Archive for Blaze Bayley

Blaze Bayley Interview

Posted in Festival, Interview with tags , , , on 4th August 2017 by mickbirchy

Mick had a little chat with Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden, Wolfsbane) before his show at SOS Festival. Here’s the interview:

Mick: The new album Endure and Survive – Infinite Entanglement Part II has dropped this year. How has it been releasing the second part to this massive concept?

 

Blaze: Oh it’s been fantastic. The whole tour of Endure and Survive has gone so much better than we could have hoped for really. All of the new songs [from the new Endure and Survive album] that we have put into the set have gone down really well and people have said this album is the best album I have ever done, in my entire career. So, it’s gone really well and as for something that is such a big concept, I think people are just ready for these kind of albums. It’s a narrative that carries over three albums, the “Infinite Entanglement” trilogy. The first part being Infinite Entanglement, the second being this new album and we’re currently working on the songs for the third album right now.  Those songs will be recorded in October/November time. It’s going really well.

 

Mick: I’ve been listening to the new album and I have been enjoying it. The one song that stood out to me was “Remember”. I think it stood out because it a bit more slowed down and had a lot of folk-y instrumentation. Could you tell a bit more about that song and what it means in context? As I have developed my own meaning and I wanted your thoughts on it.

 

Blaze: Well, in the scheme of the album, the whole theme is of a man has to decide whether he is human or not as his consciousness has been loaded into a machine body. So what he has left is the memory of being human. He has the consciousness, he thinks of himself as human but in fact he has a machine body. This song “Remember”, goes back to a time where there was happiness, a rare thing in the life of this central character, and that’s what they are remembering when someone says ‘You have to let go and sometimes you have to just live in the moment, you have to remember that this life is just a series of moments’. That’s why it’s called “Remember”, the character has had some great moments you had these things happen to them. They have to remember how it felt in that moment and then perhaps they can get that feeling back of being in this moment.

 

Mick: I think that’s why it stuck out to me. I took it out of context of the album and applied it to myself. I have been through some hard times in my life and I just remember being happy in myself. I just like how you can take a part of a grander story, such as a concept album, and it makes sense on it’s own. When it comes to songwriting is that something you have to take into account. Not just the album will work as a concept, but making every song make sense in themselves?

 

Blaze: I realise it’s quite a big thing that we set ourselves and it’s always a challenge. What we said was, if you know nothing about the story and don’t know it’s part of a trilogy of albums, you still have to listen to every song on their own. Without knowing the story and what should happen, is a similar thing that happened to you. A song will catch you and you’ll want to figure out what that song means in relation to the other songs of the story. I had to be a good album that you could listen to on it’s own and didn’t know it was connected to the others, but if you became more into it and got more interested in the lyrics then perhaps you would start to find the rest of the story. This journey that this person goes on.

 

Mick: So, in saying that are there any tips you could give a band or artist who maybe wants to make an album(s) like this one?

 

Blaze: I think in recent times, what I would say to any bands starting off or before making their first big records, is that the world has changed so much since I started. You can’t be in the mindset of, I play my guitar really well, that’s enough, it’s not. What you’ve got to do is get confident with recording yourself well. Get used to doing it yourself, the technology exists now where you can make your own album quality demos. So you have to do that. It’s your duty now. If you want freedom, true freedom as an artist, it can’t be just singing and playing well. You have to master recording that instrument, no matter what it is. The technology exists and it’s nowhere near as expensive as it was a few years ago. I didn’t exist when I started, we used cassette tapes but even so we tried to get good demos together. You can’t get bound up in the demo, I think what you have to is jam through the idea and live with that idea. Then put it away, walk away from it and come back to it. Everybody I’ve met who’s learnt to record themselves did so because they were pissed off by an engineer who didn’t have a clue how to make an electric guitar sound like an electric guitar. They’ve said how come I, with one guitar, and one microphone can make it sound right. But the guy in the £25 an hour studio makes it sound like it’s in a colander in a shed. It doesn’t make sense. Everyone I’ve met who’s now in production, did so because they had to because no one could make their instruments sound right.

 

Mick: Do you see an advantage of being independent rather than being on a big record label?

 

Blaze: As an artist I’m completely independent, I don’t have a big label, I am the label. The reason I can do what I do is because people pre-order my albums without knowing what it’s going to be like. They send the money for it, I’m then able to make the album and then send it to them. So far that’s worked. I have this incredible support from hugely loyal fans that enables me to make the music that I want to make and tour in the place I want to tour. So I can come here and play this great festival, SOS, where it’s all independent and original bands. Then I can play smaller venues across Europe, I can do bigger festivals. The luxury of it is that I don’t go back to anywhere I don’t like. So anywhere they don’t care about the sound, anywhere that doesn’t treat fans with respect, I don’t go back.

 

Mick: You’ve have a career that has spanned a long, long time now. What is the one piece of work that you are particularly proud of. Be it a gig or a song or an album. What sticks in your head about your career?

 

Blaze: Well, I think having a song that went into the top 10, around the world. When I was in Iron Maiden, Madonna was at the top of the charts. The X Factor, knocked Madonna off the top of the charts in some countries. “Man on the Edge” was a song I wrote with Janick Gears in Iron Maiden. That song went to the top 10 in many countries around the world and actually hit number 1 in some countries as well. That was such a huge achievement for someone who comes from a working class family and had a dream. I used to work in a hotel, working nights, cleaning the hotel, cleaning the toilets such and such. I’ve had all manner of jobs and the reason I do what I do is because I love to sing and now 30 odd years after I started, I’m independent doing my own thing.

 

Mick: How do you feel like you’ve evolved as an artist over the years, if at all?

Blaze: I think I really found my voice in Iron Maiden. You know, in Wolfsbane, I loved doing that and we’re still together and we have a reunion coming up in December. But my voice back then didn’t really have the range that I would later develop. I had the enthusiasm and the emotion but I didn’t have the range nor the soul. In Iron Maiden, when recorded the  The X Factor and Virtual XI being in that studio I really found that other part of my voice. After Maiden that’s when I started using my voice in a new way so I think as I got to my acoustic album Russian Holiday that’s when I really felt like I had a really good control of my voice. As I came to these most recent album I felt like now I have the tools, now I can have a lyric and I can say what tone, what breadth, what texture do I need to create so that the emotion shines through to the listener. My ultimate goal is, if English is not your first language you still know what the song is about.

 

Mick: My final question is one I always love ending on. What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome and how did you overcome it?

 

Blaze: That’s a really good question and I don’t know what the answer is really. However, I suffer with nerves and people are very disappointed when they ask, ‘What kind of rituals do you have backstage’ and I know they’re expecting me to be jumping and getting hyped. You know swigging Jack Daniels and doing lines of coke. It’s the complete opposite for me, I get nervous about going out on stage and I have to put myself into a place of complete calm. When you come into the Blaze Bayley dressing room, it’s most boring place you have ever seen at any gig. You’d probably think to yourself ‘How are they going to bring the roof down, when they’re this boring’. Just no excitement in the dressing, because all of that get’s in the way of the thought process that brings lyric to the place where my voice will connect with it. To bring this fresh feeling and emotion to the lyric.

It’s a thing that I’ve learned over the years. There have been times where I got over excited. Then I’ve forgotten the word to the song. The worst thing that ever happened was when we supported Helloween, and I went on and thought ‘god the band sounds shit’, then I realised that I was singing the words and melody to a totally different song. That’s what happens when I get over excited. So the biggest thing I’ve had to overcome is nerves really and the way I cope with it is to remain calm and keep focused on those first few songs.

 

Mick: Fantastic, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

http://www.blazebayley.net/

https://www.facebook.com/officialblazebayley

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SOS Festival, Day 2 Review

Posted in Festival, Live, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 29th July 2017 by mickbirchy

SOS Festival, Longfield Suite, Prestwich, UK

15th July 2017

Crowsaw, Core of Nation, Vice, Damaj, Sister Rose, Luke Appleton, Primitai, Die No More, Gemma Fox, Pythia, Bad Pollyanna & Blaze Bayley

Day two kicked off a little earlier and a killer line up lay ahead. I was excited for a few of the names and in terms of quality this had to be the strongest day. Saturday was a really busy day because I was in and out of the press room, doing interviews and getting into the main hall for the bands. There were too many highlights to count  for me and I discovered some great bands that I took home some of their music. There’s plenty to talk about so let’s get on with the day two review.

First things first on main stage was, Crowsaw. They were pretty decent three piece heavy metal act and played an all around entertaining set. The music had some excellent blues riffs that carried the set beautifully. The impressive part for me were the three part harmonies. All three members sung together so well and it fitted into the music so nicely. It just added something to their set. The riffs were good and meaty, they had a real groove to them and the bass locked in the drums to create a nice rhythm. I did like them but I don’t really have a lot to say they were a good band with some solid tunes. For me, Core of Nation were one of the biggest surprises of the weekend for me. They were simply stunning. Their sound was bold and atmospheric. Their songs were a doom style sound with thick riffs and a well produced tone. Every moment was packed with great songs and the outstanding musicianship. Core of Nation sparked with precision music, great riffs, well done solos and frontman, Rolf Berg’s vocals were simply breathtaking. Everything was nicely mixed and sounded great. I definitely came away from this set completely in love with their sound.

Local lads, Vice were up next on the stage. Their set was pure fire with lots of energy and tonnes of passion thrown into it. The guitar tone was crisp and the solos were coming through fast and thick. The production was clear cut and it really hit hard. Every member really brought the passion to the stage with them and the band making for a fun set that everyone was getting into. Being the hometown lads they certainly got the punters in the door and the room felt like it had that vibrant energy to it. The new album tracks went down a storm. They filled the stage and boasted an impressive stage presence. They felt so impressive and I hope they have a good future ahead. They are an excellent live and with the tunes to back it up. After a short break and turn around, we had Damaj take the stage and for the first time this weekend I was a little disappointed. OK, they’re not bad per say, but it was a little bland. The music was simply ok. From a technical standpoint they were really good. Great guitars, great flow, amazing vocals. However talent is not the same thing as quality and I just don’t think the songs were there. I’ll say this for them they had passion and were really into their songs. Yet, I just could not get into them. It all felt very generic. There wasn’t much of a bite to their sound and it left me a little cold. I’m sure there is a market for them, however, I could not get into this.

Meanwhile, on the acoustic stage. Instead of Regulus, who were unable to make it. We had Iced Earth’s, Luke Appleton performing an acoustic set. His set was beautifully put together. Luke’s vocals were really nice and he sounded great. He was very humble and his personality shone through. It made me enjoy his music even more. The sound was almost country with all the emotion in his vocals. His vocals are amazing and has a lot of power to his voice. The guitar was very simplistic but effective all of the same. A powerful set for something that was put on in such short notice. After that we were treated to the glam rock stylings of Sister Rose. I have to say the thing that caught my eye straight away was their merchandise. Bright and colourful and I think they were the only band of the weekend with something other than just t-shirts and CD’s. How was their set though? In a word… Solid. They had this fantastic glam rock sound that filled the room. The songs flowed really nicely into each other with that sleaze rock style that they make. Every tunes had this real grittiness to it, every twang of the guitar and every pulsating beat of the bass had a lot of drama in there. They definitely had a classic rock meets sleazy punk thing going on. Every second they were on stage the they just sold themselves. Somehow though, it just didn’t work for me. I don’t know, maybe because the market for this type of music has been completely oversaturated over the years and if you’re going to make this style of music you have to do something to really stand out. Unfortunately, nothing did. They were just another band. They were kind of unique for this weekend, but as for the genre in general, they’re not exactly pushing boundaries. Like I said, really good set and strong performance but I’ve just heard this type of music way too much.

 

I was slightly blown away by the technical stylings of Primitai. Every moment of their set was filled with impressive, riffs, licks, solos and powerhouse choruses. The sheer energy and intensity from them was simply brilliant. Primitai weave in and out of metal stylings like it was nothing. It was really impressive how they went from style to style like it was nothing. Every part of this performance was excellent. From the technical ability on display to their enjoyment that was blatantly apparent through their set. Again they were another one of these bands were I didn’t take notes and enjoyed the music and yeah this is great. It was amazing to watch these just show off what they can do. Songs like “Black Rider” and “Power Surge” just flowed so well out of the speakers and I loved it. Primitai were really enjoyable, just a brilliant band that have really great on stage chemistry and presence. One to check out for sure. Nothing got my blood pumping more than the heavy metal stylings of Die No More. There was so much to the set and the sound. Every song just crackled and popped with excitement and had a real power to it. They had a command of the stage and the music was tight with sharp guitar tones and a crashing beat. It was aggressive yet clean. It’s really sad that is the last show from them as I would be interested to see them again and I would recommended them. If you can, definitely check them out. They were very different from what expected and I don’t think they were explained to me quite right. They were far more heavy than I expected, which was a good thing. With a booming set of drums and well executed guitars. I really did enjoy this one. Not much to say here. Just a really fun band.

 

Over on the acoustic stage Collibus frontwoman, Gemma Fox. She played a bunch of covers from “Feels Like Making Love” by Bad Company to “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. As you can tell there quite the range of songs in the set. Gemma is known for having an amazing voice. I have heard her before with her band and I have always been blown away by her voice. Once again there was no difference here. She is absolutely stunning. Also a stripped back performance was really nice. Just and acoustic guitar and her voice and it sounded beautiful. It was simple yet effective. It was such a passionate and pure set set from Gemma. Just a nice small set from her and that was all that was needed. Up next, was a superb treat. Pythia, was incredibly impressive. It was something a little different. Having a symphonic metal band in the middle of all of the thrash, glam and NWOBHM was so refreshing for my ears. The sound was big and bold, and frontwoman, Sophie Dorman’s voice was absolutely pitch perfect. The crowd was 100% behind them and they belted out tune after tune. Songs like “Betray My Heart” were real crowd pleasers. Every element of the band just clicked and the synth and keys created this atmosphere that the metal was overlaid onto. They are a very technically gifted band and they had bundles of chemistry that you could just see click on stage. They also debuted a new song “Ancient Soul” which sounded really nice and made me excited for a new album. Pythia worked so well on this stage a I really want to see them again.


Finally on the acoustic stage today was one of my absolute favourite bands, Bad Pollyanna. I’ve heard them a few time but always in a full band. In this more stripped down acoustic performance they really stepped up to the plate. I am very familiar with there songs but usually in this loud confident style. Here these songs almost took on new meanings. This more exposed subtle sound really fitted them. Vocalist, Olivia Hyde’s voice was incredible. Such power and emotion behind her voice. The sheer passion was clear and it was matched by the harmonising vocals of Nikki Kontinen. The acoustic guitar sounded really nice and it all came together so beautifully. I loved the way they transformed their songs like “Awake Now” and “Define Me” into these deep and powerful ballads by stripping the production back. It really worked and it just made think, damn I want more Bad Pollyanna music.

 

Finishing off the day was a legend of the industry. Blaze Bayley, was so captivating. It’s clear that he’s been doing this for so long. The calm control he had on the crowd was amazing. Just the way he held himself on that stage was awesome. His voice was excellent. His band played a blinder too with Chris Appleton manning the guitar duty. He belted out riffs and solos like it was nothing. The thick tones and imposing presence,  it all felt so huge. Then you have Karl Schramm on bass and Martin McNee on drums. The two locked in together and created some amazing grooves and rhythms that got the place jamming and moving along. It was so awesome to see the connection that Blaze has to his fans and he was clearly enjoying himself as he did what he does best.

Overall it was an incredible set that blew me away. The music was great, the atmosphere was awesome and the band were relaxed and looked like they were enjoying themselves. It was a great way to end a Saturday at a festival. Bravo.

Words: Mick Birchall

Photos: Laura Piggford (LorathNahhr Photography)

Interview with Glyn Beasley [Ravenage]

Posted in Featured, Interview with tags , , , , , , on 15th February 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Glyn Beasley has been the leader and vocalist for the epic Viking metal warband Ravenage since its formation five years ago. Glyn is also the co-promoter for the Metieval Festival, an event which has seen bands like Hecate Enthroned, Blaze Bayley and Power Quest play. He’s also heavily involved with the Warhorns Festival – The UK’s premier folk metal festival. In an exclusive interview with Nico, Glyn reveals his thoughts on Hull’s metal scene, the UK’s folk metal scene and clears up his roles in both Metieval and Warhorns. Glyn also makes reference to his love for goat’s milk.

Nico: The internet is quite barren when it comes to details of Ravenage’s early day, so my first question is; how did Ravenage come into existence?

Glyn: Ravenage were formed in December 2007 from the remnants of Heathen ForayHeathen Foray were formed a couple of years earlier by Sam and myself, first as just a recording project, but then a live band. Rich, aka Lord Legion, joined us on bass almost immediately and then later Chris on drums.  We probably did about 10 gigs in total, mostly in Hull and Beverley, but we also played Derby, Wakefield, Scunthorpe, Birmingham and Withernsea.  We also released an album and an EP and had reasonable success for a Hull-based band. Towards the end of 2007,  we recruited Mark Wood as a second guitarist as Sam was struggling with commitment, at the same time Chris had also lost interest and there was a definite divide in the band.  I didn’t feel comfortable continuing HF without Sam, so I put it on hold. At the same time I still wanted to be in an active band in a similar style and enjoyed working with both Rich and Mark, so over the Christmas period we wrote and recorded The Ravenage demo so that we could find a suitable keyboardist and drummer.  A chance meeting in Spiders Nightclub secured the services of former Gwydion drummer Bruno, and then I think Elliot found us on Myspace via has solo project Nogothrim, and full rehearsals began in March 2008. Elliot tweaked the demos and re-recorded  the keyboards, and we made our debut in Swansea supporting Annwn that April.

Nico: The band has seen several differing line-up changes through the years, how have these line-up changes affected Ravenage‘s sound?

Glyn: I think our sound has just been a natural progression since the Hardrada’s Fall EP, prior to then our sound was more raw and leaned more towards black metal, rather than the folky melodic death metal sound we have today.  To be honest, though we’ve had a fair share of line up changes over the years, everyone has known what Ravenage is about and has adapted to our style.  For our next album, I’m very keen to hear what Chris, Boxhead and Art bring to the table alongside the more established writing styles of Elliot and Danny.

Nico: Things have been quiet over the last year or so within Camp Ravenage, is there any reasoning for this?

Glyn: I wouldn’t necessarily say we’ve been quiet, it’s more of a case that we’ve not been gigging as often as we have in the past for number of reasons.  We’re probably more selective of gigs now as without major label support, we’ve done as much as we can in the UK—we’ve played Bloodstock, Pagan Pride and Gathering The Clans, and most major UK cities, as well as some continental gigs and festivals. Like most bands we’ve had good turn outs and we’ve had poor ones.  So, these days, it’s just a case of ensuring we play the right gigs and not the same place too often as we try to make every gig special, this year will probably follow in the same vein.  Also, as well as Ravenage, I have a full time job, a beautiful girlfriend, a wolfdog as well as commitments to both Warhorns and Metieval, so I don’t want to burn myself out completely.  Elliot also has his commitments to Alestorm, Danny to Aloeswood as well as being in full-time education alongside Chris and Boxhead, and Art is a full time music  lecturer. This doesn’t mean that anyone is less committed to Ravenage – wait til you hear the quality of our new songs – it’s just a case of balancing things out and staying fresh both physically and mentally.

Nico: Ravenage’s latest album, Fresh From Fields Of Victory, was released in 2011. Is there a new album in the works?

Glyn: Absolutely, and the plan is to release it this year.  We have about six songs written and have already performed Northbound Part II live.  It’s unlikely we’ll air any others prior to the album release, but you never know.  We’re also planning on releasing a video for one of the tracks, which should be a lot of fun.

Nico: A couple of Ravenage‘s members are involved with other projects – Danny with Aloeswood and Elliot with Alestorm – Has this made progress for Ravenage more challenging?

Glyn: Not now, though when Elliot first joined Alestorm we recruited Art as a session player to cover his absence.  Art loved playing live with us and we managed to fulfil last year’s gigging schedule by essentially having two keyboard players.  Art is a fantastic keyboardist as well as a great bloke and we all liked having him around, and after learning our set it did seem like a waste to just be a session player. Elliot is also an amazing all-round musician and vocalist and can play any instrument with ease, and as he now has his keyboard fix in Alestorm, playing bass with Ravenage enables him to have a lot more stage freedom and live presence. Also, during his absences, its easier for us to bring in a session bass player than a keyboard player. Regarding Danny and Aloeswood, it’s not really a problem as Danny is currently only playing select gigs.  However, I have no doubt that Aloeswood will eventually become a huge part of the UK black metal scene.  Danny is an amazing songwriter and is already beginning to receive the recognition he deserves.  Also, while Boxhead is involved with other bands and projects, he still has enough energy to be in at least half a dozen more bands so that is not a problem either.

Nico: You’re involved with both Metieval and Warhorns and this has obviously confused people, regarding your roles within both. Could you explain what your roles are in each and how they differ from one another?

Glyn: Metieval was formed in 2006 by Stig and myself to bring a professional festival to the Hull and East Yorkshire region.  Metieval organized the East Riding Rock Festival in 2007, 2008, and 2009.  Due to struggling to find a suitable venue and  over-estimating the local metal scene, we decided to call it a day in 2011 with the Metieval Requiem to finish things off.  However, after a bit of a break and a rethink we decided to resurrect the festival in late 2012 with the Metieval Winterfest, and have plans for future events. Regarding Metieval, Stig and I are the founders and have equal say in all related matters . We do have a good support team around us especially Stig’s wife Lyn, Elliot Vernon and Hull Rockers Jake and Silver Back.
Warhorns Festival is the creation Marc Ollis – I work as his right-hand man alongside Shamsi Modarai and Elliot Vernon.  However, all major decisions are made by Marc and I only book and contact bands on his behalf because of my previous experience co-running Metieval events. The difference between Metieval and Warhorns is that Metieval is regionally-based in Hull and East Yorkshire, and will book any suitable band that plays any genre of metal or rock. Warhorns, on the other hand, is purely a Viking/folk/black metal festival with a more national and international scope.

Nico: As you’re involved with Hull’s music scene, to an extent, as both a musician and a promoter, what are your thoughts on Hull’s music scene? How does it differ from the other scenes around the UK?

Glyn: I can’t really speak for other cities’ metal scenes as I’m not involved in any and I’m also a lot less involved in the Hull music scene then I used to be.  Before the resurrection of Metieval Winterfest, I think I’d been to maybe two gigs in two years.  I did recently self-promote and organise a gig for Old Corpse Road as part of the Northern leg of their UK tour, but that was a one-off, and a favour for a friend.
There are a couple of excellent local bands out there.  Obviously Sworn Amongst have been very successful, although I don’t know how they’ll get on without Frank at the helm.  Also, Infernal Creation are my personal favourites and are getting some well deserved recognition and good gigs of late.  I also like Alice In Thunderland from Bridlington, and Innersylum have the region’s strongest vocalist in the form of Derk. I also thought Pastel Jack had some good ideas, and was surprised by their demise as I thought they were on the brink of getting to the next level.  At  Metieval Winterfest, I was impressed by some of the more hardcore bands, in particular Downfall and Battalions.
The problem I think with the Hull Metal Scene was actually pointed out to me by my friend Pip (otherwise known as Raeven Irata).  She noted that the majority of metal fans in Hull are already in bands, and local bands don’t really support one  another’s’ gigs.  I’m no exception to this as I rarely go out and support other bands due to not having enough time  I think this is why over the years the scene has divided and fragmented. Also, the loss of venues coupled with the fact that a lot of people appear to prefer to watch a bunch of imposters (tribute bands) than a band playing original music, has taken its toll, hence where we are now.  I’d also say that without Darren Bunting and Music HQ, Hull’s metal scene would be dead.
There is still room I think for decent gigs in Hull and the surrounding area.  Metieval, Valkyrian, Sunkfest, and Springboard all tend to be successful.  Stig and I have also noted that there’s a new festival called Nukefest that appears to be a complete carbon copy of Metieval Winterfest.

Nico: Obviously being apart of the Warhorns family means you’ve got more involvement with the pagan and folk metal scenes. What are your thoughts on the current folk and pagan metal scenes?

Glyn: Since I’ve not travelled to a Euro Festival since 2011, I can only really comment on the UK Scene.  There are some great UK bands out there at the minute.  Old Corpse Road‘s album is amazing and they just get better and better each time I see them.  Sheffield’s Northern Oak, also deliver the goods, and I’m always a fan of Shallow Intentions from Weymouth and Manchester’s Andraste.  An up and coming band to watch out for are Morlich from Scotland.  I also understand that the recent Korpiklaani tour was a huge success and hopefully Heidevolk, Cryptic Age and Celtachor will storm the Jorvik Viking Festival next week.  I know that Warhorns has had over 50 UK bands apply and some of them are rather bloody marvellous, it will be a difficult choice selecting the right line up for this years festival, which is a good thing.

Nico: What’s the meaning behind the band’s name, Ravenage? Is there an image or concept behind it?

Glyn: Most of our lyrics and themes are set in the Dark Ages or at least pre -1066.  This was the age of wolves, eagles and ravens – the beasts of battle.  The name just came to me one day when I was enjoying a pint of goat’s milk and thinking of song titles, and I came up with Foretelling the Ravenage which was an early HF song.

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

Glyn: I love classic epic movies from the 50s and 60s like El Cid and The Vikings.  Miklos Rozsa is my favourite composer of all time, I also love Basil Poledouris hence the secret Robocop track hehe.  Nobody could replace the soundtracks written by those composers. Maybe the movie for us do a soundtrack for hasn’t been filmed yet. Maybe that should go on the ‘To do’ board! Make a movie, that is.

Nico: Are there any bands from the folk metal scene that you’d recommend to our readers?

Glyn: Yep, I’ll recommend a couple of lesser known, but top quality bands. Please check out:
Æther Realm from USA (who are not from Finland).
Black Messiah from Germany (who are playing at Warhorns).
Elzevir from Moscow (I’m not sure if they’re currently active).

Nico: Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?

Glyn: Thanks for the supporting Ravenage these past five years, here’s to the next five and beyond! And remember to drink goats milk – as well as tasting good it will keep you healthy and full of inspiration!

Interview with Gaz [Chemikill]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on 12th January 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Hailing from Birmingham, the birthplace of metal, Chemikill have forged themselves a a long-lasting career upon the anvil of British underground metal scene. Confirmed to support Delain at The Dames of Darkness Festival in May, Nico interrogates the band’s bassist Gaz.

Nico: Chemikill have been on the scene for over 20 years, what’s been the highlight of the band’s existence so far?

Gaz: Well, I suppose it’s just staying power. Twenty seven years this year and we’ve had a fair few highlights, [such as] winning the Tamworth Battle of the Bands in 1995 and also supporting all American girl thrash band Wench. We’ve played along some great bands last year like Beholder, Blaze Bayley, Apperition, Dakesis, Tytan and more. We’re just glad to be doing what we do.

Nico: You’ve been confirmed to play the Dames of Darkness Festival next, where you’ll be supporting Delain. How are you feeling about that?

Gaz: Really happy and stoked to the hilt! I can’t wait for it! I saw Delain a few years back at Leamington Spa and hadn’t seen ‘em before and only was going for the support band Serenity but god when Delain came on my jaw hit the floor and been a fan ever since – They’re a great live band!

Nico: Are there any other bands you’re looking forward to playing with at the Dames of Darkness?

Gaz: Yeah! Everyone to be honest. It will be great catching up with Apparition whom we thank for getting us on the bill, Whyzdom too but all the bands to be honest. I just love live music.

Nico: In your own opinion, how does Chemikill differ from t’other “female-fronted” bands on the scene?

Gaz: I think we have our own little genre going on. It’s like old school eighties metal with a twist of today’s metal scene, so it covers Sabbath, Priest, Metallica, Slayer, Slipknot and Pantera. I suppose we really can’t say who and where we belong but it’s metal and that’s all that counts. Natalie brings a voice that can be singing like a song bird one minute and the next growling like Angela from Arch Enemy, so we can cover two different bases in one song if we wish and to see peoples’ faces when she does it is so funny as they don’t expect it at all.

Nico: What’s the meaning behind the band’s name, Chemikill?

Gaz: There isn’t a meaning really. We just decided it was going to have the word kill in the name, so in the end it was a toss up between Nu-Killer or Chemikill. This is way before Exodus did their track by the same name too. So Chemikill came out the hat first but I suppose it could stand for being honest pure driven British heavy metal!

Nico: Excluding yourselves, which band from the UK would you say are the best on the current British metal scene?

Gaz: Well, I wouldn’t call us one of the best. We just do what we do and if people like it, fair enough. We’re glad if you’ve had a good time at a Chemikill show then we hope you come back again and bring some friends but bands at the moment who are doing well are Beholder, Hostile and Absolva, but there’s so many good bands out there at the moment, it’s getting round to see ‘em all but with all this NWOBHM thing kicking off again looks like we could be in the 2nd wave of it, if it picks up, so let’s all get ready for the ride.

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

Gaz: I always look on our tracks as film music anyway. Each one tells a story which could easily be a film, but we have our track Psycho, which speaks for itself really with the film, and our new mini epic Wych, the original old way of spelling witch, which (no pun intended) could fit into any hammer horror type film on witches or something. It would just be an honour to get the offer of adding one of our songs I suppose to a film track but if i had to pick just one then it would be Demons, all about the wolf man because it explains the torment of the curse, the hunger and the lost soul which as the chorus goes: What was will be, what is will be no more – So, it covers the changing of the human part to animal and back again, so yeah.

Nico: Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers before we finish?

Gaz: We all hope to see you all soon at The Dames of Darkness Festival. Cheers all and we wish you the best, Gaz and the rest of the Chemikill crew.

Chemikill are:

Natalie: Vocals
Damo: Lead Guitar
Wayne: Lead Guitar
Gaz: Bass
Luke: Drums

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Interview: Doro Pesch

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 16th October 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Doro has been a household name on the international metal scene for many years now, earning herself the title as the Queen of Metal. Kick starting her career in Snakebite, before joining Beast and eventually forming Warlock, as well as having a long standing solo career, Doro has stood against the test of time and proven herself time and time again. With the release of Raise Your Fist [review can be read here], Nico catches up with Doro for a chat about the new album, today’s female fronted metal scene and Terminator!

Nico: Hi Doro, how you doing?

Doro Pesch: I’m good. I’ve played some gigs, ja and I did a tour all over the world. I was in New York last week and I’m back in Germany and I’ve got a new album [Raise Your Fist] coming out next week [19th Oct] and we’re going on tour shortly.

N: Sounds like you’ve had fun then.

D: Ja, ja, ja. It’s always an adventure. Nothing ever gets boring.

N: So you’ve got the new album, Raise Your Fist, coming out on 19th October. Are there any concepts or lyrical themes that run through the album?

D: Ja, actually there is. The whole theme of the album is keep fighting the good fight and there’s a lot of anthems that I think will make people feel good and will really be connected to them, especially the song Raise Your Fist In The Air or the anthem on there called Rock Till Death and there’s some old school metal songs on it; one’s called Take No Prisoner and the other’s Revenge and another called Little Headbanger. And there’s some ballads on it. One of my favourite ballads on it is the one I did with Lemmy called It Still Hurts. It’s definitely one of the highlights and Lemmy sings so great on that song. And there’s another special guest who is Gus G – The guitarist for Firewind and Ozzy Osbourne who is playing on Grab The Bull (last Man Standing) and that’s another uplifting song which has some good metal power, some metal energy.

N: What would you say is your favourite track from the album?

D: Oh, I would say It Still Hurts [Featuring Lemmy] and Raise Your Fist In The Air and the last one on the album that is called Hero which is in honour of Ronnie James Dio and is dedicated to Ronnie because he meant so much to many, many fans including myself and it was a great honour to tour with him a couple of times. The first in ‘87 and again in 2000 and in the last ten years [before his passing] we had become really great friends.

N: If you could go back to when you first began singing for bands like Beast and Warlock, what advice would you give yourself?

D: Actually, I wouldn’t. It’s always been such an adventure and I wouldn’t want to miss anything in the past. It was always a hundred and fifty percent and trying to go for it and ja, to keep the ball rolling. I think the most difficult time was when grunge was suddenly becoming huge. That was the only time that we thought “We hope metal comes back” and when it did come back, I can appreciate it even more and I’m so grateful for everything that’s gone so well. Metal’s so big, so huge right now. I would say that was the only time I could have done with advice but it was not in our hands, but it’s good to live through some hard times and you know, work harder, be stronger, that saying – what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. I think that’s absolutely true. So, that time only when grunge was taking over metal but everything else was great.

N: Speaking of metal, more specifically, female-fronted metal, over the recent years female-fronted metal has become bigger with bands like Epica, Lacuna Coil and Nightwish making huge success on the scene, with younger and smaller bands like Aonia and Alice In Thunderland making a name for themselves as well. How do you feel that the metal scene, in particular, the female-fronted metal scene, has changed since your career first started?

D: Ja, I think it’s great. There are so many great singers, musicians and all girl bands, it’s fantastic! And now, I think it’s much more better than it was in the eighties. Back then, it was just a handful of women and a handful of bands – There were fantastic bands that I loved like Rock Goddess from the UK and Girlschool, The Runaways. But now, I think it’s much more balanced. I think everyone is doing a fantastic job and that women really do get respected. It’s not even a big deal any more in this day and age. In the eighties, I think there was maybe some, you know, sexism going on which personally, I never felt but it was something you read from the articles in the magazines or the video producers would be putting naked, sexy girls in the videos of the bands with guys. It did not look so dignified but in this day and age, I think it is dignified. I like to try and support them on the scene, all the great female singers and musicians. On the next America tour, we’ll be touring with Sister Sin – They’re from Sweden but there’s a great singer with them called Liv. But I think the most important thing is the music, everything else is just secondary. So it doesn’t matter where you come form or if you’re a man or woman. The music always shines through.

N: You’ve done several collaborations and duets with bands and vocalists over the years,  like Tarja Turunen [Ex-Nightwish], Blaze Bayley [Ex-Iron Maiden/Wolfsbane] and Lemmy [Motorhead]. What would you say is the most fun duet or collaboration you’ve done so far?

D: Every collaboration I’ve done so far has been a total highlight in my life. Everyone was different, sometimes you just had one or two days in the studio and I loved doing the duet with Pete Steele, but unfortunately he’s not alive any more. It was great, it means so much to me. But with Lemmy, ja, I’d say that was the greatest for me because it was at a time, when we did our first duet on my Calling The Wild album about twelve years ago, I was in in a sad desperate state of mind because my dad, he died, he was my best friend. I love him so much, he was so supportive. I had wrote Lemmy a letter weeks before that and I said “Hey Lemmy, we’re label mates now. I don’t know if you remember me but I was the little girl at the Monsters of Rock festival” and I put a picture of me with Lemmy in the letter and I said “If you feel like it’s a good idea, maybe we could do a song together or something” and then some weeks later, my dad passed away and I was devastated. A few days later, I was picking up black clothes for my mum because of the funeral and then the phone rang. I didn’t feel like picking up the phone because I was so sad and I didn’t feel like talking with any body. And my mum said “Hey, don’t you want to see who it is?” and I said “No, mum. I don’t want to talk to anybody” and she “Well, how about you check who it is?” and then I looked at my phone and it was an AA number and I just wow and she said to pick it up, and I picked up the phone and it was Lemmy. I just thought oh my god, it’s Lemmy, you know and just wow. He said he’d got my letter and that we should do something together then I said “Lemmy, I’m so sad, I don’t even know if I want to do anything, my dad passed away recently”. He said “Doro, you know what? I can hear that you’re in pain and it’s very important that you do something. Come to AA and we’ll do something nice”. Then I went to AA and we did two duets, Alone Again which Lemmy wrote a beautiful acoustic guitar piece for and the Motorhead classic Love Me Forever. I must say, Lemmy was a kind of angel for me. He gave me something which, you know, nobody could have done for me. That was probably the most important duet for me but the other duets were great too and it was a great honour for me to work with such lovely people. But Lemmy might have saved my life, so I’m happy he came to sing on my new album again as well on the song It Still Hurts.

N: How would you describe the new album in five words?

D: Only in five words? Oh god! I would say: Powerful! High energy! Very emotional! Very positive! And a good mixture between old school metal and fresh new powerful sounds!

N: You’ve been active for the metal scene for years now, so what do you feel that you owe the longevity of your career to?

D: The most important part… The fans! Always, always the fans! I owe it all to the fans because their energy, their love, their support, was what was always made me wanna go on! They helped me through the hard times like the nineties when grunge was so, so big. The fans were always there, always supporting me. They [the fans] are the most important thing in my career and in my life, it always was the fans and always will be the fans and to me, that’s the important thing. I made a conscious decision at 24 or 25 that I wanted to totally dedicate my life to the fans and not like, have babies or get married and I’m so grateful to be part of the metal family.

N: Speaking of the fans, in particular, the female ones. What’s it like being an inspiration to female metalheads around the world?

D: It makes me so happy! Somebody feels inspired and when people are like “Oh, we saw your video and started a band” or when the girls start singing or playing drums or the guitar, it always makes me so happy! If I can give somebody good energy or inspire someone to go into music and try, even if it’s as a hobby – Music is the greatest thing in my life and it’s so great when people feel inspired to make music.

N: Speaking of bands, given your years of experience as a musician, both touring and studio based, what advice do you have for young bands that are appearing on the scene today?

D: GIVE IT YOUR ALL! Hang in there! Follow your heart, your gut, your instincts! Do what you feel is right! Always got for it! Never, ever give up! Be yourself, even when people tell you that you should this or this or go in this direction. Give it your all and try and find good people who will always support you and believe in you and even if there’s nobody there or nobody believes in yourself, try believe in yourselves, give it one hundred and fifty percent, even if it takes longer than you think. Just keep at it, you will definitely be rewarded. Try and find good people who like the same music or the same style to form a band where everyone gets along. Do what you feel is right, even it’s not the latest trend or the flavour of the month. And take the advice of a good lawyer when it comes to signing contracts and stuff and always look after the business stuff as well. I always so into the music that I didn’t care or pay attention to the business and sometimes we’d sign stuff without the advice of a lawyer and I did stupid things. The rock and roll is all good fun but always get someone to help you when it comes to signing contracts just to make sure you don’t sign your life away and that you always keep your freedom to do what you want to do.

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

D: Let’s put it this way, I would love the chance to add some parts to my favourite movies, Terminator and Terminator 2. I would love to add some parts to give it a hardcore feel or maybe some powerful guitars to the scenes where people are being chased and make it even more intense and make it a little bit more metal but I wouldn’t replace the whole soundtrack but only add to where I think I could add things and give it our own little metal touch.

N: Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers?

D: Yeah, I wanna say to all the readers that I’m looking forward so much to coming back to the UK in November and that I hope everyone is doing well! I wanna thank everyone for their tremendous support and that the start of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was the start for me and it’s what influenced me the most, bands like Saxon and Judas Priest, so I feel at home in the UK and that I hope to see everyone in the UK in November and that I hope everyone loves the new record. I love you guys and girls, keep metal alive!

N: Thanks for your time, Doro! Have a good night and take care.

D: Thanks, Nico. It was every good talking with you. Take care.

 

Former Blaze Bayley guitarist returns

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on 27th July 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Former Blaze Bayley guitarist, Jay Walsh, returns with new UK based thrash metal outfit Bull Riff Stampede (featuring British and Italian band members who’ve shared stages with Anthrax, Sabaton, Amon Amarth, Sikth etc).

Bull Riff Stampede’s debut album ‘Scatter The Ground’ is out now.

Bull Riff Stampede are turning heads; having already been billed with Sepultura, Evile and playing the UK’s prestigious Download Festival.

 

Gone Til Winter – The First Season [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 17th January 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Gone Til Winter
Album: The First Season
Release year: 2011
Genre: Melodic Metal

Gone Til Winter have been tearing up the British underground for the past few years, with their debut demo “Deconstruct The Season” receiving airtime in the UK, Belgium and France, as well as being played on Bruce Dickinson’s [Iron Maiden] show on BBC6. They’ve even gone as far as support former Iron Maiden frontman Blaze Bayley and Forever Never. Their latest album “The First Season” was released just last year.

The album begins a strong, guitar-heavy track called “Solemnise”. If I didn’t know it was Gone Til Winter I was listening to, I would have easily mistook these for Theatres Des Vampires due to similar sound in the vocal styles and atmospheric use of keyboards. The guitars have a slight hint of thrash elements (without the aggression or speed). “Heat Signal” tears the place up next with a Lamb Of God-esque introduction. I was definitely impressed by how much the bass work could be heard throughout the song and the way it worked with the vocals.

The album takes a lighter pace of guitar work in the soft yet semi-epic sounding form of “Kill Me”. The piano adds a distinct solemnity (is that even a proper word?) to the track which I feel works wonders with the viciously raw guitar sections (or in simpler terms, the less melodic riffs). The bass work, again, can be heard clearly though it does feel like it’s working against the piano in parts of the song. “Utopia” sounds like a polish down Epica demo – musically speaking anyway. The vocal melody is off putting at first as it feels and sounds choppy and lacking any sort of flow. The orchestrated parts are partially ReVamp sounding, creating a warmth within the music. “Deep Sleep” sound void at the beginning but it gradually builds into something worth the listen, especially with the beautiful twang of the bass strings and the rhythmic splash of drums.

”Distant Places” draws in a much darker sound, much like the way that light draws draws in the moths, with the harmonious fusion of vocals and acoustic guitar work. At a few points, the track sounds like it’s going to explode with a roar of guitars and drums, but sadly it does not. Gone Til Winter certainly know how to tease your ears with this track. The dark, acoustic sound travels into the next song “Release” bringing with it a Gothic entourage of vocals and pianos that conjure up dark images and grim feelings like a necromancer calling the dead. “The First Season” comes to a sophisticated end with “Constant Retreat”. The vocals echo a warmth that makes the song sound more welcoming while the acoustic guitar softly sings a harmonic lullaby that feels like it’s apart of the vocals.

”The First Season” displays quite the variety of different sounds, elements and influences, kind of like a musical box of chocolates. Its definitely a unique album in terms of female fronted metal as it avoids the typical elements of most female fronted metal bands (i.e. beauty and beast vocals, strong orchestration). After hearing this album, I would definitely count Gone Til Winter among my top ten favourite female fronted bands.

4.8/5

Nico Davidson