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 »
Interview by Eetu Niskanen
For the beginning, you just released your new album “My Fatal Kiss”, how much work did it take to get it written, recorded and finished?
It took us over a year to write and record “My Fatal Kiss” primarily because we also changed record labels during that process, which is not something you can hurry. But I guess we made the best of the situation, cause when the new deal was finally signed we had already finished about 90% of the songs. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into “My Fatal Kiss” not only as far as the songwriting and the actual production is concerned, but we also worked extremely diligently on its artwork so it would reflect the album’s lyrical concept in what we hope turned out to be a creative and thought-inspiring way.
How have you improved as musicians since your latest effort “Bloodangel’s Cry”?
Well, Krypteria is now in its fifth year together, which I consider a testament to the dedication of the four individuals in this group, that being Ji-In, Chris, Frank and myself. Sticking together through these years despite a huge number of setbacks gives us a sense of cohesiveness both musically and personally. We absolutely cherish the opportunity to keep working on our dream. With that in mind I’d say the most significant improvement is us benefiting from our collective experiences as a group both live and in the recording studio over the last couple of years.
How would you explain your music to readers who haven’t heard you?
We are a female-fronted rock/metal band of four who like to combine catchy melodies with heavy rocking riffs and hard driving grooves. Add a bunch of classical and gothic elements such as the occasional Gregorian chants or Ji-In’s delicate piano to the mix and what you hear is a dark, emotional and dramatic kind of high-energy music. Some people call it Gothic Metal, some call it “Rockmantic”, somebody even dubbed it “Sexy Symphonic” – whatever you want to call it, if you like passion, power and emotion all rolled into one you might want to give our music a try. I’d say checking out “My Fatal Kiss” will give you a pretty good idea of what Krypteria stands for.
How long have you been playing drums?
I got my first drumkit at the age of 15 and formed a band right away with a couple of classmates – and, yes, it’s safe to say we weren’t very good. (laughs). A couple of years later I met Chris and Frank and we joined forces for the first time – little did we know then that we would reunite and start Krypteria together more than a decade later.
Who writes the music on Krypteria?
We all do. Everybody brings different ideas to the table and we are lucky to have four people in the band who are able to write both individually as well as in groups of two, three or four. Plus, due to the fact that we spend a lot of time together away from the studio or the tour bus I guess you can say we are a very tight-knit family. We don’t have to deal with any ego issues when it comes to writing songs. That said, discussions about certain parts of the music can still get pretty heated every now and then – however, it never gets personal and always happens in the best interest of our songs.
Who are your biggest influences?
Personally, I’d have to say that Queen had the biggest influence on my development as a youngster trying to become a decent musician. They of course first blew me away with their musical diversity and their unique image. But more importantly Roger Taylor’s drumming and him being one of rock’s greatest background vocalists ever as well as contributing as a songwriter big-time was something I tried to emulate – so I owe trying to become this drummer/singer/songwriter combo to him being a role model in that regard. As a group we all listen to a very wide array of musical styles and we consider ourselves pretty open-minded. If it gives us a kick we appreciate it, be it metal, rock, pop, electronica, classical music or even some obscure avant-garde stuff. And if you listen to our music closely you will probably discover some of the less genre-typical influences we draw from.
Could you tell us something about the other band members?
I guess everybody can see that Ji-In is a very beautiful woman and that she is an amazing performer both in the studio and on stage. What people who haven’t met her don’t know is that she just has the sweetest soul. It may sound like a cliché but to know her is to love her. Plus, she is one heck of a team player and one tough cookie. Chris is a man of conviction, a visionary and Krypteria’s savvy business authority who is not afraid to get in the ring with anybody for the good of the band. Frank not only plays the bass in Krypteria, he is a fantastic singer in his own right, a guy I trust and the ultimate goofball who is not afraid of constantly going the extra mile. And I guess that’s what unifies us, the goal we share, the hopes and dreams we share and everybody being willing to go the extra mile no matter what. We know that us finding each other is very special and that’s why we’ll never let go of it just because the going might get tough once in a while.
There are tons of female fronted rock/metal bands out there, how does Krypteria keep unique?
By staying true to ourselves. This is who and what we are, four individuals working as a team, combining their creativity to make music that is meaningful to us while hoping that we’ll be able to reach out and touch as many people as possible. I am a firm believer that you can’t be truly relevant if you try to chase a certain formula or try to be different for the sake of being different. It either comes naturally and hopefully people will recognize a uniqueness of some sort, or you probably don’t have it in you. See, you can’t force anyone to love you, love has to find you. So basically our fate is in the fans’ hands. It’s up to us, though, to make sure we’re out there so they can find us.
With “Bloodangel’s Cry” you changed your music style a lot from the earlier works, when and how did you decided to go for a rockier style of music?
That’s just part of us evolving as a group. What originally started as a fun studio project between Chris and I only became a full-fledged band when Frank and Ji-In joined us and that’s when things took off. Becoming rougher and edgier just came naturally, because that’s where our hearts are musically. As I mentioned before, we’ve since shared quite a number of different experiences both good and bad.These experiences and all the concerts we played kept shaping us as a band and brought us even closer together. All this combined with our individual musical backgrounds as well as our influences and preferences made this a very natural process and the inevitable next step in the evolution of the entity that is Krypteria.
After four studio albums wouldn’t it be ideal place for a live DVD, what do you think about making one?
Oh, we’d absolutely love to. But right now we are focusing on making sure the world knows about “My Fatal Kiss” first. However, I am pretty sure that a Krypteria DVD will be released in the future, I just don’t see it happen within the next year or so – but, hey, I’ve been wrong before. All I can say is that the four of us would love to do it, so our fans who don’t have the chance to attend a Krypteria concert in person will still be able to see what we are about on stage.
What can we except for Krypteria in the future?
For at least the next 12 months we’ll primarily be playing live not only in Europe but we’ll return to Asia and Latin America as well. We simply love to introduce our music and the band to as many people as possible in a concert setting. Fortunately, we’ve built a reputation for being quite energetic and entertaining on stage which rings especially true for Ji-In – again, she is simply adorable but at showtime she turns into this uncontrollable wildcat. I’m glad I have the best seat in the house to watch this tiny firecracker explode everytime we play live (laughs).
Is there anything readers should know I haven’t asked?
Yep ! That our bass player Frank really is bat-shit crazy ! (laughs) And that I’d love the readers to check out our new album “My Fatal Kiss” at www.krypteria.de. Please let us know what you think of it and come see us live if you can. That’d be awesome and you’re guaranteed to see a band work their butts off to give you a great, great time.
Thanks for the interview!
It was my pleasure, thank you for the opportunity and keep up the great work ! Here’s hoping we’ll see each other at the Femme Metal Festival 2010
Interview by Ed MacLaren
Since 2004, Germany’s Krypteria has released a string of excellent symphonic metal albums – each reconstructing and redefining their trademark symphonic metal sound. With their latest album, “All Beauty Must Die”, Krypteria has stepped out once again with amazingly ear-pounding results. Led by the formidable vocal talents and dynamic stage presence of Ji-In Cho, Krypteria are becoming as equally known for their powerful live shows as their complex and powerful music. Femme Metal recently got the opportunity to talk to Ji-In about the making of their new album where she breaks down the Krypteria sound and tells us why all beauty must die.
Welcome to Femme Metal Ji-In! “All Beauty Must Die” is out and it’s a winner! Life in Krypteriapolis must be looking pretty good these days.
Hello Ed! Thank you very much! Yes, I can’t deny that after all the time we were confined to our studio working on “All Beauty Must Die” we are now very happy about getting all the great mail from our fans and wonderful reviews!
“All Beauty Must Die” is hookier and heavier than any of your previous efforts yet you’ve still been able to maintain many of symphonic and choral elements that made “Bloodangel’s Cry” and “My Fatal Kiss” such interesting listens. What was the band’s mindset going into the recording of the album?
Like always, we poured our experiences and emotions we had to deal with in the last year into the record. But as you may know we set up our own label and that means for the first time in our career we are free – in every part of this business. That means we are now responsible for everything – even besides the music – and that is very exciting and new for us. We told ourselves that if we fail, we will die by our own sword. This might sound a little weird but because of this knowledge we feel totally liberated, independent and stronger than before. I really hope you can hear it on “All Beauty Must Die”. By the way: we called our label Liberatio. (Smiles)
Do you feel that Krypteria has established a certain “trademark” sound that sets you apart from other bands – a sound that people will instantly identify with Krypteria?
I believe we do have quite a different sound from other bands. Not on purpose, this is just the result of our combined efforts at composing and writing. It is hard to describe in a few words, but I believe our fans will know by now what a Krypteria song sounds like. We have a knack for dramatic but still catchy melodies. We like to combine choir parts and classic elements with heavy riffs and beats. On our new album we have further grown and evolved musically. Maybe we are a little tougher and rougher, but unmistakably still Krypteria.
Are there still wild and unknown places the band still wants to explore musically?
There are surely a lot. But at this moment we are very happy with our baby and it is too early to think about our next steps or our next album. The only wish we have is to present our baby live on stage to our fans.
All Krypteria albums have a central theme that holds the lyrics and music together. What’s the conceptual thread that ties together “All Beauty Must Die”?
Well, it’s not a concept album like “Operation Mindcrime”, “Streets” or our 2007 release “Bloodangel’s Cry”. It’s about staying true to yourself and to your ideals no matter the obstacles. There’s a lot of rage and yearning involved and it’s about loss. But there’s also a lot of resolve, defiance and hope to it.
While we’re on the subject: why must all beauty die?
If I only knew!! Well, that’s how it is and there is nothing you can do against it. You can’t hold the good moments forever and stop time – only the memories can remain. But even these are gone when you die. To say something positive: not only the wonderful moments fade away but also the bad times and negative emotions are someday over.
Your singing is spectacular on “All Beauty Must Die”. Your vocal melodies have matured immensely on this album. How would you chart your vocal evolution over the course of your time with Krypteria?
Thank you for the compliment but I guess my teacher at the Musikhochschule who taught me classical singing would have a hard time listening to my singing!(Laughs) I think everyone of us has found his place in the band. We all respect and appreciate each other. We also totally trust each other and we feel safe when we are together. I think it’s always very helpful and encouraging if you feel comfortable and you feel accepted as the person you are. That’s the best way to express and develop yourself.
Do you still work on improving your vocal abilities either through personal practice or professional instruction?
There are days when I sing all the time just to try out what’s possible with my voice. And sometimes it’s better just to shut my mouth! (Laughs)
A goal of the band seems to be capturing the energy of your live performances – especially yours – on album. Are you getting close to getting that dynamic down digitally?
I hope so. But in the end it’s never as easy as we always have a lot of fun on stage – thanks to our audience. Every band would say so – the fon stage. Fans give you the best energy boost you can have and I could never compare these moments we share with our fans with anything else.
Although Krypteria started out more like a loose and informal “project”, it seems like Krypteria functions more and more like a true collective. How does that affect the direction and arrangement of the music?
I never thought of this band being loose and informal. But you’re right: the longer we know each other the more organic we’re getting. I’m very thankful that we’re aware of being four totally different personalities and treat this fact as an inspiring fact. That’s why we try to make sure that every facet is represented. I’m sure that helps to make our album more multi-dimensional and more colorful.
“All Beauty Must Die” is a heavy album with tracks like “Messiah”, “Higher” and “Eyes of a Stranger” but there’s still room for your delicate piano flourishes. How important is it to express that musical aspect of your personality on each album?
I love to write songs with only my piano and I think it’s a perfect instrument to bear up against the guitars. In comparison with the voice you can show a different and more complex atmosphere and in addition to my voice, the piano is very important for me to express myself and my musical imagination.
“The Eye Collector” is a standout track – and not just because it clocks in at an epic-length 11 minutes long. The intense arrangements and the simmering force of the music make it arguably one of your strongest tracks from any Krypteria album. What is it about extended tracks that bring out the best in the band?
Well, in this case this is easy to answer because we had a great inspiration based on a book by the German author Sebastian Fitzek. One of his fabulous books is a psychological thriller named “The Eye Collector” and we are relieved and very happy to tell you that he likes our song and the fact that it’s inspired by his book too. (Smiles)
When you decided to bring in some guests to record you didn’t fool around. Doro Pesch, Tobias Exxel and Olli Singer! Nice job! How did they do?
We are very happy that we could win these guys to play with us. For me personally, it’s a big honor to sing a duet with Doro – she’s really the Queen of Metal and no one is more experienced than her. After all these years she still gives to her fans everything she’s got on stage and that’s really something to admire. We got to know Eggy when we had our first gig in Germany. We shared the dressing room with Edguy and very soon we found out that they are very nice and funny guys. We are glad that finally after all these years Eggy could find some time to join us on the record – especially as a guitar player! And regarding Olli: he’s the best guy we could find to replace Chris on stage. He’s a real good guitar player but first of all a real good guy and we have a lot of fun with him when we are on tour.
Krypteria’s artwork always shows a lot of attention to detail – both in quality and in reflecting the musical and lyrical content of the album. At the very least the skull logo will look great on a black tour shirt! How did the artwork for “All Beauty Must Die” develop and what were you trying to convey with it?
Talking about the artwork for “All Beauty Must Die”, we were searching for a picture that would fit this title. I didn’t want my face to be displayed again on our cover, because we already did that. So I came up with the idea of a female and Asian skull. Fortunately, my band members were also very curious about the idea and what such a skull could look like. Thanks to our great illustrator Torsten Bürgin we now have this fantastic female skull logo. If I had tried to draw up something like that, we would probably have a different cover – I’m a real bad drawer and painter!
We’re starting to see more bands integrating members from different countries and making some incredibly creative music. This includes Leaves’ Eyes, Tristania and Visions of Atlantis to name a few. You’ve been the lone South Korean in a German band for a long time now. Has your South Korea ancestry played a part in your contributions to Krypteria or influenced the direction of the music?
Not in a direct way. But I can tell you that my family loves music – especially passionate and wonderful melodies. We’re very emotional and everyone in my family can play a classical instrument. So I guess this love for this style of music is in my blood.
“All Beauty Must Die” gives you four solid albums of excellent metal music to perform. Does the material give you an opportunity to express all facets of your personality on stage?
Absolutely yes. I love to live out all the emotions and subjects we are concerned with. It’s really like a therapy and after every concert I feel clarified – I’m very thankful for that.
I am not good with last words. All I can tell you is what I tell myself as often as I can: Enjoy your time on earth and keep in mind the wonderful moments but also the bad moments – you never know for what they are good for!
Label : SPV/Steamhammer Records
Review by Tony Cannella & Luisa Mercier
It is finally here. One of the most eagerly anticipated symphonic metal releases this year has to be “Silverthorn” by Florida’s Kamelot. Of course it is well documented that the band parted ways with popular longtime vocalist Roy Khan. After utilizing Rhapsody’s Fabio Lione to fulfill their remaining tour dates, Kamelot finally settled on a permanent replacement for Mr. Khan… His name is Tommy Karevik from the Swedish band Seventh Wonder. One thing Kamelot has always done is incorporate some of the most talented female vocalists to further enhance their albums and “Silverthorn” is no exception. Elize Ryd from Amaranthe, Alissa White-Gluz from The Agonist and Amanda Somerville has already been on tour with Kamelot and they all turn in tremendous performances when they are called upon. “Silverthorn” is a concept album about “a young girl who dies in the arms of her twin brothers, taking the three siblings’ secret to the grave”. Kamelot has really outdone themselves in the lyrical department, and the music has that movie soundtrack feel to it to really compliment the lyrics. After the opening intro “Manus Dei”, the band goes into “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)”. I would say that this is probably my favorite song, which also features some killer vocal performances courtesy of Elize Ryd and Alissa White-Gluz. Alissa adds a more aggressive style. I was surprised to hear that Alissa was on tour with Kamelot and that she sings on this album. She definitely has a more aggressive style to contrast the angelic voice of Elize Ryd. Next is the heavier “Ashes to Ashes”. One thing is apparent, Tommy Karevik definitely has Roy Khan thing going with the vocals, I wouldn’t say he is a carbon copy sound-alike, but with him at the helm the band loses nothing in the way of vocals and musically this is the most inspired they’ve sounded in years. “Torn” is next and has an up-tempo style. Next is the ballad “Song for Jolee”. Next is “Veritas” which features a huge sounding choir on the chorus. Other highlights include: “Falling Like Fahrenheit” and the closing 9-minute epic “Prodigal Son” which is divided into three parts: “Funerale”, “Burden of Guilt (the Branding)” and “The Journey”. There are a lot of similarities in both look and style between Tommy and Roy, but for the most part, I like the bands choice of singers, and I don’t know if it is a coincidence, but “Silverthorn” is probably my favorite Kamelot album since “The Black Halo”.
Rating – 90/100
All of us Kamelot fans were eagerly waiting for this new record. Two years ago, Roy Khan stated that he would have not toured with the band for a while, and after some months he left Kamelot. Since then, I was quite sceptical and curious about his replacement, since Roy voice is unique ine power/symphonic metal and it was the main feature of the band, the one that made Kamelot stand out. It was with relief that I welcomed Tommy Karevik into the band, since he is not the typical power metal singer, but he’s quite versatile and really talented. On the other hand, it was the record that partially did not meet my expectations, since it is hit and miss for me. Do not misunderstand me, the balance in the end is good, but it stays quite below legendary records like “The Black Halo” or “Poetry for the Poisoned”. There are very good songs and songs that are quite average, not the best melodies, sometimes they are just cheesy and too power for my taste. “Manus Dei” is the usual symphonic intro, nothing new if you love this kind of music: orchestra, piano and choirs that build the climax for guitars and the beginning of “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)”, the first single. The song has power/symphonic riffs and Tommy is scarily similar to Roy, so similar that I am almost convinced that it was a conscious choice. In the song, he duets with Elize Ryd from Amaranthe and Alissa White-Gluz that is in charge of harsh vocals. All in all, it is a nice track, nothing oustanding. Another track that did not impress me much is “Song for Jolee”, the ballad. Kamelot are masters of ballads, think for example of “Abandoned”, but this is way too cliché. Of course there are positive sides and I can name a few. Beside Karevik vocals, I really liked “Torn” that, even though short, has a good variety of styles and tempo changes without relying too much on power. Same for “Veritas” that recalled me the sound of the previous masterpiece “Poetry for the Poisoned”: epic, more prog-oriented and Tommy is magnificent. Title-track and “Falling Like Fahreneit” are quite good, but the real highlight is “Prodigal Son” in which Tommy uses several vocal styles and also musically goes from solemn to balladesque to heavy metal, symphonic and epic. I wish the others were the same. Nonetheless, the album is good, not a masterpiece, but the result is positive in the end. So Kamelot fans like me will keep on listening to it.
Rating – 70/100
- Manus Dei
- Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)
- Ashes to Ashes
- Song for Jolee
- My Confession
- Falling Like the Fahrenheit
- Prodigal Son
- Tommy Karevik – Vocals
- Thomas Youngblood – Guitars
- Oliver Palotai – Keyboards
- Sean Tibbetts – Bass
- Casey Grillo – Drums
- Elize Ryd – Guest Vocals
- Alissa White-Gluz – Guest Vocals
- Amanda Somerville - Guest Vocals
Interview by Si Smith
First-time viewers of the new album by Dotma will be presented with a fantastic vista of colour and imagery – but what are the forces at work behind the image, behind the polished artwork and powerful musicality? Not ones to be pigeon-holed or typecasted, Dotma tread the line between gothic and power metal with the skill and dexterity of players well-established in the world of female-fronted metal. Yet this is only their first full-length. To understand how this remarkable feat has been achieved, I spoke to singer and lyrical crafter Johanna Lesonen….
Biographies of Dotma seem to start as many band bios do, with guitarist and keyboardist Harri deciding to form a band surrounding a particular theme or genre. Johanna, how did you join up with these guys at the very beginning?
Well I had just started to take classical singing lessons, and I was very excited about singing. I wanted to try singing in a band and my friends had just founded one. I was the one who asked if I could sing in their band. They weren’t sure if they wanted a male singer, so they hesitated a little. But since there were no other singers around, I got the job! And it seems that it was a good decision! =)
Dotma has a strong image, both musically and artistically. This image seems to draw the listener/viewer into the heart of the band experience. What were your expectations of the band from the start? Did you know in which direction the band would be going from the time of the first demo?
At the beginning I really hadn’t any specific expectations for this band, I just wanted to sing. We started with power metal and after the first demo we came to the conclusion that we wanted to develop our style. We weren’t sure in what direction. We thought it will come naturally, if it’s meant to come. And so it did.
A second demo entitled “Dances With the Shadows” was released in 2009. How had the music progressed by this time? Were you happy with the end result?
We were much happier with the result than we were with the first demo. We had grown as musicians and the songs had developed into this style which felt more like ours. It was still power metal but there were these symphonic and atmospheric elements already to be heard. But still, the process continued till the recordings of the full-length album.
It seems that all lyrics are written by yourself at this time: how do you go about choosing themes for songs? Could you take us through your creative process for writing and/or perfecting your song lyrics?
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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- Effloresce – “Coma Ghosts” (2012)
- Marie Fredriksson – “Nu!” (2013)
- Anneke Van Giersbergen
- Leaves Eyes’ – “Symphonies of the Night” (2013)
- Phildel – “The Glass Ghost” EP (2013)
- Lita Ford
- Sarah Teets – MindMaze
- Susanna Vesilahti – Unshine
- Trobar de Morte – “The Silver Wheel” (2012)
- Viper Venom – “In Venom Veritas” (2012)
- Via Obscura – “Gedanken” (2012)
- The Mariana Hollow – “Velvet Black Sky” (2012)
- Storyum – “Insomnia” (2012)
- Snei Ap – “Hidden Floors” EP (2013)
- Sin7sinS – “Carnival of No Tomorrow” (2012)
- MaterDea – “Satyricon” (2011)
- Rampart – “War Behast” (2012)
- Lita Ford – “The Bitch is Back… Live” LIVE ALBUM (2013)
- Epysode – “Fantasmagoria” (2013)
- Beyond God – “Dark Light of Dawn” EP (2013)
- Ayreon – “The Theory of Everything” (2013)
- Seremonia – “Ihiminen” (2013)
- Tuomas Tuovinen & Eveelina Kojo – myGrain
- TEODASIA announces European Tour with TARJA TURUNEN
- I Left the Planet – “I Left the Planet” EP (2011)
- Grimes – “Visions” (2012)
- Грай [Grai] – “О Земле Родной” ["O Zemly Rodnoj" - "About Native Land"] (2011)
- Gin Wigmore – “Gravel and Wine” (2011)
- Funin – “Unsound” (2011)