Anti Flag came back to Finland after 5 years since their last visit, which was the summer festival Ruisrock, and although the band has been constantly touring and releasing records, for some reason it took 5 years for them to return here. Luckily for the fans, the band decided to play a gig in Helsinki for their “American Spring” tour. Joining them in this night, and during their European tour, was The Homeless Gospel Choir.
Just a bit after 21o’clock, with people still getting inside Tavastia, Derek Vanetti, aka The Homeless Gospel Choir, got on stage. Not everybody knew what to expect for this gig, mainly because just a few people knew what kind of music or who was The Homeless Gospel Choir. I have to say that at first I thought it was a bit of an odd choice because I knew it wasn’t going to be a full band playing live and loud, just one man singing and playing accoustic guitar. Fortunately, the whole gig was a pleasant surprise. It didn’t matter the fact the crowd weren’t familiar with his songs, people seemed to enjoy this folk punk accoustic set.
It felt like a close and intimate gig between friends, which actually suited well as an opening act for Anti Flag. From his tributes to Freddie Mercury to his protest songs (and there were many according to him), Derek Vanetti definitely got a lot of fans after his 45 minute performance.
Now with Tavastia almost full, Anti Flag hit the stage and vocalist/guitarist Justin Sane screamed the first verses of “Turncoat” and from then on the whole place just went crazy. The fans during the whole gig were singing along with the band through their old catalogue: “Fuck Police Brutality”, “I’d tell you but…”, “Power to the Peaceful”, “This is the End (For You My Friend)”, and the more recent tunes like “Fabled World”, “Sky is Falling”, “All of the Poison, All of the Pain” and “Broken Bones”. As expected, during the fast paced “This Machine Kills Fascists”, there was a big circle pit that kept everybody moving.
The whole band was on fire, whether it’s a club show or a festival, Anti Flag knows how to get the whole crowd amped up even after 20 years of existence. After the more “calm” moments of “1 Trillion Dollars” and “Walk Away”, they finished the first part of the night with “The Press Corpse” and one of their most heaviest and fast songs: “Death of a Nation”.
They came back with “Hymn for the Dead”, a song that has a lot of different layers on the studio version, but live has a more stripped down vibe, and then the simple, but insane, “Fuck the Flag”, which always works well live. The band thanked the crowd and welcomed on stage Derek Vanetti to sing with them “Brandenburg Gate”, which originally has Tim Armstrong (Rancid) singing along vocalist/bassist Chris #2. This was another highlight of the gig, everybody together in arms singing with them.
To close this incredible night, they played another fan favorite: “Die for the Government”, and towards the end of the song the band stopped in order for drummer Pat to get parts of his drum set in the middle of the crowd, and Chris #2 joined him standing and singing on top of the bass drum. This is something that the band has been doing for sometime now live and many have seen before, but it didn’t diminish the impact. This very moment was the embodiment of unity, it represented perfectly the whole feeling of tonight’s gig, a sense of camaraderie among band and the everybody who came to Tavastia. On top of that, they still played another one, “Drink Drank Punk”, which closed their set.
Tonight reafirmed to those that haven’t seen Anti Flag live in many years as one of the best live bands. Just hope that they won’t take another 5 years to come back to Finland to play.
ANTI FLAG SET LIST:
Turncoat Fabled World Fuck Police Brutality I’d Tell You But… Sky is Falling Broken Bones All of the Poison, All of the Pain This is the End (For You My Friend) Power to the Peaceful This Machine Kills Fascists 1 Trillion Dollars Walk Away The Press Corpse Death of a Nation
Hymn for the Dead Fuck the Flag Brandenburg Gate Die for the Government Drink Drank Punk
The mighty Jalometalli Open Air Metal festival strikes once again with a killer killer line-up to maintain the loyal to the metal. The festival is known for relying on offering everything from traditional metal to extreme metal. Above all, it is also the classic names who have never ever visited Finland before that make this special. The legendary Teatria club is now history as it was torn down. The last year’s event was arranged in the parking lot of a big sport hall. Fortunately the organization of the Jalometalli festival decided to return the festival to its original place named Kuusisaari.
Once again the Metal Rules team hit the ground of Oulu to witness several absolutely killer bands. The whole Jalometalli festival is so unique and one of a kind that anyone reading this article should take a glance at the offering of the festival. Here is a brief article on the fest. So the time had come all of us to leave bitter sweet farewells to the old venue where we have enjoyed great music and great company throughout the years.
The domestic dance metal wonder Battle Beast kicked the set off. It was quite a clever trick from the organization to place Battle Beast to be an opening act of the fest. The band pulled a nice crowd to the open field. Battle Beast’s frontlady knows how to entertain and encourage the audience go beserk and above all have some fun. Battle Beast offered a solid set of the best of their songs.
Local Encrypted was advertised to play some kind of technical death metal so I was pretty disappointed to hear something resembling more modern thrash than, let’s say, old Atheist. Fortunately they did play some deathier stuff as well with some bass wankery but in the end this was not anywhere near my cup of tea, too young boys influenced by some new dull stuff. I don’t even remember when there was actually an interesting tech death hailing from Finland. But did I catch that this was their last gig ever? It’s good to quit when you are on top, right?
Sotajumala has been gigging several domestic metal bands during this summer. Why now as the new album titled Rauniossa (In The Ruins) by Sotajumala offers a brutal slab of the barbaric and raw death metal at its best. Sotajumala has proved to be one hell of strike on every gig, therefore Jalometalli was no exception. The five piece’s raw and uncompromising delivery left no wondering, instead the audience turned to be utter beserks. The vocalist Mynni usually expresses the standpoint of his own on what he things about issues, this time the crap religion, the islam, got mugshot from the vocalist and the audience cheered….
Hell led by Andy Sneap has been a constant visitor in Finland during the past few years. The band has rehearsed all the manners and performance with the tight. Hell’s old school metal with the modern sound grip is a perfect example of when the old school British heavy metal meets the modern day approach. The frontman’s theatrical manners and acting gave the more showman feeling and skills of his roles as the essential part of the whole HELL concept. Unfortunately Hell is not able to drag the whole theatrical visualistic arsenal to blow the stage up. Anyway the mandatory whipping session was there. All in all witnessing Hell in a more club with the gear would be the welcomed choice after.
I’ve been seeing Obscure Burial too many times already in recent couple years but I must say that these guys usually deliver the goods and so did they now. They didn’t attract that much audience in Jalometalli but we the luck few we’re treated with the black mass of robust death/black/whatever in the oldest of veins. Guys have some good hooks and riffs in their stuff and it’s rejuvenating to hear something so ancient but still fresh that it’s hard to put any tag on it. This is just metal as it’s best.
The legendary British metal squad Satan got re-activated a few years back and released the highly acclaimed album Life Sentence and will be putting out the fourth album Atom By Atom. Well the old school metal with all these extreme bands sounded the welcomed choice for sure. The classic sounds with the catchy riffs is all about what the true metal is supposed to sound. The five piece may turn out to be a bit too old for the younger generation, but it got hammered more than well to the kids. Oh by the way the frontman Brian Ross made a visit to the mighty Jalometalli a few years ago with another highly respected British heavy metal band Blitzkrieg.
Wengele (or Mengele/Insomnia as they were know back in the day) has not been doing much since their demo in 2004 but they really should. They kick ass live and even their ‘new’ material (from that 2004 demo) is pretty solid and doesn’t stick out in a bad way. But classics are classics and boy they sound good. I might be biased as a Jääli native myself but Mengele in it’s prime was one of the greatest thrash band from Finland and they still are.
CRADLE OF FILTH
If Cradle Of Filth didn’t get that highly and desperately wanted action in the audience at Wacken, but instead the Finnish audience appeared to be more appreciate toward COF. Obviouslty the frontman Dani Filth got some technical problems with the wireless system, as keeping communicating with a technician several times. However COF is either liked or disliked, but judging by the reaction of the audience, COF got the full good enjoyment back from the audience. The setlist was a basic dissection of the long career of Cradle Of Filth, should it be said Dani Filth’s. However songs had been picked up from eight album. All in all solid and routine gig from Dani and his backup forces.
The newest output by Stargazery called Star Aligned came out of blue for sure – featuring the astonishing and outstanding traditional melodic heavy metal songs. Therefore witnessing Stargazery on the stage was on the “must see” list. The band’s strong sounding melodic heavy metal sounded splendid with an awesome vocalist (having toured with Michael Schenker btw). Those ones looking for the real heavy metal without any mandatory power metal nuances, Stargazery is an obvious choice for sure.
Simpy put, Obituary ruled. Heavy and thick as hell, Jalometalli has seldomly had this perfect sound. After petty clowns of Cradle of Filth and other weak so-called metal acts of the earlier day, Obituary’s relentless slab of pure unadulterated Florida death metal was a blessing, like an oasis in the desert. The new stuff is pretty decent actually, probably best material they put out since the days of World Demise. But of course Obituary is made of from really simple ingredients, but it’s ok for a while the gig usually last. It’s good to degenerate to this primal level once in a while.
Describing the stuff played by Alfahanne aint’t that easy. it could be a a hybrid mix of black metal meets the rocking elements. being on the stage the band is definitely unpredictable and capricious. BUT Were these guys of Alfahanne in mess or something cos the whole gig looked more like out of control. The gig was pretty chaotic and hassling. Not even sure if they filled the full playing time cos the band stormed off the stage without any warning …
Saxon is an institution that is always pleasure to witness on stage but Jalometalli’s gig showcased that for a casual listener, their material is a bit uneven. The classics in the end of the setlist were awesome but the new stuff sounded bit uninspired. So it seems to be with almost every veteran band so it’s not only Saxon that should stick with the old ones. (The Inner Sanctum from 2007 had some pretty wicked stuff though) Biff Byford has this unfakeable charisma of legendary heavy metal front men so whatever Saxon actually plays, the band is still a treat to watch and hear. And when they play their “best of” stuff, there’s not many heavy metal bands that can even touch that level of quality. Andy Sneap of Hell (and others) joined the band to play on one song, a cool extra feature.
JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES
For me, Jess and the Ancient Ones lacks soul. For me they sound like an attempt to milk the Zeitgeist from bunch of experienced metal musicians. They are too nice and safe when compared with the vivid and raw imagination of bands they draw from. That said, their gig reminded me from the glory days of Qstock, a festival happening in the same place, and especially the gig of Swedish Witchcraft there. Kuusisaari’s paviljonki is a splendid place to end a festival day with some retro sounds and packed, sweaty atmosphere. Looking the audience, I was pretty much alone with my skeptical attitude as singer Jess ruled the house with her presence.
The Finnish speed/thrash youngesters Lost Society have proved to be one hell of storm on the stage with the insane driving force. The gig at Jalometalli wasn’t any exception as to being totally out of control. The guys with the relentless passion and attitude thrashed the whole set throughout with the incredible rage. Even the playing was the second thing compared to their ultimate hassling. Even though a bit in the controlling may be needed for guys to gasp for some air.
The Domestic old school reindeer thrash metal patrol A.R.G got activated a few years back and unleashed the brutal thrashing. The old thrashers unleashed the blistering extra vaganza thrash metal set by offering a great deal of the classic ones of their own. There was no extra bullshit talking chitchat between songs, instead the four piece thrash tornado pushed with the full force ahead.
Annihilator has been crisscrossing Europe at several festivals. The Canucks managed to make it to Finland on the hectic schedule. When following Jeff Waters’ performace with the back-up forces, it couldn’t help thinking if Waters had been a vocalist since the beginning of the reincarnation of Annihilator and been a singer on every album. Annihilator might be in a different position such as Megadeth, whose frontman is recognized as the leader of the outfit. Plagued by several line-up changes and hassles Waters has taken the vocalist role over again. The four piece sounded tight and well trained, but nailed the songs with the tight playing. Even though Padden is no longer involved in Annihilator, Waters’ role as a real frontman is obvious. Despite that Waters aint that great singer. As a matter of fact Waters should have been singing since the first album to avoid all these line-up hassles.
The two men Inquisition have gained the deserved reputation during the past few years. The band has been gigging damn effectively all around. That has paid a lot as Inquisition got extremely great respond from the audience. The Frontman Dagon easily conquered the stage with the strong charisma and above all performance. Inquisition hammered the audience down by doing the intensive set of the grim sounding vicious black metal.
Candlemass without the primusmotor of the band Leif Edling sounds odd for sure. However the former Grave bassist had been recruited to take over Edling’s spot on the stage. However Edling is supposed to return back to the rank after solving the health problems. As for the set, well it has to be admitted Mats Leven is a fantastic singer, not the voice of Candlemass at all and the characteric one like the previous most wellknown singer. The set consisted of several Candlemass classic tunes. Despite the line-up has gone radical changes, something was missing from the playing though the gig sounded solid
The Swedish Tribulation is kind of odd band as the band dress up as some kind of eerie black metal, but instead the stuff is more melancholic dark metal with the obvious black metal references. That kind of stuff of Tribulation would need more darkened atmosphere in a grim club rather than an open door festival. Tribulation delivered the dismal set of the dark/blackish metal with a certain touch.
Dark Tranquillity offered a solid and quaranteed melodeathwhatevermetalgothenburg sounding metal – pretty sterile- nothing surprise. However the frontman Mikael Stanne is a great vital frontman taking the audience more than well. As for the material, well the set was a nice balance of songs from several albums. Basically it was kind of best of set from Dark Tranquillity to offer and pleased both the old and new fans.
The Finnish death/Doom metal squad Hooded Menace concluded the two day Jalometalli festival. The Deadly doomesters in an indoor club offered the lethal doom stuff with the slow heavy grip throughout the whole show. The band’s doomy riffs sounded bombastic and brutal.
Vivaldi Metal Project signs with Pride & Joy Music label; album is to be released in May 2016
Pride & Joy Music has announced the signing of the Vivaldi Metal Project.
The VIVALDI METAL PROJECT is an all-star metal project conceived and created by keyboardist, arranger, composer and producer maestro Mistheria (Bruce Dickinson, Rob Rock, Roy Z, etc.) together with bassist, composer and co-producer Alberto Rigoni. The aim of the project is to arrange and perform a metal version of Antonio Vivaldi’s legendary Baroque masterwork “THE FOUR SEASONS”.
The duo already has started to work on this project in late 2013 together and since then gathered more than 70 musicians from over the world plus the ”Sinfonietta Consonus Orchestra” and the ”Academic Choir Manolov’ to take part in this mammoth project. The recordings will soon be completed and the release is planned for late May 2016. More news on this will follow.
The cast includes performances by Rick Wakeman (YES), Mark Boals (Malmsteen / Ring of Fire), Edu Falaschi (Angra / Almah), Michael Lepond (SymphonyX), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire / Angra), Rob Rock (Impellitteri), Dani Loeble (Helloween), John Macaluso (ARK), Marco Sfogli (J. LaBrie), Andreas Passmark (Royal Hunt), Chris Caffery (Trans Siberian Orchestra / Savatage), Steve Di Giorgio (Testament), Atma Anur (T. MacAlpine, G. Howe), Tommy Denander (Radioactive / Toto), Mark Cross (Scorpions / Firewind), Sean Tibbetts (Kamelot), Mark Wood (Trans Siberian Orchestra), Roger Staffelbach (Artension), Anna Portalupi (Tarja Turunen), Milan Polak, Victor Smolski (Almanac) and many more.
Mistheria says: “It has been a big challenge for the project creators and for all the participants to re-arrange and to perform this classic masterpiece beloved by millions people all over the globe in the vein of metal music power. It took about 1.5 years to form a cast of top rock and metal singers and instrumentalists. And finally recordings now have been almost completed after a full year of working on arrangements by a strong international arrangers’ team from several countries.”
PRIDE & JOY MUSIC is a new rock, blues & metal label based in Ascheberg, Germany. Founded in early 2015 by Birgitt Schwanke, owner of the established PR agency GerMusica, former owner of Rock It! magazine and co-owner of the Yesterrock label.
The physical distribution for PRIDE & JOY MUSIC will be handled by one of Germany’s biggest independent distributors EDEL.
In promotion of his current sophomore album release “Brand New Revolution”, Ozzy Osbourne / FIREWIND guitarist GUS G. has just wrapped up a massive touring run, both supporting Kamelot and then successfully hosting guitar clinics all over Europe.
GUS G. is launching a new promotional clip for the album track “What Lies Below”, which features Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) on vocals. The stunning video-clip was once again shot by longtime visual design partner / director Patric Ullaeus (In Flames, Arch Enemy, Within Temptation, etc.) and can be seen here: https://youtu.be/kS-PLcAvuhk
In addition to further solo shows throughout the end of this year, GUS G. has now also revealed that his long-running melodic Metal band FIREWIND is finally returning to the spotlight with a new singer and selected live-activity in 2016. Henning Basse (Metalium / Sons Of Seasons), who had already toured with FIREWIND on various continents in 2007 as well as most recently with GUS G.’s solo-band, has been announced as new permanent singer for FIREWIND and will therefore be appearing on the band’s upcoming performances at the 70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise as well as Graspop Metal Meeting next year.
Leaves’ Eyes have become well known for their epic, Norse themed take on symphonic metal. Prior to their London show, we had the chance for an impromptu interview with Liv Kristine, one of metal’s most influential women. We talked about conquering the UK and Harald Fairhair’s link with the British Isles, balancing musicianship with family life, the golden era of gothic metal and her upcoming solo tour with special guest and former bandmate, Raymond Rohonyi of Theatre of Tragedy.
TONIGHT, Nov. 25th 2015, Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan and drummer Gregg Bissonette will reunite at Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood, California, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of David Lee Roth’s Eat ‘Em and Smile album with a one-time-only show.
They’ll be joined by guest vocalist Ralph Saenz, also known as Steel Panther’s Michael Starr.
The show is free, and it’ll kick off 8:30 p.m. It will mark the first time in 30 years that Vai, Sheehan and Bissonette have played together. They’ll be recreating music from the 1986 album and tour.
Eat ‘Em and Smile was the first of two Roth albums to feature Vai and Sheehan.
This show is part of “Ultimate Jam Night,” a series of free performances that take place Wednesdays at Lucky Strike Live. This particular “Ultimate Jam Night” certainly lives up to its name.
The 30th Anniversary of the EAT EM’ and SMILE BAND” featuring STEVE VAI, BILLY SHEEHAN, and GREGG BISSONETTE along with guest vocalist RALPH SAENZ (“Michael Starr” of Steel Panther)
The Ultimate Revenge of Heavy Metal Festival is a two-day indoor festival held in Nosturi. Nosturi is a concert venue in Helsinki’s Hietalahti district.
At a capacity of 900, Nosturi is an attractive venue for major acts domestic and international. Its shows are open to people of all ages, access the to bar area being restricted to adults of legal drinking age (18+).
Tickets from Lippupalvelu.fi for 46 € / 2-day ticket and 27 € / 1-day ticket + handling & postage fee. Tickets from www.Lippupalvelu.fi
Brooklyn has always been a sort of underground Mecca for the New York Heavy Metal scene. And where many New York City music venues have been forced to fold their doors in the face of ever increasing financial pressures from an over-expanding city, Saint Vitus has remained a stronghold to some of the biggest underground names in metal. Revolver Magazine was welcomed by the bar to host an issue release party featuring the likes of Act of Defiance and Allegaeon, with local supporters InAeona. Act of Defiance fans arrived early for the potential chance to see and meet the band, who set up like almost any locals at the venue, but with big league lore and professionalism obviously under their belts.
As many Act of Defiance fans already know, former Megadeth members Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover formed Act of Defiance in 2014 after a six and ten year tenure in Megadeth respectively. With fifteen stops made prior to the November 13th date at St. Vitus, Act of Defiance’s tour was just a little over the halfway mark for their 2015 North American leg. At around 9PM, people began to pour into the back of Saint Vitus where the stage area is located to catch the opening performance by metal band InAeona hailing from Boston, MA. The first band delivered a moody and dark, heavy set with fog and strobe lighting from the venue that drew the initial crowd of thirty to fifty supporters to the front of the stage. By the end of their set, even more people packed into the venue and stood waiting for remaining acts to hit the stage next.
Melodic death metal band Allegaeon from Denver, CO are quite the interesting group of musicians who have come together and been delivering their own special blend of modern progressive and Death Metal since 2008. Current lead vocalist Riley McShane, who stepped in for former Allegaeon singer Ezra Haynes while the band was still just recently on tour, took to the stage with energy reminiscent of the power the band had possessed since the early days. Stomping and failing his arms from side to side and using the entirety of the stage available, McShane growled away at lyric after lyric to songs like, “Secrets of Sequence” and himself built the pit forward for a crowd that ended up sticking around till the very end of the show. With a very technical style of death metal and uniquely heavy hitting stage presence, Allegaeon provided fans with a perpetual fit of head banging and auditory carnage, seasoning the crowd for headliners Act of Defiance. During their final song, a member of the tour in an insanely awesome red crab costume joined the band on stage to close out the set, finalizing the cheers and laughter from an already pumped audience.
As the lights began to dim for Act of Defiance, fans approached the stage to root themselves in the front row before anyone else could attempt to intrude on this incredibly intimate performance. At approximately 10:30PM the stage lit, and the venue hooted and hollered as lead vocalist Henry Derek Bonner, bassist Matt Bachand, guitarist Chris Broderick, and drummer Shawn Drover took their appropriate places. The band opened their set with their single “Disastrophe” from their new album titled Birth and the Burial. Formerly of the band Shadows Fall, Matt Bachand laid intense eyes upon the audience while playing to album single “Deadstare”.
Bonner maintained his “in your face” stage presence with powerful screams for every song while giving the audience money shot photos. Although the stage was small, Chris Broderick moved across the stage with dexterity to give fans on each side an up close performance of his guitar solos and riffs. With a few stick tricks during the set, Shawn Drover’s playing came crashing through the speakers with expert tempo and bass so forcefully that the rest of AoD periodically glanced in his direction with approving nods and head banging.
Spread across the wall behind them hung their banner with the Act of Defiance band logo as they cordially and impressively covered every song on their debut album for their set list. The final couple of songs created a circle pit of fans that shoved wildly around, one man emerging with blood pouring down from his nose across their mouth and shirt, just to illustrate how intense and wild Act of Defiance’s new album sounds live, especially in a medium sized venue.
AoD ended their set with their single titled “Throwback” with Broderick slinging a different guitar over his shoulder to play on. The guys spent ample time mingling and taking pictures with their fans after their set, and couldn’t have been more courteous with their time. The night was truly one to celebrate for underground metal.
I had the great opportunity to talk to Undersmile mid-day, half-drunk at Damnation Festival 2015 at Leeds University Student’s Union building after their gig. They were kind enough to come to the interview as the band. I had a great time chatting with them, and they gave a great performance at Damnation Festival. More on the gig and more performance shots in the festival review! If you haven’t checked Undersmile out yet, go do it now! They released a new album this April, Anhedonia via Blackbow Records. Here’s the gist of what we talked!
Olly Corona-Brown, bass
Taz Corona-Crown, guitars and vocals
Tom McKibbin, drums
Hel Sterne, guitars and vocals
Thank you very much for the concert. You opened the Electric Amphetamine stage. How was it you think? How was the experience?
Hel: It was great, wasn’t it? We could hear really well, and that’s always a bonus because that means…
Tom: You can hear!
Hel: The room was full of energy.
Taz: It was really full. It was a quite nice surprise. We were expecting one or possibly two.
Tom: I managed to break my snare in the first song, and I had to do two songs with a broken snare.
Taz: When something happens, we don’t know how to do banter, so we just stand there.
Hel: ‘Two men walk into a bar’, that’s as far as I go.
Tom: Yeah, we’re going to have to stand here in silence.
Taz: Olly can actually do jokes, so next time… Apart from the broken snare, it was good.
Tom: I thought it sounded good with a broken snare.
Taz: Often we play and you just can’t hear anything, you can’t hear your amp.
Olly: It was great too, everyone [the technical crew] helped. It’s not like a bar gig.
Tom: It was quite stress-free. It was nice to play here.
Taz: We wanted to, for a while, so it’s fun.
Damnation 2015 – Undersmile
Have you given concerts in the North before?
Tom: Leeds is probably the city we played the most up North. We have a lot of friends here like Wizard’s Beard and various others.
Taz: We always enjoy playing in the North. There’s a good scene.
Tom: Really dedicated.
Hel: We did have to wake up at 6.30 this morning, which we didn’t like with pouring rain all the way.
I know Anhedonia was released fairly recently, but is there anything new in the works?
Tom: We are putting together another album for our other band Coma Wall, so the songs are all written, we are just going to start demoing them, sort of hopefully next week.
Taz: Yep, that’s sort of taking precedent at the moment, because we released an album [with Undersmile] fairly recently, as for Coma Wall, we’ve been waiting to release an album since nearly Hel and I started writing songs together really, nearly 10 years ago.
Hel: Yeah, it was a long time ago. We were sidetracked with Undersmile, and then we just kept saying we have to get this music out, and it’s just going to wait and wait, and now it’s just gotten to a point where it just needs to… We need an album.
Taz: We have focused on Undersmile for quite a long time, haven’t we? So we are ready to do something different for a short amount of time, but we’ve already got plans [for Undersmile], but they’re secret!
Tom: There’s something cool going on next year.
Taz: And then also for future recordings, we’ve got a devious plan!
Hel: I don’t remember that one.
Taz: I’ll tell you later.
Tom: So Coma Wall is definitely next.
Hel: Oh, I remember now.
Taz: Yeah, it’s good. We’re writing a lot of acoustic, sort of murder ballads and things.
Are you doing a tour right now for Anhedonia?
Taz: We’re just doing a few gigs at the moment. But next we’ll hopefully do something more.
Tom: Yeah, we’ve got a gig in two weeks [21st November, The Arena, Rainbow Venues w/ Conan, The Wounded Kings, Slabdragger, and Torpor] in Birmingham, which is a memorial gig for our friend Paul from Grimpen Mire who passed away. And we’re playing New Year’s eve in London [31 December, The Unicorn, w/ Monarch, Birushanah, Ghold, and Torpor].
Taz: We’re looking to both really.
Hel: Because generally New Year’s Eve sucks.
Taz: We just sit at home and cry.
Tom: But hopefully next year, we’ll try and go to Europe. It’s just we’ve never been before, so that’ll be good.
Hel: We enjoy the hospitality of Europe. When we did Roadburn, it was just great. We got the taste for it then.
You played two sets in Roadburn, right? How was that? That must be exhausting!
Taz: It was!
Tom: It was all in day as well.
Hel: We were knackered before we even left, god knows when, like four in the morning. We drove to Calais, and then over, and then Holland, and we got there, played Coma Wall, got lost and just wandered around for a while. We had six hours in between [sets]. I had a nap and I drooled on myself to the extend of ‘I can’t wear this dress’ and then I was just ‘I’m going to have wear it, oh nevermind!’. It was disgusting!
Tom: It was actually fantastic.
Hel: It was really good, but before we went on, who was it…
Taz: I can’t remember who it was.
Olly: Black Anvil!
Hel: Black Anvil played and the whole stage was just covered in blood. The microphones they stunk. We thought it might be fake, it was not. It was pig’s blood or chicken’s blood or something.
Taz: The sound man said: ‘don’t touch these microphones! It’s disgusting!’
All: Yeah, apart from that it was great.
Taz: Such an honour for us to play there! There’s no better honour really, they were lovely to work with.
Tom: It would be great to get a call to come back.
Taz: Yeah! Any time! We’ll make ourselves available!
Back to Anhedonia, I think the new album is much cleaner in terms of sound, was that a conscious choice? Are you going more towards a low rock or post-metal style?
Taz: It’s really hard to say whether something’s conscious or not, because we write, me and Hel mostly, in a subconscious way, so things evolve but not in a conscious way. We don’t sit down and have a band meeting about it and say we’re going to this style. It’s kind of beyond that.
Hel: Yeah, we don’t sit down and say ‘Right, now we’re going to write this or that’. We just write them and because we’ve known each other for so long, we’re on this kind of… We have psychic thing going on. We know what each other is thinking, and so we just do it.
Taz: We’ve never done that in this band, that’s why you can hear change with each album, because we don’t set ourselves a framework to work in.
Hel: And then Tom and Olly, they just intuitively know what we’re doing as well. We don’t tell them, they just do it.
Taz: All of us just fall into our own little role in our band.
Tom: We try not to repeat ourselves, so this was a nice change to have the more dynamic sound. The next thing we might do; I don’t know what it’ll be. We’ve got a couple of ideas. We’re just trying to change it up.
Olly: You want to do things differently you know. You don’t want to keep repeating, playing the same album couple of times.
Tom: And people have followed us through the change, which was cool.
Olly: But the tone of it [Anhedonia], I wouldn’t say is very different.
Taz: You can still tell it’s us I think, Narwhal was like an onslaught of noise, and maybe we just naturally arrived to a point where we wanted to step that back a bit.
Hel: And I think what happened was when we did Anhedonia, people said ‘you’re going the Coma Wall thing’ but Coma Wall came first anyway, so we were already creating that music, we just decided to use it more and that was quite liberating as well after Narwhal.
Taz: I enjoy playing things with a shift of dynamics, I enjoy the quiet and then… And I suppose as well, we are all kind of huge fans of 90s grunge bands, there’s always going to be that element. We got compared to some of our absolute heroes for this album, which was an honour.
Tom: You get compared to bands like Mogwai…
Taz: You can’t even imagine that in your dream really, so that wasn’t the intention.
Hel: I only started listening to Mogwai after we were likened to them, and I was like ‘Oh my god, they’re amazing! I really like this’. It was a huge honour.
Taz: Yeah, it was not a conscious thing, if anything we were channelling other bands like Harvey Milk, and things like that. Codeine as well.
Olly: Pet Shop Boys.
Taz: Olly always likes to tell Pet Shop Boys.
Tom: Frankie Goes to Hollywood or Huey Lewis and the News.
Hel: It’s the underpinning really. It’s very subtle.
Taz: If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t exist. If it wasn’t for them, no one would exist.
Damnation 2015 – Undersmile
This is a hard question, but I like asking it anyway. How would you rate Anhedonia amongst your own work?
Olly: I think it’s the best.
Tom: I think it’s the best.
Taz: I think it’s the best. It sounds such an asshole thing to say but it’s the one where I am actually like: ‘I think we did quite well’.
Hel: I think there’s a reason for that. This was the one time we decided we were going to not do all these others, because you know we love doing collaborations and stuff, and we were asked to do something for Cvlt Nation with Black Flag. We decided that we have to just focus for once.
Taz: We always do so many projects.
Hel: It’s hard to focus, and we are always very busy. So this time we were able to focus and we took our time on it.
Taz: We normally have to go in the studio we are like still writing that last song, whereas this time we knew them inside out before.
Tom: We booked the studio time six months in advance, so we knew we had six months to be completely ready, and we were.
Hel: And this is the first ever, isn’t it?
Taz: The only time!
Hel: That’s why we are so pleased with this album.
Taz: We haven’t recorded like [4 days in a row] before too. We went to Skyhammer four days.
Olly: Chris Fielding recorded it. He’s amazing. He notices stuff you don’t even realise like intonation. He has a great ear.
Taz: He overrode our tuners.
Olly: We mixed in 16 hours, one 16-hour session.
Hel: I got auditory hallucinations, I kept hearing seagulls.
Taz: No one should have to listen to us for 16 hours! That’s fair on anyone! I think one day at Skyhammer you [Hel] and I played guitar for like 12 hours, and that was definitely pushing boundaries of what’s acceptable. After a while, you don’t know what you’re doing anymore.
Hel: Taz got pissed off and kicked a door!
Tom: We’ve all kicked a door in our time.
Taz: There were all these chickens and rabbits there as well, which made things all a bit easier.
Olly: And you’re spending your own money as well, it’s not like the label’s going to pay for you.
Tom: You’ve got to work hard!
Taz: Chris was working until 3 in the morning without complaining.
Tom: To answer your question, Anhedonia is our best album!
The line that ends Anhedonia is ‘I don’t feel anything really’, which sounds quite appropriate. Who writes the lyrics, is it collaborative?
Taz: Hel and I write them. Yes. Yea… I can’t really. If you ever want to make us shut up, just ask us about our lyrics.
Olly: They’re quite personal, aren’t they?
Taz: I kind of feel like almost sometimes, we don’t know where they come from, and perhaps afterwards you might read them and just go ‘Oh that was about that’ but you didn’t even know [when you were writing], just comes out in a stream of consciousness. Sometimes, it’s just a feeling, sometimes it’s about something.
Hel: Sometimes they are, but sometimes they are just coming out. And also we’ve had things in the past, they come through dreams as well. Like you go into different brain wavelengths, so a lot of stuff comes from there. We’re like pen and paper besides the bed, because that’s when you just got to get it done immediately. There were where I had like whole orchestral sounds, but I didn’t even have a clue how to transcribe that. And then being like ‘you’ve lost that piece of music’.
Taz: It’s like you’re humming a tune to your phone at 3am. It’s still better than nothing. You have that melody in your head. It doesn’t leave you alone until you’ve recorded it basically.
Hel: So we quite often feel busy by having to do these daily, mother-y chores, and work and this and that, and you’ve got a riff in your head, and you go like ‘right, now I’ve got to go to work!’, and you’re like ‘no! Fuck off! I’ve got to get this down!’.
Taz: Sometimes it could be a subtle melody change that you never remember again. It’s heartbreaking! One note out of place, and it’s gone you know.
Hel: It is a personal thing to us. Sometimes it means something, sometimes it doesn’t mean something. But we often don’t go into it knowing what it is or isn’t. It is whatever you want it to be basically.
Taz: It’s so personal, it’s hard to talk about. Some of those on that album are particularly personal, and I think there might be another reason why it’s stuck in people’s minds. We’ve been through various different things, families and friends. It comes out I guess. It’s hard to talk about.
Hel: It’s a natural thing, it’s not demons and satan, and this and that. It’s more human.
Taz: It’s more just personal experience. But thank you for asking about them, they are very important to us. It’s just quite hard to articulate.
How do you see your videos?
Hel: We like aesthetically pleasing things in general…
Taz: Or haunting in some way.
Hel: And we like to create stuff between us, which sometimes is difficult because when we work with particular people, they also have their ideas. Yes, but we want to do it, we know what we want. So it can be difficult sometimes.
Taz: Anything to do with art and music is going to be like that. You’ve got an artist with a vision and a musician with a vision.
Hel: We still got a clear vision of what we want, so it sometimes makes it a bit difficult.
Taz: We all love film and they [Undersmile music videos] are quite inspired by film and visual arts.
Tom: And we all grew up watching MTV and all the 90s music videos, so the idea of doing one is great.
Taz: We’re secretly living our rock star dreams!
Hel & Tom: We are!
Tom: Our friend Mark Wickson has basically all the Undersmile videos. He has got a good vision and he’s good at editing. We leave it at his hands, we give him ideas and what we’d like to do. There’s usually a vague storyline, maybe not so much in the last one as such.
Taz: Yeah, the last one was a shift really.
Tom: It’s just a fun way to put songs out there and draw attention to the album.
Damnation 2015 – Undersmile
Are you planning for another video for this album?
Taz: We are planning one.
Hel: As we speak!
Taz: We’re not in it, we can tell you that. It is a nice change!
Tom: If there had been a screen behind us today, we would have shown some footage of it. We didn’t get it finished in time, but hopefully it won’t be too much time.
Taz: It’s nearly done I think. It’s being edited at the moment.
Tom: It’s for one of the Anhedonia songs.
Taz: After that, we might do more.
Hel: We do enjoy doing it, but it just takes so long. And the whole thing is quite torturous. But there are lots of things we want to do. We [Hel and Tom] have got a daughter, she just keeps a stock still face, and she wants to be in one of the videos.
There’s also quite a big shift in the artwork you used for Anhedonia.
Tom: When we were looking at our artwork from before, they’ve always been animated or drawn.
Hel: We got tired of that.
Tom: Yeah, and that takes quite a long time as well. You have to wait for the artist to draw stuff. Then we just saw this photo Taz’s dad had taken, he’s a really good photographer Pierre Corona, and we just thought that…
Taz: We just fell in love with it. It presented sort of confusion.
Tom: Yeah, it’s confusion, it’s quite cold, it’s quite abstract, and then we all agreed on that image. There was another image we wanted to get but we couldn’t get the rights to use it. So hopefully, we’ll be able use that for something in the future.
Taz: It was funny how we fell in love with too, we all just had the same idea at a similar time. I said: ‘quick! Take it off from Facebook Dad! We want that!’
Tom: Then we contacted our friend Jack Burley who’s in the band Earthmass. He’s a really good designer and he does really good layouts for loads of bands. So we kind of just left in his hands, and he came up with this quite cool look. It was quite minimal that we quite liked, and it was quite mysterious as well. And the way he did the broken up fonts with lots of space between letters, it really worked well.
Taz: It suited the album well. Because the album is different than we’ve done before. Then I guess we wanted it to be visually different. I think it captures it quite well. We thought it captures the title and the subject matter quite well.
Hel: Yeah, definitely, and the colour as well. It went well with the heaviness, when I say heaviness, I mean the emotional heaviness rather than metal heaviness. It’s like this thing in your lungs, it just sticks there. I don’t how to explain it really.
Taz: There’s a lot of sadness on that album.
Hel: It’s kind of a grieving feeling that lingers. That’s that colour I think. Purple.
Taz: Purple and gray.
How do you see Coma Wall? I’ve mainly seen it referred to as your side project, but how do you categorise it?
Taz: That’s a really hard question!
Tom: It’s kind of been forced to being a side project, hasn’t it? Because we had a lot of Undersmile things to do, but you guys [Hel and Taz] have been doing this from…
Taz: It predates Undersmile.
Hel: They’re both our babies, aren’t they? We started working on both from the beginning.
Taz: And we quite enjoy working on it.
Hel: It’s only a kind of side project like you [Tom] said, because we have other things to do, but we like it just as much. And we will put more effort into it now, because Undersmile has had a lot attention, and now it’s time for Coma Wall.
Taz: I think that any time you have a heavy band, and then you have an acoustic band, people will always see it as the side project, because it’s not that heavy.
Hel: And it’s less known as well.
Taz: But to us, we’re working just as hard on those songs as we would on Undersmile songs, and honing them at the moment. I guess it’s a side project, because Undersmile has taken the forefront, but not emotionally to us, we enjoy it just as much, put as much into it. We put a lot into it! Blood, sweat, and tears!
Steve Mills (Guitars, Piano, Organ) from The Wounded Kings had kindly offered his time to me in Damnation Festival 2015 at Leeds University Student’s Union building. before their gig. We talked a bit about the new album and a bit about their sound. The Wounded Kings is releasing their new album early next year via Candlelight Records, and embarking on a Europe tour March 2016 as well. Be sure to check their concerts and their work! Here’s some of what we talked about!
It’s Damnation Festival. The 11th one! This was only the second time I attended, but the greatness of Damnation Festival and the wonderful maze of Leeds Uni Student’s Union building was definitely one of motivations for me to move up North, and as expected it did not disappoint in any aspect. Damnation continues to be one of the greatest metal events that happen in the North. My thanks go to everyone who was involved in the organisation and made it a great memory for many people!
+ Joined by TED NUGENT Bassist GREG SMITH Featuring Original Members of TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA
*A Theatrical Holiday Rock Event for the Entire Family* Hear Original Tunes and TSO Favorites!
Buy Tickets Here Hard Copies of New Album The Magic of Winter Available Now Digital Available Tomorrow, November 20th via iTunes
Yuletide rock opera ensemble The WIZARDS OF WINTER are kicking off their “An Evening with Wizards of Winter” holiday music experience today in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The tour will hit 21 U.S. cities, coming to a close on December 29th in Harrisburg, PA. This nightly two-and-a-half hour show is theatrical fun for the entire family!