Category Archives: 195 Metalbands (Interviews)

Interview Montfaucon: Isolation in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is probably not the first place you think of when you hear metal music. Still, there’s a big scene of alternative music in the former Soviet states south of Russia. Uzbekistan is an overly Islamic country that actually has seen its share of censorship in the best years, but the music flourishes, especially if the lyrics are in English.

With a dense history spanning the ages, it was rather surprising to me to find a band that took its name from a horrible spot of executions during the time France still had kings. Their sound was an eclectic mixture of various genres and this is what drew me to the band Montfaucon. I got in touch with them through e-mail.

Valentin Myamsin has left Uzbekistan and lives in the United States now, but the band keeps working on material across the globe. With a new record just released, titled ‘Renaissance’, the band is keeping it up and staying strong, so we had a nice little conversation about metal in Uzbekistan and Montfaucon.

Could you kindly introduce yourselves as band? Have or are you guys involved in any other musical projects?

Montfaucon has been formed in 2002 in the city Tashkent in Uzbekistan by me (Valentin Mayamsin) on guitar and Mikhail Epifanov on piano. We started actively working on composing songs and have been selected to perform at two day festival ‘Alternative music festival 2004’ organized by British council. (It was quite an event I’d say given that we had rare metal gigs and just a few metal bands). That was a trigger to find a drummer Renat Khidirov and bassist Sergey Sadokov. Over the course of next few years we had on bass Denis Raytuzov and Andrey Astashov and at last saxophonist Andrey Golubev. Today Montfaucon exists as a project since I moved to USA and I am separated with other members by the entire planet Earth. Thanks to Internet we’re still actively composing new stuff, but unfortunately cannot perform live.

How did you get inspired to make metal music? What bands specifically inspired you and why?

We all had different influences in different bands. I personally had influence of a very wide range of bands and styles, most notably Satyricon, Cradle of Filth, Cannibal Corpse, maudlin of the Well, Andromeda, My Dying Bride, Opeth, Emperor, even Pink Floyd. What inspired me to make metal music? When I met Mikhail and heard a few of his dark piano compositions, I realized that it moves me. We combined them with heavy guitars, brutal vocals, and produced a unique and interesting sound driven primarily by piano. I thought that piano is quite unrepresented in metal music and it inspired my to further experiment with it.

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How did you come up with the band name and concept of Montfaucon, which appears to be the place where a huge gallows was positioned in France during the time of their kings. A rather gruesome place?

Indeed. Gruesome, dark themes are found everywhere in our music and lyrics. The band name was inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’. At the end of the book he describes Montfaucon gibbet which somberness stroke me. I have also been inspired by this novel when writing lyrics. The description of torturous imprisonment in a stone box gave inspiration for ‘Prisoner’,  The song ‘The last night’ is set around Montfaucon gibbet and medieval punishment traditions.

 

Musically Montfaucon is an oddity, combining raw death/black elements with progressive and experimental bits. How did you come up with your specific sound?

I think it’s because of my wide exposure to different bands and styles. A friend of mine regularly introduced me to different bands before even Internet became widespread in our country and speed was enough to pirate music. It was late 90’s. He is an artist with extensive connections abroad who supplied him disks of rare bands, demos. Back then we could only find cassettes of popular bands like Metallica, Sepultura or My Dying Bride. But this guy had things like Satyricon, maudlin of the Well, Symphony X, etc. This is what I grew up on, and this is what Montfaucon is heavy influenced with. And this is just influence on my side since every member of Montfaucon brought in his own influences.

Your musical production has been sparse. Are you working on anything right now?

Yes we are! We haven’t had a chance to produce a full length album for many different reasons. Back when we got started we merely didn’t have enough money. Mikhail was first among us who had a computer and we produced a few demos at home which allowed us to participate in big music events in Tashkent and promote on radio. Later on we were busy building our careers and couldn’t find enough time for music. And finally last year we decided that we owe ourselves a decent record and started producing our first album. We recorded everything at home, decent recording hardware is quite affordable nowadays. All songs have been composed a decade ago, but we refined some parts, added layers of additional details. Yet we tried to keep original parts contributed by each member of our band. Legendary Swedish sound engineer Dan Swanö agreed to mix and master the album which turned out terrific! He made every part of every song sound best, he managed to find our unique sound and he even put a few easter eggs for those who will listen carefully.

You’ve got a new album ready, can you tell a bit about that?

The new album is basically what we have composed over the course of active years. There are many experiments with the style and sound. Every song has it own unique sound and feature. We were lucky to work on the album with legendary sound engineer and musician Dan Swanö who made every our song sound the best it can possibly be.  The album was recorded in the comfort of our home without any rush over the course of 6 months and exchanged files over the Internet. We didn’t have any previous recording experience so we involved the leader of ‘The Faceless’ Michael Keene who advised us on the process of recording. I was focused on the quality and I had to rewrite all guitar and bass parts 3 times. Mixing process was challenging as well since we had no clue how piano can be put together with guitars so it wouldn’t get lost. With Dan we went over many variations and experiments with the sound before achieving perfection.

What can you tell me about the history of metal in Uzbekistan and how does the scene look like now?

Well, I don’t think I’m competent to give accurate history of the movement as I joined metal community pretty late. I’d recommend reaching out to Peter Stulovsky for that matter – he can tell about promoting metal on radio and cover history comprehensively. However, I can give you my perspective on that.

When I first visited a metal gig it took place in an old ‘Palace of Culture’ which was quite common at the time. The place was not fit for this kind of activity: there was no dance floor, just dense rows of seats stationary nailed to floor. No wonder when people got high on heavy music and alcohol they started to crash this place and it finished with police and troubles for organizers. This kind of concerts and outcomes were quite common those days and seemed like other clubs learned that and stopped giving places for any gigs. There was a quiet period for a few years when old bands disbanded and new bands formed grown up on Internet and a new radio show called ‘Hard days’ (‘Тяжелые будни’). That was the time when we formed our band as well. Suddenly it was announced on the radio that there is  going to be a two-day festival organized by British Council and there is a call for demos and rehearsals. Needless to say, it was one of the biggest events in music history of Tashkent. Many new metal bands showed up including us, Zindan, Sweet Silence and Titus. Here is a few of videos from that concert:

It triggered a renaissance in metal scene of Uzbekistan. Internet also became more widespread, opened a new metal forum where bands could promote themselves, gigs has been organized and announced. New bands started to pop up every month or so, opened a few more or less permanent rock/metal clubs, new records by local bands played on radio.  A few examples. ‘Sepsis’ playing death metal including covers on Cannibal Corpse and Death. A black metal band from Ferghana (unfortunately I don’t remember their name, hope Peter will help out with that) playing blast beats on crappy Soviet drums. A progressive metal band ‘4th dream’ playing 10 minutes long ever-changing compositions with a vocalist singing in ranges from high pitch clean vocals to growl and screams.

It continued to be this way pretty much till I left the country in 2008. I guess Peter can cover up period from 2008 onward.

To wrap up, I’d say it was pretty isolated metal community. A few of Uzbekistan bands played abroad, mostly in Kazakhstan. A few foreign bands played in Uzbekistan. Although we always followed what happened on Europe and USA metal scenes.

How are the facilities for you in your country? Are things like music, instruments and such easily available? are there venues to play and rehearsal spaces, studioś and such available?

When we got started it was hard to find a rehearsal space, metal music was not welcomed, metal culture has been (and still) stigmatized in many people’s minds. As I mentioned earlier concerts has usually been held in ‘Palace of Culture’ with help of Soviet era amplifiers and speakers. Music instruments was hard to find. Guitars, basses, drums – everything was from Soviet era. Originally I even played on a DIY guitar combined from other guitar parts. I made my own distortion pedal, even tried different schematics found on Internet to achieve better sound. Occasionally somebody brought some wonders from abroad like guitar processors, cardan shaft drum pedals, etc. Rehearsals took place in basements, storerooms or in the best case in ‘Palace of Culture’ next door to some dance studio.

Later on it improved substantially. Some folks managed to find an abandoned high-rise student dorm and turn it into rehearsal space. There was room for everybody and they did not disturb other people. People started selling gear from China and Russia which was both affordable and way better then we used to have. People started hanging out in new rock/metal clubs demanding more metal gigs. Venues improved as well by providing better experience and security.

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If you were able to play anywhere, what places would you most like to play shows at and why?

Haha. I don’t have any place in mind. I just love to play for any crowd.

Uzbekistan being a mostly Islamic country, do you face any repression as a metal musician? I’ve learned that this differs immensely depending on where musicians live and I’m interested to know what it’s like for you guys and if you have some experiences to share?

Well, I have not experienced any repressions on religious grounds. Although most people practice Islam, they are pretty mild. At least in big cities like Tashkent or Samarkand. However people still have Soviet mindset and police is quite repressive. Occasionally there was ‘educational’ police raids which I heard was quite humiliating experience. It didn’t happen to me though and as far as I know it usually didn’t have much consequences to others. Censorship might have existed, but all our songs are in English and nobody seem to bothered to translate what we shouted out from stage.

Do you put something typical Uzbeki in your music? Like note patterns, instruments or such?

Not really, I didn’t feel much influence of Uzbek music on me. Although we have an Oriental instrumental which hasn’t been recorded yet and a few turns in piano parts. Though I may not realize it, others may tell there is an Oriental twist in our music. You tell me…

What bands from Uzbekistan should people check out and why?

I don’t really follow Uzbekistan music scene these days. I hope Peter might suggest something.

What future plans do you have as Montfaucon?

I hope to finish new compositions which will raise quality bar for Montfaucon. We have a few unfinished songs which already sound terrific. I dream of Montfaucon to grow out of just being a project and perform live.

If you had to describe your band as a dish (food), what would it be and why?

Haha. Funny one. Bloody burrito? I dunno, music and food are in different dimensions to me which cannot coexist in close proximity. Say what?!…

Downfall of Nur: Shrouded histories of Sardinia

If you were looking out for awesome releases in 2015, you might have seen the album ‘Umbras De Barbagia’. An album with an intriguing cover that beckoned you to enter a misty world of a forgotten past. Interesting enough, if you looked into it, you’d find out that Barbagia is the more wild and untamed part of the Italian island of Sardinia. So how is it that Downfall Of Nur from Argentina is addressing this?

For those more versed in linguistics or history might have already detected the rare topic this band uses in their music, namely that of a forgotten civilisation on the island of Sardinia in the mediterranean. Wildy atmospheric and daring in its lack of simple song structures, it’s winding build-up and storytelling progression, it was an album that should have been and probably was in many end-of-year lists.

I instantly got my hands on the vinyl and recently also managed to purchase EP ‘Umbras de Forestas’. Listening to that after the full lenght feels a lot like going back in time, tracing the origins of a sound that feels so thought through, so completely captivating. I felt it was necesary to learn a bit more about this band and its origins. It’s because of that I decided to get in touch with Antonio, the man behind Downfall of Nur. A young musician with an incredibly creative and maybe even ancient mind.

How are you doing and can you kindly introduce yourself?

Hello, very well! My name is Antonio; I’m an Italian musician and producer based in Argentina, founder, and mastermind of the atmospheric Black Metal project “Downfall of Nur”.

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There seems to be an overall confusion about your nationality. As I understood you are from Sardinia, but residing in Argentina. How did that all happen?

Yes, I was born in Sardinia in 1996 and moved here in Argentina on 2008, so, I’m Italian.

What does it mean to be Sardinian to you? To write about your homeland and the meaning it has, can you describe this?

It means a lot, and when something means a lot sometimes you are proud or just sad about it, Sardinia was always loved and hated for the wild and enchanting cultural heritage, this cultural heritage made of values, the language and history is what creates an identity, to which you belong. It’s in your blood. Nowadays, little is left of all this, considering that society since the seventies has become much more individualistic.

With globalization everyone wants to be the stereotype, each passing year more people cares less about their “origins”. I think it’s the media bombardment taking all of your attention in different directions and besides there’s this materialistic society, which encourages originality and diversity, but discriminates against those who think differently. Writing about Sardinia, my home, my history and culture is what make me be and feel Sardinian, defend my origins and carry them like a flag.

Your project Downfall of Nur is to me one of the most fascinating things I’ve heard in a while. I’m specifically intrigued by the story behind the concept. Can you elaborate on that?

The project concept is based on the Nuragic Civilization, the ancient civilization of Sardinia. Some years ago in 2013, I decided to end all the musical projects I had, than anyway, they were not approached very seriously.

I started to working on something new and much more personal that I wanted to approach with all seriousness (which I believe I did). With this idea I started writing about my homeland and my ancestors and after some months this project took the name of ‘Downfall of Nur’.

u’ve played in some other bands; can you say something about that?

Actually I haven’t played in any real bands this far. I just had a couple of projects when i was 15/16. Most of those are a bit embarrassing if I look at them now. In those times I wanted to have a band, though not a black metal band and where I lived at the time I just couldn’t find anyone to play with really, everyone at the time was wanted to play covers of other bands and I was bored of them.

Then I got in touch with the work of Burzum and the fact that Varg Vikernes used to do everything by himself and that just inspired me to start do everything by my own and after a couple of years here we are.

When I first saw the cover of ‘Umbras De Barbagia’ I glanced over it a couple of times, but it stood out so much and lured me in. Can you tell a bit about the cover and why you think it’s particularly interesting, drawing new listeners?

Oh yes, I believe than the cover of an album is important as or even more than the music. In this case much of the interest the album garnered is thanks to the album cover. As you said, it’s particularly interesting. I think this is an image that provokes suspense and mystery and is also quite unique in its form. It expresses the concept of the album itself. What you see represented on the cover is the old masked figure, which is an ancient, traditional mask of Barbagia, than represents a pre-Nuragic divinity or expression of divinity.

How did you go about writing and recording this album and did you find a specific state of mind in which to do it, since it is so wrought with feeling and emotion (to me as a listener)?

I started to write for “Umbras de Barbagia” at the end of 2013/2014. I felt pretty nostalgic and was not too well in those times so I started writing songs. Everything went quite naturally, I never planned anything, the album started to take the shape on his own while I was recording and composing. When the instrumental recordings were finalized I started to looking for a guest vocalist and I got in touch with Dany Tee, we had meet some time before I started out with Downfall of Nur, I was a fan of his bands specially Seelenmord and I thought it would be a good contribution. After this, we spent all of autumn and winter working on the album. I think beyond how I felt at the time, what was most important and influential is that the album was not forced in any way. I believe than that determined the final sound of Umbras de Barbagia.

Balancing the folk and metal elements is something that can make or break an album, but on your album I find that it only makes each other stronger. How did you find a way to integrate the two so completely without mixing them up?

The integration happened through the composition and recording process of the album. Long ago I was planning to add ethnic instruments and create some semi-folkloric atmospheres to give to the album some details. This took place on this record, as the overall composition and the concept allowed it. These instruments fited very well without feeling as if they are out of place. I think this album needed such instruments to create these kinds of atmospheres.

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The quality of your recordings is superb. Can you say something about the production and mixing?

Thanks, I think nowadays you can get great results even with a home studio. The mixing of ‘Umbras De Barbagia’ took quite a long time. We worked together with Dany Tee as co-producer. After the mixing process was end, we send the album to Hernan Conidi, Dany friend, who had a studio in Buenos Aires. He did the final mastering and for me the result was perfect. We are very pleased with the final sound of this record.

In your music you are using a couple of traditional instruments. Can you tell a bit about those and what effect you feel they have on your music? Why did you choose these particular ones?

What I use most frequently are the Quenacho flute, high whistle and the Launeddas, which is a traditional instrument of Sardinia. I also used some classic cellos. I think these instruments really contribute to enrich the atmosphere giving more archaic touch. This was one of the main points of focus during the production of the album, because there are many parts with ambient sounds. Everything was made to make it feel like the music was a bridge between the present reality and your imagination. Close your eyes and let the music take you away.

Do you feel connected to the black metal scene (in so far as there is one) in general and what bands have inspired you to make the music you make? What is it about those bands that you find inspiring?

Not really, I think I’m out of the ‘scene’ with the exception of a few friends.I don’t feel I’m really part of it. I just record and write music at home in my studio, because this is what I like to do, and that’s it. Back in the days, some years ago, when I discovered ‘Black Metal’ some bands did inspire me directly. Examples of those are Ulver, Burzum, Darkthrone and Satyricon. The sound, the mystics, by the time everything was mesmerizing. I was looking for something similar when I stumbled upon the first Opeth record. That was after reading about extreme metal and Scandinavian bands in the nineties and I found something better there.

Like many ‘new’ black metal bands, your music isn’t strictly in the ‘old’ format and explores its own artistic realm. Where else do you get your inspiration (outside of BM), both musically and in a sense of ambiance and feel?

Thanks! I think personally that it is boring to remain stuck in the old format. I don’t mean that this is boring for an audience, but for me as an artist it would not work out. It’s simply not what I like to do. I like listening to a lot of film soundtracks; these influence my ‘inspirational’ process a lot. Ennio Morricone, James Roy Horner and Jerry Goldsmith are my favorites. Nowadays I listen to very little metal actually, except some underground bands that seem to me to be spectacular and unique. I used to listen to a lot of folk, jazz, ambient, old prog and things like that.

Which black metal bands do you listen to and why should people check them out?

Recently I’ve been listening a lot of American/Icelandic Black Metal, a few bands from Europe too and the (no-metal) bands/artist I always listen to, would like recommend the following bands/projects; Vohann, Arizmenda, Selvans, Panopticon, Lluvia, Svartidauði, Misþyrming, Naðra, these are in my Black metal playlist.

 

I’m very intrigued by the folk project that you’re working on. Can you tell a bit about that? What can one expect?

I’m working on that and I guess I’m on 70% of the recording and mixing process of it. Most likely I will release it as an EP with five songs. It’s really a project inspired by all the music I like that is not metal. It will be my other facet. We’ll have to see what happens.

 

I have been to Sardinia, but for any reader who will still visit the Island, what are the parts to visit to get a true feel or sense of what it is you invoke on ‘Umbras De Barbagia’?

The entire island is truly beautiful, from its archeological and cultural treasures to its beautiful nature. It’s like an open air museum and if you go in summer you have some of the best beaches in Europe and If you go in winter, you’ll find in the centre of the island the forests, mountains and numeral archeological sites to visit. They’ll take your breath away. It’s in the heart of the island where you will feel the true vibe of ‘Umbras de Barbagia’.

 

What does nature mean to you? When I listen to your music I feel a deep connection to the land and natural force of Sardinia represented as much as its culture. How do you feel about that?

Nature means a lot for me, it’s another part of my being, just like another vital organ. Many people do not realize of this, for the simple fact that she is something that may seem far removed from everyday life, but truth is than nature elements are as important as our organs. We depend on her, so she must be treated with respect.

What future ambitions do you have with your music?

Keep doing what I’m doing now: compose, record and produce more music.

 

In November Downfall of Nur is releasing a split with Italian band Selvans. The split will be out on Avantgarde Music.

Jupiterian: Cosmic crushing doom from Brazil

Though we may know Brazil as a country well known for its amazing death metal and passionate fans, there’s more to it than that obviously. Jupiterian is a whole different monster that landed with their debut EP ‘Archaic’, which was followed by their album ‘Apothic’.

The sound of Jupiterian is black as the depths of the cosmos and solid like a thick slab of meteorite hitting you in the face. Devoid of any frivolities, it’s a heavy listen, but well worth your time. So time to get to know them a bit better, before they head to Europe for some shows, where I hope to see them again.

I first met V. from Jupiterian at Roadburn and soon I got to know his newly founded band Jupiterian. An avid music fan and lover of science and sci-fi, V. is a creative force with plenty of inspiration from music and literature. Their sound is to me rather unique and unforgivingly heavy, so let’s hope they can head back to play Roadburn soon, because this band belongs on that bill. Time to get into it.

How did Jupiterian get started and what brought you guys together as a band? Did you have any previous projects that you would like to mention?

We started in 2013 while I was still playing with my previous death metal band The Black Coffins. I started to work on some riffs with a borrowed guitar I had at home, so I asked some friends if they would be interested to join me in this new project. When the band suddenly split up that year, I decided to focus 100% in this new project which would become Jupiterian. By that time, the band was called Codex Ivpiter, we were 5 guys, I was just doing the lead guitar and we had a lead vocalist, but I felt it would be easier to work only as a four piece, because I was working on the songs, themes and at the same time creating the vocal lines. After this line-up change, we also changed the name to Jupiterian and we entered the studio to record our first material, a 3 songs EP called ‘Archaic’. That was pretty much it.

Can you start by explaining the name and the concept of the band?

I have always been fascinated by mythology, especially the Greek-Roman mythology. I also love astronomy and as an amateur, I try to study and read about it as much as I can. But I am also into sci-fI books, authors likes Arthur C. Clark, Frank Herbert, Asimov, William Gibson blew my mind as a kid as much as Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard did with their cosmic horror novels. When I started the band, the first thing I had in mind was to create more than only the music, but an entire journey through all of that.

Jupiter is part of ancient mythology in the form from many gods for many extinct cultures and it could sum up all the references I had in mind. So the name Codex Ivpiter came up, but as you presume, it was terrible to speak and explain how to spell it. Jupiterian was a name that I was already about thinking for a while. When I talked to the other guys, it made much more sense and we thought it would fit perfectly for our purpose.

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What are the musical inspirations for you guys, both for the band as well as for yourself?

We have a very different background in the band when it comes to influences. I try to keep my mind opened to everything concerning music. New bands, old bands. I still feel excited when I listen to something new that blows my mind, be it metal or not and it inspires me a lot to try to reinvent the way I play or the way I want to create new stuff. As a band I could name a few like Jacula, Fabio Frizzi, Arvo Part, Anathema (their firsts albums), Graves at Sea, Asunder, Worship, Winter, Deathspell Omega, Iron Maiden, Whitehorse, Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine, Blut Aus Nord, Mercyful Fate & King Diamond, Funeral Mist, Goblin, Antaeus, Cathedral, Celtic Frost and, Svartidaudi, Thergothon and so on…

You’ve just released some new music. Can you tell a bit about the recording and writing process? Who does what and how does it unfold?

Yes! We recently release our Anathema’s “Mine is Yours To Drown In” cover. Well, more like a version. We started to work on that and I didn’t want to just emulate the original version, so we tried to put some of our DNA on that. And I am really proud the way it came out.

Where do you guys get your inspiration from further, because it seems that the inspiration is a dense mixture of the fantastic, absurd, horror and science fiction. Do you derive your concepts from books or films?

That’s for sure! As I told you, I read a lot sci-fI and horror books. Also I am really into those movies, and my love for the genre is very specific. I am really into all Ray Harryhausen’s animated monsters, and also am obsessed with David Cronenberg’s work, John Carpenter, the Hammer Films movies, Amicus.. you know, the victorian-era horror movies, also mixed with some steampunk style like “First men in the moon”, “The Time Machine” and everything I can find from the gold age of sci-fI movies.

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When listening to your albums, the sound is so overwhelmingly heavy and devoid of most other elements. The returning themes makes me feel like that’s a very deliberate choice, also related to the subject matter. Is that so?

That’s true. This is the core of the band, we want to deliver all the heaviness with a dark, yet melodic atmosphere within it.

I would like to know a bit about your visual expressions. Rarely does a band pay so much attention to artwork, logo’s and thus creating such a complete picture. Can you tell a bit more about that?

Thanks a lot. I am glad it called your attention. Well, we are telling a story with the band I want it all to make sense to the listener, be it with the music, the videos, t-shirt and everything. For me, music is much more than what you are listening in a moment, It’s a journey.

Most of the time I am the one behind the imagery, but we are very lucky to work with great artists that get our idea and deliver a great work for us.

You’ve done some covers for the new release. Why did you pick those songs exactly?

Yeah, ‘Mine is Yours to Drown’ In was the first one and the other one is Black Sabbath‘s Behind The Wall of Sleep’. About the Anathema version, when we started the band, we talked about choosing a song to cover and this one was my first idea. It was one of the firsts extreme metal songs I ever heard when I was a kid, so recording it felt like retribution cause it means a lot to me. About “Behind the Wall of Sleep”, Cvlt Nation invited us to their new Cvlt Nation Session, and the chosen album this time was Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath”. We chose that song for two basics reasons: 1. It’s Lovecraft; 2. It would be very challenging to record a song so different from what we do cause it’s a faster song. As we did with “Mine is Yours”, we re-think the entire song and made it slower and with our approach and way to do things. Both will be available on digital format in our bandcamp in October. They are part of this 2 songs EP called “Urn”.

Like before you’re working with Mories (Gnaw Their Tongues) on this new release. How did you get in touch and get to work with him? What do you think that the impact on your sound is of his contributions? 

The first time I talked to Mories was in 2010 when I interviewed him for a metal website I used to keep here in Brazil. But I met him personally for the first time at Roadburn 2013 and then we became friends. The sound of his bands is outstanding, he is always releasing amazing albums, always working on something new and all I can say is that I am lucky enough to work with someone I admire and respect that much. I think Jupiterian sound so much darker, dense and intense because of his final touch in the process. Sometimes he also creates some extra textures and it’s by his will. Yeah man, he is definitively a big part in this band.

If you could do the soundtrack of either a Lovecraft film or a sci-fI horror combi, which would have your preference and why?

Good one! I never thought about it but when I read the question, the first movie that came to my mind was Deep Star Six. I think the movie has an overwhelming claustrophobic atmosphere. Maybe Andrzej Żuławski’s “On a Silver Globe” (wich is a movie we already used for the “Archaic” video) or Tarkovisky’s “Stalker”. I’d love to do the soundtrack for a lovecraftian movie if there was any good for his “dream cycle”, specially “The Dream-Cast of Unknown Kadath”.

What can people expect from a Jupiterian live show? What kind of experience are they in for?

We like to think our shows are like painful processions, an experience that hurts the soul cause it’s about heaviness but it’s also about sadness and darkness. It’s the worship of what doom metal means to us.

Brazil is known as a firm and established metal nation, maybe even one of the biggest in the world if you may believe the documentary ‘World Metal’ by Sam Dunn. Can you spare a few words on how the Brazilian scene looks and how doom metal fits in there?

I think there is a romantic vision about the Brazilian scene because of all the amazing bands that came out from here in the past decades like Sepultura, Sarcofago, Mystifier, Krisiun, Violator, Facada, Rebaelliun and so on, but I don’t think we can say its firm and established. There’s a lot of passionate people doing their stuff but in a very amateur way, you know. Brazil is a continental country and yet, we cannot arrange a proper tour here at least you are a real DIY band. Of course you won’t make real money and you probably will play with shitty amps on shitty venues. We have only a very few pro labels actively working nowadays, but we are still surviving because everyone involved in this, be it thrash, death, grind and so on, we are used to that. That’s how things are and still love it

We know Brazil from its death metal scene of a while ago. Which bands from Brazil are on the rise and should get our attention (and why)?

Facada is one of my favourite grindcore bands of all times. They are relentlessly brutal, it’s like a mix of the best things Napalm Death, Brutal Truth and Nasum ever released in one band, and of course with a strong (and relevant) politic approach on the lyrics. I recommend their last album Nadir. My favourite track is “Amanhã vai ser pior”.

Thy Light is amazing. They are one of the most relevant bands in the DSBM scene world wide and Paolo is a great guy. He also plays in a Death Metal band called Desdominus, which is also a fantastic band. “No Morrow Shall Dawn”, their last album, is perfect for cold and grey days.

Abske Fides is a great Funeral Doom metal band from São Paulo and reunite some of my oldest friends in the scene. N., the bass player, joined us for the Chilean tour we did this year. He also plays in Noala and Au Sacre Des Nuits and is always delivering amazing music, be with his bands or with his solo projects. We’ve been working together for many, many years now in a lot of projects and you can hear a jam we did on the track “Daylight”, in the end of the song.

Mythological Cold Towers is legendary. They are active for more than 20 years now producing great albums and putting amazing shows. Their last album, “Monvmentvm Antiqua”, is fantastic!

Infamous Glory is an old school death metal band featuring K. from Abske Fides. “Bloodfeast” is a death metal worship with all the elements we love in the genre.

Rakta is a brilliant – way beyond any label – band from São Paulo. I love what these girls do and to see them live is an incredible experience. One of the best active bands in Brazil nowadays.

Deaf Kids just released their last album called “Configuração do Lamento” and it’s one of the best 2016 albums so far in my opinion. This power trio deliver an hypnotizing punk with a lot of tribal-driven rythms. A trully unique band.

What future plans does Jupiterian have?

We have 4 shows in Europe in late October, it’s a mini tour with our brothers from Mythological Cold Towers. We’ll play 2 gigs in Belgium, one in Czech Republic and the last show will be at Dutch Doom Days in Rotterdam, NL. After that we will focus on finishing the lasts songs for our next full length and record it in the beginning of 2017. We have 3 new songs, one of them are on our setlist, and 2 structures not finished yet, so i’d say the next album is 70% done.

If you had to describe Jupiterian as a dish (food), what would it be and why?

Maybe it’s a Brazilian feijoada, cause it’s black, dense, fat, it’s hard and slow to digest. Actually it looks like a disgusting swamp haha

 

Winterfylleth: Finding the Green Cathedral

On Eindhoven Metal Meeting 2015 I was trodding along in my Winterfylleth shirt and ran into Simon Lucas and Chris Naughton from Winterfylleth. During an interesting conversation we discussed various topics, which rapidly go from history to politics and metal theory.

I was already sold on the music of this band, but the sharp wit and keen minds of the duo made me even more interested in what lies behind the music and the band. As I’m still a major fanboy, I often forget to get to the point on these moments, but luckily I was able to throw in my question if I could do an article on them. They luckily said yes.

While I was working on this, the band announced the coming of a new album, titled ‘The Dark Hereafter’, which will be out soon on Spinefarm and Candlelight. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to go too deeply into that, but I’m well excited for that record. Having faced their share of controversy in the past and being the band that they are, not every topic was up for discussion.

I hope you enjoy reading about one of my favorite black metal bands around. Chris Naughton, singer and founder of the band answered my questions.

How have things been for Winterfylleth lately?

Great thanks. We’ve been a little quiet this year as we’ve been writing for the new and upcoming releases. Also a few of us became new fathers so we’ve not had the time to commit to being on the road as a result. But we are all now looking forward to the new release and to a fresh run of shows and press – with everything that brings.

You and Simon Lucas (drummer) played together in various other groups like Men Scryfa & Atavist so it seems like you guys go way back. Can you tell a bit about those projects and what they were about? Did they help you find what you wanted to do with Winterfylleth?

For me those projects are largely unrelated to what we’ve done, and become, in Winterfylleth. Simon and I used to do Atavist (and I still do, having resurrected the old line up of the band this year) but that band was much more about exploring Nihilism and Inner Darkness rather than any of the themes we have in Winterfylleth. We did a few albums with Atavist on Profound Lore & Invada over the years and stopped doing anything with the band (until this year) around 2008 (after our tour with Nadja & Satori) to focus on Winterfylleth. Men Scryfa was slightly more related to Winterfylleth, although only because they lyrics to it were about the ‘Men Scryfa’ standing stones and the folk lore and significance to our history. This was a one off song written for a label called small doses records and was a tribute to the work of Julian Cope and his ‘Modern Antiquarian’ book. We never did anything else with this band.

Your music is clearly heavily influenced by historical themes, the same seems to go for your other bands. How did you get into this? I understood there’s a professional background to this work.

Winterfylleth is the only band where we have a really strong link to history and historical themes. We’ve talked about this many times before, but Simon and I met over a mutual appreciation for elements of history and that is what sparked our interest in doing a project together. Initially Simon joined Atavist on the drums, but as we were winding down our attention on that band & starting to form what would become Winterfylleth we also began to solidify the themes around history and heritage that had brought us together in the first place. There is no professional background to this and we are both just interested in these topics and continue to be; linking them to our political awareness to formulate the themes of the band.

It’s been 2 years since the wonderful album ‘Divination of Antiquity’. Are you working on anything new currently?

Yes, we have a few things in the pipeline actually. The main thing is that we have a new record called “The Dark Hereafter” coming out on September 30th in UK/Euro. Around this we are also working on an Acoustic album (which will follow The Dark Hereafter) and then another Black Metal album to follow the acoustic album. As I mentioned before I am also working on a new Atavist album and have also completed work on 2 news songs for 2 new releases for my other band Nine Covens.

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Listening to your music, I find it’s very much giving the feeling of paintings from the Romantics of great landscapes, the majesty of nature and such. Is that in a way what you’re going for?

Absolutely. The idea is, and has always been, to connect people with their history, with landscapes and with nature. There is a song on the new release called “Green Cathedral” that really sums this up for me. It’s about how we should focus more on localism and not globalism in our daily pursuits, steering power and influence away from a few people in big companies and moving it back towards people. Returning to nature, at least to some extent, is inevitable for us at some stage. Particularly as the world is so chaotic and resources are so finite. We will have to do something at some point to curb our excesses.

There’s something really upbeat to your sound, there’s an element of empowering in it. I feel, when listening to it, that I want to straighten my back a bit more and get my chin up. I especially like listening to it outside and experience it. Is that something you feel is in there?

Yes I think so. Lyrical themes and imagery can only get you ‘so far’ as a band. I feel like the music itself also has to live up to the beauty and sorrow of the tales we are telling, otherwise the message doesn’t get across. So we use upbeat melodies to highlight and accent the elements of the ups and downs of the stories we are telling as a band. I think that we firstly connect with music as listeners, rather than lyrics etc, so if you get that bit wrong, then the whole point it lost.

You guys took part in the compilation ‘One and All, Together, for Home’ with a lot of similarly minded bands (to an extent at least). Do you feel a connection between bands that are doing something similarly to yourselves?

Of course, particularly bands like Drudkh & Primordial from that line up. They are bands who seem to share similar sentiments about their history and folklore, as well as caring deeply about it. So I think we’ve stuck together to some extent and I think it’s right that bands support one another as some of our content is important around current affairs and is another way of getting the truth out to people.

What is your recording and writing process like? Do you have defined roles and where do you get your subject matter from?

We all write together in my home studio and demo everything before we try it live. Usually Nick or I come up with the initial song ideas and then we build on them together. Although now we have Dan and Mark D in the band, we will start to see some of their influences coming through, I’m sure. Once we have done all of the pre-production, I write the lyrics and we take the songs to the studio and let Chris Fielding help us bring them to life. Lyrically, the themes are about ancient history and how that relates to the struggles of the modern world. So sometimes we talk about wider global themes and sometimes we relate them to pressing issues. All through the lens of ancient poetry and prose, adapted for modern means.

When we met at Eindhoven Metal Meeting, we discussed some of the accusations you’ve faced as a band, being labelled nationalist and even NSBM. Can you tell a bit about what that all was about?

I think – to our earlier discussion – that there are still veins of people who think we are evil because they have seen some reactive nonsense on the internet about us from 2007. Things happened that are well documented and we took steps to distance ourselves from them, so while there is a bit of a back story, it’s behind us and was 8 years ago. The kind of people who dredge this up are usually just virtue signalling ‘right on’ types of people who have never bothered to dig deeper and find out the real truth about us; and who seem to like having a cause to post on social media against. People that read our lyrics or engage with what we have to say in interviews are typically much better informed about what we truly stand for, and are the kinds of people who would defend our points, and our name, to others who know very little about us. I try not to get involved in things like this online anymore but I am happy to speak to anyone and answer their questions (in interviews or to our band page) both positive and negative because I think it is important to confront accusations like these head on and to address our critics honestly.

You explained to me that the t-shirt with the Warrior herd print had a specific meaning behind it. Can you relate that story and is it representative for your views?

The Warrior Herd shirt visualizes how there is always an evil behind the banners of war. The image depicts an evil being behind the flag of men charging into battle. It basically shows how we send our troops off to war under the pretence that they are defending our country, or our way of life from tyranny, yet usually we are actually invading another country for their resources or for some kind of financial or political gain. We revere our soldiers (and rightly so) as they give their lives for what they believe. It just happens that usually they are sent to do that under false pretences and there is usually a hidden agenda at play. I think that is an important lesson for how the world works and is something we are keen to make people think about when considering the topical issues of the day.

Winterfylleth notably doesn’t use much of the black metal aesthetics that are traditionally associated with the genre. What prompted that decision and how do you feel about bands still adhering to the ‘traditional’ look of black metal?

We are a BM band from England who formed 15-20 years or so after that kind of aesthetic was used and it just doesn’t represent who or what we are. Also, it has been done to death by too many bands now as well. To me, the corpse paint/traditional aesthetic of BM is the property of the bands from that era and was a reaction to their musical/political/social landscape at the time, and represents a feeling they had. To me we shouldn’t be trying to emulate that, as we are from a different era, a different country and have different issues that we are confronting in our music. The genre started around nihilism and satanism and reaction to religion etc. To me now, we are discussing issues of nature, of environmental distress, of socio-political importance, of history repeating itself and of power structures. It doesn’t work for me to utilise their aesthetic to do that, we have to find our own. So that is why we choose to be as we are. Our outward personal image is less important to us than overarching image of the albums and the message of what we are saying. Thus we avoid the traditional aesthetics.

Recently I watched the documentary ‘British Black Metal: The Extreme Underground’. A really enjoyable view on the British scene. What bands do you think are currently carrying the torch for British black metal?

With no ego, I think we in Winterfylleth have always tried to lead the charge in terms of contemporary British BM and have strived to bolster and promote the British scene for as long as we’ve had a platform to do so. We’ve helped get lots of key bands signed, we’ve A&R’d lots of bands for labels and taken as many of them on tour as we could to widen their influence and exposure. That said I don’t think UKBM would be anywhere without the combined efforts of a key group of bands… Wodensthrone (RIP), Fen & A Forest of Stars – who were other bands that really helped to re-ignite the British presence on the global BM map around the same time we were forming.

I think what we and those other bands have done is to create a platform on the global stage for British BM again and have allowed other bands the space (and possibly the inspiration) to bring their own spin on it to the world. As a result, lots of bands have come to the fore over the last few years that are really starting to strengthen the UK’s position in BM. Bands like, Cnoc An Tursa, Saor, Eastern Front, Falloch, Old Corpse Road, Wolves of Avalon, Ethereal, Necronautical, The Infernal Sea, Mountains Crave, Kull, Arx Atrata and lots of others.

In the documentary you also mention travelling the country for inspiration. Which are the best spots to listen to every Winterfylleth album?

You should travel to the places where the cover images were taken (Castleton in the Peak District, Snowdonia National Park and the Lake District), go for a walk and take in the beauty and majesty of those areas while you do. They inspired us to write the music, so hopefully they’ll creatively inspire you as well.

What does the future hold for Winterfylleth?

A new release called “The Dark Hereafter” is due on Sept 30th 2016, and we will follow it up with some shows and touring next year. We are also working on 2 future releases as mentioned above, so we are busy with what comes next before the new release is available.

Final question, if you had to describe Winterfylleth as a dish, what would it be and why?

I think we’d be a satellite dish, as we help connect people to each other around important issues. 😉

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Feed The Flames, putting Guyana on the metal map

Guyana is a place you glance over easily on a map. That’s not something I’m saying to diminish the place, but it’s really a tiny bit of the South-American continent on the north. Part of a few former French, English and Dutch colonies, and these young states have developed a culture of their own.

After a turbulent history as a Dutch colony, later as an English one, slavery and a serious influx of migrants from India, the country has become a nation on its own in 1966. The history of countries like Guyana and the neighbouring Suriname connect them to the old ‘motherland’ and make them a melting pot of cultures.

I e-mailed with Gavin Mendonca and Gavin Singh on behalf of Feed the Flames, a band from Georgetown. We talked about how they want to put heavy metal on the map in their country, punkrock, the Caribbean scene and Creole culture. Enjoy reading about this intriguing place where heavy metal is just gaining a foothold.

Hello, could you kindly introduce yourselves and the band?

Gavin Mendonca (GM): I am the bassist of Feed the Flames. Feed The Flames is a five piece Guyanese Heavy Metal Band, members are as follows:

Gavin Persaud: Vocals

Gavin Singh: Guitar

Gavin Mendonca: Bass

Emilio Martins: Guitar

Nicholas Chung: Drums

How did Feed The Flames get started?

GM: Feed The Flames was formed about 8 years ago. The founding members are Gavin Singh and Gavin Persaud, I joined the band about 5 years ago as bassist.

Gavin Sing (GS): FTF was founded by myself and former vocalist Gavin Lee Persaud (his work is on the recordings). We were close friends who just loved the music, and back then still learning; this was around early 2007. I remembered we were listening to a Black Sabbath album when the idea came up to start a band, however we had no musical skills with the exception of a bit of music theory I learnt in school. Sometime after that we both bought cheap acoustic guitars and started the journey, spending the next year learning to play and holding the strings.

In 2008 we met Persaud’s old school friend who had just returned from the USA and had vocal training, so we immediately appointed him as front man. Through some friends we also met Zaheer Imran Baksh (former guitarist) and Nicholas J. Chung (current Drummer). After all being acquainted the first full line up was formed and officially founded on the 26th May 2008, Guyana’s independence date. At that we had little or no music skills, and so the journey began to learn and grow.

How did you get to the name Feed the Flames? And how would you describe your particular style and themes?

GM: Gavin Singh will have to tell you about the origin of the name. Our style is very reminiscent of Thrash Metal… it’s our favourite type of metal so there’s a heavy influence there. Guyanese Thrash Metal! Main themes include rebellion, and fighting for what you believe in.

GS: The name was actually presented by the first vocalist, Persaud’s friend, Quacy Ayotek. It was supposed to represent the idea of keeping the passion of the music alive in your heart, hence feed the flames. The style and themes have somewhat changed over the years since for about half our age was just about learning. One thing is for sure – hard, in your face metal was and is what we strive for, not only for its composition but most importantly the message of truth.

You mention you’re heavily inspired by various bands like Zeppelin, The Ramones and Megadeth and more. Which bands truly inspired you guys individually and what did you take from them? Also which ones got you into metal in the first place?

GM: For me, personally, my main influence as a Rock Musician is punk rock. The Ramones played a big part in me first picking up the guitar and learning to play. I was also the guitarist/bassist/vocalist of a local punk rock band which is now defunct.

I was never really a Heavy Metal guy, but after meeting the guys in FTF and being invited to join the band, I picked up the music and it has been a big part of my life since. My main Heavy Metal influences are Megadeth, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Lamb of God, Lamb of God especially, as our music is similar to theirs. The old school thrash bands are where most of our inspiration comes from, since we used so cover a lot of their music starting out.

GS: For myself, in the early days, the older bands really had me. Led Zeppelin really stood out to me mainly because of that unique tone/sound they had- you don’t hear anything like it anymore. I love what page did on II and III with the odd tunings, it was as though there were no rules but still sounds so great and gives me chills up to now. I guess I took that unorthodox approach to my writing. Metallica’s ‘Ride the Lightning’ was and still is one of my all-time favs. This really got me hooked and the list that follows is endless. I’ve listened to pretty much any style since. There were also a few modern bands at that time like Slipknot and Killswitch Engage. It was a combination of all these that got me into writing metal.

How did you get in touch with punkrock at the time?

GM: I got into punkrock after coming out of High School. I started to listen to rock music, and personally – I was very rebellious. I didn’t like being told what to do, I didn’t like being told that I Can’t do something, I didn’t like people telling me what to believe in, and I certainly didn’t like people telling me how to live my life.

So I don’t know if I found punkrock, or maybe punkrock found me. Because who I was, was punkrock. So I fell in love with the music, the fast drums, the noisy guitars, the shouting! Oi!

You guys are, according to your bio, currently working on a full length. Can you say a bit about that and what it’ll be like?

GM: We currently have 4 demo songs recorded, 2 more to go, for a total of 6 original songs. Here’s our most recent release, ‘ Firefight’, with a homemade video from our trip to Trinidad recently, where we performed with Lynchpin, winners of the first ever Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean.

GS: Well, it’s long overdue since some of these songs go back three or even four years. You will hear the evolution of this band on one album over five years.

What’s the writing and recording process like for Feed the Flames, what roles does every member have?

GM: The main composers are Gavin Singh and Emilio Martins. They come up with guitar riffs and patters and the general structure of the song… the drums and bass then add the glue. We all contribute to lyrics, and the overall structure of the songs.

Recording is fun. We do it ourselves in our band room. We invested in all the right software and equipment to be self-sufficient… a true ‘do it yourself’ band.

GS: Most of the composing or at least the concept comes from me. I usually would transcribe my ideas into Guitar Pro and then build on that idea from there. I would then play that to the guys and we’d start stripping away, adding or just doing it all over. Everyone has their own input and their own idea on songs. We just star with a concept and start jamming so the song finds its own identity through that.

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I read that your music was featured in a film titled ‘A Bitter Lime’. How did that come about?

GS: A few years ago we were introduced through a sponsor to Max Orter, the producer/writer of the film. Gavin Mendonca remained close with him and even worked on the film itself. Earlier this year he came back to Guyana to do the finishing touches before its launch and needed a place to stay. He poured his money into the project and was low on cash, so we offered him to crash in the band room. In return he offered to add our music to the film.

GM: ‘A Bitter Lime’ is a neo-drama filmed shot mostly in Guyana, written and directed by Max Orter, a great friend of the band. Max was visiting Guyana often and we met him a few years ago and became great friends. I helped him on the set of the film while it was being shot in Guyana, as Production Assistant. He offered to have our song featured in the film, as a gesture of kind faith, to allow the band to get some global exposure by being featured in an international film. It is a huge opportunity that we are very grateful for… especially since it starts the infamous ‘Skin Diamond’!

I’ve noticed that you are, atleast Gavin Mendonca, interested to an extent into Guyanese music and folklore. Is that something you try to somehow put into Feed the Flames or do you save it for the Creole Rock project?

GM: I have a solo project aside from Feed the Flames. Creole Rock is my own style of music, where I have fused Guyanese Folk Music, our creole culture and dialect, with Punk Rock, creating a truly unique sound. Whenever I have to perform live, FTF would accompany me. We have a side project called Outta Box Experience for occasions like these, where it’s not all about Heavy Metal, but alternative forms of Rock n’ Roll at public forums.

Can you elaborate a little on that Creole identity, what it is and what it means to you?

GM: The Creole Identity, to me, is who we are as Guyanese people. It is our culture, our use of the English language, our traditions and practices. Most importantly, the way we speak. Creolese is our ‘Native Tongue’ here in Guyana. It is a broken down version of Standard English.

For example:
I Do not want to go there – Me nah wan go deh
Hey boy! How are you doing ?  –   Ayyy bai ! wuh goin on deh ?
My name is Gavin, and I am from Guyana   –   Me name Gavin, and me come from Guyana.

Our native tongue, and our Guyanese accent, I believe, is one of the most unique in the world. When we have a real conversation you will see what I’m talking about.

How important is the own identity for you as Guyanese musicians? I’m also looking at the radio show I’ve seen posts about Guyanese music.

GM: Guyanese Identity is very important. We are one of only two active rock bands here in Guyana. Our scene is very small. So to stand out in the larger Caribbean Rock Scene, and more so the international Rock Scene, we have to maintain the fact that we are GUYANESE HEAVY METAL MUSICIANS… That’s what makes us most unique.

What would you say is typical Guyanese music?

GM: Traditional Guyanese music, the folk music, would include our Creolese music, it’s part of our roots.
Modern Guyanese music borrows from mostly American and Jamaican pop culture.

If a Guyanese artist stays true to his or her culture, you will always hear that Creolese influence in there for sure. There may be even a hint of Indian or African drums, steel pan and lots of lyrics about ‘mashing down the road’.

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So, would you guys like to say a bit about your concert in the national stadium? How significant is it for Guyanese metal?

GM: Our concert at the National Stadium was a milestone for the band, and for us as Musicians. We performed at a concert that was in celebration of our country’s 50th anniversary as an Independent Nation. We did not play ‘Heavy Metal’… it was more Creole Rock … but we played as Heavy as we possibly could. A huge accomplishment for a Rock band here in Guyana. We were well received by the mass audience.
GS: Although we didn’t get to go full metal for that gig, it was a huge step for Guyanese metal. No other rock band had ever performed there, so we achieved an exposure for the music and scene that no one else had done for a while. The thing is, it wasn’t like a rock party; there were hardly anyone that I knew there that even like rock, much less metal. But when they heard our set it really opened their minds and heart. I still can’t believe the reception we had; I even met people in the streets that came up to me excited asking for more. They didn’t appreciate it before but now they do!

Can you elaborate a bit on the history of metal in your country? What bands were significant and why?

GM: Heavy Metal was very popular in Guyana in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s… The scene was thriving, with top local bands like Burning Bush, Pearls To Swine, Stone Blind, Struck Root, Et Tu Brutus – all who contributed to what Rock n’ Roll in Guyana is now. Most of the bands would have also ventured to Suriname, Trinidad and Brazil during their active years. Et Tu Brutus, the local veterans, have been active for almost 20 years now. The other bands have split over the years due to various reasons. Et Tu Brutus remains as the band that paved the way for FTF. Midnite Mars, a more recent band is currently building their rep here in Guyana.

GS: From what we’ve learnt from the older folks, metal has been around in Guyana since the 80’s. At one point our scene was even more vibrant than our neighbours (it’s the total opposite now). One of the biggest names to come out of that time was Pearls to Swines. I’d say that band made the most impact on the history of rock n’ roll in general for Guyana. I think its members still play in various bands around the world. This band is really important because they were A-class musicians and most bands that followed came around as an indirect or direct result of them.

There were a few other bands that weren’t so much metal that came out such as Burning Bush and Tech 21. However in the 90’s the first real heavy metal band came to being, and that was Et Tu Brutus. They paved the way for the younger bands which includes us. Still one of my own personal inspirations, this band still performs. They’re the veterans that kept the music alive in the country for a little over a decade, when no one else was doing it. Then we came along.

Did the music face any obstacles in your country? As in censorship on political or religious grounds?

GM: Rock Music is very underground in Guyana, and in this region. The airwaves are dominated by Soca, Chutney and Reggae … all which are Caribbean Music. Rock music is not very much accepted by the general public, as it is different in many ways.

It is hard to get airplay from just about all the radio stations and DJs… Because they believe it’s not what people want to hear… so… I create Radio Rock n’ Roll … so that Rock Music can be heard on Guyanese Radio every day.

Over the past year though, the public has been warming up to Feed the Flames, as we have been in the newspapers, and have made several public appearances recently. There is no moral war against Heavy Metal in Guyana. At least none that is stressed on. A few people might say things like it’s ‘devil music’ or that we’re destructive or something. But that hasn’t happened in a while, I don’t think it even happens any more.

GS: The typical Guyanese wouldn’t want to hear metal on the radio, hence that’s why Gavin Mendonca is the only radio-dj to do this. When we started as a band, even before Gavin M joined, we would try to record an original song and every studio turned us down or tried to rip us of. Just because of the stigma the music carries. Mainstream music here is really just Jamaican and American pop music.

In the 90’s a few students of the University of Guyana were accused of practicing witchcraft and satanic rituals. Some of these students of course were identified with the music and as such it caused a stigma. Also around that time, there was a popular rock club that got shut down after a patron got stabbed. This pretty much sealed the fate a rock and people’s perception of it. Literally killed it and kept it dead for years.

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Do you have any real heavy metal gathering places, like venues, bars, record stores or rehearsal spaces? How readily available is any material and music to you guys?

GM: Unfortunately, we don’t have a place where usual gatherings happen. The only time a rock event/party/show/concert happens is when we decide to throw one ourselves. Back in the day, there was a place called Sidewalk Cafe, which was the CBGB’s of Guyana, but that eventually closed down. Live Rock n’ Roll happens as often as we perform.

GS: As the years go by the hanging spot changes. There a few pool bar that can be identified as rock bars. There is one in particular that everyone calls the rock bar ‘Nial’s bar’. The owner’s brother is also a musician and the owner himself is into the music, huge fan of it. So we do shows there every couple months. In terms of music material…internet. Everyone here downloads, for years it was the surest way. Either that or cheap bootleg and that’s if you’re lucky to find any type of rock. Nowadays though, people do order albums if we want the original.

What can you tell about the scene in Guyana? I suppose its similarly to the Suriname one very mixed. What sort of unity does it have?

GM: The scene in Guyana is very small… At the average gig, about 60 – 100 people would show up, sometimes less. At a big gig, for example when Lips Stick from Suriname came to perform, we had about 300 people. The diehard fans are always around to support. There is a small group of rock enthusiasts who are very close knitted and support the scene always.

GS: It’s pretty much the same in terms of people; spans across all class, race, age or creed. Although very small the folks of the scene are very friendly (for the most). It’s not as vibrant as su though. Moshing and so forth doesn’t really happen, unless it’s the musicians themselves.

You’ve taken part in the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean, can you tell a bit about that experience?

GM: We had submitted our application for the event, but were not selected to compete. We still decided to drive to Suriname to attend the venue, and meet everyone and all the bands. Jerry Orie is a great friend of mine, and I support all of his shows as much as I could. I was lucky enough to serve as the first every Stage Hand for the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean, alongside Jochen. An experience I am truly grateful for.

The overall experience was AWESOME. It probably was the biggest Rock event to happen in the Caribbean. We went there to network with the other bands, and two months later – we found ourselves in Trinidad performing with the winners, Lynchpin, and third place finalists – This Will Be No More from Aruba.
GS: Though we didn’t make it to the top five for the Caribbean to compete, it was a great experience. Some of us went to visit the event in Suriname, which was a wicked road trip by itself. The best of the Caribbean under one roof was an incredible experience, it’s the first time that happens and it was great to rub shoulders with some of the best n the world too. The band Taipan performed as well, who have worked with members from Megadeth and even Nine Inch Nails I think. It was one long, drunk weekend.

I understand from the chat with Luguber from Suriname that the metal battle is prompting more unity in the Caribbean scene. Do you guys feel that too and how does that work out?

GM: Luguber is AWESOME ! Shavero and I actually performed together in one-night band at one of Jerry Orie’s events – we formed a Punk Band called ‘Punk As Fuck!‘ for one night only, on the same stage as Disquiet. We have been developing a relationship with the Suriname Rock Scene since 2012, they are awesome and very friendly. A family. And we are happy to be a part of it. We have made great friends in the Surinamese Band – Morrighon, who performed in Guyana, and we performed with them in Suriname as well. We then made a huge link with Trinidad, where we have made new friends as well. Together we all are moving forward as ONE giant Caribbean Rock Scene.
GS:  Ah It is! Back home people are stoked about this. It would be great if both bands travel forth and back to each other with fans and create a big network. I think it might be happening. We’ve also had the opportunity to perform in Trinidad a few weeks aback and it’s booked for next year April. We might be going to Suriname later this year as well and bands are willing to travel here. The Metal Battle surely has stirred the pot and turned heads.

Which bands from Guyana and around should people check out and why?

GM: Feed The Flames is the future of Heavy Metal in Guyana. I definitely would advise you to follow us closely, our YouTube page, our Instagram, everything. We plan to make huge waves across the Caribbean, then to the rest of the world.

Et Tu Brutus is an awesome Guyanese band, with a great group of guys. They will actually be performing in Brazil this August. Aeons of Disorder are a great band from French Guyana and we had the pleasure to play with them three times. There Will Be No More from Aruba is a great band that was in the finals of the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean. We performed with them in Trinidad.

GS: Definitely Et Tu Brutus! Beside us, they are the only true metal band here. Also check out Pearl’s to swine, might be old but still awesome. Trinidad has some great bands to offer, like Lynchpin, who won the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean. Anti-Everything is a great punk band and there’s much more going on there like Spectral Vibes, Orange Sky, Black Rose, Side Kick Envy, and much more.

If Feed the Flames was a dish, what would it be and why?

GM: We’d be Cook Up, with a side of Pepper-Pot. These are two Guyanese dishes that are legendary in Guyana, and truly represent the diversity and heritage of our culture.
GS: Haha! From the top of my head I’d say a 7 curry, like what you might get at an Indian wedding. Mainly because of all the influences and different affinities that add up to make feed the flames.

What future plans does Feed the Flames have right now?

GM: We are finishing up the recording for our first album. We aim to get it released by the end of the year. We also plan on getting more gigs across the Caribbean so we can build our name even more. Then, Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean 2018. Winners. On to Germany from there.
GS: We’re aiming to write and record an entirely new album by mid next year. Also we host our own events in Guyana and one hope to bring the world here. Definitely writing and recording but also touring. We’ve never done that, so I suppose that’s the next big leap for us!

 

Here are all of our Social Media Links:
Youtube
Facebook
Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

Rebel Wizard: Expression, spirit and the negative (interview)

Not often to you see a band just carving out their very own niche in a rather established genre. Maybe it’s not even a niche, but more of a return to the more pure expression that Rebel Wizard persues.

Rebel Wizard is Bob Nekrasov, in the notes of the album ‘The Triumph of Gloom’ put down as NKSV. He has been making black metal music the way he deems it to be right for a ling time now, either with Nekrasov or with Mors Sonat and in the past with Whitehorse, but Rebel Wizard is special.

When I was listening to the album, the most noteworthy element was its almost jubilant expression with old school heavy metal riffing and overwhelming approach. Just everything pouring out at you at once. All this from Melbourne in Australia. I was so excited about the record that I contacted the Rebel Wizard for a little Q&A. This is the result and it’s far more informative than I’d have expected. So thanks to Bob for taking the time to answer these.

As for you… enjoy reading!

How did you get started with your project Rebel Wizard?
I’m not sure. I’ve always written and made music like this. However ‘back in the day’ it was just guitar onto a 4 track recorder. I grew up obsessed with music, listening and creating. These days the process is all unconscious and done as a way to fill what I feel is missing.

But I guess it properly started as “Rebel Wizard” doing that first EP three years ago now. I just did and sent it to a couple of friends not really thinking anything of it apart from I enjoyed doing it and I liked the theme that was coming out of it.

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What are your favourite bands? I’m assuming there actually is a combination of thrash, nwobhm and black metal there?
Cripes, that’s a huge answer. Many. All the usual however it does change. My favourite bands though are more a ‘presence’, attitude and uniqueness. Developing their own thing against trends etc. Big influences are Bolt Thrower, Mercyful Fate, Crass, My Dying Bride, Econochrist, Man is the Bastard, Bathory etc etc

There’s something really classic heavy metal in the sound of Rebel Wizard. How did you develop that, to me, rather unique sound?
That’s really nice to read as there is normally complaints about the ‘shitty production’! For me it captures an energy that got me into metal which was then the pathway into punk, anarchy, philosophy, occult and breaking the shackles of a warped and fucked up conditioning.

I just have my sounds that I like that I have been using for a long time. I just do what resonates with me that I feel doesn’t show up anywhere else. No way am I saying my sound is important or ‘fucken raw as fuck broodal BM’ or ‘pure old school’ – there’s no point to it other than this is what makes me react in certain ways. I like ‘honesty’ in production – not ‘slickness’ or sterility which is so common. I just do what I enjoy. I tried to make each release sound unique whereby the production meets the riffs. Production, for me, is ‘spirit’/ atmosphere of music. Compare Iron Maidens original production of Somewhere in Time to Book of Souls and try not to cry.

How does Rebel Wizard relate to your other bands Nekrasov and Whitehorse, what made you start a different project from Nekrasov for this new outlet?
No way related to Whitehorse, nothing I do relates to that band. Nekrasov and Rebel Wizard are both things that are completely personal. They are not attempts to fit into anything other than being various expressions coming purely from my sub conscious nonsense. I’ve always done both from a young age. Whether it was playing guitar or making horror soundtracks as a kid.

I guess I feel older now and am able to channel a life time of influence whether musically, philosophically etc into either projects. They both allow me to be free to do as I feel I need to do. To be honest I wish I was a plumber.

You’ve been quite prolific in releasing music in 2015 with five EP’s seeing the light of day. How do you get so much out? And what made you decide to go for the album format now? What’s the advantage of the EP format?
Habit mainly. I’ve just always done this kind of thing. I’ve tried to quit over and over but I just ‘need’ to do it. I don’t really think about it.
I grew up with a metal and punk background, late 80s early 90s. Mostly I bought 7”s. There were tons of bands that would come out of no-where with these fucking amazing and powerful eps that you’d play over and over. Normally the full lengths would never meet that standard. I miss that feeling so I started doing it for Rebel Wizard. I like that ‘powerful’ ep life. There’s such a big deal on albums and their mostly boring these days. I mostly don’t give a shit what modern folk are on about and can’t spend an hour on their torture. But that’s just me. I probably shouldn’t really speak of such things as I am still stuck in the past.

Can you say a bit about your album ‘Triumph of Gloom’. What is the story that you are telling on the album and how much work went into it?
I’d prefer not to say too much. I like that it’s kept completely open for the listener as I hope it spanks various sized buttocks. Lots and lots and lots and lots of work, and then lots more. Then I spend way more harder work.

You’re releasing the music on a very limited run of physical formats, what is the reason for that?
Again habits from the past. Everything was done handmade. It makes it personal/ special. I still like doing that. I find that insane glossy inverted cross digipak nonsense is what Disney would do. I have a small audience so it’s easy to do and I enjoyed making something unique for those sad cunts who are hurting themselves with my stupidity.

What is the concept of negative (Wizard) metal? What is the idea you’re conveying with your music? Does it feel right that it’s received as such a positive, vibrant and energetic bit of music that it actually is?
‘Negative’ metal is lots of things: golden shower on bro metal, resurrection of anarchic mysticism on contemporary energy drink sub cultures, emphasis on negative concepts however not the ‘depression’ format and the use of the ‘negative’ to move away from what’s being told is ‘something’ to returning to ‘not this’ etc..

What’s your writing and recording process like, how do you actually get those great records into being? What are the things that inspire you or that you need to make music?
I literally do not know how to answer but it just comes out. There’s no trying. I just do what I need to do. I’m not trying to be anything. It covers all that I resonate with in all life matters. It’s habit.

My life has been long, rough and epic in so many ways. Like everyone who feels that ‘thing’ with the kind of music we do, it is a life line. I try not to let too many outside influences in. Of course they are imbedded. I would say that it comes from doing things I feel are missing for me. In so many scenes there’s a strong sense of replication, this exists is ALL scenes these days. There’s just shit I need to do that I feel is missing, for me. I don’t bother with marketing or labels as I feel it’s not what ‘the people’ want. I am a particular type of ass. I would not release anything if I felt like it was jumping on a band wagon but I also don’t think my way is the way, it’s just what works for me and what helps me process the multi levelled, super layered elements without jumping naked off a plane into a glass roof restaurant.

Since you do all by yourself, I was surprised to read on your Facebook page you’re putting together a live set. How is that working out?
It’s going very slowly and painfully. I am almost thinking it’s a stupid idea.haha.

Where did you get the samples on Triumph of Gloom from? Is it important to you to have these samples to invoke a spirit or convey a message?
That’s for me to know and you to do whatever you do with it all. Haha.

What would you like that people take from your music?
That’s completely up to them.

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 As I understand it, you have little love for contemporary metal music. If you had to name some bands that do get the spirit of what it is you’re doing, which ones would that be and why.
I have little love for all things ‘contemporary’! haha. I’m not aware of anyone doing a Rebel Wizard type thing. Now, this sounds like an asshole thing to say! Haha. But what I mean is that I make the Rebel Wizard stuff as I feel no one else is doing it and I enjoy it. It simply entertains me and offers me some therapy for this completely absurd and increasingly idiotic/ conservative world. That’s what bands of my early years did for me. If there was someone else capturing the ‘spirit’ of RW I wouldn’t do it so it’s best I stay ignorant. There’s tons of projects I have huge respect for. There’s just too many to name.

What future plans do you have?
None at all however I would really like that Triumph of Gloom on LP. That would be nice. But there’s no plans on anything.

Finally, if you had to describe Rebel Wizard as a dish (food), what would it be?
Urine soaked unicorn steak.

Possessor: a horror film disguised as a band

Did you hear that awesome album by Possessor yet? You should, because it blends all styles into a potent cocktail of gritty,  grimy horrorcore sludge.

You can probably rant on about the Sabbath-esque influences and noisey southern swagger, but these Londoners sound unique and awesome, so I thinought it would be a good thing to get in touch with them and get into it with these gentlemen.

Graham Bywater, Matthew ‘Bean’ Radford and Marc Brereton were keen to answer some questions about their music, horror films and their new album.

How did Possessor get started? Were you guys involved with other bands before?

Marc: I was in quite a few bands before Possessor and I still am, but this is definitely the most fun. I’ve known Graham for years as we met back in college and used to record stuff in his bedroom. We always talked about playing together, but it took until now to come into fruition but when Graham asked me to be a part of Possessor it didn’t take long to commit when I heard what he was pumping out.

Graham: Marc was the only person I met at college who didn’t really have strict guidelines and restrictions to what he was into. He wasn’t ashamed to say he loved Green Jelly. The dude had literally no pretensions. He also immediately reminded me of Sasquatch so that was good.

Bean: I know that Graham and Marc have known each other since they were very young, but my personal involvement with Possessor began shortly after Electric Hell was released. I met Graham by complete coincidence. We were both on our way to a Fu Manchu gig in London and had stopped at the same pub before the show for a few pints. My Iron Monkey T shirt was enough for Graham to start a conversation and we soon started talking about music. Graham mentioned Possessor. I’d actually heard of them and had really liked them; they were also looking for a permanent drummer so I offered my services.
My “audition” consisted of a night together, drinking beer and talking about Guns n’ Roses. By the end of the evening Graham had gone missing and Marc had seen my girlfriend naked. This pretty much set the benchmark we have followed ever since!

So what bands do you guys like and influenced your sound?

Graham: It varies greatly depending on the mood. We drove through a rain storm listening to ‘Canadian Metal’ by Darkthrone on the way to a gig recently. That was a very heavy and inspiring moment and has kinda stuck with me. That album, ‘F.O.A.D’ seeped its way into the sound of Dead by Dawn. Other bands that have been on repeat recently are Midnight, Pentagram, Enslaved, Death Evocation, Misfits and some band called Metallica. The Shrine and Bongzilla have been on my iPod a fair bit and that new Kvelertak album is crazy. I normally aim to discover a band a day if possible. Even if they suck.

Marc: Everything.

Bean : I feel really passionate about music. I listen to blues, classical and jazz but at the center of it all is a love for heavy metal. Black Sabbath are the beginning, middle and end for me and they are a huge influence on my playing. From there my tastes go in a lot of different directions. All the way from LA Glam to Death Metal. Classic stuff really. Obituary, Priest, Black Flag, Iron Maiden, Love/Hate, Entombed; I could go on and on.
In terms of influence on Possessor: For me it’s about those bands who can capture an energy and put that on tape. Motorhead’s Overkill comes to mind as does Charles Mingus’ Blues and Roots. On the Mingus album you can hear the band whooping and howling as they play. It’s such a live, un-tampered, vibrant sound. It’s an odd comparison but it’s exactly how I’d like Possessor records to sound.

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I understood that you guys are not originally London folk from an interview with Doomed and Stoned. Where do you guys hail from and is how would you say it impacts your sound?

Bean : I’m originally from a small village in Kent. It’s fair to say that it was a fairly isolated place without easy access to town. As a result my childhood was spent reading and writing stories and playing in the nearby woods, close to churches and graveyards! All of this helped me to develop a good imagination which in turn guided my interest towards fantasy tales and horror stories. Ever since I’ve had a disposition towards the occult as an aesthetic, which is why I find Possessor so appealing. It’s also why I’d love people to experience the band in the same way as they would a ghost story or slasher movie!

Graham: Kent. Staplehurst via Sevenoaks. I’ve always been more inspired by nothing than everything.

Horror flick are as I understood an inspiration too. How do you know you’re catching that vibe when writing a song?

Graham: Possessor are basically a horror film disguised as a band. It’s just a natural part of our sound and is effortless. I guess it has a lot to do with the decade we were born in and to this day I don’t really know anyone who isn’t totally nerdy about cinema. I got into bands like Maiden and Helloween around the same time I discovered films like The Terminator and Re-Animator and I knew from a very young age that music and film go hand in hand. People seem to pick up on that with Possessor which is good.
When we younger me and Marc used to spend our Sunday afternoons watching Hills Have Eyes and Evil Dead and the natural instinct was to follow it up with a beer and a jam.
Maybe we should write a musical. I reckon we could do a gig within a film, like in the woods with the Blair Witch or in the kid’s dreams in Nightmare on Elm Street.
Bean : For me, a good example of this would be The Creeps (from Dead by Dawn). It started as a jam on some percussive ideas for another song, but hearing the drum played back in isolation was so evocative of all things voodoo. It put an image in my mind of cannibals dancing under a volcano while their cooking pot boiled. I think the best Possessor songs can make a direct connection to the mind’s eye.

How do you guys pick your artwork? Because it instantly gives off that film vibe. Is it created from scratch or do you use existing images?

Graham: This album took a bit longer as we wanted to outdo our previous concepts without losing the originality. We always go for simple and mysterious imagery but the idea of the faceless character of past releases has become something else with this design as it reveals slightly more.
We often use really old public domain photos that just jump out at us. I normally edit and rework the image until it looks like something new and creepy but always surreptitiously empowering. We don’t talk about the art much as it really should just speak for itself. We like mysterious figures and forms, not blood and gore.

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If Possessor was allowed to do a live soundtrack to a film, like bands have been doing on Roadburn Festival for example. Which film(s) would you love to do the score to and why? (and how would it sound)

Marc: Lord of The Rings!! (needs no explanation)

Bean : Something thrilling, visceral and brutal. Texas Chainsaw Massacre would suit us perfectly. That, or a compilation of machete attacks from Friday the 13th.

Graham: The Lost Boys or perhaps Motel Hell? Something trashy and eye catching. Or perhaps it would be even more insane if we played a heavy set to something like Open Water or even a collection of bits from Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs stomping and sharks chomping to the riffs!
A festive gig set to Christmas Evil could be good too.

How would you describe the writing and recording trajectory for your latest album (which is so awesome)?

Graham: Pretty natural. There’s a certain sound, style and spirit to Possessor that writes itself. Having said that this album is definitely edging more towards being filmic and the end result certainly feels more like a group effort this time round. We took a while creating this album because of time restrictions and work but the actual performances themselves were done live and on the spot. One take on most tracks.

Bean : It was recorded really quickly. The drum tracks were done in a single afternoon and in the majority of cases they are first takes. We really wanted to retain the energy and spontaneity of those fresh takes so we deliberately moved through the process quickly without poring over the details or refining them. We wanted this to be a brutally real album with imperfections and accidental highlights. I’m proud to say I think we really achieved that.

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If I say that you guys sound like Black Sabbath and Kyuss meeting at a Danzig show, how does that score on the chart of interesting comparisons you’ve heard?

Graham: Well I love Kyuss and Sabbath so that’s fine with me. I’ve noticed we have been compared to Venom and Therapy? a fair bit, and to be honest I don’t get that at all. One review said we sounded like early Electric Wizard crossed with Bathory (?) I think I prefer your description mate but to be honest I don’t really think much about comparisons. We sound like Possessor.

Bean : One of things I really value about Possessor is the wide variety of comparisons that have been applied to us.
People have said we sound like Metallica, L7, Prong, Ministry, Slayer, Pantera and Rob Zombie too. I love that it is difficult to pin us down. The best bands always have something unique about them which is exactly what I think Possessor are striving for

What is a Possessor live show like and are you guys planning to hit the continent soon?

Bean : The Possessor live experience is a heavy one. Our hope is the audience gets on board in the same way we are; basically to celebrate heavy music and have a good time.
We would LOVE to play future shows on the continent. Our recent show at Sonic Blast in Portugal was a huge success. European metal fans made us feel so welcome and really seemed to “get” what we do. I’d be happy to experience some more of that.

Graham: Yeah, that was great fun. I think our live performance often depends on how well we are rehearsed. We like to keep it raw and exciting and ever so slightly theatrical. Depending on the night and the beer intake we may wear a form of war-paint or corpse paint purely because it amuses us and brings to mind the old school craziness of Alice Cooper or Gwar. Other shows can be pretty slick with heads down and feet on the monitors. I think that sometimes a sloppy gig with shit loads of passion and energy is more memorable than being a predictable and routinely structured one. I don’t know why anyone would want to see the same exact performance twice.
We would love to travel and play more outside of the UK, so…

Marc :..Set us up with some dates.

What are the future plans for the band?

Graham: Have some fun and try not to go insane in the meantime. We will be releasing a special something for Halloween this year so keep an ear out for that. One thing we really want to do and have discussed in depth is put out a covers EP. That would be fun, but it could go either way. The songs would have to be weird enough to be worthwhile. We wouldn’t just be covering Ace of Spades and War Pigs.

Bean : In the immediate future? Hopefully more shows. I’d really like to take Dead by Dawn on the road and see people react to these songs. We’re at a stage now where we’re trying to build the profile of the band and that means getting out there and showing people what we’re all about. Beyond that… Write. Record. Do it all again, only bigger and better!

Marc: Burn stuff!

Finally, if you had to describe Possessor as a dish, what would it be (and why)?

Marc: Spicy shepherd’s pie, it’s heavy and hot.
Graham: Fajitas. Loads of heavy flavors with some added cheese.
Bean : Old fish heads and beer – because our food budget will ALWAYS be weighted towards beer.

Any other thing you want to share? 

 ALL: Thanks for having us. And Stay heavy.

Carthagods: Tunisian prog metal heroes

Metal has for a long time been a western thing from Europe and the United States. Its expansion to the South-American continent is well known, but particularly the African country is a blank spot when it comes to metal

So it was for a long time, but it’s on the rise now and particularly in the Islamic world. Even in countries where censorship has a hold on things, metal seems to prevail. Tunisia is a rather liberal country at, though persecution also befell the band Carthagods, who’ve faced their share of the weird and want to change the way you look at their country as portrayed by the media (and mainly want you to hear their album).

Carthagods refer with their name to the ancient past of Tunisia as the land of the Carthaginians. They are no folk metal band though, but prog/power metallers who just released their debut album, which features a ton of famous guest musicians. Time for a chat with the gents about what it is they are about.

Hello, can you kindly introduce yourselves and add who is answering the questions?
Here’s Tarak (Guitarist) and Mahdi (vocalist) we’re from Carthagods, a Melodic Heavy Metal band from Tunisia that’s been active since 1997.

How did Carthagods get started? Did you guys have experience in other bands?
Tarak: First Carthagods was a cover band during the late 90’s, then the band had a break of four years and re-started with a different line up, which Mahdi was a part of after he left his first band on 2004.

How did you guys get in touch with metal music? What bands inspired you to do what you do now?

Mahdi: Some friends of us were living in Europe and U.S, and they brought some (Pantera, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest etc.) tapes along at that time and later CD’s. Then came internet… so we started getting more into different genres of Heavy Metal music.

Your bandname is Carthagods and facebook lists you guys as hailing from Carthago. How strong is the historic inspiration of Carthage and why did you pick this name?

Mahdi: You know most of the members grew up beyond the ruins of Carthage and we believe that it was the most interesting civilization in our history (in Tunisia), that’s why we decided to resuscitate the Gods of Carthage through the name of our band and one day we’ll dedicate a whole album to it.

Do you feel that you put historical Tunisian elements in your music or draw inspiration from it? Particularly in regard to your debut album?

Tarak: We didn’t really thought about putting historical elements in purpose, but we’re sure that you’ll feel the difference when you listen to our sound.

What stories are you telling on your record? I feel there’s a bit of NWOBHM on there, but also the epic power metal. Where do you place yourselves sound wise?
Mahdi: You’re right, there’s several influences on this album, cause it contains the best of what we wrote since we started the band, so some are written in 2003 others in 2007, 2009 etc…so we’re in any genre of Metal accept oriental.

What can you tell about your album, its writing process and recording process, how did you happen to get a couple of guests performing on it?
Mahdi: As you now know the album was written over a long period of time, due to our line ups changing and other issues, but the first guy who believed in us was Marcel COENEN (Sun Caged, Stormrider etc.). We got in contact with Marcel in 2007 and we asked him to perform as a guest on the first demo.

After that we invited him to perform with us as a guest star and he came back to Tunisia as a friend after our lead guitarist left the band (after the “revolution”). He joined the band as a performer and a producer on this debut album. After that we invited Tim Ripper Owens (Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Judas Priest). Judas Priest and Tim especially inspired us when we’re writing ‘My Favorite Disguise’. He liked our performance, so when told him about the album he didn’t hesitate for a second.

Ron ‘BumbleFoot’ Thal (Guns N’ Roses) was invited during a Metal Battle that we promoted. He performed some of his songs. He was surprised when he found out that Marcel Coenen was performing with us. In the end that resulted in a nice solo battle on ‘My revenge’.

Regarding Zuberoa Aznárez, we’re fans of her beautiful and warm voice. At that time we thought about making an acoustic version of ‘Memories Of Never Ending Pains’, because a lot of fans were asking for it. We thought about it, when Tarak and me were watching a video of Zuberoa performing with Elfenthal. So we sent her the file and she answered within 24 hours!

The last guest is Hans in ‘t Zandt (ex-Vengeance, Mad Max) who is an amazing drummer and just plain nice person. We invited him for a jam night with Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian, Vengeance) and Timo Somers (Vengeance, Delain) and we asked him to help us on the acoustic version of ‘Memories Of Never Ending Pains’ and he was really happy to do it.

There’s also a hidden guest on the album who’s Niklas Sundin from Dark Tranquillity who was invited twice to perform with that band here in Tunisia (2009 and 2013) and he was also responsible for the artwork of our debut.

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Your album was released by Hands of Blue Records. How did you get in touch with them and how is the collaboration working out for you guys?
Tarak: After the release of our first demo in 2007, we got in contact with Hands of Blue and they were interested by the idea of promoting a band from the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, but after they heard our music they got more excited cause they expected some Habibi Metal shit haha! So things got more interesting when they found out that we’re more into traditional power/heavy Metal.

Is there any sort of repression or censorship on metal music in your country? Have you had to face this is in the past? (if so, can you share in what way?)
Mahdi: We were not censored for our ideas or points of view, but we were more censored for our existence in the society. Some people thought that we’re Satanist some thought that we were gays…The kind of things that aren’t going to make your life easier. I remember once in the late 90’s some police officers arrested us and ransacked our rehearsal studio, because they thought we were drinking blood cats and making Satanist rituals…

Did the revolution in 2010 have an impact on your freedom as musicians in some way? Did it affect you?
Tarak: Nothing has really changed politically after 5 years from the “revolution”, but at least today we can talk and express ourselves freely, but talking is never enough.

How did metal get started in Tunisia? Which bands are the pioneers?
Mahdi: First it was some shows promoted by some clubs members in universities during the 90’s, and I remember at that time a lot of cover bands saw the day like Black Angels, Dolls, Carthagods, Melmoth, Metalkatraz, The Out Body Experience, but most of those bands disappeared after some years even us.

It took until 2003 when we decided to write our own music and promote our own shows because there was nobody to do it for us.

What’s the scene in Tunisia like? Is it big, what genres are being played? Which bands should people check out (and why?).
Tarak: Unfortunately the scene in Tunisia is suffering, the number of shows has decreased and obviously also the bands and fans. Personally, I didn’t hear about any important release or project accept some timid trials with limited resources. But you might check out bands like Lost Insen, Nawather, I the Intruder

Is there a connection to neighbouring countries?
Mahdi: There were some cultural exchanges with Algeria and Morocco but only a few times in the past. But we’re trying to work on it with some promoters and artists like Acyl (Franco-Algerian Death Metal Band) to make this kind of connection happen at least once in a year, to gather all the metal heads in the Maghreb (north-western part of Africa, including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya) and get to know each other more.

In your Christmas facebook post, you guys made quite a statement: “…this can be an occasion for us to celebrate both birthdays of both prophets on the same day to take a look on the common things we have and find a way to a better world for all “human kind”. How do you regard your role in the strife between world views that is going on?
Mahdi: You know our role is very simple, we’re sure that you had a different idea about Tunisia before you hear our music… We want it to happen to as many people as possible to show the contrast between the reality and what the media wants to serve to the people on the other side of the world.

I think that the Tunisian people are kind of diverse when it comes to beliefs and have a long history concerning the differences. Tunisia has some of the most important religious symbols of the divine ones and all of them were preserved all along the centuries. It’s a proof of tolerance and open-mindedness and this is not what the mainstream media is telling to people so playing heavy metal music is a state of mind that we adopted.

Metal is art and art is free. It depends on the persons not on the music genre.

 

Do you guys have any interesting side-projects going on that you’d like to share some info about?

Mahdi: Yeah, I was pleased to be part of a special project with Enio Nicollini (Italian bass player from The Black) this summer, and it’s called « Heavy Sharing », I was invited with a bunch of talented and prestigious artists like Blaze Bayley (Iron Maiden), Trevor (Sadist) GoldFinch (Homo Herectus), Morby (Domine, Sabotage) to perform a song on this album ‘Amir of Madness’. And the special thing about that project is that there’s only bass, drums and vocals. I find it really challenging to work on the vocal melodies and the lyrics to get into the mood of the song. It’s hard to make heavy metal songs sound good without guitars. You should definitely check it out and give me your feedback on it!

What are the future plans for Carthagods?
We’re about to make the release show of our first album on the 9th of April 2016 and we’ll take advance of it to make a live video and present our new EP to the audience…and maybe some dates out of the country will follow.

If you had to describe your band as a dish, what tasty meal would Carthagods be?
Mahdi: That’s a complicated question, I never thought about any relation between CARTHAGODS and any dish but let’s say a fresh grilled fish with some Harissa (spicy Tunisian sauce) in some pure oil olive…simple, easy to prepare, light but consistent.

Anything you’d like to share with the world?
We want to thank all the people who supported us and believed in our music…our manager, and all the guests who didn’t hesitate to join us to make this project happens, and of course thank you for this nice interview and big thanks to all our fans and the readers of Echoes & Dust

 

Luguber, Suriname Metal on the Rise!

You wouldn’t think about the Caribbean as a place where metal music is blooming. Maybe blooming is a bit too early to say, but there’s something stirring under the soil in Suriname for sure, where Luguber is making strides with their unique, dark sound.

This interview was originally published on Echoes and Dust. Check out that version here

Suriname was up from the colonial days until the independence in 1975 part of the Netherlands. It explains a connection and influence from the old country, which can be seen in the music of Suriname. For years the country was also a dictatorship after a military coup. It’s all things to take into account, when looking at a relatively young scene that is still finding its ground.

But bands like Luguber are hitting that ground running, playing their own blend of various genres, mashed into a wild punkrock infused barrage. It’s the sound of anger and dissent, of frustration and depression. That makes it high time to get in touch with these guys and get to know a bit about them and their scene. Most questions were answered by Shavero Ferrier, except when noted different.

So meet Luguber!

Who are Luguber and how did you guys meet?

Luguber is a metal band from Suriname, we play a mixture of hardcore, thrash and grunge. Luguber has three members, who are Reguillio Norman Padma on bass, Akeem Smith on drums and Shavero Ferrier on guitar and vocals.

I met Akeem at school in Nickerie in 2014. He had the same interest in music and he heard that I was playing in a band. We got talking and found that there was definitely chemistry between us so… Luguber was born. Reguillio and I had been playing in a band together in Paramaribo, named Skafu, so I’ve known that bastard for years.

Before that I played in a punkband called De Rotte Appels, who released a single named ‘Punkers’ on compilation albums ‘Punks Not Deaf’ and ‘Suriname Punks Meet Guyana Punks’, which came out in the Netherlands in 2013. I and Reguillio still play in Skafu together.

After that first jam session with Akeem we started penning some songs, so Luguber started as a duo. With just guitar, vocals and drums we played 4 successful gigs in 2015. Reguillio joined on bass in January 2016. We play music that takes a bit from sludge, hardcore, grunge and thrash, as long as it makes it heavy, dark and depressed.

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What’s the story you’re telling with your music, what are the songs about? It seems that there’s some personal demons unleashed in the lyrics.

My parents had to move in 2011 from Paramaribo (the capital of Suriname) to Nickerie. You can’t compare Nickerie to Paramaribo. It’s smaller, there’s not much to do during the day and in the evenings. When my friends left Nickerie to study I was left alone there in Nickerie. Moving from Paramaribo to Nickerie, from a busy life to a really calm life is what I’m expressing in my lyrics.

Why did you pick the name Luguber?

Originally we had the idea in mind to play doom metal, so we picked a name that would fit in well with that style. It worked out differently, we started playing completely different styles, but decided on keeping the name. We do a lot of lyrics in Dutch, so keeping the band name in Dutch made sense. We’re kind of breaking a taboo by having a Dutch name. Most bands in Suriname use English names. It’s sort of different in that way.

What bands inspired you to make music and are there any local ones that you looked up to?

Shavero: For me a local inspiration is Bitter Confessions, a metalcore band from Suriname from around 2001/2008. Apart from that I listened a lot of Black Flag, Bad Brains, Black Sabbath, Nirvana and Slayer.

Akeem: For me the song ‘115’ by Elena Siegman, was what inspired me to start drumming metal music. Other music that inspired me is Pantera, Asking Alexandria and Killswitch Engage.

Reguillio: For me its Mark Tremonti, Creed, Social Distortion, Metallica, Slipknot and Green Day (before 21st Century Breakdown). Local heroes for me where the bands Apoplectic and Morrighon.

If Luguber could tour Europe with a three band package deal, what would that package be?

Regillio: So, this is hard to answer… Creed, because of Scott Taps voice, wow! But…they split up. De Heideroosjes, awesome Dutch punkrock group that also split up I’m afraid. So I’d go for Korn, because that would mix well, since both us and they deal a lot with personal demons in the music.

Shavero: For me it would be Neuk! (Awesome Dutch hardcore band). They inspired me to write my lyrics the way I do. I also really dig Expire, I listened to all of their albums. I’ve been a huge Bad Religion fan since my teens though, so as a die-hard fan I’d add those.

Akeem: I’m a big deathcore/death metal fan, so for me Infant Annihilator is on that list. The drummer Aaron Kitcher has been a huge inspiration for me. Currently I really dig the band Eye of the Enemy and I suppose Slipknot, because it’s my big dream to see them play live.

What is it like to make metal in Suriname? The image of the region is usually one of sunny music and a relaxed atmosphere. The music of Luguber is very dark instead.

It’s always great to make music that is different for the masses, something they’re not used to. Mostly the audiences don’t appreciate it very much, but Suriname has a small underground scene that appreciates what we do. Those are the people we make our music for. No one is making any money out of this, we’re more likely to pay to play. It’s all about the love and passion for the music.

You guys are from Nickerie, on the first EP there’s a song titled ‘Nickerier Song’, what textually seems to fit more into a setting like King 810’s songs about Flint, Michigan (Murder City). It sounds pessimistic and the lyrics mention it as a hell hole. What kind of place is it you guys come from?

Nieuw-Nickerie is not such a bad town really, but for a city boy it’s a place that can get pretty boring. Maybe a good example is the UK Subs song ‘Down Here on the Farm’. It’s a fact that Nickerie is the second city of Suriname when it comes to suicide rates. To make a long story short, Nickerie can really bore you to death…

How available are facilities like instruments, studio’s, labels and record shops? I’ve learned from bands in surrounding countries that these can be serious issues.

It actually is a big issue. Not just for people playing rock or metal I have to say, but for any genre. Instruments are ridiculously expensive and the studios have no experience at all with the kind of music we are making. There are people who have been into the metal scene for decennia, who have a studio, but they’re simply unwilling to invest. They fear that they won’t make back any money they put into it. So we have to make do with what we have and that’s not a lot unfortunately

Can you talk about a metal scene in Suriname? What does it look like, is it segmented by genre or is it a mix?

You can’t really talk about either a metal scene or a punk scene in Suriname. It’s more or less a rock scene, where everything is mixed up a lot. The scene is not really bound to one specific genre. It’s also not very big, so you see the same people at every party, regardless which band is playing. People like a good atmosphere and a good mosh.

The rock subculture really becomes visible when there’s a related event. Everyone knows each other and respects each other’s musical tastes. We discuss a lot of stuff, but at the end of the night we share a bottle of beer and a joint and just have a good time.

How did the metal scene get started in Suriname? Is it possible to point out a starting moment?

The rock/metal scene in Suriname started in the seventies, when people were jamming in their garages, playing covers of Sabbath, Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad. It really took off in the eighties, when the band Allegre Fortissimo played an official gig and was actually on the radio for a while.

We don’t know that much about Allegre Fortissimo to be honest. In the 70’s people played funk more than anything and that band was the first one who dared to organise a show. For me personally the band Bitter Confessions has been one of the first bands that I saw live and inspired me to start this band. That was around 2007/2008.

Which bands from Suriname should people check out and why?

Bands you could check out are Asylum, Tidal Wave, Morrighon and Ravech. Tidal Wave is one of the oldest, still active bands from Suriname. Asylum plays shows full of energy, you could call them the Suriname version of Slayer.

Morrighon has been working on their sound for a while now and last year they released an album which sounds pretty amazing. They’ve been at it for ten years or so. Ravech is an up and coming band, they have a lot of potential. You can check out their EP online now.

You guys played the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean recently. How did it go and what is it like to play on a stage like that?

I can hardly find the words for it. It’s a night we’ll probably never forget, an evening full of top class metal music with great bands. Everyone was nice and encouraging towards one another, but there was definitely competition. I needed to visit the toilet like seven times, that was how nervous it made me. We played a great show in the end and probably one of the biggest we’ve done this far. Many doors have opened now and I think we’ve gained a lot of connections through our Caribbean brothers.

What is the connection between the surrounding countries, say the region that was part of the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean? Is there a connection to the Dutch scene?

Before the Wacken show, we were familiar with bands from the region, but contact remained limited to Facebook connections. Now, after having played together at the show, the contacts have been strengthened and we have a wish to collaborate more.

As mentioned before, the band De Rotte Appels released a compilation in the Netherlands. A Distant Head Disorder can also be heard on that ‘Guyana vs. Suriname punks’ compilation. Jerrie Orie, who organises the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean plays also in Dutch metal band Disquiet and Cypher.

You can say that for us (Skafu/Luguber) there’s a good connection to the Netherlands, which lead to the compilation albums ‘Punk’s Not Deaf’ and we’re pushing each other’s music on social media. Jerrie Orie is definitely an important connection for us. Not only did he play in those bands, if we hear his name we think of long hair, metal and beer.

He invested heavily in the scene he has said, without making much in return and has been trying to make rock bigger in our country for years. He would like to make Suriname the centre for the music in this Carribean region. The Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean is the highlight of that this far.

What future plans does Luguber have?

We want to tour the whole fucking world, but mainly we would love to play Europe (yes, we’re talking about you too Netherlands).

But first we want to record our album, make some merch and plan local gigs. We also really hope to do something more with our Caribbean brothers.

If Luguber was a dish, what would it be?

We’re like a McDonalds meal, that you’re craving and afterwards you feel bad until the craving comes up again. You’re definitely never going to forget us.

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Interview with Askhan of Nine Treasures, folk metal from China

An interview with Askhan from Nine Treasures, Mongolian folk metal from China, originally published on Echoes & Dust.

China is one of the biggest countries in the world. It has a complex and diverse history and apparently a thriving metal scene, which is vastly different to that we have in the ‘west’. That diversity extends to bands that have an ethnic element that we don’t even know about. Nine Treasures is one of those bands.

Askhan, bandleader and main songwriter of Nine Treasures concedes that it’s hard to explain to people that he is from Inner Mongolia. His ethnicity is there for Mongolian, though the region is mostly populated by Chinese people. It’s the part of China that sort of embraces the nation Mongolia and is deeply connected to its ethnic roots, music and culture.

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It’s not an uncommon story that folk music blossoms when uprooted from its home. It was in Beijing that Nine Treasures took shape, thanks to the work of Askhan and passion for the music. He moved to this metropole, because it’s the centre of the music business in China. A place of opportunity. The band has started touring the world and played venues all over Europe with their unique blend of folk and metal. I got in touch with the busy man himself to learn more about the band.

Can you start by introducing yourself? How did you get into metal?
Hi I’m Askhan from Nine Treasures, I’m the guitarist and vocalist. I got into metal when I was in junior high school. I listened the band called Hurd. An old Mongolian metal band, but the funny thing is I didn’t know that is metal. I just loved the songs they wrote and played, but after that I got into all the classic bands like Metallica and Slayer in High School.

I’ve grown up in Inner Mongolia and picked up the guitar in high school. I’ve played in three bands this far and Nine Treasures is my third project.  My first band was mostly for fun at the time. The second band was called M-Survivor, we played metalcore in my college days. I also do the recording, editing, mixing, mastering, designing artwork, editing the video’s and make the posters for Nine Treasures. I guess I do all I can for the band. I quit my day job in 2013 and now I’m fully committed to working for the band.

I understand the band is from Beijing, but the roots are in Inner Mongolia, can you tell more about that origin of the band and how you guys got together? Do you have any other musical projects going?
I started to find all members of Nine Treasures when I got to Beijing at 2010. It was very lucky that I found them in very short time, because we knew each other before. It’s not easy to find Mongolian musicians in Beijing, unlike in Inner Mongolia. The guys I’m playing with now are the only capable ones I found. I had some demos from 2010 and contacted them. They loved the stuff, which is key for finding committed band members. You have to show them something that’s worth their while.

How did you come to the decision to blend folk music with metal?
I fully got into folk metal music in 2007. I start to think about how I can put Mongolian folk into metal music for 3 years before Nine Treasures was founded. It was a very difficult process figuring out how to bring together those two elements, which required a lot of thinking. 

For western bands there are plenty of examples to learn from how to combine these elements. Mongolian folk music is radically different from European folk, so I really needed to figure out how to fit them in with western instruments like guitar, bass and drum. They really need to connect and we want to put east before west in the sound. It’s a hard thing to do, but it works and we’re only getting better at it.

What does the name Nine Treasures originate from? What is its meaning?
Nine Treasures refers to the precious metals and gems Mongolian people like to put on their jewellery, such as gold, silver, copper, coral and so on. It indicates luck and good wishes for the future.

Can you tell a bit more about the instruments, why you chose to use them and how you put them into metal music?
Nine Treasures uses folk instruments like the Morin Khuur, Tovshuur, Balalaika etc. All these instruments, except the Balalaika, are Mongolian. The Balalaika is a Russian instrument.

When you’re doing Mongolian folk metal, the first thing to put into it is the Mongolian instrument. You build the metal music up around it, but I’m not sure how I did that. It’s the thing with the creative process, it’s impossible to describe what you do and how. It’s a lot of work that your brain can’t fully comprehend and after all that hard work something beautiful comes out hopefully.

I hear a lot of this galloping rhythms in your music. I’m assuming this has a lot to do with the stories (as demonstrated by the title ‘Galloping White Horse’). Can you tell me a bit more about the musical and thematic elements of Mongolian folklore and folk music that you put in your music (like what themes are very present, but would people not know about)?
Mongolians are horseman people on the world for 2000 years. We had lot of stories about horses. The horse has a few different running rhythms, some of them are fast, some slow. The different speed creates different feelings and emotions. To give you an example, if the horse is running slowly, then it will make us happy or think deep g about something, right? And then you have to remember the feeling and write some words for it. Then you can sing it for a melody you like and boom! You’ve got a song. That is the way how Mongolian folk music comes together and is created.

You’ve re-released the album ‘Avan Ald Guulin Honshoor’ recently. What prompted the re-release and can you tell about the story you are telling on the album?
First release of ‘Avan Ald Guulin Honshoor’ was in 2012, we didn’t have good gear and instruments in that time. It was a bit rough, so I started to fix all of the tracks after it was released. I didn’t even want to re-release it originally, but some friends told me it has some damn good sounds and much better than before. So there was no reason to hide it anymore.

What is the writing and recording process for an album like for you guys? Who is responsible for what tasks?
I will record some simple demos without any folk instruments in the beginning, then send those to other members. They will write the folk instrument part for it. So the basis of a Nine Treasures album always starts from pure metal.

Are you working on any new music currently?
Always.

What is the scene like in China/Mongolia for metal and for bands like you? Can you maybe mention some bands that people should really be checking out (and explain why)?
China has round 200 metal bands, in a lot of genres and styles. They make music and have tours all the time here.  You can check out Ego Fall, Tengger Cavalry, Suffocated etc. Folk metal bands are getting popular here right now. I think people always want to try some new and fresh things.

Outside of China probably people only know the band Tang Dynasty. Can you may be shed some light on what started metal music in China/Mongolia?
I don’t really know about the history of metal of China, but I think it started at early 90’s.

Metal music faces a lot of oppression in some parts of the world. In general we assume here that China is one of those places. Do you face any censorship or oppression of metal culture and music in China?
I don’t think so, they just don’t care what music you playing. If there is any sort of censorship, it’s because they care about the lyrics. If you write some words that they don’t like to see, then they probably will censor your work. You can play around with those rules though, it will make your lyrics much more poetical.

Blending folk/national themes with metal has in the past often been linked to extreme right politics. Is this something you as a band ever had to deal with like many western folk metal band?
We never had that issue, and our songs are all about Mongolian culture, life and environment.

What future plans do you currently have as a band?
We will release our new album in 2016, then will have tour in whole China and Europe. That’s what we doing right now.

Please use this space to add anything you’d like to say.
I hope more people will like Mongolian folk metal music all-round the world.

Check out the music of Nine Treasures on their Bandcamp: