Album: Serpents Unleashed
Genre: Thrash metal (black influences)
Release Date: 29/10/2013
Record Label: Prosthetic Records
(Review written by SARP ESIN)
I came across this beast of a band at the precisely wrong time in my life – back then, Forever Abomination (2011) , the band’s fourth effort, was all the rage, and I gave it a go. Right off the bat, what characterized the Skeletonwitch sound was their marriage of trash to black influences; a preoccupation with ferocity and packing a punch, as well as writing monolithic riffs. Parts of the album just didn’t go with my temperament back then, so I gave it a few listens and bypassed it. When I saw their newest effort, the subject of this review, on the shelf, I decided to give it a go. And I’m glad.
Skeletonwitch can be described best as a trash metal band who hybridizes their approach by adding scoops of black metal, especially with regards to drums and vocals. Formed in 2003, in Athens, Ohio, they released their debut, At One with the Shadows a year later, via Shredded Records. In 2006, the band transitioned to Prosthetic Records (home to Trap Them, 1349, Castle, Dragged Into Sunlight and many more) through which they released their 2007 opus, the critically-acclaimed Beyond the Permafrost, which was followed quickly by Breathing the Fire (2009.) Tony Laureano, the band’s drummer since 2004, retired at that point, making way for Dustin Boltjes, whose Skeletonwitch debut was on the 2011 release, Forever Abomination. Without cutting down speed, the band rushed headlong into their fifth release, two years after the well-received Forever Abomination: which is the subject of this review, titled: Serpents Unleashed.
On a minor note, it must be mentioned that this is the second time the band has called on the talents of John Baizley (Baroness) for their artwork, the first being the 2007 Beyond the Permafrost.
Serpents Unleashed is the kind of album that sees no reason to pulling any punches. It is a kicker, from start to finish – an unrelenting onslaught of speed, force and finesse, all sort of hybridized together in the band’s signature trash/black chimaira. For the most part, it is killer trash riffs stacked up against one another in such a way that it keeps the songs from getting too overwhelming, or too predictable. There are often surprising decreases in pace (the most notable being the opening of the closer, More Cruel than Weak) but otherwise, it’s a stomping, supercharged riff-fest start to finish. The songs are short, most of them lasting under three minutes (in fact, the longest song is the closer, “More Cruel than Weak”, which stands at 4:11.) This is actually a good thing, because the rapid-fire demonology anthems and a pace that breaks the sound barrier could slip away if kept up for too long. The album itself comes in at 31:48, which is adequate, as you should not judge it by its length. Structurally speaking, the songs also have a cyclical nature: they return to where they started after taking a brief detour, ensuring cohesion and making sure strong openings aren’t wasted. These “opener doubling as closer” ties songs together very well, which was, in my opinion, a prominent problem with their previous effort, “Forever Abomination.”
In general, the mixture involves breakneck trash riffing, each one catch and able to burrow itself into the listener’s brain. Whether its tremolo harmonies, or simple on-the-nose riffs, the guitars are a force to be wreckoned with. The bass makes itself known when it needs to, but is always audible and very present. It is accompanied by drums that conform to the known trash styles as well as flexing that black metal muscle with frequent rushes of blast beats. The vocals are the blackest of the bunch, as they consist invariably of deep, throaty rasps that spit out the lyrics. A bait-and-switch is often used in songs’ progressions: a riff could be cut down to half and its latter half can be shifted; a given section might be taken to a lower tone, but essentially remain the same, to darken the mood; and what I call the “pulling a fast one” when a breakneck riff ends as fast as another one just takes its place, at the snap of a finger. Add to that the bass partitions jumping out unexpectedly, the drums that go from typical trash-style drumming to blast beats and to tom-traveling, rumbling attacks to shift the backing, and it’s a whirlwind of a ride. Also responsible for this bait-and-switch air is the shifting moods: from almost crystalline, thin and sharp guitars lifting up one’s spirits (despite the demonic belches ensuring ruination) just as well as thick, harsh trash riffs running it to the ground. There is in fact a very fine balance between the less aggressive and the lot more aggressive, and they balance each other out.
The bass is made as a slap-in-the-face for those who claim they can’t hear the bass in metal albums: it is not only audible, but at certain points, the bass is used as a muscle-flexing instrument – it grumbles and rumbles throughout the album, often times leaping out of the thick wall of sound to unleash upon the unsuspecting listeners sounds they weren’t, well, expecting. Like the bass, the scant few solos in the album are busted out when you least expect, and contrary to the rather chaotic-sounding (yet extremely ordered) mass of music, the solos come through very clear. Each solo is melodic, out there, extremely enjoyable and memorable.
An interesting twist in the Skeletonwitch sound is that it is vocal-dominant: the rather short lyrics meet the short song durations in an obvious yet non-obstructive blend. The vocals are often in harmony, rhythmically, with the guitars, at times words marking chords, which is a weapon Skeletonwitch hides in plain sight. See, at first glance, the lyrics appear unimaginative, with every song going on and on about how you’ll be tortured, how you’ll die, how he is a demon, and so on, but it only hits you after a few songs that these aren’t just lyrics thrown out there to make it evil – they are talking to YOU, and you ARE being tortured, only you are loving it so much you don’t notice. The vocals belting out things about sacrifice and demons rising and bringing hell upon earth gets you in the groove, and that’s where the theatrical element in Skeletonwitch’s trash-based blend appears. Each song carries a mood, and a setting – the music and lyrics are there to walk you through the scenery, to immerse you in the sights of horrific torture and apocalyptic wastelands. As such, the album is extremely immersive. Before long, one can find oneself bobbing one’s head (or headbanging, if you have the hair, unlike me) until the music stops. Where atmosphere is concerned, it is sharp, epic, demonic (of course) and inescapable. If the band’s name is anything to go by, it’s as if the Skeletonwitch casts a spell and unleashes upon the listener a flurry of hard-and-fast, pure bred metal.
Serpents Unleashed displays its tricks right out of the gates, unabashedly, and flaunts what its got without a trace of shame. It’s an album that doesn’t need subterfuge or roundabout tricks, it’s more about kicking you in the face and making you like it, than giving you surprises. The only trouble the album can run into, which is why there was a 0.5 point reduction, is that it is so unrelenting that complete run-throughs can be a bit harrowing – but don’t worry, it’ll be one hell of a ride still.
1. Serpents Unleashed
2. Beneath Dead Leaves
3. I Am of Death (Hell Has Arived)
4. From a Cloudless Sky
5. Burned from Bone
6. Unending, Everliving
7. Blade on the Flesh, Blood on My Hands
8. This Evil Embrace
10. Born of the Light that Does Not Shine
11. More Cruel than Weak
Scott Hedrick – Guitars
Dustin Boltjes – Drums
Evan Linger – Bass
Chance Garnette – Vocals
Nate “N8 Feet Under” Garnette – Guitars
Band: Switchblade Jesus
Album: Switchblade Jesus
Genre: Stoner metal / heavy rock
Release Date: 28 / 06 / 2013 (a hazy Friday)
Record Label: Bilocation Records
(Review written by SARP ESIN)
Bill Goodman of the legendary stoner/heavy/psych blog The Soda Shop once included a band named Switchblade Jesus in one of his compilations. This was in 2012, and the band, at that point, had three songs to their name: a split venture falling through had left them with these and they had seen fit to distribute it freely on bandcamp. When I checked them out, Switchblade Jesus became a testament to the fact that a band needs not an extensive, double-digit back catalogue, or a big name, or even anything more than three songs to make an impression and/or show potential. From this untitled EP, the Corpus Christi quintuplet (now-quartet after the departure of Pete Quarnstrom during the debut’s mini-tour) got down and dirty, managing to press out their debut one year after. Which is why we’re here.
Switchblade Jesus is, for all intents and purposes, a stoner metal band, but their musical exploits cover a wider range than simply that. There are bits of heavy rock and even psych rock put into their sound – incorporating as much groove as can be packed in a single riff, pronounced bass, a very sharp drum sound and heaviness on a level that wouldn’t be expected from such an outfit, all under the sauce of throaty vocals and down-to-Earth lyricism. So let’s go and take a look at one of the most promising bands I’ve heard of had to offer for a full-length.
At the core of the Switchblade Jesus sound is the illegitimate child (born of a three-way between) stoner rock, stoner metal and heavy rock. The tracks have a rough-cut quality to them; the sounds are rough around the edges, somewhat dry but also unique, heavy, fuzz-laden and razor-sharp. The throaty vocals of Pete Quarnstrom put a face to the scene where the music is concerned, but the entire band creates something akin to dry-shaving with a straight razor while sweating under the Nevada heat, before hitting the desert road to get into some low-down hide where dry throats ease thirst with a shot of whiskey. It is stoner rock to its very bones, but brings more than simply a genre staple to the table. The marriage of that with heavy rock and slight psych rock grooves brings a more complex, yet simpler approach to the sound, but also creates a groovier, yet softer edge that makes the emergent hybrid a joy to hear.
One thing that is understood by Switchblade Jesus is that less is more. Unlike some stoner metal / rock bands who throw in a dozen or so riffs per song, thus often sacrificing cohesion, Switchblade Jesus prefers to use one or two riffs. However, this scarcity doesn’t make the music anything less, in fact, it contributes immensely to the overall sound. The album makes sure that songs have extremely memorable, extremely enjoyable and beyond-the-pale groovy riffs in small numbers, but it makes them count. One is all you need to carry a song sometimes, but that one has to be very well-written and must play out with enough groove, force and presence to be able to lift an entire five minutes, which Bastard Son pulls off seemingly without breaking a sweat.
For this album, mid-tempo is God. Songs drift back and forth between the slightly lower mid-tempo (Bastard Son, Oblivion) or the higher vistas of mid-tempo (Copperhead, Renegade Riders.) At first glance, this pacing makes it sound like the album is more underwhelming than it actually is, as the album’s primary feeling is one of comfort, not in-your-face riffing. Some songs, like Sick Mouth, Copperhead or Oblivion drive the listener onwards with the sheer brute force of the riffs stomping down and dragging along the soggy carcass under the heel. Oblivion in particular is a double-offender for this, as it carries a bit of a sludge metal influence with the way it chooses to pound on the riff, and comes off as a twist in the overall inclinations of the rest of the album – this is a good thing, as it provides the twist without going out of sync with the overall feel.
One objection I have to the album itself is Into Nothing, the acoustic instrumental intro. Personally, I have very rarely (if ever) witnessed such intros serving any kind of purpose, and thus find it superfluous. But this is more of a personal preference, as my favourite intro of all time has been Black Spiders’ “Sons of the North” where the album just sort of starts. Another complaint would have been that the three-track EP that sparked my interest in this band (which contained the song Copperhead) was a bit more supercharged in its explosive energy, but the refinement of the sound into the form it takes in the debut is hardly inferior to that, and if anything, displays development, so kudos for that.
The debut of Switchblade Jesus is one of the hidden gems of the stoner rock scene, often overlooked in favor of the bigger names, which is a damn shame. The band itself has undergone a bit of a turmoil when the choir-trained vocalist Pete Qarnstorm departed, and the vocal duties have since been taken up by guitar player Eric Calvert, who reportedly had added a touch of Clutch. I think it would be safe to say that Switchblade Jesus will continue to bring it, and continue to evolve, and I would advise anyone with even the slightest interest in the fuzz-infested parts of rock to check them out.
Grade: 9 / 10
1. Into Nothing
2. Bastard Son
3. The Wolves
4. Sick Mouth
6. Renegade Riders
SWITCHBLADE JESUS (for the relevant album) is:
Peter Quarnstrom – vocals
Eric Calvert – guitars
Billy Guerra – guitar
Jason Beers – bass
Jon Elizondo – drums
earMUSIC welcomes vocalist ANETTE OLZON to their roster of artists. Talking about Anette’s first solo album, there is a name that can’t not be mentioned… So let it be…
Yes, Anette Olzon – as every metal fan knows – has been the front woman of Finnish symphonic-metal superstars NIGHTWISH for five years before having to leave the band in late 2012. Although the circumstances belong to the past and Anette is the kind of artist and person who only looks forward, it is a sure fact that those five years have established Anette as one of the highlight of the rock music map on a global scale.
“Does it sound like Nightwish?” It’s the question that everybody would probably like to ask… It doesn’t but it definitely does, would be the most accurate answer. Certainly more precise than denying it does or confirming Anette’s new songs sound like her previous band.
Shine has been produced with the collaboration of some of the most successful teams in rock and pop in Scandinavia: the producer Stefan Örn (songwriter and producer of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest winning track ‘Running Scared’), Johan Glössner and co-produced by Anette Olzon and Johan Kronlund. The album was mixed by Kronlund, Nicklas Flykt and Ronny Lahti (known for his work with Loreen and Roxette).
The album will be released on February 28th, 2014 by earMUSIC.
“I am so thrilled to finally release my first solo album,” says Anette Olzon. “I’ve been working on it for a long time by now… The album is very personal with songs I have started writing already in 2009 but also very recent songs. The overall message of the album is that life can be really dark and filled with hardship and sadness, but you can always choose to see some light coming through, to make you stronger and full of life – making you SHINE… no matter what.”
And what about the musical direction? “In the end, it is a rock album,” says Anette. “Well, a pop rock album maybe, or would you call it pop metal?” We have heard this one before, didn’t we?
Whether we can define Shine a metal album, rock, pop or “pop rock” what would be hard to miss is how strong the songs are and what an extraordinary album it is. It exceptionally masters the borders between melancholy and hope, between fragility and power, because it showcases an artist who doesn’t rest on her laurels but heads boldly into the future. Because it shines.
Source : bravewords.com
Band : Exthenia
EP : Dominate The Wind
Genre : Melodic Death Metal
Release Date : July 2013
Record Label : Self – released
Exthenia is a melodic death metal band from Finland. The band was formed in December 2012 and they released their first demo “Endless Path” around January- February 2013 and their debut EP “Dominate the Wind” on July 2013. On November 2013, Jere Blom joined the band as keyboardist.
With their debut EP “Dominate the Wind”, these young Finnish melodic death metallers surely are promising. I have to say that I am not a huge fan of this genre but from the first song “Dominate the Wind”, EXTHENIA surely gained my respect. What makes this band special is the fact that they were formed approximately one year ago but with their first debut EP, they show so much potential and so much energy. I can totally imagine the band playing songs like “Falling Down” – amazing and creative riffs and great drumming- and “Disappointment” and creating that golden melodic death metal vibe and jaw-dropping riffs.
Soundwise, the EP sounds really promising and really refreshing; it’s just the right type of melodic death metal that I want to hear. It’s rough, a little bit brutal and truly energetic. The riffs of the lead guitarist Mikael “Wessu” Weckström are truly amazing and really technical. However, I found the growls of the vocalist Juho Raita a bit too ‘raw’ for the recording; they almost sounded like ‘raw black metal growls’, which did not fit to the whole atmosphere of the EP but I am sure this will be improved in the upcoming records. Furthermore, with the new keyboardist Jere Blom, I am sure the band will create wonders and improve in the future!
In today’s world where only a few bands lead in the genre of melodic death metal, newcomer bands like EXTHENIA are surely needed. Surely this band is quite young and they have a long way to go but I am sure they will climb those stairs and gain more respect. I am looking forward to the upcoming releases of this band and eager to see what they will do with the new keyboard sounds!
Fast and technical riffs, amazing drumming and great energy and potential… “Dominate The Wind” is a must for every death metal fan out there!
Rating : 8/10
© Mari Kuunila
Swedish metallers SABATON have just announced on their official website that a new permanent drummer has joined the ranks. Here is the band’s statement:
“For some time there has been rumors about Robban coming back soon, or that Snowy would fill in for a while longer, or even take Robbans place permanently behind the drums.
To put an end to these rumors we now present our new full time member in Sabaton: Hannes Van Dahl.
Hannes has previously played in Evergrey which we have toured with in the past, and he has also worked side by side with us as drum technician for Snowy during his time in Sabaton.
He did his first show as a Sabaton member at this weekends show at Metal Hammer Paradise festival in Germany.
We would of course like to thank Robban and Snowy for their great time in Sabaton, and we will continue to support them in everything they will do in the future!
In just a few weeks we will start recording a new album and more details will be presented very soon!
The topic for the new album is set and we are very excited, it´s totally SABATON.“
Put on your leather jackets and raise those fists in the air – because pure steel will greet you on stage soon!!! German true metal giants MAJESTY will embark on a headliner tour in February and March 2014, and supporting them will be like-minded Hungarian act WISDOM and Hamburg-based metal merchants STORMWARRIOR.
With their comeback album “Thunder rider”, MAJESTY proved in January 2013 that they still stand for finest teutonic true metal and unmatched anthems galore! No wonder the album entered the German charts at #55. A quality level that “Banners high” seems to surpass with ease: said metal manifesto will be unleashed on the masses December 20th, 2013, and fans can look forward to epic songs, glorious vocals and incredible shredding! “Banners high” is also the first-ever concept album in the band`s history and tells a fantasy story penned by MAJESTY singer Tarek „MS“ Maghary himself.
Since their founding in 2001, Hungarian guardians of steel WISDOM love to combine epic spirit with pure-bred power metal that gives acts like BLIND GUARDIAN a run for its money: after the release of »Judas« and a tour with genre giants SABATON, it`s now time to defend WISDOM`s new standing in the scene with a fresh bunch of powerful anthems! Should be a piece of cake with their mighty third album »Marching for liberty«…
With a name like STORMWARRIOR you`re basically bound to play pure heavy metal! The Hamburg-based band sticks to that and thrilled us with anthems such as “Spikes and leather” or “Possessed by metal”. In recent years though, STORMWARRIOR started to include viking metal elements that showed quite strongly on albums like “Heading Northe” (2008). “Thunder & steel” is set for a release in February 2014.
Tickets for this pure steel extravaganza can be ordered at www.hardticket.eu!
MAJESTY – Banners High Tour 2014
14.02.2014 NL – Tilburg, Little Devil
15.02.2014 DE – Oberhausen, Helvete
16.02.2014 DE – Nürnberg, Rockfabrik
21.02.2014 DE – Siegen, Vortex
22.02.2014 DE – Trier, Exhaus
23.02.2014 CH – Pratteln, Z7
28.02.2014 DE – Aalen, Rock It
01.03.2014 DE – München, Backstage
02.03.2014 BE – Vosselaar, Biebob
07.03.2014 DE – Berlin, K17
08.03.2014 DE – Flensburg, Roxy
09.03.2014 DE – Hamburg, Marx
14.03.2014 AT – Wien, Escape
15.03.2014 HU – Budapest, Club 202
16.03.2014 CZ – Prague, Club Kain
DARK FUNERAL Announces Release Date For ‘Diabolis Interium’, ‘Attera Totus Sanctus’, And ‘Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus’ Re-Issues
According to Century Media Records, After releasing re-issues for The Secrets of the Black Arts,Vobiscum Satanas, and In the Sign… yesterday in North America, Swedish black metal masters DARK FUNERAL have now announced the street date for their second batch of re-issues: Diabolis Interium, Attera Totus Sanctus, Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus. Due out November 25th in Europe and North America, these new editions have been expanded with previously unseen photos from Lord Ahriman’s personal archive, extensive liner notes by Olivier “Zoltar” Badin (Terrorizer / Iron Fist), bonus material and revamped layouts. See below for each album’s track-listing and details.
Available as a digital download with CD and LP imports at CM Distro
1. The Arrival Of Satan’s Empire (3:48)
2. Hail Murder (5:02)
3. Goddess Of Sodomy (4:11)
4. Diabolis Interium (4:20)
5. An Apprentice Of Satan (6:05)
6. Thus I Have Spoken (5:00)
7. Armageddon Finally Comes (3:21)
8. Heart Of Ice (4:34)
9. An Apprentice Of Satan 2000 (6:06)
10. The Trial (KING DIAMOND cover) (5:28)
11. Dead Skin Mask (SLAYER cover) (4:47)
12. Remember The Fallen (SODOM cover) (4:16)
13. Pagan Fears (MAYHEM cover) (6:32)
14. Hail Murder (live in South America 2003) (5:08)
15. Thus I Have Spoken (live in South America 2003) (5:00)
16. Armageddon Finally Comes (live in South America 2003) (4:07)
Tracks 1-4: LP Side A
Tracks 5-8: LP Side B
Tracks 9-13: LP Side C
Tracks 14-16: LP Side DAttera Totus Sanctus (Re-issue + Bonus)
Available as a digital download with CD and LP imports at CM Distro
1. King Antichrist (4:42)
2. 666 Voices Inside (4:38)
3. Attera Totus Sanctus (5:38)
4. Godhate (5:07)
5. Atrum Regina (5:33)
6. Angel Flesh Impaled (5:54)
7. Feed On The Mortals (5:41)
8. Final Ritual (5:44)
9. Atrum Regina (instrumental) (5:33)**
10. Open The Gates (2005 version) (4:22)**
11. The Arrival Of Satan’s Empire (live in South America) (3:35)*
12. An Apprentice Of Satan (live in South America) (5:30)*
13. The Dawn No More Rises (live in South America) (3:27)*
14. The Secrets Of The Black Arts (live in South America) (3:34)*
15. Vobiscum Satanas (live in South America) (4:19)*
16. Ineffable King Of Darkness (live in South America) (2:54)*
* = bonus tracks only available on CD version!
** = previously only available as Japanese bonus tracks
Tracks 1-5: LP Side A
Tracks 6-10: LP Side B
Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus (Re-issue + Bonus)
Available as a digital download with CD and LP imports at CM Distro
1. The End Of Human Race (4:40)
2. The Birth Of The Vampiir (4:43)
3. Stigmata (5:07)
4. My Funeral (5:33)
5. Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus (5:00)
6. Demons Of Five (4:45)
7. Declaration Of Hate (5:23)
8. In My Dreams (6:27)
9. My Latex Queen (5:21)
10. King Antichrist (live in Buenos Aires 2006) (5:53)*
11. Diabolis Interium (live in Buenos Aires 2006) (4:06)*
12. Ravenna Strigoi Mortii (live in Buenos Aires 2006) (3:51)*
13. Open The Gates (live in Buenos Aires 2006) (4:02)*
14. Atrum Regina (live in Buenos Aires 2006) (6:07)*
* = bonus tracks only available on CD version; previously unreleased as audio tracks!
Tracks 1-5: LP Side A
Tracks 6-9: LP Side B
Nuclear Blast Records issues:
The Hydra, a mythological serpent creature from ancient Greece, couldn’t be killed. When one of its many heads was cut off, two more grew in its place…
“It’s like us – undefinable!” laughs WITHIN TEMPTATION guitarist and songwriter Robert Westerholt. “What’s more, ‘Hydra’ is a perfect title for our new album, because like the monster itself, the record represents the many different sides of our music.”
WITHIN TEMPTATION’s sixth studio album, special guest performances on Hydra include: Finnish operatic metal diva Tarja Turunen, acclaimed singer-songwriter Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum, metalcore hero Howard Jones formerly of Killswitch Engage and U.S. hip-hop icon and actor Xzibit (Alvin Nathaniel Joiner).
Asked to describe Xzibit’s performance on the song “And We Run,” WITHIN TEMPTATION’s Westerholt laughs. “Xzibit is amazing. This song is about how you’ve got to live your life now. He’s rapping at full force on this song. It’s really heavy.”
Lead vocalist Sharon den Adel adds: “Xzibit brings a new element to our music that we’ve never had before! It’s a new cross-over and we love it!”
As for the mighty performance by Tarja Turunen, Sharon declares: “The way she delivers those high melody lines left us all speechless. We had a great time, and the fans responded beyond our expectations.”
One of the album heaviest tracks, “Dangerous” was recorded with the former Killswitch Engage singer Howard Jones, whose epic vocals are a perfect fit for Sharon’s. “I always loved Howard’s voice,” she confesses. “He makes the song even heavier than it already is. That song is one of my favorite songs on the record and one of the fastest we’ve ever written. It has the most bass drums we’ve ever used, too, and a very fast riff which we doubled with synths. It’s not a typical synthesizer, though – it’s distorted like a guitar, and it’s very aggressive.”
Hydra goes from strength to strength with “Whole World Is Watching,” featuring Soul Asylum’s golden-voiced singer Dave Pirner. “When we wrote ‘Whole World Is Watching,’ Dave was at the very top of our list. He has such a captivating voice: it made the song exactly how it needed to be.”
The track listing for Hydra is:
01 – Let Us Burn
02 – Dangerous featuring Howard Jones
03 – And We Run featuring Xzibit
04 – Paradise (What About Us?) featuring Tarja
05 – Edge Of The World
06 – Silver Moonlight
07 – Covered By Roses
08 – Dog Days
09 – Tell Me Why
10 – Whole World Is Watching featuring Dave Pirner
Hydra features neoclassical artwork by concept artist Romano Molenaar (X-Men, Batman), who also worked with WITHIN TEMPTATION on the artwork for 2011’s The Unforgiving, which debuted in the U.S. at #50 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart.
The album will be released in the U.S. by Nuclear Blast Entertainment in early 2014 in the following formats (North American pre-order links will be announced soon):
• Limited Deluxe Box Set (LP-sized box, 2 CD/18-tracks + bonus tracks, digi-book with foil print cover, 100 page booklet, double gatefold black vinyl LP, instrumental version of the album, collector’s guitar pick, song book + sheet music)
• Digital Premium Album – exclusive iTunes edition (18 tracks with digi-booklet, audio commentary, and Paradise [What About Us?] music video)
• Special Edition 2-CD
• Double-vinyl LP
• Jewel-case CD
Source : metalshockfinland.com
Swedish dark metallers KATATONIA have had a very hectic year. The band has been on the tour for a very long time and in the hectic touring schedule, the band has managed to release “Dethroned & Uncrowned”, which is the stripped version of the previous record “Dead End Kings” (2012) . Furthermore, the band has also been celebrating the 10th year of “Viva Emptiness” (2003), which has been reissued.
Recently, Katatonia has been on the road with PARADISE LOST and LACUNA COIL to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of “Viva Emptiness”. I had the honour to interview the guitarist Anders ‘Blakkheim’ Nyström and the vocalist Jonas Renkse before the band’s show in Cologne on 4th November about the new albums, the band’s sound and the future plans.
© Mathias Blom
How are you guys doing? How is the tour going so far? This is a special kind of tour since it is the 10th anniversary of Viva Emptiness and also 25th anniversary of Paradise Lost.
Anders : It’s going really smooth. We are good friends with Paradise Lost; we enjoy touring together. We also have a similarity in our fanbase. Everyone’s nice, chilled and hanging out. I had some trouble in my voice. It’s back now but for a few days, I couldn’t get out a good sound so I haven’t been singing in the shows and it’s a turn-off for me. Tonight I’m gonna try singing again.
Jonas : The tour is going really smooth and easy-going.
Anders : It’s really fun to play “Viva Emptiness”!
You have been on the road for a very long time. Does this tour feel somehow special for you? You are only playing the entire set of “Viva Emptiness” and not like a mixed setlist.
Anders : Yes. It’s very special!
Do you see really hardcore fans or is it a mixed fanbase in the shows?
Anders : They are so far away that we don’t see them! *laughs*. Well, we are the opening band so we have only 1 hour so instead of doing a ‘best-of’; it’s a much cooler concept to do an album that fits within that hour. So the people who have this album as their favorite can expect a pretty cool show.
Jonas: The problem is, if someone does not like this album, then it’s pretty shit [to come to the show].
Speaking of “Viva Emptiness”, it was released 10 years ago and it was reissued recently. In the cover, we see that the girl is also ten years older now. When you think about the title, what did it mean to you 10 years ago and what does it mean to you now regarding the character of the band?
Jonas: Since it’s been 10 years, it’s quite a long time. Things have happened in the band. We have the new bandmembers. But in the musical sense, it still makes perfect sense because we are still the same songwriters with the same visions and ideas. If we did the album today from the scratch, it would probably sound different; we have grown up as musicians and songwriters but when we went back to listen to the album and rehearse it now, we were all like “There are so many good songs in this album!” . We haven’t really thought about it because we haven’t played some of the songs live before so once we started jamming ,we were like “Wow, that’s good stuff°”. So generally, we have made small changes.
Anders: I think we have been able to bring new life to this album.Personally, I have rediscovered the album and I fell in love with it again. I have forgotten about the album before but it’s very exciting now. It is what it is, it’s been 10 years but it’s very refreshing to perform it live. That’s the important thing right now. We also finally got a peace of mind with the reissue because we finally got to do the adjustments to the mix this time and we are happy with the production as well. All the small things like the keyboard sounds and additional vocals [in the last song] made the whole album very exciting again.
You have also released the “Dethroned & Uncrowned” album on September. I personally loved it but it also caught my attention that some fans were not pleased with it. Did you expect this reaction?
Anders: Yeah, we expected this. It’s such a drastic turn; basically, if you were into the last album because of the heaviness or the whole metal vibe, that’s taken away now.
But I think the essence is still there, right?
Anders: Yeah, totally! We are open-minded people so we see beyond the genres of our limitation. We just look at what’s good musically. The songs are more beautiful than ever but if you don’t have the open-mindedness to see that, you will think like “Oh, this sucks! What’s this pop shit?!”. Those people can think whatever they want and the world probably also needs those people too because it creates contrast. Everyone can’t think the same.
How did you come up with the idea for “Dethroned & Uncrowned” ? Did it happen while composing “Dead End Kings”?
Jonas : It happened actually when we did “Dead End Kings” already and we realized that so much of the stuff that’s gonna be in the background sounded really good. We listened to more ambient stuff and there was so much music that was gonna be buried in the mix. So we started joking about the idea and then it became reality. The record label was into it but we didn’t have the financial budget so we started the PledgeCampaign and we’re gonna also take this album on tour next year.
That was what I was wondering about as well! Are you gonna tour just for “Dethroned & Uncrowned”?
Anders : No, there’s gonna be everything included in the setlist.
Jonas : We’re gonna work more on some old songs as well.
Anders : We’re gonna make it so different. We have booked churches and stuff like that. It will be really atmospheric with the church candles so we are gonna make it really moody and calm this time. It’s gonna have a different vibe from normal rock/metal shows.
Jonas: Some of the venues are even seated.
You started as a very different band and your sound has changed throughout the years. How do you manage to keep the essence of the band? I see some really good bands changing their sound but losing their essence as well.
Anders: I think the secret is to not listen to anyone else and make the music for yourself. You have to make it for yourself, you cannot lie to yourself. You have to love what you do and have to be motivated and have the drive, keep pushing yourself and raise the bar. Every album we do is a new challenge and it becomes a part of the integrity. It’s loving art and people can see whether you do it from the heart or not. We do it from the heart. It’s quite a journey to come there but it’s not hard; it’s very natural. The keyword is natural.
Jonas: It’s also because of what kind-of people we are from the beginning. We started this band many years ago and we have a vision and we still keep it because we do not want an overnight success or fame or money. We still have the same goal as we started; we wanna make dark music and that’s it.
Anders : The albums are like the the clothes that we change; it’s the same message and vision but the appearance changes as you grow. You don’t wear the same clothes that you did when you were 10 years old; everything changes but the mentality is the same. Our darkness has been wider now.
A lot of fans are wondering about the upcoming DVD. Is there any news about it?
Anders: It’s such a strange and frustrating experiment. There are so many factors that are out of our control. We have the show but the frustrating part is that the show is coming older and older; it’s been 2 years now and that’s frustrating. That’s completed but the other parts are not and that’s what people want; the whole documentary and the bonus footage and that’s taking forever. I always said we shouldn’t stress and rush either because nobody’s gonna be happy with the final result.
Jonas: We have been trying to reach out to people that has been involved with Katatonia one way or the other. It’s not just interviews with us.
Anders: We need key people in the history.
Jonas: They are busy or away.
But is it gonna be released or cancelled? Because it’s been 2 years already.
Anders: I had the same question in my mind. It’s not gonna be cancelled. It might turn into another DVD. Something’s gonna come out but we don’t know what’s gonna be the ‘main’ thing. The anniversary in London was the key footage there but maybe that’s gonna end up as a bonus footage of another show.
Jonas: The main thing is that it has to be a really good release.
Anders: I think we are halfway there somehow because we have so much footage. It has to be gotten together and we don’t have the time since we are on the road.
Jonas: The new album was released on the way as well.
You have had a very hectic year. What can you say about the highlight of the year for Katatonia?
Jonas: In the beginning of the year, we did a tour with Opeth in Australia. For me, that was a really good experience. We had great shows and the tour with Opeth is always fun. Seeing Australia like that was the highlight for me.
Anders: It’s hard to pinpoint one highlight because as you said, the whole year for me was a big highlight. We managed to do all the tours worldwide and come up with two albums. 2013 has been a massive year for us. It’s almost like we spoiled our fans.
Jonas: At least for me and for us, “Dead End Kings” is still a fresh album.
Anders: We still call it the ‘new album’ and the “Dethroned & Uncrowned” album was released a bit too early as well. It was already out there but we are touring for “Viva Emptiness” right now so it’s a bit reversed since the “Dethroned & Uncrowned” tour is gonna be next year.
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If Katatonia would release a unique and special merchandise item that would represent the character of the band, what would it be?
Jonas: Dead birds! *smiles*. We have been thinking about this and the whole wine/beer thing is getting too common these days. Some of the guys in the band love gin-tonic so we wanted to do a gin-tonic drink and call it ‘Katatonic’.
Anders: It’s pretty cheesy because gin also has a flavor of pine trees in it and there are pine trees in the layout of “Dead End Kings”. This drink in Finland is really popular since they sell it as a long-drink (Lonkero) so we could also call it ‘the longest drink’ [tribute to the Katatonia song "The Longest Year"]. We’re just having fun with those ideas; it’s not really a priority for us. We actually had a really weird item in the “Viva Emptiness 2003″tour; we sold fucking thongs. I don’t know who came up with that idea and we never ever had it since. It was just there one time.
Jonas: It was this merchandise company that just decided to do it.
Anders: But why?!
Jonas: Yeah, that’s really weird.
What is in the future of the band? Do you have ideas for another new album or are you gonna give a break?
Anders: There’s never a break. The break is actually writing a new album.
How do you actually manage this then? You must be getting homesick and tired, you have families and everything.
Anders: We do get tired but then we come back again to the part that we are doing what we love and as soon as you remind yourself of that , who you are and the journey you had to come this far, you cannot throw away all of it. It’s a lot of hardwork but the reward is to see that it pays off. That’s the fuel for the vehicle.
Jonas: You could be so bored during the day but then you go on stage and after that, we feel like this is what we wanna do.
Anders: That never gets old. I never had those thoughts on stage.
Special thanks to : Katatonia management & promotion, Anders “Blakkheim” Nyström and Jonas Renkse.
Estonian folk-metal band METSATÖLL will release three albums from its catalog — “Äio” (2010), “Ulg” (2011) and “Tuska” (2012) — digitally on November 5. In addition, group’s the new single, “Lööme Mesti” (“Together”), will be made available on November 19. The track will appear on METSATÖLL‘s upcoming CD, due out in March.
If you’re not familiar with this unique and difficult-to-classify band, which is a badge of honor and a nod to their genre-bending, flip-the-script style, here’s a brief history lesson.
Their humble beginnings are as such: On February 24, 1999, three men held a meeting at the borders of the Pääsküla bog (Tallinn suburbs), in the singer and guitar player Markus‘ basement, one of whom could play a little bit of guitar, another who knew how to play a little bit of drums, and a third who had come up with a sufficiently ancient-sounding name that would be just right for a heavy metal band — METSATÖLL.
The name “Metsatöll” is an ancient Estonian euphemism for wolf.
The thought soon turned into reality and over the next few days four or five songs were composed and a couple of months later, there was an entire album’s worth of material.
The demo album “Terast Mis Hangunud Me Hinge” was released in the autumn of 1999. Soon afterwards, Lauri joined the band, bringing with him a second guitar, the torupill (bagpipes), kannels, zithers and flutes.
METSATÖLL‘s current lineup was finalized in 2004, when drummer Atso took up the place behind the kit. That same year, the band crushed all previous sales records for an Estonian metal artist and won METSATÖLL the “Best Metal Act” 2005 award at the Estonian Music Awards ceremony. They have won the award five times in a row.
METSATÖLL — which has already toured the U.S. three times — will embark on another U.S. run this fall alongside FINNTROLL and BLACKGUARD.
Read more at http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/metsatoll-to-release-new-single/#gPcgEId897gk75dK.99