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A Feminist In The Metal Scene

Posted in Editorial/Opinionated with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 30th June 2013 by Contra Mundi

The aim of this article is to be honest and unapologetic in the expression of my thoughts and experiences while being involved in the metal music scene and how these relate to feminism. I have often thought of documenting my experiences, but I was afraid of doing so in case I was branded with the label ‘man-hater’ and my points were therefore considered irrelevant. It is not my intention to express hatred towards men as individuals. I love men. I love a lot of men, but it pains me to be so aware of the cultural constructs that have divided men and women effectively into ‘us’ and ‘them’ and made any hope of equal footing in the world seem very distant. As well as talking about my own experiences as a woman and a woman in the metal scene, I have included some online articles that have been of interest to me and I have commented on. The links can be found in their relevant paragraphs.

I’ve been involved in the metal scene as a musician and a spectator for almost 10 years. I formed my band while I was in my first year of college and it has been going for 6 years. I have been the only female member and being the front woman is seen as something of a novelty. As we play Old School Death Metal that is in the same vein as bands such as Entombed, Autopsy and Suffocation, we attack the stereotypes around the ‘Female-Fronted Metal’ genre.

For the most part, during my involvement in metal, my experiences have been positive and rewarding, but also through my experiences, I have become a feminist. I imagine such a confession is met with a degree of indignation. It certainly has been in the past and I think this a severe situation. In recent years, feminism has become something of a dirty word and its true meaning of equality for men and women has been lost and manipulated into a slogan for man-hating, a lack of feminine traits and ‘not knowing how good you’ve got it’ as a modern woman. A fellow feminist that I interviewed as research for this article summed up the true meaning of feminism:  ‘I think a lot of people are misinformed really, it’s basic. It’s just equal rights for men and women. It’s not that women are better than men; that’s just femi-nazism, but I think a lot of people see it like that.

From a society that on the surface prides itself on free speech and extensive rights for women, there is obviously a sickness somewhere and it has its roots in the formulation of culture and I feel the brunt of it not just in metal, but in my everyday life. I stand at around 6 foot tall and throughout my life I have been targeted for ‘being too tall to be a woman’ and being a ‘he-she’. As a woman, I was expected to conform to society’s expectation of how I should look and behave. I was even met with this attitude from members of my family. I deserved my treatment because I chose not to conform and I was often greeted with ‘gifts’ of ‘normal clothing’ and make-up to make my appearance more appealing. Of course, this led to a negative body image, low self-esteem and my belief that I was a mistake that had to be corrected. The bullying died down when I left school, but I still get comments made at me when I walk down the street, or after I’ve been onstage.

People have approached me in the past and said ‘I thought you were a man until I heard you speak.’ It is difficult to maintain a positive and appreciative attitude of such comments. It seems at those times that to them, I was a puzzle to be solved, an anomaly that had to be corrected, and they were letting me know that they had solved the puzzle of my appearance and my gender and that I was accepted, but not entirely. I am uncertain too as to why people feel the need to share their observation with me. Do they expect me to be grateful for such a thing? I know that it is society that has constructed gender binaries and it is deemed unacceptable to embody traits from both genders, and so anybody that does is met with hostility, or ignorance disguised as compassion.

Another thing I want to address is the attitude towards sexual violence that I have found to be wanting. While I have been involved in metal and being the front woman of a band, I have had a lot of attention from men that was inappropriate and extremely un-nerving, but the thing was, every time I talked about this to other people it was called ‘harmless’ and they said ‘he’s only messing about.’ I think this stems from an attitude in our culture, or rather a misunderstanding as to what advocates sexual violence. I am not free game, but the attitude seems to be that because I am a woman, I am available and desperate for sex and I want to know all about what men would do to me if they were given the chance. I have been asked when I’m going to ‘visit’ people on my own and being stalked by different people on Facebook who do not understand that no means no. These people take advantage of naivety and the casual indifference of our culture. I up until recently did not realise that I had being sexually assaulted by one of my partners several times when I was younger as I believed that he could do what we wanted with me when he wanted because I had not been taught by anybody that I had a right to decide what happened to my body. In fact, people seemed more concerned that I had actually got a boyfriend considering my appearance and non-conformity. Because he was paying me attention and showing me what I thought was love, I didn’t challenge him but I didn’t consent either. I was just his property to do with as he pleased. I have since mentioned my experiences in counselling, and I was asked if I had reported it. I said no, because I thought it was normal. My idea was it didn’t constitute sexual assault as it wasn’t ‘proper’ rape, but I couldn’t have been more wrong and it made me think just how many other women or men do not fully understand what constitutes sexual assault and that it is serious; no matter what other people say.

While I have been conducting interviews with people within my local metal scene and I addressed the fact that I am stalked by people on Facebook, I was surprised to hear that other women were too. When we started naming names, it turns out that we were all getting stalked by the same people and they were saying the same things to all of us. That isn’t harmless, but calculating and desperate and evidently an on-going problem, but there’s only so much can be done when other people’s attitudes about it are indifferent.

This all constitutes why I am a feminist and as I’ve said before it does not mean to hate men and all they stand for, it stands for equality in all things. If men and women were equal, the attitude towards men and women suffering sexual violence would be more accepting as opposed to humiliating and we could do away with rape culture and not present men and women in a hierarchy as ‘us’ and ‘them’. In another interview I conducted, a woman told me about when she had been threatened on a bus by a drunken man and when another man had come in to help, the drunken man had punched him in the face. My interviewee told me that she had felt really guilty that he had come to harm because if she hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have happened. This is quite a common occurrence across the board; women are made to feel responsible for the crimes committed against them because they are women. You need only glance into the media to see how crimes against women are manipulated in their representation in order to make the woman look like she deserved it. A prime example is the Steubenville Rape case, where in the media it was commented on that the perpetrators were going to lose out on illustrious football careers because they were convicted for having raped an unconscious woman. The victim was also attacked on Twitter and videos of her assault were put on Youtube. There is an article which can be found here – It sheds a light on the severity of rape culture in the context of the Steubenville case, but also in the wider world.

A lot of bands that have women in tend to be more of the symphonic metal genre that is favoured by bands such as NightwishEpica and Tristania and although it is liberating that women have carved out a genre all for themselves, it is doing it by effectively being cut off from the rest of the metal world and functioning separately. They have achieved a lot, but I cannot help but think they are doing that music because it is easier to be accepted and it is expected of you if you’re a woman to be involved in that genre. There are not many women at all involved in the more extreme branches of metal, and I can understand why. I have been told that people have walked out of gigs before we’ve played because they realised I was a woman and ‘would not be as good as a man’. On the other side of the coin though, we have received a lot of compliments and interest for the band because we have surprised people by not conforming to their expectations of the music and by performing crushing Death metal. However, if everyone were a feminist and men and women were on an equal par, it wouldn’t matter that I was the only female vocalist for miles around, or that I had chosen to play a form of metal that is usually dominated by men. The focus would be ultimately on my ability and what I’ve created as opposed to my biology.  The music I’ve made with my band mates is a brutal testimony to the fact that attitudes can be overturned and a whole generational thinking about sexual violence, relations and the role of men and women is capable of being changed with education and a dispelling of stereotypes.

metal and its associated subcultures pride themselves as being unique and different from the ‘normality’. Unfortunately, they still embody the practices of the culture they belongs to as there is no escaping the way gender is taught and patriarchal systems are enforced. In the aftermath of the Download festival, an article was written about women flashing their breasts to cameras. According to the article, the women were encouraged to do so by the crowd and were met with approval when they did so. If they chose not to however, the attitude of the crowd changed and ensuing peer pressure made the women buckle, or people in the crowd exposed them against their wishes. You can read the article here. The article sparked an intriguing debate about women enjoying freedom in a social setting and celebrating their bodies, but it was also commented on that they are being pressured into doing so and it is expected of them to do it even if they don’t want to. I agree more with the latter. It is shameful behaviour to berate a woman for not doing as someone else wants her to do, in this case expose herself in front of thousands of people. If she resists she is considered to be ruining the fun of the people watching her, most of which probably were men. A lot of the comments on the article claimed to be supporting the freedom of the woman and her ‘choice’ to show her breasts, but when the choice receives approval or disdain, how much of what she chooses to do actually depends on personal choice? It is difficult to make a judgement because we cannot know what the woman was thinking or how she was made to feel in that situation, but the conformity expressed in the crowd to a woman being exposed in public highlights a disturbing attitude in culture being played out i.e. the woman is an object to be looked at and she serves no other purpose. Should she resist the gaze, she is humiliated and made to feel as if preserving her integrity was a bad choice.

Another article I have read and wish to respond to is entitled Top 6: Ways metal treats women really badly.  Although I think the article was intended to be sympathetic and raise the flag for women’s rights, there were points made that I disagreed with or simply needed to be expanded upon so the initial and intended point about supporting equality for women in metal was not missed.

The first point that the article made was about the term ‘female fronted metal’ and how it is essentially a whitewash over genres and individual talent. This I can agree with, although usually in my experience, the term ‘female-fronted’ is usually followed by a genre that the music would fit into. For example, ‘female fronted old school death metal’, so in this way, it is what it is; a label to help describe something. It isn’t however always helpful as the term ‘female fronted metal’ forms assumptions about what kind of woman you’re going to be and it detracts from the seriousness of the endeavour. Instead of the woman being seen as a musician, she is seen as a gimmick and something that the band can exploit in terms of standing out from the crowd.  The bottom line is that it shouldn’t matter that it is a woman that fronts the band, but that is the society that we live in. If women had an equal foothold in representation, it wouldn’t be deemed necessary to highlight the fact there’s a woman in the band and that it is something unusual.

In light of the growing following for bands with female members in them, there are a number of festivals that feature only bands with female members. This can be received in a number of ways, but first of all it can be seen as showcasing women’s talent that may not be taken as seriously in another environment and having all the same sort of bands in one place allows potential fans to see bands they may not have heard of before. However, they can be seen to be excluding bands with men in them just because they are men and seemingly get enough attention as it is. These festivals also tend to favour bands that are symphonic metal and show a degree of bias against more heavy forms of metal such as Death and Black Metal. There are also problems with the naming of these festivals specialising in bands with female musicians; for example: Dames of Darkness and Metal Female Voices. They raise the flag for supporting women and encouraging equality, but at the same time they are only managing to do that by discriminating against men and certain women. The names also give the impression that the women at these festivals are going to be meek and beautiful and be exceedingly feminine when that’s not what is important; it should be the music that they are playing.

Point number two from the article was ‘Assume if you’re not dressed like you’re metal that you’re only there with your boyfriend.’ The problem with this point was the assumption that most men are full of presumptions and go out of their way to keep metal a male dominated subculture. Feminism is about equal rights, so by not drawing attention to the men that treat women as equals at gigs and engage them in conversation and share their opinions with them is doing them an injustice. I have had experience of this before when my band have played gigs. I’ve been told to ‘move out of the way, love’ when I was helping set up or received complaints that my voice is too feminine when I speak to the crowd while I’m onstage. I have also been asked to name three songs of a band who’s t-shirt I was wearing, so I am well aware of these assumptions, however what the article doesn’t even mention is that women like me fight against that sort of behaviour when it is directed at us. The article makes us out to be victims, and this is a common problem also with some feminist propaganda. Another point is that I couldn’t care less if anyone present at one of our gigs didn’t know who we were or wasn’t primarily interested in metal; they came to a show, which speaks for itself.

In the article, the third point was to do with ‘Hottest women in metal awards/features/specials’ that basically advertise women as sexual objects for the male gaze. In contrast, the other side to this is that through there being a medium for a woman to show off how she looks and be appreciated for it says a lot about the developing freedom of women and their rights to do as they please with their bodies.  However, no matter what the reasons behind a woman posing in photographs or for being in a band for that matter, there is always the fact that their image is always going to be exploited in some way. For example, I am always privy to pictures of barely dressed ‘Black Metal girls’ appearing on my news feed on Facebook, courtesy of fellow metal heads. The problem with it is, although it seems to be encouraging the development of the black metal scene and celebrating the fact that women are getting involved, in most instances it is little more than pornography. Whether the women choose to be like that, encourage pictures like that to be taken, or are celebrating their body image all becomes meaningless as they are just images; an image of how women are expected to behave and clearly it works as far as promotion and attention goes.

The attitude towards men appearing in the same awards/features/specials is more socially acceptable. Winning an award for his looks is almost seen as a badge of honour, even though his body image is also being exploited. A lot of men I know within the metal scene do get preyed upon by women, but from a personal viewpoint, it happens a lot more the other way around. I have often been told to ‘get my tits out’ or pose differently for the band pictures in order to appear more feminine, and effectively exploit being a woman in metal, but that way I would be doing the band for the wrong reasons. I care about the music I have made with the band and in a way, I don’t want the focus to be on me as a woman; I want it to be on the music I have helped create.

With ‘she’s really good for a girl’; the article exposes the gender binaries that keep men privileged above women. Of course, it depends on the context of the comment being made. I know that people don’t mean to be sexist or rude when they make such observations, but as you wouldn’t say ‘he’s really good for a man’ in the same context, it puts it into perspective. It also suggests that there is no real focus on the woman’s musical abilities as it always boils down to her sex and she is limited by that in the view that others take of her. There is a clear hierarchy between men and women being implied because the woman cannot hope to secure the same position and respect as a male musician even though onstage, their abilities are the same.

The point made about groping is relative to a wider issue of sexual violence that involves both women and men and how it is perceived. Metal is a huge subculture and is male dominated; so as with the rest of the world, while there are plenty of reasonable and respectful men, there are also plenty of lecherous ones. Other experiences include groping happening to people at concerts and them trying to get rid of the person and very rarely anyone stepping in to help and this echoes the crowd attitude seen at Download with women exposing their breasts to a baying crowd. I think therefore that groping is a symptom of a larger, more alarming problem that goes on and isn’t any closer to being stopped. I have seen it happen from the other side too. I know that some male musicians have stalkers that take photos of just them at gigs and follow them on Facebook and up and down the country. Overall, I think it is something that is far more common than is thought and reflect s our culture badly as a place where there is no free platform for addressing sexual violence in as serious a manner as it deserves.

Finally, considering the point of the ‘hot girl in the band getting the interviews’, that says more about the interviewer than it does about the band and is very common practice. However, those women usually have extremely constructive and interesting things to say and are involved more readily in the formulation of music and endorsing ideology than it may appear. With regards to my band, I am the one usually approached to do interviews. That may be because I am the vocalist, so I may be the one that people pay attention to first, but when I do conduct interviews, I make sure that the other members of the band have some input into what is said and are there in person if possible. It is usually the vocalist of a band that is approached first by magazines, but this definitely applies to men as well. I’m not sure anyone bats an eyelid at the vocalist in an all-male band getting all the interviews. I guess it relates again to metal being a male dominated sub-culture; as there are more men, naturally, when a woman appears it is seen as something unusual. That is not the way it should be, and in an ideal world both men and women would be fairly represented and treated exactly the same, however it is seldom the case.

I am certain that there will be a lot of negative response from this article. Nobody has to agree with what I‘m saying as it is how I feel. I wanted to talk about my experiences here not for the sake of self-indulgence, but so you get a real perspective from a real person. It was very difficult for me to write about some aspects of this, but I know that only when I saw what had happened to me through an objective stance did I really see what goes on in the world around me and how a lot of what people go through is because of inequality and cultural constructs dictating who we should be and how we should behave. It is hard admitting what has happened when there are a lot of instances on show where women or men talking about sexual violence, or casual misogyny and sexism are shouted down by others as nonsense, but it does happen and you need to see that. It may not have ever happened to you and if so, you’re one of the luckiest people in the world, but there should be more like you and I am trying to do my part to make that so.

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TROLLFEST BEGIN RECORDING SIXTH FULL-LENGTH ALBUM

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 28th June 2013 by Contra Mundi

Trollfest, whose music sounds like a combination of folk, metal, madness and an 80’s game soundtrack (Editor: So, something absolutely kickass then?!) have begun recording their sixth studio album. So far, they have the drum tracks nailed and have something a little different to offer their fans this time around. Trollfest had this to say:

We will record eleven metal tracks and we also have a couple of acoustic songs up our sleeves, but at this stage obviously we are not sure which ones will make it onto the album.  We will, however, be taking a slightly different musical direction with this album.  The sound will undoubtedly beTrollfest, but it will vary from our last two releases.   We will also be using a different studio this time.  We have been more than happy with the Strand Studio who did an amazing job on En Kvest For Den Hellige Gral and Brumlebassen but we just wanted to get a different sound to match our new musical direction so we decided to use Endre Kirkesola’s Dub Studio in Oslo.

With their self-proclaimed musical brand of ‘True Norwegian Balkan Metal’ which sounds like a tongue in cheek acknowledgement of the ‘True Norwegian Black Metal’ slogan bands such as Gorgoroth and Carpathian Forest sport, Trollfest have a steadily increasing fan base and a proactive attitude to their music performance and production. Having seven members that have already made their name in prestigious Black and Extreme metal bands, their combined ability with a variety of instruments from all corners of the world is extremely impressive.

They have so far in 2013 played a number of festivals and enjoyed a tour of North America as part of legendary Paganfest America Tour. Expect to see them unfurl their joyful madness at the Masters of Rock and Wolfszeit Festivals and be sure to catch sight of their spectacle.

To celebrate Trollfest’s 10th anniversary, the band have released a limited edition 12” picture disc named A Decade of Drekkadence; which includes 16 tracks of new and previously unreleased material spanning the band’s career. There are also three covers, including songs from Tom Waits and Britney Spears which will undoubtedly be terrific. The artwork on the disc is a creation from collaborators Swedish Cartoonist Jonas Darnell and designer Terje Johnsen who have worked with Trollfest in the past and is quite something to behold in terms of uniqueness. The vinyl also includes an email address that purchasers can contact to receive an MP3 download.

The album will be released on NoiseArt Records. The album is available exclusively from this location. A video for the Spears track “Toxic” was recently released and can be seen below.

Trollfest online:

http://www.trollfest.com
http://www.facebook.com/trollfestofficial
http://trollfest.bigcartel.com/
http://soundcloud.com/trollfest
https://twitter.com/TrollfesT_Band
http://trollfest.blogg.no/
http://www.myspace.com/trollfest
http://www.reverbnation.com/trollfest

 

Turisas release new track from Turisas2013 titled For Your Own Good

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 27th June 2013 by Contra Mundi

Turisas, famed for their Viking-esque metal and tongue-in-cheek attitude have a new album to be released on our shores. Turisas2013 marks a new era for the band and shows more diversity than their previous releases.

Mathias Nygård (vocals) says what For Your Own Good means for him:

Turisas2013 is a very diverse album, it has some of the heaviest and fastest tracks that we’ve ever done, but For Your Own Good comes more from the lighter end. It’s a very catchy song and we hope you’ll enjoy the track that we picked to give you a very first taste of the many flavours to come.

Turisas2013 was for the most part recorded in a remote house near Helsinki by Nygård and guitarist Jussi Wickström, which I think you’ll agree is the best way to do it. Additional recordings to complete the album were undertaken in 3 other studios which included: the drums at Atomic Spa Studio and orchestral recordings at 5 by 5 Studio, which are both in Helsinki and a lot of vocals and numerous additional elements were tracked at Sound Supreme Studio in Hämeenlinna where Turisas also recorded The Varangian Way and Stand Up And Fight.

The mixing and mastering of the album was handled by Metal extraordinaire Jaime Gomez Arellano (Ghost B.C., Cathedral, Primordial, Ulver). in London at Orgone Studios and will undoubtedly be very impressive.

Turisas will be appearing at many festivals throughout the summer, so be sure to catch them. When Turisas2013 is released, an extensive European tour will follow including Heidenfest 2013 and a UK tour where they will be headlining.

Turisas2013 is scheduled for a release on 23rd August in Finland and G/A/S and 26th August in Europe while UK will follow up 2nd September and North America 3rd September.

The complete track listing of the upcoming album ‘Turisas2013’ is as follows:

1. For Your Own Good
2. Ten More Miles
3. Piece by Piece
4. Into The Free
5. Run Bhang-Eater, Run!
6. Greek Fire
7. The Days Passed
8. No Good Story Ever Starts With Drinking Tea
9. We Ride Together

Catch Turisas live at the following shows:

24.07.2013 (SLO) Tolmin – Metal Days

26.07.2013 (DE) Chemnitz – Rock im Betonwerk

17.08.2013 (SE) Falun – Sabaton Open Air

31.08.2013 (DE) Crispendorf – Wolfszeit Metal Open Air

Heidenfest 2013

Turisas w/ Ensiferum, Equilibrium, Suidakra + special guests (tba)

Metal Hammer, Legacy, Blast!, Musix, Noiseletter, XtraX, Metalnews present:

20.09.2013 (DE) Leipzig – Hellraiser

21.09.2013 (DE) Giessen – Hessenhallen **, ***

22.09.2013 (DE) Antwerp – Trix *, ***

23.09.2013 (F) Paris – Bataclan

24.09.2013 (DE) Saarbrücken – Garage

25.09.2013 (DE) Milan – Live Club

26.09.2013 (CH) Lausanne – Docks

27.09.2013 (DE) Geiselwind – Musichall **, ***

28.09.2013 (DE) Munich – Backstage **, ***

29.09.2013 (CH) Pratteln  – Z7

30.09.2013 (DE) Hamburg – Markthalle

01.10.2013 (DE) Berlin – Postbahnhof

02.10.2013 (CZ) Zlin – Masters of Rock Cafe ****

03.10.2013 (AT) Vienna – Arena

04.10.2013 (DE) Stuttgart – LKA Longhorn **, ***

05.10.2013 (DE) Oberhausen – Turbinenhalle *, **, ***

06.10.2013 (NL) Tilburg – O13 *, ***

Extended show bands:

* Heidevolk
** Riger, Gernotshagen
*** Winterstorm
**** without Ensiferum

Check the official Heidenfest website for more info and get your tickets here.

UK headlining:

08.10.2013 (UK) Bristol – The Fleece
09.10.2013 (UK) London – O2 Academy Islington
10.10.2013 (UK) Nottingham – Rock City
11.10.2013 (UK) Glasgow – Cathouse
12.10.2013 (UK) Manchester – Club Academy

Turisas2013 is the first album showcasing their current line-up, which is as follows:

Mathias Nygård – vocals
Jussi Wickström – guitar
Olli Vänskä – violin
Robert Engstrand – keyboards
Jaakko Jakku – drums
Jesper Anastasiadis – bass

Turisas online:

http://www.turisas.com
https://www.facebook.com/turisas
https://twitter.com/turisasofficial
http://www.youtube.com/turisasofficial

Firewind new live album Apotheosis – Live 2012 out now!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 27th June 2013 by Contra Mundi

The Greek power metal gods Firewind, who house pioneering guitar extraordinaire Gus G when he’s not off with the legendary Ozzy Osbourne and playing his songs, have released a new live album to celebrate their 10th anniversary. The live album, entitled Apotheosis – Live 2012 features iconic tracks from throughout Firewind’s extensive musical career and was recorded during their Few Against Many tour at shows in Greece and other countries in Europe. Clocking in at 69 minutes and featuring anthems from throughout their career, it breathes new fire into the band and shows a different side to them than their previous live release from 2008: Live Premonition.

Apotheosis – Live 2012 also features the final performances of Firewind’s vocalist Apollo Papathanasi, who has since left the band. His replacement, Kelly Sundown Carpenter (Adagio, Beyond Twilight) will be taking to the stage as a session front man for all of the band’s upcoming 2013 shows.

Firewind have again rekindled their long standing relationship with artist Gustavo Sazes who’s art has graced releases from the likes of Arch Enemy and Dream Evil, for the cover artwork of Apotheosis – Live 2012. It incorporates live photography of the band by Hans-W. Rock and is awesome to behold.

The Track listing for Apotheosis – Live 2012 is as follows:

FirewindApotheosis – Live 2012 (69:07)

1. Head Up High (4:21)
2. Wall Of Sound (4:04)
3. Allegiance (4:35)
4. Few Against Many (5:00)
5. The Departure (0:41)
6. Heading For The Dawn (4:04)
7. Losing My Mind (6:15)
8. World On Fire (4:45)
9. Guitar Solo 2012 (2:17)
10. SKG (5:26)
11. Between Heaven And Hell (5:13)
12. Piano Solo (0:53)
13. Edge Of A Dream (4:24)
14. Mercenary Man (3:47)
15. Glorious (3:41)
16. Maniac (4:32
17. Falling To Pieces (5:02)

The Digital Download version of the release additionally includes the following 2 live-bonustracks:

18. Cold As Ice (4:18)
19. Tyranny (4:05)

Firewind online:

http://www.firewind.gr
http://www.facebook.com/firewindofficial
http://www.myspace.com/firewind
http://twitter.com/firewindmusic
http://www.youtube.com/firetv

 

The Haunted return with new line-up

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 27th June 2013 by Contra Mundi

Swedish Metal legends The Haunted have returned after a year out of the public eyes and reorganisation of their ranks since the autumn of 2012. At last however, we know who will make up this sickeningly heavy line up:

The Haunted line-Up 2013:

(From left to right on above picture)

Jensen – Guitars
Ola Englund – Guitars
Marco Aro – Vocals
Jonas Björler – Bass
Adrian Erlandsson – Drums

In light of the new line-up and the difficulties the band have experienced over the last year, The Haunted’s guitarist and founding member Jensen had this to say:

The Haunted went through some difficult times last year. Losing three band members is a pretty huge blow to any band. Jonas and I agreed immediately that we wanted to continue with the band, but we wanted to take our time and not rush into anything. Meanwhile, news from The Haunted’s camp have been pretty scarce. This changes starting today. We are very happy to be able to present you a full band line-up. Some of you might recognize a few faces, some of you might not. Adrian Erlandsson is back on drums and Marco Aro is back on vocals. Adrian you might know from playing on our first album and Marco sang on The Haunted Made Me Do It, Live Rounds In Tokyo and One Kill Wonder. On guitar we also have Ola Englund bringing some pretty heavy chops to the band.

We’re all VERY excited about having The Haunted back in working shape again and we can’t wait to get back out on the road to play for our very patient and faithful fans again. A new album is also already in the works and if you are familiar with the individual band members of this new line-up, you can be assured that the new material will grab you by the throat from the get-go!

A huge ‘thanks’ goes out to all the people that responded to our call for new members applications. You put a lot of time and effort into your auditions and we are very grateful to have had such talented and cool people wanting to join the band! We truly appreciated your support!

The new line-up sees the return of vocalist Marco Aro (ex-Face Down, also in The Resistance) who toured with the band worldwide several times and was involved in the releases  Made Me Do It (2000), Live Rounds in Tokyo (Live album)(2001), Caught on Tape (DVD) (2002) and One Kill Wonder (2003). Iconic drummer Adrian Erlandsson of Paradise Lost and At the Gates fame has also returned to the line-up of The Haunted; he was in the original line-up with the Björler twins after At The Gates took a hiatus from the metal scene and with Jensen unleashed The Haunted’s self-titled album in 1998. The album has retained its iconic status and is considered by many an inspirational creation that inspired many new musicians and rekindled the Metal scene’s long standing adoration of thrash metal. New guitarist Ola Englund is a prestigious young musician from Sweden who has been involved with Six Feet Under as a touring and recording member. Alongside guitarist Jensen and bass player Jonas Björler the return of The Haunted is the stuff of dreams and whets the appetite for more outstanding releases and live performances.

The Haunted online:

http://www.the-haunted.com
http://www.facebook.com/hauntedofficial
http://www.youtube.com/thehauntedofficial

 

Taiwanese metal band and activists Chthonic release illustrated book based on their songs

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 27th June 2013 by Contra Mundi

Those familiar with Chthonic will know that their songs incorporate all matters political and historical and promote them to people who otherwise may not have had a clue about the rich and diverse culture the band come from. By getting the events depicted in their songs made into fine works of art emphasises the unique outlook that Chthonic have on the world, but also provides a visual aid to what can sometimes be complex themes and fascinating pieces of history and folklore. They’ve incorporated the talents of the famous Taiwanese arts group Yamyoukan to bring the songs to life, and the result is the truly stunning book Unsealing the Bú-Tik.

Included in the 32 pages of illustrations is the headhunt from Seediq Bale(2005), the departure of the Takasago Army from the album Takasago Army (2011), the final battle at Sing Ling Temple from Takasago Army (2011) & Mirror Of Retribution (2009); all of which are brought to vivid and visceral life and will enchant any fan of their music, but also fine art enthusiasts. The book also features artwork from Chthonic’s new album Bú-Tik(2013) which is available now for purchase. Fans can purchase the book at this location.

Chthonic’s bassist Doris Yeh and singer Freddy Lim have made contributions to the book in the form of their own drawings, which will feature side by side with the other pieces.

Doris had this to say about the art book:

It has always been our dream to turn the stories behind our music into images; I feel so moved as I hold this illustrated book in my hand…

Chthonic’s drummer Dani also commented:

I’m really grateful that Yamyoukan invited us to take part in the drawing process, so that I could pick up the drawing pen again. It’s always been a passion of mine…

Chthonic appeared for the second time at Download festival this year and have played at Bloodstock in 2012 where Dan Mullins [My Dying Bride] came in as guest drummer and the whole crowd were informed by Freddy Lim of the lack of a Taiwanese team in the Olympics; who instead had to be called Chinese Taipei. The Bloodstock crowd responded in force to chanting ‘Taiwan’ to the band and showing their support for the political battle still on-going between China and Taiwan.

At Download 2013 Chthonic played with a six-piece Taiwanese orchestra which would have been an astounding spectacle to behold and would have brought energy to their material that has never been witnessed on these shores.

A full UK tour is currently being planned for autumn 2013.

Chthonic online:

http://facebook.com/CHTHONIC
http://facebook.com/CHTHONICtw
http://youtube.com/CHTHONICtw
http://www.CHTHONIC.tw

Interview with Derek Boyer [Suffocation]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 21st May 2013 by Contra Mundi

Suffocation are pioneers of extreme metal and are still going strong after 25 years; bringing their fierce brand of metal to generation after generation. We sat down with their Bass player Derek Boyer to talk to him about their new album Pinnacle of Bedlam and how he has become one of the most influential musicians in extreme metal’s history.

Alex: What does the album title Pinnacle of Bedlam mean to you?

Derek: Pinnacle of Bedlam is one of Terrence’s (Hobbs – Guitar) concepts, and you know we all kind of bat the ideas around until one of us really comes up with something solid. And basically you know for Terrence what we had all kind of gathered was bedlam being chaos and a pinnacle being like the highest moment, you know when it’s at its finest little tip and it has nowhere else to go but down. So it’s like the turning point when chaos is going to explode and there’s no escaping it.

Alex: So, what are the main themes of the album ?

Derek: It’s a lot of like transfer of energy. Like when you die, we don’t think that you go to Heaven or Hell; we think that your energy goes into other living entities and stuff like that or creates some new life. So, it’s kind of taken from some of the Tibetan book of the dead stuff to where we believe that life is just about preparing for death. Being that we play Death metal we’re not just going to talk about broken bones and the Devil and all that stuff. So, we wanted to try to do something a little more original and try to be intelligent and try to learn and try to portray something that we learned to the rest of the world.

Alex: Is it difficult to get fresh inspiration for subject matter?

Derek: Yeah, I mean that’s why you kind of have to go to some books and you know, what with the use of the internet now it’s like you would think people would have more knowledge but they’re actually getting stupider because they just want to be on Facebook or something stupid.  So, you know, looking into books and looking back at your own life and trying to take inspiration from yourself and others around you and books and knowledge that we have access to and the internet. If you’re using it for the right reasons it’s great. So yeah, it’s hard, but somehow with all the creative minds we’re very fortunate. If it’s just one guy, he’d run out of steam unless he’s really driven, but with all of us, we like to bounce the ideas and one of us will go ‘whoa, that’s great’ and it inspires us to do something else. So, I think the group effort is one of the biggest inspirations.

Alex: The album is really impressive, with musicianship and everything, it’s very technical. Is it a challenge for you to write and record that sort of material?

Derek: I hate to say it, like at the position in our careers that we’re at, but you just do it.  You know, we’ve worked our abilities up to a certain level and not to say that you should ever get comfortable and plateau with your abilities, but we’re at a point with our abilities so we know that Dave (Culcross – Drums) is going to grind his face off and be comfortable doing it. And we’ve got the same thing of being pretty comfortable under pretty difficult circumstances, but not to say if the wind doesn’t blow, we could all just fall over like real easily too. So it is a challenge, but again having worked as long as we have with our instruments, it’s kind of comfortable in the difficult zone.

Alex: Where do you think the new album ranks in terms of Suffocation’s previous releases?

Derek: In my opinion it’s the best album since the band reformed. We had the five year hiatus from 1998 to 2003, you know the whole industry liked Suffocation and was trying to carry the torch. So when Suffocation reformed, that’s when I joined and every album in my opinion was kind of getting better and it’s definitely at the pinnacle right now of the four that we’ve written. I believe this is my favourite and the best.

Alex: Why do you think Suffocation have lasted so long and become such an influential band to people all over the world?

Derek: I think it’s just perseverance. At the end of the day, you can say, ‘well you know what? We can hang this up any time, we had a really good run, it was fun, blah blah blah, respect and pride.’ but having that perseverance and wanting to continue it and wanting to continue to write good records and to wanting to continue to bring the show to the people, it’s kind of a big deal to us. We get a lot of pride out of it, so it’s just a personal thing I think.

Alex: It does get quite difficult doesn’t it to want to carry on when things are going a bit wrong for you?

Derek: It certainly does, and a lot of the time you just get so undermined. You know, they put you in these clubs and you’re like ‘Wow, twenty years ago I was playing more professional venues than this, what the fuck? And now we’re getting undermined’. And sometimes it’s disheartening, and you go ‘well, fuck it, the people love it. The fucking asshole that put us in this club needs a fucking talking to.’ But, at the same time there’s a lot of kids doing the jobs now, a lot of kid promoters and you can’t really tell them that you want to come and strangle them, but it’s really disrespectful to us to like work your way up and then just some kid goes ‘oh yeah, I can book Suffocation.’ And the next thing you know you’re playing some little fucking closet, I’m sorry, I get upset. I mean the last two shows, I couldn’t believe it, I was like ‘let’s cancel’ and then we can’t though because of the people. We’re kind of caught in the middle like ‘this guy needs to be taught a lesson’, but the bands, they shouldn’t suffer, so we end up eating shit. So it’s a little disheartening, and yeah, it happens, but you know. Certain territories, I guess we have to say ‘wait, we have contracts, we want all the details before we accept these terms.’ Then they’re like ‘Oh yeah, we’ve got everything you need.’ And you get there and half the shit is broken, and you know, enough about that stuff! Sorry.

Alex: No, that’s fair enough. I completely agree with you. It’s unusual for a band to have such a vast spectrum of ages in their fan base. Do you think different generations take different things from your music?

Derek: I think so; the older fans like it for the thrash aspect of it, the newer fans like it for the slam aspect of it. So yeah, definitely. I think every generation is going to look at Suffocation from a different perspective, you know because the old fans were surrounded by thrash metal bands, so they like the thrashy elements of it. The newer kids, I don’t even know what their music is. It’s really complex and it’s really heavy and it’s got a lot of new stuff, so I’m not sure if their fans understand what we’re doing, but there’s definitely some similarities between the new bands and what we’re doing because they took certain elements from Suffocation, but they’re adding new stuff to it and the new fans don’t know that they took their heavy sound. It’s tricky. Definitely all the different generations are viewing it from a different perspective.

Alex:  Most young musicians now are drawn to the guitar or vocals when starting out. Bass is almost seen as an instrument that’s a bit boring, or in the background. What made you pick up a bass and learn to play?

Derek: For that very reason. There were no good bass players and I was like ‘I’m going to fucking do it!’ I want to play really good and you know try to have fun and be an element in the band that’s not just the thing that’s hiding. I always want to be heard and if I ever turn down, that would just be because I was too loud for the most part. I’m always trying to stay in the mix. I’m trying to make a connection between the drummer and the guitar players and create that foundation. Whereas with  a lot of young bands the bass player just ends up being the friend of the band that wasn’t playing drums or guitar: ‘Oh hey! Let’s put him on the bass.’ Unless he really takes inspiration from some of the guys who care about bass, then their career would be short unfortunately and it would be boring. I would be bored too, but you know, they kept telling me to turn down. I didn’t take the pride to learn how to get a good sound and to maintain my instrument and stuff like that. Like a lot of these bass players never change their strings once, you know, I change my strings every night.

Alex: I think bass makes all the difference though. You miss it if it isn’t there.

Derek: Yeah, if it’s not there or it’s just dumdumdum. I’m trying to be a staccato player and have the bottom be felt but also have the connection with the punchy bass drum, you know, the punchy bass guitar. There are two sides to it, you get the bottom of the bass drum and the attack of the bass drum and a lot of bass players are forgetting that they should be the same. If your bass drum just goes ‘poof’ but it doesn’t go ‘snap’, you know, there has to be the combination. So a lot of these bass players they don’t put a lot of the snap into their sound and they get swept into the mix. It’s just a rumble, so you’ve got to have both.

Alex: Is it really hard then to get a sound?

Derek: A lot of years of experimenting with different equipment. You know what electronic s are going to work, what scales and what woods have different tonal qualities and then, there’s so many different amplifier companies out there, and it’s really just a learning experience.

Alex: You never really think there’s so much involved in getting a sound, do you?

Derek: No, there’s a lot going on. You’re supposed to forget about it once you’ve figured it out, you go ‘Oh, ok. That’s just my sound.’ There’s a lot that goes into it and it wasn’t like the first time that you plugged in, you’re like ‘Wow, I have my sound!’ You had to experiment and you learn what works and what doesn’t work and you just get it as close as you can. Then it’s up to you.

Alex: How would you sell the bass guitar to people that are considering learning to play?

Derek: Look at the band. You know, if you’ve got a really good drummer, a good guitar player and a good frontman and all the bass players suck, you know, and you kind of just want to make that band complete. It is a special feeling because there aren’t a lot of good bass players around, so it gives you more opportunity to shine, whereas like every drummer is so good right now, so that’s a hard race. How are you going to outdo these guys? They’re amazing! With the bass player, I don’t know there are only a couple of handfuls of guys that are like ‘Whoa!’ you know? So, there’s a lot of room to get in there and prove yourself. If you’re doing it right, bass can be really fun and challenging and rewarding, but then again if you’re just hiding out as friend of the band, just the low rumble, have fun, but you know, if you really want to go somewhere with it, there’s a lot more room to be the best. I mean, there are a billion good guitar players, and a billion good drummers and there’s only a few good bass players so get out there and add to it! Bass players union!

Alex: Was it difficult to develop a technique for playing your music? I imagine there weren’t many people you could learn from when you were growing up.

Derek: Exactly. My father was a classically trained pianist and he had a metronome and when you’d be working on your chops, this little thing would just be in the background keeping time for you. When I first switched to the bass, I would sit with the metronome and just work out all of the values, you know quarter notes, eighth notes, eighth note triplets, sixteenth notes, sixteenth note triplets and really build the muscle memory and bend on the right knuckles and try to keep a good ergonomic position. If you sit wrong, your wrists and your elbows are going to hate you! But if you can sit in a position, it’s like martial arts you want to have explosive energy with little effort. So if you’re sitting there with your wrists up and everything is like ‘Yikes!’ and there’s a lot of tension, it’s going to be difficult. It’s all about sitting with good form and standing with good form and just building the muscle memory and getting it to where it’s like second nature and then you can start to see the improvement.

Dan: So, who did you look up to when you were learning?

Derek: There weren’t a lot of guys. There was Alex Webster from Cannibal Corpse who was doing it really well and Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Autopsy) is an animal. I mean some of the same guys that we’re talking about today were the ONLY few back then, now there’s a few more, but for the most part it was just a couple of guys. Also, taking inspiration from other instruments and saying ‘Wow! That guy is really effortless and really comfortable on his guitar, piano or drums.’ So using other individuals, not necessarily bass players, but looking and thinking ‘Wow, that guy’s really smooth, or that guy’s really explosive and looks like he’s not putting any effort into it.’ So, it wasn’t necessarily a bass player thing to inspire me as much as musicians. It helped because there weren’t a lot of bass players to be inspired by.

Alex: Do you think metal musicians are given the recognition they deserve for their skills?

Derek: Not really, but what can you say? We’re singing about pretty crazy stuff and so, it’s not very common. If you took the vocals away, I think a lot of industry people might accept it and push it a little bit further, but nowadays tattoos and long hair are more acceptable, so hey, maybe we’re singing about some pretty crazy stuff, but maybe that’s a bit more acceptable these days. Like right now, there are bass playing magazines doing features on me and we don’t talk about the lyrical content, we just talk about techniques and they’re like ‘wow, that’s fun. We didn’t know Death Metal guys actually gave a shit.’ It’s fun to get a little bit of recognition and then you wonder if it’s going to continue, you know, the companies are supporting us; the endorsements, the string companies, the electronic companies, instrument companies and amplifiers. They’re all really on board. Suffocation is a twenty five year operation, and the companies do believe in us individually. We maybe can’t go out and advertise Suffocation because it’s kind of evil, not that we’re an evil band, but it’s not happy love songs.

Alex: It’s more to do with showcasing talent then?

Derek: Exactly, the showcase the individual’s talent more so than the whole thing, which is fine.

Alex: How does it feel having John Gallagher from Dying Fetus doing vocals for Suffocation on tour?

Derek: John is a dear friend of ours. I used to play in Dying Fetus, which was twelve years ago. So, John and I have worked together in the past and he’s just been a really good friend. He knows the deal and he loves Brutal Death Metal. Take his guitar away from him, it’s a little awkward but you know, he’s a good friend and when we said ‘Hey John, do you want to go out and have some fun and would you consider helping us out?’ he was like ‘Fuck yeah!’ So, he came and stayed with me and we did a lot of figuring out, kind of like under-lining the syllable that’s on the downbeat and looking at the lyrics and trying to figure out what the fuck was going on! So, as I wrote a lot of the lyrical stuff that was on the new album it was easy for me to explain to a musician, because he understood down beats and lead-ins and stuff like that. If you’re just a vocalist, you may not understand all the technical talk, but being that John is a guitar player, it was super easy to convey the information to him and a pleasure working with him as far as getting him up to speed. It’s been a pleasure having him onstage. He did a week’s worth of shows in America on our last tour last month and then this one will be thirty shows or whatever. And yeah, he’s doing great and we’re happy to have him and he seems to be having fun too.

Alex: I know a lot of people were really happy that it was him as it made you like a super-group.

Derek: Yeah, well that’s fun too because we’d have people come up to us in the states and they’d go ‘Is Gallagher singing?’ and we’re like ‘No, it’s Frank.’ And they’re disappointed, you know, because it would be fun and something unique for them to see. It would be like your favourite baseball team or football team and this guy was really good from this other team and you saw him with your team. It’s a fun thing. If you like Suffocation, you probably like Dying Fetus, so to see the combination of it is great. We’re fucking with him and calling him Frank Gallagher and John Mullen, which is just funny. We’re having fun with it.

Alex: How has the UK tour gone for you so far?

Derek: So far, it’s on strike two. The venues have just been really poor. This (NQ Live, Manchester) is professional. It’s a little bit low, but at least it’s nice whereas the last two have just been like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ The people are great. The people deserve to see the band and the people react great, but you’ve really got to dig deep to get past the disrespect. If you’re fourteen years old, you would probably be like ‘Wow! This venue is great!’ but you know, being that we’ve done thousands of shows, you think ‘Wow, this guy really just said fuck Suffocation, we’re going to put them in a fucking dungeon!’ And it’s so disrespectful, but what can you do? Do you want to cancel? Well, you’ve still got to pay your crew, still got to pay for your bus, so now, it’s pay out of your pocket all of a sudden, so you don’t want to cancel; primarily for the fans, but also on a financial level. If you pull a show, the whole budget changes, so you just get kicked in the shin and get on with it and hope that the next day is better.

Alex: If you could play anywhere is the world where would it be?

Derek: I don’t know what’s left! I mean, there are some territories I know we haven’t gone to. I feel like everywhere that we’ve wanted to go to we’ve gone to a few times. I guess it would be to do some interesting part of Asia. We’ve done a lot of that, but Asia is such a large continent there are a lot of people we haven’t been able to reach over there. Not that I really want to be there as much as maybe Australia or somewhere really nice to be, but making sure we touch base with all the fans.

Alex: Are there any bands that you’re particularly interested in at the moment?

Derek: There’s a couple of really talented bands out there that I’ve been getting into, like the Spawn of Possession stuff that’s really impressive; Surruption is really impressive also. I love my Decrepit Birth stuff; those guys are really talented as well. There are so many bands. I love the brutal bands like Severe Torture and Disgorge and Archaic. There are so many heavy and up and coming bands, it’s a tough game. It’s hard not to mention the older stuff like Gore Guts and Morbid Angel. A lot of the young kids don’t really think about early Deicide, or Obituary or Malevolent Creation and all the bands that were around back then. You know, some of them are still doing it, but you get a lot of the younger bands like Black Dahlia Murder that are really hitting the pavement hard. It’s a tough game and you know, you like what you like from the old school, but they’re not out actually hitting as hard as the new bands. So I think the fans are sort of losing sight of what we liked, because there’s an influx of so many new bands, so it’s tricky. It’s a hard one. Probably if I got to my CD collection, I could name a lot, but off the top of my head, it’s the Spawn of Possession stuff and Surruption and Decrepit Birth and Archaic. There are so many good ones, it’s so hard.

Alex: It’s interesting what you say that about the new bands not listening to older stuff.

Derek: I think, say like The Black Dahlia Murder scene for example, they definitely know Suffocation but the fans of Black Dahlia Murder that are making their own bands, they look at Black Dahlia Murder as the one that has the inspiration. Black Dahlia Murder took their inspiration from let’s say early Suffocation and this is all awesome, you’re really excited when you see the generations take what they like from a particular band and recycle it, but I think actually if you go a couple of times down the line, they don’t know where the thing came from. Not that we made up heavy music, but I mean without Black Sabbath and without some of those early thrash bands, you know Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and all that stuff, you wouldn’t have even had anything to draw inspiration from. It’s always going down a line.

Alex: Do you have any advice for bands just starting out?

Derek: Definitely the perseverance and making sure that you’re doing it because you love it. A lot of people that we’ve crossed paths with over the years have said ‘how’s the money?’ and we say, if you love what you’re doing, the money is great. If you’re doing it for the money, you’re definitely not making enough money because there’s so many hardships and you’re risking your life travelling all over the world and leaving loved ones behind. Again, if you love it, it’s worth every minute of it. If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, don’t quit your day job. Keep a level head, do it for fun and have fun doing it because as soon as it’s not fun anymore, it’s not worth it. It’s really not worth it. There’s disrespect and the money won’t always be there; there’ll be a cancellation and it will ruin everything. We’ve seen bands cancel tours because a show or two got cancelled and they couldn’t literally make it to the next show, and it’s so hard and it happens. It’s a tough game, but again if you love it, it’s not that hard.

Alex: Finally, do you have anything to say to your fans?

Derek: We’re really happy that people continue to support Suffocation and we’re really proud of the new record Pinnacle of Bedlam. We want to thank the record label, the management team and all of the booking agencies and the promoters who get involved and believe in Suffocation. Without that belief, we’re just another band stuck in New York. So, yeah, we just want to thank everybody for being involved and people like you who want to promote us as well.

Suffocation’s new album Pinnacle of Bedlam is out now via Nuclear Blast Records. You can order the album at this location.

Suffocation online:

http://www.facebook.com/suffocation
http://www.twitter.com/suffocation
http://www.twitter.com/GMarchais
http://www.youtube.com/suffocation
http://www.myspace.com/suffocation
http://www.mocospace.com/suffocation
http://jsrdirect.com/bands/suffocation