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Interview with Hiran Deraniyagala [Battlecross]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 21st August 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, the boys of Battlecross have hit major success with the release of their albums Push Pull Destory, Pursuit of Honor, and their newest release War of Will. Playing with major metal acts and being a part of massive tours such as the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and Orion Music Fest, it’s no wonder that they’re well known and loved by many. They’ve taken influences of upbeat thrash, death and southern metal to create a sound that’s punishing but is also is refreshing for fans of metal.  I got the chance to catch up with Battlecross guitarist; Hiran Deraniyagala for a word or two about the new album; War Of Will as well as his musical inspirations and movies.

 

Lauren: How did you come up with the name Battlecross?

Hiran: Tony came up with it. I remember coming out of one of my classes in college and getting a text from Tony saying “What about Battlecross, as a band name?” I remember it just hit me really well. I loved it but like with all band names we always check the internet to see if anyone already had the name we came up with. No one had the name from what we could find so we both agreed it was an awesome name. It took some convincing to get the other band members to agree with it but eventually they just went with it. “Battlecross” to me represents something powerful, epic and aggressive which I think represents the music. I like the fact that our name can give people different expectations about how we sound versus a typical band name. People have assumed we’re a “Power Metal” band and obviously got something different from what they expected.

Lauren: Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

Hiran: In general I would say that we draw a common influence from Pantera, Metallica and Slayer but we each have our own musical influences that we draw influence from. Personally, I draw influence from various metal bands like Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Circle Of Dead Children, Pig Destroyer, Woe Of Tyrants, Goatwhore, Emperor, Meshuggah, Morbid Angel, Mastodon, Black Sabbath, Down, and local metal bands from Michigan like, Enkephalin, Summer Dying and GutRot. I’ve always been intrigued by the technicality and aggressiveness of extreme metal bands but also the groove of doom metal.

Lauren: How would you say your newest album, War of Will, differs from your previous releases?

Hiran: Yes definitely. War of Will is a much more focused and mature album for us. We grew as a band, from touring  and also mentally, from being in a different position as a full time touring band on a label. There are expectations that not only come from ourselves but from fans and the industry. We were under pressure to complete the album and had roughly a month or two to finish writing followed by a tour and then right into the studio. We didn’t let the pressure stop or deter us from what we had to do. We knew we had to kick it up a notch to top what we did on the first album but at the same time not lose who we are as a band. I think each song on this record has more of a dynamic. We didn’t want every song to sound the same or just play fast all the time. There’s more melody but still brutality on this record. With tracks like “Flesh and Bone” and “Wage a War” which have a lot of melody to them, then you have “Beast” and “The Will To Overcome” which reflect the brutality of the band and then songs like “Ghost Alive” and “Force Fed Lies” that are thrash style songs.

Lauren: How has touring been this last year?

Hiran: Touring has been great! We’ve had so many great opportunities that we had the pleasure of being a part of. From Trespass America with Five Finger Death Punch and Killswitch Engage, opening for In Flames, then Orion fest with Metallica and of course, Mayhem Festival with Rob Zombie, Mastodon, Amon Amarth, Children of Bodom, Machine Head and Huntress. All these tours have given us a chance to play in front of large crowds and have really helped us gain a quickly growing fan base. There a lot of bands that never get a chance to do these types of tours so we’re really thankful we’ve had the chance to be a part of these. Touring is hard work and a lot of dedication but when you bust ass and do tours like these it really makes the work all worthwhile. We’ve always been a hard working band and we know that this just the beginning to more opportunities. We don’t let these opportunities get to our head and we know that we’re still a young band that has more to prove but we’re ready.

Lauren: Have there been any memorable shows for you this last year?

Hiran: I would say most memorable show for us was Orion Music and More with Metallica. Playing a show with Metallica is a dream come true and we got to play with them in our hometown of Detroit! Not only did we play on the same bill with them but we got to be part of a press conference with the band! Out of all the great bands on the bill we were selected to do this! It was unreal and as a matter of fact I barely said a word at the press conference because I was so nervous! Never thought I would be sitting next to Metallica! To top it all off, James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo, came out on stage before we went on and introduced us! They pumped up the crowd and us! We went up there on fire and just burnt the place down with our energy and excitement. Truly a memorable and career highlight for us!

Lauren: If you could replace the soundtrack to any movie with your own music, which one would it be and why?

Hiran: I’m honestly more of a fan of scores when it comes to movies versus putting songs in a movie soundtrack. I really wouldn’t want to change the soundtrack of any particular movie I like because I feel like the music is already fitting for it but if I could I make my own movie with our music I would make an action movie. It’d be like the Expendables battling against the cast of all those dumb reality TV shows.

Lauren: Where would you like to see Battlecross in 5 years?

Hiran: My hope that our career is still thriving and that we will be touring all over the world. That’s all I really want from this band is a solid career and be playing anywhere and everywhere we can.

Lauren: Are there any plans for any upcoming tours or a new album?

Hiran: Definitely upcoming tours, we have a tour with Hatebreed, Shadows Fall and Acacia Strain this fall followed by a tour with Death Angel, 3 Inches Of Blood, Revocation and Diamond Plate! After that not sure what else is in store other than more touring and hopefully heading overseas! Can’t wait to play in Europe, South America, Japan and every where else on the globe! As far as a new album we’re not really focused on that yet other than working on some ideas on our own here and there.

Battlecross online:

http://www.facebook.com/battlecrossmetal
http://youtube.com/battlecrossmetal

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The Antiquity – A Colossal Infliction of Hate

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 18th August 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

The Antiquity
A Colossal Infliction of Hate
Released: Summer 2013
Hardcore/Death/Groove Metal
Self Released

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Hailing from Scarborough, The Antiquity just recently released their EP, A Colossal Infliction of Hate, marking the first of what they have to offer to metal. This EP has 5 tracks, each of decent length and quality, and totals to a little over 15 minutes long. Upon listening to this EP, I am reminded of a lot of the hardcore/deathcore that is released here in the United States. It’s super monotonous with prepubescent vocals while each song replicates itself in style, guitar riffs, and vocally. With the exception of the monologue in the beginning track, Quarantine, and for a motorcycle revving up followed by a scream in the track BLASTthehorse, the entire EP sounds like one drawn out song.
There were a couple parts to A Colossal Infliction of Hate that I actually did enjoy, however. During certain songs, there would be parts that felt extremely groovy and it reminded me of bands such as Thy Will Be Done, Acaro, and Hatebreed. If more of these kinds of melodic riffs were added to this EP, it would’ve been much more enjoyable to listen to. While I’m not a fan of hardcore music, I felt that The Antiquity did a fantastic job of incorporating elements of hardcore along with the more death metal and groovy parts.

The biggest turn off for me was definitely the vocals. While I enjoyed the range of guttural to high pitched screaming, there were hardcore-styled vocals thrown into there, which are essentially similar to Jamey Jasta’s.  I understand that this is the way hardcore vocals are done, it just did not mix with the music at all. Had the vocalist just stuck to the guttural vocals with the occasional high pitched screaming, I feel the songs would have flowed more and wouldn’t have sounded so sporadic.

I personally would not be interested in regularly listening to this band since I’m not big into hardcore or deathcore, but I would highly recommend it to fans of either genre. I hope to hear more groovy riffs and a better vocal range from The Antiquity in the future, and this is just the beginning for these guys. Hopefully they develop more as musicians and put out a killer CD!

3.5/5

Lauren Gowdy

 

Deformation of Man – Self-Titled

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , on 21st May 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

Deformation of Man
Self-Titled
Released 11 February, 2013
Groove Metal
Self Released

 

Hailing from Sheffield, Deformation of Man have come together to make hard-hitting metal that is loud and aggressive in every possible way. With the release of their self-titled debut album, they’ve compiled 10 tracks that are diverse in sound and will keep you headbanging whether you listen to it in the car, sitting at your computer, or even are your grandmother’s funeral.

What really impressed me most about this album were definitely the guitars. Melodic and groovy riffs are heard throughout every song which, to me, is important since all the songs didn’t sound like they ran together. Not only were they super catchy, they also were not overly technical. Technical metal has been on the rise lately so it’s nice to hear a band who keeps it simple but more importantly keeps it brutal.

A couple of my favorite tracks for me were Down in the Filth and Perfect Lie. These two songs had the most memorable riffs on the entire album. Both songs had awesome choruses and gave me the feeling of wanting to listen to more to the album. To be honest, I was not fully into this album when I first started listening to it, but as I listened to it more, it grew on me and I actually enjoyed it.

One flaw in this album though is definitely the vocals. To me, they seemed monotonous and would really sometimes drown out the rest of the music. If there were more high vocals added to this album, it would’ve made it that much better. The vocals are probably the reason why it took me longer to get into the album, and it’s not like the vocals were completely unbearable either. For some reason, bands with one-level vocals like Hatebreed make it harder for me to enjoy the songs.

However, I would say that is album is an overall hit. If you’re a fan of bands like Heaven Shall Burn, Hatebreed, or Thy Will Be Done, you will definitely enjoy this band and this album. The fact that the guitars sounded absolutely incredible on this album was enough to win me over, and I hope to hear more!

3.5/5

Lauren Gowdy

Deformation of Man online:

https://www.facebook.com/deformationofman

 

Gutfucked – Fucked to Death

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 3rd March 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

Gutfucked

Fucked to Death

Released 6th February, 2013

Death Metal

Released via Ossuary Industries

Gutfucked’s newest full length album Fucked to Death is so far in my top 10 favorite albums of 2013. The brutality and heaviness that is strewn throughout this entire album is just mind blowing, and for a newer band, I commend them for coming off with a strong first albums. I enjoyed everything from the heavy guitars, punishing blast beats, and vocals so low that they practically blended into the music itself. Not to mention, I got a good chuckle out of some of the song titles that were used such as Sister Fister, Too Sick to Suck It, and A Night with Uncle Daddy.

Fucked to Death starts off surprisingly with a beautiful intro of a choir singing and it sounded like an apocalypse was about to begin. Once the choir music ends, Gutfucked wastes no time and just dives right into a fast and brutal riff fest while practically raping my ears with their music. The album only then progressively gets better and heavier while sometimes having brief moments in songs where there is dialogue that talks about gore-related topics.

The vocals on this album really aren’t my preferred choice of vocals, however, just because it’s hard for me to listen to really low vocals for such a long time. The contrast with the higher vocals in some songs made this easier, and it was easier to move past the low vocal range after focusing more on the guitar and drums.This is the kind of album that makes me happy and proud to be a fan of death metal. Gutfucked incorporated so much brutality into this one album that I still can’t even really comprehend it. Again, this is in my top albums for 2013 and I highly recommend giving Gutfucked a listen!

 

4.7/5

Lauren Gowdy

Bonded Through Hate – Doomsday: The Rise of Valhalla

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 3rd March 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

Bonded Through Hate

Doomsday: The Rise of Valhalla

Released 28th March, 2012

Death Metal/Hardcore

Released via Ear One Productions

 

 

Being a spanking new band hailing from my home state of Connecticut, Bonded Through Hate has really outdone themselves with the release of Doomsday: The Rise of Valhalla. Being their first EP I was blown away by how heavy this album was. The riffs were memorable and somewhat melodic while some other guitar parts were just extremely fast to the point where I had to choice but to head bang.  Bonded Through Hate has the brutalness of death metal paired with slamming hardcore to create something that is fast and melodic at the same time.

My favorite track off of this EP was Killing Is My Name¸ the first of the five songs off this album. The intro starts off very quietly and then out of nowhere, the music picks up followed by a long, high scream that gave me chills from its sheer awesomeness. Throughout the song, they repeat the name of it multiple times which reminded me of something that Exhumed does with their songs as well. This paired with a breakdown towards the end of the song just made it enjoyable to listen to and it definitely stuck out to me over everything else.

The rest of the album was also great as well. The last track, BTK,  also had an intro to it rather than just delving right into the song like the other 3 tracks did. The buildup of this intro really left an impression on this song and was a great way to end the album. Overall, I have no major complaints about this EP except the songs were kind of predictable in presentation and there was really nothing that completely stood out to me about the music. Maybe it’s because they haven’t really developed a unique sound yet, but I anticipate to hear a full length album from these guys in the near future!

 

4.5/5

Lauren Gowdy

Arkona – Decade of Glory

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , on 3rd March 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

Arkona
Decade of Glory
Released 22nd February, 2013
Folk/Pagan Metal

Released via Napalm Record

Naturally, live albums sound much different than studio albums and give more of a sense of a band’s raw and natural talent. With the release of Decade of Glory live album, Russian folk/pagan metal band Arkona clearly shows a great deal of talent and musicianship. Each song off of this 3 disc live album is energetic and powerful in delivery. Arkona knows exactly how to captivate a crowd and keep them engaged with the show from start to finish.

Each performance was unique, and each song sounded very close to the studio album versions. Vocalist Masha does a phenomenal job with her beautiful clean vocals and killer growls as well keeping the audience bouncing and energetic. The use of flutes and bagpipes also kept the energy of the entire performance up as well. I felt that time flew by while I listened to this album due to how immersed I felt while I was listening to it. Having seen Arkona live before myself, I felt like I was standing there amongst the other people in the crowd banging my head to the music.

Generally, I’m not a fan of live albums only because I personally would rather be watching it live myself rather than listening to people who are there and actually enjoying the show. With Decade of Glory, however, it felt very realistic. The opening song Az’ gave me the chills you would typically feel while waiting for the main act of a concert to come out on stage. I give Arkona a ton of credit for being not only a great studio band but also a phenomenal live show, and if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend going and seeing this band play a show!

4.7/5

Lauren Gowdy

 

Finsterforst – Rastlos

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , on 2nd March 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

Finsterforst
Rastlos
Released 23rd November, 2012
Folk Metal
Released via Napalm Records

Finsterforst are a band that goes beyond average folk metal and has such strong emotion integrated into each of their songs, whether it may be fast, slow, short, or long. With the release of their third full length album Rastlos, all elements of folk and metal are beautifully composed into a short but memorable album. It did not take long for me to completely immerse myself within this album and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

There are a few tracks that are comprised of quieter and softer sounds that add a much needed break between the lengthy and fast tracks. The sixth track off of this seven track album, Rast, was only composed of birds chirping and essentially the sounds of nature. It’s not very uncommon for folk metal to add nature sounds into their songs, but I found it interesting that this almost 2 minutes track was just solely dedicated to just playing nature in its untouched state. I thought this as a great tactic, however, because the last track, Flammenrausch, is just over 22 minutes long and that quiet intermission helps you prepare for the brutality of this long track.

As far as the other songs go, I was pleased with how excellently they were put together. The contrast of gravely vocals and a heavy but slow guitar sound paired with the undertones of accordion and keyboards as well as clean vocals made this album brutally beautiful. Each of the faster songs were all over 10 minutes long which made the Rastlos seem like a 10 – 12 track album when in actuality, it was much shorter. Finsterforst have done an incredible job in producing this album and I look forward to their next!

5/5

Lauren Gowdy