Archive for August, 2019

Interview with Liv Sin

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , on 28th August 2019 by mickbirchy

Ahead of the release of their new album Burning Sermons on the 6th September, Mick spoke to Liv Jagrell of Swedish heavy metal band Liv Sin. They discussed the production and songwriting of this record in comparison to their previous 2017 album, Follow Me, as well working with some of metal’s heavy hitters. Also, read Liv’s thoughts on women in metal, her biggest piece of advice for new bands and how she has overcome her biggest setback.

 What do you think is the biggest difference between the new album Burning Sermons and your previous album Follow Me?

I think that the biggest difference is in the sound of the album because we’ve brought in electronics and synth sounds. There are more keyboard and orchestral arrangements. This was not present on the first record. Maybe a song or two, but for the first album, it was more just a straight forward heavy metal sound.  However, on this record, we wanted a little bit more of a diverse sound, as a result, we took out some of the guitar-riffing and added in the more electronic sound. So we chose to work with a producer who could help us achieve this. 

I wanted to get on to the production a little bit here. I’ve read that you worked with Emil Nödtveidt  (Deathstars guitarist). What was it like to work with him and what do you feel he added to the album that you really appreciated?

Obviously all of the keyboards, electronics and orchestral arrangements which none of us could have done. He was just a pleasure to work with, it felt like there was no real effort to communicate my ideas with him and he was able to give us the best product possible. I would love to work with him again. I mean, he definitely put his stamp on the music. You can here that Deathstars sound on some of the songs. I feel that he took the songs to another level by adding things that we would not have thought of. 

Another note I have read was that you brought in Björn Strid (singer of Soilwork and The Nightflight Orchestra) for the song “Hope Begins To Fail”. What was it like bringing him into the studio and working with him?

Also, pretty amazing! Björn is an excellent singer, also I am a big fan of Soilwork, I have loved that band since they started. I also like The Nightflight Orchestra too, not 100% my type of music but it shows how versatile he is as a singer. I think that his voice worked really well in the song. We also got him to do the video shoot with us and he is such a funny guy we just had so much fun on set for that music video. Also, I would love to work with him again as well. 

That’s fantastic, I loved hearing that on the album as well. Just moving on to the lyrical aspect of the album. What is your favourite song from a lyrical standpoint on this album and what do you feel is the main message of your lyrics?

Quite hard to say as all of the lyrics are very personal to me. As when I write lyrics, it’s kind of like therapy for me as I try to process my own internal thoughts. However, I always like the idea that these songs can help someone else as well. So, on some the songs, I wrote more from more of my experience or things that I wish would happen. Then, on the other hand, I want to write songs that I think might encourage people. Like the song “At The Gates of The Abyss”, which is a song where I’m trying to inspire people to not give up, at least not today, this is not the day where we all fall. Also, in the song “War Antidote” there’s a line in the chorus ‘Hail To The Freaks’ and I feel this is embracing people who might feel that they don’t belong and try to give them encouragement to continue. That is the main thing I want to get across. That, it’s okay to be different and we can continue together.

That was pretty inspiring. I personally have been loving the album, I just think it’s a more whole and complete album than the first one.

Thank you, yes. Also, we had way more time with this record. I think we worked through the songs much more than on the first album. I think as well, we’ve found a sound that we really like and want to continue with.

Yeah, it feels like a record with more time gone into it. Not that I didn’t like the first album but I thought it was interesting to hear the evolution of your sound. There seemed to be far less fast-paced and intense metal tracks and more of a general grandiose metal sound. What is your process for working the lyrics into the music? Does the idea for the song come first or do the themes of the lyrics come first and then you try an match it?

It depends…. Mostly though, we come up with the melodies and rhythm first then try to piece the words and meaning into that melody. Sometimes, it just does fit and you can become really frustrated and then that leads to “Grahhhhgh, damn it, fuck it!” because you really want that particular rhythm and melody but you also want to say a specific line you can’t find anything to match. I have spent many evenings just staring and working on one sentence and getting nowhere. At that point, I just go “fuck it, it’ll wait until tomorrow”

So with the release of this new record, it’s a given that your new setlist will be mostly new material. Are there any songs from Follow Me that you plan to keep on the setlist?

I think the two that we kinda have to keep are “Let Me Out” and “Killing Ourselves To Live” because they are the main songs from Follow Me. Also, because they are great songs and they work well with the audience. We are also keeping “Hypocrite” as for us, it’s an awesome live song. Also, we’re planning on keeping “Emporer of Chaos” as it fits in very well with the newer songs, because it’s more of a political song and because audiences really like it.

From the last time we spoke, you said that your favourite song on Follow Me was “The Fall”. Any chance that could make it on to the setlist?

It could… But since we have “Chapter of The Witch”, it might be too much as it’s another intense fast-paced song and I don’t want too many of those working their way on to the setlist. So right now we’ve taken away “The Fall” to put in “Chapter of The Witch”. I mean you learn when you tour and “The Fall” has a tendency to be a little too fast, it’s not a really groovy track so we didn’t get the response that we hoped it would have got. I mean I really like the song, but it’s a really hard song to play live. 

Excellent, I mean I really like that song too, so if there’s a chance to hear it live again, I’m always there. Just moving away from songwriting now. What are your thoughts on the progression of women in the metal world, as they are becoming more and more prevalent in a metal context?

It’s interesting that this is even a question but understand why. I hope that it will develop further than it is, it’s definitely better for sure, certainly more so than when I first started in music. You’re seeing many more bands of just women or band with women in them. I hope it will develop further and I hope one day you won’t even have to call attention to it. You know, so we’re at a point where the term “female-fronted” for example is no longer something that is needed.

Yeah, it is kinda silly when you think about it, as long as the music is good, who cares who is playing it. Another question, I think is very interesting. From your experience across your whole career, what is the one piece of advice you give to a new up-and-coming band starting in the industry today?

Since the music business has changed so much since I started, it hard to say. As things that used to be true, aren’t anymore. One thing I will say is you can’t lie to new bands about how much work you have to put into it. Nothing is going to happen for free and if you are not committed, dedicated and not truly ready to sacrifice things, this is not the industry you want to be in. Because you have to sacrifice financial security, friends, families and whatever in order to make it work.  You know, you have to take tours before birthdays, festival slots before weddings. If you’re not prepared to do that, you will be disappointed and you will feel like a failure because you won’t make it very far. I know that sound really harsh because you want to encourage people but it’s also the truth and if you’re not ready there will always be someone who will stand over you. At the same time, I have always been that kind of person to stand on my own and do what my heart tells me otherwise I wouldn’t be here. 

However, if you’re willing to make that kind of sacrifice then it is worth it in the end because music is such a necessary thing, we need it in the world as a world without music would be a hard one to live in.

I couldn’t agree more music is so important, it’s the main thing I use to ignore that fact the world is dying and going to crap. So, just end on and this my favourite question I ask. What is the hardest thing, professionally or personally, you have had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

Hmm, that’s a hard question, give me a minute. So, actually, this is it. I’m afraid of flying and aeroplanes in general. Whenever I sit in a plane, which you do a lot on tour, I ask myself “Why am I doing this?” but I’m still doing it anyway. I think that if I didn’t have this passion for music, I would never face that fear as much as I do. I would probably not go on a plane at all. Yet, today I’m facing that fear all of the time. I always wonder to myself, why isn’t flying becoming easier, because I’m doing it so much. Yes, you have fear but having such a strong feeling inside of you to face that fear is important and once you have that, yes it might not become easier but doing the thing enjoy becomes more rewarding.

Interview and words by Mick Birchall

Liv Sin – Burning Sermons

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , on 26th August 2019 by mickbirchy

Liv Sin
Burning Sermons
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Released: 6th September 2019
via Despotz Records

A few years ago I reviewed the debut album from Liv Sin, Follow Me. The Swedish quintet has made big strides in the metal world since then. Armed with Liv Jagrell on vocals and channelling their love of heavy metal, the band are making their return with the new album, Burning Sermons. Everything that made the previous record great is here too. From their gut-busting musicianship to the powerful and emotional lyrical content, this album rips hard and has that old-school heavy metal flavour that will captivate an older audience and entrance a newer crowd. I have to say that I am a bit of a fan and this album has everything that I look for in a metal record. Also, like the last album, Liv Sin has invited some special guests to help this album rock all that little bit harder.  On the upcoming single, “Hope Begins to Fade”, Liv duets with Björn Strid, singer of Soilwork and The Nightflight Orchestra.​

Purely from a production point of view, this album sounds so good. The guitars are heavy and the drums hit with intensity. Everything is mixed with such a glorious tone and it makes Liv’s vocals stand out so much as she delivers the lyrics with such conviction. One song where this is so noticeable is “Death Gives Life Meaning”. The aggressive, forceful tone really drives the point home while the frantic energy of the instrumentation performs beautifully and is mixed so well. The production was done by Deathstars guitarist Emil Nödtveidt who has really created an amazing atmosphere here for Liv Sin, with bombastic tones that just scream, “listen to this!”

The lyrical content is well presented here, with themes of personal struggles and hardship. Liv Sin really put their best foot forward in this department, with poetic imagery and well-chosen lines. The lyrics themselves are quite interesting when thinking about them. The way she chooses to communicate her feelings and how it blends into the music is really great. I really like the song “At The Gates of The Abyss” for this reason, the way all of the elements of the band mix with the lyrics, creating a powerful and interesting song.

This is a really great record! I liked the first album but really enjoyed this one. It’s new metal music with a very old school mentality. Liv Sin is very quickly becoming one of my favourite metal bands. This album just felt more like a complete package, the new sound with the keyboards and synth work mixed in with the guitars and Liv’s forceful and powerful delivery. It all sounds so brilliant and I have to say I love this new direction the band is taking. Definitely, one to check out and one I need to see live sooner rather than later.

8/10

Mick Birchall

Phil Lanzon – 48 Seconds

Posted in CD, Rock with tags , , , , on 17th August 2019 by mickbirchy

 

Phil Lanzon
48 Seconds
Prog Rock, Hard Rock, Classic Rock
Released 2nd August 2019
via Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records

If you’re familiar with your classic rock and music history then I shouldn’t really need to tell you who Phil Lanzon is… But if you’re not acquainted with your old school prog rock, he is the man who you will usually find rocking the keyboard in Uriah Heep. They are one of those bands that encapsulates a lot of people’s image of the 70’s – 80 prog-rock scene. Phil has also brought his talents to other projects such as Grand Prix and The Sweet. He has had a legacy in music that, starting in 1986, carries on today. In recent years Mr Lanzon has been striking out as a solo musician starting with his 2017 record If You Think I’m Crazy! and on to this album, his latest release, 48 Seconds. This album is a pretty fun listen, with all songs written by Lanzon and produced by the excellent Simon Hanhart. It also features some exceptional talent that elevates this to excellence.

The album has a big band feel with multiple layered sections of music and a lot of different instrumentation. Ranging from very synth and keys focused songs to music bigger rock n roll productions. Every song has this big-sounding chorus that hits hard and feels uplifting when listening to it. It definitely feels like an album with an older school method of production. The way the album is mixed is excellent with each musical idea perfectly complementing the other. From the brass section to the violins to the excellent vocal performances, it all feels oh so glorious. Listen to the song “Rock n Roll Children” for an example of how great this album can sound. The production is just excellent, making this very easy on the ear and I think anyone can listen to music like this. Just so rich with sounds and beautiful, carefully crafted melodies. 

One of the major influences for this album is Lanzon’s love of film scores and soundtracks. That definitely translates as every song sounds like it comes from some forgotten 80’s flick that is only really remembered for its soundtrack (you know the ones). Every song is filled with such powerful emotion and it can be very easy to get caught up in it all. With each song just building to an eventual climax that is really satisfying by the end. I will say I prefer the songs that go with the more orchestral vibe than the straight-up hard rock songs. Though I do like some of those tunes too, for example, check out the songs  “Look At The Time” which feels like an 80’s era Uriah Heep tune or “In The Rain” which has more of a John Parr feel to it. What I’m trying to say is, this album is very eclectic in its sound and works for a variety of listeners.

Simply put, this is an excellent album made by a musician who clearly still loves making music. I love the way Phil Lanzon has written this album. Full of sharp singer-songwriter notes whilst scaling it up to be this massive production. From the quiet subtle slower tracks to the more lively and intricate songs this album is filled with emotions and brilliant musicianship. 

10/10

Mick Birchall

Rammstein live in Tampere

Posted in Gig, Industrial, Live, Metal with tags , , , , on 10th August 2019 by izaforestspirit

Duo Jatekok, Rammstein
Ratina Stadium, Tampere, Finland
9th August 2019

Last night Tampere’s Ratina Stadium was literally on fire. But not to worry, there is no need to call the fire brigade. The world-renowned industrial metal legends Rammstein were in town. Words cannot describe how much I love this band. They have been my obsession since my early teens. I have seen them live twice before. This time they came to play at my local stadium so this was an opportunity not to be missed.

This was the first out of two sold-out shows at Ratina Stadium in Tampere. The support was a French group called Duo Jatekok who played piano instrumental covers of Rammstein songs. While it was interesting to hear alternative versions of these well known Rammstein classics, the band didn’t do much to entertain the crowd. It acted as a pleasant background noise.

The night’s headliners, Rammstein had a bit of a slow start. The first few songs, bizarrely enough including the usual crowd pleaser ‘Links 2 3 4’, failed to agitate the audience. It wasn’t until ‘Mein Herz Brennt’ came on that things really got going. These guys are known for their elaborate pyrotechnics and they definitely lived up to the hype. I’m not the biggest fan of the song ‘Puppe’ but the massive burning pram on stage was a quite the sight. ‘Ausländer’ was really good too. The real highlights for me though were ‘Deutschland’, ‘Du Riechst So Gut’ (a personal favourite) and the classics ‘Sonne’ and ‘Du Hast’. The only minor downside of the flames and the light show was that, at this time of the year in Finland, the darkness doesn’t fall soon enough. Once it got dark the flames and the light show were all the more visible to the fullest effect.

In summary, this was another amazing show by Rammstein. I’m really glad that I got to see them live again. Like an old diesel engine, it takes a while to warm up but when it gets there the engine is roaring.

Iza Raittila