Label : Sound Age Productions/Napalm Records
Review by Vard Aman
Arkona (Аркона) have existed for only 10 years (well, 11 now), it feels like they have been around much longer given their achievements. 11 years ago, Masha Arkhipova and Alexander Korolyov, two members of a local Slavic Pagan society decided to form a band called Hyperborea, which a little later, and after gaining more members, changed their name to Arkona (named after the last Slavic fortress destroyed by the Christian invaders). They wasted no time; in late 2002, they recorded and released their first demo entitled “Русь” (“Rus”) and followed it up by their arrival on the Russian underground live scene, where they quickly gained popularity. After a a complete line up change around Masha in 2003 (the line up which has been together ever since), their debut album “Возрождение” (“Revival”) was released in 2004. Continue reading »
Label : Lion Music
Review by Tony Cannella
It doesn’t get more progressive or grandiose than Docker’s Guild. This project is put together by Douglas R. Docker (Biloxi, Area 51) and bears his name (along with his brother Donald). The first in a five season series is titled “The Mystic Technocracy – Season 1: The Age of Ignorance” and will be followed by four more seasons. An outstanding list of musicians has been assembled for this release which can only be described as epic progressive rock and metal.
With a playing time of almost 80-minutes, “The Mystic Technocracy” is filled to capacity and there is no shortage of epic numbers. Some of the songs definitely recall old school progressive rock (like Yes and older Genesis) combined with more current prog metal and veering off into other territories. Obviously a lot of thought went into writing and crafting the songs to go along with the concept. The conceptual end of things is quite intriguing as it tells a science fiction story and there will be more chapters to come. Among some of the talented musicians who take part in this project, the only female is Amanda Somerville (Trillium). Continue reading »
Interview by Ed MacLarenBarely into their 20s, Germany’s Voices of Destiny has a musical maturity that belies their young years. With their shining debut, “From the Ashes”, Voices of Destiny is packed with massive chops and soaring vocals that match many of the premier symphonic metal bands you’re listening to right now. Vocalist Maike Holzmann joined Femme Metal to talk about the creation of “From the Ashes”. Congratulations on the new album! With Massacre Records no less. How are you and the band enjoying the ride so far? The feedback must be excellent.
Working with Massacre and all the great people we met during the recording process is awesome. Of course, we got some positive reviews and comments on our homepage, but we can’t tell how often the album is sold by now. We will know better in a few weeks.“From the Ashes” is a very multi-textured album that draws you in deeper each time you listen to it. There’s a lot of detail happening musically. What’s the key to maximizing the “From the Ashes” listening experience?
Maybe just sitting down and listening to the album carefully and consciously. If you read the lyrics while listening this might also maximize the experience. You can interpret them and find out how they fit into your life.What’s really impressive about “From the Ashes” is the number of potential singles: “Ray of Hope”, “Return from the Ashes”, “Apathy” and “All Eyes on Me” are all standout tracks. Each song on the album can stand on its own as well as a cohesive part of the whole album. Was that the band’s approach during the songwriting process?
Yes, indeed. We didn’t write the album as a concept album. Some songs already existed for 2 years or longer. But we thought they’d fit the album as well. Every single song is good on its own but concerning the whole album they reach another level somehow.
Interview by Matteo Bussotti
Their musical style is indeed really unique. They take direct inspiration from the Victorian Age, creating songs which seems out of time, and that’ll bring you out of time for their atmospheres and their sound. I’m talking about A Forest of Stars, and I’ve interviewed their lead singer, Mr. Curse, to hear from him what’s the story of this band, and what will be its future after the release of their latest album, “A Shadowplay of Yesterdays”. The result…is something really worth reading. Welcome to A Forest of Stars‘s very strange and peculiar world.
So, Mr. Curse, welcome to Femme Metal! We are glad to have you here! The first question is: your latest album “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” is nothing less than a complex album, starting from its name. How did you come up with the main idea behind this concept album?
The idea came together via initial conversations between The Gentleman and myself. These concerned the thought of madness; insanity. Also, the question of whether an individual is truly insane, or if the so-called madness is a product of their own imagination. There is also the question of whether or not it is the individual who is ‘mad’, or if it is in fact the world around them that has lost its grip upon reality. The name “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” was intended overall to hint at the thought of a life flashing behind the eyes at the moment of death; the flickering thoughts, the shadowplay… I must also give a bid mention to our cohort The Projectionist, who’s extremely fine ideas and suggestions not only helped form the back-bone of “Gatherer of the Pure”, but to influence my lyric writing further throughout the record as a whole.
Were there any other ideas that you had to discard before coming up with “A Shadowplay”? Maybe something we will see in future releases?
We did in fact have a small pile of possible names, some of which may indeed be used in the future – whether as song titles, parts of lyrics or whatever should suit them at the time. They may of course end up discarded and left without purpose. There are many things I have written that have ended up this way.
Musically speaking, what are your main influences?
I cannot speak for the band at large; the influences are too many and varied. For myself, Darkthrone, Bathory, Burzum, Ved Buens Ende, Type O Negative, Beyond Dawn, Swans, Arcturus, Voivod, GGFH, Acid Bath, Sleep, Electric Wizard, Jethro Tull, Simon and Garfunkel, Steeleye Span, Skyclad, Devil Doll… the list is utterly endless. So much music has influenced me one way or the other, and I have an eclectic taste. I could go on and on and on and on and on…
And…historically speaking? Why did you get so fascinated by the Victorian Age?
It is all a part of our country’s rich heritage, and it seemed to fit the general demeanor of the band as a whole. You would have to ask my esteemed colleague The Gentlemen for a more succinct answer – though he has already answered this particular question in many prior interviews… In a nutshell, prosperity next to utter paucity; industrial triumph next to opiated squalor; religious fervor next to blasphemous alchemy. We enjoy the duality of it all. That, and the fact that so many parallels can be drawn between that time and the plastic-clad cathode ray gun farce that we call the present.
How are songs usually composed in A Forest of Stars? Who usually comes up with the ideas?
For the first two records, the majority of the music was written by our dear departed Mr. Kettleburner and The prolific Gentleman. Since TSK‘s passing over, we have recruited very talented new members to take up the mantle. Musically, “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” was mostly written by The Gentleman and H. H. Bronsdon, one of our ‘new’ guitarists and musician / sound engineer extraordinaire. Significant additions were made by our other guitarist, Gtx. Grimshaw, and the rest of us all put our oars in one way or the other throughout…
Do you, Mr. Curse, usually write the lyrics, or do the other band members write something too, sometimes?
Up to this point I have written all the lyrics for our albums.
I really have to ask you this: who had the idea for your website? It is absolutely SPECTACULAR! I really loved it: the design, the style, the interactivity…everything! Congratulations on that!
That was a combined effort between The Gentleman and our wonderful colleague Lord Grum (www.grummedia.co.uk). It is indeed a site to behold, though once again, you would have to speak to The Gentleman to get the full story behind its creation. Suffice to say, it provides us with a most detailed and much tangled home amongst the spiders of the web.
What other themes would you like to explore in your next albums?
I wouldn’t honestly like to say for sure. Is ‘Anything and Everything’ a bad answer? I am most influenced by that which occurs around me at the time of writing – so even if I tried to say for sure what my lyrical influences would be for the next one, they would be liable to change without notice. Having said all this tripe, I am quite caught up in the crux of space and time. Also of gravity, the seasons, and heavy weather in general. These will always figure in my writing, as will my perceptions of the state of the so-called human condition.
What’s your relation with your fans, especially during your concerts? Do you tend to have an active relation, or do you tend not to interact too much with the crowd?
Again, I cannot speak for the rest of the band. Personally, I tend to stare intently out into space as I ‘perform’. It is the only way I can put myself in the correct place to be able to create the energy I require to get through it. I am not a great interactor, though I will always make the effort to speak to people after we leave the stage. It would be most ignorant and ungrateful of me not to!
Talking about the tour, where would you like to go? Is there special place or event you’d like to play at?
I have been very privileged to see some of Europa, and would certainly like to see more! I will go where ever the call takes me – I’m told I will even be going upon an aeroplane next year. I hope they’ve got some decent ‘relaxants’ for the journey… Not to be too evasive, but there are so many places I have not seen – I will not discount any, and will embrace each new place as a learning experience and something new. Having said this, I felt very at home in Frankfurt, Germany, and am very much looking forward to our little band playing Roadburn next year.
This is your third album…can you tell us, in your opinion, in which direction A Forest of Stars have evolved from the beginning until now?
In all honesty, I would say that we have done just that – evolved. Things have moved forward for us with each release simply because we do not wish to repeat ourselves or to bore ourselves with the music we put together. We are comfortable with our myriad influences, and so far have managed (I hope!) to incorporate them into our music without coming across as too much of a melting pot of horrors bound together with shit!
Now…spend some words to describe the other members of the band! You can be as serious/creative/funny/rude as you want!
At the risk of sounding like a trite so and so, I see the other members of the band as an extended family. We all look after one another and ensure that we get from one place to another in one piece (or in as few pieces as possible!) I would describe them as true friends and allies; I would not change them for the world – though I would add one to their number if I could – my attempts to resurrect Kettleburner in daemon form and to shoe-horn him back into the band have so far proven unsuccessful, though I have a few more dubious fine powders up my sleeve to try…)
Thank you very much for your answer! We hope to see you soon in Italy!
Thank you for your questions, Matteo.
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
An interview with Mark Jansen from Epica. The band Epica does not really need an introduction. 2009 was a busy year for the band. Epica did a festival tour this summer and released a live album,“The Classical Conspiracy – Live in Miskolc, Hungary”. Even better is the news that Epica will also release a new studio album in October. This interview is with Mark Jansen, the mastermind behind Epica.
Did you always wanted to become a guitar player and singer?
No, I wanted to become a cyclist and I also have a master degree in psychology but none of these made it to a profession. When I was 15 years old I went to a show of the Dutch death metal band Gorefest and from that moment on I knew I wanted to be on the stage as well. By then I didn’t have the intention to become a singer. I started playing guitar and that was fun enough but when the male singer of my previous band After Forever left I started singing as well.
And did you have any other bands before After Forever?
No, After Forever was my very first band and Epica my 2nd. I never played in any other band.
How do you see yourself, as a guitar player that can do some grunts or as a singer who also can play the guitar?
As a guitar player that does some grunts as well. But above all I see myself as a composer who plays the guitar (… and do some grunts as well haha).
And did you follow any singing/grunt lessons?
No, it was more or less trial and error, grunts should not hurt your throat but everybody who tries to grunt for the first time won’t feel comfortable doing it, you just need to find the right way and there you go
What kind of guitars and amplifiers do you use?
We just signed an artist deal with V-empire guitar amps, it’s a Polish company and they make damn good amps. We were using Mesa Boogies before and they were good as well but when you have the possibility to sign a deal and get all these great amps for free you just have to grasp that chance with both hands
To what kind of music do you listen yourself and what are your favorite bands?
I often listen to bands which I liked when I was a teenager: Dream Theater, Megadeth, Guns N’ Roses etc, it brings back nice memories. A band that I discovered 5 years ago and listen to a lot is Opeth. Besides that I also like to listen to film scores and classical music.
Is it difficult to combine Epica with your personal life?
It’s a challenge and I need challenges in my life. My girlfriend lives in the US, so you can imagine it’s not easy to combine, but nothing is impossible. At the moment we are 1 year and 8 months together and we see each other quite a lot in spite of the distance. Besides making music, we also manage the band ourselves, we don’t want to throw money in the pocket of a lousy manager. The disadvantage is that there’s a lot of extra work. But I still manage to have some free time and during this free time I like to enjoy the beauty of nature, sport and watch football
What are your favorite Epica songs?
It’s hard to choose as I like many of them. But if I’m forced to make a selection with a shotgun pointed on my forehead I would say: “Cry for the Moon” (“The Phantom Agony” – 2003); “Consign to Oblivion” (“Consign to Oblivion” – 2005); “Fools of Damnation” (“The Divine Conspiracy” – 2007); “Kingdom of Heaven” (“Design Your Universe” – 2009)
I think that the trouble with Transmission Records was without doubt a negative experience for Epica. But what are the highlights so far?
There are many highlights, to name a few: – Lowlands and Pinkpop, playing these great festivals in the Netherlands were highlights; Wacken Open Air (2009) Germany, for me a dream come true to finally play the biggest metal festival of Europe; – “The Classical Conspiracy” and the show itself with orchestra and choir, the biggest highlight so far; Signing with Nuclear Blast, the record company I always wanted to be on since I started playing guitar; Being the first metal band from abroad to play in Tunisia, people were crying of joy, I will never forget that.
And do you have any updates about the Transmission Records situation?
Yes, the label owner signed a deal with Nuclear Blast to re-release the old albums and the previously unreleased “Live in Paradiso DVD”.
Epica has two new band members now, both from God Dethroned. The God Dethroned music is very different from the style Epica has. Will the new blood in the band have much influence on the new songs? This is because I’ve noticed at live gigs (like Wâldrock) Epica has far more energy on stage.
You’re right, since these two guys joined us we are a way more energetic band, not only music wise but also the stage performance has become more energetic. The guys have also an influence on the songs as everybody in the band influences the songs so some differences are due to them. But I like it this way, new blood means also the chance to integrate new elements (like solo’s) and we did
Where do you get the inspiration for the music and lyrics?
Inspiration is a fantastic thing, you don’t know where it comes from and what causes it, it’s a mystery
What is the idea behind the name of the album?
“Design Your Universe” basically refers to the capacity to take control over your own life and create your universe. Many people don’t live their dreams as they think it’s unrealistic and out of reach. I am one of the many prooves that you can succeed, don’t fear the unknown and take risks
And can you tell us something about the songs on “Design Your Universe”?
We went quite deep into the details this time. We want to make improvements on every album and as “The Divine Conspiracy” got great critics by press and fans we had to come up with something better this time and that’s quite a job! haha. So we worked our asses off to try to make an even better album. My favorite song is “Kingdom of Heaven” a very long song but we managed to keep it interesting, long songs can easily get boring but I think we finally found the perfect ingredients for the longest song of Epica ’till now.
Three songs on “Design Your Universe” are a part of the “A New Age Dawns” saga. This saga has now six chapters. What is the relation between the “Design” chapters and the “Oblivion” chapters?
The relation is that we need to make a change, we lost contact with nature, each other and the earth. We need to get rid to some of our addictions which will destroy us in the end. Like our addiction to earn more money than our neighbour, money is the “antichrist” of our civilization..
You have also recorded a song with Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica. How was it to work together with him?
Great, we toured with Sonata in Europe and asked him one of these days if he would be interested to record a song with us. Fortunately he was and with his very unique voice he lifts the “White Waters” song to a next level.
There are plans to record DVD at the Metal Female Voices Fest in October. What can we expect?
We will record DVD material, so whatever turns out great will reach a future DVD but if we’re not satisfied nothing will happen. The facts are that we are gonna do a big show there, probably the biggest we have ever done. So probably you’ll find at least some of this footage on a future DVD together with other concerts. MFVF made advertisements with the message that we will record a DVD there but we don’t want to disappoint our fans as long as we’re not sure.
Besides the upcoming tour, what else can we expect from Epica in the future?
We don’t look to much ahead of us, so I don’t know but until the summer of 2010 the whole schedule is fixed already so for like 1 year we know already what to do haha.
And the last question, is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
Erwin, you covered it all Thanks a lot!
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
- Mystery Blue – “Conquer the World” (2013)
- Orianthi – “Heaven in This Hell” (2013)
- Pamela Moore – “Resurrect Me” (2013)
- Dante Fox – “Lost Man’s Ground” (2012)
- A Persuasive Reason – “A Persuasive Reason” EP (2013)
- The Reasoning – “And Another Thing…” EP (2012)
- HUNTRESS & GOLD @ 013, Tilburg, THE NETHERLANDS 08/06/2013
- Anneke Van Giersbergen
- Noora Louhimo – Battle Beast
- Leah – “Of Earth & Angels” (2013)
- Kells – “Anachromie” (2012)
- Tristania – “Darkest White” (2013)
- Infinitus Mortus – “The Conspiracy of Love” (2012)
- Illuminata – “A World So Cold” (2011)
- Hitherside – “Hitherside” EP (2012)
- Hanging Doll – “The Sacred & Profane” (2012)
- Edenbridge – “The Bonding” (2013)
- Delain – “Interlude” (2013)
- Emily Lazar – September Mourning
- Ashley Costello – New Years Day
- Androniki Skoula – Chaostar
- Arkona – “Decade of Glory” LIVE (2013)
- Оксидерика – “Step to Darkness” (2013)
- Chaostar – “Anomima” (2013)
- Helalyn Flowers – “White Me In Black Me Out” (2013)
- My Ruin – “The Sacred Mood” (2013)
- Belladonna – “Shooting Dice With God” (2013)
- Visions of Atlantis – “Ethera” (2013)
- Upon Wings – “Afterlife” EP (2013)
- Maxine Petrucci – “Back to the Garden” (2013)