Austrian Death / Black Metal commandos BELPHEGOR havereleased a lyric video for “Gas Mask Terror,” a track off the band’s upcoming tenth studio album Conjuring The Dead, due out in North America onAugust 5th, in Europe on August 8th, and in the U.K. & France on August 11th.
Conjuring The Dead was recorded at Mana Studios in Tampa, Florida with Eric Rutan (CANNABAL CORPSE, AGNOSTIC FRONT, MALEVOLENT CREATION). Artwork was created by Greek artist Seth Siro Anton, who is also responsible for the album art on 2006’s Pestapokalypse IV.
Hamilton, Ontario-based progressive metal band, VARGA, on Tuesday, July 22nd will release their their 4th full-length studio recording follow up to last Octobers, Enter The Metal with the sequel, Return Of The Metal, via the band’s own Vargantuan Music label. Digital downloads and CD’s are available through iTunes and Amazon.com as well as the bands own vargahq.com web site where several formats of hi-resolution downloads can be purchased as well as CD’s and CD packages.
Comprised of members Joe Varga (bass & vocals), Adam Alex (guitar), Sean Williamson (guitar), and Dan Fila (drums), the veteran band (originally formed in 1989) has built a large and loyal following of heavy metal fans, particular in their home country, on the strength of such popular releases as 1994’s ‘Prototype (Zoo records),’ which spawned the hits “Freeze Don’t Move” and “Greed” earning the band a thumbs up on the then popular Beavis and Butthead MTV program. After over a decade apart, Varga reunited in 2011, and issued their awesome reunion effort, ‘Enter the Metal’ (their first new studio album in 17 years).
The album was produced by long time friend and producer/engineer, Julius “Juice” Butty (Alexisonfire, Protest the Hero), and recorded at both Six Nations’ Jukasa Studio, and Butty’s own Silo Studios.
As heard throughout ‘Enter The Metal and Return Of The Metal,’ the long delay between releases has not dulled Varga’s penchant for penning inspired and challenging heavy metal in the slightest.
Some people exist as unsung pillars of the established death metal that got out of the underground and became a global extreme phenomenon. Cannibal Corpse made it.The man behind those death metal killers, Alex Webster takes us on a mental journey through the land of the disturbed and his new band Conquering Dystopia…
Metal-Rules.com: Hello, Alex! This is Hellias Papadopoulos from Metal-Rules.com, First of all, how are you doing? And where are you checking in from today?
AW: I’m at home in Florida, all’s well here, just preparing to leave for the Conquering Dystopia U.S. tour with Animals As Leaders.
CONQUERING DYSTOPIA CAMP
Metal-Rules.com: To start off, let’s take a look at the new upcoming debut, album by your new band, Conquering Dystopia. I think it is released today! How did this come up?
AW: Well, my involvement with the band began at the January 2013 NAMM show. I met Keith there and he asked me if I’d be interested in playing bass on an album he was doing with Jeff Loomis. I was already a big fan of Jeff’s playing, and although I knew less about Keith at that time, he seemed like a really cool guy and a very serious musician. So I said “yes” immediately, I didn’t even ask to hear the stuff first. I was confident they’d write material I’d enjoy working on.
Metal-Rules.com: Is Conquering Dystopia a side-project or a full time band?
AW: That’s really a question for Keith and Jeff. I’m not sure what they have planned for the future.
Conquering Dystopia is a whole different venture, focused on instrumental music, with elements of prog and an amalgam of different influences.So,Conquering Dystopia is not in the veins of 10,000MPH death blasting of Cannibal Corpse. What are the purposes of your new band?
AW: Well, the first thing people should know is that Keith and Jeff put the band together and are responsible for the songwriting and creative direction. So, I can really only answer this question from a bassist’s point of view, since that’s my role in the group. For me, the band is an amazing opportunity to play bass in a different scenario. Keith, Jeff, and Alex are such awesome musicians, it’s just so great to play with them. Also, the music they wrote for the band inspired me to do some things on the bass I probably wouldn’t do in Cannibal. So I guess for me the purpose of being in the band is to jam with killer musicians and have fun doing something a bit different from what I normally do.
Metal-Rules.com: What does the band name mean for you? Who is responsible for the name?
AW: I think Keith came up with the name, or Jeff. Two of my favorite books are Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World, those both deal with dystopias so I immediately liked the name. I’m not sure exactly what those guys intended it to mean, but for me it conjures up thoughts of breaking out of a depressing, oppressive world or society.
Metal-Rules.com: Why Conquering Dystopia did choose to have no vocals? It was a matter that you had in mind from the beginning or no one wanted to join you? (hehe)
AW: Again, this is a question for Jeff and Keith. I have to say that personally I love to play instrumental music. If a vocalist isn’t a good fit for their band they can ruin an otherwise killer album. No worries about that here, haha!
Metal-Rules.com: What are the main influences on your title debut album?
AW: Another one for Keith and Jeff as they are the song writers. Bass-wise, I was trying to write parts that worked well with the music they’d written. Sometimes this meant playing in unison with the guitar, which is pretty normal for extreme metal, but there were other times, mainly in the more melodic sections, where I was able to work more closely with Alex Rudinger’s drum parts. This is a more traditional rhythm section approach that I don’t get to do too much in Cannibal. So it was cool to be able to play in both familiar and different ways on this album. My influences bass-wise for the heavier stuff would be guys like Roger Patterson and Steve Harris, and for the more melodic stuff guys like Sean Malone and Geddy Lee.
Metal-Rules.com: What does future holds for Conquering Dystopia?
AW: In the immediate future we’ll be touring with Animals As Leaders and Chon in the USA starting on May 17th. After that we don’t have any shows booked, but I’m hopeful more will get set up as the year progresses.
CANNIBAL CORPSE CAMP
Metal-Rules.com: I really really liked TORTURE album! It blew me up! I have to say that I enjoy the most the slow-tempo ‘Cannibal’ songs like ‘Decency Defied’ or ‘Scourge of Iron’. Are you shooting for a 2014 release for your next album? Is it in works?
AW: Yes, we’re currently working with Mark Lewis at Audiohammer Studios in Sanford Florida on our follow up to Torture. The album should be released sometime in the fall.
Metal-Rules.com: Did you enjoy NAMM 2014? What did you like the most?
AW: I had a great time! I definitely enjoyed performing with Conquering the most, no question. But it was a good time all around. Lots of friends to hang out with and great musicians to watch.
Metal-Rules.com: Cannibal Corpse’s music has a very specific sound. After twenty-five years, do you find it challenging to innovate within that rather strict definition of what your music is? Are you ever going to run out of riffs?
AW: I don’t think we’ll have too much trouble coming up with fresh material mainly because we have several songwriters in the band. We each write a little differently, and we each try to innovate in every song we write, at least a little. I think we’d be in a much more difficult spot if we only had one songwriter. The fact that this band is a team of creative individuals is one of our main strengths, in my opinion.
Metal-Rules.com: Cannibal Corpse have covered a Black Sabbath song, ‘Zero The Hero’. Are you a Black Sabbath fan like me? Why did you choose that song and not a classic BS one?
AW: Chris liked that song and we thought the riff would work well for our style, so we did it. And Born Again is a killer album anyway. I think it’s a classic, but I guess most people disagree. And yes, we all love Black Sabbath in this band, especially Pat. But what metal head doesn’t?
Metal-Rules.com:So, I would like to ask you a question that will make you travel many years ago. When you started Cannibal Corpse, could you have possibly imagined that 25 years later you’d still be together? I know that many line-up changes Vader have been put through and you and Paul are the only constant members of Cannibal Corpse. Do you feel the defenders of the (death) faith?
AW: We never could have imagined this kind of success. A career of 25 years didn’t exist for any metal band in 1988, let alone a death metal band. So, no, we never could have imagined this. We have been playing death metal consistently since we began, constantly touring and making albums. So I suppose we could be considered one of death metal’s “defenders of the faith”; it’s a title that we would be proud of if people want to give it to us.
Metal-Rules.com: I think that a death metal show demands for a good warm-up. What’s your own warm-up process.
AW: If I don’t have much time I just play scales and the most difficult riffs in the set for a few minutes. If I have more time, I’ll play along with songs backstage with headphones on, usually Iron Maiden tunes. Those are a serious bass workout, for sure!
Metal-Rules.com: If you have Christa Jenal in front of you, what would you tell her?
AW: I don’t know. Maybe “hello”. I don’t have any hard feelings towards her, or any other censors. I just disagree with them.
Metal-Rules.com: I imagine a very special Cannibal Corpse show: Cannibal Corpse in front of 100.000 true die-hard fans and probably a guest by Jim Carrey! What do you think?
AW: I think you have a good imagination, haha!
Metal-Rules.com:What do you think of today’s music industry in general?
AW: It’s constantly changing due to technology. I think it’s important for musicians to pay attention and keep up. Take a look at Keith from Conquering for example- not only is he an amazing guitarist and songwriter, but he’s managed to find a way to succeed that simply didn’t exist just a few years ago, through his awesome videos on his youtube channel. I hear a lot of people complaining about the negative effects of technology on the music scene, but I think it’s more productive to look for the positive things. There are new opportunities created by technology too, and that’s what a smart musician will focus on.
Metal-Rules.com:Is technology part of your life or are you still a “romantic”?
AW: Well, I’ve never been very romantic so technology isn’t going to change that much, haha. But I understand what you’re trying to say. I think that having an open mind on this subject is a good idea. I’m not going to hold onto an obsolete way of doing something if there is a new, better way. But the new way has to be genuinely better before I’ll change. It’s not easy to let go of old ideas if you have become attached to them, but when something new comes along that’s truly better I think it’s best to accept that.
Metal-Rules.com: One of the last trends in music business is iTunes. More and more metal bands sell albums through this way. What’s your opinion on that?
AW: I think pretty much everybody has their music on iTunes at this point. I think it’s a good, convenient way to buy music.
Metal-Rules.com: Do you know any Greek heavy metal acts? Are there any Greek metal bands that you really like or want to share the stage with? Suicidal Angels, Rotting Christ, Septicflesh, Firewind and Gus G. to name a few.
AW: Those are all great bands you mentioned. I really like Inveracity, it would be fun to play with them sometime.
Metal-Rules.com: Oh, man! You know Inveracity? They’d be proud when they read this. This band along with Mass Infection are the best death metal bands in my country. What do you think of today’s music industry in general? Do you believe that illegal downloading harms album sales or you accept the fact that the real fans will go anyway to get the new CD or vinyl regardless of the ‘free’ illegal way?
AW: I can’t really say. I think the only way to tell would be to look at facts and figures regarding sales to determine the effects of illegal downloading on the music industry. I have heard it’s been bad and only getting worse for record labels, but I don’t know any exact numbers. What I have noticed is that metal fans generally still buy music. We still have lots of people asking us to sign CD covers after shows, so that means they probably bought the CD. Metal fans are true music fans, and seem to be more supportive of the bands they like than fans in most other genres. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Metal-Rules.com: Heavy metal changes throughout the decades. Heavy and Thrash metal dominated the 80’s, there was Death, Black and Power metal in 90’s, and Metalcore and Nu Metal in the 00’s. 2010 was the beginning of the new decade. What do you see for the future?
AW: I have no idea what the future holds, but I’m excited to hear it! There are hundreds, maybe thousands of talented young musicians in metal that will come up with literally unpredictable variations on this music. I’m really looking forward to hearing what they do. I don’t know what it is, but it’s coming.
Metal-Rules.com:Which big metal loss affected you the most?
AW: Probably Cliff Burton’s passing, he was a huge influence on me. I still listen to the Metallica albums he played on all the time.
Metal-Rules.com:If you could pick only one musician to work with that you did not collaborate with in the past, who would that be and why?
AW: I can’t really pick just one. I haven’t really worked in a band with a singer who sings pitches (as opposed to death metal growling) so it would be fun to work with a singer like Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson.
Metal-Rules.com: What elements make a good death metal song and album as well?
AW: Death metal should be dark and aggressive. Beyond that it’s kind of open to each musician. For example, for me, pure death metal should have tremolo picking rather than the tight gallops of thrash. The tempos are usually even faster than thrash, and obviously the vocals are guttural. But yeah, darkness and aggression are the two things I’d say are most important for death metal in general.
Metal-Rules.com: Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:
Thrash metal: is fast
Greece: awesome food
Favorite TV series: The Walking Dead (e.n.: I was so sure about it!)
Black Sabbath: rules
Strip show: scam
Metal-Rules.com: Alex, thank you for this interview. I wish you and the rest guys of Cannibal Corpse and Conquering Dystopia all the best!!!
AW: Thanks for the interview, all the best to you too!!!
KING DIAMOND Announces North America Fall Tour 2014!
King Diamond has confirmed what has been rumored for several weeks: the band will return to North America for a full tour this Fall! The tour will wrap up with the previously announced performance at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX, and begins on October 11 in Atlanta, GA. A limited edition King Diamond jacket will be available through the SHOWstubs.com fan club presale, which begins tomorrow, June 24th. Tickets will be on sale online and at box offices nationwide on Friday, June 27th.
King Diamond will be joined on stage, of course, by long time band members Andy LaRocque, Mike Weed, Hal Pacino, and Matt Thompson. Additionally, North American fans will be bearing witness to the band’s full European festival stage show. These will be the most ambitious and largest productions in North America in the band’s entire history. A special guest supporting act for the tour will be announced at a later date.
KING DIAMOND North American Tour 2014
10/11 Atlanta, GA Center Stage
10/13 Silver Spring, MD The Fillmore
10/14 New York, NY Best Buy Theatre
10/16 Worcester, MA Palladium
10/17 Montreal, QC Olympia
10/18 Toronto, ON The Sound Academy
10/19 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE
10/21 Chicago, IL The Vic Theatre
10/22 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
10/24 Denver, CO Paramount Theatre
10/26 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
10/28 Seattle, WA The Moore Theatre
10/30 San Francisco, CA The Warfield
10/31 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern
11/01 Las Vegas, NV House of Blues
11/03 Tucson, AZ Rialto Theatre
11/05 Houston, TX House of Blues
11/06 Dallas, TX House of Blues
Fun Fun Fun Fest
November 7-8 Austin, TX Auditorium Shores
KING DIAMOND On tour in Europe this summer
25/07 Stockholm, SE Gröna Lund
28/07 Berlin, DE Huxleys Neue Welt
30/07 Tilburg, NL 013 Poppodium
01/08 Wacken, DE Wacken Open Air
08/08 Oulu, FI Jalometalli
“From the OMEGA MASSIF camp we have received the sad news that the band have split up and will therefore not be available to perform at SUMMER BREEZE 2014. We tried hard to keep the band on the billing, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. We are currently working on a replacement. Here’s the original statement posted on the band’s Facebook page:”
The missing Onward album, New Fathoms Down, will be released on July 1st through Shredguy Records. The late Michael Grant’s vocals were tracked in 2002 and the majority of the music has been re-recorded due to lack of a source tape. A teaser of the album is now streaming.
Toby Knapp, who completed the restoration of the album states: “All the original demos were recorded with cassettes, and no master could be located to isolate and remix, so I basically rebuilt all the music again over the one recording I had, and luckily Mike’s vocals were loud in the mix. Completion of the project happened fast because I was extremely inspired to do this- it was hard to quit once I started hearing the songs come to fruition. Mike always wanted his music accounted for and eventually released. So it’s my gift to him and his fans and the Onward audience.”
Jake E. Lee’s return to the music scene was one of last year’s biggest news stories from the music world. The former Ozzy Osbourne and Badlands guitarist has been nowhere to seen for the best part of the past 25 years but now he’s finally back with Red Dragon Cartel. The band released their debut album in January, and since then the band has been touring around the United States. European tour began in Italy in May and early June, the band finally arrived in Finland, where Jake has never previously appeared.
Today HECATE ENTHRONED bring a little bit of their explosive live performances and no compromise attitude to the masses as they premier their new video for the song ‘Abyssal March’. The clip is the first full performance video from album VIRULENT RAPTURE and directed by the bands long time videographer SUOLASFILMS. Check out the premier exclusively here:
VIRULENT RAPTURE was released last November via Crank Music Group to massive plaudits and great reviews, being called one of the great Black Metal albums of the year and is certainly the bands most aggressive and atmospheric album to date. The album can be ordered at
INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY ARTO LEHTINEN AND MARKO SYRJALA
Queensryche has been in the headlines during the past few years because of major changes in the line-up. As the legal case is nearly over, it is time to look to the future for what it holds for the legendary band. The band has started working on the follow-up to the self titled Queensryche album and at the Sweden Rock festival Metal-Rules.com got the great opportunity to talk with the founding member and guitarist Michael Wilton and the vocalist Todd La Torre.
“Dirk Blasts,” the new series of premium online instructional videos by SOILWORK drummer Dirk Verbeuren, has been launched to offer drum students “all the best tools and tricks to build your drumming skills and further your career as a musician.”
“Throughout my tours and drum clinics, I frequently get asked about playing faster, building stamina, creating dynamic grooves and making a living as a musician,” states Verbeuren. “So I decided to put together these ‘Dirk Blasts’ for all my fellow drum maniacs out there. If you’re looking to improve your technique and independence, pick up some cool chops along the way, and gain useful insight about being a professional drummer, these two monthly lessons are for you. It’s such an exciting adventure and I’m really pumped to kick it off this July!”
For KIX, not recording any new music for two decades has been far too long. Fans have made it known for years that they want new music. And now, the time has finally come. The Maryland band is primed and ready to ROCK YOUR FACE OFF with their seventh new album set for release August 5 on Loud & Proud Records. It’s everything fans know and love them for: a raucous, roaring and real display of rock ‘n’ roll. The first single, “Love Me With Your Top Down,” will be released to radio and online retail outlets later this month. Eddie Trunk will exclusively world premiere the song during his “Friday Night Rocks” radio show originating from Q104.3 (heard in New York City, Long Island, NJ and CT) this Friday, June 20 from 11pm-2am ET. It will then air via his numerous North American syndicated affiliates on Saturday, June 20 and he’ll play it on Monday, June 23 during his “Trunk Nation with Eddie Trunk” show that airs on SiriusXM’s “Hair Nation” channel (39) at 3pm PT/6pm ET.
As guitarist Brian “Damage” Forsythe explains, “When we first played ‘Love Me With Your Top Down’ live just a few months ago, it went over like gangbusters with the fans. It’s a catchy little tune with classic KIX flavor, a perfect choice for the first taste of the record.”
What makes the new album even more exciting and anticipated is that it features most of the band’s original line-up: Steve Whiteman (vocals), Brian “Damage” Forsythe (guitar), Ronnie “10/10” Younkins (guitar), Jimmy “Chocolate” Chalfant (drums), with the exception of Mark Schenker (bass).
With ROCK YOUR FACE OFF, KIX stirs up their truest statement to date in 2014. “It’s still hot women, fast cars, and great moments,” concludes Whiteman. “I want everybody to end up on their feet, whether they’re working out or stuck in rush hour traffic. This is a release, something to lift your spirits when you need it. You can party to this one.”
KIX gracefully eased back into the public consciousness in 2008. After sold out hometown gigs, the quintet hit the stage at Rocklahoma in front of over 20,000 people, venturing out of the Mid-Atlantic for the first time in 13 years. The band was hailed by many music websites and attendees as “Best Performance” at the festival, where they played alongside Sammy Hagar, Alice Cooper, Tesla, Queesryche, Ratt, and more. After capturing their fiery reunion on 2012’s LIVE IN BALTIMORE CD & DVD, the band agreed to enter the studio once again.
“In many ways, this is for the KIX diehards as much as it is for us,” guitarist Brian Forsythe explains. “When we started doing this again, tons of fans came out of the woodwork. They’d show up with their kids, and it was just incredible to see. We had to deliver for them.”
In order to deliver, the band enlisted the talents of producer Taylor Rhodes (Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne), with whom they had last collaborated on 1991’s HOT WIRE. Also, for the first time in the group’s history, each member contributed to the writing process, fostering an extremely creative and free environment in the studio. A new dawn commenced as they simultaneously harnessed their classic spirit.
“It was more free-flowing because everybody got to write and come up with ideas,” says singer Steve Whiteman. “We encouraged this new freedom within the creative process.”
Here’s the complete track listing of ROCK YOUR FACE OFF:
1. Wheels In Motion
2. You’re Gone
3. Can’t Stop The Show
4. Rollin’ In Honey
5. Rock Your Face Off
6. All The Right Things
7. Dirty Girls
8. Inside Outside Inn
9. Mean Miss Adventure
10. Love Me With Your Top Down
11. Tail On The Wag
12. Rock & Roll Showdown
Stay tuned for new tour news, but check them out at any of the following stops in the meantime:
DATE CITY VENUE
Sat 6/21 Idaho Falls, ID Rock The Falls
Thu 7/10 Hughesville, PA Lycoming County Fair
Fri 7/25 Royalton, MN Halfway Jam
Thu 7/31 Leemore, CA Tachi Palace Casino
Sat 8/2 Leonardtown, MD Southern Maryland Brew & BBQ Fest
Sat 8/16 Greencastle, PA Greencastle Legion Grounds
Sat 9/13 Berlin, MD Soundwave Festival at Airlift Acres
Sat 9/20 Baltimore, MD Rams Head Live
Sat 10/25 Camp Hill, PA Radisson Convention Center
Sat 12/20 Baltimore, MD Rams Head Live (KIXmas)
About Loud & Proud Records
Loud & Proud Records is an independent record label founded in 2007 by Tom Lipsky whose mission is to provide a true and transparent partnership between artists and their record label. Labels under Lipsky’s direction in the past, including CMC International, Sanctuary Records Group and a joint-venture with Roadrunner Records, were responsible for new releases by Neil Young, Rush, Lynyrd Skynyrd, KISS, Robert Plant, Rob Zombie, Morrissey, Lenny Kravitz, Iron Maiden, The Allman Brothers Band and more. Loud & Proud’s current roster includes five-time Emmy® Award winning actor and musician Jonathan Jackson and his band Enation, multi-platinum alternative band Flyleaf, supergroup rock band The Winery Dogs, renowned jam band The String Cheese Incident, multi-platinum country artists BlackHawk, Seattle’s alternative Walking Papers, critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter Willie Nile and powerhouse rockers KIX. Loud & Proud Records is distributed in the U.S. and Canada by RED, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, and in the rest of the world by earMUSIC/Edel AG. Loud & Proud Records is a registered trademark of Lipsky Music, LLC.
The hell-raising song “World On Fire” hit radio last Friday and can be streamed online at Slashonline.com HERE. To download the song on iTunes, go here: http://smarturl.it/slashworldonfire.
On September 16, SLASH featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators will release their new album WORLD ON FIRE via SLASH’s own label Dik Hayd International distributed through Caroline. The group recently revealed the cover artwork for WORLD ON FIRE designed by American contemporary artist Ron English (see below). The WORLD ON FIRE disc marks SLASH’s third solo album and second one with his band The Conspirators featuring MYLES KENNEDY (vocals), BRENT FITZ (drums) and TODD KERNS (bass).
For WORLD ON FIRE, SLASH and his band tapped Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Falling In Reverse, Incubus) to produce. Among the 17 songs is an instrumental–a powerful new turn for the band. WORLD ON FIRE is the follow-up to 2012’s Apocalyptic Love which debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and earned SLASH two No. 1 U.S. rock radio hits–his first-ever solo–with “You’re A Lie” and “Standing In The Sun.” SLASH officially began recording as a solo artist with his self-titled 2010 debut album which employed a different vocalist on each track of his first album including Ozzy Osbourne, Fergie and Myles Kennedy among others.
SLASH and Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators have announced additional solo dates in between their summer tour with Aerosmith. The group will preview new songs for fans on the trek launching off Thursday, July 10 at Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre in Wantagh, NY (see the full itinerary below). Special ticket packages include: amazing seats (Level 1 tickets), an exclusive autographed SLASH lithograph, a Digital Download of the new SLASH album WORLD ON FIRE and a merchandise voucher worth $50, redeemable in the SLASH Exclusive Online Store.
SLASH has amassed album sales of over 100 million copies, garnered a GRAMMY Award and seven GRAMMY nominations and was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Time magazine named SLASH #2, behind Jimi Hendrix, on its “The Ten Best Electric Guitar Players of All-Time” list. SLASH helped create signature sounds like the guitar riff on #1 hits for Guns N Roses “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “Welcome To The Jungle.” After leaving the band, SLASH went on to critical acclaim with SLASH’s Snakepit and global success with the supergroup Velvet Revolver. SLASH’s self-titled biography critically well-received, climbed the bestseller list in both the U.S. and U.K. hitting #8 on the NY Times Bestsellers List. SLASH landed on the top of the charts with his first solo album, Slash (2010) which featured Ozzy Osbourne, Fergie and more. SLASH and his band featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators released the critically acclaimed Apocalyptic Love (2012) which stormed the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart at #4 as the top rock debut and produced his first-ever #1 rock radio solo hits: “You’re A Lie” and “Standing In The Sun.” SLASH released Nothing Left To Fear (2013) the first-ever motion picture he co-produced from Slasher Films, his film/TV production company. SLASH and his band will release their new album WORLD ON FIRE September 16 2014. www.slashonline.com.
Below is a newly formed doom metal band from Sweden. Recently they released their debut album, ACROSS THE DARK RIVER, an incredible doom metal anthem. It’s an album that surprised us with its emotional, icecold, epic doom metal. After their form in the fall of 2011, they were ready to sign with Metal Blade, and the debut album is out. This is an unbelievable success for a new band. Doc, the drummer, answers our questions, patiently unveiling some of the doom mysteries behind their album, the relation with the mighty Andy LaRoque, the direction this new act — which is challenging the stagnation of a genre too molded by its interpretation of fan expectations to be anything but stagnant — takes as it tackles the question of 21st century epic doom metal.
Metal-Rules.com: Hello Doc! It’s Hellias Papadopoulos from Metal-Rules.com. I am very happy for this interview and greetings from Greece! First of all, how are you doing? And where are you checking in from today?
Hey! I am doing great, I am checking in from my living room in Sweden after a day barbequing in the sun.
Metal-Rules.com: Congratulation for your debut album, ACROSS THE DARK RIVER! What are the main influences on Below? Black Sabbath (especially Tony Martin-era), Candlemass and maybe Mercifyl Fate are the obvious ones. I am sure that there are some other secret influences on you.
All those you have mentioned have absolutely influenced us, I would like to add the atmospheres of King Diamond to that list as well. The secret influences is hard to find, everyone in the band has got their own influences. So when everyone is writing parts for the songs different influences might be involved in the mix. I am sure there are hundreds in there.
Metal-Rules.com: Have some of you played in other bands already before? And if yes please give some information till the day Below were formed.
We have all played in different bands before, but never on this level. We have known each other for quite some time, and some of us have even played together before.
Metal-Rules.com: I have beholden that Below bandmembers don’t reveal in which bands they played before. Why is that?
Well it´s simple. We want to focus on the present and the future.
Metal-Rules.com: What does the Below name mean for you? Is there any potential message behind it?
We wanted a short and easy to remember name. I personally think that the word Below sums up our dark, slow, heavy, moody music really nice. And at one point or another we will all end up in a dark place somewhere BELOW the surface of this world.
Metal-Rules.com: What’s the new thing that Below offer by that new release to epic/doom metal genre?
I would like to say the mixture of the really heavy riffs, the grand melodies along with the sometimes ghostlike atmospheres and the melodic harmonies. All of this might have been done before but perhaps not all put together into one.
Metal-Rules.com: Can you tell us some words about the production and the songwriting session?
Most of the time someone presents a part for a song, we all pitch in and twist and turn to get it just right. I think that´s one of the key elements to our songwriting. Everyone is involved with the process. We spend a lot of time trying different parts for different songs to make sure all the arrangements got the right feel to it.
Metal-Rules.com: What do you do when you are not playing with the band?
Apart from working. I try to spend time with my family, listen to music and doing a whole lot of other stuff regarding the band.
Metal-Rules.com: What’s your opinion on other kinds of music?
I listen to a whole lot of different music. Well 99% of the time it´s some sort of metal but on occasions I find my self relaxing to some classical songs. Of course I listen to a lot of Doom, but I also enjoy some old school Death metal, Thrash, classic Heavy Metal and so on.
Metal-Rules.com: What are the plans for Below in the future?
We will continue to work our asses off. Keep trying to make the next song we write the best one, and the next gig we perform even better than the last one. Actually we have already started to write new material for the next album. But only time will tell what the future will bring.
Metal-Rules.com:What’s different about this latest album compared to the previous one? Please tell us about the approach that you have chosen to create this album and production of the album. What’s the feedback for the new record?
Do you mean compared to the old 4-song EP ? Since this is our first album. Well we wanted this album to be really heavy, we wanted it to have strong melodies and an atmosphere that really tell the listeners a story. The production of this album went really well, we made sure that all songs were written and done and well rehearsed before entering the studio. Once there we all knew what to do, and Andy LaRocque (Yes, that one) who produced it did an amazing job in capturing the atmospheres of the songs and really making us perform at a high level. I think the feedback for this album so far overall have been really good, and it´s a great feeling to have the album out and hear what different people all over the world think of it.
Metal-Rules.com: Can you tell me a little more about the lyrics, did anything in particular inspire you?
It´s different things. A lot of the time we write about mythology, horror stories, history and sometimes our own tales. I would like to say that our music is a big part when it comes to the lyrics. We want the lyrics to really capture the atmospheres and the feeling of that certain song.
Metal-Rules.com: How important is it to you that people pay attention to your lyrics, in addition to listening to your music?
I think it´s important to pay attention to every part of our music. Every word, every beat of the drum, all the different bass notes and all the pounding guitar riffs has been put in there for a reason. They are all pieces of the puzzle.
Metal-Rules.com: Heavy metal changes throughout the decades. Heavy and Thrash metal dominated the 80’s, Death, Black and Power metal in 90’s, and Metalcore and Nu Metal in the 00’s. 2010 was the beginning of the new decade. What do you see for the future?
It´s all going to be about the New Wave of Swedish Doom Metal! Haha, well to be honest I don´t know. There seem to be a whole lot of bands with a 70´s feel surfacing right now, but there are also a whole lot of really technical Death Metal bands as well.
Metal-Rules.com: What’s your opinion on downloading?
This is a tricky one, more people that hear you the better. However, I´m not the kind of guy who downloads an album. I listen to a lot of music via spotify. When I hear an album I really like I just have to go out and get it. Both to have a copy in my collection and to support the band who made it.
Metal-Rules.com: If you could pick one musician to collaborate with, who would that be and why?
Just one ? I could easily create four or five different bands, haha.But if I were to say just one, and he doesn´t have to be alive I would say the great Dimebag. It would be awesome just to jam and hang out with him.
Metal-Rules.com: Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:
Doom metal: Hell yeah!
Football: Crap, since we missed the World Cup.
Politics: Professional bullshitters
Best TV series: Family Guy
Mickey Mouse: Killer falsetto!
Most underrated metal band ever: Nevermore
Metal-Rules.com: You recently signed with Metal Blade Records. This is your chance to make it! I wish all the best. I know that Tobie is also playing with another great metal act Noctum. He was the guy who helped both bands to make the deal with that major label?
Thank you for your wishes of luck! Well Tobie is our manager, we recorded a 4-song EP and he sent it to a lot of different labels. We got a fair amount of contract offers but we felt straight away that Metal Blade was the perfect home for Below. It´s a great honor to be part of and work with such an iconic and influential record label. Thanks for your time!
You can read the Below’s debut album review in Metal-Rules.com.