Label : Relapse Records
Review by Luisa Mercier
This record is not the usual Relapse record, it is an album that is quite far away from the styles which are usually proposed by this label: the debut by Royal Thunder is neither death metal nor sludge, but it is a mix of southern rock and doom with the vocals of Mlny Parsonz on top. The band deliver us a full-lenght that unites hard-rock, psychedelia, Southern rock and progressive. The powerful voice of Mlny is accompanied by dreamy atmospheres created by the guitar riffs, courtesy of guitarist Josh Weaver and drummer Jesse Stuber (who recorded the album). Doubtlesse, this is a record that catches the listener attention and the will to listen to it again after the last track is stronger than ever. What are the main highlights of “CVI”? It is hard to say since every track is really worthy on its own, but I will try to point out some that have impressed me the most: the opener “Parsonz Curse”, “Whispering World”, “Sleeping Witch” and the closing track “Black Water Vision”. This album is a true cult for all the people who love the styles I listed above, but it can be suitable also for newbies since I find it not too difficult to listen to, and this is a good quality given the genres here involved.
Rating – 75/100
- Parsonz Curse
- Whispering World
- Shake and Shift
- No Good
- Sleeping Witch
- South of Somewhere
- Black Water Vision
- Mlny Parsonz – Vocals & Bass
- Josh Weaver – Guitar
- Josh Coleman – Guitar
- Lee Smith – Drums
Interview by Miriam C.
Seems that Atlanta in these days is becoming the new Eldorado for those fans that who fancy for some good sultry, psych, old-manner hard rock mixed with some good 70′s doom. Royal Thunder one of the débutante of this scene, with their album debut “CVI”, but don’t have nothing to lose in front of names like Baroness, Kylesa and Jex Thoth. Let’s the enchanting words of Mlny Parsonz, singer and bassist, conquer you.
Hi Mlny, first of all thanks for accepting this interview. Do you mind introduce the history’s band with some biography’s hints?
My pleasure Miriam, anytime! Thanks for putting this together! Well, originally RT was a instrumental trio. They would practice at my house all the time. Josh Weaver, his brother Ryan and I, all lived together, so I easily became a fan, and familiar with the tunes all at the same time. Jason Kelly was the drummer. Schedules did not permit the band to go on with Ryan and Jason. Josh had a vision, because he wrote all the songs, so he kept going. He was trying people out at the house, all the time. Finally he settled on a drummer, Jesse. Jesse asked “Who will sing and play bass?”- “Mel will probably do it”, he says. I did end up trying out, and I had only ever been in bands doing black/death metal style vocals, with the exception of one band I was in, in high school, Acedia. I sang, I played (the first RT song i ever sang on was hotel bend) and Royal Thunder just was! Time came and went, and during the making of “CVI”, our lineup changed. We parted ways, peacefully, with Jesse and added Josh Coleman(guitar) and Lee Smith (drums), they are long time friends, and old band mates from the past. The only song on “CVI” that we are playing as a 4 piece is in “Black Water Vision”. Now we are all in this together and having a great time. Good vibes are flowing and its like a mini family to us. We couldn’t have been luckier on this new lineup. The guys did their homework and fought hard during tryouts…. We were like, “Hell yes, you guys are in.”
Royal Thunder in this days is publishing its debut called “CVI”. How’s born and how’s its genesis?
We have our self titled EP and now, the full length “CVI”. The songs on “CVI” have been around from the beginning. Not all of the songs, but a lot of them. We had 3 other songs that didn’t make the cut for “CVI”, I’m hoping to get those out on the next record!
“CVI”, if I’m not wrong, it’s a Roman number. Why choose such title and what it means?If I don’t recall bad in ordinal number means 106….
106 is a number that follows us everywhere! We found it appropriate to send it off into the universe! It is mysterious and hilarious. It pops up like a joke, reminding us that it’s watching. Back in the 90′s, Josh Weaver and the original drummer Jason, born on 1/06… Found 106$. They heard a woman crying and they walked over to her, it was her money. They gave it back and went back to their friend’s house. Jason had gone downstairs to watch tv and he saw his friends grandmother in her recliner chair, he was talking to her and within minutes he realized she wasn’t responding because she was dead. She was…. Drum roll…..106! Anyone who knows us can tell you, it haunts and taunts us, daily!
The cover album seems a painting with that particular in the center. If I interpret well is a cementery, right? What you wanted to represent with this cover?
It is a famous graveyard in our city. The photo was taken by Kevin Griggs. He is a local photographer. We chose this photo from his collection of photos. It struck us and we feel it isn’t too metal, but it isn’t too rock and roll. Its just dark, and solid, moving, it really makes you think a lot of things. We felt like it represented us well. It was our taste for art and photography.
In 2009, you have selfreleased your debut EP. How the things have changed from that release and in what you feel you have improved? Also what you can say about the band, I mean how do you feel that the musical structure is changed?
We have always been kind of, the same? I think because Josh Weaver is writing the songs on his guitar, it’s just kind of a representation of who he is. In all the years I’ve known him, he is one of the most genuine, solid, honest people I’ve ever met. It translates into his song writing. We are definitely more confident and seasoned than when we first started. It was a bumpy road, but we kept walking it. And we made it here! I am very excited for the future, I have NO expectations. I can only hope that we will be doing this for a very long time.
The strange fact that I’ve happened to noticed is that you have inserted in “CVI” tracklist a song from your previous EP called “Sleeping Witch”. This means that you wanted some kind of “link” from past or what? Is this song rerecorded or it’s in its original version?
This song actually took over and kind of reinvented it’s self. I guess we just became slaves to the sleeping witch, ha. She wanted to pull back and get groovy, so she did. The song took on it’s own shape and direction, we followed and alas, the new version was born. It shows the evolution of the song, that’s why we added it to “CVI”.
According to the press release Royal Thunder is one of a few band that privilege the live gigs instead of the studio time because if you think from 2009 to 2012 are passed 3 years. Maybe you feel more confortable in the live dimension?
Well, in 2007, 2008 & 2009, we were just trying to be a band doing our own thing in our hometown. We just wanted to gig at good clubs in Atlanta and it was a slow road! We worked very hard for those 3 years and no one really knew who we were. We realized, we need to tour and see what happens outside of Atlanta. We had small gigs and sometimes bigger bands would take us out and let us open up for them. It just grew into what it is today, which is still pretty small and new but exciting none the less! We never thought we would be here. We love playing live. Finding the time to record is hard. We have a lot of “world” to cover first!
Your label recommends your album to the fans of Baroness, The Devil’s Blood, True Widow, Dark Castle, Yob, Kylesa and Jex Thoth. How do you feel being mentioned near such names and, as your artist point of view, is right put RT near these bands? Also, talking as a listener, have you never listened to these artist’s music?
Haha, some of these bands are my/our close friends/friends/new friends! We recently met and played with The Devil’s Blood and they were really nice people and great performers! Baroness took us out and gave us the honor and privilege of opening up for them as did Kylesa. I must say, I dig Laura, she’s a rad chick. DC has one of my favorite people in it, my homie, Stevie. And of course we met the talented, YOB through our Dark Castle buddies. I’m honored to be a part of that list! All of these bands are so different and they are all doing their own thing…. Much like us, so…. Hell yes, we can relate. We haven’t been around as long as a lot of these road warriors, but they have been supportive and good to us.
Now talking a little about you what you can tell about your singer background? I’ve heard that you started early to sing….
I was a metal vocalist from the time I was 14ish. I sang/keyboards in a sort of “hair metal” band in high school. Then back to metal vocals. Sometimes with my keyboard or with the bass. I did a lot of solo acoustic stuff for a long time. Now I’m doing this, and it’s by far, the hardest I’ve ever had to work as a vocalist.
Flash question: do you like more the CD format or the vinyl format? And why?
CD. I love opening them and holding lyrics and fold outs in my hand. I grew up in the 90′s listening to tapes and CDs, it’s nostalgic for me. Plus I gotta put my old ass boom box to good use! Ha
Since I’m a respectful person, I won’t try to define your music genre but I’ll leave this to you, Mlny and what I want to do is trying to define what RT plays because has been called in various way such progressive metal, psychedelic, southern rock? What’s suits better for Royal Thunder, counting all the innumerable influences?
If I had to brand it, I personally would call it “post apocalyptic blues”….. We used to call it that when we were a trio. We would try to define it on tour while we were sitting in the van typing up interviews. That description always resonated with me.
What are the next band’s plans of touring and new releases?
We just released “CVI” and now we gotta tour on it. I’m hoping I can come back from tour and work/hussle…. Make some money to pay the bills and let Josh W just take some time off and write, while I hold it down for us financially, we are partners. We are such busy people it’s so hard to find the time. I can’t wait to start writing again! We have been jamming on some of Joshs riffs, and he’s always writing in his spare time. He is a gifted song writer, he always has been. I can’t wait to hear his new material, because I feel a surge of creativity about to explode! At least within myself! And I feel confident that it is for the band as well. Well, I just wanna take a second to thank everyone who is standing behind us and showing us support! We couldn’t do this without the fans. Our fans are incredible and genuine. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of you, an please come say hello to us at shows… We wanna thank you and maybe have a beer with ya! We hope to get the chance to meet you guys and gals this upcoming tour with Valiant Thorr, Holy Grail and The Kick Ass!! Until then!!!!!!!
Interview by Eetu “Ene” Niskanen
An Interview with Heidi, the soprano singer of the Finnish Metal Band Amberian Dawn. During this interview, we’ll talk about about the new album “The Clouds of Northland Thunder” that is coming this summer.
You just released your second album “The Clouds of Northland Thunder” with Amberian Dawn, how much work did it take?
Our front man Tuomas had already started the composing the new album when the “River of Tuoni” album was released and some of the song were already ready. Almost everything was recorded before the Epica European tour 2008 but some choir and vocal parts had to be done straight after the tour. It took lots of work from everyone and especially from Tuomas who almost lived at the studio during the recordings. I did all the choir parts except the “Incubus” male role so I had quite a lot to sing too.
Is there an lyrical concept behind the album?
Not a clear one. But of course I wanted to bring a bunch of exiting stories to this album and also pour some Finnish cultural heritance into the lyrics too. Some of the lyrics are based on the Finnish national epic Kalevala as also on our previous album. On the “Clouds” album the Kalevala songs are “Kokko- Eagle of Fire” and “Birth of the Harp”. But there are also lyrics based on my own stories and legends or even fairytales.
How the band has grown from the debut “River of Tuoni”?
The biggest growth has happened in the bands skills and of course our lineup has changed too. First came Kasperi to replace the former guitarist Sampo and just recently Tuomas decided to retire from guitar-business, at least the live guitars, and his replacement was Emppu with his wild hair. The sound of the new album is in my opinion more solid and there is more variation in musical ways.
What is your personal favourite song from the album?
Hard question because I kind of like them all but from different reasons and it is really hard to put them into any order. But maybe I would say “Sons of Seven Stars” because in my opinion the story and the music go so well together in this song. The story linkes quite remotely to the book about Seven Brothers of Aleksis Kivi, a Finnish author. But in this version of the story, the seven brothers were born in the ancient times from the alliance of a bear and a human. The bears left the land to their sons and moved to the stars. The seven sons grew up under the constellation of Ursa Major and the North star and persistantly and with vigor they plowed the frozen land and peopled the cold and dark North. They could have also been the forfathers for Finnish people.
How did you joined Amberian Dawn?
I was a keyboardist and a backing vocalist in a metal band called Iconofear from the year 1997. During the ten years with Icono-boys I developped my singing skills and felt that is was time to retire from the keyboards. I simply felt I was better as a singer than a keyboardist and I could give most on that area. So it was 2006 when I started to search a band as a singer. Tuomas and Tommi spotted my ad and I did some singing samples and also the lyrics for “Passing Bells” from “River of Tuoni” album as a test. I think I got the job…;)-
How long have you been singing?
I went on a music oriented school and I started taking singing lessions when I was 14 years old. By that time I didn´t even think about being a singer one day. I wanted to take some lessions because I felt tensions and pain in my throught when singing. I wanted to emprove my tecnique to get rid of the tentions which made my singing unpleasant. I enjoyed singing a lot and I wanted it to stay that way too. I joined a choir at the age of 14 and after that I have sang in various choirs and some ensembles too. I´m still taking singing lessions and trying to develop my skills – I feel that it´s an neverending project…..but I don´t mind as long as I keep developping!-
How would you describe your voice?
I’m a classically trained soprano and some would say I’m a soubrette soprano. – The soubrette voice is light with a bright, sweet timbre, a tessitura in the mid-range and with no extensive coloratura. The soubrette voice has a lighter vocal weight than other soprano voices and a brighter timbre. Many young singers start out as soubrettes but as they grow older and the voice matures more physically they may be reclassified as another voice type-.
What kind of music do you listen yourself and how often?
I listen to a lot of different kinds of music from heavy metal to classical. I don’t listen too much music because I´m not too much at home. But when I do I first listen to my mood and then I choose the right music for it.
Do you think it’s easier to rise as metal band on big metal country such as Finland?
Finland is the promised land for metal but because of that the competition is hard and the level is really high. You have to have a good concept, skilled musicians, good compositions and production, some luck, reliable and hardworking people to work with and a great team to built everything up. And not to forget the hard work from everyone. Sounds like recipe for a cake doesn’t it! Bake it in 666 degrees to make it metal…hahhah -
You did big european tour with symphonic metal band Epica last year, how was the experience?
It was a great experience and we all grew up as musicians during the four week on road. The Epica people were really fun to work with and everything went really as planned. Except we all got a bit sick on the tour and I was in a terrible flue for almost 3 weeks from the 4 weeks tour…there were mornings I didn´t have almost any voice but duringthe day I managed to get some of my singing voice back. In Germany I went to a doctor but I only got some herbs and allready in France I needed to see a doctor again who gave me antibiotics and some cortizone. I missed a lot of scenery because of being sick but none of the shows so I must be content.
There are a lot of female fronted metal bands in the world at the moment, how Amberian Dawn is different from them, how do you keep unique?
We play fast tempo, guitar driven metal with purely classical female vocals. To continue the baking theme I would say : the ingredients have been used before but not in this kind of mixture.
What are the plans of Amberian Dawn for the future?
We are planning a new European tour for the fall 2009 and maybe some touring also for the spring 2010. Tuomas has also started to compose new material for the becoming third album.
Label : Nightmare Records
Review by Alessandro Narcissus
American heavy metallers A Sound of Thunder are a young yet fast growing act. Fronted by powerful and charismatic lead singer Nina Osegueda, this Washington D.C.-based quartet has released three records – an EP, a non-album charity single and its first full-length – between 2009 and 2011, and shows no signs of slowing down. A Sound of Thunder‘s challenge this year is to confirm the positive impression they’ve given with their critically acclaimed debut album “Metal Renaissance”, which they accepted releasing their sophomore album, “Out of the Darkness”. Will they overcome it? Well, first of all let’s state this clear: in a crowded scene such as that of female-fronted metal, the only means to survive is a strong identity. With this record, A Sound of Thunder proved to have their own with a well balanced, captivating blend of different elements that, by drawing from a wide range of genres, creates a unique, unmistakable sound. We can basically define this recording a power metal-influenced hard rock album which enriches its hues with progressive digressions, gothic touches (used in a very classy, non-clichéd way), even going as far as getting jazzy or slightly folkish at times, including some virtuosity every now and then which, for a change, really fit the songs rather than being pretentious. Moreover, all the instruments, supported by the crystal-clear production of Kevin “131″ Gutierrez, are perfectly balanced and each of them gets the right recognition: Nina Osegueda‘s powerful, versatile vocals become a fitting completion to the other instruments rather than dominating them; Jesse Keen‘s keyboards add many different flavours without being overwhelming or drowning the rest; Josh Schwartz‘s guitars are heavy and smacking without sounding pretentious, and even his solos are truly functional to the song structure rather than being thrown in just for the sake of showcasing his ability; finally, the rhythmic patterns provided by Chris Haren‘s drums and Jesse Keen‘s bass provide variation and avoid being boring, but without getting abstruse or hard to follow. The songs are well designed to stand out individually while giving a cohesive yet not flat ensemble, with only a couple of unremarkable episodes. Some of them venture into more progressive territories, while others exploit old formulas by taking and performing them at their best. The opener, “The Day I Die”, is a true killer track that immediately sticks the listener to the record by providing variety and freshness, filling each of its 8 minutes with something worth its length. With its jazzy guitars and soulish keyboards, it’s an immediate statement: this record is not going to sound like the same old stuff. The second track, “The Night Witch”, is a perfect example of old formulas used in a clever way: it opens with a creepy keyboard melody that manages to avoid sounding clichéd despite its music box flavour, which quickly makes room to a catchy hard-rocking tune with a dynamic verse, a really enjoyable and memorable chorus and a praiseworthy guitar solo. The next songs, “Kill That Bitch” and “Murderous Horde”, confirm the high level of this record, the former with a distinctive hard-rocking sound powered by a simple yet interesting rythmic pattern, the latter with haunting backing vocals that make it sound cinematic, but without overdoing. The eponymous “A Sound of Thunder” showcases the band’s power metal influences in a non-garish way, despite the agressive vocals being a bit annoying at times. Unfortunately, the experiment is not equally successful with the title track, “Out of the Darkness”, whose tacky outright power metal structure, which includes pretty much all the most annoying clichés of the genre without anything diverse to dilute them, makes it the least remarkable song of the album. Generally speaking, this song marks the beginning of the second half of the album, which is slightly duller than the previous despite having its memorable episodes. For instance, the clearly gothic-influenced, a bit clichéd intro of the eight-minute long “Calat Alhambra” may seem pointless, but it works perfectly as a cheesy appetizer that lowers the listener’s expectations to surprise him with a complex, enjoyable and outstanding song. Nevertheless, the subsequent “Fight Until the End” is a rather canonical heavy metal anthem which, despite not being bad, does not add any particular value to the record. Although occasionally skimming over cheesiness, the semi-acoustic guitar and cello-driven “This Too Shall Pass” avoids being a random ballad thrown in just to have a slow song in the bunch and manages to sound, all in all, genuine. It also sets the mood for the sophisticated conclusion of the album: the longest track of the set, “Discovery” summarizes the whole album, giving an insight of all the different elements that make this record stand out and going down smooth despite its length. Besides the technical skills of the musicians, the real strength of this album is a solid songwriting that blends a whole host of influences, something that’s further emphasized by the fact that the only missteps in the album are those two songs that cling to a particular genre without providing variety. “Out of the Darkness” is a rich kaleidoscope that manages to add flavour to classic hard rock and heavy metal, bring some freshness to gothic and power metal elements and present progressive metal in an easily listenable fashion. It’s designed to satisfy fans of many different genres without scaring them with unfamiliar elements, but does so in a genuine, non-calculated way which, together with the uniqueness A Sound of Thunder proved to have, is the only true strength a band can rely on today.
Rating – 80/100
- The Day I Die
- The Night Witch
- Kill That Bitch
- Murderous Horde
- A Sound of Thunder
- Out of the Darkness
- Calat Alhambra
- Fight Until the End
- This Too Shall Pass
- Nina Osegueda – Vocals
- Josh Schwartz – Guitars
- Jesse Keen – Bass, Keyboards
- Chris Haren – Drums
Interview by Alessandro Narcissus
We have already have the occasion to promote A Sound of Thunder with the review of the self titled debut EP in 2009 and before that with the demo’s review of Blood Corps, now instead it’s time to give voice to “Out of Darkenss”, the second album by US heavy metallers A Sound of Thunder, so we took a chance to ask some questions to Nina Osagueda, let’s see what she has to say about it….
Hi Nina! How are you and how is the promotion for the new album going so far?
Hi! I’m doing great. Promotion is going well, looks like we’re getting lots of great reviews and I’m really excited to know how many people are enjoying the album.
The first thing that strikes the eye is how fast A Sound of Thunder is growing, with four valid releases in four years. What’s the secret of such an abundant creativity? How can you be so productive without missing a single hit?
I think the secret is really just that we all love what we do. We have so many ideas because we keep wanting to do more more more, and it’s harder for us to stop writing then to keep writing! We’ve got at least two more albums worth of material already written, and we’re never short of ideas. Since all of us enjoy the songwriting process, it’s probably our greatest strength and deterrent.
Typical question now: would you please introduce to us the new album and its themes? What does the title stand for, what are the songs about?
The title stands for the album as a whole. Each of the songs deal with life and death and your reaction to it, from fear, to comedy, to sadness. We wanted to express the fact that from darkness, there is light, which is why we write about death so often. There’s more than one day to talk about death.
What I appreciate the most while listening to “Out of the Darkness” is its wide range of diverse influences and blend of different styles. How do you manage to keep track of all those sounds during the creative process without having them overlap one another?
I think it’s just a matter of us wanting to do a lot of different things as the mood strikes us. Each of us comes from a different background, so there are times when one of us is in the mood for blues, or power metal, or classic rock. So we’ll write a song in that vein and it will feel right, so we’ll keep it. We don’t believe in limiting ourselves to a specific genre because we hate the idea of being repetative.
With every release, an artist learns new things and grows. How did the experience you made with the recording and release of “Metal Renaissance” help you with the new album?
It helped us to learn how our music can be refined in the studio. With our first album, we recorded the old fashioned way, on tape, with little to no editing. All of my takes were straight through recorded and the sound was nice and raw. However, we had a lot of things we weren’t able to do because recording on tape is quite limiting, so while it was a good learning experience, it didn’t provide us with all of the options we desired.
While not being excessively boosted by the production and having the right place among the other instruments, your vocals are a striking feature in this album. Your style is very versatile and you can easily switch from a more soaring to a more aggressive style. Are you a trained singer or are you self-taught?
I’m mostly self taught. I learned to sing from listening to my hero, Aretha Franklin. The way I felt, if I could imitate what she could do, I knew I could be good. By the time I was a senior in high school, I’d already been a soloist for gospel and traditional choirs and was singing with the Washington Opera as my age permitted. However, I wanted to get better, and I was playing with the idea of being a professional opera soloist. So, I took a few private lessons to learn arias that I might use for auditioning purposes. Not long after, I started college, and I didn’t have time to continue with the opera business. In college, I learned to appreciate metal, so I took all my experiences and influences from opera to rhythm and blues, and used them to create my own sound.
They say you can’t judge something from the cover, but that of “Out of the Darkness” is really outstanding and deserves a mention. Can you tell us about the idea behind it and how it was developed?
When searching for an appropriate cover for our new album, the guys and I wanted an image that could be interpreted in different ways. We were struck by the art and found that each of us could give it a different story, so we purchased it based on that.
How is the live activity going? How are the fans’ reactions to the songs performed live? Do you like to make some variations when playing a gig to add a different flavour that will make the live experience unforgettable even if compared to the album?
We get pretty great reactions live and playing live is probably the greatest feeling ever. We do sound a little different on stage, since we only utilize one guitarist. However, that seems to give us more of the raw sound that we enjoy and makes us work harder to produce a full experience. To make it unforgettable, I ham it up on stage. I crack jokes, grab guys by the collar, strike poses, and generally act like a tiny tyrant dictator.
The so called “female-fronted” scene is something that originated in the mid-Nineties and grew esponentially during the 2000′s. Did you find it hard to start basically anew in this new decade and find your own “living space” in such a crowded bunch?
I sort of find it hard for us to separate ourselves from people’s expectations. They see me as a female and expect one thing, and I give them something else. I’ve noticed that when I do use traditional vocals, like in “The Night Witch”, people either love it or they hate it. I’m alright with that, because even if I dip my toe into the opera metal sometimes, I’ll never do it all the time. It’s just something fun that comes when the mood strikes me. I’m not going to be up there wearing a corset and singing soprano every time I go on stage, so I don’t find our genre to be crowded at all.
Another typical question: what are the plans now? What do you see in the close future of A Sound of Thunder and what do you wish to see in the long run?
Our plans are to continue writing and producing albums until we die. Hopefully we’ll get to the point where we’re writing and performing for a living, but until then, we’re going to keep pushing the creative boundries of our brains.
That was the last question. Thank you for the interview! Would you please say something to see the readers off?
Thanks so much for all your support. It means a lot to us that so many people enjoy our music enough to pay us any attention and we all promise to continue making it worth your while. Our fans are our best friends.
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
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