your head and jump around the stage. That makes for a great show, it’s what people want to see. If you’re on a boat like this, with 30 bands, how do you separate yourself from the others? I figure you just go in the attitude “I’m going to blow everyone away in this fucking killer live show”. And I also think heavy metal fans are very forgiving about certain things. To me the most important thing is to see a killer live show, people giving it all. I think the crowd respects that more. I know a lot of bands who can stand there and be super tight but that’s not a live show to me, that’s listening to a cd. And if I want to listen to a cd, I can do that back home. I want to see some guys shake their heads up and down. I had my club night and I saw I KILLED THE PROM QUEEN. They played at Sticky Fingers at the small stage and I’ve never seen a band make that stage look so big. It’s the tiniest stage, you’ve seen us on there, and they just made it seem huge. And I think that’s the key, if you can nail that. Last night the stage was really small but we made it look fucking huge. We opened up. We’ve played with some bands and they’ve not learned how to use the stage yet, while we just kind of go in and… If there’s something to jump on, we’re on it! If something provides me a fucking hangoff, I’m doing it! I’m going to bring this fucking whole show into your face. Jump into the audience… I’ll join your moshing! You know, let’s do this!
Thomas: It gets more natural to do that because we’re not getting together that often. So every time we meet for a gig it’s like… I’m going to be super Swedish now, but it’s like when you let the cows out in the spring, they go super happy. photo _DSC0075_zps7968191c.jpg
Johan: We’re like cattle, that’s what you’re saying…
Thomas: Yeah, we’re like cattle, man (laughs). I love these guys, both as persons and as my fellow musicians. Being up on stage and playing with them it’s the best thing I know. And that reflects itself, people can tell. You can go up and do a great show as a band but it can be fake, like a built-up show. But it comes natural for us. Being us is enough. (Addressing Kriss) what was it that you said about a year ago, in Stockholm, at Pub Anchor? “I’m just being me” or something.
Kriss: Oh, right! “I don’t do pressure, I just do me”. In the beginning I had nerves doing shows with the boys, but now it’s just a relaxed and calm feeling. It’s like a relationship you have with someone, in a sense that when you first start you’re always a bit tentative but then, after a certain amount of time… It’s like my relationship with my girlfriend, I wake up in the morning and it’s just natural. And that’s what it’s like being on stage. Right now it’s just natural, everyone’s very comfortable with what’s going on. I have to say I’m super stoked that Johan’s back ‘cause he’s poured the energy back into the band, especially on this boat. We just missed that, it’s just not the same. Niklas (Aggemyr, THROUGH THE CRACKS) did a great job but we can’t replicate Johan. He’s that little bit of glue that binds us together.
Thomas: And for those of you who can’t see it, Johan has a tear in his eye. (laughs)

Kriss: One thing I love is watching all of us develop as human beings, not just as musicians. Like Johan getting married, I’m getting married next year… we are all in a different place, we’re not that band just going out trying to score chicks. We’re just about playing music, literally. And I think that’s more positive. We’ll have a drink, as we did last night, have some fun, but it’s more focused on the music. And I think that’s a more positive thing for us because that really comes out. We’re not worrying about other shit and we’re more together as a band because of that.
Johan: We want to be positive. We are all positive beings. photo _DSC0200_zps5588e570.jpg
Kriss: We were talking about lyrics… how do you write metal that’s positive? It’s quite a difficult thing! ‘Cause the way I sing it’s pretty brutal at times, so how do you turn that into positivity? Me and Johan had talked about it and I think you can still be angry but positive at the same time. Obviously it’s metal, we’re not going to sit and write love songs in that way. We ain’t gonna be Barry White(laughs)
Johan: As Kriss said, metal, traditionally, is angry and it’s a great way to get all your frustrations out. And most lyrics are kind of negative. And I think the future is being able to write songs about positive things because, like I said, no one in this band is a bad dude.
Kriss: I’m a badass dude, what are you talking about? (laughs)
Thomas: But he has a big heart.
Johan: That’s the thing! Everyone has a big heart! Why should we not show that in our lyrics? There’s not a song in the new album that involves anything negative.
Kriss: I think we’ve developed. It’s still angry but we’re just taking a different perspective on things. We’ve changed as human beings since the first stuff came out. I think we’re just trying to connect with people from a different angle, it’s more about personal experiences than anything else.
Johan: Just take “Final Burden”. It’s an angry song but it’s anger towards yourself, to what you’ve done, what you have to become to be a better person. We all want to be better persons, we all NEED to be better persons. Why not write music about that instead of “I wanna fucking kill you”? (starts singing SLIPKNOT’s “Disasterpiece”). Nothing wrong with that, but… I’m really really proud of the lyrical meaning for all of the songs now because we’re all positive dudes, we should make music about positive messages.

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Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino