Interview by Ed MacLaren
It’s been long considered that in most things two’s company and three’s a crowd but in the case of Swedish power metal outfit Amaranthe, three is merely the number of world-class vocalists they feature on their self-titled debut album. With clean female vocals along with clean and screamed male vocals, Amaranthe are anchored by a vocal prowess of which few bands can boast. Add the fact that the band weaves progressive, metalcore and techno elements along with a unique pop sensibility into it’s power metal onslaught, Amaranthe is a new breed of metal band that fascinates with its innovation. Femme Metal got to spend some time with female vocalist Elize Ryd and hear about the origins of Amaranthe, big success in Japan, and their recent European tour with Kamelot. Your self-titled debut “Amaranthe” was one of the most anticipated releases of the year so far and it looks like it exceeded all expectations. Did you ever think you’d get this kind of public response so quickly?No, because this is the first time I’ve released an album with me as one of the main composers and singers, so I didn’t know what to expect. But of course, this was exactly the kind of respond I was hoping for, and have been dreaming of ever since I started to work with this band. It looks like Olof Mörck and Jake E Lundberg put together their version of an all-star metal band – including your formidable vocal skills. How did you get the Amaranthe gig?
(Laughs) It’s pretty funny because I became friends with Jake E in 2004; we met at a bar in Gothenburg and he started to talk about his band, Dreamland, and that he needed a female vocalist to record the song “Fade Away”. We exchanged numbers and there the story began. I also got in contact with Olof through Jake and we became really good friends. Two years later I participated on his fourth album with Dragonland called “Astronomy”. At that time, I was still educating myself at a school called Performing Arts School – an artist school for professional singers and dancers – in Gothenburg. In 2007, I started to work at a cabaret but in my free time me, Jake and Olof often hooked up and wrote songs together. That year they decided to start a new band since they got a really good sound by mixing their musical ideas together. Their plan was to bring in guest vocalists, which included me among a lot of others as well as Andy (Within Y) to record a demo. After that day it just continued that way, and after a while they decided that they wanted to keep us as a part of the band.
The members of Amaranthe have an extremely diverse musical background. With that said, how did Olaf and Jake E sell the project to everyone?
They didn’t really sell the project; Olof is really good friends with Morten (Arcane Order, Soilwork, Hatesphere) so it was just natural to ask him to play the drums, and he said yes right away. They didn’t ask Andy if he wanted to be in the band, they just called him and said, “You’re in the band now, just so you know….” And he was like, OK. I must add that when I heard the first song, which was “Enter the Maze”, I fell in love with the sound so it wasn’t even a question for me if I wanted to be a part of it or not… We actually did our first photo shoot without any bass player, but for the debut show we felt that we really needed one and we didn’t want to do any audition for that since the rest of us came together as friends in the beginning. We really wanted it to stay that way so Andy asked his friend Johan if he wanted to join us at our next gig, and he did, and he was a perfect match.
Was it difficult to meld all those personalities and influences into a cohesive musical whole? No, not at all. Everybody got the chance to play exactly what they like; Olof created parts in the music where he could shine with his guitar, Andy could do his screaming, Jake could sing like Axl Rose, me do my pop/rock thing, Morten got free control over the drums and Johan playing his powerful bass.
Amaranthe has a very clean and modern metal sound punctuated by tight progressive hooks. How would you describe the finished product – the Amaranthe sound? I would describe it as you just did, clean and modern, but also new, powerful, energizing and positive! Did you ever wonder what the final musical outcome was going to be at any point? No. Since I’ve been a part of writing the songs I just got a lot of ideas based on what Jake and Olof created. So it has always been fun, and easy to write, since I could hear the results already from the beginning inside my head. The question was if it was going to end up that way in the end – it mostly did but sometimes even better after everybody else put their hearts into it.
For a metal band with progressive and even some metalcore elements, the music on Amaranthe is very accessible. It could bridge a lot of genres and open you up to a very large fan base. Was that an intentional decision by the band or was it really a happy product of the band’s diverse musical background? It was a really happy product of the band! I think the reason for why everybody wanted to build something with this band was because everybody got the chance to play their own taste of music – which every one of us really got room for. And that’s also a big part of our sound. You have a really good point there; I’m very happy that all of us like the same kind of things but I guess that’s just how it ends up when you write music together with like-minded friends. Despite the huge number of bands the members of Amaranthe are involved in, Amaranthe doesn’t feel like a side project – it has real long-term possibilities. Do you and the band feel the same way? Yes, we do! When we got our first record deal offer, they had to ask themselves if this was the one band that they wanted to make a priority. Well, of course it’s hard to decide since we had no clue how it would turn out but everybody seemed convinced that they wanted to have Amaranthe as their first choice. For me personally, it was hard to decide since I had to quit my job as a musical artist. But since my dream has always been to tour, see the world and perform with my own material, it was not really a hard decision to at least give it a shot.
How did the recording sessions progress? Olof is a self-confessed detail geek, isn’t he? Did you do most of your composing in the studio or was it mapped out well before hand?
In Amaranthe, the vocalists almost outnumber the rest of the band! That’s a very unique sound dynamic. Does it give the band a distinctive musical chemistry – something different to let Amaranthe stand out?Oh yeah, I think so, we singers are a different breed. (Laughs) We really have to think differently from a guitarist or a bass player, for example, not at least when we go on tour. We have to stay healthy and in good shape to be able to sing. No late nights and booze for us so it feels really good to not be the only boring one! (Laughs) Well maybe it works for Andy; he just gets that little extra rasp in his voice.
There’s been a lot of online buzz around the band for a while now but Amaranthe seems to have really struck a chord with the Japanese. Is it true that you’ve been out-selling Lady Gaga on the import charts over there?
Yes that’s actually true! (Laughs) Insane isn’t it!? We topped all sale and import lists the month our album was released.
What is it about Amaranthe that the Japanese are responding to? Most of all they respond to our strong melodies and the catchy refrains. The whole concept has been received with open and enthusiastic arms. They really appreciate the new metal sound. Maybe Japan is just ahead of the curve when it comes to your music? Do you think that Amaranthe’s music will resonate in time just as well with the rest of the world? Maybe world domination only happens one country at a time… (Laughs) That sounds like a plan. After being there we saw how hard our record company Universal had been working with promos, commercials, spreading our name through radio – TV’s also been extremely good. And that, of course, has been a huge help to our success. So if every country would work like Japan, it could lead to world domination pretty fast I guess. (Laughs)
Your touring slot supporting Kamelot didn’t hurt – not to mention your solo turn as the featured female vocalist during the Kamelot set. How did you get involved in performing with Kamelot? Jake E used to work for Kamelot back in 2008. At that time they became friends and after hearing about Amaranthe they listened to our music on MySpace. Both Roy Kahn and Thomas Youngblood really liked the music and I think it was in that moment they got the idea to bring me as a backup singer on their tour through Europe. They simply sent an e-mail to Jake and asked them if I was available, which I was since I just quit my job. How has that touring experience impacted your own musical outlook? Well, I think I’ve realized the power of music by touring around the world. Before, I wrote music for my own sake because it made me happy like a need to express other feelings. Now I have seen that the songs you’ve been making in your livingroom actually can make other people feel something. I’ve been to live shows before but to see the audience from the stage is a totally different thing. I did my first big tour with Kamelot in 2009 and that was the first time I met real metal fans: it was unbelievable to see their response. I was shocked at first and pretty shy when we walked out after the show because I wasn’t used to that kind of attention. But after a month touring and doing a dozen big festival gigs like Wacken, Rock am Ring, Rock im Park during the summer, I learned a lot. I’m happy they gave me that experience. To see people smile and cry, that really touches me and now for future writing I’ll have all these people in mind which really gives me inspiration. I’ve also got a lot more knowledge and a reminder that we all are one. I meet people I would never have had the chance to meet if it wasn’t for the music. That feels unreal for me to be honest. Considering how close you are with Kamelot it must have been a shock to hear that Roy Khan was leaving the band. You were in close quarters with the band for such an extended period of time – was it something that you saw coming?
No not at all. It was as big a shock for me as it was for everybody else! It was a sad summer when we had to cancel all the shows in the U.S. – for me, the band but most of all for the fans. At first I thought he would come back for the European tour we did. But as everybody knows he didn’t. A big praise to all those who showed up still supporting the band. The tour became a huge success. Fabio Lione did a phenomenal job so he’s also going to join Kamelot on the upcoming U.S tour which starts on the 26th of August in Atlanta.
After recording the album and completing your first tour, what’s surprised you the most about being a “big rock star”? Was there anything that made you rethink what you’ve gotten yourself into?
(Laughs) No not yet. But if my career had began with all this I would probably think like that. But I’ve worked my way up pretty slowly for a long time which I think is healthy. I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a little girl so now it feels more like a relief to finally be able to do what I feel like I was born to do.
You, Jake E, and Andy Solveström onstage together makes for a very active stage show. Do you have to map out your own area of the stage so you don’t run into each other? (Laughs) If it was up to me I would have done that, I’m used to working that way, so yes, I actually tried to make a small kind of choreography in every song, like, “You stand there, and then I sing my part, you step to the sides, Jake appears in the middle, we walk out and give Olof space for his guitar solo, then we go back in and stand in a row and then…” and so on but they refused. Well, after playing a few shows now I guess it’s not that necessary. We can feel each other and give each other space on the stage – that’s no problem. But maybe I’ll get my will through in the future. (Laughs)
How would you describe the Amaranthe live show for those new to the band?
Our live show is, as you now know, not choreographed. It’s like a party and we improvise a lot. It’s all about the energy, great music and passion! In the future we, I, hope to bring in a lot more influences to the show, like maybe dancers, a choir, a light show and much more when we make our headlining shows in the future – like Rammstein and Kiss types of things. (Laughs) That would be a dream!
With you being so up-close and personal with the Kamelot guys on stage, were you able to learn any tricks you could “steal” and take back to Amaranthe?
Sure, they have a lot of tricks; I can’t tell though… Just kidding! (Laughs) That must be all the influences they put in their show, like the theatrical intros, a choir, a belly dancer. I think that was a really cool mix with the metal music. I’d like to do that in our show some time, if the boys allow me to decide… They also gave me a tips to wear ear plugs on stage. But now I have an in-ear system which is even better. I want to be able to hear my grandkid’s voices in the future… (Laughs)
Now that the Kamelot tour is finished, what’s next on the tour agenda? Japan must be salivating for Amaranthe to come and perform live. Not to mention the Americas…
Next up is Bloodstock in the U.K, then I’m going on a one month U.S. tour with Kamelot featuring Simone Simons. On the 15th of October, Amaranthe is going back to Japan, we’re going to play at Loud Park! Soon after that, Amaranthe has a nine week long tour through Europe. Can’t tell you more than that right now. But keep your ears and eyes open because more info is coming in the very near future…
(Famous) Last words?
Good questions! We played with Symphony X a few months ago in Tunisia, and the drummer, Jason Rullo, gave a tip in an interview to young musicians which I think was awesome. He said, “Practice creates luck”. Keep on rocking people!
Photos by Johan Carlén
Interview by Si Smith
France had produced some great music over these past few years, and now has a new champion: a satisfying blend of pop, rock and general progressiveness that takes on board influences from all across the musical spectrum. Femme Metal spoke to vocalist Adeline to discuss how they found the perfect recipe for combining all those elements!
First off, a warm welcome to you from all at Femme Metal, and thank you for speaking with us today.
Thank YOU for your interest in what we do !
Before your arrival in the band in 2000, the band began way back in 1998 as many bands do, as a cover band. Do you know what kind of songs were being covered at the time?
I think they covered a few songs of Anathema, Moonspell, Yearning, Edge of Sanity… that kind of bands. As for me I had a cover band too in which I sang classic rock songs from bands such as The Cranberries, The Police, U2… That’s how they found me, they attended one of our gigs and they contacted me a few days later.
Your first couple of demos with the band, “Stanzas” and “Dreamland”, must have been relatively successful as you eventually landed a deal with Sacral production. Thinking back to those early demos, was the sound a lot different from what it is now? Or is it just a natural progression through the years?
Those demos sounded a little bit heavier than the music we play now and there were quite a lot of synths/electro inputs, but the “mellow” side of our music, that mix of rock, pop and metal, was already there. So were the flute and the percussions. It was more than ten years ago now, and at the time my bandmates were obviously much more influenced by the metal bands they covered a few years ago than they are now. In between they sort of abandoned things like the death metal growls and the electro inputs, and they gave the music a “progressive rock” feeling. Maybe because they managed to build through the years a common reference table in the composition process, where as ten years ago the music of Akin was more a raw mix of the very different musical influences of each member of the band.
France seems to have produced some successful progressive-edged bands in recent years, including Auspex, Qantice, Kalisia, Adagio and Spheric Universe Experience (to name but a few). Even Gojira (although much heavier) still hold on to a progressive influence. What do you think it is about the French culture that seems to launch this thirst for the progressive in music?
It maybe because the accent is put on the music rather than the lyrics. There might be a few exceptions but the lyrics are mainly in English which is not our mother tongue. What we find most interesting are the actual melodies, the rhythm, the harmony… That’s probably why the French are so interested in progressive music. That’s my guess anyway.
Considering these other bands, what do you feel Akin can bring to the scene that is different from the other bands of the genre, if you consider yourself “labelled” by a genre at all?
It maybe the variety of influences in our music. I personally listen to a lot of Sting and Tori Amos (and recently I found some interesting things in Lady Gaga’s music, please don’t hit me!), when other members of the band would be more into Dream Theater, Opeth or Anathema, for some others it would be the Beatles … It may also be the variety of instruments we use in our songs: we like to do experiments. In the end, we think that the music we play doesn’t belong to a genre in particular. Whether you’re fond of rock, metal or pop you might like our new album. We hope so in fact!
There was a long period between releases before the new album was birthed. What were you guys doing during this time?
We have had arguments in 2004 and the guys decided I wasn’t a fit in the group anymore. They therefore had to look for a new singer, which took them quite a long time. Then I know that a combination of different factors really slowed the band’s activity down : some members of the band had to move to Paris for professional reasons while the others lived in Lyon, some got married, became dads… And they also suffered several hard drive crashes where they lost a lot of data (there seem to be some kind of “Akin‘s curse” with computers…). They really planned to record the new album in 2008, and it took 3 years to record it because of those personal, technical and professional constraints.
This time round the album has been billed as “with a string quartet on the side”. In what ways did this affect the way the album was composed and recorded?
The string quartet brings harmonic texture to the songs. It kind of has the same function as the keyboard did on the previous album. Only it gives a more organic and Beatles feel to the music. The songs were pretty much finished before the arrangements were added.The strings were recorded separately and mixed into the songs.
There is also a wealth of other instruments on there – darbuka, djembe, dilruba, daf and tablas to name a few. What is the key to co-ordinating all these instruments do you think? Did you ever sing live alongside these musicians, or was it all recorded separately?
Adding these instruments was like adding relevant touches to spice up the album. We had already used a djembe on the previous CD’s and on stage and we thought it worked rather well. We had the opportunity of using other traditional instruments on this album and it felt natural to include them as long as they served a musical purpose.
You put a free 8-track version of the album up for free download at bandcamp.com (in fact all your previous releases are there for free download too). Did you receive any specific feedback from that at all from people who had downloaded it? What was the aim behind putting this sample up for free?
It’s too early to say because it’s very recent, but the feedback has been positive up to now. Putting this sample up for free seems like a good way to get people to listen to our music. Obviously, the album as a whole is more interesting because it takes you through one hour of music which we tried to keep as dense and exiting as possible. The Digipack is also very smart, we think.
The first two songs on the new album “The 92nd flight” and “Cassandra” also appeared on your 2003 EP “Forecast”. What was the reasoning behind revamping them for the new album alongside the new material?
“Forecast” was a “forecast” of the 2nd album “The Way Things End” which we had hoped to release a lot sooner. It gave a glimpse of the 2nd album and included new versions of songs featured in “Verse” (the first album) and a song that we didn’t have time to record during the “Verse” sessions (“The City in the Sea”).“The 92nd Flight” and “Cassandra” don’t only work as previously lost tracks, they have a real purpose because we can safely say they are much better versions that the ones recorded eight years ago.
I must say that I enjoyed the idea of the album “Verse”, being based as it was around the works of Edgar Allen Poe. This album too contains its fair share of poetry (eg on tracks “Miller’s End” and “Resilience”). What is the significance of these particular poetic works? Could you tell us a little about them?
It felt natural to use poetry on certain passages because the themes of the selected poems were very relevant and the quality of the speaker’s voice served a real musical purpose. It also gives some kind of relief to my singing voice. I must say I’m flattered that you use the word poetry to qualify “Resilience”, because it’s one of the two lyrics I wrote for this album, and I never thought about it as poetry.
Interview by Vard Aman
Ambehr are one of the most unique bands around, from their sound to their history. They were founded in 1995 by Art (bass & vocals) in Armenia – a country not well known for its heavy music. In fact, it’s a country that not many people know much about at all. (Go to your atlas – it’s the orange bit just below Georgia… no, not that Georgia, the other one… Got it?… Excellent!) They then relocated to Russia, where they have remained ever since. But the most unique thing about Ambehr is the music they make. Inspired by their roots and not limited to any style, they have created “Amber Metal” – Folk Metal, but not like any other kind of Folk Metal; Power Metal, but not like any other kind of Power Metal; Progressive, but not like any other kind of Progressive. Art was later joined in Ambehr by his sister, Marina, on vocals; and together they have created a dual vocal style that has come to typify that unique Ambehr sound. I caught up with Marina to talk about Ambehr (and about Armenia too).
Hi Marina, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine.
Hi Vard, nice to meet you.
I understand Ambehr is originally from Yerevan in Armenia. When did you move to Moscow? And why?
Yes, Ambehr comes from Armenia. The band was founded in 1995 by Art. In fact originally there were only three musicians in Ambehr, Art (bass, vocals and author of all the songs up to now), Ashot (guitar) and Hrant (drums), no female vocals. They decided that there would be more new possibilities to grow for the band in Russia and left for St. Petersburg first. It was in 1998, 14 years ago. They earned their living and played gigs there till 2000 (and recorded their demo album, “Life and Death”); after that Ambehr moved to Moscow. I joined Ambehr as a female back-vocal only at the end of 2003 in Moscow together with Natalie from Nemethon, Moscow (now she sings in Arcane Grail, Moscow/Germany); our first song on the stage was “Spider’s Web” from the album of the same name (2005).
Have there been a lot of changes to the line up over the years?
Actually since 2002 Ambehr has changed 5 guitar players: In 2002 two guitarists, Zurab and Vitaly, came to the band instead of Ashot who went back to St. Petersburg; In 2008 they were replaced by Igor and Vladimir; At the end of 2011 Igor left and now Dmitriy is our new guitarist.
Have you been back to play in Armenia since?
We were invited to the fest in Yerevan in 2008; it was a big international festival Rock the Borders with Italian band Sadist as a headliner. Before that we had got some invitations from Armenian organizers ended by nothing due to very expensive cost of trip from Moscow to Yerevan.
Armenia is a country that not many people know very much about; including I’m ashamed to say, myself. Tell us a bit about Armenia. What is it like a country? What is it like to live there, or to visit there?
Armenia is a place where I will always long to return. It is tiny but very beautiful, with an ancient cultural heritage. The summer is very hot there. It lies in the highlands near the Biblical mountains of Ararat. Armenia is rich in monuments of culture and nature; that is why it is called “open-air museum”. There are over four thousand unique monuments in Armenia: the monuments of the pre-Christian era and many ancient Christian temples which are all over the country. I love our unique Lake Sevan, Jermuk waterfall, lake Parz and Kari, as well as beautiful and diverse mountain landscape of the country. I think if you visit Armenia in summer you will never forget it!
Of course, Armenia made world news in 1988 with the massive earthquake in Spitak and subsequent relief efforts, including “Rock Aid Armenia” that featured many Metal and Rock musicians. That was a long time ago now. Do you remember any of it?
The charity concert with ELP, Gary Moore, Black Sabbath, Asia, Mike & the Mechanics, Rush, Deep Purple, Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Foreigner, Pink Floyd, Queen, Yes, Whitesnake and others was held on July 8, 1989 in London and after that, in 1990, the album was released. Certainly I remember that many famous musicians (as well as simple people all over the world) supported Armenia in trouble and provided a real help to the victims of the earthquake. We are very grateful for their efforts and will never forget about it.
What is the metal scene like in Armenia?
As I’ve been living in Russia for many years I’m afraid that my opinion about the metal scene in Armenia wouldn’t be full and correct. However I can say that at the moment there are many good bands in Armenia; with female vocal – I can mention Stryfe with Eva (maybe the band has changed the name now) and Dogma with Zara (Zara’s sung recently with Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull in Yerevan); for me, they are really fantastic singers!
Listening to your excellent and unique dual vocal style, you and Art really seem to work very well together and compliment each other perfectly. Does it help being brother and sister? Have you always been making music together?
To tell the truth, we’ve been singing together since we were children (our father taught us some Italian songs when I was 6 and Art was 4.5 years old). When my brother was 12 he learnt to play guitar, and we began to sing The Beatles, later – Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Metallica etc.; the audience were our family and our friends. Besides, we both finished music school: Art learnt to play the piano and my specialty was violin. We really understand each other very well, and when Art invited me to sing in Ambehr at last, it was not difficult for me to join the band. But I have to mention that Art is the author of all my vocal parties.
Your music is very diverse. Each song on “Amber Dreamland” sounds very different from the next. Do you have any insight into Art’s songwriting process?
It depends on his mood at the time. I would like to know myself how he creates these bright pieces of light… All I can say is that Art has always expressed his feelings through music. And I love his music very much.
Describe Amber Metal for us.
Frankly speaking we can’t define our music style now. Some reviewers call it power metal, others – power & folk basing on death-thrash! For me, Amber Metal is just beautiful songs about everything that excites most of people: life and death, nostalgia about the times of heroes and knights and today’s relations between people.
How has your sound changed over the years?
The style changed from one album to another, every time we were asked why. We cannot explain the reasons exactly, maybe the band just grows up and would like to change ways of self-expression. When two first demo albums were released there was no female voice in the songs; the band played death-thrash music. “Spider’s Web” was also in the style of death-thrash but with female back vocal. Only from the next release, “Sword’s Song” (2006), the sound began to differ noticeably from the previous albums, it became softer than earlier. The last CD that was released in 2011, “Amber Dreamland”, is mainly a collection of melodic songs; the ballade of the same name describes the Land of Amber. Each song on the CD is a different story, at first glance, independent of each other, but united by one feature – they are about our dreams of Amber Land which come from fairy tales and maybe from our childhood.
“Garnan Aravot” (“Spring Morning”) is sung in Armenian (I hope I got that right). Are you going to write more songs in Armenian in the future?
You are right – “Garnan Aravot” is sung in Armenian. In one interview Art confessed about this song that it was extremely difficult for him to write the lyrics in Armenian. Originally he had written all the lyrics only in English, later he wrote some Russian songs. Armenian is a very complicated language to know it perfectly and especially to set to music. Art told that he would try to write more lyrics in Armenian for our new releases…
“Garnan Aravot” certainly turned out very well in the end! What is it about Armenian that makes it such a difficult language to sing?
It’s easy to sing in Armenian when the lyrics are written perfectly, but it’s difficult to create a good text in Armenian. There is a huge difference between literary Armenian and colloquial language. You should find a fragile border between them – only in this case the lyrics will be simple and elegant at the same time, only then it will go well with the melody.
Does Armenia have its own unique style of folk music?
Certainly it does. For example, maybe you have heard the music of Jivan Gasparyan with his duduk, he is famous all over the world…
Other that “Garnan Aravot”, “Amber Dreamland” is all in English; while your 2007 album, “Chornaya Doroga” (“The Black Road”) is in Russian. What are your thoughts on singing in different languages on different albums?
As I’ve told originally Art wrote lyrics for our songs only in English. One day he wrote a couple of songs in Russian for a female band. Shortly after that the band broke up. So we decided to use these songs for our Russian album as a separate project (in order to be understood better by Russian audience). It was a good experience, some songs from the album “Chornaya Doroga” was a great success for Russian audience. So we understood that we could go on with Russian songs for Russia and with songs in English to be heard also outside Russia.
Have you ever been tempted to include both Russian and English songs on one album, or to release both Russian and English versions of the same album as some other Russian bands have done?
For me it’s not a good idea to mix Russian and English songs in one album, it would be an album without a concept – for no one. From my point of view Russian songs are Russian first with their melodies – lyrics just supplement the picture. But translating a Russian song into English can simply kill all its charm.
Do you have any personal favourites from “Amber Dreamland”?
Certainly I do, best of all I like songs “Let’s Go Down”, “Proud Heart” and “Garnan Aravot” (I like very much the lyrics of these songs as well).
Tell us a bit about your upcoming album, “Bezdna” (“Abyss”).
It is a Russian album; the music is melodic with elements of folk. It was recorded together with “Amber Dreamland”, but was not released at the same time due to different reasons. I hope you will have an opportunity to listen to it soon, in about two months.
How often do you play live and how do you find the audiences in Russia?
Now we do not play live so often as earlier, several times a year – while some years ago we played two or three times a month. Anyway I can say that the audiences in Russia are very sincere and hearty, especially outside Moscow.
Have you done any tours, and have you toured outside of Russia and the CIS?
We travelled to many towns in Russia to separate concerts or festivals but not tours. The reason is that the bosses will not tolerate our long absence in our offices. Unfortunately we did not tour outside of Russia and CIS (except one time to Armenia). I hope still there will be a chance for our band to do it in the future…
What do you like doing when you’re not singing for Ambehr?
I like to read good books, also I have a hobby – walking trips and living some days in a tent. When I lived in Armenia I was fond of paragliding during 5 years and also jumped with parachute several times! Unfortunately in Moscow I haven’t got any opportunity for it…
Thanks very much for talking to us Marina! We’re looking forward to hearing the new album soon, and many more to come!
Thank you for your attention; it was a pleasure for me to talk with you. Good luck to you and to Femme Metal Webzine!
Label : Grailight Productions
Review by Vard Aman
Ambehr was founded in Armenia in 1995 and moved to Russia in 1998, first to St. Petersburg and then to Moscow where they are still based. “Amber Dreamland” is their fourth full length studio album. Describing Ambehr’s sound is a no easy task – they are one of the most unique, original and diverse bands around. They play a variety of styles, but none of the styles they play are typical in any way, and yet it all comes together in a sound that is unmistakably Ambehr. Their roots are still noticeably Armenian (providing you know what “Armenian roots” sound like so that you can notice it – otherwise they’ll just be a band unlike any other you would have heard before – which they are anyway). The term “Amber Metal” has been used before, so let’s stick with it. Think Folk Metal mixed with Power Metal mixed with Progressive Metal but not like any of the kinds of Folk, Power and Progressive you’ve ever heard before – now add to it bits of Traditional Metal, Death, Thrash, Glam and Hard Rock. Sorry, I just cannot do better than that – you’re just going to have to buy the album and listen to it yourself. One of the most noticeable elements of Amber Metal is the dual vocal style of Art and Marina. Most of the time they sing together, complimenting or harmonizing with each other, with some occasional solo vocals from one of them. Both vocalists are very accomplished and very versatile, which they’d need to be to pull off this kind of music. Marina’s singing style ranges from folk to operatic soprano, and everything in between; and Art’s from standard clean vocals to a more Power Metal style of singing and to growls… and everything in between. “Amber Dreamland” is a concept album, with all the songs covering the topics of fairy tales and childhood dreams (or their “dreams of Amber Land” as Marina put it in my recent interview with her). All the songs are in English (with an occasional Armenian passage – in “Nothing to Die For”) except for “Garnan Aravot” (“Spring Morning”) which is sung entirely in their native Armenian. The songs are catchy, melodic and generally upbeat – as one would imagine songs about the dreams of Amber Land would be. The production on “Amber Dreamland” is crystal clear and the songwriting is excellent. This album also features some outstanding guitar work (you can substitute “outstanding” with “blazing” or “killer” if you like – you get my drift). All the tracks on “Amber Dreamland” are really good, but the diversity of the music on this album will no doubt mean that everyone who listens to it will pick different favourites. I can mention mine: “Proud Heart”, “Prince”, “Oriental”, “All Goes”, “Garnan Aravot” and most of all, the titletrack – it is the slowest track on the album with almost doom-like progressions and melodies, it creates a slightly brooding retrospective atmosphere but with an almost ecstatic and climatic feel to it. It’s a beautiful piece of music indeed! There is not much more I can really say here, other than that you need to buy this album! It would be a good idea to hunt down their previous releases as well; and their new Russian album “Bezdna” (which was recorded at the same time as “Amber Dreamland”) is due for release in a few months at the time of writing this review.
Rating – 90/100
- Proud Heart
- Love Story
- Amber Dreamland
- All Goes
- Let’s Go Down
- Nothing to Die for
- A Day in Gehard
- Garnan Aravot
- Magic Wand
- Marina – Vocals
- Igor – Guitars
- Art – Bass & Vocals
- Hrant – Drums
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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