Hellfest 2014 November | 2011 |

Archive for 11/30/2011

Ancient Bards checks in with The Age Of Metal

Ancient Bards is a Symphonic metal band from Rimini, Italy that I came across around a month ago while browsing YouTube videos, as soon I saw The Birth Of Evil video clip, out of their first album The Alliance Of The Kings I was hooked to their music, and the beautiful and powerful voice of their singer Sara Squadrani. Currently they just released their second album Soulless Child, the second part of the Black Crystal Sword saga which is the core around Ancient Bards music and concept.

Soulless Child is a more epic album than The Alliance Of The Kings, with strong keyboards and guitar layers, the album presents different melodic moments that are sync quite well with the mood of the story behind the music. Tracks like Gates Of Nolan, To The Master Of Darkness, and Valiant Ride are packed of speed and action that would take you to the realm of Lastworld, the land where the saga takes place.

The album has also its soft and dramatic parts, which makes the experience of the album a bit more epic than your regular symphonic metal experience. Songs like Hope Dies Last, Struggle for Life and Dinazi Al Flagello present dramatic and sad moments into the album. But one of the most powerful and engaging tracks is Soulless Child the title track, not only because of its melodic riffs and faster beats, but also because if you put attention, a big deal on the story lies on those lyrics.

No doubt Ancient Bards is one of the bands that found the formula to continue a path already forged by bands like Blind Guardian and Rhapsody of Fire. But with more passion and fresh ideas than their predecessors. We had the pleasure to chat with them about the album, the saga, and the future plans of the band. and this is what they told us:

For those who don’t know. What is Ancient Bards?, and what is the idea behind the band?

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Rhapsody Of Fire did all their discography on sagas, in the case of Ancient Bards. from where comes the inspiration to write a saga?

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What can you tell us about the Black Cristal Sword Saga?

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You just released a new album titled Soulless Child, which is the second part of the Black Cristal Sword Saga, What can you tell us about the album?

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The album was produced by Simone Mularoni guitarist of DGM & Empyrios. How was the experience of working with him?

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Many symphonic metal bands these days came out from the conservatory, what is Ancient Bards musical background? Or are you guys self-teach?

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Ancient Bards recently released a new video for the track “To The Master Of Darkness”, what can you tell us about the video and the concept for it?

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The cover art for the new album looks amazing, what is the meaning behind it? And who did it?

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Are there any plans to tour after the album is released?, and by any chance is the United States included on those plans?

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What is the next step on Ancient Bards career?

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Steffen Kummerer talks Obscura with The Age Of Metal

Obscura is a technical death metal band from Germany that has been around the metal scene for almost 10 years now, their complex musical structure which is a combination of virtuosism and technical musical composition is what make this band be so good on record and live. With four full studio albums on their shoulders the band plays one of the most complex music out there these days, and last Wednesday night we had the chance to presence that musical quality when Obscura played at The Clubhouse. Unfortunately it was not crowded as expected. However, the show was amazing and the band played songs from their albums Cosmogenesis and Omnivium.

Previous to the show we had the opportunity to talk with Steffen Kummerer guitar player and founder of Obscura about their new album, line up changes and the technicality behind their music. This is what he told us:

Interview with James & Jay of TesseracT

Coming from the land that gave birth to heavy metal, these five guys called TesseracT have made a lot of buzz in the underground metal community for a while. They released their first album One at the beginning of the year. Before that, they played on big European festivals like Hammerfest & Bloodstock without even having an album out. In 2010, they signed with Century Media and toured with Devin Townsend.

Last week we sat down and talked with James Monteith (guitar) & Jay Postones (drums) of TesseracT during their stop in Tucson, AZ, as they are currently touring with Animals As Leaders and Between The Buried And Me. We talked about their new album, the tour, their new singer and what’s coming up for them.

This is the first big tour you guys have done in the US. How’s it going? 

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For those that don’t know, can you tell us about who you are?

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In March you guys released your first album One. What can you tell us about the album?

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How have fans responded to the album so far?

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You guys had a lineup change recently, how has working with Elliot been so far? 

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Last month you released the video for the track Echo 2.0, can you tell us about the video?

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Related to that concept, what do you guys think about the Occupy Wall Street movement here in the US?

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You’ve played big European festivals like Bloodstock, Hammerfest, all before releasing a full album. You also recently signed with Century Media records. How does it feel to accomplish all that in such a small space of time? How has your experience been working with Century Media so far? 

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Are you working on a second album? If so, what can fans expect from the new album?

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What is up for TesseracT after this?

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Between the Buried and Me, Animals as Leaders & TesseracT live


 

Last Tuesday night, The Age of Metal staff road tripped down to Tucson for a tour that I’ve been anticipating since its’ announcement. Headlined by Between the Buried and Me, the Saints & Sinners Tour 2011 featured support from Animals as Leaders and TesseracT. It was my first time seeing all of these acts live. It was also my first time seeing a show at Rialto Theater in downtown Tucson. Rialto, from the outside, looks like an old time movie theater complete with a blazing neon marquee sign.  I was pretty impressed with how the show sounded, as the Phoenix area has only a handful of venues and some of them are notorious for their horrible acoustics. That night’s show left me wishing that this wonderful venue would transplant itself to Phoenix.

First up for the night was TesseracT.  The British djent act underwent a change in vocalists over the summer, with Elliot Coleman replacing former vocalist Dan Tompkins. There was some pre-show chatter about how he’d perform live, and the crowd focused in on Coleman for most of the performance. He had a fantastic stage presence and his vocals were top notch, but seemed to still be getting used to playing with TesseracT. I’d be interested to see them on their next tour, to see if they really hit their performance stride in full. Before the show started, we had the chance to interview the band. You can find that interview here.

Next up were Washington, D.C. prog metallers Animals as Leaders. I’m not sure if there’s another band I’ve been hearing more buzz about this year. The three-piece instrumental act put out their second full-length, titled Weightless, on Prosthetic Records a few weeks ago. I was interested to see how their stage presence would be live – and boy, was I impressed. The stage held two projector screens on which trippy visuals pulsated with the music. Aside from the projections, these guys don’t have much by the way of stage presence, and they’re probably the only band I’ve seen in recent years that doesn’t need it. Their musical abilities are so astounding to see live that they don’t need too much else to hold the crowd’s attention and put on a captivating performance. A few pits opened up during their set, but for the most part the crowd seemed to understand that these are the type of musicians that deserve to be watched closely and carefully, or risk missing an instant of their musical prowess.

When the first note of BTBAM’s set ripped from the speakers, the crowd was beginning to get really worked up. The band released The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues EP back in April, with this being their second tour behind the album. Their sound is a unique blend of progressive metal & metalcore with elements drawn from dozens of other genres mixed together to create one of the most distinctive sounds I’ve heard in recent years. Vocalist Tommy Rogers has incredible range and stage presence, and was very entertaining to watch live. He masterfully switched back and forth between clean singing and deep growling in addition to manning the keyboards. Guitarists Paul Waggoner and Dustie Waring propelled the show forward with their fantastic performances, which were both technically proficient and energetic to watch. During the epic ‘Specular Reflections’, the band stepped aside and let Blake Richardson show the crowd his drumming chops with a solo. One of the highlights of the night was the mix of six or seven older songs that BTBAM melded together. It allowed them to fit in those older songs that fans always want to hear but sometimes get forgotten after a new album or two. A medley like that could be hard to pull off well without ruining all the individual parts or loosing the audience, but BTBAM played it perfectly. They chose to close out the night with an encore playing of ‘Mordecai’.  Their performance was very powerful and left us talking about it the whole trip back to Phoenix. While we were in Tucson, we also had the chance to interview bassist Dan Briggs… check it out here. 

Check out all our photos from the night in our gallery.

Dan Briggs of Between the Buried and Me talks to The Age of Metal

Between the Buried and Me: perhaps the most popular band of the 2000s that has a ton of technical merit. Ever since 2007′s Colors came out, the band’s been on a roll, with their most recent EP The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues gaining a lot of critical reception. It seems that they have no intent of slowing down. Given their recent output, this is a good thing. Their live show has only gotten better since as well. This is the fifth time I’ve seen them and it was by far their best. You owe it to yourself to catch them live if possible. You will not be disappointed.

I jumped at the chance to be able to talk to Dan Briggs (the bass player) during their recent stop in Tucson. Ever think they’d leave veganism? What do they think of Metallica’s Lulu album? Listen below…

1. How’s the tour going?

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2. What’s your favorite song to play live?

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3. How does being vegan/vegetarian affect touring?

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4. Have you all ever considered straying away from the vegan path?

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5. Have you all started writing the full length yet? Do you intend to play the entirety of the album live a la Colors and the Parallax EP?

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6. Do you all ever intend to play Colors live in it’s entirety again?

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7. What have you been listening to on the road?

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8. What did you think of Metallica’s Lulu?

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Stormwarrior – Heathen Warrior (2011)

While not adding anything new to the speed metal genre Stormwarrior’s Heathen Warrior is still a fast, heavy metal that would appeal to the fans of the genre.

Formed in 1998, Stormwarrior is a Speed metal band from Hamburg, Germany. Heathen Warrior is their new offering for 2011 after 3 years. Stormwarrior draws their influences from the 80s metal scene especially the German scene with the likes of Helloween and Running Wild.

The 80s was a much simpler time, no excess of metal subgenres and leather everywhere. Stormwarrior’s Heathen Warrior seems to be very much a throw back to that 80s sound much like their heroes in the 80s German speed metal scene like Helloween (Kai Hansen of Helloween and Gamma Ray even produced some of their albums). Stormwarrior is vocalist/guitarist Lars Ramcke, guitarist Alex Guth, bassist Yenz Leonhardt and drummer Hendrik Thiesbrummel. Lars sounds somewhat like Andy Deris of Helloween while guitar wise it is the typical power chords structure and then solos. Drummer Hendrik is competent able to keep the beat going and in true metal fashion the bassist is barely audible.

From a lyrical perspective they seem to go the way of viking lore. Songs like ‘The Rise of Asgard’ and ‘The Valkyries Ride’ show that while not the most thought provoking kind of lyrics, they are still metal and thats good enough for them. Heathen Warrior is a decent album for all metal heads who want more 80’s inspired speed metal and is definitely an album to pick up if needing a true headbanging album.

Matt Sinner Of Sinner Checked In With The Age Of Metal

Sinner is one of those bands that has been around in the metal scene for a long time, and whose contributions to the power metal scene are huge. Their latest album One Bullet Left presents us with a more flexible perspective and a different formula that you may expect on a Sinner record. First the line up now consists of three guitar players instead of the regular two, this gave a heavy sound to the band, but also is a challenge at the time to arrange the solo parts and melodic riffs which for the most part Sinner succeeded on carry out for this album. Second the album is a more heavy rock oriented with a background on German power metal tradition.

One Bullet Left is the 17th studio album of Sinner and is a live representation of the versatility and professionalism of this power metal veterans. Songs like Back On Trail, The One You Left Behind, and Give And Take are more melodic and could be easy to listen for non-metal fans. The band experimentation with hard rock elements is clear on this album. One Bullet Left is a softer kind of album than its predecessor Crash And Burn (2008). Tracks like Rolling Away, Wake Me When I Am Sober and Suicide Mission are a perfect example of such experimentation. Matt Sinner leader and founder of the band does not repeat the same formula twice on a Sinner album. Even though he is on a bunch of different projects at the same time (Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle, Kiske/ Sommerville) just to name a few.

We had the chance to talk with Sinner about One Bullet Left, the new line up, his other projects and the new Primal Fear album. This is what he told us:

One Bullet Left is the 17th studio album of Sinner, what can you tell us about the album?

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How was the writing process for this album?

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The band now features three guitar players, where the idea of having three guitar players came from, and how is that working for the band?

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Sinner’s last album was released three years ago, what would you say that are the main differences between crash and burn and one bullet left?

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For this album you recorded a video clip for the track, back on trail, what was the idea behind the video and where it was recorded?

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Its been almost 30 years since the release of the first Sinner album, what is the secret to endure all this years?, and what kind of advise can you give to young bands that wants to make it into the music industry?

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You are also involved with many other bands, Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle, Kiske/Sommerville, and Rock Meets Classic, what is the inspiration to make so much music, and keep it different and interesting in each one of these projects?

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Sinner would be kicking off the One Bullet Left support tour at the end of the month, what can the fans expect on this tour?

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Are you bringing Sinner to the US anytime soon?

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About your other band, primal fear, that will be releasing their new album unbreakable on January 2012, what can you tell us about that album?

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What is next for Sinner?

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Cloudkicker – Let Yourself Be Huge (2011)

Ben “Cloudkicker” Sharp is far from what one would expect to be a successful artist. He releases his music on Bandcamp (which you can download for the low low price of free), doesn’t tour, and holds a day job. Yet his music has generated quite a significant amount of buzz and has even helped him buy stuff to further it. His 2010 effort, Beacons, was on my top albums list that year. How does this album fare?

First off, this is way way different from anything he’s done under the Cloudkicker banner. Even though it’s written structurally similar (looped segments of songs getting continuously fleshed out throughout the song) it’s still nothing like Beacons. This album is far mellower.

With that in mind, this album proves that Mr. Sharp can write just about anything he wants and it’ll probably turn out great. The album is, in a word, beautiful. The song You and Yours (released last Christmas and ironically the heaviest track on the album) is a great example of Mr. Sharp writing anything he wants and it coming out great. But all of this pales in comparison to the title track, Let Yourself Be Huge. It marks the first time that there are vocals in a Cloudkicker song, and most importantly Mr. Sharp loops it as he would loop any of the instruments. This means that there’s one line of lyrics throughout the entire song but it really works. It really does.

In closing, if you’re looking for some awesome heavy djent masterpiece, get that thought out of your head immediately. If you have any doubts about Cloudkicker being any less great, get those out too. You’re seriously missing out on how good this album is if you’re just looking for another heavy album. This album is fantastic. If you like any of the stuff off of Let Yourself Be Huge, I highly recommend checking out his B. M. Sharp project. It’s similar to this.

Download everything Mr. Sharp has put out (Cloudkicker or otherwise) here: http://cloudkicker.bandcamp.com.

Calle Thomer from Vildhjarta talks to The Age of Metal

Vildhjarta’s been making waves in the djent scene for quite some time, despite their less than prolific release schedule. Their 2009 EP Omnislash made huge waves for them. However, we’re now two years removed from that release and we now have their new album Måsstaden ready for listening. A lot has happened in the past two years, particularly the explosion of the djent scene which has many standouts (Periphery, TesseracT, etc). Do Vildhjarta stand head and shoulders above the rest, or do they fall with the other technical bands?

Simply put, Måsstaden is brilliant…if you liked Meshuggah’s Catch Thirtythree. Here’s the deal: Måsstaden is a continuous piece, told like a fable. Therefore you have to listen to the entire album all at once to truly get the effect that the album has. There are interludes in the record that quite simply don’t make sense on their own.

However, there are some standout moments here. Benblåst is ferocious. I do believe that that’s the one part of this whole piece that many aggressive metalheads can get into because of just how abrasive it is. Likewise, All These Feelings gets pretty ridiculous. But unlike Benblast, this one has to be enjoyed with the context of the album.

Another thing I have to make note here is the sheer amount of members in this band: three guitarists, two vocalists, a bassist, and a drummer. I can safely say that it fits to have all of these members, so don’t let that intimidate you. In terms of vocals, one of them focuses on higher growls while the other focuses on lower more closed growls. This is definitely not a Despised Icon-esque situation where the two vocalist thing isn’t necessary. The guitars sometimes give me the illusion that their point is in numbers, but the acoustic parts change that pretty quickly. With someone playing something more mellow in the background, it really gives Vildhjarta a more unique sound.

In closing, if you love Meshuggah, you’ll like this album. If you love Catch Thirtythree, you’ll love this album and you rightfully should. Although this album carries the whole “listen to the whole album” vibe that Catch Thirtythree did, it’s by no means a knockoff. However, if you don’t like djent or anything the scene is putting out, you probably won’t like this. Vildhjarta is by no means revolutionary…yet. But this album is certainly a cut above most of the scene.

We had the privilege of interviewing Calle Thomer, one of their guitarists. We asked him about the recording process of the album, how it is touring with seven members, and what he thinks of Lulu, the new Metallica album. The answer is shocking.

1. How did Vildhjarta get started?

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2. What exactly does the term “thall” mean?

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3.  What’s changed between your 2009 EP Omnislash and now?

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4. What’s the concept behind Måsstaden?

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5. This album flows a lot like Meshuggah’s Catch Thirtythree album. Was that something you all planned on?

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6. Given the concept behind Måsstaden, I can see how your videos would play a component in that. With that said, how much creative control did you have over the videos for Benblåst and Dagger?

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7. How do the logistics of having seven members in your band affect recording and touring?

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8. Do you all intend to tour behind Måsstaden?

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9. What did you all think of Lulu?

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Gwar, Every Time I Die & Warbeast, 11/14/2011 – Marquee Theater, Tempe, AZ

Despite the tragedy that overshadowed the band with the recent loss of their guitar player Cory Smoot, AKA Flattus Maximus, the space warriors of GWAR have chosen to continue their ‘Return of the World Maggot tour 2011‘.  Last Monday, it was Tempe’s Marquee Theater that got covered in blood and vomit. We arrived at the venue around 7:30 pm, right on time to get our places and get ready for the upcoming bloodbath. One of the first things we realized upon walking in was that everyone was wearing plain white t-shirts. That’s just a bit of a change from your standard metal show apparel. We’d heard crazy stories about GWAR‘s live show, but it became starkly obvious then how different of a show it would be. With support coming from Warbeast and Every Time I Die, the night was certain to be a good one.

Warbeast

The band in charge to open the show was Warbeast, formerly known as Texas Metal Alliance.  Their new album Krush Them All was produced by Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down). The band played a really good combination of old and new thrash metal. After their blasting set, we had the chance to talk with Bruce Corbett frontman of Warbeast about the band, their relationship with Housecore Records and Phil Anselmo

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Every Time I Die

Not too many bands could step up the challenge of opening for such a legendary stage presence, and ETID did well. They played a mix of tunes mainly from their early albums. Stephen Mecciche played bass in place of Josh Newton, who recently left the band to have more down time. Mecciche previously recorded with the band for the album Hot Damn!. 

 

GWAR

You know it’s gonna be a good show when the techs cover all the gear with trash bags to prevent them from getting wet. GWAR set opened with War Pigs by Black Sabbath which was sung euphorically by every single soul on the room. Then, the cyber lords appeared and the concert/bloodbath began. The scenes of decapitation and sword fights in the middle of the stage were the perfect excuse to shower the public with blood. The crowd keep asking for more and more with each song. No one was safe from the filth that these extraterrestrial beasts spewed out at the crowd.

 

 It was impossible to stand anywhere in Marquee without getting soaked in ‘blood’. GWAR killed several different characters on stage from their own lore, and at one point eviscerated an obese caricature of Snookie. Oderus Urungus also dedicated the show to Flattus Maximus. Indeed it was a blood fest, but it was the best tribute that the band and the crowd could given to Maximus. The show ended with Cory’s guitar alone on stage with My Way by Frank Sinatra playing on the speakers of Marquee, indeed a beautiful way to remember him.