After releasing two successful albums through the world’s largest, independent record label Nuclear Blast Records, being nominated for the Metal Hammer Awards, having toured with bands such as Lacuna Coil and Children of Bodom and played at some of the biggest European festivals like Summer Breeze, Sabaton and Bloodstock, where they opened the main stage, Forever Still had big plans for 2020 with several long European tours planned over the year and eventually back to the studio to record the third album. But as we all know, 2020 turned out very differently.
So what do you do, when all your plans suddenly go down the drain? Make some new ones! Determined to make the best of a bad situation, Maja and Mikkel, who are in charge of the songwriting in the band, gathered all the equipment they could get their hands on in the house and started writing a very different album for the band. Inspired by bands like Joy Division, Nine Inch Nails and The Cure, they began to explore a more minimalist sound with the old drum machines and analogues synthesizers they had gathered. After months in isolation, the result is Forever Still’s new album The Line, which will be released later in 2022.
Can’t Begin to Explain is the first single from the album. “The video was recorded in our local neighborhood “Amager“, because that was really all we got to see at the time the album was made,” says Mikkel. “I remember being inspired by the movie Pusher II by Nicolas Winding Refn when writing the album, which was also filmed on Amager, and the raw, cold atmosphere in that movie, largely due to the amazing soundtrack by Peter Peter and Peter Kyed“.
“It came as a huge shock to us, when covid shut everything down completely and we took a week to adjust to this new reality,” Maja says and continues,“Fortunately, we are used to periods of isolation when writing new music, so it seemed very natural that this was what we were going to do now.”
“For a long time, I’ve had a dream of using some of the old analog synths and drum machines, I’ve collected over the years, in Forever Still’s music,” Mikkel interjects,“and this situation seemed like the perfect opportunity to really immerse myself in all the possibilities they have and possibly get inspired by some new things.”“We walked through the empty streets in winter and I think it was a significant inspiration for the more minimalistic and cold sound of the new album,” Maja concludes.
Forget HELLOWEEN – Here comes HELLOWEEN This is the beginning of a new time calculation: »Please stick together!« This was the ardent wish of thousands of fans calling out to Andi Deris, Michael Kiske,Michael Weikath, Kai Hansen, Markus Grosskopf, Sascha Gerstner and Dani Löble during the PUMPKINS UNITED WORLD TOUR – and their dream has come true! With the upcoming album, simply titled HELLOWEEN, the band opens a new chapter after 35 years of a glorious career. The future of one of the most influential German metal bands from now on will feature three singers. Originally planned for the live performances only, it was the birth of a unique seven piece metal alliance.
Dani Löble: „This record is the coronation of the PUMPKINS UNITED journey! Still, until today I am fascinated by the different character traits and facets of the HELLOWEEN history. Per example the legendary voices of Michi, Andi and Kai. To enjoy them now together on one record, under one flag is the ultimate HELLOWEEN experience”. It is therefore not surprising that the pre-release single “Skyfall” (out on april, 2nd), a 12 minute epos written by Kai Hansen, has the long yearned “Keeper-vibe” – even if the long player can by no means be limited to it. “Skyfall” implies the musical arch which will be loved by fans of every era. This first album of a new age is taking the fans from unforgettable memories of the fifteen studio records and four live CD’s to new adventures.
“Skyfall” begins with a bang. The epic track describes an alien landing on earth and a dramatic chase while Kiske, Deris and Hansen duel with each other in a breathtaking manner and create a vocal broadband adventure. Produced by Martin Häusler, it is the most elaborate video clip in the history of the band; shown with 3-D animation and having a cinematic look, this video is a real high end experience.
The base of this milestone album was already erected in the studio: using the original drum kit of Ingo Schwichtenberg, the recording was done with the same modulators at the Hamburg HOME studios where back then „Master Of The Rings”, „The Time Of The Oath” and „Better Than Raw” were recorded. Completely analog and under the eyes of long term producer Charlie Bauerfeind and co-producer Dennis Ward, the UNITED impact travelled to New York and got the final mix in the Valhalla Studios of Ronald Prent (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Rammstein). „After 30 years with the different line ups of the band I really thought I was well prepared for another extreme challenge, but I was wrong! My expectations were highly exceeded in every way with this super-sized creativity package” tells us Bauerfeind.
Besides all musical competence, it is also the special enthusiasm that defines HELLOWEEN. Michael Weikath characterizes in his own way: „It is the incomprehensible encounter of seven musicians who are working as friends and even family and created something that no one would have thought it could be possible. It is like awaking from a sleep but still being in an incredible dream”. Returnee Kai Hansen reflects: „Being in the studio with my old companions after 30 years was very emotional for me. But at the same time it was a completely different experience with the “new” boys. The collaboration of different songwriters and strong characters made the album very special: a unique mix with reminiscences from all chapters of the band’s history. HELLOWEEN is a big part of my life and I am looking forward to celebrating the songs live for and with our fans”! From another perspective Markus Grosskopf agrees: „For me, being one of the last ‘survivors’ who played every note from the beginning, it was a fantastic experience and a very emotional process. I think everyone can hear it on this album. I love it”.
With all this brand new material an album has been created, an album that is set apart from the digital mainstream and showing the essence of the band was never more solid. This is the beginning of something big – here comes HELLOWEEN.
„HELLOWEEN” will be released on June 18th, the album pre-order will kick off on March 26th.TRACKLISTING „HELLOWEEN“
01 – Out For The Glory 02 – Fear Of The Fallen 03 – Best Time 04 – Mass Pollution 05 – Angels 06 – Rise Without Chains 07 – Indestructible 08 – Robot King 09 – Cyanide 10 – Down In The Dumps 11 – Orbit 12 – Skyfall
The first single “Skyfall” will be available on CD, digitally and in two different vinyl versions.
Single 1: Vinyl, CD, digital: ‘Skyfall’ (single edit) + ‘Skyfall’ (exclusive alternative vocals mix). Both are exclusive single versions and will not be on the album. Around 20 minutes playing time.
Single 2: Vinyl only ‘Skyfall’ (single edit) + ‘Indestructible’ (exclusive album track). This is a strictly limited version of the new single with one exclusive album track.
Disclaimer: God Is An Astronaut is probably one of the first post-rock bands I’ve listened to. Even more so, one of the bands with whom I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage a few years back (Torsten, Niels and Lloyd are the most down to Earth artists I’ve ever met). So what you’re about to read is unapologetically a biased review of their upcoming album, Ghost Tapes #10.
Adrift, the first song on the album, sets the tone for what I would call a God Is An Astronaut you never knew ever existed. 90’s grunge riffs, dirty delayed guitar leads and distorted bass lines, followed by the atmospheric trademark the band is known for. Right from the get-go, I can definitely say that the Production is perfect. A lot of work has been put into capturing every detail on what the band is expressing on Ghost Tapes #10. And this song clearly establishes the vibe that we are going to experience throughout the entire album.
Burial is the song that the band chose to announce the album through, releasing it as the first single. And I think it’s safe to say that they made the right choice: dark melodies, deep piano chords and a constant state of anxiety, all tailored in a way to make you nod your head at the same time.
If there’s something I think more post-rock genre bands should embrace more is experimenting with odd time signatures and groovy drum beats, rather than the usual (and overdone, at this point) crescendos and reverb-driven lead parts. I think In Flux is doing just that. The song starts off with a dark synth pad part, followed shortly by a 7/8 time signature beat. I could definitely hear this song in Quentin Tarantino’s next action movie’s soundtrack.
Spectres picked up from where In Flux left off, in a similar odd time signature beat and a fear inducing soundscape . This gem is one of the best examples on how the band have distanced themselves from albums like All Is Violent, All Is Bright or Helios / Erebus. I’m pretty sure that more than 16 years ago they wouldn’t have had a clue that they would put out an album such as this one. An album I cannot wait for all of you to listen to.
Fade is God Is An Astronaut’s second single off Ghost Tapes #10 and it clearly doesn’t disappoint in maintaining the solid feeling the entire album’s been built upon. However, unlike the 4 previous songs, we’re listening to a more melody oriented song, rather than the riff based songs like Burial and Spectres.
Barren Trees is probably my favourite song on the album! It managed to encapsulate all of my expectations from this long awaited release: groovy drum beats, courtesy of Lloyd Hanney, Torsten’s airy vocals and riffs and Niels’s amazing bass lines, all wrapped up in a reinvented grungy God Is An Astronaut.
Luminous Waves is the closing song and it’s something I was waiting to hear from the GIAA crew in a long time. I strongly think that, if they would try to write Fragile once again, this song would definitely sound like it.
Conclusion: The album clearly represents a departure from Epitaph, Helios / Erebus and basically, most of what we’ve been used to hearing from God Is An Astronaut. Of course, that’s not a negative aspect. It’s actually quite the opposite. If there’s something that I respect the most in a band is their ability to innovate their sound and re-invent themselves, over and over again. Ghost Tapes #10 does just that and I cannot wait to listen the s**t out of it on repeat.”
Anneke van Giersbergen recently announced the release of her new solo album ‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’. Today she is happy to reveal “My Promise” as the album’s first single. The track premieres alongside an accompanying music video.
Anneke comments: “I wrote ‘My Promise’ when I imagined what life after divorce would really entail. The lyrics deal with a determination to fight for love. The song starts off with an acoustic Arabo-Spanish Gypsy vibe and gradually builds towards a euphoric ending. Ruud Peeters wrote a hauntingly melancholic string arrangement.“
Anneke continues: “We shot the video in Radio Royaal, one of my favourite restaurants in my hometown Eindhoven and it shows a few defining moments in a relationship, represented by different couples.“
You can watch the video here:
Additionally, ‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’ is available for pre-order starting today. The album will be available as eco-friendly CD Digipak (plastic-free), as 180g Gatefold LP (incl. the album on CD) & as digital album. It will be released on February 26th, 2021. Click here to pre-order the album: https://annekevangiersbergen.lnk.to/TheDarkestSkiesAreTheBrightest
(“The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest” – cover artwork) “The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest” – Tracklist: 01. Agape 02. Hurricane 03. My Promise 04. I Saw A Car 05. The Soul Knows 06. The End 07. Keep It Simple 08. Lo And Behold 09. Losing You 10. Survive 11. Love You Like I Love You
The album’s title, ‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’, refers to the idea that, when facing personal challenges, we are forced to find answers to life’s biggest questions. But, at this point in her near-three-decade-long music career, this solo album – and, crucially, the heartbreak that inspired it – was not something Anneke van Giersbergen ever anticipated writing. In 2018, Anneke began working on new material for her metal band, VUUR. Although their debut album, ‘In This Moment We Are Free – Cities’, was met with a mixed reception, fans were warming up to their heavy, progressive sound. Therefore, a rapid follow-up album would surely establish Anneke’s return to fronting a metal band. However, behind the scenes, these were troubled times.
Anneke shares, “My belief in VUUR saw me spend all my savings on recording VUUR’s debut album and taking the band on the road. After completing our first touring cycle, I realized that more VUUR would mean yet more, huge financial risks.“
To make matters worse, in 2018, her long-lasting marriage, which had always been wonderful, unexpectedly saw a storm approaching. Anneke adds, “I instantly knew I needed to write music about fixing my life. This creative endeavour would be far too personal for a VUUR album. And it would also require solitude.“
With just her acoustic guitar and basic recording gear, Anneke retreated to a small house near the woods, just outside her hometown of Eindhoven. She let go of the pressures of what VUUR’s future might be, and fell into the meditative process of writing a solo album. In 2019, work continued on the new songs. In 2020, Anneke asked her friend and producer, Gijs Coolen, to help finish the album.
Throughout the completion of the album, Anneke’s fragile, acoustic song-stories were fused together with an alchemy of panoramic strings, horns, and percussion. The resulting 11-track record has all the intimacy of Anneke serenading an audience of one, combined with surprising departures into swampier, foot-stomping grooves.
The Japanese art of kintsugi has inspired Anneke to use a repaired heart as the album’s symbol. Kintsugi teaches that bringing together the pieces of a broken object – with the use of a precious metal – adds value and uniqueness to it. And, instead of giving up on their marriage, Anneke and her husband decided to take the time to mend their bond. They now cherish the repaired heartbreak as something profoundly valuable.
Their journey through this personal storm, and the album that Anneke created in the eye of it, proves that the darkest skies truly are the brightest.
About Anneke van Giersbergen:
‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’ is Anneke’s 23rd career album. It proves, once again, that the award-winning Dutch artist defies being pigeonholed by any genre.
After thirteen years as the front woman for melancholic metallers, The Gathering, she struck out on her own in 2007. Since then, her creativity has known no bounds. Anneke quickly solidified a successful solo career (initially under the moniker Agua de Annique), and has recorded and performed with Canadian metal genius Devin Townsend multiple times. She has also lent her serene yet powerful voice to the likes of: Anathema, Icelandic folk group Árstíðir, Within Temptation, Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen, Amorphis, and prog legend John Wetton.
2012’s ‘Everything is Changing’ was something of a milestone in Anneke’s solo career. The album, which was the first to be released under her own name, received two Edison Award nominations – Holland’s most prestigious music prize – in the categories ‘Best Female Artist’ and ‘Best Album’. In 2015, Anneke van Giersbergen and Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) released their collaborative album ‘The Diary’ under the name The Gentle Storm. In October 2017, Anneke’s progressive metal outfit VUUR released their much-anticipated debut album. ‘In This Moment We Are Free – Cities’ entered the Dutch Album Top 100 at number 2, Anneke’s highest-ever chart position.
Forever the unpredictable artist, in late 2018, Anneke released ‘Symphonized’, an 11-track live orchestral album. It was recorded at two career-spanning concerts alongside Residentie Orkest The Hague, and features rearrangements of songs from her entire back catalogue. 2019 saw Dutch music copyright organisation Buma Cultuur honor Anneke with the Buma ROCKS! Export Award. This is their award for the Most Successful Dutch Artist Abroad in Heavy Music. In 2021, the release of her new solo album ‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’ will see Anneke surprise her fans all over again.
Ad Infinitum are a band that skyrocketed to the top of my favourite bands after hearing just one single from their debut album, namely “Marching on Versailles”. It was everything I wanted in a song or band I just didn’t know it yet. When they followed that with “See You in Hell”, I was absolutely sold. Their album “Chapter I: Monarchy” was released in April and if you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting for?
One of my biggest regrets with this pandemic is that I couldn’t see them live this year. However, they kept super busy and managed to give us new and new content, including a new acoustic album “Chapter I Revisited”, to be released December 4th. We had already heard 2 songs in acoustic version from the Deluxe edition of the first album and they are worth all the praise, so an acoustic album is exciting and very appreciated.
To tell you more about everything
they have been up to and particularly the upcoming album, we had the chance to
talk to Melissa Bonny, frontwoman of the band.
Q: What was the greatest
challenge and the greatest surprise in doing the Acoustic album?
greatest challenge was to actually find the sound of the album both for the
electric version and the acoustic version, because, you know, it’s our first
album, the band is just starting and it’s really important to find the right
direction. And then when we adapted the album to make it acoustic, it was not just
about taking the guitar and singing the same songs. It was really about
creating a new atmosphere so that people who already know the album can still
rediscover those songs differently.
Q: I saw that you that your favourite reinterpretation was
Fire and Ice. After listening to the acoustic version, I could tell why. It had
such nice effects added to it.
Melissa: Thank you. Yeah, I think it was my favourite to readapt because I’ve created some different vocal lines that I liked a lot. And it was already one of my favourite tracks. It was the very first song that we finished. So it’s something special for me because when I was working on the original version with Oliver Phillip, it was the first one he worked on with the orchestrations and when the demos came to life and actually became real songs. And that was a very first one. I remember this this feeling very well.
Q: I could hear a lot of
flamenco influences on the new tracks. Is that simply because flamenco is
traditionally acoustic or is there more to it?
it’s because Adrian is just very good guitar player and he spends a lot of time
adopting those songs and putting all his knowledge into it, both with acoustic
classical guitars and electric guitars. He did a lot of things, you know, he
replaced the whole orchestration parts with guitars, and he had so many tracks. He’s
just a brilliant musician who can do anything.
Q: Have you decided yet which songs you are going to play acoustically and which ones you are going to play electric in a concert?
Melissa: I think it will really depend on how much time we have. So far, we haven’t had any opportunity for headliner shows. I don’t know yet in which circumstances we will be able to have both electric and acoustic songs. But we did this one show in Cologne where we couldn’t have any audience. We just recorded a show to put it on YouTube. So we did an acoustic song which was Tell Me Why.
Q: We obviously know all the
ways this year and lockdown has been bad, but what is one good thing about this
whole period for Ad Infinitum? Other than obviously the new acoustic album
Melissa: The good thing is, I think, that when we realized that we would not be able to tour, probably when the first tour was cancelled, we had to brainstorm and think about other ways to connect with everyone. And the good thing about this is that in the end we created this year six videos, one live show, two albums, and this is probably a much better way to connect with everyone in the world and not just people who would have attended those shows.
Q: Have you been watching any live shows that other bands
have been putting out for streaming? How do you feel about them as a viewer, as
I’ve watched the show of Illumishade and I liked it very
much. They created something beautiful, a nice stage, nice songs. They had kind
of the same situation as us, because they released their first album this year.
And they were not able to tour, I think. I think they played a festival, an
online festival, and I’m not sure what else, but they had kind of the same
situation. They started their career as a band during the lockdown. So yeah,
they did this way before us actually, this live show that they recorded, and it
was really well done and loved it.
Q: Hoping that the tour is
still happening, it will surely be adjusted with safety precautions. How do you
personally feel about going on tour? Even with less transmittable illnesses,
once someone got sick on a tour bus, usually everyone got sick.
Melissa: Yeah, that’s right. I don’t know what, actually. I don’t really think about this right now because I assume that when we will be able to tour again, you know, people would have a vaccine and it, the whole planet, it will be safer. I mean, that’s, maybe we will not be allowed to tour if we’re not vaccinated. So I don’t know. I just wait to see how it’s going to be.
Q: In this magical post-corona
world where tours do happen, one of my worries is that all the shows and tours
within one year will battle for the same slots and there will be a clash there.
Is that an actual concern?
Melissa: Oh, yeah.
I mean, you, you could see her already this year. When we started to cancel the
shows for the beginning of the year, everyone was taking the slots of September,
October, or beginning of next year, but mainly September, October. So yeah, I,
I fear that people will try to go on tour as soon as we are allowed to. I guess the fans will have to choose.
Q: On the upcoming tour with
Serenity you are a support act and hopefully soon enough we’ll see you on a
headline tour as well. What something most people don’t know, I think, is how
financially unstable touring is. What would it take for you to have a
Melissa: I would
say that we are already very careful with what kind of tours we accept for now and,
as you said, we try to only take support tours. Because it’s a good way to get
known, to get our name known. And and you know, if we tour with bigger bands,
then we can profit of their fans in terms of audience, and then we can
hopefully sell a bit of CDs and merchandising. This is something that is
interesting for us right now.
Q: Let’s talk about DIY in the
music scene. You have obviously been very hands on in every step of the way.
How much can you do yourself and be thrifty about?
Melissa: Oh, you can do as much as you can handle with the 24 hours of the day. But yeah, we’ve been doing a lot of things and, you know, we have four band members, but we’re in four different countries. It’s sometimes difficult to just separate the work into four people when it’s like sending shirts, because then it’s a little bit more complicated. We’ve tried to balance it. Like okay, this time it’s Adrian and me; next time, it will be the two others. Or how Nick has been working a lot on the records and now I have more time, so we try to balance it a bit. And so far, it’s works pretty well.
I mean, sometimes it’s definitely a little bit tiring
because, you know, we do what other bands have a crew to do, and we have to
figure out what’s the best way to do it. Because for example, when it comes to
the merchandising we’re not used to handling a shop, so we have to really figure
out how to do it, and on top of this, with the pandemic right now, the
conditions with the post offices are more complicated. It’s just more small
problems that we must figure out. But yeah, I guess, I guess it really depends
on how much time you have, how many band members you have, and your motivation.
Q: You have built quite a
large community of fans around the band and already have fangroups and
fanpages. How do you see the role of fanclubs when it comes to Ad Infinitum and
what kind of relationship do they have to the band?
Melissa: We are
super thankful, super grateful for all the people following us and supporting
us. I see everyday people sharing our content when we have new interviews, it’s
shared by the members of the fan club. And it’s so encouraging to see that
people are so enthusiastic about our music and it plays a big role for us
because it’s really motivates us. You know, when we have a new album to write,
we think about how well the first album was received and how much encouragement
we’ve received. And, and it’s just, yeah, it’s just this extra motivation that
we need sometimes. And also, it plays a big role when, when it comes to
spreading the word of what we’re doing, you know?
Q: The pandemic has given us
quite a lot of time in a way. What do you do when you’re bored? Maybe something
Melissa: I love
baking and I also, I mean, baking, cooking, I also like sport a lot. I like to
explore the nature or just have nice to walk by the beach. And I like I like a
lot of TV series.
Q: Have you watched The Crown?
yeah. I’ve watched the two first seasons. And I think that the third one just
came out that seen something about this. Yeah.
Q: If I am not mistaken, you
recently moved to Denmark. How is it
living in a country with a monarchy?
you know, you don’t really feel it because it’s less pronounced than in
England, for example, where the Monarchy is very, very much present in the
society. Here, from what I’ve experienced, there’s a Queen and I’ve seen her
apartments in Copenhagen, but then there’s the vice-presidents in charge of all
the official matters. So I would not say that it makes a big difference for me
going from Switzerland to Denmark in that sense.
Thank you so much to Melissa for her time and answers and we cannot wait for the new album to hit all the streaming services! Do make sure to listen to it because it’s gonna be a good one!
Swedish melodic death metal formation THE UNGUIDED hit hard with their full-length album Father Shadow,released today. The explosive full-length breaks down the barriers between melodic death metal, metalcore and fitting electronic sounds. Clean hooklines explode in classifying screams, leading up to a unique symbiosis of pure harshness.
Their albums always tell intricate stories and come up with incredible concepts. About all that and much more we had a chance to interview Richard Sjunnesson.
Listen to the interview to find out more about the album, the band, their incredible stories and lore, why this album has some Sonic Syndicate covers, how they are dealing with Covid and much more!
(note: the interview was recorded on Oct 7th)
Release Date: 09.10.2020
Tracklisting: 1. Childhood’s End 2. Never Yield 3. War of Oceans 4. Breach 5. Where Love Comes to Die 6. Crown Prince Syndrome 7. Fate’s Hand 8. Stand Alone Complex 9. Lance of Longinus 10. Seth 11. Gaia (feat. Erik Engstrand) 12. Jailbreak (Bonus Track) 13. Denied (Bonus Track) 14. Jack of Diamonds (Bonus Track)
Photo Credit: Patric Ullaeus
The Unguided are: Richard Sjunnesson – vocals Jonathan Thorpenberg – guitar / vocals Roger Sjunnesson – guitar / keyboard Richard Schill – drums
There is nothing like new music to lift our spirits during these times. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of AD INFINITUM’s upcoming album Chapter I: Monarchy, and I am excited! They already released a couple of bangers singles and absolutely over-the-top videos (in the best way possible) for Marching on Versailles and See You in Hell. However, the first sample of what was to come was I Am The Storm, with a video released in November 2018.
The whole album has a lot of fire and power. It’s bombastic and symphonic, which makes it harder to create a new and specific sound, but they managed it gracefully.
Infected Monarchy is a perfect intro, so dramatic, symphonic, and bombastic, and yet very soft. I love how there is a such a common sound and concept tying the album together.
Marching on Versailles is such a powerful anthem I can only describe it as “!!!!”. I sure am ready to follow Melissa into battle and storm Versailles (eat the rich) This was their first single and it was chosen so well because it defines the album and band and really makes a statement. I loved it. Very curious to see if any new songs will surpass it in my top.
Maleficent is a bit different, starting with a lot more focus on drums, but alternating with very soft parts where clear vocals shine. The drama of it all is still there. And by the end of the song we are treated to some growls as well “Watch me riiiiiise!” – I sure will.
See You in Hell starts so soft like a sad song I just want to wrap myself into. It just gets better and better and then bam SEE YOU IN HELL. A song for my taste. The sound is so good, Melissa absolutely shines and the lyrics are even more powerful. I mean, “Goodbye my love/ May we meet again/ Heaven is closed/ See you in hell!”. Like wow! Chills! Take a moment to take that in. I also have to mention just what a big production the video is! True dedication and investment, bringing a story to life.
I Am The Storm was the first song we heard from Ad Infinitum, with a video released a year ago. It’s a good song and definitely a good first song from a band, but it feels somehow ‘other’ to the most recent songs from the album, as it’s not as over the top with the orchestration.
Fire and Ice is a ballad that is still full of different elements and orchestration but compared to the rest of the album seems more stripped down.
Live Before You Die is back with a kick! It’s the kind of song that makes you wanna move and dance, so I think this one will be a hit live.
Revenge starts with soft keyboard and bells, but I am sure it’s not gonna last. And there it is! the orchestration growing in intensity and dramatism. I love how they know how to mix enough harsh vocals to get just the right effects. The vocals are shining loudly on top of the instrumental. However, for this album I expected more …. hatred …. from a song called Revenge.
Demons is fast-tuned, with slightly less choirs and dramatism than the rest of the album and makes even more use of harsh vocals. We even get a spoken interlude.
Tell Me Why closes the album on a softer touch, mixing “flowy” parts with more powerful ones.
All in all, this is the kind of musical content I want to hear. For a first album, this manages to create not just a specific sound but an identity for Ad Infinitum. It will also skyrocket Melissa as an absolute powerhouse vocalist! This album showcases just how much she can do and how well it all works. She can explore everything she can do, but still knows when to reign it in and not over do it, when to layer tracks and when to use harsh vocals. The instrumental also keeps up with her and helps create a magical and powerful sound.
Fans of symphonic metal will definitely run towards this album. For me, Marching on Versailles remains the absolute favourite and highlight of the album, with See You In Hell a close second. Within this genre, this will definitely be one of the best albums of the year!
I am sure it will be such a treat to hear it live. So when things calm down and we get the chance to attend concerts again, make sure to buy a ticket and go see them support Serenity, Dynazty, and Victorious!
Blazing Desert Metal descended upon Bucharest with Myrath and Eleine enchanting us for a night.
Eleine are the perfect opener for Myrath, close enough in style. After all, we do see their frontwoman, Madeleine Liljestam , in a traditional bellydance outfit. And boy does she put on a show! The songs are interesting and it makes for a nice show for those who don’t know them. Very visually pleasing. Unfortunately, the sound was quite bad, with drums cranked all the way up and vocal lines indistinguishable at times. Guitarist Rikard Ekberg deserves some praise for his really great interaction with the public.
Myrath are no strangers to Romania and they packed Quantic Club once again. This was my 4th time seeing them and I was really excited because they have been growing so much and their show has become so much more. It’s not every day that you see a band bring their own carpets and pillows on stage :))
The sound got better for their but not ideal and the lights were a real struggle for photographers, since they never actually light up Zaher and he got a bit lost behind the smoke.
Back to the good parts, the guys delivered! I truly love their attention to detail and their commitment to bring something extra and to do something special. This tour they have been bringing their producer Kevin Codfert on stage to join in on keytar (portable keyboards) for a couple of songs. They have a lovely bellydancer who just kept getting better and better throughout the show.
And as if that is not enough, they even had an illusionist! Yes, imagine floating sticks and tables and even floating Zaher!
They actually put thought into bringing props and creating interesting costumes. So glad to see men be creative about how they dress on stage and not just get away with basic tshirt and jeans combo.
But enough about that, let’s get to the music! That’s why we’re here after all. Their setlist took us through their albums, including all the well known hits such as “Tales of the Sands”, “Endure the Silence”, “Believer” and the very strong songs off their latest album which are already classics: “Dance”, “Born to Survive”, “No holding back”, “Monster in My Closet” and obviously the title song “Shehili”. Though I think I would have liked them to start with a stronger bang to match all the craziness already on stage. I have to admit I don’t know all their songs that well, but even for those I didn’t know it was such a pleasure to listen and watch!
The whole show is just such a great ride with so many things happening that make it memorable. Truly, it is an experience to take part in more than just a number of songs played. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they filled Quantic and people really joined in for the fun. They also announced that they would be coming back to Romania with their new album, so I am excited! This tour saw them go to Brasov as well, so the future looks very bright!
This Thursday evening 3 heavy metal bands played in Barba Negra, on the same day as Megadeth and Five Finger Death Punch performed in the Arena. On my way there I was wondering about how many people I will see in the venue when I arrive, but when I saw the queue around the entrance I knew this show would be sold out or at least close to it. (later I learned it was actually sold out)
Out of the three bands I was familiar with two, Battle Beast and Hammerfall, having seen each of them twice before. Based on their name < Serious Black>, I draw the conclusion that they must play in the same genre as Hammerfall and I couldn’t be more right. When I entered the venue, they were just starting the show, the sound and the image of the band was just pure heavy metal, nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes less is more. I looked around and I saw people from all ages already having the most fun, kids, teenagers, parents and even grandparents. This genre, I would say, is the one that closes the gap between generations when it comes to music preferences. The youth loved it because it was catchy, very energetic and the band really knew how to hype the crowd. On the other hand, the older generation, I guess, grew up on this exact sound and this is what they think of when they say music was better when they were younger. Of course, this was true for the whole night, not only for Serious Black. People were enjoying the opening show, they were jumping, they were clapping and singing when asked to J , but the most important part is that they were there, listening to them. We often go to events where there is considerably less people before the headliner starts and I was happy to see this was not one of those nights. Serious Black are coming back in September and I’m sure there will be many people who will join after seeing them opening for Hammerfall.
The next act on stage was Battle Beast, a band I enjoy a lot! I got into metal by listening to female fronted bands and what I like most about Battle Beast is that they are nothing like them. Not that I would not love those anymore, cause I do, but because of the surprise element they have. I guess everybody, including me expects a high pitched voice or exactly the opposite, some growls when it comes to female singers in metal bands.
Noora doesn’t meet any of those expectations, she has a very strong voice with a great amount of rasp, no opera style and none of the extreme ends of the spectrum. Hearing her is very refreshing, it feels like something new, when the genre itself is one of the oldest. Battle Beast bring an ‘80s heavy metal sound that still has a fresh vibe to it. The moment they showed up on the stage, all hands were up in the air and the venue “exploded”. They started with the opening song from their most recent album “No More Hollywood Endings”, from which they played quite a few more during the night. Song after song, people were screaming, dancing, headbanging, nobody got tired and to be honest they would not let us stop anyway. The way they interact with the crowd is next level. All the joking, funny moments, speeches between songs add more to the table than we would think. A little disco element in the songs, a little comedy never hurt nobody. After a few songs, Janne brought some disco drums <as he said> on the stage which gave a whole new atmosphere, now that was the 80s vibe we needed from them. Rock music was always about fun&games, and they did not let us forget this during the night.
After a short break Hammerfall jumped on the stage, by this time, there the venue was absolutely full, which shows that besides modern metal, there is still a huge need for simple heavy metal without adding to much extra elements to it. The instruments were loud, the singer was loud, but damn, the crowd was even louder at times. Fans were not so busy with moshing, they choose to sing from the very first song to the very last one.
It didn’t really matter which album they were playing from, fans knew the lyrics and they definitely knew how to impress the band. In between the songs, they did not stop chanting “Hammerfall”, it was very nice to see that. Besides playing a few tracks from their new release “Dominion” they did not forget to bring their classics like “Any means necessary”, “Last Man Standing” or “Hearts on fire” (probably the first Hammerfall song for 90% of the crowd). Especially on these pieces, the fans not only sang along with the band, but they were let to sing choruses and bridges alone several times. Some people prefer to hear the singer sing all the way to the end, but I think these are the moments that become unforgettable memories from a show not only for us, but for the band also. My favorite part at heavy or power metal shows is that the crowd not only sings the lyrics but they “sing” the riffs and the melodic guitar solos too. Of course, this also happened here on almost every song, which made this night a very loud and energetic one. Little kids also joined the “OoooOooo” parts and I’m sure they will remember this concert when they grow up. After “Let the Hammer Fall” the band left the stage for a few minutes. It goes without saying that fans invited them back, so they continued the set with the most successful song from the night (imo) “Hammer High”. That song is like the anthem of not only Hammerfall fans, but all heavy metal fans. It’s a classic that should be never left out of their setlist, and I’m glad they think the same way. After this bomb of a song, the new album’s “Sweden Rock” followed which got the best reaction from the crowd from all the played new songs. As for the last one, the riff of “Hearts on fire” started playing and it took us back to some childhood memories when we couldn’t wait for this song to come up on MTV.
Overall, I think this is how a tour line up has to be done. Great quality bands playing in similar subgenres, so fans can appreciate them all, no matter which band made them buy the tickets.
There’s no secret about how big of a Delain fan I am. They are bringing it every time with new albums mixing heavy songs and softer ballads, with pop and electronic influences. Their shows are always a good party. But more than anything, they are just the coolest bunch of people. So of course I jumped at the chance to ask Martijn Westerholt more about their brand new album, Apocalypse & Chill, to discuss music and life and so much more.
Simona: Congrats on the new album and the tour and everything. Something that has surprised me personally the most about it was the very techno and synth infused beginning of the album, which really was stronger than on any older material. How did that come to be?
Martijn: That’s funny because I hear that a lot. But you know, when you make music, you kind of are in your own bubble, so you don’t really notice those things. You just write a song and you go with the flow. What I do know is that we used elements we always used. However, we used more of it. I think that with the arrangements. But it’s also with Charlotte’s vocals, with the choirs, with the electronic elements, with the guitar riffs. So I think all the elements are there and it’s the same, but there’s a little bit more of everything.
Simona: Listening to the album, I realized there were a few clusters of songs in terms of sound and message. Did these come about from having different periods of writing and recording?
Martijn: You know, my role is also to be the producer. I always say, OK, I want heavy and hard songs, because those are the most difficult to write for us. The ballads and the more soft stuff comes easier. So we started with the more heavy stuff and a song like Burning Bridges, but also a song like Masters of Destiny, which is just more intense. But that’s what we started with. And in the later period, we we did more the softer stuff.
I think the time factor really did kind of separate the the style of the songs a little bit. Normally we always write in one go, and then we record in one go, the classic way of doing it. This time we split everything in pieces. So that might have helped as well.
Simona: What song from the album came together the easiest and which one gave you the most trouble?
Martijn: Masters of Destiny was really easy. I wrote the instrumental part really quickly and then I gave it to Charlotte and she gave back pretty quickly as well. Vengeance is Mine was a really hard one. Its internal structure was really hard and also with guitar riffing. It just didn’t click entirely and we worked a lot and changed a lot to make it work.
It’s funny because you can never predict when the song is easy or when the song is difficult just sometimes it just is so. Another easy song would be Ghost House Heart. I first thought it needed more flesh to the bone, but no, it doesn’t. It’s just short. People say “oh, it’s too short”, sure, but that’s kind of a compliment because it makes people hungry. But I did put it aside for a long time before finishing it and making a decision on it. The Greatest Escape was difficult because it has kind of two parts and we needed to connect them. It was kind of difficult.
Simona: When you have a song like this one and you just can’t seem to connect it, how do you get about getting through that? I wouldn’t say it’s a writer’s block, but maybe a composer’s block?
Martijn: How we work is that we have a little concept. So, for example, a verse and the chorus, or a riff and a chorus, or something like that. And we have let’s say twenty-five of those. We then sit together and say, okay, let’s work on that. I feel like working on this one, so we start working on that one. And really quickly if we try to elaborate on it and nothing comes, then we don’t even give it a chance to be finished. We just write it off. So we have songs laying around because they don’t make it. If we work on it and something comes up and there’s little more flesh to the bone, then it goes out. I often finish it with writing in little parts and then put the structure together. Sometimes I go to Timo and then we have the parts but not the structure complete, so we finish that. That’s a little bit how we work. But we don’t really have songs where we think, oh, we really want to finish it, if only we knew how. Then we just write it off and don’t give it a chance.
Simona: You don’t force it.
Martijn: No, because it has to, you know, it will sound forced.
Simona: Is there any song on the album you would’ve liked to have as a single, but it just didn’t make the cut?
Martijn: Oh that’s a good one. Yeah, that’s a good one, because I never thought about it. We kind of made four singles with One Second and with Ghost House Heart, Masters of Destiny, and Burning Bridges. But if there would be another one, one I really, really like is Creatures. Because Creatures has a very gloomy guitar riff. We called it the Amon Amarth song because of that. But at the same time it’s also not very heavy because it’s almost like The Hurricane on our previous record. It’s almost a ballad, but it has really heavy duty elements and it’s a really weird combination, and I really, really like the sound. When we play it live, it really touches me. So it wouldn’t be the first choice as a single, perhaps, but for me, it’s kind of it’s nice.Simona: I asked because sometimes some songs from different album get forgotten, or I would not say forgotten, but that they are not as highlighted.
Martijn: No, it’s true. But the good thing about that is that a lot of those songs become audience favorites when you play them live. And when it works really well, you keep playing them.
Simona: How has it been taking the album on the road with the UK tour?
Martijn: Well, I was really pleasantly surprised when we played the stuff live because they really work and that’s never a given. You know sometimes you have songs on an album which work really well in an album but not live. Sometimes it’s the other way around. We have a song, for example, Don’t let Go, which was kind of a bonus track on The Human Contradiction. But live it always creates a party and it puts a lot of energy out there. I guess that’s that’s a good example.
But I think Burning Bridges works really well. It’s really intense live. I always put a softer song after, because any song you have after will always sound less heavy than Burning Bridges itself. It will always lose, so that’s kind of funny. But so far, the crowd really likes the songs and this is a kind of surprise. Whenever you do a new song live, you know, you worked on it for a long time and then you put it up on stage for the first time. And it is a surprise if it will work. So far, yeah, really good experience with it. I’m really, really pleasantly surprised.
Simona: I know you sometimes play a couple of songs way before the album was out and showcase them. Would you ever go back and change something to the songs after their life debut?
Martijn: Yes, actually, that’s a very good question. Not a lot of people asked. We had for example for the song Turn The Lights Out and we even had it with songs in the periods of We Are The Others, where we changed Get The Devil Out Of Me, for example. We changed the entire chorus. And it’s funny because indeed sometimes when you play a song live you notice certain things. For example, that song is too fast and you make it slower, so we did that a couple times. From our debut album there’s a song called Shattered, and we almost played it faster live. And now the other way around, we played Ghost House Heart in the UK for first time and it sounded rushed. So I stretched it down with a couple BPMs. And now it sounds better. It’s really funny.
Simona: Now that we talk about like creating the music and presenting it live, how separate is art from entertainment in your view? Not just for you in Delain, but in general.
Martijn: That’s a that’s a difficult question. I think it will offend people but I will say that I think that art is entertainment, but entertainment sounds a little bit too light for some art. Do you know what I mean? But in general, art is to amaze or inspire people, or make people think. And to me, that’s kind of what makes life interesting and does entertaining. The word entertainment is almost like Bugs Bunny with a hat.
With our music, what I sometimes struggle with is that, for me, a show is successful when people will go crazy and the roof blows off, so to say. But there are also people who don’t really express themselves like that and just stand there and take the music in and enjoy it just as much, only it’s more difficult to see. Sometimes I kind of measure the success to the amount of intensity I get back from the crowd. But that’s not always trustworthy. So, to say, OK, we need more “party” is not always good, because some songs are too serious for party in our genre. That’s kind of always a little bit of a struggle. Therefore, in a sense, I also kind of make this sequence of the setlist and I’ve tried to make a flow in that. We start with the big bang and then we have some serious songs. And then in the last part of the set we go to the party songs. So there’s kind of a flow in the set and that’s what I’ve tried to do.
Simona: With The Gathering and Don’t Let Go.
Martijn: Exactly, We’ve never played The Gathering as a first song.
Simona: Too much :)) people would then be able to handle it.
Martijn: No, you’re just sober or something, you know?
Simona: What was the first time you thought of yourself as an artist?
Martijn: Oooh, sometimes I still don’t think of myself as an artist. That’s a good question, when did I think of myself as an artist? I think when I played live with Within Temptation on Dynamo, where we had the backstage pass say “no artists, just talent”. And I thought of what it said, just talents. Like, oh yeah, so I’m regarded as an artist. But I don’t know if I see myself as an artist. Good question. I’m not usually thinking like that for myself.
I also remember that people can look at you differently when they know you are an artist or make music. People experience a bit of magic. I also have that with … let’s say Star Trek. I love Star Trek very much. I am Trekkie. Definitely. That’s magic. But if you meet an actor like that in real life, that magic is kind of gone. You know what I mean? That is how people approach me and I think and like unjust human being. But for them, it’s a special moment. I don’t want to take the special moments away from them. Those are special moments, to see how your music touches people. I mean, what bigger compliment can you get. That’s really beautiful.
Simona: Finding out those are just actors or musicians is the best case scenario. There is reason why we have a saying “never meet your heroes”.
Martijn: Its funny. For example, Tuomas Holopainen is a good friend of mine. And when I met him for the first time, I was like “I’m a really big fan of your music” and he said “no, I’m a really big fan of your music”. And that was so weird.
Simona: Like the Spiderman meme.
Martijn: Yeah, really funny. And at some point, he said, for example, I don’t want to meet Hans Zimmer. He had a couple of moments when he could meet Hans Zimmer. The reason he didn’t want to meet him is that he wants to keep that magic there.
Simona: Are you personally an Apocalypse& Chill kind of person or are you more worried than cynical?
Martijn: I’m actually an optimist. Also, when I look at the world Apocalypse& Chill for me is not judging. It’s more like observing. It’s just very interesting to see the two worlds. One, like, for example, the social media, where you see really awesome pictures of people’s lives, where it looks really cool. On the other hand, there are always articles where you see Australia on fire or California. And it’s the same world, which is kind of fascinating. It goes without saying that I don’t like it with when forests or houses or things are on fire. Not at all. It’s terrible. And I’m kind of worried about global warming, which I think it’s scary. But then again, I am also very optimistic because the best feature of the of the human race is that it’s so adaptive. There’s not a single specie on here which is as adaptive as the human race. I kind of have faith that we will solve it. I hope so, at least. That’s more who I am.
Simona: Are there still any music acts you’re excited to see?
Martijn: Oh, yeah. Rammstein. That’s a big experience and I am always excited to see them life. Nightwish is another example, but that’s more because I know them personally and I like the people very much. And I love the music, but it’s more of a weird position. The same is with Within Temptation. I’m so excited to see them, but that’s family and I want them to have success. But also Sabaton, for example. I really admire how those guys build their bands and what kind of spectacle they make. And I’m a history addict, I love history. They are very much about military history, which I find very interesting. So, yeah, I am excited about it.
Simona: Lastly, what are your best tips and the words of wisdom when it comes to traveling?
Martijn: Well, I think you get life experience when you travel because you see how other people live. And if don’t only go to the tourist places, but also go where the tourists are not and try to soak in that place and the space, it just keeps you life experience. I don’t have a phrase for it.
Simona: It’s called going off the beaten path.
Martijn: Yeah. I am totally with that. Absolutely.